My goal for this year’s Pit Run was pretty simple: run it faster than you have in the past. My mind boiled it down to a simple mantra: Earn Your Chicken.
On Sunday morning, I changed into my only-at-races Sparkle Skirt, long sleeved Saucony top (because the wind had a bite to it), and my BAMR visor. No, I am not a paid spokesperson, although I’m open if anyone wants a middle-aged, heavy-set, super-slow runner to back your gear. Attention Oiselle: there is more real estate for your logo on my backside than on Lauren Fleshman’s. Just sayin’.
No matter what you’re wearing, there is something to be said for home field advantage. I slept in my own bed and I know how steep the hill in the middle of the course is, which is pretty freakin’ steep. Waiting around at the start is the part of racing that I can’t stand, if only because it’s so hard to time bathroom breaks and stay warm. But because I know the territory, I ran the mile from my house to the start and hit it just as a local high schooler began the national anthem.
Even though I’d gotten my first mile out of the way — the first mile of any run is the one I find most dreadful — I had some problems with my first official mile. Not only did I completely forget to start Herr Garmin until a good 30 seconds in, I spent the first ten minutes convincing myself that signing up for a race was a good idea as I jostled through the crowd and tried to find a rhythm.
Once that was out of the way, I found that I had been running a 10:30 mile, which is like greased lightening in my world. But I felt good, so I kept it up for the second mile. Right before the dread hill, a group of my students yelled out, “Go, Professor Martini!” I was just as surprised to see them as they were to see me. The shock gave me a little push.
A quarter of the way up the climb, I caught sight of my family, who cheered. My daughter ran the rest of the block with me, which was pretty dang sweet.
I would like to say that I charged the rest of the way up like a champ. I did not. My pace slowed waaaaaay down. I would not call what I did “running” so much as “walking with a mission.” Another runner, who I’d never seen before or since, and I used each other as bunnies. I’d slow down and I’d see her highlighter yellow top fly past. I’d pick it up, reel her in, and pass her, then she’d do the same to me. I couldn’t get a good look at her bib number, which means I can’t find out her name and stalk her at races around the area. Not that I would. Much.
Eventually, we were up and over the crest and both put the hammer down — I was shocked that I still had quite a bit of pep — and pushed on. During the last two miles, my goal was to keep yellow shirt in sight and to stay ahead of the group of four obnoxious college age wrestlers, if only because it felt good to stay in front of a pack of 18-year old guys. While it’s not quite as satisfying as finishing before a pack of college cross country runners, it’s still pretty dang satisfying. If that makes me petty, call me Tom.
A mile outside of the finish, two things happened: 1) a spectator told me how much she loved my skirt and 2) I realized that I could walk the rest of the way and still get a PR. I didn’t walk the rest of the way, mind, because I still felt good and, well, wrestlers. When yellow shirt passed me just before the finish line, she said, “Good job!” and I returned it, happily.
My time was 1:11:43, which beats the pants off of 2013’s 1:16:32. Go, me. It turns out that all of the speed work in the 13.FUN race plan actually does something more than wear you out. Who knew? (Everyone. I know.)
As for my training, it’s going OK this week. I’m relatively healthy and have enough time to work it all in. I’m starting to get kinda sorta excited about my October 19 13.1. I’ve started my packing list but have not quite made it to the checking it twice phase. The list making helps keep the taper antsy-ness at bay, if nothing else.
Just a reminder, should you also be heading to the Empire State Marathon/Half Marathon. We’re having an informal Mother Runner Meet-up at Nestico’s restaurant on Saturday, Oct. 18 at 5 p.m. Drop me an email at [email protected] if you think you’ll make it, just so that I can get a head count.
Since many of us have big races coming up (or have just run a big one), do you have any gear that you save just for races? Or am I the only one who does that?