I knew damn well what I was in for when I signed up for the Queens 10K. Last year’s half marathon proved case in point with hot and humid temps, 13.1 miles in concrete, and tummy tumbles.
Stephan proclaimed his interest for running another 10K after the Giants 5K (he ran the Scotland 10K last April), and I told him I was set to race in Queens (…again). Having lived in Astoria and Long Island City for the past few years, he grew interested and quickly signed up. (This also gave me no choice to bag it at the last minute.) I told him it was going to be a hot race.
To celebrate Stephan’s latest endeavor, I invited the Walkers over for a pasta dinner. We feasted on carbs and talked about the course in Corona Park. We also sweat, as it was eleventy billion degrees outside—two air conditioners were no match for the recent heat wave.
I caught a 7:00 a.m. train from Grand Central station, knowing that Stephan would be hopping on at Vernon-Jackson in LIC. I saw him on the car in front of me, and he made the change at the next stop, shuffling in next to me and watching the documentary being filmed about a Kenyan runner (Julius Arile Lomeriyang later won the race in 29:21).
We arrived at Mets-Willets Point 30 minutes later, and with the thousands of other runners, walked into Corona Park. Stephan commented on how cool the park was—for those of you who have no idea what lies in Corona Park, let’s discuss it for a bit. It was created as the site of the 1939 World’s Fair, is home to Citi Field (home of the Mets), USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (home of the U.S. Open), and a giant Unisphere (Men in Black, people). The course would showcase all these things, and although temperatures already climbing in the early hours of the morning, we were ready to start.
I told Stephan to be sure to catch the soothing tones of Peter Chacha, and I got in my corral.
And waited. For 15 minutes. In the heat. Oh, well, at least I wasn’t sprinting to the start like the weekend before.
I told myself to not race it. The heat would be no match for it, just do the best you can do, and get it over with. Eye on the prize: another one in the books for 9+1.
I forgot how much concrete was contained in the first part of this race. Temps were climbing, and people were passing me left and right. I knew not to get caught up in it—no doubt I’d bonk out in a few miles ahead. I continued keeping a manageable pace and told myself to get to the second half of the course (more scenic and loads of shade).
I started using aid stations at mile 2. Sips of water, and dumping some down my back to cool down. I noticed that some of those runners who flew by me had slowed to a walk. Indeed, it was hot, no reason to push it. After the 5K split, the course grew some shade, and we were in the scenic portion of the park. More aid stations, more heat. My legs were growing tired and I wanted to be done.
When I started coming back from Citi Field, I knew I was on the home stretch. I was now drenched from head to toe, and realized a mosquito had bitten me behind my knee. No, I didn’t scratch it, although I wanted to.
One lap around the glorious Globe, and I was on the last 800 meters. I could hear people around me getting antsy, no doubt they too wanted to be done with this. (Who’s idea was it to race in this dreadful heat anyway? Oh, mine? Woof.)
I came through the finish and exclaimed, “Oh, get out!”—they were handing out medals! I remember being so upset last year that after all that effort in running a half marathon in 90-degree heat that there were no medals. I grew more excited when I realized Stephan was about to get his first! I grabbed it, as well as loads of water, and went to cheer on Stephan as he came through the last 800 meters.
Will I run this again next year? Probably. Even though it’s always hot (His Lordship ran the half mary two years prior), and people do push themselves towards the point of physical illness (yes, I did see two chaps vomiting at the finish—one of them three times in rapid succession), it’s nice to get out of Central Park once in awhile.
And there definitely is a great sense of accomplishment after running a 10K in the dead of summer.
Huge congrats to Stephan for racing his second 10K! We’ll see you next year.