New York Road Runners’ Run As One supports lung cancer research, which, like many others, I fully support. And after recent events, I’ve become more affected by lung cancer, so it was a no brainer when it time came to sign up.
I also had a goal in mind—to break 29 minutes, a shiny new 4-mile PR.
If you were in New York City this weekend, you would know that it was a beautiful one filled with sunshine and warm temperatures. And because we seem to finally be on the upswing from winter, the city was full of hustle, bustle, and day drinking.
And so I participated.
Color me surprised to wake up on race morning fully clothed from Saturday’s adventures, and a bit alarmed that I hadn’t consumed anything more than Caesar salad, hummus, and Chardonnay (this was Saturday’s lunch).
With that in mind, I slammed some water, ate some muesli, and went to the start.
The conditions were just shy of perfect: sunny with a light breeze, and clouds moving in by the afternoon.
When I got into my corral, I noticed there were more people than normal, and it made me think about how many people have been affected by lung cancer, or cancer in general.
When I crossed the start mat, I told myself to take the first mile easy, so not to get overworked going up Cat Hill. I also knew that if I could hit mile 3 in 21:30, I could PR.
I hit mile 1 in 7:25. Mile 2 is a straight away to the 102nd St. transverse, so I picked up the pace. I saw Ali shouting and cheering around 96th street, which fueled my feet even more. I hit mile 2 in 7:03.
Then, as I took the left turn onto the West Drive, I started cramping up—no doubt from the lack of hydration. Apparently, wine doesn’t help that department.
I slowed down and got my act together. I looked down at my hands that bore initials of two very important people in my life, one who lost their battle with lung cancer last month, and one who still continues to fight. I started pumping my arms, and took the hills one at a time.
Mile 3: 7:44
I saw Maura volunteering near the Great Lawn. Her welcome cheers helped me pick up the pace on the final downhill to the finish. By this time, the PR was off, but I knew I could break 30 minutes.
And even though I’ve done the 4 mile loop countless times, I still got weepy on the final left turn onto the 72nd transverse. I realized I looked at my hands for much of that final stretch, fueling my last mile with thoughts and memories of my loved ones.
I crossed the finish line at 29:42.
Looking back, I clearly made some mistakes leading up to the race.
However, I gathered with the masses on Sunday morning, and celebrated the lives of those lost. (In case you haven’t heard, cancer blows.)
And, I finally got my head back into racing.
And it’s about time.