8 on the 8th

Sorry for the delay. With Christmas upon us, me interviewing like crazy, and my aunt coming into town, there has been little time to blog. But here is the long overdue (1.5 weeks late) race recap for the 8 on the 8th.

So here's perhaps the coolest race concept ever: get a bunch of people who have never met, who live in different parts of the country, and who all have different running abilities, to run the same distance on one day and call it a race. Great idea, huh? Unfortunately, I can't take credit for it, this was all Nancy's idea.

I signed up for 10-mile "extra challenge" group since I'm in the middle of training for the Austin Half-Marathon and according to my coach, Ryan Hall, I'm supposed to run 10 miles this weekend.

It was a cloudly and cold 36 degrees when I went out for the race. This Florida boy still gets freaked out every winter when the thermostat drops below 40 in December. The only good thing about the race was that there was no breeze--unlike last weekend's run which featured a 20 mph headwind/endorphin killer.

I showed up to the starting line. Got some stretches in, sized up to competition (i.e., the little Asian lady selling pastel drawings of Al Pacino in Scarface), and look my place at the back corner of Grand Army Plaza in Central Park. The race course was designed to be a tour of Central Park, going for the big loop around the park, adding in a lap around the Resevior and a quick run by the castle, ending at the NY Marathon finish line.

Since there was no one to shoot the starting gun or give thanks to the 5,000 sponsors that make this race possible, I was kinda lost when it came to starting the race. However, there was one split second when I managed to obscure the fact that it was freezing and that my stomach felt horrible--in that split second I hit start on my watch and off I went, completely forgeting to turn on my iPod. About one minute later I turn them on.

It had been a while since I had run through Central Park. Last time there were still leaves on the trees and I was running shorts (cold, but in shorts nonetheless). Now, three weeks after that run, the trees were completely bare. All color had been washed away into the gray drab of winter. The barren trees looked like giant clusters of nerve endings, almost like brains without the gray matter.

When I hit the main roadway, I realized that this would be a lonely race. The cold weather filtered all the, um, "less intense runners," leaving me to fend with the die-hard, would-PR-during-a-snowstorm kind of runners. That also meant that I was chicked and even--gasp--geriatricked several times during the race. Ouch. Ouch and a half. But I kept going on.

Actually injected some walking breaks when my stomach felt particularly bad or when I noticed that I was going way too fast. I've grown to really hate walking breaks, but in training for Austin I've been trying to ease up on my long runs so that I don't burn out in the first half of a run--all in hopes of avoiding a repeat of Baltimore. I've seen the benefits of this method, but it is almost as hard to hold back as it is easy to burn out.

The race goes on without much note. No cheering crowds, just the occasional runner passing me and me getting a little pissed off. I noticed the severe lack of course support, but the fact that I was the only one on the course made up for it (a little).

I finished 10 miles in 1:27:20--so an 8:43 pace. Considering that I went for the extra two mile challenge, I'm pretty happy.

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