One of my goals for 2009 was to participate in more smaller races organized by local running clubs and/or organizations. Today's race falls into that category. The PPTC organized today's race in Brooklyn's Prospect Park (PP). I left my house in NJ pretty early because I was unfamiliar with the area and I didn't know what the parking situation was going to be. Turns out I got there in under 40 minutes and found a spot right in front of Bishop Ford High School where race packet pickup was. As more runners filed in to pick up their numbers, I began to feel a little out of place. Most runners were tops with the name of their running club on it. I was one of the few runners not sporting a club top. It was no big deal, I usually know few, if any, people when I run a NYRR race.
The walk to PP was a few blocks so it gave me an opportunity to warm up. The course was a little more than 3 laps around the park. I've never run in PP so I didn't know what to expect. In many ways PP is a "mini" Central Park. It has a skating rink, a zoo, a large lawn area similar to the Great Lawn, and one killer hill. My plan was to run this race at a training pace since I'll be running the E. Murray Todd Half Marathon next Sunday.
The race started and I settled into what I thought was a comfortable pace. My mile 1 split was 7:53. Mile 2 took me up the big hill for the first time. While not as bad as Harlem Hill, it was pretty steep. I used this mile to regroup and came through at 8:07. Mile 3 featured some rolling hills and a nice downhill, I came through in 7:33, again too fast. Just past mile 3, I took some water and ran on. Mile 4 was mainly flat, my legs must have still must have been turning over quickly from mile 3 and came through in 7:28. If I didn't take my pace down a few notches, I'd bonk out before the end of the race. Splits for miles 5, 6, and 7 were 8:15, 8:15, 8:26. That's more like it. Mile 8 brings me up the hill one last time. My legs feel good from slowing down a bit. I come through mile 8 in 8:03. At this point there were plenty of runners that finished the race and stuck around to support teammates and other runners. It was just the boost I needed. Mile 9 split is 8:18. One more to go. I decided to see what I have left and started picking up the pace for the last mile. Right before the finish a runner shouted, "you're at 1:19, pick it up if you want to finish under 1:20!" That's exactly what I did. I stopped my watch and it read 1:19:14, a 7:56 pace!
After picking up 2 bottles of OWater, I walked back to Bishop Ford, grabed my bagel and hot chocolate and hung out for a bit. Again I felt out of place as teammates were comparing race results and congratulating each other on a good race.
The official results are still not on the PPTC website. Once again, I am happy with my finishing time, I am not happy with the way I ran the race. I need to control my energy during the early mile and unleash it later on.I'll have a chance to do that next week.