...at least that's what my bib said. Hardcore? Me? Ha ha ha ha ha.
I'm softcore, if that! Or at least that's what I said to a woman on the course when I noticed the tag line of the race. She responded with, "I'm not even softcore. I don't have a core! I'm coreless!"
I didn't really have any expectations for this race. Prospect Park was the scene of my glorious Turkey Trot back in November - a hilly course that somehow is fast at the same time. It was a plum of a day, with the weather up into the 40s by the end and the sun making it seem even warmer. With my last two long runs having been on the dreadmill, I was just hoping to run anything under two hours. But I had no idea how realistic that was, even. I figured, if I kept my pace in the 11s, I'd be golden.
Early on I glanced at my watch and it said that I was doing 11:44. That seemed a tad slow, but it was still in my target, so I moved on. A half mile later, in the midst of the park's big hill, it said I was at 10:08. I pulled my jacket over my watch and moved on.
The next time I saw a clock was the 5m mark, and it read 52:xx. What? How could that be? That's faster than my recent 4m race pace! And it felt fine! So fine, in fact, that I was able to keep the pace up for the rest of the race and finish in 1:46! The course was three laps of the park, which meant doing the ginormous hill three times. I had promised myself that I could walk up the hill on the third time, but when I slowed to a walk I found it felt worse than running. So I started up running again. Did you read that? Walking was no break. That, my friends, is what they call "the zone." I was IN IT.
Not much else was notable. My superfeets (green) gave me an obnoxious blister on the inner arch of my right foot - about an inch long and narrow. Luckily I didn't notice it until mile 8, and then I ad other things on my mind. Like my competition.
My race was not at all marred by the man who finished mere seconds behind me. The older man. The older man who racewalked the whole race. I get it! I'm not that fast! But I didn't let him beat me, even though we were neck-and-neck for nearly a mile. It's heartening to hear that his 5k PR - walking - is 26:58.**
My race was not at all marred by the fact that they ran out of water mere minutes before I finished. It's kind of funny - when I'm superslow and a waterstation runs out of water, I'm annoyed but I just move on. This I was more annoyed by, precisely because I wasn't as slow as I've been in the past. There were still a fair number of runners out there behind me.
My race was marred by the fact that the F-train was running via shuttle bus service. A jerky, cramped, smelly shuttle bus full of runners. In the bright sun. I'm not sure how I escaped without either a migraine or throwing up. Ugh.
Also: it's an automatic PR if you've never finished a race of that distance before. So today was a 10m PR!* Half-marathon next weekend. My goal for the half has been to finish feeling strong, but McMillan predicts a 2:20. Oddly enough, I've only run a few halfs in my lifetime and I can say with some certainty that I haven't run that in years. Dare I dream?
*I'm choosing to trust the good folks of the PPTC and ignore the fact that my Garmin said it was only 9.9m. Surely if there is a mistake, it came from satellite data and not human error. [Someone at the Runner's World forum came up with 9.97, so it seems like it depended on where in the race lanes you were at. Figures I cut all the tangents. The human error is mine.]
**I just checked the results, and it appears that the walking man actually beat me. My clock time was a few seconds faster, but he had me on the chip time by a full minute. Bravo to him! And a thank you, as he kept me moving for the better part of the final lap.
On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"