Why? Beats me. But, I'll tell you how I got there.
My plan for the weekend was this: Saturday morning, try out the Nike Marathon Training Group (out of Niketown) and see if that could be my long run; Sunday morning, run with the NYRC Marathon Training Group - for my long run if need be, or just for a recovery run otherwise.
I'd heard that the Nike runners were a large group and that they were more friendly to slower runners. They also have a policy of not leaving the last runner behind, which I like. So, I was excited.
I'd run with them once before, and it was an odd experience, enough so that I never returned. I think it may have been before I started this blog. It was the middle of winter, cold and dark, and we were running an out-and-back 4m. A little before the turn around, I noticed the last Nike pacer was kind of circling around near the woman who had to have been the very last runner. The woman was struggling. I stopped to walk, more to see if this woman needed company than for myself. And she did! (When I say the pacer was circling around near here, that's literal - she'd run ahead, run back, stop and stretch, run back.)
It turns out this woman had never run before in her life, but some coworkers had told her to try the Nike group since they're encouraging of all abilities. She was wearing a cotton sweatshirt, yoga pants, and older shoes. We walked together for a bit - just long enough for the pacer to think we were friends and to wander farther afield.
Now, I was stuck. Frankly, I didn't want to walk the 2m back to the store with this woman. But, I didn't see how I could abandon her. I tried everything: "We'll feel warmer if we run!" or, trying to get the pacer's attention and point out to her that I didn't know this woman. Finally, the pacer came over by us and started small talking.
She mentioned something about a race she'd done recently, and I murmured the polite, "oh, that's so impressive," that was called for. And here's what the pacer said: "Oh, you'll get there. Coming out today is a great start. Soon you'll be able to run the full 4m, and then someday a 10k, and if you keep trying, maybe even a marathon eventually! You don't have to run fast to get to the finish, you know."
Yeah, I know. Trust me, I know.
I wasn't offended by her comment so much as by the fact that she didn't even listen to us enough to catch on that a) we weren't friends, and b) I actually was a runner capable of running 4 (or more!) miles. I don't hold it against Nike or against that particular pacer. But it was annoying.
So, Saturday. They do have a large group, and the plan was to run 10m around Central Park. My typical pace for long runs (and I wanted to add a few miles on post-Nike) has been around 11 minute pace, and with the hills of Central Park I was thinking I'd scale that back to 11:15 or 11:30, even (it was hot). When they divided us up into groups for pacing, the last group was planning to run a 10 minute mile pace.
Whoa, there. I can't do that. My fastest pace for Central Park during a 4m race is 9:52. My 10m race PR is 10:30.
I told the pacer that I'd be the last, and she said she'd keep an eye out for me. She meant that literally - every little bit she'd glance over her shoulder and make sure I was still there.
So there I was, during a hot part of the day (they don't start until 9, which was actually more like 9:15 or 9:30), running a course I hate, all by myself.
I tried to pull it together and salvage the run. I knew it wouldn't be my long run, but could it at least be a decent tempo run? The first mile, with the stupid Cat Hill, was 10:08 by my watch - and I was a ways behind the group. By mile 2 (slowed to 10:20 on my watch), I couldn't even see the group anymore. I was done and I decided to run home. The pacer had turned around to run back to me, so I told her that the group was too fast for me and that my run was over and I'd be leaving Central Park. She looked confused; I could tell she didn't know how to handle the situation and I felt kind of bad about it, but I couldn't keep up.
So I left Central Park at 100th St., sat down on a park bench in the middle of the intersection of Amsterdam and 100th, and felt the tears. Tears that I'm a crappy runner, tears that I couldn't keep up with that group, tears that my long run was bagged, tears that I ran TWO TIMES last week because of this stupid funk.
I got it together after a few minutes (okay, actually after I was kicked off the bench by some guy watering flowers) and I ran home - the second half of the run was actually pretty great.
But that's where I'm at. I'm determined that this week will be better and I'll get myself together. Starting... tonight after work. When I run. Hold me to it.