This weekend would mark my second time running the famed 5th Avenue Mile. To my surprise, last year I ran a 5:01, and this year, I wanted more than anything to go sub 5. Putting this goal in my head would stress me out and haunt my thoughts all week, right up to the race.
Saturday morning I went for a 20 mile bike ride on my track bike to get my quads in gear. Since the bike can’t coast nor are there any brakes, you rely on your legs to slow down and stop, making it an ideal pre-sprinting workout.
Later that night Erika and I met at a German restaurant to have some beer and snacks (it’s almost Oktober after all) and then head over to see the play ‘Brief Encounter’. I would recommend the play as it’s a short 90 minute trip to 1938 with a few great musical numbers, although it’s not going to be winning any Tony Awards.
Since my heat was to start at 10:15AM I didn’t even set my alarm! What a refreshing difference it is to wake up for a race when the sun has already risen!
I ate some Irish Steel Cut Oats and had some Cafe Bustelo before heading out the door. I walked Erika to her start (she was to go off at 9:30) before heading down to 72nd street to cheer.
What an exciting day for spectating! Only second to the NYC Marathon itself. Every 15 minutes a wave of speedy runners comes zipping by! I got to see Steph, then Erika cruising down 5th, me yelling at them to pick it up!
On my way up to my heat I ran into Erin and then Elizabeth (who took this silly pic of me at the start).
Pre-race I did a quick run up to 84th and back down again where I ran into my friend Sebastian. He’s a really fast runner. We became friends last year during the Knickerbocker 60K when we ran the first 3 or 4 laps of Central Park together.
Getting into the corral I was far left and maybe 4 guys back. It was right where I wanted to be.
SIDENOTE: It’s funny what happens on game day. All week I had been questioning myself… could I really run a sub 5 mile? Last year I was 2 seconds off, but had I trained well? Did I eat a good breakfast? Were my legs and heart ready to go in overdrive? It would all be over so fast, and then there would be 1 year to think about the outcome.
The gun sounded and we all took off. I crossed the start mat about a second off from the gun time, which would play into my results later.
As we cleared the start, the Avenue opened up and I shot far left, passing a handful of people before settling in. As we hit the 1/4 Mile marker at 1:10 I was thrilled, but focused and kept pushing forward feeling great.
Between 1/4 Mile mark and the 1/2 Mile mark is a gradual uphill which you would think isn’t that big of a deal, but trust me, it is. Anything that slows you down by even 10 seconds in a 1 Mile race is a huge factor. Swinging my arms like a mad man, I hit the apex and the 1/2 way mark at just about 2:25. Once again, I was happy, but knew it was only going to get harder.
The group of 30 or so runners I was in was now spread out like a flock of geese and I was on the far left wing holding on. I could barely see the leader of this flock as by now my vision was blurred and I was red lining in overdrive. The triangle started to tighten up as the 3/4 mark hit. I still thought I had this sub 5 thing locked.
400 Meters to go may not seem far, but it is an eternity in this race! The crowds were now thick and cheering us on, although I barely took notice. It’s as though all of my life support functions and senses rerouted everything to my legs, lungs, and heart as my hearing and vision were totally out of whack. Slow motion would be a good description… everything was moving in slow motion.
As I hit the 200 Meter mark I looked ahead to the finish and my heart sunk. The clock read 4:50! How had I lost those precious seconds I thought I had captured in the beginning? My dismay turned to quick anger at the thought of not fulfilling my goal and I got pretty fired up.
With 10 seconds to go, I threw down the clutch again into some unknown gear and blasted forward, my eyes on the clock the whole time! 4:52, 4:53, 4:54 and my heart was on fire, lungs burning. As the clock went from 4:59 to 5:00 I took my last step and bolted across the finish, unsure of my exact time. I was excited, but not quite ready to celebrate without knowing my time.
The walk home was rough, my lungs burning the whole time. Many of my runner friends experienced this as well. I think it was the cooler weather compounded by high speed racing.
Later that day I was hanging out at Dorrian’s Bar with my brother, his girlfriend Allison, and few others as the final times came in. Scrolling down the listing there it was, 4:59 on the dot! I threw my hands up and yelled out, a big smile on my face. Everyone at the table thought something related to football had occurred, until I explained my crazy runner excitement! Relief rushed over me. I had accomplished my goal.
I left and met Erika at Dinosaur BBQ to celebrate. She also ran the race and did great with a 6:26 pace! It was the perfect ending to a triumphant weekend.
This race to me, represents the concept of ‘goals’. It’s the perfect race for it, as it’s a mile. All of my friends who were out there racing today, from fast to slow, all set a goal that they wanted to achieve. It really makes me proud to be friends with such a dedicated group of people who all take time to go all out and give it their best! Just watching the twitter feed all day was enough to motivate and inspire anyone! Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend whether it was the 5th Avenue Mile, the Newport Liberty Half Mary, or a 100K Ultra!