Monday, September 24, 2012

Three Loops of Central Park=Super Tiring. Aka 18 Mile Tune-Up Race Recap

On Saturday I ran the 5th Ave Mile and yesterday I ran a NYRR 18 Mile Tune-Up race.  These two things are very different!  Yesterday's course was three counterclockwise loops of Central Park.  Which means three times up the Great Hill, three times up Cat Hill and three times up every other hill in Central Park that normally doesn't seem big, but seems like a mountain when running three loops.

I went into this race somehow thinking that it would be easier than the 5th Ave mile.  I'm not a sprinter and I prefer longer distances, but yesterday was equally hard, or maybe even harder. (Duh, it was 17 miles farther!) Three weekends ago, I ran the Bronx 10 Mile race.  Last weekend I ran the Philly Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, then the 5th Ave Mile on Saturday.  No wonder I've been so tired the last few weeks- physically and mentally.  While I didn't race any of these races, except for the mile, I ran them all at a much faster pace than a normal long run for me.  I don't think I really took this into account before the 18 mile tune-up.  I just assumed that my legs would be fine and that I could run this easily at 8:30 pace (my goal for this race). But, combine tired legs and lots of hills and this becomes a hard, tiring 18 miles!

Yesterday was a great morning for a race (actually, all of my races this month have had perfect weather!)- slightly chilly and the sun was just coming up as I left my apartment. I made it to the start in just enough time to put my stuff in baggage, look (unsuccessfully) for a few people, spot Laura (you'll hear about her later) crossing through the corrals but too far away to talk to her, and then get ready to run!

Just after 7am, we were off!  I felt great through the first loop.  The Great Hill was in mile one, so I hardly even noticed it since I was just starting and had a little bit of adrenaline.  But the second time up the Great Hill took a lot out of me, and I was really beginning to struggle mentally after about 8 miles.  I knew I was almost halfway, and only had to run the Great Hill one more time, but was feeling fatigued and not super excited to be running.  Right after the halfway point, I saw a flash of green and blue out of my eye as a girl ran next to me.  It was Laura!  She had headphones on so didn't hear me say her name, so I tapped her on the shoulder.  We said hi, asked how the other was doing, discussed our desired pace (at this point, I said 8:30-8:40 for me- wasn't feeling too confident anymore! And she said 8:30 for her) and caught up a bit.  I was able to get out of my head and carry on a (breathless) conversation.  While I definitely noticed that we were picking up the pace, it was great to have someone to run with and make the miles go by faster (literally)!  I asked her to pace me in Philly.  She's running NYC and isn't registered for Philly, but those are just little details, right?!  She didn't say no.... :)

I felt like I was holding her back so was telling her to go ahead if she wanted to, but we stuck together for 6-7 miles.  Running with her (or maybe trying to keep up with her would be more accurate...) made the rest of the 2nd loop, and half of the 3rd loop go by fairly quickly!  I was more tired physically, from runner the faster paces (see the splits below from miles 10-16...that's when I was running with Laura....) but less tired mentally.  And sometimes, your mental state is more important than your physical state on a long run.  After mile 16, Laura started to push ahead, but my lower back was really starting to hurt and I just didn't have it in me to push it to keep up with her. I did, apparently, have some steam left for mile 18 though, which I did all on my own! Yay! I think I just really wanted to be finished. And to sit down. And stretch. And sleep. And give my legs and entire body a break.

Splits from my Garmin:

Official results:

Thank you, Laura, for helping me reach my goal pace for this race!  I definitely would NOT have been able to do it without you!

While this race felt hard, I think it puts me in a really good place for Philly.  I still have 8 weeks left (wow, so long!), and after 3 weeks of tapering before the marathon, my legs will definitely be much more rested and ready than they were yesterday.'s a LOT less hilly in Philly than Central Park.  But then again, most things are when 3 loops are included...

Now it's cutback week! Except that still includes four runs of 8 miles each, which doesn't seem that short or easy to me.... Maybe I'll take these runs to the Westside Highway to get away from the CP hills!

How's your training going?  What did you think of the tune-up race?  What's your next race?


  1. I ran the tune-up race before NYCM 2010, which was my first marathon. I thought it was boring at the time, but of course now I wish I had an 18-mile race here in Houston that I could run in training!

    Is Philly your first marathon? You're going to rock it! :)

  2. I was really glad to have this race (not necessarily the course....) to give me an idea of what I can do/what to expect for Philly! Yup, it'll be my first marathon and it still seems super crazy far to me, but hopefully I'll make it! :) What number marathon is NYCM for you? Good luck!! Sounds like your training has been going well! Hope to meet Carla's twin while you're here :)

  3. NYCM is my third year in a row running it and fourth marathon overall (only other one I've done is Houston last year). The first time I did NYC, I ran it a lot faster than expected, and the second time I totally bonked in the second half. Hoping to finally "win" this time around, even if it's only a tiny little PR!