Just two days before the race I was still hemming and hawing about what to do. It had recently been suggested that I pick a race of a shorter distance and go all out - 115% effort. If I have the race of my life... Excellent. If I red line and blow up... Excellent. Either way I learn a good lesson about my ability.
I eventually decided to follow this suggestion and drop the hammer on this 4-miler. Given the fair weather it seemed reasonable that I would best my recent PR for this distance.
At the very last minute I changed my mind and decided to run the 15K instead. However, I did not change my race strategy. This 15k was to be a knock down, drag out, bare-knuckled slugfest.
I queued up right at the front of the starting chute with a couple of the fastest of my teammates. Speaches were made and the starting horn sounded.
I ran my best time for the 15k last year. I finished in 1:06:35 which is a pace of 7:09 per mile. On Sunday my first mile clocked in at 6:15... Mile 2 came and went in 6:02. Clearly I was on a mission!
As I past the 3 mile marker it dawned on me that I had just run my fastest 5k ever. I also realized that my heart was about to explode. As much as I'd like it to be true, I am not yet capable of running this pace for 9.3 miles.
Somewhere between mile 4 and 5 I realized that keeping a positive mental outlook was going to be key to getting myself across the finish line. As thoughts of slowing down or giving up crossed my mind I actually spoke these words allowed:
"no. No. NO!"
Those running near me must have thought me crazy... but that was just the begining! An old Johnny Mercer song then popped into my head and I had a new mantra!
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
With my new found positive outlook came a little boost in energy and I muscled up Cat Hill for the second time and pushed as hard as I could along the reletively flat East Drive.
The race then cut across Central Park and doubled-back down the rolling hills of West Drive. At the top of one of these hills I bonked...
I ran out of gas...
I was messing with Mister In-Between.
With a few choice words I got myself running again by accentuating the positive fact that the finish line was only two miles away.
This 15-kilometer rumble was giving me a whoopin' but like Rocky Balboa I still had a little fight left in me for the last round.
With about a half mile to go I heard someone call my name... And then again... And then a few hundred meters from the finish line my teammate Eddie passed me.
Oh no you don't!
I kicked like I've never kicked before and I got him by 2 seconds.
Photo by Jared Mestre
My finish time was 1:02:30 a pace of 6:43 per mile and a personal record by over four minutes. Needless to say, I am very pleased.
Of course there are the inevitable "what if's" and the "could have," "should have" and "would have's" but I ran a great race and can honestly say I gave it my best.
"You're gonna eat lightnin' and you're gonna crap thunder!"
-Mickey Goldmill in Rocky (1976)