Five Borough Series: Bronx 10-Mile
Sunday was the Bronx 10-Miler, and with it I ticked off borough number four on my list. I planned to run it with Long Run Buddy, and we decided to shoot for an 8:15 pace, which was my distance-adjusted equivalent marathon pace. Rationally, I knew I should be able to do it, but 8:15’s sounded fast and, truth be told, I was a wee bit concerned about keeping it up. Sunday was fairly warm and I was coming off a hard week of training with only one rest day before the race. If there’s been an emergent theme to this season though, it’s that I’m tired of being scared to run fast*. As I shuffled up to the starting line, I decided that I was not really interested in listening to any more neurotic self doubt. My new motto was shut up and run.
With almost 10,000 people running down Grand Concourse, the first few miles required the usual NYRR bob-and-weave techniques. Eventually we found a pack running at our pace and tried to settle in. The course was shaped like an arrow with very short arms, with the first turn around mile 4 and the return to the vertical leg at mile 5. About 3 1/2 miles in I heard a wave of applause from the runners ahead, and cheered as the leader (and eventual winner) passed by. A minute or so later we passed another lone runner, and shortly thereafter, a larger pack that included the first two women.
I wish I could add some interesting local color of the Bronx here, but I really completely failed to take in any of the scenery. The course was rolling enough that a lot of runners weren’t holding a steady pace, so between the crowd and the grade changes, I was primarily focused on holding my speed and not tripping myself and others. At the halfway point I was still feeling good and not really registering the uphills too much. I had been fighting a slight side stitch since the first mile, but I tried to stay relaxed and belly breathe as deeply as possible.
By mile 7 I definitely felt like I was working, though, and that was where the mental game really began. My brain was making a very good case for slowing down–I had Marathon Hell Week coming up, it was hot, who was I to think I was fast enough to run 10 miles at 8:15 pace, and why did I really need to pass these people, anyway? As all of this was running through my mind, though, I noticed that my legs seemed strangely unaffected. I was holding pace just fine, nothing hurt, and my breath was even and controlled. Sure, I would preferred to have the whole thing be over at that point, but it was really going perfectly well. I repeated “Shut up and run” to myself, pulled it together, and enjoyed a few blissful minutes of brain silence. I wasn’t in the Zone exactly, but I did feel a bit like my body was doing what it already knew how to do and I was free to experience the ride without the incessant chatter from upstairs.
It was up and down a few more small hills, and then I was in the chute before I knew it with a good crowd cheering us in. I tried to pick off a few more people as I approached the finish line, and then it was over. As soon as I was clear of the runners coming in behind me, I checked my watch. My average split was 8:14–right on target. I’d like to say that I’m over the race and pace anxiety and I now fully trust my fitness and the training. The reality is, though, I’m already worrying over my last 20-miler this weekend. I’ll continue to work at building my confidence, and I really want to have the courage to lay it all on the line on race day, Shalane Flanagan-style. From here on it, the gameplan is shut up and run.
*Yes, I know that 8:15’s aren’t actually fast in the grand scheme of things.