On Sunday I had the Run For the Parks 4-miler, another NYRR race in my quest for the 9+1 and guaranteed entry for the 2016 NYC Marathon. After a 20-mile bike ride on Saturday I was in no mood to get myself up and in Central Park by 7:45 AM for a race that—if all went well—was going to take me less an half an hour. Off I went, though, hoping that my tired legs and squeaky toe were up for it. The subways can be kind of a crapshoot on Sunday mornings, so I allowed a lot of extra time for travel and ended up (for once) arriving a good bit early for the race. It was still fairly cool out so I used the time to warm up and probably put in close to a mile before I started working my way to the start. I hadn’t run since Tuesday due to the toe squeak, so I was anxious to get some strides in and feel out a good race pace before we started. I was hoping for a pace in the low 7’s, but every time I thought I was probably approaching that and checked the Garmin, my pace was actually low 7’s/high 8’s. It didn’t seem like the best sign, but I finally hit it and held it long enough for it to sink into my brain and then headed off to the start.
The race had a strong turnout, which is great since 100% of the proceeds go to park programs, but 8,000+ people in Central Park does get a bit crowded. I was in the third corral thanks to my Prospect 4-miler time, and I figured having fast people around me would help a lot with the pacing. We got off to a quick start and I focused on breathing and finding a good rhythm. I pushed pretty hard and I really don’t remember much of the race other than trying and succeeding in overtaking some chic in a Boston Athletic Association jacket, and dropping one of my gloves half a mile from the finish. That was upsetting because 1) they’re my favorite lucky running gloves, and 2) I knew it was stupid to try to take them off when I was that close to the end. I clocked in at 28:55, which was 7:14 splits—30 seconds/mile better than my Prospect 4-miler in February. As soon as I cleared the chute I worked my way back to where I dropped the glove, waited for a break in the runners, and did something resembling one of those football player drills to dart out, grab the glove off the ground, and then run back to the curb without disrupting the flow of the race. Thus reunited with my gloves, I headed back to the finish to wait for LRB, who was running with a newbie friend. When the results were posted it turned out that I had finished 13th in my age group and 103rd overall woman, which, given the field size, is probably my best finish ever. It was totally the gloves.
After the race and some brunch with LRB and his friend, I hit the pool to work on the two-beat kick we had learned in class last week. (And by “learned” I mean attempted with much awkward flailing.) Since I had already put in a hard cardio effort I decided just to really focus on technique on the swim. I spent 30 minutes kicking down the pool one length on my back, then working on the two-beat kick swimming back. Since I could catch my breath on the kicking lengths, it took some of the pressure off timing the breathing with the two-beat, and by the end I felt like I was starting to get the hang of it. I suspect that my kick form could still use some work, though. It feels more like flinging something icky off my foot than a singular flutter kick, but I think it’s progress nonetheless.
This weekend I also officially joined the Brooklyn Tri Club, and we had our first bike workout of the season bright and early this morning. I was able to hang with the other newbies, but I am getting my first bout of seriously cold feet for the upcoming races. When I started this whole tri endeavor, it was the swim that scared me. Now it’s the bike that I find myself dreading. Despite all the time I spent on the trainer this winter, being on the road is a whole different world. I find riding in traffic really nerve-wracking, and I still find the feeling of being clipped in terrifying challenging. After my ride on Saturday I decided to wear running shoes when I’m riding on the streets for the time being, and only clip in when I’m in the park or otherwise out of traffic. That has at least eased some of the anxiety I have when cabs are whizzing by me inches from my elbow.
I’m actually surprised at how vulnerable I feel when I’m just riding fast in the park, though. I love going fast on skis or skates, but on the bike I just keep thinking about broken bones and road rash. This morning we were working on keeping a fast cadence and spinning on the small chain ring, and I was having a really hard time convincing myself to pedal downhill. I hope know that a lot of this will work itself out as I get more comfortable on the bike and log some more road time. My first sprint tri is a month away, though, and I feel woefully underprepared at the moment. I’ve been focused on running these past few months and I still haven’t done a real brick workout, let alone an open water swim. I need to just sit down and layout my training calendar for the next four weeks, get the key workouts scheduled, and I know I’ll feel a lot better. But between work, training, and minimal sleep requirements I can’t seem to find the time. Also, I’m getting worried about the squeaky toe. Before the stress fracture, I would have just run on it and not worried unless I could hear it over my ipod, but now I’m afraid of another boot-bound month and lost training hours. I keep reminding myself that part of the reason I wanted to do the tri was for the challenge—to learn to swim properly, to get better at biking, and to do something that a few years ago I thought I could never, ever do. Then there’s the part of me that keeps screaming, “screw this! I just want to run!” One of these days, she’ll come around, right?