Emerald Nuts Race Review

Before the race:

 Acting like a fool!

I didn’t get the typical pre-race jitters and nervous excitedness that usually accompanies a race. This time, I felt like I was just going home for the holidays as I always do. I got a nice, restful night of sleep – never once even thinking about the following day’s race. Friday afternoon I took a train into the city and headed towards a family friends apartment. My mom and I did a little bit of shopping on the way, so I didn’t think it was necessary to shake out my legs with a jog. Instead, I laid around a beautiful NYC apartment overlooking Central Park, watching Elf, and enjoying my heated surroundings! I started my warm up about 55 minutes out from race time – jogging the course backwards from the finish line. Towards the end of my warm-up I saw Desi – this was the first time I really felt like I was racing. I wasn’t sure if she’d be able to make the race since over 10,000 flights were canceled and flights to NYC were booked for days, but now I knew for sure and was getting a little worried about my chances at top 3 (and a cash prize). I attempted to find an open road for some drills and strides, but with 5,000 people in the race and a ton of people watching, that was impossible to find. I walked around for a while, and then finally sucked it up and did what I could. About 20 minutes from race time I made my way over to the start. It was packed! I didn’t know how I would ever get to the front. Where were the elites? I found my mom, got my racing flats on, and sneaked into the front when security wasn’t looking. I did 1 stride, but after that they wouldn’t let any of us “regular” people across an area they had taped off about 10 feet from the start line. So, instead of strides and more drills I ran in place and jumped a lot. Finally the elites came out – into the area I wasn’t allowed into. I’m not going to lie, my pride was hurt, and I was upset. I knew I belonged with the elite’s, but there was nothing I could do at this point. My mom tried to talk to the elite athletic coordinator, and he did come over and introduce himself, but my positioning was never changed. Enough self pity I thought, and kept telling myself to turn my feelings into race energy. A minute before race start the tape was taken down and everyone was able to line up behind the elites. I tucked in behind some elite men and took off when I saw fireworks!

During the race:

I got out well, and started looking around for Desi. Carmen was out really quick, Desi, Frances, and I stayed back a little. I felt pretty good, but knew we were running fast. By the first mile Carmen was way out in front, Desi was a little behind, and I was right behind Frances. I hit the first mile in 5:07. I didn’t know we were going that fast! The hills were harder than they usually are for me, but I was able to use the down hill to my advantage and stick close to Frances. At this point Desi was already closing the gap to Carmen and pulling away from Frances and I. At the end of the second mile I passed Frances, then she passed me, then I passed her, and finally she passed me again. I was suprised by how fast she was running since she was breathing so hard! I didn’t feel like wasting my energy going back and forth the whole time, and as we started climbing another hill I kind of gave up. The second mile was 5:13. Once I let Frances go I felt like I was running in no man’s land. Once I was all alone I let myself get lost in the scene – fireworks, central park, midnight! Every uphill I thought about stopping and every turn seemed like it should have been the mile marker. My third mile was incredibly slow – I’m too embarassed to even write the time on here. On the fourth mile I started to notice that I was gaining on Frances, especially on the downhills. I slowly reeled her in, catching her as we made the final turn. There was still about 200 meters left in the race and she has a good kick, so I didn’t want to go too soon – I didn’t want to leave her time to react and pass me again. However, a spectator yelled “you can catch her” and she looked back at me and put in a quick surge. It was now or never. I kicked by her like I was doing a 200 meter repeat and finished in 20:37 for 3rd place.

After the race:

I definitely had too much left in the tank. I think I need to tell myself the race is over with 800 meters left, because no matter how tired I am, I always find a way to kick at the end, but I don’t always gut it out in the middle of the race. Going out really fast and hanging on for dear life isn’t my typical style of racing, and I hated it. I’m going to have to think about a different strategy for US XC or figure out a way to stay tough in the middle of the race when it starts hurting (or both). On a positive note, I am super happy about making $300! Also, I think I got out really well and felt suprisingly good the first mile for running so fast. Looking ahead, since my next race is only 3000 meters, I think I need to do more long quick intervals so that pace feels even easier. Overall, I definitely think I could have ran faster, but not fast enough to be up with Carmen and Desi. So, in the end it wouldn’t have mattered how much faster I had ran, I still would have gotten 3rd. My time goal was between 21:30-21:45 – I hit that, even though I ran 60 miles last week (the most I’ve ran in a week since April) and 55 this week, plus cross training and keeping up with my general strength routine.

Thanks to NYRR and Emerald Nuts for putting on a great race!

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison

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