Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Race Recap - Running Festival of Lights


At 6am on Sunday, I woke up much earlier than usual to get into the freezing cold and out to Bay Ridge for the Running Festival of Lights.  I had a run in with a zombie on my way to the subway (no, seriously. the guy was limping with his head crooked and growled at me when I passed him.), and ended up missing my train (not just because of the zombie - I left late and had to buy a new metrocard).  I had to wait another 20 minutes for the next one, and after the hour-long ride, I arrived at the start line at 7:57am, just three minutes before we were set to start.  I was worried about not being able to find the friends I was meeting, Liz and her husband Dana, but the group was so small (173 runners total) that almost instantly after I arrived, I heard them call my name.  Being late actually ended up being a blessing because it meant I didn't need to wait outside for very long.  It was SO cold out!  Just freezing, and the wind coming off the water made things even worse.

Liz and me, right before the race started. It was so chilly!

We had to wait until just after 8 to start running, and I thought there might be a mutiny with all of us lined up and freezing.  We were ready to run!  Before the race started, my toes started to feel numb, and I'd never run in weather so cold before.  I assumed they'd warm up as I was running, but once the race started, they actually got worse.  I felt like I was running with bricks strapped to my feet.  I wasn't wearing my watch (stupidly forgot it on the windowsill where it was charging), so I wasn't sure how fast I was running, but with the brick-feet and the ice on the path, I felt pretty sure I was going slowly.

I've been saying that my goal for 2014 (in addition to marathon training) is to run a 5k in under 30 minutes.  I'm not very fast when running, but it seemed reasonable, and when I signed up for this race, which took place entirely on a flat bike-path, I secretly thought that this one might have been my race.  With all that wind, though, and my feet feeling so terrible, I knew it probably wasn't the right time for a PR.  I mostly just tried to keep with a few specific people in front of me, some of whom were running in parkas!

Before I made the turn for the "back" part of the out-and-back, I saw Liz running and kicking ass - she's so fast!  As it turns out, she made her goal (running it in under 25 minutes), AND came in first in her age group!  I kept going at what felt like a glacial pace (because it was so cold, get it? ha. ha.), and took in some of the really gorgeous views of lower Manhattan from the bike-path.  I wasn't sure how far along I was, but pretty quickly, the finish line came into view, and I could see the clock at 29:51.  I pushed really hard for those last few yards, and crossed the line at 30:02, pretty angry at myself for not pushing just a little harder earlier in the race to make my 2014 goal early.

Maybe not the most flattering photo of me ever, but I'm about to PR!

I got my medal (first one!) and then Liz, Dana and I headed straight back to their apartment (they live in the neighborhood) because it was too cold to stand outside for another minute.  Roger met us at their apartment, and the four of us had a really delicious (and warm!) breakfast of bagels and espresso.  It was wonderful, and the perfect way to warm up was chatting in their gorgeous house, eating a perfect breakfast and playing with their adorable greyhound.   Then, Liz and I got emails with our official scores, and we found out we'd both been disappointed in our times for no reason - we'd both made our goals!  The time, 29:49, is my PR, and I couldn't have been more excited.  I came in 12th place in my division, and I know that was helped along by how small the race was, but it still feels like an accomplishment.

Overall, even though the weather was pretty brutal, the race itself and our celebratory breakfast was just wonderful.  I'd definitely consider running this one again, although hopefully next year, it would be a little warmer!

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