Race 1 – Celebrate Israel 4 miler!

by Marathon Slob on June 4, 2012

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As part of my training, as well as potentially setting me up for guaranteed entry to the NYC Marathon next year, I have entered a number of races in the build up to November 4th!  The first of these races happened yesterday and it was the 4 mile ‘Celebrate Israel‘ race in Central Park.  It was an early start as the race started at 8am in Central Park.  I got up at around 5am and had a small breakfast and took in some water.  Although it was only a 4 mile race, I wanted to make sure I was prepared.  I had prepared my bib and attached the d-tag to my shoe the night before so although I was ready, I did feel a little nervous I this would be my first race and I really didn’t know what to expect!

We got to the start line after a fairly typical early morning weekend subway ride (very slow) with about 30 minutes to go until start time.  I made my way to my corral (I was in the 3rd corral based off of my slightly rounded down fastest 3 mile time!)  Surveying the rest of the folks in the corral, I didn’t feel out of place given the body shapes on show.  One young man in the corral was wearing a pair of Chuck Taylors.  I started to feel like I belonged, and feeling comfortable that I had not been placed in the corral with the Kenyan athletes, I did a little bit of light stretching to get ready. Before I knew it, they started making the pre-race announcements and sang the national anthem – it was go time!

Knowing that this was my first race, I had made the decision to not do anything silly and really try to go off at a reasonable pace rather than getting over excited and going off too quickly.  My goal time was a slightly optimistic 32 minutes.  I had only managed to complete the 3.35 mile loop of Prospect Park averaging under 8 minutes miles once before so given the slightly longer distance I decided to play it safe and shoot for an 8 minute mile pace.  As soon as the race started, I was a little bit surprised by how much jockeying went on in the opening stages.  There seemed to be a lot of people running slowly in front of of me and a lot of people running very quickly behind and trying to pass everyone.  It made for an interesting first half mile until I managed to weave my way around the really slow people and settle in to a group which matched my desired pace.  When I came through the 1st mile marker after having done all that weaving (as well it being a significantly uphill section) in 7:45 I knew I was probably going too fast!  Training and racing are two completely different beasts.  Just the fact that there are basically other runners pacing really did increase my pace.  I still felt great and this basically continued through the rest of the race.  When I got to the 3 mile mark in 23 minutes and still felt good I knew I had a good chance of a nice time.  I decided to push a little harder as there was only 1 mile left and see what I could do!  I noticed that on a lot of the uphill sections, I was overtaking a lot of other runners.  I put this down to the amoun of training I have done in the park that included a number of decent hills.  I am thinking a lot of people who were slowing down on the hills probably do the majority of their training on the flat.

I finished the race strongly, even managing a sprint finish and a high five with my daughter prior to the finish line.  I crossed the line in 30:32 and was actually a little disappointed I didn’t break the 30 minute barrier after coming so close!  The race was a great experience and I can’t wait to do more.  Both the motivation I will gain from running these races, as well as the experience, should hold me in good stead come November 4th and the NYC Marathon.

Here are the gory details of my race:



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