I was torn on whether or not to register for the NY Mini 10K. It was a race I wanted to run purely for the significance it has in the history of women's running. But it fell the morning after the surprise party I was planning for Mike's birthday.
In the end I decided to do it because I was having trouble mustering up motivation to hit the treadmill during my lunch hour. The weekend runs I once craved started becoming somewhat dreaded as I tried to catch-up on sleep from the previous week. But having a race on the calendar always seems to put things in perspective for me.
I woke up Sunday morning, still exhausted from the stress and excitement of pulling off the surprise party the night before. I winced at the sunlight when I stepped outside. I knew I couldn't ask for a better day for running: high 60's, partly sunny, not too humid. But I really just wanted to crawl back into my cool, cozy bed with the blinds drawn tight.
The race started on 61st and Central Park West and I yawned the entire way over. I sleepily entered my corral and made a half-hearted attempt to stretch. I love running in women-only races, the atmosphere is much friendlier and there aren't as many people to trip over. But the nervous-energy and chatter of all the females around me was a bit much to handle when I was so tired.
Mary Wittenberg, the president and CEO of NYRR, stepped-up to the microphone to give her usual pre-run motivational speech. I usually do not listen too closely, but something she said really caught my attention. In talking about how much women's running has changed in the 38 runnings of the race, she congratulated all of the 4,300 women standing on Central Park West that morning, "Ladies, today we are here to celebrate you, to celebrate that you manage to fit running into your busy lives."
Despite how tired I felt, I killed the first 5K of the race, clocking all my splits under 7 minutes and 30 seconds. Running felt effortless and easy. But as soon as I passed the 5K marker, the hilly paths of Central Park started reminding my body that is was exhausted and worn-down. My pace slowed and I seemed to be fighting my legs to stay on the course and not start running towards the apartment.
The second half of the race was definitely a mind-over-body experience. I kept looking for landmarks, kept thinking of how I could sleep all afternoon if I wanted, kept thinking about what I was going to eat for breakfast. I crossed the finish line in 48 minutes 39 seconds, just one second shy of my PR for a 10K. My split times were saved by my speedy first half, averaging out to 7 minutes 50 seconds per mile.
It was a tough run, but sometimes those are the most special. It was a true reflection of fitting running into my very hectic schedule: half the time it's easy and free, half the time it's tough and painful. But finishing each run and each race gives me a sense of satisfaction and pride that I cannot seem to find anywhere else.