Thursday, June 19, 2014

Race Report: Oakley Mini 10k 2014

I decided to go ahead and write this while it's still fresh in my mind, even though I was not at all pleased with my performance.

Normally I try to leave bib pickup out of the summary unless I do it on the morning of the race, but I'm going to talk about it today because it was very exciting. I went to pick up bibs and shirts for myself and my friend Michelle on Friday afternoon. I climbed the stairs to the second floor of the NYRR building on 89th Street and got in the E line. As I got to the front, the person asked my name and began rifling through the bibs. I noticed the one at the back of the stack was blue and laughingly thought to myself "what if I got a blue bib?"


I got a blue bib. Guys, I don't think I can properly communicate to you how amazing it was to get one of these. Blue bibs are distributed to runners in the front corral. It's the fastest corral! I have always told people that whenever I see someone wearing a blue bib, I feel like going up to them and shaking their hand because…well, because! They're among the best in the city. If past-me had seen today-me, she would have wanted to shake today-me's hand.

Anyway, I'm skipping ahead. That was yesterday's pleasant surprise and only happened because this is a women only race so the crowd and distribution of its abilities are a little different from most races. This morning, I got up extra early to meet Elana in Queens so we could get a few extra miles in before the race. I didn't think this would impact my time that much, but I guess it's possible. Whatever the case was, it was not my best day. I can point to a number of different things that were not helping, but it won't accomplish much. The bottom line is that I could and should have done better.

I do want to mention the blue bib effect. Believe it or not, having the blue bib actually made the race worse for me. I got into my corral and it was a whole different experience from what I'm used to. I had a perfect view of the announcer stage and all the people they brought to the podium. These included Mary Wittenberg (of course), Kathrine Switzer, Desiree Davila, Nina Kuscik and Adrianne Haslet-Davis. I've never been so close to the start line in my life. A volunteer kept telling me to move forward but I didn't want to! I barely felt like I belonged in the corral, let alone the front of it.

And that is a problem. It was a problem today and it will continue to be a problem in the future if I don't try to fix it. Whatever the pace cutoff NYRR used to determine who was in which corral, I fell into the blue one.  I belonged there by virtue of that. But I found myself feeling very insecure. I was looking around, trying to see the paces of other people and worrying when I saw that they were all (all two that I managed to see before having to focus on the start of the race) faster than mine. I couldn't shake the "what am I doing here?" feeling. If I intend to qualify for Boston at any point, I need to be a lot more confident in my abilities.

Back to the race. As soon as the horn rang out, my corral moved forward. I've never crossed the start line so quickly at a Road Runners race. I knew I'd go out fast since I was surrounded by fast people, so I tried to be aware of that and not go out as quickly as I was inclined to. I ran my first mile in 7:32, which was probably a bit fast. But my biggest issue was that I was in my head about whether or not I could keep up with everyone else and internally deciding that I probably couldn't and constantly checking to reaffirm that self-defeating attitude. It was kind of a nightmare. And once I had sufficiently sunk my race to the point where I didn't need to check those things, it just became a slog. I had a tough race and ended up with a time of 51:36.

Elana and Michelle also had tough runs. Elana dropped off at mile 5 and headed home while Michelle continued on to the finish. Afterward, there was a post-race festival and we hung out there for a bit. We entered the raffle and got autographs from Desiree Linden, who was also cool enough to take a picture and chat briefly. We were in line to meet Lauren Fleshman, but she seemed to disappear before we made it to the front of the line.


It was not my best race performance, but there will be better.

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