New this year, the New York Road Runners Club held a race the day before the ING New York City Marathon called the Dash to the Finish Line. NYRR recruited about 40 of America's top distance runners, assembling a field probably more competitive than a national championships. Adding this 5k gave many of the runners who are training for the US Olympic Marathon Trials (in Houston in January) a chance to participate in the NYC Marathon festivities, even though racing a marathon right now wouldn't fit into their programs.
I decided to jump into the race last Wednesday evening, after my training partner Justin told me that his roommate (Ugandan 5k national record holder) was racing. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to race all these top runners, so after a few emails and a trip to the marathon expo, I was in. My coach, Cliff, quickly shifted my training program for the rest of the week to accomadate a last minute race. Since my last triathlon in Dallas on October 2, I've been focusing on running and trying to get back the strength lost due to injuries that last 2 seasons. Workouts have been steadily improving, so I thought there might be a chance that I could run a decent time.
Race morning was cold (maybe 35 degrees) and windy, but luckily I had Laurel there as support to take all of my warm gear right before the start. Plus, without a cold swim and bike ride, 35 degrees didn't feel that bad! The course started by the UN and then we headed south on first avenue to 42nd street. When the gun went off the pace felt fast, but manageable and I just tried to hang with the last of the fast girls. I wasn't sure how long I was going to feel good or be able to hang on, but it lasted all the way until we turned up 6th avenue and headed towards the park. Just before the mile mark, Caroline Lefrak from NYAC came by me and was moving through the field. I tried to stay as close to her as I could because I knew she was going to run a fast time. Once we got to the hills in the park, she pulled away and ended up running sub-17. I hung on and finished in 17:20. Running up the last hill to Tavern on the Green felt almost as hard as it felt finishing the marathon.
Even though the pace was faster than anything I've done all season, it actually felt natural. So, thanks to David Monti and Mary W. for giving me the opportunity to feel like a runner again! --Bec