Yesterday, I ran my fourth New York Road Runner’s 5th Avenue Mile. It’s the second time I’ve ran it all out. The other years I was coming off of an injury, but ran it for fun because I had signed up for it.
The first year I ran the race, I had zero expectations. I ran as fast as I could and pulled out a super random 6:06. It was definitely the fastest mile I’ve ran as an adult. The problem with unexpectedly running a fast race when you weren’t very fit is that it puts a lot of pressure on that race distance the next time you run it.
For a few years now, I’ve really wanted a sub 6:00 5th Avenue Mile. There are several problems with this goal. For starters I’m old. I’m not training specifically for a one mile race. And I’ve only raced one mile twice since high school (HS definitely doesn’t count when you’re about to turn the big 4-0!).
The course starts at 80th street and runs straight down 5th Avenue to 60th Street. The first 1/4 mile is downhill. The second 1/4 mile is a bit of an uphill. The third 1/4 mile is flat, while the last 1/4 is a slight downhill full of agony.
The corrals for this race are age-based, not time-based. While I know there are several thousand NYRR racers who are faster than I am, I also know that I didn’t want to waste time dodging slower runners. This meant I knew I had to be done with my warm-up and in my corral with at least 15 minutes before gun time to make it to the second or third row at the start line. I figured the longer my warm-up was, the longer it would take me to cool-down. I ran 3 miles and probably 5-6 strides before getting into my corral.
Just after I lined up, Liz jumped in to the corral beside me and convinced me to move to a different spot at the start line to join a few of her Dashing Whippet teammates. This might have been the best thing to happen at any race I’ve run this year. Two of her teammates said they were hoping to run a 6:15. To which I replied “Oh, I’d like to run that!”
They seemed to be just as nervous as I was, which made me feel less crazy. We chatted a bit before the gun went off and agreed we needed to run in a straight line to avoid losing precious seconds. I really had no idea what I was capable of doing for this race, but I knew I wanted to try to hang on to those speedy ladies.
The gun went off and those two ladies took off so quickly! Based off how far ahead of me they were, I assumed I was running a 6:40 or slower pace.
I vowed to not look at any course clocks and maintain an effort level 9 until I hit 400 meters to go. At 400 meters I kicked it into my highest gear and for a brief foolish second I thought my goal was in reach. I caught up to one of the ladies from the Dashing Whippets, but definitely did NOT run a sub 6:00 mile.
While I felt like I was going to trip over my feet or that my legs were going to give out, I also gave up a teeny little bit and didn’t give it 100% all the way through the finish line.
I finished with a 6:14, which was almost exactly the time I spoke about before the race. I wonder if that’s why I ended up with that time? Either way I finished with my highest age graded performance percentage ever! My 6:06 is from five years ago, so maybe age is playing a part here. Either way, I can’t help but be slightly disappointed with my time.
I know it’s already September and it’s been a really long time since I’ve set a real PR but I’m hopeful I’m able to pull one off this fall. Next up I have the Bronx 10-mile race.