Race Recap: Fifth Avenue Mile (2014)

A few months ago, I wrote a post about how I was choosing the Fifth Avenue Mile as my fall goal race.

I ran it a little over a week ago, on September 13th.

I have struggled to write a recap since because, well, it’s a pretty short race and I wasn’t too sure what exactly to say.

So this recap is a bit more of a “review”, but also I am very pleased to share the results.

As I mentioned in my last post on the topic, I started out using Mario Fraioli’s training plan for the mile, but I suffered a flare up of my injury about one week in and spent the next week swimming and doing really basic PT.  After that, I was pretty apprehensive to dive back in to the training plan.  Wisely, though, while I was out with the injury, I spent a good deal of time reading up on training for fast twitch (FT) athletes, and found that there could be a better way to tackle my training for the distance.

For the most part, I spent the next six weeks running 4 times per week.  My longest run during the training cycle was just shy of 6 miles, and my shortest runs were usually around 3.5.  Most runs were between 4 and 5.75 miles. My “easy” pace dropped down to the 8:20s during this training cycle.

In a typical week, I would run one easy run on trails, one run with event specific speed work, one run at tempo or threshold, and one “long run” style road run.

My event specific speed work consisted of race pace intervals.  At the beginning of the training cycle, I started doing 200s at 6:40 pace, and the week before the race I ran 800s at that pace.

I ran my race pace workouts on Saturdays since the race was going to be on a Saturday and I wanted to get my body in a rhythm of running fast on Saturdays.  Before this training cycle, I would always do my fastest workouts on Tuesdays, and easy and long runs on the weekends, so this was a big shift for me.  It was difficult to compete with the long runners in the park for space to stride out and do speed work, but I found a few quiet spots in the park where I could really get to work.

Before speed work and threshold runs, I would warm up by doing exercises to help improve my rotation, then proceed to a dynamic warm up, and then run a few strides.  I felt that strides made a big difference in my ability to move in to faster paces earlier on in a workout.

I spent a lot of time stretching and foam rolling during this training cycle, and doing some type of PT and strength workout on most days.

I had also been given a hard strength routine from my PT, which included some explosive moves and plyos as well.  I had hoped to incorporate these moves into my routine twice per week, but most weeks I only did it once, because the muscle soreness after this workout is so intense that I usually need to take the next day off.  Doing this twice per week compromised my ability to get all four runs in, and I felt that running was the priority.

I also swam 2-3 times per week during the training cycle.

The day before the race, I just swam and rested.

So you could say, on the day of, I was absolutely ready to go.

I ran the Fifth Avenue Mile in 6:33.

Here is how it all played out (with a few tips about the event itself):

I woke up about three hours before the race and ate a breakfast of cereal, a banana and a medium sized iced coffee.

I proceeded to do my PT exercises, focusing on rotation.  About an hour before the race, I began walking toward Central Park, where I ran 4 or 5 strides and then ran easy for 15 minutes.  I hit the port-o-potties and watched some of the early heats.  Then I headed to the corral just as the heat before mine began to line up for the start.

This race is broken into heats based on age and gender.  New York Road Runners posts the individual start times for each heat on their website, which is very useful in terms of figuring out when exactly you need to show up.  The event runs until the afternoon, so you can certainly stick around and spectate.  It is a big spectacle and a lot of fun.

Generally, you can begin working your way into a corral just as the heat ahead of yours is approaching their start.  This gives you up to 15 minutes in the corral, which is good because it isn’t so much time that you would lose the benefits of your warm up.

It was a little chilly and overcast, but I welcomed that because I knew that it would factor in to my ability to run a good time.

Once I was in the corral, I blew my nose several times so that I could have clear airways for this run.  I knew that would be imperative to my success, as well.

I also stood in “superhero” pose, with my legs slightly apart, hands on hips and chin up.  It is a “power pose,” and though I imagine the effects are purely psychological, I have read that it helps to do this at the starting line of races.

After the men’s heat ahead of us took off, the 30-35 women proceeded toward the start line.  There were several hundred of us in the bunch.

I would say that if you plan to run sub-6:45, I would recommend lining up to the first third of the corral and toward the center.  By doing this, the fastest runners will pull away quickly and the slower ones will soon fall behind, so this will minimize the amount of weaving that you would have to do in the beginning of the race.

The first quarter mile is a slight dip downhill, so it is easy to go out too fast.  I did my best to reign myself in, but also tried to use the momentum to my benefit since the next quarter mile would be an uphill.  I ran the first quarter mile at sub-6:00 pace and then fell off quite a bit in the second quarter mile, so I was pleased to have the cushion that I bought myself up front.

I didn’t pay too much attention to pace in the second half of the race.  By the third quarter mile, I was sucking air pretty hard and just doing my best to focus on form and stay strong.  But the crowd was crazy as I approached the final quarter mile and I used the cheering and positive energy to work a pretty killer kick, and started picking off runners like crazy.

My gun time was 6:40 and my official time was 6:33.  It is faster than what I was working toward in training, or even knew that I could do, so I am incredibly proud.

But more than a source of pride, I see this as a source of competition.  I can see a future in which I can really compete.

That is something that I never expected for myself, but I know that I can excel as a runner.

The gains that I have made in just a few short years are really amazing to me and very encouraging.

I see a future without limits and I am eager to begin.

After I crossed the finish line, I began to jog home.  I ran past the spot in Central Park where El Profesor proposed to me.  I always like to run past that spot on special days.

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