Today I ran the Fred Lebow XC 5k in Van Cortlandt Park. It was my second time racing the course, and since I performed so well last time, my only goal for the day was to improve. I didn’t have a particular pace in mind, or anything else. I merely hoped to improve upon my time and my place.
I had some apprehension coming in to the race. It pertained primarily to leaves. I was concerned that the trail portion of the course would be slippery from leaves. But it was manageable. Manageable and beautiful.
Van Cortlandt was magnificent. It was a cold and dreary day, sure. But the autumn colors of burgundies, burnt oranges, bold golds and green grass marked the course. And I adored it.
This course appeals to my inner grit. It is tough from the start. Running on muddy grass is hard. Then the second and a good portion of the third mile are up and down through wooded trails, over rail ties and other encumbrances.
The last stretch of the course is on a flat, cinder path, but you arrive with all of the air sucked from your lungs from the final harsh uphill and abrupt downhill.
It is difficult to pass and be passed.
Everyone comes to fight.
Today I raced hard and gave it my all. I crossed the finish line with nothing more to give.
I was breathless.
My stomach churned.
My lungs burned.
My body ached, and I calculated each of my next steps, unsure of my footing.
The field was deeper than the last time I ran, and more competitive. But I held on. I ran each part of this course better, faster and more strategically than I did last time.
I achieved my goal. And there is great pride in that.
It is undeniable.
5th in Age Group
36th Female Overall
3.1 in 24:21
7:52 average pace per mile
2:03 course PR