I love the Oakley Mini 10k – definitely one of my favorite NYRR races! This was my third time running it with one of my friends and I was excited to be back and experience once again everything the mini has to offer. However, I couldn’t help but feel a bit apprehensive last night when I picked up the following bib number on a very rainy Friday the 13th:

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I mean, really NYRR? You couldn’t have skipped that number?! 🙂

Thankfully, despite my ominous number, I had a great race today. Was it fast? No. I came in at 47:08, which makes this year my slowest yet (compared to 46:47 last year, and 45:58 the year before…wait a minute, I don’t like this trend!). But it was my first all out racing effort in a loooong time – without ANY hamstring pain I should add – and it was super fun!

As I wrote in my first mini race recap in 2012, the mini is inspiring and unique in so many ways. NYRR always gets an amazing elite field, which this year included Desi Linden back again plus Deena Kastor, Molly Huddle (who won and broke the 30-year standing national all-women’s 10k record by 1 second), Lauren Fleshman and many others. It’s the only race that I get to be right up front – able to actually see all those incredible women start the race – which is very cool. The pre-race speeches are awesome (especially since I get to be right next to the stage for once) – today, Mary Wittenberg got the crowd revved up as usual, Katherine Switzer (along with the other female founder of the race) got up on stage to share the history of the race since it started in 1972, which I always like to hear because I certainly cannot imagine a time without women running! Desi gave a quick speech as did one of the Boston survivors, who said some very moving words about the space between where you are and where you want to be. It was a great start to the morning!

It’s also a very useful training tool for me, as I’m usually in between training cycles (i.e. post Spring marathon, usually climbing out of my gluttonous lazy phase), and thus is a great barometer of where I stand as I begin to prepare for late summer (NYC triathlon) and fall racing (Bronx 10 and Marine Corps Marathon). Two years ago – the last time I was able to really race – it told me I was in good shape for the start of my Chicago training and sure enough, I went on to BQ.

Lastly, the mini is a fun opportunity to catch up with my friend and this year – unexpectedly – race with her! I’m usually faster but this year she’s been getting one PR after another and I apparently am getting slower, so the gap is closing! She took off at the start and normally I would let her go and catch her later, since I tend to start out slower and gradually speed up (at least this works great in longer distances), but today I decided that I couldn’t let her out of my sight. My legs were feeling pretty heavy and I knew I needed a little competition to spur me on! So it was interesting for once to take off and try to hold on. Not my usual strategy but for a shorter race I guess it’s not a bad one.

I finally caught her around mile 1 and told her, “You’re really giving me a run for my money!” From that point onwards, we ended up running within a few steps of each other. I could hardly keep up with her at times and I was pushing HARD. I hadn’t raced like that in a very long time – it was uncomfortable, and at times horrible, but also wonderful to get in touch with that feeling of hard work and that good (i.e. non injured) pain that goes along with it.

I looked at my watch during the first couple of miles but then didn’t bother. I was just trying to hang on and continue to carefully toe that line of racing but not blowing up. Around mile 5, I could tell she was struggling (I was too) and so I gave her some words of encouragement about how well she was doing. She said she didn’t think she was doing that great – so I told her, “Well, you have one mile to change that! Don’t let me beat you!” That seemed to get her going – and sure enough she got a PR. That last mile was brutal. She got ahead and I managed to pour every ounce of energy I had left into one final sprint so that we crossed the line at the same time. We both nearly fell over when we finished. I had no idea what time we got but thought surely that at that effort we must have finished in 45 something. Nope – 47:08! I couldn’t believe it. But I was happy. What a great combination of camaraderie and competition.

So this year, the mini revealed that I have a LOT of work to do before my next race on Aug 3. We’re defending champs of the women’s NYC triathlon relay and I can’t let my team down! It was warm and humid out, and I hadn’t rested much during the week (silly me, deciding to start strength training again a couple days before), so I’m sure that’s part of it. But mostly I just need to get back to the gym, hit the track more regularly, and get rid of those extra pounds I’m carrying. Time to get to work! I’ve started to keep a food journal just to get back into more mindful eating. It’s VERY time consuming (even with myfitnesspal), and I’m proud of myself for sticking with it for 6 days in a row. It’s really increased my awareness of my eating patterns and how I can make some positive changes to optimally fuel my body and help get myself back into racing shape.

As in previous years, I couldn’t leave the post-race festival without getting my medal signed. This time, I got Desi’s signature (as before) as well as Deena’s and Lauren’s, and got to chat with all of them about how they ran, upcoming races etc. Definitely a wonderful experience!

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I made a killer whole wheat pizza packed with veggies as well as some chicken sausage and cheese for my post race meal. YUM. E had just gotten back from a 50 mile bike ride so we both happily stuffed our faces. Here’s the pizza before I popped it in the oven. I love Trader Joe’s dough!

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And now back to the books. I stupidly left some substantial projects for my Sports Nutrition class to the last minute (these summer courses really fly by) and thus tomorrow I’ll be in the library all day rather than enjoying the beautiful weather. I dream that someday I will be done with this program!! The good news is that I finished my clinical rotations last week and only have about 8 more weeks to go before I finish my Dietetic Internship and can take my RD exam. I won’t be truly finished until May 2015, but still…light at the end of the tunnel!

 

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