Last weekend was the Al Gordon 4 miler. This was my first race since the marathon and my first race of 2017, so it was a special one.
You can read last year’s recap of the same race here. I managed to beat last year’s time by 1 minute 7 seconds with a finish of 32:00 (8 min/mile avg). Yay for another PR! Now onto the details…
Like last year, I tacked on a few miles before the race to make it a long run. I did 6 miles outside the park and made it to the corrals by 7:45, 15 minutes before the start. It was a super foggy morning, and with thousands of runners headed in the same direction, it looked apocalyptic.
The gun went off and I started out at a comfortable pace– it had been a few months since my last race, so I wanted to ease into it.
The first quarter mile or so was downhill, so it was easy. Then came the big, infamous hill up East Drive, with Grand Army Plaza ahead and Long Meadow to the left. However, I’d done this hill so many times– I run in Prospect Park at least once a week– so I knew how hard and how long the hill is, and it didn’t really phase me.
As always, the first mile+ was congested and involved a lot of maneuvering around runners. Also as always, I struggled to figure how fast I should be going without risking burnout– should I even attempt to pass this guy? And if I do, will I just embarrass myself by falling back again later?
I decided that 4 miles was short enough that I should just go all out and push it, so I passed as many people as I could at a pace that I knew was hard but not impossible.
Around mile 2 I saw a girl wearing a “Vegan For The Animals” tank in front of me. I immediately smiled; it’s always nice to see a fellow vegan runner. And although I would probably never wear a shirt like that (I am totally against the factory farming industry’s treatment of animals, and it’s one of the main reasons I went vegan, but I’m not really a huge animal lover), I gave her a thumbs up and said, “I like your shirt!” as I passed her. #veganslovingvegans #spreadloveitstheveganway #kimdone
The rest of the course was a mix of uphills and downhills. I kept passing the same three guys, so I made it my goal to either keep up with them or pass them until the finish (spoiler: I lost to one guy who sprinted past me at the very end, beat another guy, and don’t know what happened to the third).
I forgot how inspiring races are because I hadn’t raced since November, and was overwhelmed with inspiration as I navigated the rest of the course. I also think I lost a certain amount of appreciation for races toward the end of the 2016 because I had done so many all year. This race made me realize that sometimes a hiatus is good, because it allows for a revival of appreciation for runners and races.
The hardest part came at the end, which was was an uphill to the finish. I wasn’t used to this hill since it goes up the middle of the park, and I usually just run the normal full loop around the park.
Despite the hill at the end, this race felt like home. I was so familiar with every turn, slight incline, water fountain, and lake of this course that I could relax and just enjoy the ride. Granted, I was physically uncomfortable, but mentally I was calm.
I crossed the finish line out of breath, legs shaking, and proud. I was proud of myself, proud to be a part of the NYC running community, and proud to be back racing. I grabbed some water and an apple, and then met up with my friends Kaitlyn and Katie for some pics :)