Self-Transcendence 2 Mile Race New York April 2009

Looking back at last year's times, I see I ran 11.25 and 11.32 on this courses in August 08. In April 09, I felt fitter and faster but also a lot colder - it was chilly and with a marathon a few days away I had opted to wear my trainers rather than my racer trainers so as to recover faster. How much difference do shoes make? A few seconds at the most I reckon - perhaps 2 or 3 secs per mile? I'm sure there's a study somewhere that will tell you exactly how many second per 100g saving on shoes!

This particular Saturday morning was cool and still, pretty good racing conditions, and as usual an animated, colourful and truly international crowd were gathered at 7am to hear the race prayer and share a moment or two of silence before the mad dash to the street corner and up the slope towards the high school track. I had an inside line on the corner, which meant I was pretty well boxed in, but once out of the bend I went off at a brisk but not flat-out pace trying to stay in sight of Nirbhasa and Stefan up ahead. We had a few supporters in the form of the girls gathering at race registration ready for their race (with big crowds here for the Sri Chinmoy Celebrations, we always split into separate male and female events) so we got some encouragement as we ran past the track.

The course varies here depending on how many cars are parked on the street - the quickest line is at first down the middle of the road, but you have to pick your spot to cut in onto the sidewalk and then around the 90 degree bend on 164th St - we all chose different gaps in the cars to make our little zig zag onto the concrete and bunched again on the tight corner - a bus shelter just after the bend means you have to take it tight. Next on this course comes "the hill", which we usually tackle in reverse on the 47 mile and 12 hour walk events, but on the 2 miler it's a short climb, just enough to slow you down or make you dig for some more energy to maintain your pace.

After the hill come a dash past the park where breakfast is usually being served in the open air, so we have a bunch more supporters to shout encouragement and clap, helping us back round the bend to the start - shortly afterwards comes the half way mark where Utpal stands and shouts split times - today I was 5.45. I wasn't looking for a fastest time of the year or anything here, but I did press on and overtake a few in the second lap - by the time I had relived all the above landmarks for the second lap I found myself coming home in 11.35. Well, I'd have been well pleased with 11.30 but no complaints. Apart from a tight calf afterwards I was none the worse for wear and looking forward to my next race on the Tuesday - my first competitive marathon in nearly 4 years.


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