2 Mile Races August 2014 - New York
I was only in NYC for 8 days but that was enough to get a shot at two of our Saturday morning 2 mile races. After the last 2 miler, in France, I had been progressing well in my injury recovery but a couple of ill-judged runs near my workplace (hilly & uneven) had set me back a bit. So, on the first Saturday, I arrived at the start, only a few hundred metres from my NY room (a basement on Gothic Drive shared between 12 of us) with a tentative plan of jogging round and seeing how things reacted.
As usual we had our race poem (from Sri Chinmoy's Race Prayers book, recited by the ever-present Sundar from New York SCMT) and then a moment of silence before the great mass of eager runners swept around the bend past Jamaica High School. As per the plan, I ran at a comfortable pace, and tried not to get carried away by the enthusiasm flowing through everybody on a mild, sunny, beautiful morning quite early in celebrations (before marathon or 47 miler had taken their toll on the better runners).
I didn't catch the time on my stopwatch at the end of the first mile as I was expecting Utpal to be there calling it out, and so I just carried on into the second lap feeling glad that the achilles was not protesting at this faster paced running after weeks of cautious plodding. All seemed fine so I upped it just enough at the end to come in with a time of 14 minutes dead. Modest enough, and the product of some serious holding back, but I was well pleased to have got round unscathed and set a benchmark time.
A week later, with much of the field recovering from marathon and ultramarathon runs at which I'd contented myself with being a helper - lead cyclist or scoreboard bloke - we started an hour later at 8am on yet another perfect morning. This time I'd been out a few more times and jogged a full half hour for the first time since June, so I was confident enough to aim for better than 13.30. I let myself run at a brisk pace this time, based on effort rather than speed, and with no idea how fast I could actually go. Fully fit I'd expect around 12 minutes on the New York course, and about 5 years ago I was running close to 11.30. I listened out for the time at the half way stage again and although Utpal was in his usual haunt near the track entrance, I could only catch the last digit he called out - six. So, 6.26? 6.36? 7.06? I really didn't have much idea but I hoped it was 6.26 as that would put me on target for 13 minutes and once again I was thrilled that nothing seemed to be breaking down or protesting at the increased effort level. I was close to some decent runners, but this didn't mean I was running a decent pace as they were mostly stiff from the long races. Pushing through the second mile I had to quicken my breathing and I realised I was actually running at full pace for my fitness level - something I hadn't been able to do for ages. Labouring up the slope and past Goose Pond Park a couple of people having breakfast under the trees called my name out, but I didn't look to see who it was as I was in fully intense race mode.
As I rounded the bend for the finishing stretch I could see the digits on the clock come into focus - the first number was 12 which was a very nice surprise. Finishing time was 12.37, a nice starting point as it gives me the carrot of 12.30 to aim for. That could be in Edinburgh in October or Paris in November, who knows when we'll next have a measured 2 miler.....
So, the slow and faltering progress continues, and I can still dream about racing properly maybe next year. Or is that tempting fate?
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