It was early on Saturday morning – the twentieth of February – and I was up early to run a race in Central Park for the benefit of Haiti. I had been looking forward to it since it was announced just 18 days prior and in those days over 10,000 people had registered for the race at 40 dollars a pop. All proceeds went to Haiti so the runners of New York had raised 400,000 dollars in just short of three weeks.
Fast-forward to the morning of the race:
I was running late, as usual – whenever I “need” to be somewhere everything tends to go wrong. Add on to that, I thought the race started at 9.30am rather than the 9.00am that it had been rescheduled to.
Cindy had come with me to cheer me on and we saw a few people who were ready (or were getting ready) for the run on the train. I was excited and the circumstances were exciting. By the time we had reached the park it was roughly 9.10am and I had to get in the mass of people to get ready for the run.
A guy in an orange construction vest directed me where to go and I began jogging in that direction in order to warm up for the race. By the time I reached the end of the line of runners the run was about to start. There was no time to stretch properly and we were moving toward the start line. Let me interject here and mention that the way the race is timed is by a digital tag that goes through the laces of the shoe (it’s called a D-Tag (wonder why)). The start line reads the tag on your shoe so I did not have to pay attention to my time in that respect (thankfully because it took roughly three minutes to cross that line because of the herd of people who I was in).
After crossing the START LINE of the race the whole race was a big cluster-f of trying to pass people and I found that I was speeding up and then slowing down time after time. Had I known what time I should have been there I might have avoided this annoyance. But I digress, I found myself a bit fatigued early on in the race due to the traffic and the unanticipated hilly nature of Central Park. I also had to urinate before the race actually started so I had to carry that weight and discomfort along with me.
In the week before the race I thought that I would be looking around a lot and absorbing the park but in reality running does not usually afford those opportunities – especially in a race situation. Instead I put my feet down one in front of the other and continued weaving in and out through the enormous biomass.
I still think that my time was better than anticipated because I was trying to pass people. That whole situation was good and bad in retrospect. I would not have performed as well as I did had it not been a race setting exclusively for that reason. I also would have performed better if not for the fear of stepping on, falling over, or pissing off other runners. Like I said – both good and bad.
In the end I had not run my best pace but I finished the race at ’29″05 which was better than I had thought than I had done (I crossed the finish line when the race clock read ’32 something). It was a good race and a good experience but now I know to show up to big running events at least an hour early (of the scheduled time of course).
I also now know that I could have started it a bit later because the time depends on the tag, not when the race actually begins. I could have finished when the race clock read ’56″00 and I could have still finished with a time below ’29″05.