It’s Gay Pride month, and this weekend is the culmination of all things GAY in NYC. There’s a lot to celebrate in NYC (marriage equality was legalized this past year) and there is need to celebrate too. I think celebration leads to awareness, learning and togetherness–it’s why we celebrate birthdays every year and Eucharist every week (or every day in some cases)!
In any case, I ran the 5-mile PRIDE race put on by the Front Runners (LGBT running club) and sponsored by Urban Athletics (the store Jay runs for and the team I’ll be joining shortly). The course is said to be a fast one because the Harlem Hills are in the first mile so you get the worst out of the way early on. Yesterday our friend/teammate Tanya offered to run with me. Tanya is way faster than I am, but she was scheduled to do 50 minutes “easy” so it was a perfect match. I took her up on her offer.
Before the start I told Tanya I was shooting for 8:05 to 8:10 pace. I had run a 4-mile race with Tanya, her boyfriend Josh and Jay at 8:03 pace 2 weeks prior. While I had two more weeks of training under my belt, this course was 1 mile longer. 8:05 seemed reasonable.
Just as we were about to cross the start mats, I looked at my Garmin to press start, but my screen changed at that very moment–I’d have to reconnect to satellites, etc. Shoot. Tanya said we’d just go by her watch instead, and she had set her “virtual partner” to 8:00 pace. This was actually a God-send as I couldn’t keep checking my pace and instead had to go by feel and trust Tanya’s coaching.
Let me just say, Tanya is a rock star. I learned so much running with her today. In the first few minutes, she told me not to waste my energy weaving through runners trying to get ahead. “You’ll make up time when it thins out and you’re running faster than you realize anyway.” When it was time to weave some, she’d run ahead of me to clear the way. She set goals for me, “See that rock? That’s half way up the hill.” She coached me on breathing, telling me not to work so hard on the down hills, but to let gravity do its job while I just concentrated on slower breathing to bring my heart-rate down. She ran ahead of me at water stops to bring me water. I was totally spoiled. Add to that encouraging remarks along the way, as well as when to slow up a bit so I’d have gas in the tank for the end, when to pick it up in the last half mile, and when to go all out. The end result was a perfect race at 7:54 pace and a sub-40 minute finish. We were both pretty pumped.
Sadly, Jay missed my finish. We were just too fast.
After the race, Jay and I discussed my ongoing training as we walked to the West side of Central Park. My next race is a 5k at Sodus Point on July 4th. It’s a Holder family tradition. I confessed it would be hard to push myself on my own after being pampered with coaching and pacing help the past two races. It’s a hot and hilly course. But obviously Jay’s coaching (with help from friends) is paying off, so I’ll just keep rolling with it. This is the most fun stage of training because you can see the results from week to week. Soon I’ll plateau on speed and the excitement will be about reaching new mileage goals instead. At least I hope that stage will be an exciting one!
For now, I’m a proud LGBT advocate and a pampered runner.