If you read my blog, you may know that I LOVE races in NYC especially ones in Central Park. (Even though, they are HILLY!)
The Grete’s Great Gallop 10K race takes place just FOUR weeks before the New York City Marathon and covers 6.2 miles of the roads of Central Park, passes the Marathon finish line and ends near where it started.
Click here to read about Grete’s amazing career but to sum it up, she ran her first marathon (NYC) in 1978, won it and then won it again 8 more times. She’s an icon for women’s running in NYC.
I was scheduled to meet my tennis friends for lunch on Saturday, October 5 (the same day as this race) and then go to a Broadway show afterwards (an annual thing).
So it was a no brainer to sign up for this race. Plus, another Skirt Sport Ambassador, Elizabeth, was planning to run this race, as well. (Unfortunately, she was unable to run it.)
Luckily I signed up early because the race sold out pretty quickly.
Thank to numerous trips to NYC for work, I had enough points for a free hotel room.
I knew that the race would be a hilly one (see map below) but I did run a 5 miler there last year and a 8K there in August of 2017 so I thought that the course would be similar in difficulty.
Unfortunately, I had had a pretty off running week. I was driving in traffic all week and training on my feet all day. I only ran 3 miles on Monday and 3 slow TM miles on Thursday. So with Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as rest days, I should have been pretty well rested for the Saturday race.
So I took the bus to NYC on Friday. After I checked into my hotel, I headed off to pick up my race packet. Normally I might have taken the subway to rest my legs but this was just a fun race so I walked and met my friend Cari (sorry no pic).
Cari and I walked back toward my hotel and then I went out for pizza and ice cream (carb loaded like it was a marathon LOL). I still was not tired so I walked around Hudson Yards.
When I got back to the hotel, I tried to plan out my race outfit for the next day. This is always difficult for me at this time of year. Capris or skirt? Short sleeves or long sleeves?
After a restless night, I got up the next morning around 5:30 am and had my usual oatmeal and coffee pre-race breakfast.
It was in the 40s with a possibility of sun. I added gloves and a throw away shirt to my outfit . What I forgot again was a heat blanket. DARN!! I decided against bag check (to save time after the race) and hoped that I wouldn’t regret it.
I normally would again try to save my legs and grab a subway to Central Park. Not this time. Marathon training! I left at 6:30 am and walked the 3 miles to the start. And it was windy and COLD!!! Brrrr!!!
I wasn’t sure exactly where the start was but saw some runners and knew they were all headed to the same place so I followed them.
I got there very early. There were many runners just running. Probably warming up for the race or doing their long run before the upcoming marathon.
There would be almost 8000 runners in today’s race and the air was buzzing with excitement (or for NYCM).
It was still pretty early and I just walked around trying to stay WARM!!
Finally I headed toward the race start.
I sat on a bench and wound up befriending two other (older) ladies. We chatted and chatted until it was time to get in our corrals.
We lost one lady in the corral behind us so the just Lori and I waited and shivered together (I decided to ditch my long sleeve shirt and lost an earring in the process) until it was time for our corral to get to the start line. It was probably only 10 or 12 minutes but felt like forever. Brrrrr!
So what was my plan for this 10k race?
I had done a 14 mile training run last weekend and 18 the weekend before. I spent most of this week working and stressing. Definitely not feeling my best today…the cold windy temps certainly did not help.
No plan. Finish strong. Not get injured. Walk up the hills. Have fun! (Spoiler alert – I ran the whole thing except for water stops and enjoyed it immensely.)
The course is slightly more than one counter-clockwise lap of Central Park’s six-mile loop.
Mile 1: 9:38
We started on East Drive near 69th Street (the east side of the CP loop) and headed north. It was a bottle neck at first which helped to slow me down. Cat Hill greeted us fairly soon. Cat Hill is about a quarter mile and not as steep as the north end’s Harlem Hill, but it’s a decent hill. I usually walk it but strangely I felt like running. I made it up the whole thing without walking. The rest of mile 1 was relatively flat, and I felt strong, like I could probably keep up this pace for another 5 miles. Maybe. Anyway, what that pace was, I had no idea since I did not look at my watch and the clocks at each mile were 11 minutes or so ahead of my actual time (no idea.) Toward the end of each mile, there was a water/Gatorade stop. I ignored most of them as it was pretty chilly and I was not sweating.
Mile 2: 8:57
We continued along East Drive and passed the Reservoir on the left. This mile supposed included the easiest section of the loop: the ultra-flat stretch that runs along the east side around 90th Street. I guess that explains my fastish pace.
Mile 3: 9:25
This mile was at the northern end of the loop. We first passed the 102nd Street Transverse on our left and descended down a steepish hill (YAY!) followed by a flat stretch. The second half of the mile was going up Harlem Hill, the steepest hill on the course. I am proud to say that I RAN up the whole thing (slowly, but not walking). At this point, I was getting pretty hungry as my 5:30 breakfast was long forgotten (I had planned to take a GU before the race but I was chatting….). I willed myself to wait until the next water stop. We continued past Lasker Rink. I tried to focus on the sites of the park and not my feet or my hunger.
Mile 4: 10:10
This mile and the next went down the west side of the loop and started by heading south on West Drive. There were a few rolling hills here. Compared to Cat and Harlem, these hills were no big deal. My legs were tiring but I was able to run up them. It helped that I walked for quite a while, eating a Gu and drinking water. Although there were almost 8000 runners in this race, I’m happy to say that there wasn’t really any crowding on the course, at least not around me. I passed some runners and some passed me. But there was always enough space to run and take the tangents as much as possible. The sun warmed the air. I rolled down the arm warmers, took off my gloves and even the wind died down. I smiled often as the it was PERFECT running weather.
Mile 5: 8:58
This mile continued down the west side (south on West Drive), passing the 72nd Street Transverse, and completing the lower loop of the park before the course turned back onto East Drive. Of course, there were more rolling hills, up and down, up and down. I pushed a little harder here, as I knew I only had two more miles to go. I tried to make up time on the downhills and I am pretty slow running uphill. It is kinda a blur now. I think I stopped for water but only to grab a sip, not much walking. I just wanted to be done.
Mile 6: 9:18
We continued north on East Drive on the south loop of the park. It seemed to be a relatively flat stretch. We passed the start line at 69th Street and then turned left at the 72nd Street Transverse and headed toward the finish line. Of course, it felt like a slight uphill (though maybe it wasn’t.)
Mile +.3: 8:54
I was hoping to be able to pick up speed but my legs felt like lead. I did the best I could. As you can see, that the course was long. I saw the clock each mile and as I crossed the finish line. I had no idea of my actual time until I looked at my watch. And I didn’t really care. I was thrilled to have run a decent race. And NO PAIN! Woo Hoo!!
I grabbed water and a bagel and immediately headed out of the park. Again I followed the crowds as to not get lost.
Again although I was pressed for time, I decided to walk the 3 miles back to my hotel. I was glad that I did not throw away my arm warmers and gloves. It was chilly in the city.
It was in my hotel room that I logged into NYRR and discovered the good news.
I won an age group award!!! Big surprise!!
So not a PR. My 10K PR is 57:03 (from November 2014) but I am thrilled at how the race turned out. I didn’t push my pace at any time and yet I ran well and most importantly, it was FUN!! I didn’t do my 14 mile training run but in addition to the race, I walked 8 miles. That will have to do!!!!!
After a quick shower, I had enough time to walk to the restaurant (Valerie) where I was meeting my tennis friends for lunch. I rewarded myself (again as if I ran a marathon).
After lunch, we headed to Broadway to see Hadestown.
And then we walked back toward my hotel and Penn Sta where we stopped for a light dinner.
So it was fun-filled day. I highly recommend the Grete’s Great Gallop 10K race. It was well-organized as all NYRR races are. I will do it again if I have the chance.
Since today is Tuesday, I’m also linking up with these ladies and you should too.
Happy Running! What is your favorite city to race in? What is your favorite NYC race? Do ever run 10K races? What is your favorite distance? Would you skip a long run for a fun race?