by Paul Thompson
Within seconds of crossing the finish line I was tackling a rainbow ice lolly. With temperatures in the high 70s F this proved a welcome freebie in the finishers’ funnel. And within a few minutes there were hundreds of runners slurping on their lollies engaging in the usual post race post mortem with fellow finishers.
This was perhaps the fifth or sixth time I’d run the Front Runners New York LGBT Pride Run 5 mile race. Everytime it proves to be the most colourful NYRR race of the season and the East Coast’s closest cousin to Bay to Breakers. But unfortunately for me it was perhaps my slowest finishing time – 26:28 for 21st overall. My consolation prize was being 1st masters and 1st age grade (90.74%). And being part of a men’s team that came 3rd in the open and 1st in the masters.
Standing on the start line I was hoping to average 5:15 miles to get a 26:15 finishing time. Deep down I was hoping to run 25 and ‘change’, even if it were 59 seconds of ‘change’. But those hopes were duking it out with fear that my IT band might spoil the day. I’d seen Dr. Stu a few days before, my visit prompted by the fact that this two plus year old problem was now crimping my sleep.
The race route was a departure from what’s become the standard NYRR 5 mile race course around Central Park. This time it started on the East Side Drive near 102nd Street and headed north to take in the northern hills. This means ascending the toughest hill in the park in the opening mile. The clock read 5:07 as I crested the hill. A little faster than I had planned but heck I felt good.
I slowed to 5:22 for the second mile, as expected given the undulations down the West Side Drive and my adjusting to target pace. Sticking to a target pace is not easy in Central Park as each mile is quite unique and races run clockwise or anti-clockwise. I clocked 5:12 for the third mile, helped by the long downhill ending at the sharp left hander onto the 72nd transverse.
By now I’d caught up and passed team mates Robert Dugger and Sebastien B. and was chasing some NYAC runners. But Cat Hill, at around 3.5 miles, slowed me to 5:25 for the fourth milel. The NYRR clock at 4 miles read 20:45 suggesting I was on track for 26 flat.
In the closing stages I was dueling with team mate Sebastien B. And just like the Washington Heights 5K he once again had the faster legs in the final mile which I covered in 5:12. The 26:28 finish time suggested I’d taken 5:43 for that last mile. So did I really slow rapidly in the final mile or was my Garmin mal-functioning or was that NYRR clock at 4 miles in the wrong position or showing the wrong time. My money’s on the last option.