The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K was both the next race I’d registered for after the Front Runners LGBT Pride Run, and the first race after my doctors cleared me to start running again (“for reals this time”) after an X-Ray and MRI to make sure things were OK in that tiny area under the big toe where there’s so much going on. Both doctors told me to ease myself back into running. They also both gave me the metric of using the next day’s presence or absence of pain as a way to tell if I was doing OK. After the past couple months of trying things out, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best shoe for me is the New Balance 860. Since my old one was worn out (which is why I switched to the 1080 for the BK Half – which may (at least partly) be the reason for my injury), I got myself a new pair at the New Balance store located inside the NYRR RunCenter when I went to pick up my bib. I also took advantage and had them confirm my shoe size while I was there. For this race I chose to run with a dancer pad since my podiatrist is making me new orthotics with a cutout, both doctors suggested at least starting out using it, and I’d learned a new position for the pad that kept my sesamoid area safe while not causing me pain in the other toes. Bad placement of the pad caused me pain during the Pride Run.
For the past week I’d been debating the pace I would use for the race. Part of me was thinking I should do 09:00-09:30/mi as that’s in the range of what I’ve been doing in my training for the last week. Part of me wanted to at least go up to 08:00 which is about what I did for the Pride Run. I know that if a runner is not going to go as fast as they thought they would when they signed up, they’re supposed move to a slower corral – this way people aren’t passing you like crazy. But for whatever the reason, the volunteers wanted me to stay in my corral. So I just went with it. I decided that I would go as fast as I could go without pushing too hard. According to the official race results, that meant, going at an average page of 7:38/mile.
It was a perfectly beautiful day for a race; a nice respite after a few days of heat waves hitting both Baltimore and NYC. I actually felt a little chilly when I first got on the subway platform to head to the race. In Harlem, it was cool and breezy. I didn’t sweat anywhere near as much as I did last Saturday when I was just doing an easy jog at 9:50/mile.
I’m happy to report that I didn’t feel any pain during the run. When I got to the hills, I just lengthened my stride. When crested the hills, I let myself go fast and let gravity assist. It was a bit of a bummer that my shoes came untied around mile 2.5, but since I wasn’t trying to PR today, it wasn’t that big of a loss. And, luckily, we had a downhill section after that, so I didn’t feel the usual pain of stopping cold in the middle of a workout and trying to start it back up again.
Even at the slower speed I was going, there were others around me who had to shift to walking at the hills and I even saw one person throwing up into a trash can.
In the end, I was happy with my results for a race where I wasn’t pushing myself too hard:
A final time of 23:42 with an overall place of 1115/4897; 22% is pretty consistent for me. My gender place of 921/2587 (35%) was also a result I was pretty happy with. I wonder for my age group position of 165/434 (38%) how much better I could have done if I’d pushed myself. It tends to be a pretty competitive decade.
The Sunday after the Pride Run, I volunteered to help at the water station during the Achilles Race. It certainly gave me a different perspective of what it takes to volunteer at the water table. During this race as I passed the water stations, I had an even larger sense of gratitude than usual for the folks working there because I knew how much work went into the setup.
If things continue at this pace of improvement, I hope to be able to try to PR (or get close) for the upcoming non-Marathon races. It’ll be fun to try and compete again. If not, if I can at least keep racing and enjoying the camaraderie, I’ll happily take that as a consolation prize.