When I went to pick up my race number for the Join the Voices! 5-miler, I was super psyched to see I had a YELLOW race number!! This was completely unexpected. That's the 2000's - third corral!!! (In NYRR-land, the race numbers and colors coorespond to corrals according to how fast you are... Blue, Red, Yellow, Green, Orange, Light Blue, Pink, Purple) This was a pretty big year for me race-wise - I've moved up FIVE corrals in the past year! I moved from pink, to light blue, then orange, completely skipped green (!), and now I'm up to yellow!! However, I was running late and didn't have the luxury of lining up amongst my yellow comrades. I actually did arrive at the race with 5 mins to spare, but still needed to check my bag. By the time I located the bag check and jogged back to the start, the race had already begun.
I really need to start showing up for races on time. That way I can start in the correct corral and run the way I want to run. Since I was so late, I ended up catching the tail end of the runners as they filed through the starting chute. I spent the first half of my run weaving all over the place and just trying to get past the slower runners. It was highly aggravating. It took nearly 3 miles for me to get to a place where I could run somewhat comfortably at a pace that felt natural to me. It was extremely crowded and very annoying - just like the start of the Brooklyn Half Marathon (when I was also excessively late).
The first part of the race wasn't so bad - I ran freely along the small side path for as long as possible before being forced to re-enter the running masses. I was constantly getting stuck behind people and unsuccessfully trying to pass them. There was also an awful stench in the air; the first part of the race went around the lower part of central park, where all the horse drawn carriages relieve their horses. Who thought it would be a good idea to design the first mile of a race through a ton of horse shit!? I was breathing in shallow breaths to minimize the smell, but shallow breathing is not very conducive for racing.
I mostly stayed to the far right so I wouldn't have to deal with all the runners. Consequentially, the NYRR course marshalls were constantly yelling at me to move to the left. I didn't listen. I was one of those obnoxious runners who stay outside the cones and ignore the volunteers. I didn't even care; I was partially zoned out, way too focused on plowing forward and trying to get as far ahead as possible. I had no clue what my first mile pace was, since the clock hit 16 minutes by the time I made it there... but each consequential mile's pace was right around 8:00-8:30.
Right as we rounded the corner at the 72nd St transverse and entered the finishers chute, I kicked it into high gear and started my standard sprint for the finish line. Unfortunately the chute was still pretty crowded and I had to weave around people even at the very end of the race. Just as I approached the finish line, I realized with a sinking feeling that there was a roadblock of about three runners taking their good old sweet time, practically walking across the finish, right in front of me and there was no was around them. I nearly ran up on their heels and had to slow to walk just steps away from the finsh line. It was such a bummer. I wasn't able to carry my all-out sprint and push through for a strong finish, like I normally do for races. It was all I could do to restrain myself from plowing right into those runners and pushing them over the finish line...
Sadly, I am not joking. I HATE crowds!!! If too many people get in my way and prevent me from going somewhere, I feel trapped and completely freak out. The day before the race, I had a near panic attack from battling the insane crowds of tourists in midtown... slow-moving crowds really really REALLY get on my nerves. To have this race experience the very next day, it was almost too much to handle. I nearly cried at the end from disappointment and frustration.
My pace turned out to be 8:19, which really isn't so bad, all things considered. Ironically, I ran the exact same pace (8:20) as the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge, where I was stuck behind runners nearly the entire time. It's encouraging to know I could have raced so much faster, but it's disappointing to know that I robbed myself of the opportunity to prove just how fast I really can be. If I had only showed up on time... I could have started in the proper corral and actually raced the way I wanted to. Now there's a great incentive to show up for races on time!