February 7, 2012

Race Report: Manhattan Hot Chocolate 10K (and Run to City Bakery)

Despite a rocky start where each of us thought the other person was standing us up, my date last night went surprisingly well. However, it also went very long – so when I got up at 8am to get ready for the Manhattan Hot Chocolate 10K, I was running on about 4 hours of sleep. Not good at all!

I was also running late for my 9am meeting with Jocelyn to run 2.5 miles up to the race, so I got ready as fast as I could. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to eat breakfast – and instead of grabbing one of the zillions of protein bars I have on hand, I skipped it entirely. (Bad move, don’t know why on earth I did that). As a result, my run became fueled by beer and sake instead of something more substantial and, you know, energizing.

Jocelyn and I headed up Riverside Drive, cut down to the water, and then basked in the gloriously sunny day as we ran along the Hudson. It was surprisingly warm – my fleece was making me sweat like crazy – but the somewhat aggressive pace we were taking (~8:50/mile) while also trying to catch up on gossip made it not entirely pleasant – I felt exhausted, and couldn’t believe that I was now about to run a 10K! This was not going to be pretty.

We got a bit lost trying to find the start (turns out it was up in Riverside Park and not right on the river), tacking some extra mileage onto our run, so we did about 3 miles just getting to the race. Another 6.2 to go during the race, and then 5 more to reach City Bakery for our ultimate hot chocolate destination! This was going to be a high mileage day for me, and I regretted not prioritizing sleep so I could have made it a better experience.

I ran into Frank and Emmy at the start again (just like last week!), but didn’t get to chat long before we were off. As with the Brooklyn version of the race, the biggest hill was right in the first half mile – but it was a doozy. I ended up pulling off to the side and switching to a walk just halfway up – but I was happy that when I reached the top, I had more energy than most others and was therefore able to make up for some lost time. But before I got too far, I bumped into some of the woman from my Athleta training group. I was so glad to see them out there, and I ran with them for a quarter mile or so, taking the opportunity to catch up since they were running the 5K instead of the 3 mile Athleta run the next day. But I realized that my energy was waning – my best bet for finishing the entire 10K (instead of dropping down to the 5K, which I was seriously considering) was going fast and just getting it done. Faster may be more difficult, but it gets you finished that much sooner!

We did a series of ups and downs above the main part of Riverside Park, and then we got a few great downhills – one bringing us to the main terrace level, quickly followed by another that took us from the terrace level to the waterfront. Trying not to expend any energy on the downhills, I also succeeded in passing a lot of people as I flew down – proving that easy running can be even faster than something more laborious and measured.

Once down by the river, we did about a mile on a “lollipop” route, allowing me to wave to speedy Laura as she zoomed by on her way back. While going up the nasty hill that took us from the river back up to the main terrace level, I consoled myself that at least now it was just a straightaway to the finish – until I saw the other runners going to the right, the opposite direction of the finish line. Phooey – we had another loop to make before we’d be at the 5K mark! Fortunately, while this loop had a hill in it, the downhill part was steep and fun but the uphill was nice and gradual, making it somehow seem like a net win. I know that’s not physically possible to start and end at the same place and have the downhill make up for the uphill – but mentally, it certainly seemed that way.

Luckily, there was a mostly flat last quarter mile of the course – giving me the energy to not give up while starting the second loop. On any looped race course, if you’re not in a great running mood, it can be hard to keep going, so I was glad that at least I was coming to the halfway point while it was still flat, or I might have stopped! But keep going I did, and once I started the second loop, there was no way I wasn’t finishing.

I still walked up the big hill the second time around, but I found myself going faster on the rest of the race. I had done the first half in about 29:00, and I hoped to negative split that for a semi-decent finish time… 58:00 just sounded slow to me after doing 52:48 the week before. As I ran my second loop, I sailed down the downhills, but still struggled a bit on the uphills. Could I negative split? I didn’t know the answer until I had finished the last uphill and was only a quarter mile from the finish – with 54 minutes showing on my watch. I could totally pull a decent time! Sure enough, I crossed the finish line in 56:48, even managing a nice strong kick for the last few yards. Hooray!

At the finish, I sucked down water and went to join Laura – reaching her just in time to scream for Jocelyn as she crossed the finish less than 40 seconds after me. We were a good match! From there, I said hello to Frank and Emmy, and Frank snapped a pic of me that looking a little wonky-eyed with exhaustion. Not my best shot, but it pretty accurately captured how I was feeling!

After enjoying not just one but two delicious cups of hot cocoa (I was dying for a sugar hit after not having any breakfast and then running 9.7 miles… oops!), Jocelyn and Laura and I headed off – our runs for the day were not yet done, and neither was our hot chocolate consumption! We had big plans to meet up with the New York Rogue Runners’ Run To City Bakery. Jocelyn was clearly feeling more chipper than I, because she wanted us to run to 72nd Street and try to catch everyone as they made their way from Central Park over to the West Side Highway. Unfortunately, I knew I just didn’t have it in me to push the pace for another 5.5 miles, so we actually walked a bit to chat, and didn’t start running until 1/2 mile in. Even then, it was aggressive for me – my usual chatter ceased, and I just tried to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Apologies to Jocelyn and Laura for being such poor company!

But we made it to City Bakery intact – and I even managed to pick up the pace for the last block. It’s amazing what a single stop at a red light can do for reenergizing you! Though my phone had long since died, Laura and Jocelyn checked their watches (running buddies are great as timing backups!) and discovered that we had run exactly 5 miles in 44 minutes. Um, sub-9:00 pace? For 14 miles by now? I’LL TAKE IT!

And with that, we headed into City Bakery to refuel. Oddly enough, I was kind of hot chocolate-d out (hmmm, so apparently two cups is my limit?) from what I had up at the race, so I just tried a sip of their super special “banana peel hot chocolate” (too heavy and thick for my taste – it reminded me of a bar of chocolate that had been melted down and then had some banana schnapps tossed in… though I don’t think this was alcoholic). Instead, I filled a plate with all kinds of yummy and healthy premade salads: broccoli rabe and chickpeas, sweet potato and pineapple, and some tofu scramble with peppers and onions. Yummy, and perfect for post-run recovery! (But the price tag for my plate – $13 – ensures I won’t be making that my regular refueling spot. Yikes!)

I was thrilled to complete 14 miles and get my weekend off to a great start, and even more thrilled that I had managed a 9 minute pace with next to no sleep for the past week. So maybe if I rest up and train a little more I can reach my 2012 goal of beating my 3:49 marathon PR? We shall see!

Race stats (for Manhattan Hot Chocolate 10K):
Distance: 6.2 miles
Time: 56:48
Pace: 9:08
Overall place: 90/191
Age group place: 24/58


3 thoughts on “Race Report: Manhattan Hot Chocolate 10K (and Run to City Bakery)”

  1. Running on empty: That was a totally absorbing race report, Laura, but if I could give you a long-distance spanking for, at the least, skipping breakfast,consider yourself spanked! 🙂 Now if I could just apply such determination to my training runs…you do 14 miles of back-to-back runs and I skip my easy two-mile training run ’cause I’m a “little tired.” You’re making it awfully hard for me to come up with excuses! 🙂 Love you!

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