Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2011 JP Morgan Challenge Race Report - a race PR!!!!

Tonight, I ran the 3.5 mile JP Morgan Challenge in Central Park.  It was 81 degrees and the humidity was 37%.  A nice night but a little warm for a race. Like last year, I was in corral #2 due to the expected time I submitted.  Being upfront in a fast corral in this race is key, as nearly everybody else in the corral is my speed level, and thus the race theoretically shouldn't back up once it starts.

My goal coming into this race was to run a sub 7:00 minute per mile pace, something I have never done in Central Park or anywhere else, for that matter (my previous personal best, or PR, was 7:12 per mile for this hilly race and a 7:11 per mile for a 4 mile race in Central Park).  A month ago, I ran a 5-K in California (after running 9.2 miles at an 8:30-8:40 pace as a warm up on "long run" day) at a 7:07 per mile pace, then a PR for me, but that race wasn't very hilly, so a sub 7:00 pace in hilly Central Park, for me, is a real challenge.  I never have a problem running sub 7:00 miles in my races or in training, but I've been unable to hold that pace for an entire race (I always die on the late hills).

I got into the coral about 40 minutes early and did a little IT band stretching.  I didn't do a pre-race easy run, which I found myself regretting during the first mile.

Mile 1 - The race was off fast this year.  From the start, the pace was around 7:10 per mile (unlike last year when my pace was around 8 minutes per mile early on).  Everybody was moving pretty fast and I only felt a little held back during the first mile at a few points.  My legs and lungs immediately started burning out of the gate, something I haven't experienced before.  This was likely due to the fact that (1) I didn't do a pre-race warm up and (2) I'm not used to going so fast out of the gate (I usually run a few easy miles before pushing the pace).  About halfway through the first mile, I felt pretty crappy.  My heart rate was in the 160s so that was pretty good given the speed, but my effort level felt very fatigued.  I knew that the race started uphill, so I kept telling myself to push through it, but I also kept thinking that today was not my day. 

Mile 1 split:  7:03, average heart rate 166

Mile 2 - I knew that mile 2 was net downhill so I could make up some time, so that was my goal.  I felt good on the downhills and was running 6:40-6:45 for most of this mile, at this point feeling a little better but still working.  I recovered a bit during this mile, which was good.   Love downhills!  I was hot so I got a cup of water, took a few sips, and poured the rest over my head.  This helped a little.  This mile ends up hill and I was definitely tiring at this point, slowing at the end of the mile.  My heart rate was in the low 170s.

Mile 2 split:  6:58, average heart rate 172

Mile 3 - I was definitely tired at this point, but I knew my goal was within reach.  I knew that this would be the toughest mile, as it is a slow, grinding, uphill mile most of the way.  I started at 7:05 per mile, then my watch read 7:12 and at the 0.67 mile point it read 7:20.  Damn!!!, I thought, there's no way I'm going to run a sub 7:00 race now.  So, I decided to give it one last push.  My pushing the pace, coupled with getting over the last hill to start descending, enabled me to make up some time.  My watch read 7:17, then 7:15, then 7:11.  Yes!!!

Mile 3 split:  7:06, average heart rate 176. 

Last 0.5 miles -   I knew at this point that I had an outside shot at going sub 7:00 per mile.  The last 0.5 has a sharp downhill (cat hill) and then finishes uphill on the 72nd street transverse.  I ran down the hill hard and my pace was 7:05, 7:00, 6:55, 6:50.....I knew this wasn't fast enough but I just couldn't run any faster down that hill.  I passed Mary Wittenberg, president of the New York Road Runners Club (she's fast), only to see her breeze by me at the bottom of the hill (she actually cut me off!!!!)  I was way too exhausted to say anything (normally I would have said "great move!").  At this point, I thought to myself, "this is the closest you have ever been to breaking 7:00 and you may not have another shot, ever, so push yourself for the last 0.25 miles".  So, that's what I did, giving it everything I had.  The last 0.25 seemed much farther, and when I crossed the finish line I had nothing left.  I actually had to stop to but my hands on my knees to catch my breath.

Last 0.58 miles, 6:27 pace, average heart rate 180 (my Garmin said I ran 3.58 miles and many of my friends had around the same distance): 

Overall:  6:57 pace (PR!!!!), average heart rate 172 (maximum heart rate during the race was 185).

Click here for a link to my Garmin watch file


  1. Congratulations!! I haven't done a 10K or 5K type race in years because they hurt so much when you race them! Great job gutting it out and meeting your goal.

  2. Nice work. Speed work is great for the longer runs like you will need for NY Ironman you just signed up for.