The word Classic means something that is a perfect example of a particular style, something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality. Classic is used to describe many major, long-standing sporting events.
Well, it is officially on. The first race of the NYRR Club’s season began today. The Fred Lebow Classic 5 Miler. If you are a runner, you should be familiar with this man and all he has done for running in NYC. If not, well he was the founder of the NYRR Club and has single handedly brought the NYC Marathon from Central Park into the 5 boroughs. Yeah, not much right? I had the pleasure of seeing him run his last marathon with Grete Waitz and the moment he crossed that finish line, he knelt down and kissed the ground he just ran over. Sadly, he died a year later of cancer but his legacy lives on.
So, today dawned dark and cold. Bitter actually. The sort of day that most folks would roll over in their beds and stay put. Not me. I woke up all happy with what was to come, and started the layering process. It takes a while to get dressed for a run in the winter time. Layer by layer like a 7 layer cake until the very last layer or whipped cream is added. To balaclava or not? 2 pairs of gloves? Hat and hood? Lots to think about. So, I tried to get an early start.
I love it when your on the subway and you start seeing the other runners. It’s some sight. There are the night shift workers coming home and then there are the runners. Alert, coffee in hand, and excited for what’s to come. I’m not making this up. At 7.15 am the runners, including myself were a very happy bunch.
Somehow, I timed it perfectly. Got to the race start, ran into the porta potty, did my thing, heard the Star Spangled Banner being sung, ran over to the corral, made sure my tights were tied at the waist, tugged on my gloves and the horn was sounded. To some, that horn noise would just be an annoyance, but to me, it was music to my ears.
I really had only one goal for this first race of many. To run a sub 50 minute 5 miles. Now, this is a hilly course. This is Central Park, for goodness sakes.
Armed with an amazing race strategy formulated by my good running buddy Scott, I felt rather confident I could meet my goal. I am not the type to write a mile by mile race report, but I will say that mile 1 was rather slow due to many folks jetting for position. I found it hard to pass people because every time I tried, they either sped up or ran right in front of me. Then I ended up with such a big bottle neck that I got slightly frustrated. It’s ok, it happens. There were 3370 racers. I just kept in the back of my mind, my strategy, which went something like this:
Easy to start. West side hills, push a little on the up while you are fresh and recover on the down. After hills, you can push the long downhill if you feel good. At bottom of park, after water stop at halfway point, take it easy to save for cat hill. Take it easy on cat hill. Once you pass 90th St, push progressively harder to finish, esp on the downhills.
So, I did it. 5 miles in 49.30. And the best part is I felt like I still had gas in the tank. I felt as if I could have run more if I had to.
5.00 miles 49.24 9.51 min/mile
Mile 1 10.26
Mile 2 9.23
Mile 3 9.43
Mile 4 10.05
Mile 5 9.45
A friendly face at the end and a good breakfast at home with yummy coffee plus a hot shower made my day. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, runners are the best.
The folks I have met both virtually and in person have showed me superb support and motivation and are always willing to go the extra mile. Always and without hesitation. This humbles me. This makes me want to be a better person. I’ve already become a better runner.
This is one classic I want to be a part of every single year.