After I took up running, I set a goal for myself: to run one 3 mile (minimum) race per month between April and September. I signed up for races as a way to motivate myself to continue to train and run. I was worried that during the summer, I would slack off due to be being busy with social stuff and that I'd blow off running because "it's too hot." I have a race booked for July, one I plan on for September, and I'm still trying to figure out which race to run for August. Yesterday was race #3 (June).
It was the 28th Annual Run around the Lake in Ronkonkoma, NY (Long Island). This year, the 4-mile race was in honor and memory of Navy Seal Lt. Michael P. Murphy. I was not familiar with his story until a friend of mine told me (the same one who told me about the race). He was a local guy who died while serving in Afghanistan and was awarded the Medal of Honor. It's a sad but heroic story. It always sucks when one of the good guys is taken from this world too early. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M
A lot of the people who participated were military personnel.
Yes, they ran in full uniform and with heavy backpacks. I'm in total awe of these guys.
The race is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Ronkonkoma and proceeds go to the various charities that the rotary club supports. I even got a really cool commemorative T-shirt out of it. The T-shirt had the name of the race and a picture of Lt. Murphy on it and was made out of moisture-wicking material. Unfortunately, the only sizes left were men's large sizes so it's really big on me. It's so big, it won't even fit my husband (he's a pretty skinny dude) so I have to figure out who I can give it to. I don't want to waste such a nice shirt.
The race was a bit far for me but the reason why I participated in this one was because my friends were doing it (they're local). I figured that we'd drive out there, I would race and my husband would hang out with his friends while I ran. (It's rather funny that it's the wives/girlfriends who run and our husbands/boyfriends who drink beer and wait for us. I'm not joking, they had beer at this event). Then we'd all make a beach day of it afterwards.
Before the race, on the beach of Lake Ronkonkoma
Our recent extreme heat wave had broken the day before but it was still a pretty hot summer day. Temperatures were still in the 80s. They had three water stations along the route after each mile marker and I stopped each time because it was just too hot. The last time, I wasn't even thirsty; I just dumped the water over me to cool myself down. I shouldn't complain too much; at least I didn't have to run it in full uniform and gear. I'm totally in awe of all the military men who ran this race like that. They run faster than I do without all that equipment. They are BAD A$$.
Despite its name, we didn't actually get to race exactly next to the lake. It was a road race and we were only running on roads alongside the lake for maybe 40% (or less) of the race. It would have been cool (both visually and temperature-wise) if we could have raced 100% along the lake. Most of the race was through residential neighborhoods so all the locals got quite the entertainment that morning. One guy (bless his heart) took his garden hose out and sprayed it over the side of his porch. Myself and many other runners bee-lined for the water. It felt glorious getting sprayed with the cool water.
This race was much smaller than the other 2 races (Bronx Zoo 5K, Wall Street Heart Run) I had participated in. There were only about 900 runners. But that was actually a good thing. Since they closed off the roads for us, we were able to expand out early. I liked that very much. The other races, I always got into traffic jams with the other runners. I also liked that at the 3 mile mark, they had a gigantic American flag hanging off the extended ladder of a fire truck. That was a pretty awesome sight. Too bad I didn't take a picture of it.
Due to the heat, I was definitely feeling exhausted much earlier than I usually do when I run. It also didn't help that there were some hills at the very beginning. I finished each of the first miles in less than 10 or 11 min, but that last mile was KILLER. The last mile was all up hill. They weren't big hills but it was enough to tire me significantly. Since I was already feeling pretty tired, I started doing walk/run intervals after the second mile. But I had to take more and more walking breaks as I progressed. Every time I encountered a hill in the last mile, I walked. I knew I was doing the fourth mile really poorly. At the pace I was going, it would take me 15 min to finish that last mile.
In that fourth mile, I was totally ready for the race to be over. I was tired. I was hot. I was taking shorter and shorter run intervals to deal with that. I was about to go into another walking interval when I started to see runners who had already finished. I knew that meant I was almost at the end. So I pushed through. I kept running and didn't take any more walking breaks. When I saw the turn into the driveway to the beach that was the last leg of race, I kicked it up a notch. It was hard but I somehow managed to find it within me. And I saw my husband waiting there, ready to take a picture of me crossing the finish line. And since we were chip timed, they knew who we were as we crossed so as I was coming up to the finish line, they announced my name. That was HUGE rush and really helped me to sprint to the finish line.
Guess what? I finished this 4 mile race in 44:28.19 with a pace of 11:08 min/mile. I've only participated in 2 chip timed races but 11:08 is an improvement over my previous pace of 11:17. Given the heat, I did not dare to hope that I could possibly finish in less than 45 min. And yet I did. It might have been hard but I did it!
My friend Kathryn coming into the finish line. We ran the Bronx Zoo 5K together. She finished in 33 min. We were all so proud of Kathryn.
Kathryn's friend Beth at the finish line, who also ran the Bronx Zoo 5K with us
Me, coming into the finish line.
These guys must have known Lt. Murphy
Megan, the friend who got myself and Kathryn to run this race. This was her first race and we're really proud of her 52 min time. Her goal next year is to finish in 45 min.
Post-race. They had a lot of bananas left so we all took some home.
ETA 6/27/12: They e-mailed us some links to race photos that the race photographers took. There are 2 albums:
What's funny is that I only see Megan in one photo in the first album and I don't see any of my friends or their friends in the other album. However, there are tons of my husband, haha!