No offense Hunger Games, but a lot of terrible things begin with the letter H. Hurricane Irene? Ruined an epic bachelorette party for my girl Sarah. Hippos? Kill dozens of African bathers a year. Hitler? Perhaps this one speaks for itself.
But today, boys and girls, the evil H-word of the day is HILLS. And HUBRIS. Oh yeah, and HANGOVER.
This morning, I raced my first 5K since high school (not counting the non-competitive Turkey Trot my brother ran in combat boots and khakis this fall) and going in, I don’t think I gave the distance due deference.
3.1 miles? I smirked as I threw back another $8 beer at a friend’s charity rock concert last night at Tammany Hall. In January, I ran a 5K – and 10 more miles on top of it – in whiteout conditions during the Manhattan Half. I can handle 3.1 miles.
Ancient Greek antiheroes were usually rewarded generously for their charming hubristic qualities (*not true), so I was shocked to find myself in poor shape this morning as I rolled out of bed at 7 a.m. Fortunately, I had the good sense to stop after two beers – and fend off every round of tequila making its way in my direction – but I simply can’t stay up late or metabolize alcohol like I used to, and my aching, dehydrated body this morning was proof. (Hey, other 26 year olds: please, oh please, tell me this maturing thing is happening to you, too.)
It wasn’t bad enough to warrant throwing in the metaphorical towel, however, so I downed my body weight in water, laced up and made my way to Washington Heights for the NYRR Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K.
According to the online description, this “festive” course was supposed to take us under the George Washington Bridge, into Fort Tyron Park, past a breathtaking Hudson River overlook and back down Fort Washington Ave. to the finish line as dozens of local musicians kept time on the sidelines. What the description neglected to add was that this race takes a slight right-turn detour over the Himalayas.
A Central Park runner, I’ve sprinted up my fair share of hills, but nothing prepared me for the long, slow inclines of today’s race. As soon as I’d catch my breath from one mountainous climb, I’d have to start preparing myself for the next hill looming in the not-so-far distance. I heard someone say we ran to the highest natural point in Manhattan and back, and I confirmed it on Wikipedia before posting it here. Seriously. This was one hilly mother of a race.
Going in with a slight hangover – and concluding with a massive hillover (perhaps not a word) – I knew there was no way I was breaking any records on this race. And I didn’t. I finished in 24:45, maintaining an average 7:59 pace. I’m still proud to have broken 8:00, since that time wasn’t even in my lexicon a year ago, but after logging 7:54 miles in a longer race earlier this season, I know I can do better. Ah well. Next time I’ll skip the Heinekens and carb load in the more traditional sense.
What would you do differently if you could start this weekend over?