I hate being late to anything. Can't stand it. I think it's the stereotypical assumption that musicians are never on time that drives me crazy and instilled this obsessive aversion to tardiness. If timeliness is within my control, I'll be on time.
So naturally, I was late to the start of the Brooklyn Half. I have no excuse for it. Since it was my first race in over eight months, I guess I forgot the fact that time moves twice as quckly on race morning. So even though I live less than a mile from the race, I couldn't make a 7:00 start.
And of course the day before the race, I had told Coach Cane that I'd learned from my mistake from last year's race (arriving late and getting stuck in the back of my corral) and that I planned to arrive early to warm up and line up where I needed to be. Well it turned out I showed up even later this year and missed my corral completely.
The plan was to take the first few miles conservatively and gradually increase pace from the halfway point of the second loop of Prospect Park. That plan went out the window when I looked down after a first mile of weaving my way through hundreds of runners and saw 5:54 on my watch. After telling myself to relax and slow down, I wove through mile two (which included the climb to Grand Army) in 6:00 flat. Down with conservatism! This was to be a Colbertian race.
Fortunately, I had the advantage of a front-heavy course, so once I was out of Prospect Park, I had a smooth net-downhill ride to Coney Island in front of me. Coach Cane reminded me the day before to wait until Ocean Parkway to start passing "the idiots who went out too fast". Afraid that I had played the role of one of those idiots, I worked very hard from miles 7-12 to hang on.
The psychological barrier between "this is terrible make it stop!" to "I can actually finish this!" (in other words, the final mile marker) is such a funny thing to think about when you're removed from the race situation. It's like Zoloft for runners. I hope I can eventually get to a point in racing where I'm completely confident in my fitness and the final mile marker becomes insignificant. But that definitely hasn't happened yet because I was very excited to see the mile 12 sign on Saturday.
Getting onto the boardwalk is both relieving and annoying as hell, because it feels like you're running through quicksand. After the final slog along the boardwalk I was relieved to cross the line in 1:16:51, just under my goal, and twenty seconds faster than 2010.
Overall, I'm pleased with my fitness and looking forward to another solid year of racing. And timeliness.