Today I ran the Fifth Avenue Mile. I pulled off a 5:21 in this 1-mile race. While this is 2 seconds slower than my PR for this race (set 2 years ago), I’m 2 years older and my age grade percentage actually went up slightly. So in some respects, while I was 2 seconds slower, I was slightly more competitive for my age.

If it weren’t for the humidity and probably the warmth, I probably would have had a PR. The temperature was above 70 degrees with nearly 100% humidity (at 8:45am it was 73 with 87% humidity, and my heat was at 10:30am), which undoubtedly hindered my performance but fortunately not in a cardiovascularly obvious way. That is, the humidity didn’t seem to bother my body much, even though training evidence suggests it slows me down. I probably felt a little slower than I’ve felt on runs in the park of recent, but my time is respectable for me and probably the fastest I’ve run for this distance all year.

The race was not without some surprises. In the heat before me, the announcer noted right after the start that someone had lost his shoe–how could that be?! We laughed. When my heat started, I almost my shoe! How it almost happened to me was that I was basically at the front and decided to start not-full-speed. This meant sprinters behind me wanted to plow over me. This meant that I had someone step on the back of my shoe, which was just loose enough, which was also traveling forward, which meant I could have pulled the foot right out of my shoe. Fortunately, that didn’t happen! In the last quarter, as I was speeding up toward the finish on the west side of the avenue, a runner decides to high-five an audience member … by steering right in front of me. NOT COOL. I pushed his back at probably a sacrifice of strength, speed, and maybe a second of time (probably not 2 seconds). Word to the foolish: Don’t do that. Especially not in such a fast race, amongst such fast finishers, near the finish line, and without looking. I equate you with a terrorist given how some people train for these kinds of things.

I didn’t bring my Garmin so I don’t have any stats. I did, however, plot out a rough strategy. I decided to take the advice and resist sprinting full speed out of the gate. When you’re at the start line, you actually can gaze down 5th Avenue to see where the uphill begins at 74th St. That is, you can see the downhill ahead of you. It’s like a siren’s song: You want to just fly down it. But after two prior races and other advice about this race, I knew I should resist the urge. So, I let a lot of men fly by me with the decision I’d reel them in later in the race.

I also strategized that in order to do a 5:20, I had to mount the hill (i.e., hit the 1/2-mile mark) at 2:40. When I did that, I thought, Awesome, I’m going to set a PR! I thought this because I was going to speed up for the last 1/2 mile, which is a slight, advantageous downhill.

For some reason, the strategy didn’t completely work. I essentially ended up with pretty even 1/2-miles in finishing in 5:21. What I don’t get is that I didn’t expend all my energy in the first 1/2-mile, so I should have had more than enough energy left for the second 1/2-mile, no? Maybe that guy who cut in front of me had something to do with it! 🙂

I did put my all into this race. This year, I raced using a 2x caffeine PowerGel (about 50 mg of caffeine, that equates to), which I consumed with a cup of water about 30 minutes before the race. Given that I put my all into this race – and that I didn’t get to train more specifically for this race given a back spasm from a couple weeks ago – I am pretty satisfied with today’s results. It also shows me that I’m at about the same state of fitness as I was in 2009 when I qualified for the Boston Marathon in Philly, running a 3:07:32. That year, I even had to take about a month off from training due to injury. Today, the only injury I had was a slighly bruised-feeling left Achilles which was not a factor in the race. (I chose to forego aspirin, too, FYI.)

Here are photos from the race. I’ll have a finish video up eventually in the Photos section of this blog – Elizabeth’s boyfriend (who was attending to watch her 5:46 finish!) shot it and will get it to me. Below is a video from the overall race, which is pretty cool.

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