I was raised in a desert state, so East Coast Augusts are not my habitat. Even the natives don't love the summer running, though many don't seem much slowed by it. But me, I'm slowed.
Once again, last night about 250 media elites lined up in Central Park to prove that our industry, which has been slowly dying for the last 554 years, still has pluck and spunk. Last year's race series awarded bragging rights and an outsize loving cup to NewsCorp, lighting up a good-natured rivalry that lasted all this year. McGraw-Hill/Standard & Poors, with whom I run, has been at the top of most of this year's races. But there were two close contenders, so Race #5 would determine who kept the giant tchotchke on their desk.
As the horn sounded I realized I had lined up a little too far back and had to weave to get some room. When I finally caught up to teammate B. I was feeling good, but noticed I was running slower than usual. I focused on form, using a "proprioceptive cue" I read about somewhere, in which you concentrate on pulling the world back as if it were a giant treadmill. This helps with pre-activation of the leg muscles, and provides a mild distraction from the excruciating pain lancing through your respiratory and neuro-muscular systems.
The course takes two loops around the bottom of the park. On loop one I ran at my own pace, which was still a little slower than last time. On the second loop B. pulled ahead and kept me honest for the rest of the race, since the still-humid air was trying to convince me to breathe less. Lately when I suffer during a race I've had this image of feeding meat to a tiger, or sometimes a lion. The meat comes in bloody chunks from my legs.
So to summarize, I'm on a giant treadmill, feeding parts of my body to a hungry feline.
B. had instructed me where to start that last kick, and unlike my last Media Race, I knew where the finish line was. I picked it up and passed one competitor near the finish, to come in 8th overall. (At first I misread my card to think I was #5. No, that's Race #5. Good thing I didn't make the same mistake in Race #1. That would have been a big letdown.)
Our team came in 2nd for the race, but we got 1st place for the 2009 series. Our victory was secured largely by runners over 40, prompting team blogger G. to change our team motto to "Like a fine wine. . .".
It was a decent race for me, especially considering the humidity. But it was my slowest of the series, and the humidity was actually lower than #4, where I ran about 30 seconds faster. I'm training hard now for the marathon, which probably is making me a little more tired. My run in the NYC Half was slower than my winter halfs, before I had done any training. I frankly wish my progress were more, er, progressive.
Still, my main race is in November (or taking the long view, November 2016), and before then I'll peak and taper. The weather will be nice and cool, and hopefully dryer. Till then I'm having the most fun the humidity, giant treadmills, and hungry tigers will allow.