Our latest race report comes from Whippet blur and Vassar collegiate competitor Kate Snider, the first woman (and 9th overall!) across the line at the NYRR NYC 60K in Central Park, this past November 15th. And she didn’t need no stinkin’ tune up races to do it! Enjoy… JAK
There were no pre-race jitters, but there was some serious pre-race hesitation. I’d been advised to drop out after 13 miles and just do it as a long run. I’d been told that my legs would endure little tears and that, as such a young runner, I would sabotage my future career. I’d been warned how difficult things would get after mile 22. But still, thanks to my stubborn confidence, I was positive I could do it. True, I’d only ever ran 18 miles before attempting the NYRR 60k, and true, I hadn’t done a workout in over 8 weeks, but I still felt incredibly fit. I had been running for over an hour a day, racking up my weekly mileage to digits that I never thought I would reach. Plus, running isn’t rocket science. It’s rhythmic and mechanical, foot after foot slapping pavement. And it’s with that attitude that I got out of bed race morning, ate a banana, gulped down some water, and made my way to Central Park.
I had been nursing a bum hip and knee for about a week, so my race plan was simple: run until it seemed dangerous. That is, run until the possibility of a serious injury, one that would put me out for a few days, weeks, or months, arose. Aside from that, my plan was that I had no plan. I committed to the fact that I would be running for a few hours and left it as so. No thinking about the grueling distance ahead, the repetitive course, or the fact that I was as inexperienced as they come. It was going to be a casual run on a beautiful day in the best city I know. And that’s exactly what it was.
I started off at an uncomfortably comfortable pace — it was slow. Alone with my thoughts, I trotted the out and back. I completed the first loop and was surprised to see that I was averaging 8:15 minutes per mile. I had no idea how fast I should be running, but 8:15s, while slower than my day-to-day pace, seemed risky. On top of that, my hip felt off. To be honest, I thought I would just run one more loop and then stop. But one more became two which became three, and well, you know how the rest goes. I figured that while I could stop at any time, I was not going to stop without first trying everything I could to finish, even if that meant walking or heading to the med tent at some point. I decided the first course of action was stretching out my IT band, so I made sure to stop and stretch out every few miles (and every mile after 21). I figured out if I took a few seconds here and there to rehab I would be able to finish. With the stretching, plus a bathroom stop and refueling along the way, I made sure to give my body the time it needed to rest.
Aside from my hip, each lap felt better than the one before! I was in a groove and before I knew it my pace had dropped significantly. Things felt smooth and easy until the marathon mark, at which point I had seriously surpassed my longest run…ever. From there on it was a battle to keep my hip from blowing out. And although my feet hurt and my thighs screamed, my energy and attitude remained high and positive. Even when my body was hurting I was happy to be out there. Happy to be alive and to be fast and free and running. Happy to be with other runners who were so dedicated to the sport and with volunteers who were incredibly supportive. It was unbelievably refreshing to take part in an event where the focus was not on time or place, but on finishing and helping each other cross the line. For me, that’s what running is all about.
Speaking of camaraderie, with 10 miles to go I ran into Andrew [Hadro] and Steve [Wo], which was great. It was nice to run with them, although I had to keep stopping to stretch and then striding to regroup once again. With 2.5 miles to go, I passed the first place woman, who had led since mile 5. To be completely honest, I had no idea where she was for about 30 miles, and it was not my intention to catch up. As I previously mentioned, I viewed this not as a race, but as a new experience. But as chance would have it, I caught up.
Would I do it again? Well, the NYRR 60k will definitely become an annual event, but I can’t say that I’ll be joining team ultra anytime soon. To me, the beauty of running is the mutability of the art. The fact that it can be one thing on Monday, and a completely different beast by Sunday. Perhaps I’ll run that distance again, or something even longer, but it will probably be on a whim. For now, I’ll stick to running with friends, giggling and chatting while cruising through Prospect Park, soaking in some Vitamin D and feeling my body fly through space — the ultimate runners high.
This post is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Dashing Whippets Running Team, its board, or its captains.