Hot Chocolate 10 Miler

December 6, 1997
by Papa Bear

Tired! Yes did I mention I am dead tired.

It actually starts Friday. A bunch of us go out for beers at the corner bar since things at work are so unbelievably chaotic and we need to unwind. Bob starts a tab. Not a good idea. We get warmed up and have one, then a second pint of Pete's Wicked Winter Brew. Very nice fruity flavor. A few others come and now there are about 7 of us on the tab (times 2 or three times about $5) and the tab is adding up. But Bob is cool and I leave at about 6:30 and struggle to get home. Haven't heard yet the end of that story. Joy is out at a surprise party and I am home alone so I pick up some tortalini with pesto sauce at the A&P. By the time I get to Stuy Town the two beers are having an almost overwhelming impact on my bladder. I just make it off the elevator and inside and that situation is relieved (the "pause that refreshes"!). Have the tortalini and practically fall asleep on the couch. Good way to prepare for a race, no? A race - oh yes a race, read on. Joy gets home (when?) and talks about beautiful starry night but I'm to groggy to look out window.

I wake a few times in the night, then I'm up at 7:00. Temperature is 32 and it's clear. Feels pretty good. Get paper and coffee and decide I will go to the West Side Y first, and then to the race so I can go back to the Y after the race to change since I must go to work. I'm late getting out the door so I take a taxi across town to get the subway (does that make sense?). Get to Y at 8:15 - it's OK - I figure I need to get out the door of the Y to walk to the NYRRC by 8:30.

Off to the races. It's the annual "Hot Chocolate 10 miler" in Central Park. Dress - how to dress? I know the 20 degree rule (dress for temperatures 20 degrees warmer (32 + 20 would be 52) when you run). It's still 32 when I get to the Y but now it's cloudy and breezy. Sort of what you'd call "cold". I decide I'll go with shorts and long-sleeve coolmax with singlet underneath for extra warmth. Have Gortex suit on over this and walk out through the Park. Half jog/walk up from the Y, stopping at boathouse bathroom and get to RRC just before 9:00. Get my number and a big big line is forming. Race starts at 10:00 - now what do I do for an hour? freeze? They kick us out of the RRC since it's filling up and I try the Church of the Overly Dressed. They let us in around the back but no bathrooms there. Finally I go to the park about 9:30 and find Denise (who has agreed to "race" me today) and a few others. Her sister Jean is running in the 2 miler. I jog about a mile to warm up and then get back to the luggage and strip off my Gortex suit. Find Denise, watch Jeanie off and then we squeeze into the start pack. We have vowed to break 1:15 (7:30 pace) and race each other to the finish.

We are caught by surprise by the staring horn and Denise and I fight through the pack. First mile 7:59. Now we had agreed to do a 7:30 pace together. Denise says 8:00 for first mile is just right - she likes to start slow, but I think it's a little slow. But since it was the crowding that was the problem I figure we're OK now. First loop is 4 mile loop, so we're now heading south on the west side of the Park. 2nd mile 7:42 - I say - this IS too slow and I take off and drop Denise, never to be seen again. I'm feeling good so I pick it up quite a bit. I run into Laura Leale and Ann Smith and hit the third mile in 7:11. Now this is NOT how to pace a race, I'll admit, but it's cold and the third mile is largely down hill. By now I have moved ahead of Laura and Ann. I "never" beat Laura, but today may be my day. Now it's Cat Hill first time around and I see Bill Mishler. He's about my speed but he's done like 200 marathons and is very hard to beat. Well anyway I push up the hill and I hit the clock at the Engineer's Gate after the first 4 mile loop in 30:35 so I'm 35 seconds over budget. I realize the actual 4 mile point is a little ways back so I'm probably only 25 seconds over, but I'm over. Because I don't quite know where the mark is, I think at first that the cat-hill mile was 7:42 (probably was 7:32 - not bad really). But we're now on the second 6 mile loop with the long down hill coming. I push a little 'cause I love down hills and I pull ahead of Bill. Hit mile 5 at the bottom of the hill. My watch split says 6:59!! I know I love doing down hills but this is too fast. I realize that with the miss-timing at mile 4, it's really more like 7:10. Still I'm feeling fine and it's time to really push up the treacherous north hill to get to mile 6. I hit that in 45:09 (a 7:34 split) and I am really proud of that tough mile. But I know the numbers, and my deficit is still 9 seconds.

The West Side rolling hills! Why are these so tough? I just did both Cat Hill and the north hill in respectable splits but I feel really sluggish on these little teeny rolling hills. Mile 7 is a 7:36 - a disappointing mile. Deficit is now about 15 seconds and I know you generally don't get faster at the end of a tough 10 miler. I don't give in to resignation and pick it up again on the largely down hill of mile 8 (remember mile 3). I see Marge Kos with her impressive, aggressive stride about 20 yards ahead. I feel a little threatened by her, but I pull even and pass her at mile 8. I hit this at 59:59 (a 7:13!) and yes I am now almost exactly on my target pace. Marge doesn't respond, so I think "what the hell - see if you can keep this up". Then at about 8 1/2 miles I see Carol Gellman, whom I "never" beat and pass her as well. I hit mile 9 and my watch says 7:24 so I know I'm ahead but I don't exactly figure how much. I don't hear what the guy is yelling and I don't see the total on my watch. I t hrow my gloves into the grass at the corner (where we meet for Saturday morning runs) so I can run free, and dump some water over my head at the water stop. This is freaking cold but I really impress myself with the gesture!

Well now it's Cat Hill for the second time. No excuses now, no more rabbits to catch it's either do it or don't. I push one of the hardest mile I have done up that hellish hill, past Ceopatra's Needle, past the reservoir and round the corner to see the finish. I refuse to look at the clock till the last few seconds. First Ed Altman, then Julie and Phil yell encouragement and finally I look up and see 1:14:30 ... 31... Yes I am doing this!! 1:14:33 DONE. Exhaustion, Can't breathe, pain - you know those great feelings. And I am very proud to say my fastest mile was that last Cat Hill mile - 7:09!!.

My pace, 7:27, was the same as I did in the White Mountain Milers Half-marathon in late October but this felt much harder, much better. Probably the cold and the uneven hilly Central Park course makes this so tough, but I felt a sense that I really did this one well.

What a way to start a day! Now have a bagel, go home, take a nap. right? NOT!! Back down through the park, find the gloves, to the Y, call the office - tell them to hold the NJ job till I get there, tell them to tell Stan I'm coming. Quick shower. Bottle of Gatoraide for lunch. The "A" train to the WTC. Path train to New Jersey. Get to the NJ office about 1:30. Can't find the computer technician for about an hour, but then we work to get a system reconfigured so we can plug in 60 GigaBytes more hard drives. Call Stan 3 times. He is doing same thing in NY. Finally get something working by about 4:40. Call Joy and ask her to call Michelle (Masseuse) and see if she can push back the massage scheduled for 6:00 by an hour. Thankfully she gets through and that's done. Job finally done by about 5:00. Take Path back to NY office and work with Stan for another half hour configuring things. Schedule an early Monday morning meeting (does this never stop?) with the user of the system and then at 6:10 I'm off home.

Home at 6:30. Hang out my running stuff to dry (remember the running stuff?) and relax for about 15 seconds till Michelle gets there. The massage was actually the best thing that could have been planned. She did her thing for an hour - found some very tight calves and other hurting parts and put me into much better shape.

She left and Joy said she was too tired to cook. I said I was too tired to cook so we had a can of soup and a can of ravioli. Another beer, fell asleep on the couch and then woke up, then to bed. End of a long day.

I think I'll take Sunday off!