Life is a series of processes. We wait in line to buy things we need, or in most cases, just think we need. We go to school to get a job; we get a job to go to school. It’s hard to think of something we often do that doesn’t serve as a means to end. In some respect, a race can appear to be the end. But if you’re using your race time to qualify for another race, defend your title, or prepare for a future race, it transforms into a step in the process instead of the result of the process.
Navigating countless processes can be difficult. When the end goal seems so far away, the process may stop making sense. The light at the end of the tunnel will seem so dimly lit, you’ll ask yourself if it’s even on. To avoid burnout, I planned several smaller races in between my bigger races. I was able to experiment with shorter distances and have fun. Of course I love to PR, but there’s also just something about the sun shining and wind blowing in my hair as I approach the finish line that’s just so euphoric.
I registered for the 5th Avenue Mile on a whim. I already ran the Brooklyn Mile a few weeks ago and with a half marathon coming up, I was unsure if I should really be sprinting. But I’ve come to really love sprinting and the adrenaline rush from it. There was no way I was going to pass up 5th Avenue.
My routine this morning was different than that of a long race. After all, the race wouldn’t even last 10 minutes. Since I had vomited after my long run yesterday, I decided it would be best to race on an empty stomach. Whenever I eat before a race, I have to finish consuming my food at least 2 hours before the start, so forgoing breakfast meant that I could sleep an extra hour. I rolled out of bed, threw on my race gear, drank some water, and headed out of the door.
I did a brief warm up before the race-nothing too intense. I didn’t want to tire myself from what I wanted to be the fastest mile of my life. Just like that, I was off! Running down 5th Avenue without a pacer forced me to trust myself. I often struggle with gauging my own speed, but I had no choice. I finished the first 400 meters and looked at the clock: 1:30. I was going way too fast. I knew that I was not going to be able to keep up with that speed, so I started to slow down. So much for negative splits. As the high schoolers in my heat (yes, high schoolers!) started passing me, I took a deep breath. I knew that I had the opportunity to PR if I played this right. And I did. As I approached the 3/4 mile sign, I sped up. I could see the finish and I could see the clock. In my mind, I saw my Brooklyn Mile finish time. I knew that I could beat it if I pushed harder. I barely remember feeling my feet pound the pavement on the way to the finish line. I was confident that I was going crush it.
With a cup of water and apple in hand, I made it. I sprinted down one of the most iconic streets in New York City, if not the world, and I had a blast doing so. I had that “fresh off a roller coaster” feeling: ready to go again but still recovering from everything I just experienced.
It’s moments like these when I ask myself if I’m really a long distance runner. I can be anything that I want to be, but shorter races bring out a different side of me. And all the excitement feels pretty awesome.