The 2019 New Balance 5th Avenue Mile happened so long ago, but that is my theme this fall: Better late than never. It’s a solid theme and I’ve been very consistent with it.
I ran this race last year so when it came time to sign up for 2019 NYRR races, I figured I’d run it again. Not that I trained for it; I’d spent the summer marathon training, not mile training. The only recent fast mile I’d run was another mile race: June’s Northport Downhill Mile, where I ran a PR of 6:35. Although that race had no starting mat and a wonky start, so I don’t know if I should even count that as an official time.
I know 6:35 is pure easy jogging pace for some folk, but please know that I am a middle-aged lady who moves her legs for fun, and that’s probably as good as it’s going to get for me these days. As someone who ran 5Ks in her 20s at a 9:30 pace, I’m not apologizing.
The 5th Avenue Mile was to take place at the tail end of week 9 of my marathon training. I had 13 miles planned for that day, so I figured I’d run two miles to the start and then run the rest after the race. Easy!
Last year’s 5th Avenue Mile was a lot of fun. I like how they divide up the race by age groups/gender, so there are multiple races and you get to watch others. Last year, us 40-something ladies ran after the 20s men and women and the 30s men and women, so there were already a bunch of people on the sidelines cheering us on.
This year, they changed up the order of the age groups: the 50-somethings would be the first to race, then the 40s, then 30s, and so on. So instead of youngest to oldest, it was reversed (although the 60+ runners would go later).
What this did was ensure far fewer spectators than last year during my age group’s race. This didn’t bother me that much, it was just a thing I noticed. There were also fewer runners from my club the Harriers running it this year, I presume because 1) it wasn’t a club points race 2) the Harriers had their own mile race scheduled for the following weekend, and most of them were running that.
So this year’s 5th Avenue Mile felt a little… lonely? Maybe that’s not the right word. Anticlimactic? A very speedy, high energy, anticlimactic morning.
The weather was nice this year, at least. Temps were in the 60s, a welcome change.
I did something I don’t think I’ve ever done for a NYRR race: I checked my phone. I usually never check a bag if the race is in Central Park, but I wanted to wear my water bottle belt for the miles after the race, so I figured I might as well check a bag and my phone. I hadn’t wanted to wear my arm band since the Mini 10K – in a summer of sweltering temps and humidity, I’d had no desire to feel that thing directly on my arm. Maybe I’ll wear it again this winter.
So I have no pics of the start. Just imagine a lot of 40-something women and me, once again, not getting into the starting area early enough so I wasn’t as far front as I wanted to be. I wound up slithering my way up to around the 6th or 7th row, which was fine. I don’t belong all the way up front anyway.
Unlike last year, when I had never run a mile race before, I had an idea of what I might be able to do. Last year I had run this course in 6:47. I thought it could be fun to try to beat that.
I started out less conservatively this year. I ran a lot faster in the first quarter mile (which is flat), which made the second quarter mile (which is a slight uphill) feel a lot harder. A quarter of a mile is only five city blocks. But this stretch felt a lot longer.
Once we got over the hill, I kept chugging away and managed to speed up a bit in the last quarter. I didn’t look at my watch much. I didn’t really need to. I wasn’t exactly holding back.
Thanks to Gameface Media for capturing a couple of images of me on the course. These were taken toward the end, when I could see the finish line and wanted very badly to cross it.
I like the shorts we got this year for the race. Lord knows I have enough tank tops and shirts. Getting shorts was nice. So I wore them.
I pinned my bib to my shorts so everyone could see what club I’m in on my (lack of) chest. (Trust me, I love having small boobs. I can’t imagine running with more stuff on my body. I don’t even know how men run. Seems annoying.)
I knew I looked fairly intense. I didn’t care. I was just trying to move my legs as fast as I could. I don’t even understand how runners can run sub 4:00 miles. My legs don’t have the functioning ability to even come close to being able to do that. But for me, I was going fast. Even two years ago, a sub 7:00 mile felt impossible.
I crossed the finish and looked at my Garmin: 6:40. I didn’t beat last year’s 6:47 by much, but I did beat it! Mission accomplished.
I decided to wait on the line where you could get your photo taken with a large screen displaying your time. I asked a woman in front of me if she could take my photo with her phone and text it to me, and she very nicely did so. We chatted about running while we waited. Runners are very nice. I think it’s because they run.
And to my surprise, I had actually run a 6:39. This is me, genuinely surprised:
After the pics, I walked back up to get my bag and phone, ran another 9 miles around the park, and then called it quits. I was tired but not so beat up I couldn’t run easy for a bit. A lot of other mile racers appeared to be doing the same (judging from their shorts).
I came back to 5th Avenue to see the 70+ runners. I love them so much.
I’m not sure I’ll run this next year. It’s fun, but if the Harriers do their mile race again around this time, I might opt to do that instead.
Still, I’m happy with the tiny PR I got as a middle-aged lady who moves her legs for fun.
MY OFFICIAL RESULTS
Age Group: 18/346