Course PR in a Long Run Sandwich: 2022 Race for the Kids 4M Race Recap

Only five weeks late with this one! Could be worse.

I have a few recaps to catch up on, so I will try to keep this one fairly short. Spoiler: this was a Central Park 4-mile PR. Not my fastest 4M ever (almost!), but the fastest 4 miles my old bones have ever run inside Central Park.

In other words: a course PR!

Like this year’s Brooklyn Half, the 2022 RBC Race for the Kids 4M Presented by NYRR was sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada. The kids are patients of MSK Kids, a pediatric program at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

The was not a NYRR club points race, but it was an H points race – meaning, NYRR didn’t count this as a race where running clubs gain all-important points, but my running club the New York Harriers did. If this is in any way confusing, just ignore this paragraph!

The course is one we’ve all seen before: starting just south of Cat Hill, running counterclockwise, through the 102nd transverse, and down the west side. I like this route since Cat Hill is done with in mile 1.

Course map of the 2022 RBC Race for the Kids 4M.

NYRR’s site lists the weather on this morning as “53 DEGREES, 57% HUMIDITY, 9 MPH WIND” which is pretty good race weather. Singlet and shorts weather, if you ask me. For the record, I am a fan of wearing less than you think you need to.

The start was three miles from my apartment, so in an effort to both warm up and save on subway fare ($2.75, future generations – can you believe it used to be that cheap?!), I just ran it. Three miles is usually overkill as a race warm up, but this was my long run day as well. So, in an effort to get in 15 total miles, three before the race made sense. Then eight after. A long run sandwich, if you will. Or would it be a race sandwich? This post is already too long and I apologize.

Not everyone wore a singlet and shorts, but we were all ready to tackle this 4-mile loop. At least, my corral was. Hi, D corral!

Runners in the starting corrals before the 2022 RBC Race for the Kids 4M.

Once D corral crossed the start, I tried getting in some speed before Cat Hill. I think I got up to about 7:00 pace before the hill brought me down to 8:15. While I’ve gotten a lot stronger on hills in the last six months, I still find it near impossible to run any faster than 8:00 pace going up a hill like Cat (or Harlem, or even any of the Three Sisters). Maybe someday.

Still, I was happy to get Cat Hill out of the way. I recall passing a bunch of runners going up it, always a confidence boost.

MILE 1: 7:30

Mile 2 was the flattest part of the course – the easiest part of the entire loop to pick up speed, so I did all I could here. My Harriers teammate Aaron was standing across from Engineers’ Gate taking pics with his phone and captured this one of me. Once I realized it was him, I smiled. Thanks Aaron!

Smiling woman in sunglasses running a race.

You can’t fully tell but I was running pretty fast here, at least for me. My pace graph shows the second part of mile 2 to have reached about 6:45 pace for a stretch – jogging for some of my faster friends, but close to my mile PR pace.

But that pace wouldn’t/couldn’t last, as the Three Sisters hills were to come!

MILE 2: 7:23

Mile 3 started on the 102nd transverse which, thankfully, is slightly downhill going east to west. This made it easier to ready myself for the hills. I’ve written about Three Sisters before, as they are always a part of any Central Park race (and just about all of my Friday tempo workouts with the Harriers). None of them are all that bad during easy runs, but dang, they are a nuisance in races.

I did my best. My pace actually picked up throughout each hill, which was cool.

More Harrier teammates greeted us on the west side of the loop. My friend Donna snapped this one of me at the very top of one of the hills (hence my terrible form and exhausted emoji face), and then seconds later as I managed to get my form back.

Woman with poor running form sticking out her tongue during a race.
The back of a woman running in a race.

Mile 3 was by far the hardest mile. I would have loved my pace to be faster, but I’ll have to settle for what is my 10K PR pace.

MILE 3: 7:43

Mile 4 was nice – mostly flat or downhill, the major hills behind us. Also, you know, it’s the last mile so that’s always fun. So close to bagels!

I went all out here, or at least as fast as my legs could manage. I was hovering between 7:00 and 7:20 minutes/mile here, and when I rounded the corner onto 72nd toward the finish, it looks like I hit 6:20 which is very fast for me.

I always like to remind everyone what is fast for me, as I have many friends who could easily keep up a 6:20 pace for a 10K, half marathon, or even a marathon.

For me, it’s about what I’ll hit at the finish line of a 4-miler. On a good day.

MILE 4: 7:22

I was really happy to see two sub-7:30 miles in the same race! This doesn’t happen for me often. Honestly, anything sub-7:30 used to scare me, and now it doesn’t so much.

After I crossed the finish, I met up with some Harriers. We all compared races and posed for a photo, my face still nice and red from the almost-PR.

A group of runners standing, crouching, and smiling after a race.

My 4M PR is from the 2018 Thanksgiving Huntington 4M – a 30:08 finish, or 7:32 pace.

Today, my Garmin said 30:19 and 7:29 pace, but the distance I ran was 4.05 miles – so my pace for the 4-mile route would be (officially) slower than 7:29. At first I wasn’t sure if I had PR’d, but I soon found out when I checked the official results and saw that I had finished in 30:14, or 7:34 pace for 4 miles.

Six seconds shy of my PR. But, as I wrote earlier, a course PR. I’ll take it!

After some more fun pics, I set out to complete my long run and did another 8 miles inside the park, this time going clockwise just to mix things up. I ran this very easy (average 9:56 pace – so nice after the race!).

Three women standing and posing after a race.
Liz, Susan, me

It actually felt great to run easy after the race. I’ve been enjoying doing that more and more. Especially after particularly hard races – a jog feels like a nice stroll.

I am happy with this race. After so many 4-mile Central Park counterclockwise loops, to have run my fastest this year is pretty cool. I don’t know how many more course PRs (or normal PRs) I have left – one of the many mysteries of getting older – so I will enjoy them while they last.

Plus, 11th out of 177 in my age group is nice. I mean, top 10 would be nicer. Maybe someday.

OFFICIAL RESULTS
Time: 30:14
Pace: 7:34/m
Age Group: 11/177
Women: 173/2020
Overall: 978/4495

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