NYC Runs Falling Leaves Race Recap

My mom said it well yesterday: “Life isn’t complicated. We make it complicated.”

Yesterday, I ventured out to Queens to (attempt to) run the Falling Leaves Half. After a spring/summer of disappointing races — DNFs, DNSs — I wanted a confidence boost. I wanted to be able to say “yeah, I can still do this.”

But apparently not enough to train for it? After several disappointments this year, I developed some sort of apathy towards running, further perpetuating the negative reinforcement. The less you do anything, the harder it is, right?

Still, I knew I’d run 25+ halfs. I should have been OK, right? Don’t get me wrong, I never expected it to be easy, but I still thought I could do it, and it would be a good test of my mental strength.

I took a cab out to Flushing Meadows (where all my U.S. Open happiness also happens) and met up with Samantha (yay!) pre-race. She was going for a PR and I was trying to hold on. I get stuck in my own dumb head fairly easily in life, but have really been getting stuck there while running as of late…when running is what I usually do to clear my head.

Since I knew it was going to be hard physically, I decided to really focus on a few things:

  • staying out of my head
  • enjoying it and just treating it as a run, not a race
  • taking in the sights and not putting in my headphones until at least mile 6
  • not looking at my watch, obsessing over pace

Well…this all went fairly well for the first ~4-5 miles — I even saw my pace was still in the low 9s when I stole a peek. Then I started having a really hard time breathing through the cold air and was breathing really shallowly. I stopped a few times to walk, and it didn’t help at all.

I knew I had a decision here. I could keep going and probably run/walk the rest of it and certainly finish but have a really crappy next hour or so. Why? Once again, it wasn’t my day. Or, I could drop down to the 10K and put myself out of my misery.

I chose to do the latter, grabbed a bagel and made a beeline for the 7 train with a weird sense of calm and acceptance. I asked someone if I was walking the right way and ended up talking with the lovely Caryn almost the entire way back. As we chatted about all the races we’d each run, I felt better, thinking of all I had accomplished. My crappy running this year can’t take that away.

I wouldn’t have changed what I did yesterday, but I’m not necessarily proud of it either. But, running is sucking for me for now and so I’m going to take some time off of forcing it and focus on getting strong and losing some weight so I can get back at it next year.

Running has been a big part of my life, but this doesn’t define me or make me a bad runner. It’s just a run.

The Race Itself

What about the actual race, you ask? The course is similar to the old NYRR Queens Half — two loops around Flushing Meadows Park. Half of it is really pretty — especially with the fall foliage — and half of it is boring straightaways on the side of the highway.

The packet pickup was at JackRabbit and nice and fast (and gave me an excuse to shop — Samantha asked me to pick her up Run Gum …so I got some for myself, too. Caffeinated gum? Yes please!

The water stops were plentiful and the Port-a-Potty situation looked okay too. My only two gripes: I didn’t think the instructions to the start from the train were clear enough and the baggage line was pretty long.

Otherwise, 10/10, would run again.

How have you gotten your running groove back when it’s gone away?