Bronx 10 Miler Review (Joy)
We've run the Bronx 10 Miler for the last three years and always enjoy it. Even though we keep coming back for more, it always seems to creep up on us. This is usually because while we run throughout the winter, spring and fall, our regular training schedule falls off every summer. This year we spent the entire summer running, because marathon training required it. We were more prepared to run this race than ever.
The out and back course starts outside of Yankee Stadium and takes you down and back Grand Concourse. Although there aren't major inclines like in Central Park, don't be fooled! There are rolling hills throughout the course and it ends on a fantastic downhill. This might be our favorite finish line of all the New York Road Runner(NYRR) organized races.
It was an extra special race for NYRR because it's familiar face and events coordinator Peter Ciaccia is retiring. He is from the Bronx and has been a vocal supporter of tourism in the borough. The running group also announced the expansion of their charitable programs to Puerto Rico.
It was a crisp fall morning; perfect for a running. Once we saw that trains were rerouted because of construction we got lazy and hopped in a cab to the starting line. This is a popular race, with over 12 000 participants. Finding our corrals and checking in was surprisingly easy given the large crowd.
We got there an hour in advance and hung out in the park close to the starting corrals. You don't need to get there that early; 30 - 45 minutes is fine. We decided against checking a bag because bag check was half a mile away from the starting line. Yep - we signed up to run 10 miles but didn’t want to walk the short distance to the bag check line. We wore light jackets that we tied around our waist when we started to run.
There is a slight incline as you start leading to a flatter section for the first few miles. For some reason we both felt sluggish and flat footed for the first 3 miles. I was regretting all the food I ate at Vegandale Food and Drink Festival the day before, but were looking forward to eating more food after the race #glutton. Because of the out and back course, we could see the elite runners already striding towards the finish line as we started our third mile. It was inspiring and discouraging at the same damn time.
There were hydration stations with water and Gatorade at just about every mile marker. The port-a-potties were set up at an equally regular frequency. I mostly drank Gatorade and fueled with my favorite Gu flavor every 30-40 minutes. I finally got into a rhythm after I turned off Grand Concourse and headed for mile 4. I also saw my running buddy Lindsay, who was running cute and calm. She has been marathon training like an Olympian with Project Moonshot. If I could keep her in my sight line, I knew I'd be in good shape. She immediately ran out of my view. Oh well. At least seeing her brought some energy back into my legs.
All of a sudden I realized I was five miles in and feeling fantastic. My breathing was calm, my music was perfect and my legs felt fresh. Time to pick up the pace. When I ran up the sharp incline back on to Grand Concourse I somehow had more energy than I did before. I grabbed Gatorade at every station on the way back even to keep the energy going. I kept waiting to hit a wall but it never happened. I planned to run as swiftly as my legs would take me if I still felt good with two miles to go. With three miles to go Lindsay was back in my sight line. Score.
In the final mile spectators thicken and the cheers grow from a whisper to a roar. I turned to June and said "One mile to go". We both knew what that meant and started running hard. "Do you see it?!!" June said when the turn to the finish line became visible. When I turned on to east 161st street and saw the finish line I was I a full sprint. I crossed the finish line with a two minutes faster than I've ever done the Bronx 10 miler before. I maintain that this is the most exciting finish line of any NYRR race. I shook Peter Ciaccia's hand, collected my medal and got my post-race goodie bag.
The bag had bottled water, Gatorade, pretzels, an energy bar, samples of Biofreeze (my new best friend). The finishers area had step repeat banners, and installations for Instagram-worthy pictures but I hustled past to get to the train. A solid race deserves a solid celebration and I was eager to get it started. If I can feel that way for a fraction of the TCS NYC marathon I know I'll be in good shape.