by Jimmy Leung
Race: NYPD vs FDNY 41st Annual 5 Miler
When: March 10, 2018
Where: Central Park, Manhattan, NY
It was cold and windy when I went to pick up my bib for the NYPD vs. FDNY 41st Annual 5 Mile Race from the gym. I kept on one throwaway hoodie and jogged towards Central Park. I saw Puffy by the start. She ran from Brooklyn to cheer me and was finishing her long run so I decided to warm up by running with her. We ran a little over a mile in the opposite direction of Harlem Hill and it felt like the hills would never end. Puffy was tired and struggling to get up the hill so I was able to distract myself from the race by channeling my energy towards encouraging her. When we got back to the start, I was warmed up and ready to start racing.
I took off my throwaway sweater and lined up close to the front with my blue NYPD Running Club singlet. This race was special because it was a showdown between the New York Police Department and the Fire Department of New York. There is mutual respect between the two departments so this annual competition is friendly and fun. I forgot what my 5mi PR was but that did not really matter because the main focus was to run fast enough to score for my team—only the first 100 men and women from both teams are scored.
The race started from 102nd transverse and ran counter-clockwise. Fueled by adrenaline, excitement, and a windy 30-degree morning chill, I ran up the first mile through the rolling hills of the Three Sisters a little too fast. My friend, Melanie, and I were running around the same pace for the first two miles, but as I was tiring on the downhill, she passed me. I was very happy to see Rachel Michelle cheering around West 82nd Street. My strategy was to charge up the hills and slow down on the descent to minimalize the impact on my knees and calves. I’m much stronger going up the hills rather than down. I slowed down after the Three Sisters hills to calm my breathing and lower my heart rate. I ran up Cat Hill strongly and I saw Rachel again around East 82nd Street—she ran across the Park to cheer for me a for a second time. Seeing her cheering encouraged me to keep on going stronger and push harder.
In the last mile, I had plenty of energy to start picking off FDNY runners. There were many FDNY runners who were not sporting their red singlet and it was hard to target them so I just ran as fast as I could and passed everyone who I was able to. I got excited every time I ran past an FDNY runner. I think I might have passed about 20 FDNY runners in that last mile. Eventually, I ran past Melanie again and encouraged her to keep going. I kept on running as hard as I could towards the finish line and saw Puffy taking pictures at the corner of my left eye as I was approaching the last 400 meters. My last mile was my fastest split.
I PR’d with a finish time of 38:01. I was the 55th overall finisher and 21st NYPD runner so my time went to help score for team NYPD. My friend, Melanie, was the 2nd overall NYPD/FDNY woman. Puffy was surprised that I did not get an AG award and I had to explain to her that my age group is actually a very competitive age group. I was 8th of 39 in my age group. It was fun seeing all my NYPD buddies at the finish line. I usually see them at most races but I was usually sporting the PPTC red singlet. I feel the same sense of pride representing either PPTC or NYPD, but it was kind of nice to be sporting the same color with my NYPD buddies in this showdown race.
Puffy and I went to the gym post-race to enjoy some treats that only NYPD and FDNY would dare put out. We had Vodka Gatorade, cooler tapped beer, Bloody Marys and the best post-race bagels I’ve ever had. It was fun seeing my buddies again and help NYPD BEAT FDNY! Can’t wait until next year’s showdown. I’m glad Puffy was there cheering and taking awesome pictures. I’m sure she enjoyed the post-race party. 🙂