Sunday, February 25, 2007

Al Gordon Snowflake 4-miler 2.24.07

Hi all,

Race 6 was the Al Gordon Snowflake 4-Miler (my 5th marathon qualifier). We started on the East Drive at about 99th Street and completed the inner loop of Central Park. This race is segregated by gender, so the men ran at 8 and the women at 9. This made for an interesting start for the women, who had to line up in the same area where the men were finishing.

Goals: to keep running between water stations, to run 4 sub-9 miles, and to set a new PR (under 35:02). This was my first Lenten race. I’ve given up chocolate, caffeine (including Dr Pepper), and reading fiction; however, if I set a distance PR (course PRs don’t count), then I can have chocolate on the race day, if it’s a Sunday, or the first Sunday after the race. Last year, I only earned chocolate twice during Lent. Having just killed my 4-mile PR (should have planned that one out a little better, huh?), I’m going to work on it, but not expect any chocolates this year.

I don’t know what I was thinking, but I did everything wrong for this race. Maybe I was subconsciously trying to sabotage my PR attempt. Part of it wasn’t my fault. I waited for over an hour and a half at the doctor’s office and left with 4 people still ahead of me. So, I didn’t get to have lunch until nearly 3pm (I usually eat every 3 hours and lunch time is noon). When I got home, I couldn’t decide what to eat, so I ended up eating pretzel crisps with chipotle lime sour cream dip (from Whole Foods). I usually avoid dairy prior to a race. Then, for dessert, I had Garrett’s cheese popcorn ( It’s delicious, made from liquid, not powder, cheese, but, again, popcorn isn’t something I normally eat at all, much less before a race. Saturday is usually my recovery (from the week at work) and rest (from running) day, but today I had to get up and race. My neck and head were killing me when I got up and I couldn’t even bring myself to drink my usual cup of tea or eat my energy bar. I’d worn a ThermaCare lower back patch around my quad overnight and it was still warm, so I wrapped it around my neck to try to loosen it up and ease my headache. I also took an Aleve. I got a ride to the race from Sue, so I was there in plenty of time. I’d already decided to try something new this time – a warm-up, which Sue has been suggesting I try for a long time. I’d felt so bad when I got up and it was soooo cold, that I almost decided to skip the warm-up. But when we got there, I decided to go for it. The men were just beginning to come in to the finish, so I was able to run back to the 3-mile marker and cheer them on as they came towards me. I looked for Lou, but couldn’t find him. I got back to the start with about 15 minutes to go and felt pretty good. I looked around for my boss, but didn’t find her until after the race (she set a PR – Congratulations, Bonnie!!) Even though the number of runners was basically cut in half, there were still enough women running that we got caught up in “traffic” on the 102nd Street transverse. I was able to meet my first goal, though I had a longer stop at the second water station (in the 3rd mile). When I got there, a woman had removed her glove and was poking her finger into the cups, presumably looking for one that wasn’t frozen over (it was 20° - what did she expect?). I probably should have handled it better, but I said (very sharply, I’m afraid), “Quit sticking your finger into other people’s water. It’s disgusting.” She started and apologized and from her tone, I could tell that it hadn’t even occurred to her what she was effectively doing (i.e., sticking her finger into other people’s water). I should have shown her how to get the ice out of the cup (as my friend pointed out to me later), but I was so busy trying to find a cup she hadn’t poked her finger into, that it didn’t even occur to me. In any event, I doubt very much that she’ll do that again. Sue wants me to stop taking water breaks, but I think they’re helping me. In fact, after the first water break, I had to immediately head uphill and I just charged up – my legs felt soooo good. I paid for it later, when they tired, but I just told them (my legs, that is) that they’re not the boss of me and made them go faster. After scooting up Cat, I hit the 3-mile marker and had the satisfaction of knowing I’d already run that segment easily, but I also checked the time and realized that I couldn’t set a PR. I didn’t want to give up, so I just decided to see how close I could come. There wouldn’t be any chocolate treat, but I always have consolation treats when I don’t meet my goals. And, I’ll tell you right now, that I didn’t make the second goal. My first and third miles were both over 9 minutes. Back to mile 4 – I just kept going faster and faster and started thinking about my ability to run a sub-8 mile. I’ve run some low 8 miles during races, but my only sub-8s have been in the 2 1-mile races, when I ran all-out to get there. As I approached the finish, I took off, sprinting as hard as I could. I even had to angle myself between two women who were blocking me. I could see the 35 on the official clock, and I really wanted to try to get in before it turned over. I didn’t make it, but when I stopped my watch as I finished, I saw that I’d run the final mile (my 6th of the day) in 7:57!!!! My eyes were watering from the cold and the wind, but I don’t mind admitting that a few tears welled up, too. I got my chip clipped and headed back along the course to do my 2-mile cool-down (I’d decided to make this my long run) and tried to find Bonnie again, to run in with her, but didn’t see her. I took my tired legs back to the 3-mile marker and then came back to the finish again. I took two walk breaks, but only the distance between two of the marker cones.

Official stats: my net time was 34:59 for an 8:44 pace over the 4 miles – I set a new PR by 3 seconds, which means chocolate tomorrow! I was 755 out of 2249 female runners, putting me in the 66th percentile! It was 20°F (-7°C) with 44% humidity and windy. My mile splits from my watch were: 9:26, 8:35, 9:04, and 7:57 (!!). I’m still so excited about that sub-8!!

Celebratory treats: Today, for instant gratification, I stopped at Disc-o-Rama to buy FlyLeaf by Flyleaf, but it was out-of-stock, so I picked up Evanescence’s The Open Door, instead, and Chinese New Year peanut dumplings (thanks, Jolene!). Tomorrow, I will be having a Chocolate Peppermint Briquette from Hotel Chocolat. MMM It was only a 3-second PR, so I decided not to have solid chocolate this time.
Next up: Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5k on March 4th and the New York Colon Cancer Challenge 15k on March 11th.

Thank you for all your support!

Here is a link to some random pictures, including my Merchant’s House Museum visit, the last chocolate I ate before Lent, and today’s pictures: (as always, there’s commentary in the slideshow)


LeesMyth said...

Congratulations on the sub-8 mile AND the PR! (I think you suspected the PR when I saw you, but were awaiting confirmation from the official chip stats.) Way to go!!!

Aurora Robson said...

Wow! I don't know exactly what all this racing terminology means, but I can tell that you rock!!! I am so impressed. (c; Congratulations George! P.S. I love the pics of the Alscot Estate. Especially the thatched hut building in the back. Beautiful!

LeesMyth said...

The frozen ripples are beautiful. (And it's nice to have use of a high-speed internet connection for a change!)