Race 5 was the Bronx Half Marathon (my 4th marathon qualifier). The course was altered slightly from last year, not to mention about 5 months early. The Bronx Half Marathon is usually run the weekend after July 4th, so I was wondering if running it in the cold would make it more enjoyable than running it in the blazing heat of summer. The course is a bit odd. The first loop goes out to the Moshulu Parkway from the Jerome Reservoir and back (about 6 miles), then we around, loop out along the Grand Concourse (about 4 miles), back around the Moshulu Parkway, then back to the reservoir for the finish. The finish this year was much better than the past couple of years. Instead of turning several corners to get to the finish, we ran a fairly long straightaway, from which the 13-mile marker was clearly visible for quite some time.
Goals: to keep running between water stations and to set a new course PR (2:23:26). I ran this one for my dad, who just had his hip replaced on Tuesday, so it was even more important for me to make both my goals today.
I was a bit worried about my knee. After a week of no heat and no hot water, my legs were tired from all the shivering and on Saturday, the sprained ligament in my knee started throbbing, throwing in the occasional sharp twinge to spice things up, but I wanted to get that course PR for my dad. Lana and I were planning to start this one together, just like the other races we’ve run together. We both had a little trouble getting there, but that just meant we didn’t have to wait around in the cold as long. It was well below freezing again and, no matter how many layers I have on - I’m afraid of overheating with too many layers, so I haven’t gone more than 4 shirts - but, I still get cold! No wave starts today – we lined up as usual by the 10-minute-mile marker. I’d forgotten my watch, so Lana kept time for us. We started out pretty well, with just about even 10-minute miles, and even skipped a water station on the Moshulu Parkway. It wouldn’t be the Bronx Half if there weren’t dead animals. The last two years it was a dead rat, but this time, we saw at least 3 dead squirrels – none too fresh! We stopped for gel when we got back to the start, then headed out for the second loop. I think the worst part of this race is the Grand Concourse, even though it’s only 4 miles. I thought the problems were the heat and the hills. But, now, I think the pavement is the real trouble. It’s a bit rough – I think there’s quite a bit of cement in the asphalt – and it’s full of furrows. Not speed-bumps across the road, but ruts and furrows in the same direction as the road. Very strange! We stopped for gel again in the 11th mile and skipped the last two water stations. We were doing very well, time-wise, so I added a third goal – to beat my course PR on the official clock. I stayed with Lana for most of the race, but on the uphills, my legs seemed to take on a mind of their own and I’d find myself a few feet ahead. I guess they like charging up the hills! And there was a particularly fun, swooping downhill that curved around from the Concourse back onto the Moshulu Parkway past the Tracey Towers, which I love for their truly funky shape (www.bridgeandtunnelclublcom/bigmap/bronx/bedfordpark/traceytowers/index.htm). I took that one as it came – no braking, just flying down the hill. I think that was my favorite part of the race, but it was only about 20 feet long, so. . . . As we approached the finish, I asked Lana if she wanted to sprint the last tenth of a mile. She said no, but that I could go ahead. I’d planned to stay with her until the 13 marker, but when I saw it ahead of me, I just couldn’t resist. I can’t speak for the other runners, but seeing that big blue sign with the 13 blazing out at us in white really spurred me on. I told Lana I was going to take off and I went for it!! I really love sprinting for the final, if I’ve got anything left in me. And the guy yelling at us to “leave it all on the road” certainly helped push me along!! After I finished, I waited for Lana, who wasn’t far behind me. We got in the bagel line, took some pictures, and had some hot chocolate. As we headed over to pick up our bags, we realized that our bib numbers contained all of the same digits, but in different orders. Pretty cool!
Official stats: my clock time was 2:21:30 and my net time was 2:18:55 for a 10:36 pace over the 13.1 miles – I set a course PR by 4:31. Lana and I both met all three of my goals!! I was 2457 out of 2821 total runners, putting me in the 18th percentile. It was 19°F (-7°C) with 52% humidity with a wind chill at about 10° (-12°C). My mile splits are from Lana’s watch (thanks, Lana!): 10:05, 9:23, 10:01, 10:38, 9:59, 11:34, 10:42, 10:44, 10:21, 11:02, 12:37, 10:40, and my last 1.1 was 11:20.
Celebratory treats: A hot roast beef and cheddar cheese sandwich as soon as I got home (to a cold apartment, but, luckily, a hot shower), a slushy Dr Pepper, Cadbury’s dark chocolate mint Fingers, and a roast nut bar from Paul A. Young. Plus, one of my best friends called and we had a great conversation! If I’d realized that Lent was going to be a week and a half after this race, I would have arranged much more elaborate treats. Now, I’m just going to gorge myself until Ash Wednesday!!
Next up: The Al Gordon Snowflake 4-Miler on February 24th and the NYC Marathon on Nov. 4th!!!! Okay, okay, there will be plenty of races between those two, but I signed up this week, so it’s official.
Thank you for all your support!
For an idea of what it’s like to prepare for a winter run, check out this video: http://completerunning.com/archives/2006/11/28/video-how-a-candian-dresses-for-winter-running/. For the non-runners reading this, you might find it amusing – I did!
Here's a picture of Lana and me after the race, plus a few from my visit to the Curious and Original Chocolate Shoppe: http://new.photos.yahoo.com/album?c=mytripsandraces&aid=576460762389601720&pid=&wtok=_IYXjjJxMXb1FPfnp75YZQ--&ts=1171424412&.src=ph