Sunday, April 29, 2007

Draft Day 5k 4/28/07

Hi all,

Race 13 was the Draft Day 5k. This is the 5th running of the race and it’s part of the Giants’ Draft Day party at the stadium. People can pay money to come watch the draft together and pay even more money for stadium food while they’re there. The course looped around the parking lots of the Meadowlands, passing the Meadowlands Raceway, Giants Stadium, and Continental Airlines Arena. It was supposed to be a fast, flat course, finishing on the field at Giants Stadium, followed by a raffle and entry to the Draft Day party.

Goals: My knees are still cranky and the bruise and lump from the cortisone shot are still there, though the lump is smaller and the bruise is a bit greenish now, though still mostly purple. I took time off again, running fewer than 16 miles in the week before the race. I wanted to run between all water stations, not blow out my knees, run sub-9 miles every split and, hopefully, set a new 5k PR on the flat course (my previous 5k PR was set on a very hilly course).

Because of construction, the subways are running funny, so I got up at 5:15 for an 8:30 race. When I got to the subway, I could hear a train in the station, so I ran down the steps, startling a rat on his way up. He turned and ran back down stairs. I caught up with him and we ran along the passage together until he slipped into a crack in the wall. Luckily, at that time of day, the conductors are nice about holding the doors and I managed to catch the train, which, despite running local all the way to 42nd Street, got me to Port Authority with over a half hour to spare. I wandered around a bit, then headed up to the gate to read. The bus arrives and I was happy to see that I wasn’t the only one going to the race. When I saw the stadium in the distance, I packed up my book and got ready to disembark. The driver all of a sudden burst out with “Oh, man!” He’d missed the turn into the stadium. By the time he got himself turned around, he’d passed two other stops (allowing those passengers to disembark, of course). We finally got back to Giants Stadium and I headed over to the Bubble (an indoor practice area outside the stadium). This was a homecoming of sorts for me. I worked as a volunteer for World Cup ’94 and then was invited to work for the MetroStars, which I did for many years. I was really looking forward to being back in the stadium again. The first thing I learned when I picked up my bib was that the course had been changed and we would not be finishing on the field. I was sooo disappointed!! I can’t imagine what “emergency” provoked the construction – I’m unaware of anything happening at the Stadium for at least a few weeks, but apparently, they needed to dig up the field on Draft Day, despite the Giants’ party. I’m not sure why they couldn’t wait until 10, when everyone would have been finished with the race. Okay – I’m over it. Not really. As I’m picking up my bib, I notice that someone has scratched off the F next to my name on the official list and written an M in. Grrr As if I don’t know which I am? The volunteer helpfully pointed out that the person who had done it must have thought it was wrong because the registered name was George. Was I George? As much as I can understand some confusion, it’s still very rude – I’m asking them to change the gender, so I’m clearly not picking up for some guy named George!! I’m not very impressed with how the day’s going so far. I saw a couple of girls from the bus and we chatted a bit, then called over a volunteer to ask where the baggage claim was. He told us there wasn’t one – they had expected people to drive. I told him that I’d asked the RD and been told there would be baggage claim. He came back in 5 minutes and said it would be outside. Sure enough, they’d set it up. Color me impressed. Lou arrived about then and, after he checked in, we headed over to the start, then ran the first mile of the course as a warm-up. After a couple of minutes, I started wheezing and realized I’d forgotten to use my inhaler, even after going back to put sunblock on. D’oh! We continued around the parking lots and when we got back to the Bubble, I split off to go get my inhaler. For the second time, the guy manning the bags cheerfully handed me my bag. I took a hit and was good to go. I ran another loop to finish my 2-mile warm-up, then headed over to the start. Lou and I lined up together (no pace markers, so we had to guess) and, after not being able to hear the starting announcements, headed off when the horn blew. I headed off feeling pretty good, knowing that my knee had already managed 2 miles and was okay. The actual first mile loop was in the opposite direction of my warm-up runs, so I didn’t have a gauge of how I was doing. I felt like I was moving a little slowly, so I tried to move up a little. We ran past the stables (I knew from the smell), then ran around the Bubble and around the back of Giants Stadium. Then came the course change. As we approached the Continental Airlines Arena, we had to go up and down a pretty good hill. I wasn’t expecting it, but had plenty of time to prepare myself. I just told myself that the flat-running muscles were going to be getting a break and that I’d get to run a nice downhill after the uphill. I reminded myself that I like running uphills (whatever works, right?) and managed to get up and down the hill with no trouble. I could see the finish off in the distance, but the twists and turns to get there meant that I didn’t know how long I had to go and didn’t know if I could put on a finishing sprint. I decided against it, assuming I couldn’t set a PR anyway. As I rounded the turn to the finishing chute (no chips), I saw that I was actually closer to a PR than I’d expected. I missed it by 3 seconds on my watch! This was the first race this year where I didn’t set a PR. No celebratory treats for me. I went back to cheer Lou in (he made his time goal – congrats, Lou) and then we wandered around getting food and taking pictures while waiting for the raffle. I saw the results pages up, but there were just for the top 10 in each age category. As I turned away, I realized that the bottom person for my age group had finished in 30 minutes. I’d finished in 26:32. I was in the top 10!! I’d heard a rumor that they’d be raffling off Giants tickets, so I was definitely staying for that. There were no tickets in the raffle, but I didn’t win the signed helmet, the signed football (the 2006 team signed, so there were the last footballs signed by Tiki), the Giants chair, the sweatshirt, the t-shirt or the hat (there were several of each). And I was too old for the beachbag (only under 20s got those). Lou drove me to Hoboken so I wouldn’t have to wait for a bus and I saw some gorgeous buildings, so I took a short walk and took some pictures before heading back to the City.

Official stats: I finished in 26:32 for an 8:32 pace over the 3.1 miles (my official time was 26:44 for an 8:44 pace). I was 345 out of 1013 finishers, putting me in the 66th percentile. I also came in 8th out of 45 in my age group (82nd percentile), 57th out of 330 female runners (82nd percentile) and 12th out of 104 masters (88th percentile). It was about 56°F (13°C). My splits from my watch were: 8:41, 8:58, and 8:54 for the final 1.1 miles (8:05 pace).

Consolation treats: I stopped at Magnolia and picked up a red velvet cupcake and a Sweet Leaf Mint & Honey iced-tea. Later, I had a cheese soufflĂ© and chocolate cinnamon cookies from Trader Joe’s (I highly recommend them!).

Next up: I’m still reluctant to overrun my knees, so I’m not scheduling a race until the Healthy Kidney 10k on May 19th. And just wait until you hear about the treats I have lined up for that one!!!

Thank you for all your support!

Here is a link to some random pictures, including pictures from the race: (as always, there’s commentary in the slideshow).

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Brooklyn Half Marathon 4.14.07

Hi all,

Race 12 was the Brooklyn Half Marathon. The course starts on the boardwalk at Coney Island near Ocean Parkway, heading west to the end of the boardwalk, where we turn around, run back along the boardwalk, turn off onto the street, just before the 3-mile marker, head east to Ocean Parkway, run north along Ocean Parkway to Prospect Park, which we loop before heading into the middle to finish on Center Drive. Along the boardwalk and up Ocean Parkway, the course is relatively flat, but Prospect Park is hilly, somehow, mostly uphill – especially the finish. This was my fourth running of the Brooklyn Half Marathon and my 21st half marathon, just shy of my 3rd anniversary of racing (I missed noting my 3rd anniversary of running, which was back in February).

Goals: As you know, my knees have been a bit cranky. I took a lot of time off to give them some rest, running fewer than 12 miles in the week before the race and none at all the prior weekend. I wanted to run between all water stations, not blow out my knees, and possibly set a course PR. A distance PR and a sub-2 half marathon were distant goals, but I didn’t think I could manage either without further damage to my knees.

My friend, Laura, was kind enough to let me stay at her apartment in Park Slope Friday night, so I was able to get sleep a little longer than if I’d stayed at home. In fact, I was so tired that I went to bed at 9 and stayed in bed until 6. I met up with Bonnie (who also lives in Park Slope) and we took the train to Coney Island together. We got there a little early, so I took some pictures on the boardwalk and showed Bonnie the treacherousness of the boardwalk (in the forms of broken boards, bolts sticking up, uneven planking . . .). We lined up at the 9-minute marker, where I was supposed to meet up with Fabian, but I didn’t see him anywhere. I knew that if I didn’t see him before the race, I wouldn’t see him at all. He finished much faster than I did! Bonnie and I ran together for the first 5 miles. We both rolled our ankles on the boardwalk while cheering on the front runners as they sped past us. That’s why I always try to pay attention to the boardwalk – it’s scary! We managed to keep from falling, but I heard later about a woman who completely wiped out – I hope she’s okay. We looped around the end of the boardwalk and on our way to the turn-off onto the road (yay!), we saw a guy completely wipe out because he ran into a garbage can. He must have really been in the zone, because this was not a little desk garbage can. It was an oil-barrel-sized garbage can! I saw him later on the course and then after the race and he seemed to be fine. We continued on, running a little too fast, but I wasn’t feeling uncomfortable and knew that if I ran with Bonnie, I could keep myself from trying to go all out. At a certain point, though, I kept finding myself several feet ahead of her and knew I would have to focus a lot more to pull back than to just let my legs go, so we agreed to meet up at the finish, wished each other luck, and I gave control over to my legs. I was moving pretty well, but the longer I ran, the more I felt my knees. It started at about mile 4.5 (which is about where it started in my two training runs this week) – nothing too bad, but a definite sensation of pressure. Coming up Ocean Parkway, we were running straight into the Nor’easter, which was blowing pretty fiercely at times. I stopped for Gatorade and water at most of the stations, but I did skip a couple in the beginning. I also took a PowerGel at the water station in the 8th mile. I also did a lot of stretching to see if I could get my knees to calm down a bit. I wanted to get into the park in under 1:30 and I managed it in 1:27:20. With all the calculations I was doing in my head, I knew that I couldn’t set a distance PR at this point, but I thought I might manage a course PR. The difficulty would be the hills, but, at least, we weren’t facing the wind anymore. There is a long curving hill up the East side of the park that leads to rolling hills along the north. There are several more hills as we circle the park and the finish is almost entirely uphill. When I got to the water station at the 10-mile marker, my left knee hurt so badly that I could barely walk. I drank as much as I could, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to stop again until the finish. I didn’t think my knees could manage another walk break. My hips were aching by this point, too, and, when I did get to the next water station, I couldn’t not stop, because my hips needed the break. My knees were both screaming as I walked through that station, but I kept it short and got myself running again as quickly as I could. I don’t know why, but my knees didn’t really hurt while I was running. As I rounded the turn onto Center Drive, I couldn’t see the 13-mile marker and wasn’t sure that I could keep running. It felt like the mile was going on forever and I would still have another tenth of a mile when I got there. All of a sudden, I hear people screaming my name and it’s my friend, Emily, who had come to cheer on her boyfriend. They were already leaving (I think he probably finished in 1:30 or so), but their cheers gave me the final push I needed. There was no finishing sprint, but I did run to the finish (I have a personal rule that I do not walk in the final mile of a race). I don’t know why, but my knees did not hurt after I finished, except when I had to walk uphill to get out of the park.+ I tried to cheer Bonnie at her finish, but I got cold and had to get my coat. I missed her by about 2 minutes. She did a great job on her first half marathon in years!!

Official stats: I finished in 2:06:56 for a 9:41 pace over the 13.1 miles, setting a course PR by almost 4 minutes! I was 3358 out of 4847 finishers, putting me in the 31st percentile. It was 41°F (5°C) with 49% humidity and 17 mph winds for a wind chill of 31°F (-1°C). My mile splits from my watch were: 9:47, 9:48, 10:33, 9:42, 9:55, 9:42, 8:54, 9:59, 9:00, 10:02, 9:34, 9:44, 9:18, and :59 for the final tenth of a mile (9:50 pace).

Celebratory treats: I stopped at the Cocoa Bar ( on my way to the subway and picked up a slice of red velvet cake (a particular favorite – theirs is made with a cinnamon buttercream frosting mmm). It was a bit squashed and stuck to the paper by the time I got it home, so I don’t have a picture, but you can see their cakes at I’m glad they had the red velvet cake, because the rest of their cakes look delicious, too, and I would have had a tough time picking an alternate.* I also had a Cassia from DeBrand ( and a slushy Dr Pepper.

Next up: I’m taking next weekend off to give my knees more time to heal, but I’m seriously considering the Giants Stadium Draft Day 5k on April 28th.

Thank you for all your support!

Here is a link to some random pictures, including pictures from the race: (as always, there’s commentary in the slideshow).

*I also bought myself a mint hot chocolate to drink on the way home, a chocolate cloud cookie, a homemade marshmallow, a chocolate caramel, a chocolate mint caramel, and a Tall, Dark & Nutty bar (dark chocolate with almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios). I haven’t tried the chocolate bar yet, but everything else was delicious.

+Post-race update – I crashed as soon as I got home. I’ve been fighting something all week (I think that’s why I was so tired Friday night). I felt fine during the race, but gave in when I got home. My hips ached the rest of the day, but were fine when I got up this morning (Sunday). My knees were okay, too, but they kneeling in church was a bit painful. My quads, however, are very sore. I’m feeling a little better today, but my throat is still sore and I’ve got a slight fever. I think a wisdom tooth might be coming in. No inflammation in my knees, as far as I can tell.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Scotland 10k 4.01.07 Recap

Hi all,

Race 11 was the Scotland 10k. The course was once around the big loop clockwise and then some to finish at Tavern on the Green.

Goals: As you know, my knees are in bad shape. In addition to the bursitis, I have patellar tendonitis in both knees after last week’s half marathon. In addition to running between water stations, I was hoping to run each mile at sub-10 pace. I had a distance PR goal of 58:06 to beat, but would have to run really smart, if I wanted to make that happen. I’d already decided not to go out strong and just run comfortably, with no finishing sprint. I spent most of the weekend calculating where I’d have to be at certain points to make this happen.

I got to the Park early and lined up to get the Scottish flag painted on my face. There was only one face painter, so it was slow going. There was a serious set-back when a photographer for the Daily News saw a little boy in line and decided to take him to the front of the line to take the pictures. I objected to the wrangler, but she didn’t care. None of the racers were very impressed. His face painting took 3 times as long as anyone else’s, too, because the photographer kept taking pictures. Finally someone at the front of the line said something strong (I didn’t hear it) and the photographer stepped back and apologized. I waited an extra 5 minutes (which was less than it otherwise might have been because several people stepped out of line when the photographer started screwing everything up) and was finally successful. I ran into Paul, who cautioned me about the bursitis (thank you, Paul), and I promised I was going to take it easy. I dropped my bag and headed to the start with less than 5 minutes to spare. I wasn’t planning to do a warm-up, to save my knees, just in case, but I realized that I’d forgotten my inhaler and had to run back to get it out of my bag. Then, I had to run to the start, which was good, because it let me get a feel for how my knee was doing. I lined up on the side behind the 9-minute marker (ever optimistic) and took off at a nice easy pace. I allowed myself to get boxed in and generally did what I could to keep my pace back. I decided to try to run evenly. I’d calculated that 9:20 pace would get me through to a PR, but wouldn’t leave me any room for error. I skipped the first water station. I knew that I wouldn’t have many extra seconds to spare and also, for some reason, I tend to run faster coming out of the water stations, so I hoped this would keep my pace more even and protect my knee. I didn’t feel any pain in the first few miles. It wasn’t until I was coming up to the 3rd mile marker in the Harlem Hills that my knee started to bother me. The uphills were a little wearing, but nothing I couldn’t handle. The flats and downhills were great – no pain at all. I skipped the next water station, too. As we came around the top of the Park, two girls were talking about the lack of spectators cheering us and exclaiming about the hill coming up. I told them it wasn’t as difficult as it appeared and one of them said that the last hill had nearly killed her. I told her this one wasn’t as bad and to keep her arms low to save energy. As I ran off ahead, I heard her saying that I was their cheerleader. That made me smile, but did not hold me back. I left them to find other cheerleaders and made my way up the curve to finish off the top of the Park. At the 102nd Street Transverse, the New York Flyer bagpiper was there, playing us along. I kept moving easily along, no effort at all, and was soon passing Fred. Coming down the East Side was wonderful! The dogwoods and/or cherry trees were in bud and some were even in bloom. The trees were white and pink and red. No matter how nice the weeks have been, the weekends have been so cold. It even rained a bit today. So, the promise of Spring really made me happy! As with the last race, I spent a lot of time doing math in my head. I had calculated that if I hit the 4-mile marker with 22 minutes to spare, I could slow to a 10-minute mile pace and still set a PR. That didn’t happen. I passed the next water station and pushed it a little coming down Cat Hill. On the way to the 5-miler marker, I calculated that if I hit it with 12 minutes to spare, I’d be able to slow at that point to a 10-minute mile pace and still set a PR. I made it with half a minute to spare, so I felt like I could relax and pay more attention to my knee, which, while not painful, was feeling a bit of pressure. As we passed the carousel, there was a whole group of men shouting and cheering and high-fiving runners, which really helped me along. I moved easily around the bottom of the Park and saved some energy for the slight uphill before the finish. I tried not to sprint, but couldn’t help putting on a little push, hoping to finish in under 56 minutes. Didn’t happen. After I finished, I got my picture taken by Brightroom and, as I was heading over to get my bag, I heard someone call out, “La Lynx!” I turned around and there was Fabian. We chatted for a bit and went over to meet his brother Roberto. They had finished faster than I had, but had run 12 miles before the race and were running another 2 after! I went over to the stage and watched the winners get their prizes. Then the raffle happened. I have yet to win anything at a raffle, but I keep trying! I didn’t win this time, either, but Mark did and he gave me his prize! It was so nice of him!! He headed off – it was quite cold and he didn’t have a coat – but I stuck around to watch the crowd “strip the willow.”

Official stats: I finished in 56:14 for a 9:03 pace over the 6.2 miles, setting a distance PR by over almost 2 minutes! I was 3075 out of 5717 runners, putting me in the 46th percentile. It was 45°F (7°C) with 60% humidity and 5 mph winds. My mile splits from my watch were: 9:59, 9:04, 8:57, 9:03, 8:36, 8:51 and 1:47 for the final two-tenths of a mile (8:55 pace).

Celebratory treats: I had already set aside my non-chocolate treats: TastyKake Butterscotch Krimpets, which I’d saved for this occasion, some Churro-flavored Bugles (mmm . . . Churros), and, in case I did manage a distance PR, two dark-chocolate Magnum candies, which my cousin sent me from Italy. Those Magnum are unbelievably good – I wish I could find them here. Anyway, yesterday, I realized that if I did manage to set a distance PR today, that I’d have set distance PRs in every race I ran during Lent and that would need something special. Whole Foods let me down again, but I did find chocolate walnut cookies, so I’m having one of those. The clerk at Whole Foods commented that they looked really good, so I offered one to her, but she wouldn’t take one until I explained that I’d given chocolate up for Lent and would only be eating one of the cookies, anyway. She snuck it into her apron and I hope she’s enjoying it!

Next up: The Brooklyn Half Marathon on April 14th.
Thank you for all your support!
Here is a link to some random pictures, including pictures from the race, and some food shots: (as always, there’s commentary in the slideshow). Here’s a video I took of the Strip of the Willow dance: