Thursday, May 31, 2007

Wall Street Run 5/22 and Media Challenge #1 5/23

Hi all,

It's a 2-in-1 - I had races on consecutive days last week and didn't want to overwhelm everyone. I'd already written the recaps when I learned that I would need to wait until today for the results of the second race. What can I say? I'm lazy!

Race 16 was the Wall Street Run. It’s supposed to be a 5k, but, due to construction, the course was just under 3 miles. Here’s the NYRR’s description of the course: “The starting line is on Murray Street at Fourth Place, just west of West Street. Start eastbound on Murray and turn right (south) on Church Street. Turn left (east) on Liberty Street, right (south) on William Street, and pass the one-mile mark as William crosses Wall Street. Continue on William, turn right (west) on Beaver Street, left (south) on Broad Street, and left again (east) on Pearl Street. Turn right (east) on Fletcher Street, right again (south) on Water Street (using the southbound lanes only), and pass the two-mile mark on Water between Coenties Slip and Broad. Turn right (north) on State Street, left (west) on Battery Street, follow Battery as it curves north, turn left (west) onto Third Street, and make your final turn left (north) onto the Battery Park Esplanade. You’ll pass the three-mile mark just north on Albany Street and finish on the Esplanade near North Cove. View the course map here.” I just followed the people in front of me!

First, I want to thank everyone who donated! I really appreciate it and I know the American Heart Association does, too!

Goals: There was no chance of setting a PR here,* and I needed to rest after my hard weekend of running. I also knew I’d be racing again the next night (see below) and my performance in that race would be more important than in this one. My friend, Nancy, wanted to run, too (she’s walked the event in the past), so I told her I’d run with her. She has asthma, too, and was coughing a lot, so we took it slow. We got to the start and waited patiently, along with the other runners. The horn sounded and we moved very slowly. We couldn’t figure out why we weren’t moving and then realized that the walkers were walking around the runners along the sidewalk and coming back in to cross the start line ahead of the runners. It was a big mess! We ended up finding our way around and crossed the start line almost 10 minutes after the gun sounded! We struggled past walkers, who were walking 4-6 abreast, sometimes blocking the entire street! It was really strange! The course was also strange and difficult to maneuver. The only water station on the course was on the narrowest street, bringing everyone to a standstill, whether or not they stopped for water (we didn’t). We tried to make up time on the wider avenues, but with all the walkers it was really difficult – we were zigzagging almost the entire 3 miles. We were also dodging pedestrians who ignored the police officers who were supposed to be guiding the traffic as we ran past. In the 3rd mile, I heard sirens and pulled Nancy over to the side. We kept running, but I didn’t want to block the emergency vehicle. This year’s finish was really nice, but not logistically sound. The final quarter-mile or so was along the waterfront, which meant we were running along a fairly narrow path, lined with benches. The view of the Hudson River was incredible, but it was almost impossible to spring to the finish – there were just too many people crammed into too narrow a pathway.

Nancy and I ran almost the entire way – we stopped for a brief walk, just before the final turn to the finish. We got our chips clipped and then lined up for water and sandwiches. We both have TMJD and were dismayed to find that Subway had cut back on its donation and they ran out of sandwiches before we got to the head of the line. Our only other option was a bagel, which neither of us can eat. We headed towards the stage to find our team captain (the famous Sue) and Mark found me just as we got to the top of the stairs. He very generously gave Nancy his vegetarian Subway sandwich and we commiserated on the difficulty of the race and the general nastiness of the walkers (some even called out “Block Him” when he tried to run past). I wish the runners here were as nice and respectful as Shayna and Debs are! Something is going to have to change or this event will lose runners.

Official stats: I finished in 31:44 for an average pace of 10:35 over the 3 miles. I was 3038 out of 5267 finishers, putting me in the 42nd percentile. It was 65°F (12°C) with 52% humidity. My splits from my watch were: 10:48, 10:25, 10:38.

Celebration treats: I didn’t get home until late, but I had some of my Jacques’ House Blend bar from Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Haven.

* I define “setting a PR” as running a particular distance or course faster than I’ve run it before. If it’s a course PR, I denote it as such. If it’s a distance PR, I just call it a PR.

Race 17 was the first Media Challenge of the year. We run 3.5 miles – twice counter-clockwise around the lower loop in Central Park and then some.

Goals: There’s only one water station on this course and it’s at the finish, so I was going to have to run over 1.7 miles at a shot to keep from walking between rest stations. I was hoping to run sub-9s, but wasn’t sure, after the 10k race, 18-mile training run, 6+ ladder and 3-mile race in the past 4 days. Setting a PR involved breaking 32:10 and I hadn’t run this distance since last August, but it was still there in the back of my mind.

I got there early enough to do a warm-up loop and did not like the way I felt. In fact, I started writing my recap in my head, assuming I’d have to write that for the 2nd time this year, I did not set a PR in an eligible race.* I lined up towards the back and took it easy going around the bottom of the Park. I started feeling better (thank you, warm-up run) and started looking for rabbits. I picked off as many yellow and orange shirts as I could find, but ended up following a blue-shirted runner who seemed to be moving at my pace, but about 10 yards in front of me. I stopped for water after the first loop and did some knee swings to keep my knee pain in check. I started running again on the downhill (I’m no dummy!) and felt good going around the loop. As I came around to the 72nd Transverse, I passed my rabbit, but she passed me again as we came off the Transverse. I didn’t push my pace, though until I passed the start line and headed for the finish. I could hear the time-caller and it sounded as if she were calling 20-somethings as people were crossing the finish. I didn’t know if I could get there before she started calling 30s, but I went for it! I didn’t make it.

Official stats: I finished in 30:06 for an average pace of 8:36 over the 3.5 miles – a PR by over 2 minutes!! My actual time was 30:01, according to my watch, but this isn’t a chip-timed race, so my gun time counts. I was the third female in for my team, which means my place counted towards the points used to determine the winning teams (top 5 males, top 3 females). I was 101st out of 156 total finishers (35th percentile) and 29th out of 62 female finishers (53rd percentile). My splits from my watch were: 14:38 (8:36), 14:48 (8:42 pace), and :36 for the final tenth (6:00 pace!) – these were 1.7-mile splits, rather than 1-mile splits.

Celebration treats: Another late night (for me), but I did make time for a treat – dark-chocolate-covered hazelnuts from Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Haven. I have to get back down there for a bigger bag – they’re delicious!!

Next up: The inaugural Japan Day 4-miler on June 3rd and the Arctic Circle Marathon on June 30th.

Thank you for all your support!

Pictures from both races are available here: (as always, there is commentary in the slideshow).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Healthy Kidney 10k 5.19.07

Hi all,

Race 15 was the Healthy Kidney 10k. We ran the 10k loop in Central Park, going clockwise (aka the hard way), finishing at Tavern on the Green.

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 mostly green now. I can't wait until I can delete that sentence! I had my usual goals of running between the water stations, beating a 10-minute mile pace, and setting a PR (56:14).

After a bad night's sleep (I must have been overhydrated!), I got up early and headed down to the subway. Unfortunately, the subway wasn't running from my neighborhood. I could either wait for a bus to take down to 168th Street and transfer there for the train or walk across the island to the 1-train. There weren't any buses in sight, so I jogged over to the 1. I still managed to get to the Park by 8:30 and I wasn't planning to warm up, so I wasn't overly stressed. As I was walking up to the registration area, I saw someone wearing a really nice tech shirt from what I thought was a previous Healthy Kidney 10k. Then I saw someone else wearing the same shirt and saw that the date was for today's race! Woo Hoo!! I was already feeling a little warm in the shirt I was wearing, so I was really glad to change into the new tech shirt before the race. I lined up at the 9 marker, looking for Fabian, Lana and Mark along the way. Just before we started, I saw Lana. We went through the start together (it took about 5 minutes to get to the start!!) and then I headed off.

Random conversation: Me, as I dodged the group of walkers (walking abreast, rather than single file) in the first quarter mile: "Walkers start at the back." The leader of the group of walkers: "Oh, shut up!" Nice.

I kept going up the West Drive, wanting to hold back a bit and keep my knee safe. I stopped at the first water station and did knee swings while I drank. I knew this would slow me down (I usually walk all the way through the water stations, so that I keep moving forward, but had to stop to do the knee swings), but I wanted to keep the damage to a minimum. As I came back onto the course, I saw someone in a David Wright Mets shirt and used him for my rabbit. I kept working my way up the hills (rolling hills up and then a steep hill at the north end of the Park) and tried to keep it pretty easy so my knee didn't blow up. When I came around the top of the park, I tore down the long downhill. I tried to find my rabbit, but either I passed him without noticing or he smoked me. I hit the second water station and stopped for knee swings. Someone called my name and it was Mark*, who turned out to be my Wright rabbit (who I'd obviously passed without noticing)! We ran together a little while, then I moved off to get up the final hill before the East Drive. My plan was to run easy up the hills, then make up the time on the easier downhill and flats towards the uphill finish. I passed the 3-mile marker and noticed that each of my first 3 miles was faster than the previous, so I set a new goal of running successively faster miles. There was a 5k chip mat, which I made sure to stomp on (at 28:18), assuming that they were using the mat as a means of disqualifying people who ran outside of the rec. lane. I'd been struggling with my breathing for about a mile and tried to keep going without using my inhaler, but gave up as I approached the 5-mile marker. Unfortunately, I waited too long and struggled a bit through the end of the race. The problem with asthma is that not being able to breathe also means that your muscles aren't getting enough oxygen. But, I'm planning to run 18 miles tomorrow, so saving a bit for tomorrow was part of my plan, anyway. Long story short, I was able to meet all of my goals, including the new one! Dathan Ritzenhein not only stopped Craig Mottram's streak, but he also broke the 10-year-old course record with a 28:08 and donated his prize money (not sure if it was just the first-place award or also the $20,000 course-record award) to the National Kidney Foundation!! The UAE, represented by their sergeant-at-arms, surprised everyone (including Mary Wittenberg, who didn't look especially thrilled) by awarding the top 3 female finishers and the top 7 male finishers (!) with trips to the UAE for a race in December. I ran into Lou after the race, but didn't see Fabian.

Official stats: I finished in 54:49 for an 8:50 pace over the 6.2 miles – a PR by 1 1/2 minutes! I was 3034 out of 5413 finishers, putting me in the 44th percentile. It was 54°F (12°C) with 66% humidity. My splits from my watch were: 9:32, 9:01, 8:49, 8:46, 8:44, 8:16, and 1:45 for the final 2 tenths (8:45 pace).

Celebration treats: I went on a behind-the-scenes tour of Jacques Torres' Chocolate Haven, led by Jacques himself. Of the many treats I came home with, my special treat for the race was a chocolate banana dacquoise. I also had a slushy Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper – I'm so glad they're available again!!

Next up: AHA Wall Street Run 5k on May 22nd and the first media challenge (3.5) on May 23rd

Thank you for all your support!

Here are the pictures: (there's commentary in the slideshow, as usual). Enjoy!

*Mark is such a nice guy. I saw him in the crowd waiting for the awards ceremony, so I sidled up to him, brushing against him. He politely stepped aside. I brushed against him again, and, again, he side-stepped. I increased the pressure until I was leaning on him (I was wearing a jacket, so I wasn't sweating on him) and that was the moment that he finally turned and realized it was me.

**The 18-mile training run went well - I ran 17.99 miles in 3 hours (I slighly miscalculated the number of seconds it takes to get the machine up-to-speed). In the first two hours, I paused the machine at 30 minutes to do knee swings and refuel (1st hour - lemon-lime Jelly Belly Sport Beans; 2nd hour - fruit punch Jelly Belly Sport Beans; 3rd hour - Black Cherry Clif Shot Blox (these weren't bad - the texture has been improved, so they're firmer and don't melt as easily), with a swig of lemon-lime Gatorade Endurance every 5 minutes during the run). In the last hour, I paused at 20 and 40 minutes. I ran 55 minutes at 6 with a 5-minute cool-down, 55 minutes at 6.2 with a 5-minute cool-down, and 55 minutes at 6.4 with a 5-minute cool-down.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Broad Street Run 10-miler 5.6.07

Hi all,

Race 14 was the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia. We ran 10 miles straight down Broad Street (except for a slight jog around City Hall) to the finish, about a quarter mile inside the Navy Yard.

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 can’t wait until I can delete that sentence! I had increased my mileage during the week, getting to 31 miles, so I took both Friday and Saturday off to rest for the race. I kept it to my usual goals of running between the water stations, beating a 10-minute mile pace, and setting a PR (1:38:03).

Abby convinced me that I needed to run this race and I’m so glad she did! Ignoring all of the chores I needed to do over the weekend (knowing I had two – yes, two – trips to California the following week), I took an early train down on Saturday. Abby, George, Lilian and Hana picked me up at Trenton and we headed down to the expo. I was hoping to meet Abby’s Dr. Dave, but he disappeared before the expo was over and all I did was catch a quick glimpse of someone tall, dark, and handsome (my favorite type)! Oh, well – there’s always the Philly Distance Run (and no, this is not my promise to run it). So, I register in person (this will be important later) and get my bib and t-shirt. I also picked up a Stick and some PowerGel. When we got back to the house Lilian took me on a whirlwind tour of their house (it’s beautiful) and then George showed me the wine cellar. It’s a beauty! We went to Buca di Beppo for dinner and I learned that I don’t have to eat Amy’s Pesto Tortellini Bowl the night before a race. I can eat spaghetti with pesto and/or marinara sauce and meatballs and be just fine. We headed back, put the kids to bed and then Abby and I talked until it was time to go to bed. I slept amazingly well and was ready to go early. Unfortunately, the weather was drastically different from what I’d packed for. It was supposed to be in the 50s with calm winds, but it was actually in the mid-40s with 20+ mph winds. George very nicely lent me a “throwaway shirt” to wear until I got warm. We dropped off the girls, drove to the stadium and caught the subway to the start. I dropped my bag off, used the port-a-potty (nearly tipping over backward in it because it was on a downward slope), then jogged over to the start. I was already worried about overheating but afraid that I’d freeze when the race was over, so I tied George’s shirt around my waist under my shirt. We started off and I tried to keep pace with the people around me. I was a bit stiff but the course was supposed to be downhill so I didn’t worry about it too much. The race actually begins with rolling hills for the first 2-3 miles, but I did what I could to keep up. I stopped at the first water station (at mile 2.4*, near a Taco Bell) and stretched. At the next water station (at mile 4.1), I had to retie my shoelace. At the last second, I panicked and retied my shoe too loosely and it came untied in the 4th mile. Thank you to all the kind people who told me about the untied lace. We passed through some pretty, old neighborhoods, most of which were run-down, but you could see that the buildings had been very fine at some point. Not all were as nice as the Victorians, but Philadelphia has some fine architechture, especially the Divine Lorraine Hotel at Fairmont. It’s abandoned now, but will make gorgeous apartments in the hands of the right developer! I tried to keep my eyes on William Penn (who stands atop City Hall smack in the middle of Broad Street) as I struggled through the first 6 miles. I wanted to make sure I got through the first 6 miles in under an hour. There’s no way to run through City Hall, so we had to make a jog around it and I got to see the Clothespin statue, which I remembered from my days at Penn (I went to the Wharton School undergrad). After passing around City Hall, we headed back down Broad Street and passed the Union League Building ( where my friend, Abby, received a Good Citizenship Award. I managed to get to the 6th mile marker on pace, skipping a couple of water stations to make sure it happened. At that point, I knew that even if I slowed to 10-minute miles, I could still set a PR. I focused on getting from mile-marker to mile-marker, recalculating in my head as I ran. At mile 7, I knew I could probably break 1:35 and at mile 8, I thought I might even make 1:33. At mile 9, I almost forgot to check my watch, but I’m so glad I remembered! It said I had been running for 1:21 and change – if I really pushed it, I could even break 1:30!! And you all know me, so you know what happened next. I had already skipped the last water station, so I just had to keep going and hope I could make it across. I ran hard, trying not to hurt my knee too much (I’d been doing knee swings at every water stop). We started passing the people who had already finished. One guy yelled that we had only a half mile to go, but I told myself not to listen, that it might be farther. I knew that the finish was a quarter of a mile inside the Navy Yard. I was really excited to pass under the gate – I went there for medical care and groceries when I was in college, but I don’t have access to military bases anymore. I kept looking for the finish, but couldn’t see it and was despairing of breaking 1:30. I knew I had taken about 2 minutes to cross the start. All of a sudden, I realized that I couldn’t see the finish line because it was set low under some trees. It came up on me fast (thankfully) and I crossed the chip mats at exactly 1:32.

Abby and George were there in the crowd and we all happily announced our PRs. We collected our goodie bags (I was given 2 for some reason), then headed back to the car. I was supposed to run another 4 miles, but couldn’t manage more than 2. My knees were not happy at all. We ate cheesesteaks then went to the Israeli Independence Day Festival where I got to see Abby and Hana and George and Lilian ride camels. My visit with Abby and her family was wonderful. From the moment I stepped into the car, I was made to feel welcome – it was if it were my twentieth visit, rather than my first.

Official stats: I finished in 1:29:29 for an 8:57 pace over the 10 miles (my official time was 1:32:00) – a PR by 8 1/2 minutes! I was 6802 out of 15882 finishers, putting me in the 57th percentile.** It was 48°F (9°C) when we started, but warmed up to the 50s (teens) by the time we finished. My splits from my watch were: 9:02, 8:50, 9:36, 8:51, 9:27, 8:55, 9:32, 8:27, 8:46, and 8:06.

Celebratory treats: We went to Geno’s for cheesesteaks (Whiz with for me). It was delicious! It’s been years since I had a cheesesteak. For dessert when I got home, I had a scoop of Baskin-Robbins peanut butter cup ice-cream. The real treat for me was the time I got to spend with Abby, George, Lilian and Hana!

Next up: Here are the races I’ve scheduled: Healthy Kidney 10k on May 19th; AHA Wall Street Run 5k on May 22nd; the first media challenge (3.5) on May 23rd; the NYC Half Marathon on August 5th; the Disneyland Half Marathon on September 3rd; the Nike Women’s Half on October 21st; the inaugural Tower of Terror 13k on October 27th; and the NYC Marathon on November 4th. There will undoubtedly be other races in between those, but those are the races I’ve entered so far. There’s a distinct possibility that one of these will be my 100th race. I’m really looking forward to that milestone!

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).

*Broad Street is very well-organized. The exact locations of the water and Gatorade stations were listed in the Runners’ Guide. There were also maps of the start, the course, and the finish and listings of previous winners in various categories.

**Unfortunately, despite registering in person and my e-mail message and phone call and their return call to me assuring me that everything would be taken care of, I am listed as a male in the results. My name is also misspelled, despite the fact that I paid by check. I am very disappointed and will continue to harass the BSR until they correct my record. It’s my personal opinion that if there’s a question about any information provided by a participant, then the information should be taken as offered until verified. They had no right to change my registration application. The man who checked me in marked my gender correctly on my bib, for Pete’s sake! Grrrrr