Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Japan Day 4-miler 6.3.07

Hi all,

Race 18 was the Japan Day 4-miler. The new 4-mile course in Central Park starts just below the 72nd Street Transverse on the East Drive and circles around the inner loop to finish on the 72nd Street Transverse.

Goals: My overall goal was to run 4 miles before and 4 miles after the race, so that I would have a total of 12 miles. I didn’t want to overdo it, so I set 36 minutes as my goal time for the race (my 4-mile PR is 34:59), plus the usual run between water stations and keep from further hurting my knees.

This week, I knew in advance that the trains were screwy, so I got up early and left just in time to catch the shuttle bus to the subway (about 32 blocks south). I switched to the subway and was a little anxious because, as is always the case, when the MTA cuts the express trains and runs only local trains (which take longer than the express trains, of course) for some reason, they also cut the number of trains running, so it takes even longer than it would usually take on the local! I still made it with enough time to run the 4-mile warm-up, but I wasn’t quite as relaxed. I picked up my gear and mentally kicked myself for not picking it up beforehand. I’d forgotten that special races usually have goodie bags and there had been (I know because I saw people walking around with the bags), but there weren’t any available for race-day pick-up. I won’t forget that again! I love free stuff!!

I had an additional goal of running the 4-before and 4-after in 45 minutes (each, not cumulative, of course). I was meeting Lana at the start at 7:45, so I had to get a move on. I started my warm-up at 7:05, following the race course around the middle loop of the Park. The Park is just beautiful now. As pretty as it is in winter, now that Mother Nature has shaken out her skirts and is showing us her finery, it’s such a beautiful place to run! The races are run on the roadway that winds around the outer edge of the Park, utilizing the transverses when necessary. Flowers are few and far between on the roadway, so the random bursts of brilliant color amongst the varying shades of green are that much more breathtaking. As I trotted my way up towards the 102nd Street Transverse, I saw a huge white shaggy dog chasing a squirrel around and around the base of a tree. I didn’t see anyone with the dog and they were tearing around at top speed. I whistled to get the dog’s attention and the squirrel was able to run up the trunk past the dog’s jaws to safety. As soon as the squirrel was out of reach, the dog wandered off. I didn’t stop running, so I don’t know if anyone came to get him. It was very humid and not yet too hot, but I was concerned about what would happen during the race when I was racing, rather than just running. I checked the time as I passed each mile marker and actually hit each one at just about 10 minutes. I arrived back at the start at 7:45 exactly, for a 4-mile warm-up in 40 minutes – 5 minutes faster than I’d wanted.

I jogged over to the start to find Lana. We were supposed to meet up at the 8-minute marker, but when I got there, some guy was yelling at people for “cutting the line” by coming into the corral. Maybe the reason so many people start in the wrong place is their ignorance of the corral system. I’m not sure why that would be – the announcer advises runners on the rules of lining up and the pace markers are clearly visible – but it’s a possibility. Lana found me, introduced me to her friend, Barb, and we “cut the line,” joining the 8-minute corral. The race started soon after that we were off. The start was very narrow and we were confined again so there we were held to a slower pace for the first half mile or so. I tried to move along the crowds, but didn’t want to push myself into race mode, so I didn’t try too hard. It was also much warmer now and I was having trouble breathing with all the moisture in the air. I tried to settle into a good pace, but the course just isn’t designed for an even pace. Keeping in mind the next 4 miles, I walked through all of the water stations, did knee swings, and held back on my finishing sprint. I came around onto the 72nd Street Transverse and watched the clock tick away as I approached, missing my time goal by about 30 seconds.

After the race, I found Lana and Barb and, luckily, double-checked the bag-check. I had assumed, because the kid’s races were at 9:30, that bag check would be available until at least 10. I was wrong! So, I couldn’t do the final 4 miles. I was a bit irritated, because I should have made better arrangements to get my miles in and, if I’d known, would have raced the 4 miles, rather than treat it as a training run.* So, for the second time this year, I did not set a PR. Mark appeared at about that time and, after watching the raffle (neither of us won), we wandered around to the Japan Day Festival. It was pretty cool and featured digital imaging, robotics, video games, and traditional foods, dances, and costumes.

Official stats: I finished in 36:31 for an average pace of 9:07 over the 4 miles. I was 3038 out of 5267 finishers, putting me in the 42nd percentile. It was 71°F (22°C) with 73% humidity. My splits from my watch were: 9:44, 8:24, 9:52; and 8:36.

Consolation treats: Garrett’s CheeseCorn, a slushy Dr Pepper, and a piece of the new Lindt Creation 70% Chocolate Mousse bar (only okay – but I’m not a big fan of Lindt, generally).

Next up: The Arctic Circle Marathon on June 30th (though I may also run the Father’s Day 5-miler), Run for Central Park (7/21) and the Run to Home Plate (7/22).
Thank you for all your support!

Pictures from both races are available here: http://new.photos.yahoo.com/album?c=mytripsandraces&aid=576460762403565132&pid=&wtok=zTPu1Tz9tobkv0GyYFgeQg--&ts=1180983886&.src=ph (as always, there is commentary in the slideshow).

*To make up for the missing long run, I'm going to try to do at least 6 miles each day. I know it's not the same, but I need to do something - I've got a marathon in 3 1/2 weeks!! Next Sunday is my last 20-miler before the big day.

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