Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Media Challenge #5 (3.5 miles) 8.28.07

Hi all,

Race 25 was the fifth and final 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 heading towards 35 miles in 3 days (including my elliptical machine work-out on Sunday and my 1-hour ladder in the morning), so I told Sue that I thought I would finish in 34, but I was really hoping for a 32.

No warm-up today. This was the last race of the season, so we had to make a strong showing to gain the 40 points we were behind. I started out at a comfortable pace and started passing people right away. I thought I might be going too fast, but was able to maintain, so I just held on and gave my legs their way. I had a little trouble with the humidity. I kept passing rabbits, so I decided to give it a real go. I knew my PR for the course was 30, but thought it might be too much, though I really felt like I was moving fast. I passed several more News Corp runners (they were in first place, so I needed to concentrate on passing them) runners and runners from other teams as well. By the first time around the 72nd Street Transverse, I was desperate for water and needed to use my inhaler. I carry it with me always, but wanted to see if I could wait until my water break. I came up around the last uphill off of the transverse and headed into the little rolling hills to finish the first loop. I just couldn’t stop myself from passing more people, even though I knew they’d all pass me when I stopped for water. The water was just before the finish line and I walked past the timer (Sue’s boyfriend, Armando, kindly agreed to stand in at the last minute) and then, just before I started running again on the downhill, I used my inhaler. I caught up with and passed every female who had passed me when I stopped for water, though it took me over half the loop to manage it. I even passed one of my own team-members (luckily). As I came around to the 72nd Transverse, I picked another rabbit and was able to pass her and another News Corp female as we came off the transverse. As I passed the start, a woman came up and passed me and I wasn’t able to catch her again. No finishing kick for me, but I still managed to finish with a 46-second PR.

I don’t usually go to the post-race dinner, but it wasn’t pizza this time and I’d already decided that I was going to rest the following morning. Oh, am I glad I went!! After dinner and before dessert, they passed out the awards. There were no grand masters, so they started with the female masters, warning us first that the company had given them four Male Masters trophies, but that two of them had female figures, so those were going to the female winners. The second place female master had finished in 29:40. I knew I had, but didn’t think anything other than to recognize that was my finishing time. When they called my name, I just sat there. Then I realized that that was my name that had just been called. I was numb and still just sat there. It finally all clicked together and stood up and happily accepted my trophy. While I sat there holding my trophy and grinning like a fool, one of my teammates, leaned back and told me that he hadn’t realized I was a master – he thought I was his age – 25!! Woo Hoo!! That’s almost better than getting the trophy (except that memory fades, but this trophy is going nowhere, even though it’s slightly flawed!!).

Official stats: I finished in 29:40 for an average pace of 8:29 over the 3.5 miles – a PR by 46 seconds. I was the 16th female finisher (!!) and won a trophy for being the second fastest female master!!* My official split from my watch were: 15:05 (8:23 pace for the 1.8 miles) and 14:35 (8:35 pace for the 1.7 miles). It was 73° with 68% humidity.

Celebration treat: I know, I know – the dinner, trophy and compliment would be treats enough for most, but I’m a greedy cow, so I also had Mo’s Bacon Bar from Vosges (to celebrate the PR) and a Crème Brulee from Kee’s Chocolates (to celebrate the trophy) and a gingerbread caramel from (thank you, Lisa!).

Next up: The Disneyland Half Marathon (9/3), the Queens Half Marathon (9/23), the Fifth Avenue Mile (9/29) and the 18-mile Tune-up (9/30).

Thank you for all your support!

*Sue was second female overall or I would have been edged out – only the top two for each category win. The categories include open field, masters (40+) and grand masters (50+, I think). We were unable to make up the 40-point deficit and finished the season in second place.

Random pictures from the past two weeks (race pictures are at the end) are here: (with commentary in the slideshow, of course).

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Run to Home Plate 5k 8.11.07

Hi all,

Race 24* was the Run to Home Plate 5k. The 5k course is part out-and-back and part loop. The out-and-back course takes us through the parking lot and then a left turn out onto the street, past Arthur Ashe tennis stadium and the Queens Museum of Art, turning back into the park grounds where we looped around the Unisphere (left over from the 1964 World’s Fair) and an additional section of the World’s Fair park, then back to the original course around the Unisphere and back onto the street to finish the out-and-back. When we came back into the parking lot, instead of continuing along the course we’d left, we turned right and ran around the stadium, finally entering the stadium just to the right of the bleachers, turning left and following the warning track** clockwise around to finish behind home plate.

Goals: to run between water stations (or possibly skip them to see if I could set a distance PR), to set a course PR (sub 28:42) and to set a distance PR (sub 26:37).

After an unrestful night of strange dreams (I wish I could remember what I’d eaten that might have caused them!), I got up at 5:15 to make my way out to Shea Stadium in Queens by 8. Because of ongoing construction, the journey took 3 trains and a bus ride! I’d given myself too much time and ended up arriving at about 7:20, including the 15-minute walk from the train station to the start. Oh, well – better early, than late. It was quite cold – only 58°F when I got up, so I was pretty confident that I’d make my course PR goal. While wandering around the start area, waiting to go on my warm-up run, I ran into Margot and Mary, of the Nike Central Park Track Club, and we chatted for a bit. Margot and I had the same goal: to set a 5k PR (she set hers with a 21:17!!). I took off on my warm-up and jogged around the parking lot for a little over 20 minutes, then did strides for about 3 minutes. There are Mets signs posted along the fences and I would run alternately fast and slow between the signs. I jogged over to the start and went straight to the 10-minute marker to look for Bonnie. As I stretched and craned my neck to look over the crowd, Bonnie tapped my arm – she was standing right in front of me. D’oh! We chatted a bit, then I moved up to the 8-minute marker. I’d promised myself I was going to give it my all today, so I decided to start with my actual pace group this time. There was a couple standing just outside the tape and she had the coolest socks on. The pattern was puzzle pieces, but one sock was sort of blue and green and the other was red and orange. When she moved into the corral, I complimented her on them and she told me that it’s a set of three and the third one is yellow and orange; they’re meant to be mismatched. I’ll be scouring the shops for them.

A few speeches and the National Anthem and the horn went off. I tried very hard to keep myself at a strong, but steady pace and was happy to see that I was keeping up. Despite the cooler temperatures (we’ve been very lucky with our racing weather this year!!), the humidity was still very high and I was having a little trouble breathing, but holding on. The first water station came and I walked through it in order to catch my breath. As I started to run again, I could see the mile marker and it looked like it said 8 and change. I hustled up and passed it in under 9!! This is the first year that I haven’t seen the front runners pass me on their way back to Shea!! I was looking forward to the run around the Unisphere, but missed it this time, because I was focused on getting to the next water station. I needed a break (was wheezing a bit), but kept going, managing not to stop until I got to the water station, which I walked through, using the break to take a puff on my inhaler. At this point, I almost caught up with Socks and decided to use her as my rabbit when I came out of the water station. Unfortunately, she was walking when I caught up to her, so that plan went out the window. As I passed, I yelled “Come on, Socks, you can do it!!” and then forgot about her as I concentrated on my finish. I was hoping for a nice strong finish, but felt like I was slowing down. In my head, I kept counting down my estimated distance left (less than a mile, half a mile, quarter of a mile) in hopes that I wouldn’t break pace. I came into the stadium, passed the 3-mile marker and then focused on the finish line. I don’t even remember seeing any other runners. I shot across the finish line, breaking my distance PR on the official clock!! As soon as I got past the finish, I proceeded with my usually classy finish – retching violently, then staggering to the medical area for ice. I was swaying and staggering, so the medic checked my breathing and said I wasn’t wheezing too badly and should just use my inhaler. I waited for Bonnie to finish and she came in under 30 (great job, Bonnie!!) We walked out together and got in line for our commemorative towels. Cheesy, but I love the Mets!! I was really disappointed not to get a picture with Mr. Met this year. L In the towel line, I ran into Socks and we chatted a bit. She’d heard me call out as I passed and that helped her get moving again and she finished in 26:30 (officially, that is). She’s going to run the Queens Half Marathon, too, so I might see her there – we’re about the same pace so we might be able to run together.

Bonnie had brought her son and her son’s friend, so we stayed to watch the kid’s races. Some of them were quite exciting, with photo finishes as the kids sprinted to win. Bonnie’s son was just edged out in his race – he hadn’t heard the kid behind him until it was too late to get past him. Next time! Then, my 3 trains and bus ride home.

Official stats: I finished in 25:51 for an average pace of 8:19 over the 3.1 miles – a distance PR by 46 seconds. I was 603 out of 1564 total finishers, putting me in the 61st percentile; I was 114 out of 601 female finisher, putting me in the 81st percentile (!!); and I was 14 out of 63 female finishers between 40 and 44, putting me in the 78th percentile (I love these numbers!!) It was 63°F with 68% humidity. My splits from my watch were: 8:25 (my slowest mile!), 8:15, 8:23 and :53 for the final .1 mile (8:50 pace).

Celebration treats: I had a lovely lunch (French bread, paté, Zamarano cheese, pear salad), with a slushy Dr Pepper, followed by Ben & Jerry’s Crème Brûlée ice-cream and some Chuao Chocolate ( from my friend, Laurie (thanks, Laurie!!).

Next up: Disneyland Half Marathon (9/3), Queens Half Marathon (9/23), Fifth Avenue Mile (9/29), 18-Mile Marathon Tune-Up (9/30).

Thank you for all your support!

*Media Challenge #5 was cancelled because it was too hot and humid to run on Wednesday evening. It may be rescheduled – I’ll keep you posted.

**I learned that’s what it’s called from Bonnie’s husband, Jim. Thanks, Jim!

Pictures from the race and some random pictures from the past week, too (sorry for the quality of the pictures – my new camera is still at the shop): (commentary in the slide show).

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

NYC Half Marathon 8.5.07

Hi all,

Race 23 was the NYC Half Marathon. We ran a loop and then some clockwise around Central Park, down 7th Avenue through Times Square, across 42nd Street and down the West Side Highway to Battery Park.

Goals: to run between water stations, to set a course PR (sub 2:08:49) and to set a distance PR (sub 2:02:49).

The event started at the expo on Friday afternoon. I timed my visit to coincide with the appearance of Haile Gebrselassie and Catherine Ndereba, who answered questions from the crowd and then gave autographs and took pictures (except with me, whose camera broke the day before). I had them autograph my bib (picture in the album). I wandered around, had a badge made, got a pace bracelet, picked up some freebies (Vaseline, hair bands, sunblock), then went home for a nice restful evening. Saturday was expo day again. Hendrick Ramaala and Abdi Abdirahman did the appearance and signed my bib. In the general questions session, I asked them about cross-training. Hendrick said he doesn’t do any and Abdi said he does abs after his long runs. The moderator was quick to point out that they’re professional athletes and that running is their job and that it’s good to be physically fit in a variety of ways. I was first in line for the autographs (I learned where to stand at the Friday night appearance) and when I told them my goal, they kidded each other that I was going to be right behind them. They wished me luck and signed my bib. This bib is going to be framed!! I went to work to wait for Elizabeth, who was arriving later. We met back at the expo at around 3. Well, by the time I got there, she and Jenna had finished with the expo (which I know now is tiny and nothing special, expo-wise) and were shopping at Niketown. It was so nice to finally meet Elizabeth in person after getting to know her through her blog. We chatted while Jenna finished shopping, then I went to mass. I can barely kneel before running a half marathon, so I was certainly not going to attempt it after one!

Race day – I had to be in my corral by 6:15, so I was up at 4:30 and out the door by 5. I missed the bus at 86th Street, so I walked across the Park to the starting area (that counts as a warm-up, right?). I got myself ready (inhaler, sunblock, etc.), dropped my bag and headed to the 7000 corral. Elizabeth was already there and while we were chatting, my friend, Paul, with his friend, Mitch, showed up. They are both training for a triathlon and were using this race as a training run. Elizabeth and Paul both decided to use me as a pacer (no pressure there!), because they wanted to run slowly and not race. As we started moving forward, compacting the corrals (we were about a half mile from the start), another friend, LK, found us. He’s on a new training regimen and was supposed to keep his heart rate at or below 145, so he was going slowly, too. We continued to move forward until we started hearing snatches of the national anthem and then the horn. We finally crossed the start line at 4:55. I’m not very good at talking while running, so I limited myself to pointing out landmarks to Elizabeth. I’m apparently not very good at thinking while I’m running, either, because I missed out on some pretty big ones, including the finish of the NYC Marathon. Sorry, Elizabeth!! As always, I stopped at every water station, drinking water and Gatorade and taking a short walk break at each one. There were plenty of spectators and I even saw someone I know in the crowds: Brenn, who is also a member of our corporate running team. We hit the 5k marker at 31:25. The first few miles were a bit of a struggle, especially getting up the hills on the upper west side of the Park. Elizabeth and I ran together for about 5 miles at which point we separated, though Paul and I continued on together. In the 7th mile, my first goal went by the wayside. I had meant to use my inhaler at the last water station, but forgot. My chest was getting tighter and tighter and when I started feeling light-headed and seeing stars, I stopped, puffed, and walked until I felt calmer. It didn’t take long and Paul hung with me until I was running again. We crossed the 10k mats at 1:01:17 (I learned later that the winner had already finished by that time). My total time for the 7th mile was 9:35, so I was clearly running too fast for this kind of humidity. And then, after a short sweeping uphill, we turned left and headed out of the Park onto 7th Avenue. Not only was this an environmental change, from a beautiful green park with trees rising on either side to city streets with skyscrapers rising on either side, but the crowds swelled and the music started (there was no music in the Park). From the brass band at Carnegie Hall to the DJs and dancers along the West Side Highway, you could still hear the band you’d passed fading away as you started hearing the band you approached. The buildings of Times Square are visible as soon as you hit 7th Avenue and I tried to keep my eyes on them to pull me forward. As with last year, I completely forgot about being broadcast on the jumbotron in Times Square until it was too late. I hope someone saw me and recognized me, but I didn’t recognize anyone on the screen when I looked up. As I turned onto 42nd Street, I was gasping for a water station – I needed the walk break and the fluids! Three times, we had to run 2 miles (more or less) between water stations. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to have one of those long breaks 8 ½ miles into a half marathon in August in NYC! We passed several bands and DJs and then 7-Eleven (no more Kwik-E-Mart) and finally arrived at the water station. There were boxes of Carb-Boom gel for us to take, but I used my own (plain PowerGel). I probably should have taken the Carbo-Boom – it took nearly 2 minutes for me to get the stupid packet open!! Oh well, at least I had a nice long walk break. Paul couldn’t wait and took off, but I caught him before the turn onto the West Side Highway. In contrast to the glorious transition from Park to city streets back at mile 7+, the turn-off onto the West Side Highway was a transition to the most difficult section of the course. As hilly as Central Park is, the trees provide plenty of shade, as do the buildings in midtown. No such feature on the West Side Highway. Not only were we completely exposed to the blazing sun, but we moved from asphalt to concrete! The crowds were still good, though, and there were water stations in every mile. There were also supposed to be misting stations, but I didn’t see any. I crossed the 15k marker at 1:32:04. By the last four miles, I was getting grumpier and grumpier. On a walk break to drink water, I got irritated by a spectator standing in the road and waved him out of my way. Coming into the last water station, someone decided that it didn’t matter that people were running down the Highway; he was going to walk across it by way of my left foot. I called him a not-very-nice name, throwing in a glare for good measure. Bad me – we were all tired by that point and I’m sure he just wasn’t thinking straight. Hopefully, he didn’t hear me. I had gotten separated from Paul by this point and saw him go flying past in the last mile. I was beginning to chase after him when I remembered that his plan called for him to run the last mile fast, so I let him go. I had long ago realized that I couldn’t make my time goals, but thought I’d try to see how close I could get to a course PR. I crossed the 20k marker at 2:02:22. In that last half mile, I passed a downed runner, surrounded by cops, and a little farther along, the EMTS were moving a stretcher onto the course to retrieve him. I didn’t hear anything more about it, so I assume it was dehydration. I hope he’s okay. I also passed Brenn again and he cheered for me a couple of times, which helped push me along to the finish. I missed my revised goal of finishing in under 2:13 on the official clock, but it was close.

Paul was waiting for me at the finish and we picked up our medals, then got our picture taken together. We found Mitch, then Paul and Mitch took off while I headed over to grab my bag. I ran into Fabian, Roberto, Lou and LK (whose heart-rate average was exactly 145 – way to go, LK!) on my way out. I got a little confused and ended up back in the finishing chute, but eventually made it to Andrea and Brady’s place, where I took a quick shower and then we headed back out for dim sum and Divalicious!

Official stats: I finished in 2:08:23 for an average pace of 9:48 over the 13.1 miles – a course PR, by just 26 seconds. According to the Nike+ results, I was 6099 out of 9920 total finishers, putting me in the 39th percentile - the NYRR website has me listed as the 6362nd finisher, which would put me in the 36th percentile. It was 71°F with 61% humidity. My splits from my watch were: 9:59, 10:49, 9:46, 9:49, 9:40, 9:35, 9:38, 9:25, 10:44, 10:03, 9:41, 9:03 and :59 for the final .1 mile (9:50 pace).

Celebration treats: Andrea and Brady are fellow chocophiles, so they provided me immediately with some Valrhona chocolate (Manjari and Araguani), then we walked up to Chinatown for dim sum and then stopped at Divalicious for chocolate-fountain-dipped treats (I had the ice-cream-filled cream puffs – yum!). When I got home, I had my last Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper (don’t worry, Nathalie, I still have yours) – slushed, of course, and (again, provided by Andrea and Brady – thanks, guys!!)*

Next up: Media Challenge #5 (8/8) and the Run for Home Plate (8/11).

Thank you for all your support!

*This may seem like a lot of treats for someone who only hit one goal, I did set a course PR and it's my 3rd fastest half marathon time. Not too bad for someone who ran a marathon a month ago and is still recovering from some pretty painful injuries, not to mention it's a half marathon in NYC in August!

Race day pictures here:

For those of you who missed it, the Anheuser-Busch Libation Loft album is here: (if you want to see the videos, let me know and I’ll send the links).