Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fifth Avenue Mile 9.29.07

Hi all,

Race 28 was the Fifth Avenue Mile. We ran one mile down 5th Avenue from East 80th to East 60th. The race is run in heats by age and gender categories. I ran with women 40-49, in the 8th heat.

Goals: To run between water stations (just kidding – there are no water stations in a 1-mile race); to set a PR (I ran last year’s mile in 7:22); and to break 7:15 (set a really big PR). These aren’t really fast times, but they’re fast for me. According to the McMillan Running Calculator* and my fastest 5k race time, I shouldn’t be running a mile faster than 7:27, and I ran faster than that 2 years ago in my first mile.

I was worried about this race because I haven’t been doing any interval training at all. Last year, I was doing Yasso 800s at 7.5 mph (8:00 pace) and managed a 7:22 for a 2-second PR. This year, I’ve been focusing on tempo intervals, which are a different type of speed work – slower pace (7 mph/8:35 pace) sustained for a longer distance (I’m up to 9 miles in 2.25-mile intervals). I’d already decided that I wanted to race this one and just use the 18-mile Tune-Up (tomorrow) as a training run, so I wasn’t going to hold back at all. I got to the Park early, wandering through an area I’ve never been through before on my way to the start. I dropped my bag and headed out for my warm-up. I ran down the course, but inside the Park (asphalt path), rather than on 5th Avenue (cobblestoned sidewalk). This is also a much more scenic route – I got to run past the boat lake (where you can “sail” remote-controlled miniature boats), the children’s playground, and the Central Park Wildlife Center (I didn’t see any animals). I headed back up to the Start on the sidewalk so I could say hi to Sue and the rest of the Central Park Track Club, which form a “wall of orange” at the ½ Mile Marker, cheering their team members and others (including me). I got back up to the start, took another puff of my inhaler and lined up for the start of my heat. I was amazed to hear the announcer refer to Haile Gebrsalassie as “she,” but shook it off and got ready to head out.

The gun sounded and off I went. I was nervous about going too fast and tried to find rabbits to keep track of on my way up 5th. Technically, we’re running down 5th, because we’re heading south, but the first half is uphill. It’s barely noticeable when walking, but it was daunting while I was trying to maintain my pace in the second quarter! I hit the first quarter mile marker in about 1:40, I think, and panicked that I had gone out too fast. I resigned myself to losing it in the second half and decided to hang onto that first bit as banked time. In the second quarter, my mouth had completely dried out and I could barely breathe. Asthma seriously sucks!! I kept going up, trying to hold pace and passed the half mile marker (and CPTC) at about 3:30 or so. I knew I was slowing down, but was happy to see that the shirts in front of me all looked the same as they had, so I wasn’t necessarily losing ground. Going down into the third quarter, I could feel the downhill and my legs were very happy. They weren’t in any pain and it actually felt really comfortable in the 3rd quarter. Except for the breathing – my chest was on fire. I caught up to the ¾ mile marker at about 5:30 and realized that there was no way I was going to set a PR. But, I kept repeating my mantra (it’s only 1 mile, it’s only 1 mile) and tried to sprint a bit as I counted down the last 5 blocks (20 NYC streets - not avenues - are approximately 1 mile). To my amazement, when I could see the finishing line clock, it was still at 6:40! I had a chance for a PR and not a small one, either. I wasn’t able to get across in under 7, but I did manage to get there in 7:09!!

I wobbled over to the side and retched a bit, then found Margot (a CPTC member) and we started back up to the ½-mile marker. My chest was still on fire and I realized I needed help. I went back over to the medical tent (thank you, Margot, for making sure I got there) and spent about a half hour with them. They told me the burning was due to inhaling cold air while running too fast and that it had triggered the asthma. One of them took my pulse and, after telling the one working on my breathing that it was too low, checked it again. There’s nothing wrong – my heart just has a rapid recovery time. On the treadmill, it drops by 30 bpm within a minute of stopping. So, now, I’m resting and trying to get my breathing under control and to get the coughing to stop so I can get through the 18 miles tomorrow.

Official stats: I finished in 7:09 for a 13-second PR. In my heat (women 40-49), I was 59 out of 195 finishers, putting me in the 70th percentile. Including all heats, I was 1852 out of 3245 total finishers, putting me in the 43rd percentile and 395 out of 1275 female finishers, putting me in the 69th percentile. It was 73° with 32% humidity and 6 mph winds.

Celebration treats: Because of tomorrow’s 18-mile race, I have to take it easy on the treats today, so I’m just having a chocolate-covered pretzel (it was also covered in peanut butter chips) from Whole Foods. The real treat will come after tomorrow’s race, no matter how I do there. Okay, I wasn’t going to do it, but I’m having a slushy Dr Pepper, too. At this point, there’s really nothing I can do to hurt my chances tomorrow – my lungs are taking care of that all by themselves.

Next up: The 18-mile Tune-up (9/30), the Nike Women’s Half Marathon (10/21) and the Tower of Terror 13k (10/27).

Thank you for all your support!

*Of course, if I go by the calculator, I should also be able to run a 4:12 marathon and that hasn’t happened, either. I’m too fast on the short distances and too slow on the long distances. Guess I need to work on my endurance. Or is that stamina?

Friday, September 28, 2007

100 Races and Counting

Hi all,

The Queens Half Marathon was a very special race for me. It was my 25th Half Marathon and my 100th race overall!! I started running on February 18, 2004, by running 1 minute and walking 1 minute for 20 minutes on a treadmill at the gym. I ran my first race on April 24, 2004 – the Brooklyn Half Marathon. I had no idea how foolish it was to try a half marathon just 2 months into running, until I was standing at the start and people were staring at me incredulously. I survived that race, finishing about 42 minutes faster than I’d expected to! And went on to run my second race – the Queens Half Marathon – just 3 weeks later. Don’t worry – I’m not going to recount all of my races here, but I have made a list of the first, slowest and fastest times I’ve run each distance (except the funky ones) and listed the total number of times I’ve run those distances (including the funky ones). I would tabulate the chocolate treats for you, but they’re just too numerous to count!! There were lots of slushy Dr Peppers, too!


Click on the chart above for the stats.

Random stats:

The slowest and fastest half marathons were both run on the same course (clockwise around Central Park)

First out-of-town race: Woodbridge Valley Association 10k (7/4/06) – set a PR (since beaten) in 58:06 (it was the first time I broke 1 hour in a 10k)

First cross-country race: Henry Isola XC Classic 4M (9/4/05) – 43:15

Favorite race – Disneyland Half Marathon

Favorite local race – NYC Half Marathon

Race closest to my home – Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5k (1.83 miles)

Race farthest from my home – Arctic Circle Marathon in Rovaniemi, Finland (3,935 miles)

Weirdest distances: 2.9M*, 4.7k**, 3M*, 3.2M*, 4.8M**, 18M

Not including the first race at a given distance: I set 1 PR in 2004; 5 PRs in 2005; 6 PRs in 2006; and 8 PRs in 2007 (so far). These are distance PRs and do not include either the course PRs or multiple PRs set for the same distance

I celebrated at a chocolate tasting. The pictures are at You can get to them by logging into snapfish with as the login name and myspace as the password. The password for the album is myspace.

Thanks for all your support!!

*Mismeasured courses that were supposed to be 5ks – almost 50 years and NYRR still can’t measure a 5k course correctly

**NYRR Anniversary Races – the distance represents the year of the anniversary

Monday, September 24, 2007

Queens Half Marathon 9.23.07

Hi all,

Race 27 was the Queens Half Marathon. It was a new course for the Queens Half (not to mention a new time of year – it’s usually in April or May) and you know what that means – guaranteed course PR! Instead of twice around a 6+-mile loop, we ran a single, complicated loop around northern Queens (a half hour bus-ride north of the furthest point out on the subway!): - the announcer at the finish was saying that there were 66 turns on the course. I believe it!

Goals: My usual goal of running between water stations; to set a course PR (I didn’t know until I was on the bus to the start that the course had been changed, so I made this goal before I’d even set foot in Queens!); and for my third goal, I was alternating between trying to run a distance PR and trying to maintain marathon pace for the entire distance (my hoped-for marathon pace is 10:00).

In order for me to get to this race, I had to take 2 buses and 2 subway trains, so I split the journey, thanks to my friend Utsuki and her husband, who allowed me to stay at their place in Sunnyside the night before the race. They even went to bed at 10, so I could get enough sleep (I was in the living room, as Utsuki’s mother is visiting and sleeping in the guest room, though she very kindly offered the room to me). Because the race was starting 7:00 am (according to Mary Whittenburg, president of NYRR, this was the earliest official race start in NYRR history), I had to get up at 5, so catch the train that would get me to the bus that would get me to the race before the start! I caught up with Lana in the port-a-potty line and we dropped our bags, then headed to the start. We started together, but got separated at the first water station. I thought she’d run off ahead of me, but I wasn’t able to catch up to her, so I just settled in to run and figure out what my ultimate goal would be. The first couple of miles were in a fairly industrial area and were followed by a “Corporate Park.” We did get to run through some beautiful areas of Queens, including Malba, but there were so many hills and turns that it was difficult to sightsee (I know, I know, I was supposed to be racing). I did think it was a bit strange to see all the new brickwork buildings. There are a lot of large homes there, too, with some incredible ironwork. Some day, I’d love to go through there in a car and take pictures. I was moving along pretty well, but started to feel my knee at the end of the 6th mile. I started doing knee swings at every water station and that helped me get from station to station. As I was running down a hill in the 7th mile, I could hear a bird squawking loudly and people around me were commenting on it. I looked up at a utility pole and saw a large bird’s nest with a large bird standing on a wire next to the nest. It sounded like a parrot and as I got closer, I realized that it was a parrot! A green parrot! Nesting in Queens, New York!! I love this city!! There was an even bigger nest around the corner, but I didn’t see any birds on it. At this point, I ran into Rachel (I met her at the Run to Home Plate race) and we ran together for a little while, but I lost her, too. That always happens to me at water stations. Several more hills and turns later, I came into the 11th mile and stopped at the water station. My knee was getting bad again and I needed to do knee swings and stretch my hamstrings. I checked my watch as I took off and I’d been there for 1:30. The last two miles had the best view – we ran along the Sound and the water was so blue, it was almost surreal. I hit the 11-mile marker at 10:41, which meant that I’d run that mile in about 9:10! I’d heard that the last mile was very hilly and they weren’t kidding! There was one steep hill that wasn’t too long, but then another steep hill that was very long and continued even steeper after a short flat bit! Finally, though, we rounded the corner and were heading back towards the park. I hit the cobblestoned path into the park and, as I passed the 13-mile marker and tried for a finishing kick. Fabian and Roberto were there and they cheered me on, helping me to keep up the “sprint”! When I got to the official photo line, the woman getting her picture taken turned out to be Roxanne! I can’t believe how many people I ran into at this race!

Official stats: I finished in 2:08:10 for an average pace of 9:47 over the 13.1 miles. I was 2406 out of 3589 total finishers, putting me in the 33rd percentile. My official splits from my watch were: 10:25, 9:51, 9:38; 9:19; 9:53; 9:13; 10:13; 9:39; 10:01; 9:30; 11:41; 9:14; 9:44; and :52 for the last tenth of a mile (8:40 pace – not bad for my finishing kick). It was 64° with 60% humidity.

Consolation treats: Utsuki and her mom prepared a feast for me: sushi (rice wrapped in tofu skins), gyoza (pork and scallop, but, because of my shellfish allergy, I ate only the pork dumplings), bok choy, cooked in garlic, and home-made chocolate ice-cream. Delicious! And, because I’m greedy, I also had a slushy Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper and a Chipwich ice-cream sandwich ( when I got home. :D

Next up: The Fifth Avenue Mile (9/29), the 18-mile Tune-up (9/30), the Nike Women’s Half Marathon (10/21) and the Tower of Terror 13k (10/27).

Thank you for all your support!

Yahoo photos is closing down, so I had to switch to another service. I’m on snapfish now. Hopefully, you’ll be able to see the pictures here: To view photos on snapfish, you need to have an account with them. Sign in as and use myspace as the password. The password for this group of albums is 092307. Let me know if you have trouble and I’ll see what else I can do.

Here’s a video of a blimp flying over New York from the 42nd floor of 7 World Trade Center:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Disneyland Half Marathon 9.03.07

Hi all,

Race 26* was Disneyland Half Marathon. We started in Downtown Disney, ran around the back of California Adventure, then entered and ran through California Adventure, crossed the esplanade and entered Disneyland, ran through Disneyland, came back out onto the streets of Anaheim, ran back and over to Arrowhead Pond (home of the Mighty Ducks), ran along the Santa Ana Trail towards Angels’ Stadium, entered the stadium and circled the bases (not on the field itself, though), came back out onto the streets, and finished up at Downtown Disney.

Expo day: The best thing about the expo this year was Yamaha’s BodiBeat booth. I am definitely getting one of these when they come out. The expo wasn’t as good as last year, even though it was bigger. I spent a lot of time trying to find a visor to wear during the race, but no-one had any that were designed for runners. There were a bunch of cotton twill visors and caps, but one of the necessary features for a visor, to me, at least, is a sweat band to keep sweat out of my eyes and contacts! I ended up buying a cap from Race Ready. I went back to the expo on Sunday, because my parents wanted to check it out. I met up with RunJoeRun and Shayna K (who had very kindly taken family photos for us at Alice’s the day before). I stayed at the Radisson Main Gate again this year (thanks, again, Mike and Dan!!), so I could either take a shuttle or walk about a half mile to the start.

Goals: I had a seriously ambitious time goal for this one. I wanted to go sub-2. My half marathon PR was 2:02:49 and beating that would have been good, too. Plus my usual goal of running between water stations.

I took the shuttle to the race (it pulled up right as I was leaving the hotel) and walked through Downtown Disney (DD) to the start. BodiBeat was giving out flashing buttons under Merlin’s Hat, but it fell off about halfway through the race. I was trying to figure out how I was going to find Shayna in the crowds and there she was. With Vanessa, who I’d missed at the expo and hadn’t reached by phone yet! What luck! We hung out a while, then I dropped off my bag and found them again. One of the Toy Story soldiers got on stage and told everyone that it was going to be hot and that everyone should drop any extra gear (wings, tutus, etc., though he did say we could carry our wands). We eventually made our way to the start. I was in Corral B, in the first wave. I stretched and waited and finally the opening ceremony started. With a confirmation of Shayna’s news – there was a 3-flag system: yellow, which meant that we should be careful and not run too hard; red, which meant that it was getting dangerous and we should take it easy and anyone with heat issues should drop out; and black, at which point they were turning off the clocks and it would be a fun run instead. There is nothing fun about a half marathon, even if it is run partly through Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure (DCA)! Then, he told us that we were already in a red flag situation. Yikes! I started reconsidering my goals at that point. The dignitaries were paraded out (including Mickey and Minnie in track suits), the monorail arrived with the special guests (including Goofy and other characters), and then the countdown started. It was really cool – soundless firework stars arced upwards from either side as the countdown hit 3, 2, 1 and then the big bang and the full fireworks display started as the gun sounded (presumably – I couldn’t hear it).

We took off running down and then up under an overpass, heading out of DD, passing the Convention Center and then coming back into DCA. I love running through the Parks!! The surface is great to run on and the characters were out to cheer for us. I remember passing Flik, Koda (or was it Kenai?), Stitch (I flashed the Surf’s Up sign at him as I passed), Lightning McQueen, and Mater. And, like last year, in addition to staff cheering us on along the way, there were wranglers there to take pictures of runners and characters with the runners’ cameras – a very nice touch and one of these years I’m going to take advantage of it! We left DCA and headed across to Disneyland, running behind Main Street, passing Chip (or was it Dale) and Pluto, Alice, the Mad Hatter, Buzz Lightyear, running through Cinderella’s castle, then past Woody and Jessie, Captain Jack Sparrow and the other pirates (he fired a cannon at us, but the ball fell short, splashing into the water instead), we passed the Genie and Jazmin on our way back to Main Street, which we ran down on our way out of the park and onto the streets of Anaheim. I knew that this was where it was going to get tough, because it was blazing hot and there is no shade in Anaheim! I should say, too, that I don’t usually start sweating until the 3rd mile, but I was soaked by the end of the first mile and already knew I wasn’t going to get a PR, much less a sub-2. So, I spent the first couple of miles out of the park trying to figure out what my revised goal should be. I would have been happy with anything under 2:10, but knew from my Bronx Half Marathons in July that 2:15 was more likely, given my recent running times (my fastest July Bronx Half was 2:23:26).

In the 5th mile, the palpitations started and so did my walking. My heart-rate generally stays fairly low when I run, so when it started going crazy, I paid attention and started walking whenever it got a little crazy. There were lots of cheerleaders and high school bands along the way, as well as a Mexican band with dancers (who had just finished a number when I passed, so I didn’t get to see them) and what looked like a Polynesian dance troupe (again, they’d just finished performing when I got there, so I missed them, too). Finally, I saw the hockey stadium coming up and knew that the end was in sight. Well, not in sight, literally, but I knew I was going to make it. I just had to hope that the clocks weren’t turned off until I got to the finish! Outside of the stadium (we don’t get to run inside that one), there were cheerleaders and youth hockey players giving us high fives as we passed. We hit the Santa Ana trail, which was a nice break from the asphalt, and then came up to the Clif gel mile for yet another walk break. Next up is Angels Stadium and on the way there, we passed Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Eagle Scouts, Brownies, Girl Scouts, and more cheerleaders, along with parents and spectators cheering for us. At the end of the gauntlet, we headed into the stadium and ran along the warning track around home plate. This year, the camera was lined up along the 3rd base line, so that the runners could see themselves on the Jumbotron. I waved frantically, hoping my family back at the finish area would be able to see me.** I headed out of the stadium, walked through another water station, then headed, gratefully, back towards the parks.

When I got to mile 12, my heart sank. The clock was off. Twelve miles in and all for nothing. I slowed to a jog and headed over to the clock. As I passed, I asked someone standing there about the clock, but he just told me what time it was. I had already run 12 miles, so I just decided to run it in. About a half mile later, just inside DCA again, there was another water station and a medical tent, which had a red flag! I told someone about the clock being off at the 12-mile marker and that people would think we’d gone to Black Flag and stop racing. She said “Oh Shit” and immediately ran off to get the situation resolved. I was very happy to see her immediate response and that she took it so seriously. I was completely done in by this point and just decided that I was going to enjoy the rest of my run. My favorite modern Disney movie is Monsters, Inc., and, last year, Sully was cheering us on as we headed through DCA in the last mile of the race. He was there again this year and, even though there was a line and I didn’t have a camera, I stopped, waited and gave him a hug, telling him I loved him. ‘Cuz I do! Rejuvenated, I took off running again, zoomed through DD and headed for the finish line. I heard my name called as I ran towards Mickey and Minnie (still in their track suits, but not sweating at all) and turned to wave to my parents and brother. I crossed the finish line in under 2:15 on the official clock, so I made my revised goal – the only goal I hit!

As soon as I crossed, I headed over to someone and reported the 12-mile clock situation and, again, was happy to see him run off to find someone to take care of it. Last year’s race was fairly well organized, but getting the official photo was a nightmare. This year, we passed through another gauntlet, getting our medal, mylar blanket, water, PowerAde, bananas, oranges, bagels, fruitcups and then found the photographers. There was an official photograph station set up outside each baggage tent, so that the lines moved smoothly. After the photograph, I grabbed my bag and passed through the tent into the family reunion area, where I found my family waiting for me (sort of). This year, for the first time in my racing career, I was able to get a post-race massage! My brother waited in that line for me while I got my medal engraved with my name and time and the rest of the group went to the Disneyland Hotel to wait. I was very impressed with Disney’s handling of the post-race crowds, but they’re so used to crowd control that it would have been surprising if they hadn’t improved the situation from last year. I love Disney!

Official stats: I finished in 2:13:00 for an average pace of 10:29 over the 13.1 miles. I was 2163 out of 8763 total finishers, putting me in the 78th percentile!! I was 821 out of 5779 female finishers, putting me in the 86th percentile. I was 143 out of 826 finishers in my age/gender group, putting me in the 83rd percentile. My official splits from my watch were: 9:29, 9:49, 9:24; 9:51; 10:06; 9:36; 10:25; 10:20; 10:20; 11:19; 11:21; 10:21; 9:46; and :57 for the last tenth of a mile. It was 84° by the time we finished with approximately 70% humidity.

Consolation treats: Forget slushy Dr Peppers – I had a Dr Pepper Slurpee!! Thank Heaven for 7-Eleven!! And my brother who found it for me!! After that, we went to Chuao Chocolate CafĂ© at the Spectrum and, after a little difficulty explaining that I wanted a drink without coffee, I had the Chuao 73% (I think that’s what it’s called). MMM A few days later, I had some very special treats – the pictures are in the album.

Next up: 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!

*What a difference the accident made. Last year, this was my 32nd race of the year. The accident cut me back by 6 races and I added 3 races this year that I didn’t run last year, so I should have been at 33, not 26, given that the race was moved up two weeks this year.

**My parents and brother were waiting right at the finish line, so they couldn’t see the Jumbotron. My sister and brother-in-law were in the finishing area, but only my brother-in-law saw me.

Yahoo photos is closing down, so I had to switch to another service. I’m on snapfish now. Hopefully, you’ll be able to see the pictures here: You’ll need a password to get in. It’s 90307. Let me know if you have trouble and I’ll see what else I can do.