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!): http://www.nyrr.org/races/2007/pdf/queens_half_map.pdf - 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 (http://chipwich.com/chipwich/products.htm) 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: http://queenshalfmarathon92307.snapfish.com/snapfish. To view photos on snapfish, you need to have an account with them. Sign in as firstname.lastname@example.org 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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLCuaSWYx-w