Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday 4-miler 12.13.08

Hi all,

Race number 31 was the Holiday 4-miler. We ran the middle loop from the 102nd Street Transverse down the west side, across the 72nd Street Transverse and then back up the east to finish on the 102nd Street Transverse.

Goals: to run between water stations, to run all 4 miles at sub-10 pace, and to finish somewhere between 36 and 38 minutes. A PR would be nice, but I ran a tempo run on Friday and a long run on Sunday.

I got to the Park a little early, so I went over to the t-shirt tent to say hi to Emily and Tom, who were volunteering. It was freezing out, so extra kudos to the volunteers today! I looked for Roxy, Mark, Paul and Lou, who were all supposed to be there, but couldn’t find anyone, so I dropped my bag off and hurried to the start to huddle with the rest of the corral. The announcer warned us about black ice on the course and then we were on our way. I tried to run at a steady pace, but the course was very crowded, even into the 2nd mile. Roxy caught me walking at the water station, so I picked up the pace and tried to keep up with her. I managed for a couple of blocks, but then had to drop back. I’m not quite used to running in the cold yet and was having trouble breathing, but didn’t want to stop. Slowing down helped and I decided to take a walk break at the 2nd mile marker. I was still moving pretty well at that point, but really struggled trying to get up Cat Hill. I pushed myself to get past the Cat, then walked to the crest of the hill. There was another water station a little before the 3rd mile marker, so I ended up taking 3 walk breaks in the 3rd mile, which took me out of the running for 2 of my goals in just one mile. I hit the 3rd-mile marker in just under 29 minutes, which meant that I’d really have to pick up the pace to have a shot at my 3rd goal. I’m not sure where it came from, but I managed a burst of speed, though no finishing kick, and came in with over 30 seconds to spare.

After the race, I found Roxy waiting for me and then we met up with Mark at the baggage area so we could go to the Silver Moon bakery for post-race treats. This was my last NYRR race of the year and it was great to run and celebrate it with friends. Happy Holidays, everyone!!

Official stats: my official time was 37:23, for an average pace of 9:20. My splits were 9:15, 9:12, 10:29, and 8:33. I was 2618 out of 4872 total runners, putting me in the 46th percentile. It was 27°F with 51% humidity and 13 mph winds.

Consolation treats: Mark bought us hot chocolate at the Silver Moon bakery and then Roxy treated us to brunch at the Metro Diner. My contribution was dessert, obviously – chocolate French macaroons from Silver Moon bakery.

Next up: Resolution 5k (1/1/09)

Race pictures are available here:

Monday, October 20, 2008

Staten Island Half Marathon 10.12.08

Hi all,

Race number 26 was the Staten Island Half Marathon. This was the final half marathon in the Grand Prix. I missed Queens, but still ran 4 out of 5, so I completed the 2008 Grand Prix and have earned my patch.

Goals: to run between water stations and to run at marathon goal pace (somewhere between 2:15 and 2:20)

The day before the race, I wandered around the Lower East Side with my friends, Brady and Andrea and their daughter, Charlotte (who, for some reason, calls me Cacao). We went to Economy Candy, babycakes (a vegan bakery), and Doughnut Plant, where we had the most amazing doughnuts! We shared three: pumpkin spice, apple cinnamon, and blackout, and we each took home a Valrhona chocolate doughnut. I was supposed to save mine for my post-race treat, but I ate it before I went to bed. Probably not the best idea, but I couldn’t wait!

The MTA has screwed up my train-line again, so I had to take a bus, 3 trains and a ferry to the race. I missed my ferry by 15 minutes and had to wait 45 minutes for the next one. Luckily, I had worried about that in advance, so I was still on time for the last ferry that would get me to the race on time. I heard later that not everyone made that ferry and a lot of people started over 20 minutes late, after the start mat had been picked up. Fingers crossed that this won’t happen on Marathon Sunday!!

I was a little better at holding off the pace this time, but it was about 10 degrees warmer than I thought it would be. I trudged through the first four miles before needing to take an extra walk break. In the second mile, we passed some construction workers taking a break from construction on the train overpass. An old train was there and as I came up towards the area, the train sounded his horn for us. The construction workers didn’t even wave back. The rest of the spectators were much better! I was on the verge of crashing and burning in the fifth mile when I thought I recognized someone’s voice. I looked around and there was Roxy! She looked great – you’d never have known she had run the Hartford Marathon the day before! She gave me a hug and cheered me on my way. At this point, the lead runners were coming back towards us, so I applauded and cheered. I love when that happens! It’s much more inspiring to actually see them than to look at my watch and calculate when the winner is probably finishing. When I hit the long out and back I started looking for my friend, LK. He likes to start at the back of the race and pass runners, rather than start in his corral with other runners of similar pace. During half marathons, he usually passes me in the sixth or seventh mile. With the long turnaround, I was sure that I’d see him, but I didn’t. On the way back, I looked for Bonnie, but didn’t see her, either. She had run 7 miles before the race (her last long run before the marathon) and had started way at the back of the pack, so I think I had already made the 8th-mile hill turn before she got to that point. The first year that I ran this race, I chugged my way to the top, thinking I knew when the hill ended. This year, my 4th running of this half, I knew that the turn just leads to another uphill, so I took it easy and walked when I felt like it. The top of that hill takes us into the Naval base and under the bridge. Coming down that road, I knew I’d be seeing Roxy again soon, so I kept my eyes open for her. She was waiting right after a water station with her camera, so I had to start running again. I passed her and had to go back for another picture and I’m glad I did – hers is my favorite picture from the race! Thanks, Roxy!!

Just a few more miles to go and I was flagging. I heard some guys running together talking about their pace and wanted to keep up with them, but they passed me at a water station and I couldn’t catch them. I recognized another voice when I was in the 10th mile and it turned out to belong to one of the trainers from my gym. My plan was to get to the hill in the 12th mile, walk up that hill to the bridge, then run the rest of the way to the finish. As I came to the top of the hill, a car came along the road forcing the runners to the sides. I’m still a little nervous about cars, so I walked until the car had cleared the bridge. Not one of the cops did a thing to stop the car. I thought that’s why the cops were there, but maybe they were on some other assignment, somehow involving leaning up against walls and chatting to each other. I hit the 12-mile marker running and didn’t stop until I finished the race. I tried to keep the pace nice and steady and still managed to run it too fast again. I was just glad to be finished!

I stuck around the finish area looking for Bonnie, LK, Roxy and anyone else running the race and I ran into Fabian. We chatted a bit and took pictures, then I headed off to catch the ferry, but ran into Bonnie. She’d done a great job with her 20 miles, finishing just a few seconds faster per mile than she’d planned. I had to sprint to catch the ferry, but I made it, and turned into a tourist for the trip home. It’s a fantastic ride – everyone should take the Staten Island Ferry at least once!!

Official stats: my official time was 2:16:23, for an average pace of 10:24. My splits were 9:55, 10:23, 9:59, 10:03, 10:56, 10:18, 10:18, 11:27, 10:56, 10:02, 10:33, 11:15, 9:24 and :59 for the last tenth of a mile (sub 10:00 pace). I was 2879 out of 3632 total runners, putting me in the 21st percentile. It was 60°F with 65% humidity.

Consolation treats: I had my treats the day before, as you’ll see if you look in the second album of pictures, but I did stop at Taco Bell for a CrunchWrap to eat on the way home. I had a slushy British Dr Pepper at home and some chocolates from the LES wander.

Next up: Tower of Terror 13k (10/25), NYC Marathon (11/2)

Race pictures are available here:

Pictures from the Lower East Side wander are available here:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Grete's Gallop Half Marathon 10.4.08

Hi all,

Race number 25 was Grete’s Gallop Half Marathon. This race is part of Norway Day and honors the greatest New York City marathoner of all time: Grete Waitz, who has won it an incredible 9 times!!

Goals: to run between water stations and to run at marathon goal pace (somewhere between 2:10 and 2:15)

I had to stay home from work on Friday because of a migraine, but woke up feeling okay. I was a little concerned during the race about the effort causing a relapse, but, thankfully, that didn’t happen. I got to the Park a little early and wandered around the festival area, before dropping my bag and heading off for my 3-mile warm-up. My legs were feeling fatigued, but I got through it and they weren’t sore when I finished. I drank some water, then headed back to line up in my corral. I kept my eyes peeled for Roxy and Lou, but didn’t see them. I did run into Paul in my corral. We chatted a bit, but he was planning to run over a minute per mile faster than I was, so he took off when we hit the chip mats at the start.

We started on the east side of the Park heading south to run the loop clockwise. I think this is the most difficult direction to run, but this is the course where I set my half marathon PR, so maybe my legs like hills more than I do. I ran the first mile too fast, even though I felt like I was holding back. I tried to slow it down some, but after a couple of miles, I didn’t need to try anymore. My legs were so tired! I was struggling my way through. I took several walk breaks per mile. The hills broke me. Well, not the downhills. My legs loved the downhills. But I had to walk almost every uphill and not a few of the flats! After my first loop, I added two more goals: finish in under 2:20 on the official clock or just finish in under 2:20. I tracked my splits throughout the race and couldn’t believe that I was still hitting my goal pace (on average). It ended up being a half marathon of sprint intervals. I didn’t get my act together until the last mile. I told myself that I wasn’t going to walk at all in the last mile and that turned out to be my fastest mile. And I had to sprint to the finish to break 2:15, but break it I did (by 2 seconds, but it only takes 1).

I’m worried about how difficult it was to run just a half marathon at my marathon goal pace. I don’t know if it’s because I only ran a 5k last weekend, rather than a real long run, or because I walked nearly a marathon over the 2 days at Walt Disney World, or because I’m still recuperating from the surgery. I’m trying to think positively: this is my fastest half since the surgery, I hit my goal pace, my fastest mile was the last mile and I was able to “sprint” to the finish. I’ve decided to push my legs and only taper for 2 weeks. I think my legs perform better when they’re worked. They seem to forget how to run if I take any sort of a break at all. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, I’m happy to hear them. I’m at a loss and guessing, at this point.

Official stats: my official time was 2:14:58, for an average pace of 10:18. My splits were 9:31, 10:14, 9:43, 10:36, 10:31, 10:30, 10:07, 11:17, 10:18, 10:55, 10:43, 10:20, 9:18 and :59 for the last tenth of a mile (sub 10:00 pace). I was 3197 out of 3871 total runners, putting me in the 17th percentile. It was 49°F with 71% humidity.

Celebratory treats: I had a chocolate tasting scheduled for later that afternoon and some of the chocolate was really delicious, but it triggered the migraine and I ended up sleeping most of the rest of the weekend. I didn’t eat chocolate again until Monday.

Next up: Staten Island Half Marathon (10/12), Tower of Terror 13k (10/25), NYC Marathon (11/2)

Race pictures are available here:

Pictures from the chocolate tasting are available here:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fred LeBow XC 5k 9.21.08

Hi all,

Race number 23 was the Fred LeBow Cross-Country 5k in Van Courtland Park.

Goals: I had run 19 miles on the treadmill the day before, so this was really just a test to see how well I could race after a long run.

We ran partway around the flats (there’s a lot of construction going on, so the course was slightly changed), then headed up the cow path into the woods. We didn’t have to run up Cemetery Hill, but we did have to run the back hills. I tried to run the entire distance, but had to walk up some of the hills. I ran down all of them, which I’m sure saved me some time. I thought I was about half a mile from the finish when I ran past a volunteer who told me that I had about a mile to go. I was completely demoralized (and slightly confused) when I realized how long it had taken me to run just 2 miles (about 25 minutes) and had to slow down to make it through the last mile. Then, after a couple of turns, I came to the last downhill before hitting the field again and realized that the volunteer had been wrong about how far we still had to go. I’d slowed down, but picked it up as soon as I hit the last hill. I passed a few people and ended up in a finishing line sprint with two kids. I beat one of them, but the other passed me in the chute. It didn’t matter in the end, because NYRR lost my results, anyway.

Official stats: I have no official time. My unofficial time (from my watch) was 30:28, for an average pace of 9:48. I was 184 out of 244 total runners, putting me in the 25th percentile. It was in the 70s and was very humid with 90% humidity.

Consolation treats: I stopped at Target for a Dr Pepper Icee, then made a cheese plate when I got home.

Next up: Expedition Everest Challenge (9/27), Grete’s Gallop (10/4), Staten Island Half Marathon (10/12), Tower of Terror 13k (10/25)

Race pictures are available here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Disneyland Half Marathon 8.31.08

Hi all,

Race number 22 was the 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, skirted the stadium, instead of rounding the bases, came back out onto the streets, ran back through California Adventure again, and finished up at Downtown Disney.

Goals: to run between water stations, to run a 2:20 (based on my training run from the previous weekend), or to run a sub-10 pace.

Pre race: I had originally planned to spend a long weekend in Orange County for this event, but, then, my friend, Laurie, invited me to her wedding in Palm Springs the weekend before and, all of a sudden, I was able to visit a lot more of my friends than I’d expected. The wedding was in Palm Springs at the Korakia and was amazing! It was a weekend event and I got to run up a small mountain on Sunday morning before Mass. Then, I visited my friend, Rebecca, and her family in Palm Desert. I got to run through the Living Desert on Tuesday morning. From Palm Desert, I went to Los Angeles, to see my friend Meher. She was very busy, preparing for a trip, but took time out to go to Universal Studios with me. I had a great time, but I think I prefer the Disney parks. From L.A., to the O.C. – a full day at the two Disney parks (taking time out to hit the expo), the kids races, which all four of my nieces and nephews ran, a night at the Disneyland Hotel, where we played in the Never Land Pool after the kids races. Dinner was at the Storyteller’s Café in the Grand Californian Hotel (best bread pudding I’ve ever had).

Race: My brother, sister and I shared a room on the concierge floor at the Disneyland Hotel (I learned my lesson - book early if you want a cheap room), so we had access to the concierge lounge, which overlooks the parks and Downtown Disney and is loaded with snacks and drinks. While I set out my gear and packed my race bag, my brother and sister held a table for me so I could watch the fireworks. Unfortunately, it was while I was packing my race bag that I discovered that none of the three inhalers that I’d brought from NY had made it into my overnight bag for the race. The yellow plastic in my purse wasn’t my inhaler – it was a medicine case that I got at a different race (I’m getting rid of it). That put a damper on my evening, so I skipped the fireworks and went to bed, tossing and turning, trying to figure out how to get through a half marathon without an inhaler.

We got up about a half hour before corral time (the race starts in the parking lot of the Disneyland Hotel) and went over to drop off my bag and see if we could find anyone. Shayna and I sent a few text messages back and forth, but I couldn’t find her. My brother and I were in the same corral, so we headed off to line up in B. The announcements finally started. The announcer proposed to his girlfriend (she said yes) and then we got going. It was very humid and I was nervous about going to fast without my inhaler. My brother stuck with me for the first mile or so, then headed off to run his own race. We skirted the parks, then headed into Disney’s California Adventure. At about the 3-mile mark, I saw the first medical tent and decided to ask for an inhaler. They had it! I took a puff, but was afraid to take more, because it wasn’t my prescription and I didn’t know the dose. I joined the course again, but tried to keep it easy. My muscles were already fatigued from running with diminished oxygen and were burning a little. I tried to focus on my breathing and keep my airway calm and clear.

We left the parks and at the 6-mile medical tent, I asked for another inhaler. This time, the woman told me to go ahead and take it, because she couldn’t use it again. I was so grateful! I tried to keep my pace steady and slow. I made rules for walking that started with walking uphills, then I added walking when I saw stars (which happened a couple of times before I got to the second inhaler), and it seemed like a good idea to walk the underpasses, too. My last rule about walking ended up being walk whenever I feel like it. But, before I got to that point, I was just trying to keep running from water station to water station. The cheerleaders along the course were great and so were the bands and dance troupes. I kept counting down the miles, reminding myself that I had easily run the remaining distance before and that I could certainly do it again. Finally, the back roads of Anaheim were leading towards the Honda Center (formerly known as the Duck Pond), which meant that one of my favorite sections of the course was coming up. After running the hockey player gauntlet (I think the Ducks’ cheerleaders might have been there, too), we get to run along the Santa Ana Trail for awhile. It’s dusty, which isn’t great for my asthma, but it’s beautiful and fun to run along. Unfortunately, this year, it was followed by a big disappointment. Usually, after leaving the trail, we get our Clif gel pack, run the Boy and Girl Scout gauntlet, scoot under the A of Angel Stadium, then run around the bases and smile wide for the Jumbotron. This year, we had to run around the outside of the stadium. Boooo!!!

For me, the stadium is also the indicator that the race is nearly over. Just a few more streets and we’re back inside Disney’s California Adventure. I waved at a Hollywood Hotel bellhop, then stopped to hug Sully, Boo, George, and Needleman (or was it Smitty?). “Monsters, Inc.” is my favorite modern Disney animated movie and with such a big collection of characters, there was no way I wasn’t stopping. I tried to get the photographer stationed there to take my picture, but he refused, because he wasn’t an ASI photographer. Next time, I’ll bring my own camera. Finally, I was running through Downtown Disney and just hoping I could finish faster than the NYC Half. I wandered around, trying to find anyone I knew, but couldn’t for the longest time. Eventually, though, we all managed to meet up again. We got our medals engraved, pictures taken, and collected a lot of pies from the “Pushing Daisies” pie van (my dad even got me a pie cutter).

The most important results: My brother came in first (of the four of us running) and both of my sisters finished in under 3 hours in their first half marathons!! I am so proud of all of them!!

Post race: More fun at the Never Land Pool, then back to my sister’s house. Sallie’s son was ill, so we postponed the post-race treats and just had a quiet afternoon at home. On Monday, we celebrated the race and my mother’s birthday – lots of good food!! I booked a connecting flight through San Francisco, so I could have dinner with Mike and Dan. My favorite SF restaurant was closed, but we found another place with pretty good food. We only had a few hours together, but it was worth it.

Official stats: my official time was 2:25:35, for an average pace of 11:07. My splits were 9:48, 10:27,11:18, 10:32, 11:29, 10:22, 11:50, 11:21, 11:47, 11:52, 23:22 (2 miles – average pace of 11:41), 10:32 and 1:02 for the last tenth of a mile. I was 4562 out of 10845 total runners, putting me in the 58th percentile. I was in the 68th percentile for women runners and for my age category. It was in the 70s and was very humid with 90% humidity.

Consolation treats: My sister, Sallie, made a delicious flan cake for our post-race treat and my parents brought tins of Doubletree Hotel chocolate chip cookies (which I love). I was spending the weekend with my family, so, of course, we ate very well!!

Next up: Expedition Everest Challenge (9/27), Grete’s Gallop (10/4), Staten Island Half Marathon (10/12), Tower of Terror 13k (10/25)

Race pictures are available here:

Pictures from the rest of my vacation are in a collection of albums from the various stops on my route:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why did the turkey cross the road?

Hi all,

I didn’t run this race. In order to automatically qualify for the 2009 NYC Marathon, NYRR members now have to run nine races and “volunteer” at one. I had hoped to volunteer at the Club Championships (I’m not a team member and not eligible to run that event), but I think everyone else had that idea, too. So, I picked the Fitness 4-miler, which holds difficult memories for me, anyway (I was hit by a car the evening after I ran this event in 2006).

My call time was 7:30. I had gotten up early to walk my neighbor’s dog and to cover any delays caused by the MTA’s continuing disruption of my subway line, so I ended up arriving just after 7. I received a goodie bag and a massage (there were no lines and I told everyone I was a volunteer) and then headed over and checked in about 10 minutes early. Because of NYRR’s communication efficiency, I didn’t receive an e-mail telling me where to check in (even after calling the NYRR and requesting the information and receiving a promise that I would get it by e-mail). I assumed I checked in at the start-line area, but was wrong. The woman offered to transfer me to chip-clipping, but I’d committed to being a Northwest course marshal and didn’t want to leave them short a person, so I walked a mile up the west side of the park until I found the group. Doug, the volunteer coordinator (wrangler?), was giving people instructions about course marshalling and pulling people off the group to stand along the course. I positioned myself in the center of the group, towards the inside of the course, so that I would stay in the group as long as possible and guarantee a short walk to check-out at the end of the shift. It turns out that there was an uptown check-in where I was supposed to have gone in the first place. Thanks for the info, NYRR! Anyway, I arranged it so that I ended up at the 72nd Street Transverse crossing. I could see the finish line from where I was standing!

There were 4 of us at the transverse with Doug. It’s a difficult area, because tour groups come in from Strawberry Fields and want to cross the course into the park. We cut off two of the three entryways to funnel the crowds and control them better. We had to keep them, the cyclists, the regular pedestrians, and the racers from colliding. The general plan is to allow a line of five to cross in two sections (first to the edge of the race course, across the cyclists and non-racing runners lane, and then across the race path), but the tourists didn’t always understand that clearly. Luckily, we had no collisions and only one or two nasty cyclists (I had been promised I’d be cursed out, but I won’t hold it against Doug that it didn’t happen). The entire event went fairly smoothly, with only two incidents of note.

During the men’s race, I was on my way up to help guide a tour group to the single pathway to the road and I turned back in time to see a Korean Road Runner fall. He clutched at the fence (wire mesh with 4” open squares), but couldn’t hold himself up and he hit the pavement headfirst. His head actually bounced off the road. I ran back, pulling a fresh bottle of water out of my backpack and Doug was there, too, along with some spectators. He kept insisting he wanted to finish, so, after cooling himself off and getting some fluids in (and washing some of the blood off his face), Doug walked him to the finish (he was on the phone with medical the entire time) and he went to medical after getting his chip clipped.

The other incident was the appearance of a wild turkey on the road. Apparently, there are two wild turkeys in the park and this one decided to wander around on the road while the men were racing past. She was unfazed by the activity, sauntered across the cyclists’ lane to peck around the grass for awhile, then wandered back into the road and settled into the inside course lane for a while. Finally, she flung herself up and over the afore-mentioned wire fence and hung out there ignoring barking dogs and snap-happy tourists (including me) until some curious children herded her out of my view.

Congratulatory treats (I finally qualified for the 2009 NYC Marathon): I went to Bouchon Bakery at Columbus Circle and got myself a chocolate bouchon and a plain scone (which was delicious with and without Nutella).

Next up: Expedition Everest Challenge (9/27), Grete’s Gallop (10/4), Staten Island Half Marathon (10/12), Tower of Terror 13k (10/25)

Turkey pictures are here:

9/11 Bells and Flags of Honor pictures are here: (Fr. Judge, who was the chaplain of the fire department when he died on 9/11, was from my church and there is a procession every year from my church (St. Francis of Assisi at 31st and 7th) to Ground Zero. These pictures are from the beginning of the procession when the vehicles and people were gathering in preparation for the Mass before the procession.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

NYC Half Marathon 7.27.08

Hi all,

Race number 21 was the NYC Half Marathon.

Goals: to run between water stations, to run a 2:20 (based on my training run from the previous weekend), or to run a sub-10 pace.

Pre race: On Friday, I got to the expo in time to find Wayne and Mike and then meet Dathan Ritzenhein and Catherine Ndereba. They both signed my bib and I got some pretty good pictures, too. We were wandering around Niketown later and ran into Dathan again, so I chatted to him about his plans for the race and for the Olympics. Woo Hoo! On Saturday, Mike and I went to Chinatown for our pre-race carbo-load. We stopped at Ten Ren for bubble tea, then went to Big Wong’s for congee and rice crepes. Before heading home, we got massages. It was so good! I’m going back to my pre-accident schedule of once-a-month massages!!

Race: On the weekends, someone plays music in the park downstairs so loudly that it’s as if there’s a party in my apartment. As usual, this happened both Friday and Saturday nights. Even with earplugs in, I was awakened at 3:15 the morning of the race. We had to get up at 4:30, but we nearly didn’t make it. Only one of the three alarms that we’d set actually went off. Luckily, we did get up - the next train wouldn’t have gotten us to the start in time to get in our corrals. As it turned out, though, it wouldn’t have mattered. When we got off the train, it was raining, with thunder and lightning, and, after walking through the park to get to the start, we were shooed out. For safety reasons, the park was closed until the lightning stopped. That gave us plenty of time to walk nearly 10 blocks to the baggage trucks! As the rain ended, we entered the park and walked up to our corrals. I was in silver and Mike was in brown, but they were adjacent corrals, so we just chatted over the fence until the fences were removed and we were able to move up towards the front together.

The horn finally sounded and we slowly shuffled toward the start. After a few starts and stops, we crossed the line about 5 minutes after the horn. I knew pretty quickly that I was in trouble. The humidity had increased after the rain and was trapped under the canopy of trees. It was like trying to breathe water. My jaw was chattering from the first steps I took and kept chattering whenever I relaxed my jaw. I just tried to keep my teeth from clicking together. Mike insisted on staying with me, even though I wanted him to run his own race. Even when I told him (truthfully), that if the circumstances were reversed, I would have run off, but he decided to stay with me, even though he was running strong. He trains in San Francisco, so our Central Park hills were mere speed bumps to him. During the Central Park circuit (about 7.5 miles clockwise), I had to stop several times to calm down my lungs. I stopped at every fluid station, too. Most were pretty well stocked with both water and Gatorade Endurance, except for the stop at the top of the Park. For some reason, they weren’t prepared and we had to wait for Gatorade. I managed the first North Hill without stopping, but gave up on the second one. My confidence took a real beating in the Park. We picked up a couple of rabbits in the park: Skirty Girl and Shorts. The former was wearing a bright running skirt and the latter was wearing a pair of brightly-patterned shorts, making them easy to spot. We ended up leapfrogging them throughout the race, though I’m not sure which of us finished first.

We came back around to the start and headed down Cat Hill to the 7th Avenue turnoff. This is my favorite part of the race (and not just because the sky opens up and the humidity decreases). I love running down that big avenue with people running all around me and as far down the road as I can see. It’s also where the entertainment begins. Carnegie Hall has a band playing, but they were on a break when we went past. There were Cheer NYC cheerleaders. Bands on either side of the street all the way up to Times Square where the big Karoake screen was playing “Mamma Mia.” Mike and I sang our way through Times Square (luckily I know the music – I don’t know if I’d have fared as well if another show tune had been up), then I ran to the medical tent just before the turn onto 42nd Street. I’d been retching over the barriers on 7th Avenue and hoped that salt would help. I was given two packets and took one immediately, without water.

I felt better running along 42nd Street. There was a blues band playing outside of B.B. King’s and then a fuel stop with PowerBar Gels. I grabbed a few for Mike to carry for me (thanks, Mike!). We got to the Toyota Turn to the Finish and danced past the Brazilian Samba band. This is usually where the race gets tough. The West Side Highway is concrete and the sun usually beats down on us. Luckily, the sky was overcast (I guess that’s why the promised misting stations were missing), so all we had to deal with was the humidity and the concrete. We danced past the music stations and stopped whenever I needed to breathe. At the 11-mile water station, 2.5 miles after receiving it, I took the second packet. I’d carried it in my hand the entire 2.5 miles, but it didn’t get wet at all. It was also at about this point that I started getting cold, breaking out in goose bumps. I was told later that those are symptoms of heat stroke. Mike refused to run on ahead, so we moseyed our way to the finish. Well, almost to the finish. I decided that I was going to run at least one complete mile, since I’d missed all of my goals already, so when we hit the 12-mile marker, that was it. No more moseying. No more stopping. Mike is not very good at encouraging me. When I would say I couldn’t run any more, he’d suggest that we stop and walk. But, that was good for me, because I had to motivate myself to keep going. I can’t expect to count on someone else being there to encourage me through the tough patches – I need to learn to be that person for myself. My friend, Brady, was watching for me as we passed the World Financial Center and he got a great picture of me! You can tell that both of my feet are off the ground, proving that I ran at least part of the way! Brady told me later that he almost missed me because a runner had collapsed nearby and he was watching people taking care of her. He was concerned that it took so long for the ambulance to come get her, too. Mike and I hurried on and finished just over 6 minutes longer than my goal time. We got our towels, water, picture taken, goodie bag, and then hung out at the stage to watch the awards. When the storm picked up again, we jumped on the train to head back uptown.

I had a lot of excuses for not doing well (nutritionally-challenged, sore jaw, tired, humidity, asthma, dehydrated, heat stroke, etc.), but there was only one reason: I’m not tough enough.

Post race: We hung out at the festival, watched the winners accept their awards, got drenched in the post-race downpour, then headed to Chelsea Market for lunch (after showering at the gym). I had tomato soup at Sarabeth’s. Yum!

Official stats: my official time was 2:26:12, for an average pace of 11:09. My splits were 10:08,10:37, 10:51, 10:31, 12:03, 11:04, 11:13, 11:33, 35:40 (3 miles – average of 11:54), 12:16, 9:17 and 1:04 for the last tenth of a mile. I was 8822 out of 10506 total runners, putting me in the 16th percentile. It was 70°F with 90% humidity. No, that’s not a typo – the humidity was ninety percent!!

Consolation treats: a slushy Dr Pepper and a Chocolate Ganache Cake from Whole Foods

Next up: there is a media challenge in August, which I may or may not run, but I am definitely running (well, participating in) the Disneyland Half Marathon (8/31)

Finish line video is available here: (we cross about 2:40 into the video).

Race pictures are available here:

Pictures from the East Village Chocolate Bar Opening are here:

Pictures of City Bakery treats are here:

Pictures of Soft Food (a current obsession, though not in a good way) are here:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Race for Central Park 4-miler 7.19.08

Hi all,

Race number 20 was the Race for Central Park. We ran the 4-mile middle loop counter-clockwise, finishing on the 72nd Street Transverse.

Goals: to run between water stations and to run at 9:30 pace (it was already 78°F when I got up at 6:30!)

It has been a month since my last race (I still haven’t written recaps for 2 races from June) and this was my first week of training, after 2 weeks mostly off. I had originally hoped for a 9-minute mile pace, but knew the heat would make things difficult. I decided against a warm-up, so I was able to sleep in again. I ran into Seth near the port-a-potties and he pointed out Rachel for me. We hung out until it was time to drop bags and hit the corrals. I knew from the heat and humidity that there was no way I could go all out, so I just dropped back at the start and tried to keep it slow. I never felt like I was working hard, but every time I stopped running I felt like I was burning. I used my inhaler again at the first water station and that helped a lot. I made it to the second water station without any extra walk breaks, but lost it in the third mile. I felt like I was stopping every few feet or so. I reset my goal, hoping to finish in under 40 minutes and, as a secondary goal, to finish in under 40 on the official clock. I got myself back in the game for the last mile, but not soon or fast enough.

I found Rachel right after the race and we were chatting with her friend, Lindsey (sp?), about running half marathons. Mark found us and we talked until it was time for me to head home to get ready for my volunteer shift at the NYC Tri.

Official stats: my official time was 38:33, for an average pace of 9:38. My splits were 9:31, 8:48, 11:12, and 9:07. I was 2860 out of 4607 total runners, putting me in the 38th percentile. It was in 79°F with 65% humidity and haze.

Consolation treats: I stopped at Bouchon Bakery on the way home and had a cup of hot chocolate (I know it was hot, but I’m restricted to soft food until further notice, so no cookies or cakes for me). I also hit Whole Foods and got myself a chocolate mousse (very soft!)

Next up: NYC Half Marathon (7/27), Disneyland Half Marathon (8/31) (believe it or not, there are no NYRR races in August, though I might run the final Media Challenge)

Race pictures plus some random city shots are available here:

Bonus Recap! To counteract my dissatisfaction at being forced to volunteer at an NYRR race in order to automatically qualify for the NYC marathon (I run dozens of NYRR races and don’t feel I should have to choose one to NOT run), I volunteered for the NYC Triathlon. I signed up for the expo, to avoid being stuck in the heat all day, but was reassigned to the yellow transition area. I got there (despite all efforts by the MTA to keep me from getting downtown) at 1:30 and was assigned to check bar ends as the cycles were brought into the transition area. It turns out that if the cycle doesn’t have bar ends, the rider will be penalized. If there is a wreck on the course, an open bar end could impale someone. Most people were okay with their bar ends (or had bikes that don’t have them), but I did catch a fair number who had to go to the Toga tent to get them replaced, so I saved them from penalties.

I was also back-up security (there was only one guard at our gate) and had to make sure that only yellow-banded participants came in (which led to trouble when parents tried to bring in their young kids) and no bikes got out. Most people were nice about it, but some people threw fits. I’m impervious to fits, though, so they didn’t get past me and neither did their kids. Or pets. Or the guy who left his media pass at the hotel. Of the people who brought their kids with them and had to choose to either leave their kid outside the transition area alone or trust someone to rack their bike for them (we lost two volunteers during the afternoon – one left and the other was reassigned), my favorite was the last guy I had to stop. I had already trained my replacement and was getting ready to head home, so, as he stood there apologizing for causing trouble, I offered to rack his bike. He agreed, thanking me profusely, and off I went. When I’d finished, I heard him call to me from the fence, thanking me and apologizing again. I was glad to see him, because I was worried that he’d be confused about where his bike was during the event.

I had wondered if volunteering would inspire me to sign up for next year’s triathlon (volunteers get automatic early entry), but all I could think about was how stressed everyone seemed. I did get to see my friend, Stephen, though, and was able to wish him luck! Maybe I'll come back as a volunteer next year.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

NYRR 50th Anniversary Run and my 100th NYRR Race!!

Hi all,

Race number 17 was the NYRR 50th Anniversary Run. We ran the lower 5-mile loop counter-clockwise, starting and finishing at Tavern on the Green.

Goals: i) to run between the water stations; ii) to set a PR (sub 45:06); and iii) to finish in under 45.

This race was capped without prior notice by the NYRR and I hadn’t remembered signing up for it (I’d been debating whether or not I wanted to get up early enough to get to a 5:30 am start), but then I received the e-mail from NYRR with the race details, so, after the Japan Day race, I stopped by the NYRR office to pick up my gear. There wasn’t any, so I just thought it was a mistake. Yesterday, though, the reminder message was still on my mind and I decided to call the NYRR to ask about it. Turns out, they did have a bib for me! Luckily, I was able to stop by again after work to pick up my gear – no race day pick-up for this one!

Unfortunately, the trains are bizarrely screwed up between midnight and 5 am, so I had to get up before 4 am to get to the start. It’s normally 45 minutes at most to get to the start, but this morning, I left the house just after 4 am (because I’d checked the train schedule and there was supposed to be a train at 4:11), waited half an hour for the downtown train, which runs on the downtown track as a shuttle, so there are only 2 each hour, had to cross over to the downtown platform at 168th Street, wait there for the train to take me the rest of the way, and arrived at the start at 5:25. I was exhausted and a little stressed, because I hate waiting!! Plus, I could have slept another half hour!!

So, we’re lined up and it’s pouring rain. There are the usual announcements, including a shout-out to one of the runners who was celebrating not just his birthday, but his 50th! He is the exact same age as the NYRR and is a runner!! What wasn’t announced, but was equally important to me, was that this was my 100th official race with the NYRR (not counting the two races that were converted to fun runs due to weather issues)!! So, less than ideal circumstances for a 5-mile run – the metal grates and painted white lines get slippery and I’m afraid to twist my knee, so I tend to be a bit tentative when the ground is wet. I decided that I would run this for fun and be glad that I was participating in such an important event for the NYRR and for me. I also knew from the course map that there was only one water station on the course (on the 102nd Street Transverse)**, so I wasn’t sure what to do about the breaks I usually take. I headed out nice and easy, but the humidity caught up to me and I ended up taking a break in the 2nd mile and then 2 more in the 4th mile. I also hadn’t realized I was running this race until the night before and had run a ladder the morning before, which I wouldn’t have done, otherwise. I’m not unhappy with my performance, though. I managed to hold on the last mile and brought it home fast – no finishing kick, but the entire mile was solid. At previous anniversary runs, they’ve handed out Little Debbie cakes at the finish, but I was disappointed to see that we got the usual bagels and bananas at this one. There were no medals or t-shirts or any other commemorative souvenir for this event, either, which seems strange. I have my bib, though, and I save all of them, so that’ll have to do!

Official stats: my official time was 45:30 for an average pace of 9:06. My splits were 9:08, 9:21, 8:52, 9:37, and 8:37. I was out 1156 of 1784 total runners, putting me in the 35th percentile. It was 55°F* with 97% humidity.

Celebratory treats: I know I didn’t hit my goals, but it was my 100th NYRR race and the 50th anniversary of the NYRR, so I’m celebrating!! I had one of my favorite breakfasts: toasted everything bagel with olive cream cheese from Bagel Maven, plus a Frango dark chocolate mint cookie from Sue, who ran 2 amazing track races the night before and kindly shared her celebratory treats with me. Thanks, Sue!!

Next up: Anaheim 5k (6/14)

Race pictures are available here (I haven’t had time to rotate or caption them, but I will as soon as I get a chance):

*The NYRR website says that it was 62°F, but one of the buildings we ran past indicated that it was only 55°F.

**This is not a complaint. Because of the need to have the course cleared for traffic by 7 am, I completely understand why there was only one station.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Japan Day 4-miler 6.1.08

Hi all,

Race number 16 was the Japan Day 4-Mile Run. We ran the middle loop, starting and finishing on the 102nd Street Transverse.

Goals: to run between the water stations and to finish in under 36.

I am trying to get back into my marathon training, so I had planned to run 4 miles before the race and then 4 miles after. Because my subway line is still messed up (bus to train), I had to get up earlier than I’d hoped, but I managed to get to the Park right at 7. I dropped off my bag and started my warm-up. I ran the race course, so that if I got behind, I would be able to start the race as I came around to the transverse again. It was warm, but I tried to keep it slow and I walked up the hills. I’d given myself 45 minutes to run the 4 miles, but I was running 10-minute miles, even with my long walk breaks.

I was supposed to meet Roxy in the yellow corral, but it was impossible to find anyone. They’d only set up 3 of the 10 or so corrals, so there was a lot of mingling going on. I did find Rachel, though, and we chatted a bit before the race started. She took off, looking strong. It had gotten warmer or more humid and it was harder to breathe this time around. I was able to make it to the first water station without walking, but then decided to walk when I got to the 2nd mile marker on the 72nd Street Transverse. I got hotter and hotter and had more and more trouble breathing and ended up walking partway up Cat Hill. I’d been watching out for runners in skirts with ponytails to see if I could find Roxy, but she caught me walking up Cat. I tried to run with her, but had to stop to walk again. Three walk breaks in one mile killed any chance of making my goal. After cresting Cat, I ran to the 3rd mile water station, then, after that walk break, was determined not to stop again until I’d finished. As I was passing the walkway near the top of the baseball fields, I saw a commotion to my right and saw a runner collapse. Someone caught him and a small crowd gathered, but I ran up to every volunteer I passed to tell them about the collapsed runner, anyway. The medical tent was just before the finish and I stopped briefly to tell them, then tried to go back after I’d finished, but one of the court marshals wouldn’t let me go back and told me to walk around, even though I’d explained that there was a collapsed runner. I found another volunteer and he pulled out a map, asked me exactly where I’d seen the runner collapse, and took off. I got my chip clipped, then drank some water. I found Rachel, then Mayumi, then Roxy, then Lou. I didn’t win anything in the raffle. I’d been hoping for the trip to Japan, so I could give the tickets to my sister. She was born while we lived there and I think she would like to take her husband to see her birthplace.

Roxy and I took off for the 4-mile cool-down, but I didn’t get very far. We decided to walk it, though, because the Japan Day Festival didn’t start until 10. We got as far as the Marionette Theater, then cut across the Park to get back to the East Meadow. We passed the Shakespeare Garden and the Belvedere Castle, which overlooks the Turtle Pond. The Festival had started by the time we got there, but the food wasn’t going to be ready for about a half hour and the lines were already long. We wandered around the tents, received loads of tea (both cans and bags), took advantage of a Hello Kitty photo op, then walked back to 59th Street for lunch – pizza at Whole Foods. Yum!!

Official stats: my official time was 38:02 for an average pace of 9:30. My splits were 9:05, 9:20, 10:54, and 8:48. I was 1589 out of 2490 total runners, putting me in the 36th percentile. It was 65°F with 87% humidity.

Consolation treats: While waiting for my Dr Pepper to slush up, I was able to instantly gratify my slushy Dr Pepper yearning with a Dr Pepper freezer pop, thanks to Pete, who told me about them (and would have sent them from CA, if I hadn’t found them in NYC). I also had a bag of Worcester Sauce potato chips from the UK, a hamburger cupcake, and a gold-leaf-covered dark chocolate Buddha, which I’ve been saving for this occasion.

Race pictures are available here:
Pictures from my weekend in the UK are here:
Pictures of Central Park are here:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wall Street Run 5.20.08 and Media Challenge #1 5.21.08

Hi all,

To avoid overwhelming you, this will be a double recap, covering my 2nd and 3rd races in 5 days. I ran the Wall Street 5k on Tuesday, May 20th, and the first Media Challenge on Wednesday, May 21st.

Race number 14 was the Wall Street Run. We ran 3 miles through the Wall Street area, starting at the World Financial Center, running past the World Trade Center, then zigzagging across the island until we could run back up the west side to finish at the World Financial Center.

Goals: to run between the water stations and to finish in under 30. I had just run the Alumni Run on Saturday and still have the first Media Challenge tomorrow night, so I didn’t want to burn myself out, especially because this race is so crowded and it’s hard to run fast, anyway.

My friend, Andrea, had signed up to run this race, too, so I picked up my gear and headed over to her place (she lives near the World Financial Center). Andrea has a year-old daughter, so she wasn’t able to train much. I think the last time she raced was the Wall Street Run back when it was run to and from the South Street Seaport, which was before my running time. I didn’t tell her, because I didn’t want to pressure her, but I had decided before the race to stay with her the whole time and help her along, if she needed it. We walked over to the start, I dropped my bag, and we lined up, snaking our way through the uncorralled crowd to try to get closer to the front and ahead of as many walkers as we could. We couldn’t hear the announcements, but finally heard the horn and started our walk towards the start. We finally started running and started off much faster than I expected. The first few twists and turns went pretty well. We hit the first mile at 9:13, but Andrea thought we’d been running for about 10 minutes, which I took as a good sign. Every time I looked at her, she was focused and determined. I didn’t keep a running commentary (because I’m not good enough at running to maintain a conversation), but I would point things out or say things just to distract her. At one point, during the second mile, we were in the middle of the snake and could see runners on the parallel streets to the right and left of the street we were on. That is always one of my favorite moments of this particular course. We passed the water station and Andrea said she didn’t need to stop, so we kept going. I had warned Andrea that I would insult her baby to make sure she kept up with me and, at the start, I was telling myself to give her the first mile, but we were nearly at the second mile marker before she started dropping back. I first mentioned that I thought her baby was developing a squint. Andrea told me later that she hadn’t heard me clearly, but she reached out to grab at me, so I know she understood the gist of it! We came around towards the turn back up the west side and I told her I was going to stick with her to help her avoid the temptation of going home as we passed her building. She was doing really well, but when we hit the final stretch along the river, the course bottled up and I lost sight of her. I kept looking for her, but with so many runners in such a narrow place, I finally just gave up and tried to pick it up. The last 100 yards to the finish line were jam-packed and we had to slow to a jog to get across. I pulled off to the side to wait for Andrea, but she had crossed behind me. She told me later that she was nearly directly behind me, which is why I couldn’t see her. I was so happy for her! We finished the last mile (though I think the 2nd mile marker was long, so mile 3 might have really been short) in 9:04!! She did an amazing job and I’m hoping she’ll run some more and maybe join me for more races. She’ll be taunting me about my nieces to help me keep up with her in no time!!

Official stats: my official time was 28:45 for an average pace of 9:35. My splits were 9:13, 10:33, and 9:03. I was 3090 out of 4301 total runners, putting me in the 29th percentile. It was 50°F with 93% humidity.

Celebratory treats: My parents had sent me some Almond Royales and Scotchmallows from See’s candies, so I shared them with Andrea.

Race pictures are available here:

Race number 15 was the first Media Challenge. We ran twice and then some around the lower loop in Central Park for a total of 3.5 miles.

Goals: I didn’t have any real goals. I haven’t run this distance since August of last year. I checked my PR, which I set in August last year, and it was 29:40. My PR for the previous year was 32:10, so I hoped to finish somewhere in between.

I got to the Park early and ran a loop to warm-up. The rest of the teams showed up and it started to rain. It wasn’t too bad and I’d brought a plastic bag for my jacket. I started off at a fairly comfortable pace and tried to hold it through the race. It was a struggle to get around the first loop, especially when a guy, running against traffic (we run the race counter-clockwise, which is the official direction, according to the arrows painted in the lanes, so we had the right of way and he should have been yielding to us), came towards us yelling “Step off!” as he came. I had to step around him, but I yelled that he was going in the wrong direction. He said something back, but I couldn’t hear what it was. My annoyance kept me going and I started hoping I’d see him on when I came around on my second loop. I stopped for water, as usual, and walked until I got to the start of the final loop. I started running again, picking off some of the people who had passed me while I walked. As I came down to the bottom of the Park, I saw the step-off guy coming at me again, so, as he approached, I yelled “STEP OFF” and totally startled him. He responded by telling me to “Run another mile, white trash.” I was too amused to be offended by the racial slur. At least I didn’t elbow him, which Sue suggested was the appropriate response to his rudeness. With the rain and the humidity, I ended up walking twice on the second loop, including a break to use my inhaler. I managed to get back on track and ran across the 72nd Street Transverse and down to the finish without stopping, but I had no kick left and was extremely nauseous. I gave Sue my card and learned that I was the 3rd female finisher from my team, which means that I was a scored runner!* Sue was running a cool-down, so I grabbed my jacket and headed off to the Time Warner Center to shop for treats.

Official stats: my official time was 30:28, for an average pace of 8:43. My splits were 15:29 (for 1.8 miles) and 15:06 (for 1.7 miles). I was the 42nd female (we track by gender in these races). It was in the low 50s, humid, and rainy.

I found out today that my company took second place and that I’d won a trophy for second fastest female master. Again, this is because Sue, who was jogging the course because she’d raced track Tuesday night (running a 5:27 1500 and a 73-second 400 in her leg of the 4x400), came in second overall. I hadn’t expected to win anything because our young fast runners were held up in a meeting and the first four women from our team were all masters. I didn’t realize that we had all finished ahead of any masters running on other teams. I don’t have my trophy yet (I skipped the after-party), but I’ll take a picture when I get it.

Celebratory treats: I stopped at Bouchon Bakery on the way home and had half of a chocolate chunk cookie and half of a double chocolate chunk cookie. Tomorrow, I’ll have the chocolate Bouchon – I find they taste better the second day.

Next up: Japan Day 4-miler (6/1) and possibly the NYRR Anniversary Run (it starts at 5:30 am on 6/4, so I have to think very carefully about it, especially given the MTA’s complete cock-up of the trains in my area!)

*The Media Challenges are scored by the finishing place of each of the top 5 male finishers and each of the top 3 female finishers, so, the lower the overall score, the better.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Penn Alumni Run 2-miler 5.17.08

Hi all,

Race number 13 was the U.Penn Alumni Run 2-miler. It was 2 miles through and around campus – the most beautiful campus in the world!

Goals: to place for my class and to run sub 8:00 pace for the 2 miles.

This might be a little long. I’m going to include a reunion recap (I’ll set the race in a separate paragraph so you can skip to it, if you want). First of all, I should say that I loved Penn. I still think those were the 4 best years of my life. Second, I love my campus. It is old (the oldest university in America) and the architecture is stunning. My college was the Wharton School (the first business school in America), but its main building isn’t one of the nicer ones. Anyway, Friday night, I took the local trains to Philly, listening to my smart playlist of the songs that came out while I was in college. I went straight to my hotel to check in. I called my friend, Leib (we were neighbors in our freshman dorm) and he was just heading up to campus, so he picked me up on the way. We parked and then went over to College Green so I could register. We wandered around campus and then I dropped Leib off at Hillel for the evening services. I headed over to the bookstore, where I marveled at the prices. On my way down to our class party at the World Café Live, I stopped in at a new food hall. I wish we’d had a Taco Bell/A&W there when I was in school!! World Café Live is in the radio station and they’d set aside a nice area for us downstairs. I met a few people and hung out until Leib arrived. Some of our wranglers (seniors and early alum) came around asking for song requests, so I begged them to play “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” by the Gap Band (the girl betrayed her youth by asking me how to spell the band’s name!). When I was a freshman, Leib requested it on the radio for me, because I loved it so much. As soon as it started, he came running down from the bar area, so we could dance. Then, because it was late and I had a race the next day, I had to leave.

My hotel was out in Center City, about 2 miles from campus. I had already decided to run up to the race for a warm-up, so I got up early, packed my waist bag with a padlock for the gym (so I wouldn’t have to wear it during the race), plus some ID, the hotel room keycard, inhaler and my camera. I jogged up, walking only when I crossed the Schuylkill River. Check-in was at the Pottruck Fitness Center. I might have started exercising when I was at Penn, if we’d had such a nice gym. There were 5 floors of fitness equipment and classes, plus a pool on the lower level! Anyway, I picked up my bib and t-shirt, put everything in a locker and walked over to the start at 37th and Locust. Except that it wasn’t there. I saw a sign with an arrow turning onto Locust Walk from 37th and followed it out, across the SuperBlock to where I could see a race clock. During the race announcements, it was all cleared up. There was so much construction going on, that they’d had to choose between shortening the race and keeping it on campus or keeping the course length (presumably 5k, but I’m not sure), and taking it off campus for at least part of the race. Happily, they choose a shorter distance on campus. I’d been looking forward to running through the campus, since I read about the race in the Alumni Weekend activities.

We lined up and were sent off with an actual starter’s pistol. I thought I was going too fast, because I started wheezing before I hit the Locust Walk bridge, which is incredibly steep, but, thankfully, short, as well. I slowed up a bit and decided to enjoy myself and take in the campus as I ran. We passed the Palestra and there was a guy at the approach to Franklin Field (home of the Penn Relays) calling out the time. I couldn’t believe it when he called 7:55 as I passed him. I wished we could run a little on the track in the Field, but the course took us past, not in. I ran up Spruce, then turned onto 36th. I knew there was the arrow turning the course back onto Locust Walk from 7th Avenue, so I thought we had a lot longer to go. I was struggling with the wheezing and stopped to walk the block between Spruce and Locust. I started running again as I turned onto Locust Walk and was confused about the course, then, because I was expecting another turn-off. I had been wrong, though – all I had to do was run straight up Locust, over the bridge, and back across the SuperBlock to the finish. I just missed finishing in under 16 minutes and I really wished I hadn’t seen that sign, because I might not have stopped for the walk, if I’d known it was a straight shot from 36th to 39th, even with the hill on the bridge. Oh, well. I got my medal and my recovery drink certificate, then milled around with the other finishers, including a couple of women, who were 2 of the 3 runners there who had run the race since it’s inception in 1979!! They’ve been running this race for 30 years now!!

We walked back to Pottruck together and I grabbed my stuff. The finishing ceremony was supposed to be at 9:15, so I went over to Cereality ( to check it out. When I got back to Pottruck, it was just past 9, but they were finishing up with the awards already. I’d missed everything but the overall winners. I went over to check the class winners and couldn’t believe it when I checked my category (86-90). I’d won!! I was the fastest female in my class category and there was a second place finisher (they only listed the top two in each category), so I beat at least one person! I taught a few people how I tie my shoes so they won’t come untied and then jogged back down to my hotel.

Leib and his friends were walking up to campus from their hotel, so they swung by mine and we walked up together. We got to Hill Field and found our picnic tent and dug in. Leib knows so many people that he kept darting off or was darted up to. It was so funny! Especially, because back in the day, he studied Environmental Sciences and there were only five students in his class!! Talk about cutting edge!! We missed the check presentation ceremony, which was unfortunate. Our class broke the record for 20th-year reunion donations. We gave over $5M! I can’t wait to see how we do at our 25th, which is our big reunion year. After we’d eaten way more than our share of cookies and ice-cream (okay, that might have been just me), we headed up to Locust Walk to join the Parade of Classes. Some classes had no representatives, but we had a pretty good group. They played the stupidest song for us, though. It was a Rick Astley song! Of all the songs of 1988, THAT’S the one they chose? Jeez! After the parade, we went over to our old dorm. It is so different! The entrance we used back then is no longer open and we had to enter on another street. I was lucky, though. My old room is now the RA room and she hadn’t moved out yet. She let me take pictures and we talked about how things used to be and how they are now. We had just enough time to get to Houston Hall to check out the kids’ activities. We went because there were animals from the Philadephia Zoo, there, but pigged out on candy and grilled cheese sandwiches while we were there. I missed the Penn Press event, but made it to the Alumni Mass at the Newman Center.* I had planned to leave on the 7 pm train, but couldn’t tear myself away, so I called Leib and we agreed to meet back at the bookstore. I stopped at Cereality to buy a snack for the train,** then met Leib at the bookstore. We used our 20%-off coupons to buy shirts (mine is an UnderArmour tech shirt and his reads “Penn There. Done That.” Nice!), then went to Houston Hall for the Taste of Penn event. Several Penn student organizations create menus and prepare food for the seniors and alums every year. My favorite was the pickled pumpkin from the Native American table and the baked macaroni and cheese from the Caribbean table was good, too. My favorite table was the sweets table. I came home with a bag full of sweets, including Bottle Caps, mini Swedish Fish, Lemon-, Grape-, and Cherryheads, Red Hots, Atomic Fireballs, lemon and grape licorice sticks, candy necklaces, and Tootsie Roll midges. But not before Leib and I did Jello shots! And, then, all too soon, it was time for me to head back to my hotel to get my bag and catch my train home.

Official stats: my official time was 16:05 for an average pace of 8:03. My splits were 7:55 and 8:10. I think I was 36th overall, but the results haven’t been posted yet. I’ll update if I ever get the numbers. The most important number is 1, which is where I placed for my class category (Classes 1986-90), putting me in the 100th percentile!! Woo hoo!! (There were at least 2 of us in the category.) It was 48°F, fairly humid, and windy.

Celebratory (I know this should be consolation treats, because I didn't hit my goal, but I am celebrating my win!!): I ate everything I could get my hands on at reunion, but nothing especially treaty. The entire experience was a huge treat, but Sunday morning, I ate my Cereality mix (one scoop of Cinnamon Life and one scoop of Special K, topped with mini Reese’s Pieces and Triple Chocolate Chips) and I slushed up my last British Dr Pepper with lunch. And, I snacked on Taste of Penn candy all day!

Next up: Wall Street Run 5k (5/20), Media Challenge #1 (5/21), Japan Day 4-miler (6/1)

Race/reunion pictures are available here:

*I converted to Catholicism while I was at Penn, but never went to the Newman Center. I always went to St. Agatha – St. James, which is right next door. But, I thought I would attend the special alumni mass, just because. There were 21 people total, but it was interesting. I’ll plan to attend it at my 25th reunion, too.

**When I was at Cereality in the morning, I was talking to the manager about the concept and she asked if I was going to order anything. I said that I would come back later, because going for breakfast just seemed too obvious. She gave me a funny look and said something like it was the strangest thing she’d heard there.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day 10-miler 5.11.08

Hi all,

Race number 12 was the Mother’s Day 10-miler. We started on the East Drive, just south of the 72nd Street Transverse, ran the lower 5-mile loop, crossing the Park at the 102nd Street Transverse, then continuing the loop all the way up to the north end of the Park, then down the West Drive to finish on the 72nd Street Transverse.*

Goals: to run between water stations and to run at marathon goal pace (10-minute-miles). I ran a half marathon PR last weekend, so I knew I couldn’t run a 10-mile PR this weekend, so I wanted to use it to practice running slowly.

I had planned to run the 4-miler as a warm-up, but my leg was hurting, so I quit after about a half mile. Since I’ve had to abandon my plans to run the Rio Marathon, I don’t need to do distance training right now, so the extra 4 miles weren’t necessary. I went to the finish line to see if I could cheer Roxy in, but didn’t see her cross. I headed over to the start and did some stretching. There weren’t very many people in the 10-mile race, but I’m sure that’s because the 4-miler is shorter and was a coed event and the 10-miler was women-only.

I’ll keep this short, because it wasn’t really a race for me. I had a lot of difficulty keeping my pace down to 10-minute miles. My plan had been to run the first 3 miles at 10:30 pace, then try to keep the rest at 10, maybe running a little faster at the end. Even with stopping at every water station, I was running too fast. My slowest mile was the 3rd mile and I only managed to slow down because there were 2 water stations in that mile and I twice tried to tuck myself behind slower runners. Every time I lost concentration, though, I found myself moving up to pass my pacers. Anyway, I don’t like the idea of using pacers. I took long walks at each water station, but was annoyed about that, too, because that’s not running slowly, either. I tried to rein myself in on the last mile, chanting “no finishing kick” to myself, but I ended up running my second fastest mile then.

So, that brings me to my current dilemma. Do I work harder at running more slowly or do I work harder at running my current pace for longer distances?

After the race, I brought a Krispy Kreme doughnut and a bottle of water to Mark, who volunteered for the race. I passed him twice during the race, because he was stationed at the turn onto the 72nd Street Transverse. Thanks for keeping the road safe for us, Mark!!

Official stats: my official time was 1:38:27 for an average pace of 9:50. My splits were 9:45, 9:03, 10:49, 9:57, 10:06, 10:12, 9:15, 10:18, 9:59, and 9:06. I was 892 out of 1347 runners, putting me in the 34th percentile. It was 50°F, 80% humidity, and 7 mph winds.

Consolation treats: I ate a Krispy Kreme doughnut when I finished, but it was cold and I could taste the fat, so I decided it didn’t count. I walked down to the Time Warner Center and picked up a slice of antipasti pizza at Whole Foods. I also went to Bouchon Bakery and got some pastries and a hot chocolate to drink on the way home. When I got home, I slushed up a Dr Pepper, before heading back out to a chocolate tasting.

Next up: Wall Street Run 5k (5/20), Media Challenge #1 (5/21), Japan Day 4-miler (6/1)

Race pictures are available here: I went to a chocolate tasting later and pictures from that are available here:

*In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Greensward Plan for the Park, the 72nd Street Transverse was renamed Olmsted and Vaux Way, but I’m referring to it by it’s old name to avoid confusion.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Brooklyn Half Marathon 5.3.08

Hi all,

Race number 11 (9th 2009 marathon-qualifying race – I just need to “volunteer” at a race to have guaranteed entry) was the Brooklyn Half Marathon.

Goals: to run between water stations and three time goals: i) to set a course PR (sub 2:06:56); ii) to set a distance PR (sub 2:02:42); and iii) to run a sub-2. I have a very specific strategy for running a sub-2. My plan is to run the first 3 miles at 9:30 pace, the next 3 miles at 9:15 pace and then finish the race at 9:00 pace.

My friend, Laura, let me stay at her place again, so, before the race, I only had to deal with the messed up trains in Brooklyn (getting home was a nightmare!). After a night of weird dreams about Alton Brown (don’t ask me - Laura doesn’t have a tv, so it wasn’t from watching one of his shows), I met Bonnie and we headed to the subway. We had to change trains, because the train was not running straight through to Coney Island. We ran into Lana, then Steve passed by, and then LK joined us. We hung out until it was time for me to head off to my corral.

I went out easy and tried to keep my footing on the boardwalk. As I’ve mentioned in previous recaps, the boardwalk frightens me because the boards are uneven and the bolts aren’t all flush with the surface. I’ve seen bloody gashes on fallen runners and do not want to be one of them. I only saw one person fall this time, but Bonnie saw three and heard another person talking about having fallen. At one point, there was a huge dog standing on a bench barking away and I’m sure he was cheering us on. I skipped the first water station and moved to the inside to watch the front-runners coming at me from the turn-around. As always, John Henwood* was in the lead. I kept an eye out for Sue and saw her (about 11 minutes in front of me), but she was on the other side of the boardwalk, so I don’t know if she heard me call out to her. After I hit the turnaround, I stayed on the inside to keep an eye out for LK, Lana, Mark, and Bonnie, but only saw Lana. I called to her, but don’t know if she heard me. At some point, I realized that the zipper on my tights was cutting into my heel, so at the next water station, I unzipped it a bit. There was a small bloody hole in my heel, but it wasn’t too bad. It felt weird having the tights flap around my ankle, but, after a while, I forgot about it.

Miles 4 through 9 are straight up Ocean Parkway, which is mostly flat, and very stressful on the muscles. I was so happy to get to the slight uphill and downhill in the 8th mile! Not to mention, I was still going too fast, even with the water stops, which weren’t as numerous as I’d expected and Gatorade was served at only 2 of the stations. In the 9th mile, as I was entering Prospect Park, I was struggling to breathe (there was a lot of humidity) and the camber on the road was killing me. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to hold on for a sub-2. My knee was beginning to ache, so I decided to move towards the center of the road and glanced to my right to see if I could get around the person running next to me. I don’t know how long he’d been there, but it was LK! I was happily surprised and he looked great! He was running along nice and easy. We went along a little ways together and then he moved on ahead, still looking as if he were just out for a long, slow run. I was sure he’d finish in under 2 hours. At the next water station, I made sure to use my inhaler and wished I hadn’t waited for the water station. The 10th mile is almost entirely uphill and it’s a killer. I knew, though, that if I stopped to walk at all, I wouldn’t make my PR, much less the sub-2, so I just kept going and hoped I wouldn’t lose too much time. After the crest of the big hill at Grand Army Plaza, I had to get down the rolling downhills in the 11th mile. There was some relief in the 12th mile, which is mostly downhill and which I tried to use to get back on track a little, then I had to push myself through almost every step of the last 1.1 miles. I was so close to a PR, but I had no spare time and needed to run as fast as I could (at that point) if I was going to set a PR. The turn into the park to the finish area started another slight uphill and the spectators were great, telling us that 13 was just around the corner and we were almost there. I had no finishing kick, but held on to cross in 2:02:24. I wandered around the finish area, but didn’t see LK, who had finished about 6 minutes ahead of me. I got my chip clipped and grabbed my bag, then headed to the start to wait for Bonnie, but I missed her. I was standing in line for my post-race picture when Mark found me. My cell phone doesn’t work on that road, but Bonnie found me, just as I was asking for directions back to Laura’s neighborhood. Bonnie lives just around the corner, so we walked partway back, because I stopped at CocoaBar for treats.

On my way home, I was plagued by train issues, but stopped off at Lumenhouse ( to see my friend’s work. Thanks to the MTA, I was later than I’d said I would be, so I must have missed Aurora (, but saw her exhibit. Very interesting! The exhibit (Lather, Rinse, Repeat) is on until May 18th, if art is your thing.

Official stats: my official time was 2:02:24 for an average pace of 9:20. My splits were 9:04, 9:24, 9:53, 9:16, 8:56, 9:34, 9:08, 9:29, 9:16, 9:59, 9:18, 9:04, 9:10, and :57 (pace) for the last tenth of a mile. I was 3707 out of 5832 runners, putting me in the 46th percentile. It was 48°F, 93% humidity, and 10 mph winds.

Celebratory treats: I stopped at the CocoaBar for a cinnamon hot chocolate and a piece of Peanut Butter Explosion Cake (for Sunday). CocoaBar used to have the best red velvet cake with a cinnamon buttercream frosting, but they no longer carry it, so I probably won’t bother going there anymore. When I got home, I had a slushy British Dr Pepper (which I’ve been saving for this occasion), some Baskin-Robbins York Peppermint Patty ice-cream (okay, but not great), and part of a Thornton’s Cocoa Nibs bar (thank you, Jillian!).

Next up: Wall Street Run 5k (5/20) – I’m waiting for some non-running events to be finalized, before I sign up for any races.

Race pictures are available here:
“Cirque du Soleil” performed at MSG this week and pictures are available here:
On my way to and from NYRR to pick up my race gear, I took these pictures:

*John Henwood is a New Zealand Olympian and I’ve seen him run (and usually win) many NYRR races. When the Queens Half was a double-loop course, I tracked my progress each year by how far I got before he lapped me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

adidas Run for the Parks 4.20.08

Hi all,

Race number 10 (8th 2009 marathon-qualifying race) was the adidas Run for the Parks 4-miler. We started just south of the 72nd Street Transverse and ran the middle loop, finishing on the Transverse itself. This race started the new corral system, for which all runners are seeded based on previous races. I’m in the 4th corral with an 8:20 pace on my bib. I’m going to have to pick that up this year, because my bibs are orange and we all know how I feel about that! I’ll be going for the green this year!!

Goals: to run between water stations and to average between 9 and 9:30 miles. This may seem like a soft goal, but, having just spent 18 hours traveling back to New York, I was extremely jet-lagged and didn’t want to push myself. My “A” race is the Brooklyn Half.

Despite the fact that the construction was supposed to have been completed while I was away, we had yet another weekend of subway changes, so I had to take a bus to get to my subway. There was a little expo/fair at the race and I wandered around a bit. I wasn’t early enough to get a massage (there was a long line) and I have a superstition about eating dairy before a race, so I skipped the Cabot Cheese booth. I stopped at the Port-a-Potty on my way to the start and the guy in front of me in line asked why I wasn’t on my treadmill at Bally’s. Yes, I have a favorite treadmill and, yes, I am irritated if someone else is on it before I get there. I don’t remember seeing him there before, so he must come in after I do and leave before (I’m there for about 2 hours every morning). Anyway, I headed off to my corral and checked out the bibs to see if everyone was obeying the new rules. At the official corral entrances, volunteers were making sure the bibs matched, but, at the last minute, a number of people jumped into the corral who should have been farther back, but no-one stopped them. I heard afterwards that runners in other corrals had pushed people out of the corrals or blocked them from coming in. At the beginning of the race, it seemed as if the seeded corrals were actually minimizing congestion, but then I noticed that we had also been given an additional traffic lane, so there’s no way of telling whether it was the corrals or the additional room or both that made the difference.

Anyway, I kept it loose and easy all the way around. I made myself stop at each water station, even though I didn’t really feel like I needed to. The only real difficulty I had was breathing. It was extremely humid, which is always a problem for me. I tried to just relax and take in the new flowers blooming like crazy all over the Park. When I got to the third mile marker, I realized that I was running much faster than I’d expected, so I decided to push it to see if I could get close to my PR (while I was running, it was in my mind that my 4-mile PR was 34:49). I still took my walk break at the water station, though. As I passed the puppet theater, I picked it a bit more for the last half and came in at 35:12. It wasn’t until I got home and looked up the numbers that I discovered that my PR was only 34:59. I really think that if I’d known the correct number, I might have picked it up a little more a little earlier in the race and set a new PR. Or, maybe, I’m just in a plateau phase and can’t really expect to see any PRs this year.

After the race, I stood in a very long line and got my massage. Then I headed over to drop my raffle ticket in the bin and check my results. They weren’t up yet, but I did run into Lou, who had done very well for himself. I headed off to grab my bag (stopping for cheddar cheese on my way). As I was getting my bag, I heard the raffle winner’s number announced; it wasn’t mine and I was freezing, so I headed home.

Official stats: my official time was 35:12 for an average pace of 8:48. My splits were 9:18, 8:32, 9:11, and 8:13. I was 3032 out of 5863 runners, putting me in the 48th percentile. It was 50°F, 89% humidity, and 12 mph winds.

Consolation treats: I stopped at the Bouchon Bakery at Columbus Circle and had a hot chocolate on the way home. When I got home, I had a slushy Dr Pepper, a brown sugar pecan macaroon, and a chocolate bouchon.

Next up: Brooklyn Half Marathon (5/3) and the Wall Street Run 5k (5/20)

Race pictures (and some pictures from the Park and Columbus Circle) are available here:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

More Half Marathon 4.6.08

Hi all,

Race number 9 (7th 2009 marathon-qualifying race) was the More Half Marathon, which took us around the big loop of Central Park twice plus a little over a mile more to complete the half marathon. The marathoners had to complete the half marathon course, then run the middle loop twice and then the lower 5-mile loop to finish the 26.2.

Goals: to run between water stations and to set a PR, which would have meant breaking 2:02:42. I had worked out a specific race strategy, but I’m not good at pacing, so I wasn’t sure I could make it work. I wanted to run the first 3 miles at 9:30, the next 3 miles at 9:15 and the last 7 miles at 9 or so.

Despite yet another weekend of subway changes (including having to take a bus to get to where the train was running local, not express) I got to the Park early. I was hungry (I’d forgotten to eat breakfast), so I drank a cup of Gatorade, which was not the smartest idea. I wandered around the festival and lined up for a pre-race massage. I got really ticked when two volunteers cut the line for massages (one of them was male). The massage was supposed to be for the participants and they could have waited until 8, when we’d all be off running the race. Luckily, I made it through the line and had a really nice massage. I dropped my bag, used the port-a-potty one last time then headed over to the 9-minute-mile marker. I’d told Roxy I’d see her there and found her just after the National Anthem. She had Mike Hayden with her and we posed for a couple of pictures before Roxy and I got down to business.

It was a very crowded race and we had a very slow start. It’s only two more races before the walkers will be forced to start at the back by the new corral system and I can’t wait. Roxy and I ran together (she’s faster than I am, but ran a half marathon last weekend, so we were staying together pretty easily) for the first few miles. Our first mile was a 10:10, which immediately put my strategy out the window. I didn’t want to try to catch up to my plan too quickly, but I did decide to skip water stations. After all, I’d had that cup of Gatorade right before the race. Unfortunately, the walk breaks in the water stations are as much about a break for my lungs as a break for my legs and I had to stop in the 5th mile. Roxy shot on ahead and I felt a little badly about having held her back. I walked for about 2 minutes, then started running again. I’d successfully passed the first water stations and was just a minute behind my pace at this point, so I decided to skip the water stations until I’d passed the start again, just after the 7-mile marker. I decided to take my gel and take a bathroom break, just to see what kind of time it would take. My goal time was out of the question by now, so it didn’t matter that much. Except that it wasn’t. I was confusing my PR time with a sub-2 time, so I gave up a little too early. When I came out of the port-a-potty, I looked around to see if Roxy was around and she was just coming up, so I waited for her and we fell back into step again, seeing Mike at the 72nd Transverse. It was so nice of him to come watch us run, especially because it wasn’t the nicest weather and he must have been freezing!

Back around the Park again, I made pretty good time on the hills. I felt strong, anyway. I lost Roxy again, but must have been in the zone, because I didn’t even realize it had happened until she wasn’t there all of a sudden. We’d chatted off and on, but had also enjoyed companionable silences. It was really nice running with her and I hope to get faster so we can do it again. On this loop, I stopped at each water station, but tried to keep the walk breaks brief. It got a little crowded again as we started to lap the walkers. I think it’s great that they’re out there participating, but when they’re walking 3 or 4 (and sometimes more) abreast, it’s difficult to run at your own pace, because we were still limited to a portion of the road (as always). As I came around to the 12-mile marker, I realized that I’d confused my goals and that a PR was still possible, but had miscalculated again. I put on as much speed as I could, but in the last half mile lost a lot of energy yelling at walkers to get out of the half marathon finishing lane. We were supposed to be split into 3 lanes: marathoners on the left, walkers in the middle, and half marathon finishers on the right. I was running in the proper lane, but walkers kept drifting back into the right lane, blocking the way. Even though it was frustrating and I lost some time dodging them, I didn’t miss the half marathon solely because of them. There were several points along the course where I took more time than I needed and the combination of delays lost the PR for me.

After the race, Mike found me and then we found Roxy. We got some pictures taken and then we headed back to the train together. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to join them for breakfast, because I’d already made plans to go to the opening of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef, which my friend, Andrea, contributed to, and I had to get home, shower and change, in order to get back down to the World Financial Center in time.

Official stats: my official time was 2:04:10 for a 9:28 pace. My splits were 10:11, 9:31, 9:10, 9:11, 9:44, 9:00, 9:00, 11:51, 8:56, 9:22, 9:11, 9:32, 8:31, and 1:03 for the last tenth of a mile. I was 1352 out of 5948 total half marathon runners (plus 146 marathoners), putting me in the 77th percentile, and 368 out of 1378 in my age group, putting me in the 73rd percentile. It was 45°F, 71% humidity, and 12 mph winds.

Consolation treats: I had a slushy Dr Pepper when I got home Brownies and cookies were served at the opening and I had some of each. Yum!

Next up: Adidas Run for the Parks (4/20), Brooklyn Half Marathon (5/3)

Race pictures are available here:

Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef pictures are available here: (I’m sorry for the poor quality, but my good camera was being repaired, so I had to use my crappy old starter camera.)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Scotland 10k 3.30.08

Hi all,

Race number 8 (6th 2009 marathon-qualifying race) was the Scotland 10k, which took us around the big loop of Central Park and then some to complete the 10k distance.

Goals: to run between water stations and to set a PR, which would have meant breaking 54:49.

Despite another weekend of subway changes (including having to take a bus to get to where the train was running) I got to the Park early enough for a warm-up. I wandered around the festival a bit first and got my face painted with the flag of Scotland before committing to removing my coat (it was only 28°F when I woke up). I took off up the West Side of the Park, intending to run to the first mile marker and back. On my way back to the start, I noticed two fading contrails that crossed to form Scotland’s flag in the sky. I thought it was a really cool effect, but I don’t think very many people noticed it. As I was passing the festival area, I was hailed by Fabian, who was volunteering at the finish line water station (Go, Fabian!!). We chatted until it was time for me to run to the start, a quarter-mile farther along. I got to the 9-minute-mile marker and found Rachel and Lana, but Lana was too far back for me to get to her. The race was incredibly packed! The announcer said there were over 8000 entrants and there turned out to be just under 7000 finishers, about 1200 more than last year. Can you guess what happened next? Well, the race started and it took Rachel and I about 6 ½ minutes to cross the start line. We were completely boxed in and spent quite a bit of energy trying to maneuver around walkers and slower runners (only one more race, for me, until they’re no longer a problem.). I was aiming for 8:50 miles and the first mile was much slower, so I decided to pick it up. I lost Rachel somewhere along the rolling hills up the West Side, but I also killed my PR chance. My pace dropped by over a half a minute, which was way too much on those hills. I tried to maintain, but the north hills did me in. I maintained a fairly good pace around the rest of the Park, but had to take an extra walk break (to use my inhaler) before running down Cat Hill. I just hope I can keep my pace better at the More Half Marathon. I finished a minute off of my goal and then waited in the finishing chute to cheer in Rachel and Lana.

After the race, I skipped my cool-down so I could not win anything in the raffle. The Red Hot Chili Pipers were really good, though, and I did run into Lou, so I didn’t mind not winning. I was sorry to have missed Stephen, Mark and Paul (Congratulations on your PR, Paul!), though.

Official stats: my official time was 55:55 for a 9:01 pace. My splits were 9:23, 8:47, 8:51, 9:25, 8:56, 8:46, and 1:50 for the last tenth of a mile. I was 3590 out of 6928 total runners, putting me in the 48th percentile. It was 37°F, 25% humidity, and 8 mph winds.

Consolation treats: I went to the Orchid Show as soon as I’d showered and changed, so I only stopped for a Cheesy Beany Melt at Taco Bell. There aren’t many pictures, because my camera malfunctioned while I was at the Botanical Gardens. I had a slushy Dr Pepper when I got home and an Alfajor straight from Argentina (thanks, Mom and Dad!).

Next up: More Half Marathon (4/6), Adidas Run for the Parks (4/20)

Pictures from the race are available at:

Pictures from the Orchid Show are available at:

Videos from the race are available at: and

I’ve also updated the tea brewer video (it’s no longer sideways) and you can see it here:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Missed Race - NYRR 8k Challenge

Last night, I was sitting here with my race clothes laid out on the bed and my race bag packed. I had checked the weather and had a back-up plan for the extra 11 miles I was supposed to run.

Unfortunately, the race was yesterday morning. I planned for a Sunday race all week. I don't know what happened, but I suspect I got mixed up because I'd attempted to run Shamrock and had Sunday in my head.

Even worse, this race was a crucial component of a longer-term goal, which is virtually impossible for me to attain now. At this point, there is nothing that I personally can do to achieve that goal and I can't hope for the necesssary changes, because that will impact thousands of other runners' plans.

My first DNS - but I'm marking it with an asterisk, because I didn't DNS on purpose.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Colon Cancer Challenge 15k 3.9.08

Hi all,

Race number 7 (5th 2009 marathon-qualifying race) was the Colon Cancer Challenge 15k. The course takes us around the lower 5-mile loop and then the middle 4-mile loop in Central Park. I had 15 miles on my training schedule, so I planned to run the 4-mile loop before the 15k, then the lower 1.7-mile loop after the race.

Goals: to run between water stations, to run under 1:30, and to run each mile under 10-minute/mile pace. I knew it wasn’t likely, given the 4-mile “warm-up,” but I was secretly hoping to run a PR. In order to avoid a foolish attempt that might cause injury, though, I did not look up my 15k PR until I got home from the race (1:26:25).

I got to the Park a little early (the MTA is screwing around with my train-line again, so I left extra time), so I checked out the Colon Cancer booths. There was a giant inflatable colon in one of the booths. You could walk through it, if you wanted (I didn’t). I dropped my bag, then ran the 4-mile warm-up in about 38 minutes (about 9:30 pace). That was probably a little too fast, but it felt comfortable. I only stopped once on the 102nd Street Transverse, for water and a walk break.

I headed to the 15k start line, looking for Roxy and Mark, but didn’t find them. I did see Paul and he crossed over so we could start the race together. Paul is a faster runner than I am, but he hadn’t warmed up yet and I was 4 miles in, so we stayed together for about 3 ½ miles. Mile 2 was pretty comfortable, but turned out to be way too fast (8:22), so I put the brakes on a bit and tried to slow down so I could complete the 15 miles without bonking. At the 3rd water station, I had to stop to walk off some stiffness in my knee, so I told Paul to go on ahead. Throughout the race, I tried to keep an eye on him, but lost him after a couple of water stations. I started feeling tired in the 5th mile (9th overall). I had planned to take a gel after the first loop, but ended up running 6 miles before I could take it. I also needed another hit from my inhaler – it was freezing out! I was wearing 4 shirts (3 of them long-sleeved), but still felt cold. I took a very long walk break there, resulting in a 10+-minute mile. I tried to pick up the pace a bit, but my calf started cramping up and so I had to hold to a steady pace. I made it back around the 102nd Street Transverse and, after hitting the 8-mile marker, I decided to just go for it. Even if I ended up walking part of the final 1.7 mile-loop, I wanted to finish strong. There was no finishing kick, but I got myself across the finish line at 1:27:43, having stopped only at the water stations. Two out of three goals isn’t too bad.

After the race, I picked up my bag and jogged the lower loop in about 20 minutes. I stopped to take a couple of pictures, which slowed me down some. My total mileage for the day is 15 and the total running time was 2:25:43. I did have a couple of breaks in the running (waiting for the race to start and then getting my bag after the finish), but, except for the 5 minutes that I was standing at the start line, I was in constant motion the rest of the time.

Official stats: my official time was 1:27:43 for a 9:25 pace. My splits were 9:27, 8:22, 9:55, 9:09, 9:28, 9:21, 10:14, 9:59, 9:08 and 2:46 for the last three-tenths of a mile. I was 2217 out of 3280 total runners, putting me in the 32nd percentile. It was 30°F, wind-chill of about 20°F, and 20-30 mph winds (gusting to 40 mph).

Consolation treats: Merengue soda, Kopali dried organic pineapple, and Van den Berg Cinnamon Stick cookies.

Next up: Central Park 8k Challenge (3/16), Scotland 10k (3/30)

Pictures are available at: