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:

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Coogan's Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5k 3.2.08

Hi all,

Race number 6 (4th 2009 marathon-qualifying race) was the Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5k. This race is in my neighborhood, so I got to sleep in this morning! Well, I woke up early, but stayed in bed longer. We run along Fort Washington Avenue from 168th Street until we enter Fort Tryon Park, skirting a big rock formation until we are in the open again and can see not only the Cloisters, but also the Hudson River and the Palisades on the New Jersey side of the river. The turnaround is in the park and then we run the first half in reverse. This is generally a fun course to run – it’s close to home, there are usually a lot of spectators, and bands and cheerleaders are there to cheer us on.

Goals: to run between water stations, to set a course PR (sub 26:37) and to set a distance PR (sub 25:51).

I prepared for a PR for this race, to the extent I could. When I walked outside, though, I knew the PR was in jeopardy – it was really cold and really windy. The MTA pulled a last minute schedule change, running only a shuttle train at my end of the line (resulting in only 2 trains per hour) so I took the bus down instead. A girl and her mother were going to the bus, too, because the girl’s band (she plays electric bass) was playing at the start/finish of the race. Her mom told me that she used to run, too, and I tried to encourage her to start again. When I got to 168th Street, I was a little early, so I wandered around the Armory until it was time for my two-mile warm-up, which took me about 21 minutes. I had spent the entire week visualizing how I was going to run a PR, but, suddenly, when I was on the start line, I started thinking that I couldn’t remember how to run. Luckily the horn sounded and I had to get going or be run over. I lost the distance PR opportunity in the first quarter mile. First, there was the usual jockeying for position, not to mention dodging the walkers,* and then, suddenly, we’re all veering to the right. Three cars somehow got past the cops and were trying to drive down the course towards the start. I don’t know how they got them off the course, but they were gone when I finished.

It seemed to get colder and windier as we ran and I was struggling to breathe. I hit the first mile marker 20 seconds off pace and hoped I could make up the difference. We’d already hit one hill and had another to tackle before hitting that first one on the way to the finish. I stopped for water at the water station, but tried to keep it short. I felt great running down the hill into the park and then chugged back up, passing Rachel (we’ve run a couple of other races together) and then stopping at the water station when I got to the top of the hill again. I kept losing ground as I headed back to the start, but I did manage a good finishing sprint.

Official stats: my official time was 28:18 for a 9:07 pace. My splits were 8:40, 9:26, 9:32 and :45 for the last tenth of a mile. I was 1704 out of 3259 total runners, putting me in the 48th percentile. It was 30°F with 48% humidity and 21 mph winds (gusting to 38 mph).

Consolation treats: An Orangina and some Dale & Thomas Troy Aikman’s Halftime Chili & Sour Cream Popcorn (which isn’t as good as I expected – tastes too much like sour cream, which I don’t like)

Next up: Colon Cancer Challenge 15k (3/9), Central Park 8k Challenge (3/16), Scotland 10k (3/30)

Pictures are available at: and there’s a video of the cool tea brewer my sister gave me at:

*Starting with the Adidas Run for the Parks on April 20th, all runners will be corralled at the starts, according to their recorded pace times, so walkers will no longer be able to start forward of their estimated pace.