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: