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.