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: