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.