Sunday, February 22, 2009

Al Gordon Snowflake 5k 2.21.09

Hi all,

Race number 6 (4th 2010 marathon-qualifying race) was the Al Gordon Snowflake 5k in Prospect Park.

Goals: to run between water stations and to finish in under 28 minutes, with every mile run in under 9 minutes.

I missed 1 ½ workouts this week and was short 13.5 miles, so I had intended to run the 5k course before and after the race, as well, but had ruled out the post-race 5k before I went to bed last night (I didn’t feel like running with a backpack). Because the MTA is still playing with my subway line, I had to take a bus to the train again. Hopstop indicated a 1:22 ride, so I left a little earlier than that, but it took almost 2 hours, instead, so the pre-race 5k was out, too. I should have left even earlier than I did, but we had no heat again and I spent most of the night slightly awake, aware of how cold it was. In fact, there was little difference between being inside my apartment and being outside. Anyway, when I’d dropped my bag, I jogged about a half mile to the start as my warm-up, then stood around shivering, waiting for the race to start. I tried to find Steven before and after the race, but didn’t see him.

I knew we had a long hill to climb in the first half mile, so I started out slowly. I was having a little trouble breathing, because of the cold and humidity, so I used my inhaler (on the run – no stopping) and made it up over the last bump of the hill towards Grand Army Plaza. I tried to maintain pace down the rolling hills and to keep running until the water station, which I assumed/hoped would be at the halfway point. My shin started acting up in the second mile. The muscles started bunching up around my ankle, so I slowed down a bit, trying to take the pressure off of my calf. I stopped for water and took a long walk break, trying to stretch my calf out and even stopped to pick up the last garbage can, which had been tipped over. I jumped back onto the course and tried to catch up to the people who had passed me, but the bunching up sensation starting spreading up towards my knee, so I eased back again. As I came up to the 2nd mile marker, I was hoping that I’d stayed until 9 minutes and was surprised to find that I had by nearly 20 seconds. I had about 25 seconds in the bank for the last mile, which I knew was going to be uphill, because we had to cross the second transverse and somehow get back up to the west side of the park, which is at a higher elevation. I briefly considered walking to ease up on my shin, but my legs kept going, so I decided to take my brain out of the equation and let my legs do the work. The hills on the transverse were a bit steep, but manageable. Coming out onto the west side of the park, we had to continue uphill to the first transverse and then uphill some more towards the finish. I was very discouraged as I approached the 3rd mile marker, because I got the numbers mixed up. I thought I’d gone to nearly a 10-minute mile and was shocked to see that I was only at about 8:40. No finishing spring for me, but I did make my goal.

On my way out of Prospect Park, I did some exploring, trying to find a building I’d seen two years before after the Brooklyn Half. I found it and briefly considered going on to the Farmer’s Market at Grand Army Plaza, but someone told me that going back the way I’d come was shorter, so I headed back to some shops I’d seen on my way in.

Official stats: my official time was 27:13, for an average pace of 8:46. My splits were 8:58, 8:43, 8:41 and :55 for the final tenth of a mile. I was 1978 out of 3987 total runners, putting me in the 50th percentile. I was 614 out of 1945 women, putting me in the 68th percentile and 35 out of 144 in my age category, putting me in the 76th percentile. It’s been a long time since I finished this far forward in such a big race, so I’m feeling pretty good about it. It was 28°F with 53% humidity and 12 mph winds.

Consolation treats: On my way back to the subway, I stopped at the Dub Pie Shop, which I passed on the way from the subway. I picked up two pies to try and a vanilla custard tart. I also stopped at Whole Foods on the way home for a chocolate fudge brownie. And, of course, my slushy Dr Pepper!

Next up: Coogan’s Salsa, Blues, and Shamrock 5k (3/1)

Race pictures are available here:

If you’re interested, here are pictures from a Valentine’s Day Valrhona tasting:

That same week, I went to a lecture on the Science of Taste at the New York Academy of Science:

Bronx Half Marathon 2.8.09

Hi all,

Race number 5 (3rd 2010 marathon-qualifying race and 2nd Grand Prix Half Marathon) was the Bronx Half Marathon. The course is an odd cloverleaf shape. The first loop goes out to the Moshulu Parkway from the Jerome Reservoir and back (about 6 miles). We turn just before we would cross the finish line from the wrong direction, looping around to the Grand Concourse, on which we run a 4-mile out-and-back, returning to the loop around the Moshulu Parkway, then back to the reservoir for the finish.

Goals: This was my 3rd half marathon in as many weekends and part of a 15-mile training run, so I set soft goals for this one. I wanted to run between water stations, as usual, and hoped to finish in under 2:20 (my Manhattan Half time).

I got there early and went into the school to get warm. I ran into some colleagues and we chatted a bit, before I dropped off my bag and headed out to run my 2-mile add-on. I got back to the start, but didn’t have time to get the hat I’d forgotten to put on for the warm-up. We started just about on time and I tried to maintain an easy pace. I got through the first half without any extra walk breaks and began to hope that I might get through the second half without any, as well. This is my least favorite of the five Grand Prix half marathons, but it’s the Grand Concourse (miles 7-11) which are the worst part (not to mention the dead rat I’ve seen every time I’ve run this race). Despite the fact that there are occasionally interesting buildings to look at, the Concourse is just a drag! You have to watch nearly every footstep, because of potholes and irregularities in paving, not to mention waves in the pavement that, if you’re not careful, cause you to run with one foot in a trough and the other on a crest. And it was on the Concourse that I realized that my shoes were dead and that I wasn’t going to beat my Surf City time, though I’d been hanging on in hopes of doing just that. I started taking small walk breaks at the mile markers, but my legs were toast. Finally, I was running down the small hill from the Concourse to the Moshulu Parkwayj, with just over 2 miles to go. And there it was! Actually, it was so squashed that I can’t be sure it was a rat and not a squirrel, but, in any event, the road kill rodent had appeared, disturbingly close to the water station. For some reason, this energized me and I managed to keep running between water stations and not take any extra breaks for the rest of the race. In the last half-mile, I came up on someone walking and as I caught up to him, I told him we were almost there and could make. He started running and whenever he seemed to be slowing down, I tried to encourage him and stayed with him to keep him running. Unfortunately, he caught a second wind and was then pushing me to keep up with him. I hadn’t planned a sprint finish, but that’s what it felt like!

Official stats: my official time was 2:16:41 for a 10:26 pace overall. My splits were 9:56, 9:35, 10:23, 11:00, 10:07, 10:30, 10:03, 10:39, 9:59, 11:01: 21:38 (average of 10:49), 10:53, and 1:02 for the last tenth of a mile. I was 3034 out of 3668 total runners, putting me in the 17th percentile. It was 56F with 64% humidity and 7 mph winds.

Celebratory treats: Sweet Revenge cupcakes, Bespoke chocolates, and a slushy Dr Pepper

Pictures are available at:

Surf City Half Marathon 2.1.09

Hi all,

Race number 4 was the Surf City Half Marathon. It was an out-and-back course along the Pacific Coast Highway with a 3-mile detour up a hill.

Goals: I’d just run the Manhattan Half Marathon the weekend before, so I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel, not to mention jet-lag and the extra 5 miles I needed to run, so I set the usual goal of running between the water stations and hoped I could manage a 2:20.

Expo day: I took no chances and let Shayna know as soon as I’d signed up that I was running Surf City. We met at Alice’s in the Park, with her little one, my siblings and their families, and Pete and Ahi. It was my first time meeting Pete and Ahi in person, so I was especially happy at breakfast. The giant cinnamon rolls were pretty nice, too. After breakfast, we fed the birds (I was super-irritated when a pigeon tried to land on me), then went to the playground to play for a bit, before going to the expo. At the expo, I had another name-rage incident and had to go to the Solutions booth to have my gender changed to female. I didn’t want a repeat of New Year’s Day, even though I knew I wouldn’t be placing at this big event. I found Dane’s booth and stood in line to have him sign my bib. It was my first time meeting him in person, too, though we’ve been acquainted on-line for about 3 years. We had to be back at my sister’s house to see the rest of the family by 1 and still needed to go to Roger’s Gardens, so we had to say goodbye.

Race day: I ended up in bed with a migraine for most of Saturday afternoon. When I woke up on Sunday morning, I was still nauseous, but the headache was gone, thankfully. I had 18 miles on the schedule, so my brother and I ran a bit together, then he stopped to rest and I kept going. I was supposed to run 3 before, but I suspect that I only managed about 2.5. I looked all over the place for people I know, but didn’t see anyone. I thought I saw Ahi pass by when the marathon started, but I’m not sure about that. My brother planned to stick with me until the first water station, so he jogged along with me. I was supposed to be running at a 10:50 pace. I stayed on the left side of the course to watch for my sister, who was running the 5k. I missed her, but stayed on the left to watch for people I knew ahead of me on the course, especially the marathoners. I stayed steady on a somewhat slow pace, but was ahead of where I was supposed to be. I felt comfortable, even though the PCH section after the hills is a bit difficult to get through - long low hills that drag on past oil fields and a marsh. It was a lot nicer this year, than last year, when we ran it in a driving rain storm. In the 9th mile, I realized that I was on pace for a 2:15, if I just pushed it a bit. I waited until the 11th mile and then started building my pace slowly. I took off about a minute in the 12th mile and another 30 seconds in the last mile. I passed my sister, who cheered me on to a sprint finish and then we did the usual post-race thing (water, pictures, post-race goodies). I had two miles left to run, so my sister ran an out and back away from the race and then we jogged slowly back towards the car. I tried to find Shayna, but we had to get back to my sister’s place, because she was expecting guests later.

Official stats: my official time was 2:13:28 for a 10:11 pace. My splits were 9:53, 10:03, 10:08, 10:47, 10:12, 10:23, 10:32, 10:31: 10:48, 20:42, 9:34, 9:00, and :56 for the last tenth of a mile. I was 4958 out of 10790 total runners, putting me in the 54th percentile. It was 46F and foggy.

Celebratory treats: On the way home, we stopped at a coffee place my brother likes and I got a chorizo breakfast burrito. We also had Wonderland cupcakes and a veritable feast for the Superbowl, including Scott’s chocolate mousse.

Next up: Bronx Half Marathon (2/8)

Thanks for all your support!!

Pictures are available at:

Manhattan Half Marathon 1.25.09

Hi all,

Race number 3 (2nd 2010 marathon-qualifying race and 1st Grand Prix Half Marathon) was the Manhattan Half Marathon. We ran 2 counter-clockwise loops of Central Park, plus another mile or so to make up the half marathon distance.

Goals: to run between the water stations and to see if I could run at 10:45 pace (2:20:50) for the entire run.

I had 21 miles on the training schedule for today, so, to break it up, I decided to run the center 4-mile loop of Central Park before and after the race. This meant that I couldn’t bring a heavy jacket, because it had to be small enough to fit into a backpack I could carry for the final 4 miles. Once again, I had to take a bus to the train, so I had to get up even earlier than usual to get there in time to run the extra 4 miles (I expected it to take about 44 minutes). I was the first person to leave a bag in the baggage area, which made me a little nervous, but I certainly wasn’t going to carry it for 8 miles. I ran the central loop in about 42 minutes and then huddled with the rest of the masochists waiting for the race to start. We were facing the Time Warner building and could clearly see the temperature: 14. It had probably been about 12 when I ran the first 4.

I tried to take it nice and slow and stick to my projected 10:45 pace. The first mile is a mostly-downhill swoop around the bottom of the park and it went by about a minute too quickly. Because of the hills, it’s hard to run an even pace, but I did manage to run easy most of the way. I was a bit too cold at first, but warmed up as the miles went by. As I passed the Time Warner building after the first 6 miles, I checked the temperature and saw the numbers change to 15. When I passed it after 12 miles, it had jumped all the way to 17. I finished the race almost entirely on pace, then put my jacket and backpack on and jogged the final 4 miles. The second time around, the 4 miles took a little longer – 44 minutes. I ended up heading back down towards the start of the half and the Time Warner building let me know that it was now 18. I was so cold that it took me only 8:30 to walk the half mile down to the subway station!

Official stats: my official time was 2:20:06 for a 10:41 pace. My splits were 9:41, 10:46, 9:29, 11:41, 10:46, 10:41, 10:22, 11:24, 10:28, 11:52: 10:44, 10:49, 10:28, and 1:02 for the last tenth of a mile. I was 3962 out of 4596 total runners, putting me in the 14th percentile. It was 14F with 52% humidity and 6 mph winds.

Consolation treats: I had a chocolate tasting scheduled for the afternoon, so that was my treat. No slushy Dr Pepper this time, because I didn’t get home until dinner time and I only drink soda during the day.

Pictures are available at

Here is an album of random food pics:

Resolution 5k 1.1.09 and Fred LeBow Classic 5-miler 1.10.09

Hi all,

Race number 1 was the New Year’s Day Resolution 5k. It was partly on the runway of Republic Airport in Farmingdale on Long Island.

Goals: to run between the water stations, to break 27 minutes, and, possibly to set a PR.

I’d been sick the night before (narrowly missing my laptop, for which my company would be profoundly grateful, if they’d known about it), but felt okay by the time we needed to leave. My parents drove my brother and me to the airport and stayed around to watch, even though it was freezing out! As soon as we got there, we registered for the race, then I spied Roxy, who introduced me to Sean and Victor. We chatted until it was time to venture out into the cold and hit the runway. My brother started out with me, but Roxy was off like a shot! Unfortunately, my stomach did not appreciate the jostling and started heaving. I told my brother to run off without me, but he stuck with me, because he’s the best brother in the world. So, the poor guy ran 5k with me retching and heaving behind him. Whenever I stopped to walk, he walked with me. I saw Roxy on all of the turnarounds and she looked great! Finally, as we were heading back towards the finish, I convinced my brother to sprint to the finish and he took off as if he hadn’t just run 3 miles. I crossed the finish line a little while later as my family watched. We hurried into the terminal for water and snacks. My brother checked my time and told me that I was 13th or something like that, but we waited to see if Roxy had won an age category award (only category winners received medals), but they didn’t announce her name. None of us won the plasma tv raffle, either.

As we headed out to the car, my brother went over to check the results again and I took a look, too, and that’s when I saw it. They had me as male! Grrr!!!! I checked my finishing time against the rest of the list and it looked like I was 2nd in my age category. I ran back inside and told the race director about it and he confirmed that I was 2nd!! So I did get a medal – silver! Woo Hoo!!

When we checked the official results on-line, Roxy had taken 3rd in her category and my 2nd place had been downgraded to 3rd, too. I would still have received a medal, though, so I’m keeping the one I have.

Official stats: my net time was 28:57 for an 9:12 pace. I don’t have any splits, because there were no mile markers. I was 91 out of 129 total runners, putting me in the 49th percentile and 3 out of 7 in my age category, putting me in the 57th percentile. It was no warmer than 25F and extremely windy.

Celebratory treats: It was New Year’s Day, so, of course, the big treat was black-eyed peas and ham hocks. Yum!! Of course, I also had one of my mom’s delicious hot fudge sundae, too! MMM

Next up: The Fred LeBow Classic 5-miler on January 10th and the Manhattan Half Marathon on January 25th.

Pictures are available at

Pictures from training runs in Oyster Bay are here:

And here:

And here are some pictures from the holidays:

Race number 2 was the Fred LeBow 5-miler. We ran the lower big loop of Central Park. I don’t remember much about this race, so I’ll just give you the stats.

Official stats: my net time was 49:31 for an 9:54 pace. I was 2473 out of 3235 total runners, putting me in the 24th percentile. It was about 25F.

Race day pictures are here:

Pictures from my dinner at Chelsea Market are here: