clarity, or something like that

what a difference a year made for the Joe Kleinerman 10K…last year, i was under so much stress that I couldn’t think, see or breathe straight…meaning many walk breaks. this year, thanks to a nice Flyers holiday party, a couple of tough things taken care of, a fun Toys for Tots run with the Flyers the day before, I definitely was able to think more clearly.

As I had mentioned before, I was really not expecting much here, considering the projected crowds between the next-to-last marathon qualifier and last club points race of the year. The weather was nice and it looked like a good day for running. I jogged a mile to the baggage area to warm up and saw Runner26 and Flyer JT, so we headed over to the start area together…and were joined by Crazy Bandana-head-and he actually lined up with the 3 of us instead of the local elite area where he belonged 🙂 I saw camera in hand though, so guess this was just a fun run for him :-p So we were off…and the 4 of us actually started out together…that woulda made a cute picture. The mile-by-mile lowdown…

mile 3 by the rez-thanks for the pic, crazy bandana-head!8:38-this split did not surprise me, due to Harlem Hill, but moreso how crowded it was…it didn’t really start opening up til mile 3. After this mile, I made it my goal-make sure this is my slowest split of the day.
8:12-west side hills…little better, but still crowded. Saw Flyer BC taking pictures just past 102nd street, and spotted Flyers DG and LG on running on the bridle path and cheering.
7:58-downhill mile! Uptown Girl was cheering near the reservoir…but not sure if she saw me, as who was right by me? Crazy Bandana!! Boy he really must have been taking this one the last mile!easy…
8:13-around the bottom of the park…kinda uneventful. Saw a couple of Flyers running in the opposite direction
8:21-Cat Hill. Tried to take shorter strides, to not tire myself out on this hill…I was keeping position and even passing people, so I guess it worked. Dr. Evil passed me and tried to scare me but his evil tactics didn’t work this time. :-p
7:43-My plan was to try and run steady, then pick it up for the last 1.2…I guess it worked!! Saw Uptown Girl and JS cheering near the reservoir again, and BC taking more pictures (including this action shot) But dammit, a sidestich snuck up on me again…tried to breathe deep and ignore it…
1:35-sidestich still there, but figured I’d gut it out. The chute was narrow and crowded, but tried to push as hard as I could. Flyers JB and JA were cheering right before the last turn to the finish, which gave me a nice boost to kick it in!

Final time-50:40, 8:10 pace. Can’t really tell since there was not an official 5K split, but looks like I may have run negative splits. And actually, I was a little surprised to see a time still in the 50s, I actually thought it was going to take 10 minutes to do the last 1.2 miles…guess no one is good at math 5 miles into a race. :-p

Hung around for a bit after the finish, chatted with other Flyers…but dammit, no Krispy Kremes!! I thought this was tradition for this race 😦 Did an easy coupla cooldown miles up/down CPW to give me 10 miles for the day (leaving me less than a mile shy of 30 miles for the week)

So, this was a good workout…yep, workout, not race. I have honestly come to the conclusion that when you are not in the 74% AG group-you really can’t expect to run your best in these ridiculously crowded races. So, I think the plan for next year will be as follows…use the NYRR races to get my 9 qualifiers in/support the team for points races/do long runs-but if I am chasing a time goal-look outside NYRR (with the exception of races like the Mini 10K and Club Champs, where I can get a clean start.) Again-any suggestions for good (local) non-NYRR races are welcome!!

if it ain’t broke…

“what was up with all the f*cking hills?”
“this started too damn early.”
“it took forever to get here.”
“why was this scheduled the day after yom kippur?”
“this sucked.”

And that was just a sampling of what was heard after today’s Queens half. A new date, start time and course change wound up turning what was my favorite NYRR half into my least favorite. I absolutely loved the old course-a 2-looper through College Point and Malba, not too hilly, in late April/early May so the weather was always great, and I was always able to consistently run under 1:50 (1:47 and 1:48, to be exact.)

But this year, it was decided to change the course from a 2-looper to a 1-looper including Whitestone as well. Which forced a new date in September and an earlier start time (7 am)…which seemed to cause a bunch of logistical issues. With a 7am start time, you can’t really rely on public transportation, so the bus from NYRR is the best bet. However, they didn’t really plan for that, and the bus was sold out early (thank god I got my ticket early!) and left a lot of peeps scrambling to find either a ride or some type of alternate way out to Queens. Second, the date was less than ideal, being that yesterday was Yom Kippur, which meant fasting for 24 hours. Yeah…great half-marathon prep.

I wasn’t sure how I’d do, my training had not been going well ever since the San Francisco Half, and it was warmer than I would like…but was hoping to get under 1:50. I made it out there in one piece, though the bus driver kept driving in circles once we got to College Point…I was thisclose to faking being sick so I could walk. But we got there, and there were lots of people sitting down in the dark, trying to kill an hour…seemed like the marathon start. Saw NSA, and Johnny and a few other Flyers and chatted. Finally it was time to get to the start…oh, and anyone note in Mary Wittenberg’s speech, that “we were a part of history, there’s never been a race start at 7 am.” Um…didn’t the NYC Half start at 7 am? Not to mention the old-school late-August version of the Manhattan Half? Anyway, off the subject here.

So yeah, we started. First mile was slower than I wanted, there was quite a bottleneck in the first mile…made up for it a little on the 2nd…slowed on the 3rd and had a feeling it was not gonna be my day…never, ever again will I do a half marathon the day after Yom Kippur. I definitely was not properly fueled, even though I ended the fast a coupla hours early and tried to eat as much as possible yesterday evening and this morning…these mile splits tell a story of someone who hit the wall hard at mile 4, and was just trying to hang on for the last 9 miles…

  1. 8:42
  2. 8:18
  3. 8:42
  4. 8:59
  5. 9:06
  6. 9:08
  7. 9:11
  8. 8:44
  9. 8:58
  10. 9:13
  11. 9:31
  12. 9:01
  13. 9:20

Last .1 :53

The goals kept changing from “1:50” to “1:55” to “just get in under 2 hours.” Hell, at one point a DNF sounded appealing-I was so off my goal time, what did I have to prove by finishing? But I didn’t know how I’d get back to the start and my baggage (and my family was taking me out for an early birthday dinner later in the day, so I needed to earn the extra calories.) The scenery on the course was nice, though I was too delirious and too busy climbing to appreciate it…I thought I was hill trained before today, the hills on this course killed me-especially that one in mile 13 that I actually had to walk up. And to put things in perspective-SF was easier than this!! There were at least a good share of downhills and flats in the SF half. Here, I felt like we were going uphill the entire time. (You can see the elevation here…)

Finally, somehow, I made it to the end…a bunch of Reservoir Dog guys who had finished cheered for me in the last .1 mile (thanks guys!! I really needed to hear that)…crossed the finish line in 1:57:46 (8:59 pace)…I had never been so happy to be done with a half-marathon in my life. First thing I did was get ice from the med tent for my knees which hated all the climbing (they’re fine now!)…then was the usual game of “spot the blogger” on the way to get my bags…saw Moz, Crazy Bandana-head and Uptown Girl, in addition to other Flyers and Rez Dogs…the usual post-race recrapping. Thoughts on the new course among the masses were mixed, but the majority was a thumbs-down.

Not sure what to make of my race. I know there were things out of my control, but I know I’m capable of much, much better than a 1:57…I feel like I have to do something about my training, I just don’t know what!! I’m a little disappointed in running a PW today…2 minutes slower than last year’s Staten Island half (which you may remember, I was only doing as a training run…whereas I was trying to put in the effort this time!) But I’m a little sad that my favorite half is really no more…as this post title says, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!! If this course remains, I definitely will not be doing this race next year…and will need to look outside NYRR for some good halfs (any recommendations, anyone?)

great expectations

before taking on cat hill

Now I finally know how the elite runners in last year’s NYC Marathon felt. With the most stacked field in awhile, the best conditions in awhile, the buzz was that this was going to be an exciting race, course records were going to fall…which as we all knew, didn’t happen.

That’s sorta how I felt about Saturday’s Club Team Championships. As far as Central Park races go, this was my favorite. The weather conditions called for an unseasonably cool day. The field was much, much smaller than normal (how bout 500 instead of 5000 peeps!) due to the club-only race and the separate men’s/women’s starts. Basically-all signs pointed to a good race…hence the “great expectations” in the title. Not to be…

Mile 1-8:03
Mile 2-7:52
Mile 3-8:13
Mile 4-8:19
Mile 5-7:43

Final result, 40:10 (8:02 pace)

Before anyone says it-I’m sure, just looking at the numbers, that it didn’t seem like a bad race. However-last year-when it was almost 20 degrees warmer, much more humid, and I had tired legs from marathon training, I did this race in 39 minutes. (And in fact, my recent SF half time, on a much tougher course, predicted 39 minutes for a 5-miler too…)

I’m still not sure what happened. First mile-I felt I was still warming up a bit…2nd mile I made up the time a little bit on the downhill…3rd mile had the least crowd support…4th mile was Cat Hill, but I actually did a little better than I thought I would there. I looked at my watch and saw that I’d need a 7:32 last mile to get under 40…could I do it? Although there was quite a bit of cheering, it seemed a little more subdued than last year (and it seemed that there were a couple of teams who went out of their way to not cheer for me) though the Flyers were great, as usual..I tried to push it, but wasn’t enough and was disappointed to see the 40:xx on my watch. Though apparently I wiped the disappointment off my face long enough to get nabbed by the NYRR photographer here

me and runner26 modeling our skirts after the raceBut the non-competitve stuff was fun. I liked cheering our guys on in mile 1 and near the end, and our annual team picnic afterwards. And lots of the Flyer women, including myself were modeling our new fitted top…looked quite nice!! And later that afternoon, we took on CPTC in softball again…was a good time, but the fact that I was placed last in the lineup…I dunno, I felt once again like the fat, unathletic girl who always gets picked last for a team…meh.

As for the running stuff…I can’t quite figure out what is going on. I can run a decent half, but I just choke so badly in the short races. I have been doing speedwork-though I admit the last coupla months…hadn’t been going well between the mega-heat waves that always seem to crop up on Tuesdays, or the fact that some of the workouts were a little too long for hot days and I can’t seem to get the effort in. Weekly mileage is decent, long runs are decent, so I really think that’s where the problem is lying. Only problem is, I don’t know how to fix it…

Guess no one said it was gonna be easy…

she runs san francisco

The title is quite fitting-took it from the slogan on a tank top that I got at the Running Divas booth at the expo…

Anyway, I will start this race report off by the numbers…

1:49:21, 8:20 pace

Splits:
mile 1-8:01
mile 2-8:37
mile 3-8:47
miles 4-5.9-24:19 (8:23 avg)
mile 5.9-6.9-8:07
mile 6.9-7.9-7:43
mile 7.9-8.9-8:22
miles 8.9-10.9-16:40 (8:20 avg)
mile 10.9-11.9-8:45
mile 11.9-12.9-8:13
mile 12.9-13.1-1:47 (8:31 avg)

And now the report:

The day started for me around 4:30 am…thank god I was still on New York time and I got to sleep early the night before!! And learning from some other bloggers’ reports on the road, I made sure to bring bagels and PB with me, not knowing if I could find them so early in the morning. I then went outside to do a weather check…
…OK, I broke a cardinal rule of “nothing new on race day.” I wore my new Flyers fitted top (however, I have 2 other tanks of the same style, so I knew it’d be no problem…however, it seemed a little too chilly to wear the running skirt I wanted (as the material was a little too thin) so I chose my brand-new black RollerGirl skirt. However, as it turned out, the ensemble could not have worked better.
Around 6:15, I met up with my Flyer teammate JM at a nearby Starbucks and got my caffeine fix before waiting for our other 3 teammates. After a few minutes, teammates MD, NH and UH showed up and we all started walking to where the buses were that would take us to the start line in Golden Gate Park. I have to say, the whole process went smoothly. There wasn’t much of a wait for the buses, and once we got on, the seats were relatively comfortable, there was a restroom on the bus (obviously these guys took a cue from the Flyers when it came to traveling in style!)
We arrived to the start area in plenty of time, though the restroom lines were quite long. Was ok, we all just chatted, made other final race preps, tried to stay warm (the weather was cool, misty and cloudy…which I knew would make for absolutely perfect race weather!!) took camera-phone pics…finally, checked our stuff and headed for the start. Both halfs and the full marathon had wave starts-we all started in the 2nd wave, which would be 5 minutes after the first. The start had very little fanfare…didnt even hear a starting horn, all of a sudden, there were people moving forward and its like “oh crap, we’re actually starting!!”

The first mile was a combination of adrenaline, a slightly downhill start, and “SexyBack” on the iPod. 🙂 I was warned about the hills, and sure enough, the next coupla miles humbled me a bit.
Despite the hills, Golden Gate Park is a very pretty place to run…actually reminded me a little bit more of running Prospect Park in the Brooklyn Half (as opposed to my home base, Central Park.)
One very minor complaint about the half-starting with mile 3.9 for the half, we didn’t have our own mile markers…we had to share with the full (they had regular mile markers, ours were on the .9 mile.) As you can see above, it sorta messed my split capturing up a bit, but it was a little tougher to calculate pace…which might have been a good thing, I could just concentrate on enjoying the race and obsessing less about pace.

Anyway, after about 6 miles of hills in the park, I was ready to get out onto the streets…as nice as the park was, the streets were the best way to see the city!! Mile 7 went through Haight-Ashbury, which was actually my favorite part of the race…was the most lively and festive part to me. And oh yeah, some more favorable terrain. The next mile had an uber-steep downhill…I was so waiting for my quads to rebel, but everything seemed to be working fine still!! Was really enjoying this course.

The next few miles were a little more industrial (not to mention the last killer hill in mile 9…man, I thought we had enough already!!) Even though I had taken in gel, sports drink, etc…I did feel myself fading quite a bit in the late miles…could have been as a result of poor pacing. I felt, in a way, like I did in NYC when trying for sub-4…except this case, I had a shot at sub-1:50, which I wasn’t sure was possible with the terrain of the course. Once I spotted AT&T Park (where I was gonna go later in the day!), I knew there was only a little over a mile to go and tried as hard as I could to step it up. The final stretch, along the Embarcadero, with views of the water, was very nice and the cheering crowds at the end helped motivate me to a strong finish. Yeah!!

Afterwards, got my medal, finisher picture, food and drink (they were much more generous with the drink than the food) and went to claim my bag (this needs work for next year too-not a lot of rhyme or reason when the bags were lined up.)

Great race!! This confirms 2 things I suspected…

1-The half really is my best distance-it’s the one that when I’m trying, I’m the most consistent with. (And was thrilled with this time, given the tough terrain…makes me wonder what I’m capable of with a little less hills)

2-I’m really burned out on racing in Central Park, and a change in scenery was very necessary to get the fire back.

I would definitely do this race again in the future. I would love to do the second half again…or maybe try out the tougher first half? That 5:30 start time is a little tough to swallow though…

changed the name, ain’t the same

before climbing cat hillbelieve me, I do respect the fact that the sponsors are quite helpful in making these races happen. But the name change from the “Dash and Splash” to the Naples-New York Park to Park 10K…I dunno, kinda changed the tone a little bit (and I think some people did not catch the pool party afterwards.)

So morning of, still warm but not as bad as the last coupla races I did. I know I didn’t have my “A” game on that day, between only 4 hours sleep and quite a few drinks the night before…

My splits:

8:07 (some idiot crossed the road right in front of me)
8:10 (through the west side hills)
8:00 (down the west side)
8:23 (around the bottom of the park…slowed for water here, it was getting hot!)
8:21 (Trakmaniak was taking pics at the bottom of Cat Hill)
7:56 (another teammate was taking pics by Engineers Gate, but got another back view of me)
1:37 (sprinting to the end, someone saw my clenched fists and told me to open them up…dunno if that helped, but thanks!)

Final time-50:34, 8:09 pace.

You know, I wonder if 10ks are really my distance anymore…I used to like them, but this race I had 2 thoughts: “I wish this was a 5K” (so I can blast it and get it over with) and “I wish this was a half-marathon” (so I can slow down a little!) This definitely wasn’t my best race effort, but if I can maintain this pace for an upcoming half I’d be happy…

courtesy of brightroom...taken near the end, maybe?The pool part afterwards was quite low-key…only 3 other Flyers besides me showed up, and none of the guys-so looks like a certain pic couldn’t be re-created. Was actually fine with me, as I just wanted to take a quick dip, lay out in the sun to dry off, then head to Urban Athletics to pick up my new fitted Flyers top…don’t it look nice?

And as you can tell from the pictures, I tried out my new MarathonGirl COOLair skirt…worked like a charm!! Was very comfortable, felt like wearing nothing…and a certain shot that our photographer got put my mind at ease, it wasnt too revealing in the back. (And as one of my male teammates who passed me in mile 4 said “I probably would have posted a time that was faster by a minute or so had you not lined up ahead of me…” thanks 🙂 )

My next Central Park race will be next month’s (thankfully non-crowded) Club Champs…where I’m sure I’ll be seeing a lot of you bloggers 🙂 In the meantime, San Francisco, here I come!!

missing: that extra gear

This past Sunday’s WABC Fight Against Prostate Cancer 5-miler…my 5-mile PR was here 3 years ago, once again, I didn’t even come close. Oh, I can blame a lot of things. The heat, the crowd, tired legs…but reality is, I just wasn’t able to kick it into that extra gear.

Mile-by-mile breakdown…

8:01 (another clusterfuck start…I was lined up by the 6 minute marker and even then I was still passing people who had less business than I did lining up that close)
7:58 (they finally got that mile marker right…haha. Saw a Flyers cheering contingent on the transverse.)
8:33 (sneaky incline mile. Saw Trakmaniak taking pics but he missed me.)
8:07 (damn it’s getting hot…)
8:05 (I still hate that hill at the finish…no matter how many times I run up it!)

Overall 40:44, 8:08 pace.

To explain-I’m really not upset about this race. And before anyone says it-I know I am lucky to be able to race (especially since too many people I know are on the DL.) But I look back at my races from 2004 and compare them to now…I mean, if I was able to average 7:45s for 5 miles in 75 degree weather, why can’t I do that again? Looks like my racing style has changed…I used to go out quite aggressive at the start, now I’m a little more conservative. Not sure if being injured forced that change, or something else…but seriously, I feel like I am missing that little something extra, to kick it into that extra gear on race day. And it seems like all the speedwork in the world isn’t gonna bring it back…

Or-I really, really think I’m burnt out on racing in Central Park. How many times have we done park loops? Not surprising, my best race experience so far this year was the Wall Street Run. Coincidence? I think not…

Well racing-wise…looks like I am only gonna frequent Central Park for the Dash and Splash (I can’t ever think of it as anything else, and yes that is me in the picture on the front of NYRR’s website)-only for pool access afterwards-will be a game day decision as to whether or not I race it…and the Club Champs…that one is a must-do for me. Do have a coupla halfs on the tentative schedule…both outside of Central Park, thankfully.

In another note-I wore my MarathonGirl skirt for the first time in a race, and it won’t be the last time. It felt much more comfortable than I thought it would!! I think I may need to get another in that style or similar…I liked not having to mess with shorts! (yes guys-I’ll post an action pic if Brightroom got one…unfortunately a certain someone missed me in the crowd :-p )