finally under 30

can you believe, this goal (sub-30 for a 4-miler), has been one I’ve been trying to achieve for about 4 1/2 years??

i can’t even remember how that even came about. My first NYRR race ever was a 4-miler, and I just barely squeaked in under a 9 minute pace. I guess when I really learned how to race, that became part of a set of goals…under 50 for 10K, under 40 for 5 miles, under 30 for 4 miles (NO under 20 for 5k!! not even close to being there…) And I was able to achieve the first 2, the third just seemed to elude me…

First I tried for it in July 2004-went out way too fast, paid for it on the west side hills in mile 3, finished in 30:28 (though considering that was a PR of almost 5 1/2 minutes at the time, couldn’t be too disappointed.) Tried again in November-pacing was much, much better….but just missed by the skin of my teeth, coming in at 30:01!! Ever since then, any attempts hadn’t even come close…til now. Figuring the Race to Deliver last month would be too close to the marathon, I felt today’s Holiday 4-Miler would be a better attempt to try again for sub-30. And so I did…

Back to the present. Boy it was COLD this morning!! I was much, much more bundled up than I was at the 10K-headwrap, gloves, Flyers short-sleeve shirt over a warmer long-sleeve shirt, tights, the whole nine yards. Didn’t care too much about the layering (I actually liked the ensemble 🙂 ), but more concerned about the legs warming up quickly enough in the first mile (though I had done a warmup of about a mile and a half) and if breathing would be an issue, as I remember it was a little during the Colon Cancer 4-miler earlier this year. (Thankfully, I had no bad aftereffects from the Flyers’ holiday party last nite, I was very well behaved and paced myself well!) Kept moving around to try and stay warm and loose until the starting horn sounded…thankfully on time!!

Tried to go out hard from the start…but not too ridiculous that I’d pay for it on Cat Hill or something like that. Legs felt a little tired, don’t know if it was because they were still warming up, still feeling last week’s race or if I spent too much time on my feet yesterday. Nevertheless, the first mile came up in 7:32 and I was pleased, looked to be right on pace. But wait a minute…what’s up with Mr. Garmin? He’s not letting me take mile splits!! Guess I will have to pace on cumulative time, thank god 7:30s are pretty easy math (7:30/15:00/22:30/30:00) Downhill on the west side and onto 72nd…still felt pretty steady. My 2-mile split was 15:04…ok, guess I am nothing if not consistent!! However, I really thought mile 2 should have been faster due to it being downhill, did I take mile 1 too hard? Either way, I will really have to run a quick 2nd half in order to get under 30 minutes, which includes Cat Hill too…

around the mile 3 pointAnd just like last week, Cat Hill really didn’t seem to do a lot of damage. (Or maybe I was *finally* warmed up!!) I picked it up once I hit the top of the hill…partially because I wanted to be out of the cold, but partially because I knew I was a little bit behind. But now Mr. Garmin was acting even crazier…taking an autosplit every second (even though I had that turned off!)-does he not like the cold? Flyer BC was taking pictures around the 3 mile marker…I’m sure the picture he got was me looking at the watch and trying to make some sense of it…or not 😛 Cumulative time at that point was about 22:31…so I made up a few seconds, but boy was this going to be close…

At that point, I was just taking that last mile as hard as I possibly could. I didn’t want a “so close” moment this time…I had that 4 years ago!! Was glad to run past the reservoir and see the home stretch…how long is that again? Do I have enough time? Am I going to make it? Just kept going…but then with maybe about a minute or 2 to go, some guy in front of me dropped his hat and had to pick it up-right in front of me. Needless to say i was a little annoyed…I hope this wasn’t gonna cost me my race!! However, I saw the final turn with my watch still in the low 29s…beautiful!! I rounded the corner and crossed to the announcer calling out a New York Flyer finish. And Mr. Garmin had to misbehave once more…when I hit the stop button, it tried to keep going until I stopped it again!! So I would have to wait for the official results to be posted, but either way, it was still a PR, it was still under 30!!

Afterwards, I was so cold, I was just dying to get my baggage and head home to warm up and have a hot beverage!! I saw Johnny and a couple of other Flyers and we walked towards the baggage area…which, I have to say the baggage logistics were not good for this race, instead of on the transverse, it was over on the East Drive, meaning that we have to cross the path of runners to get to it!! But finally I got my bag, and headed right to Starbucks for a well-deserved gingersnap latte…

…and waited for the NYRR results to come up…and finally they did. 29:43, 7:25 pace, PR of 18 seconds.

Estimated splits…
7:32 (15:04 cumulative)
7:27 (22:31 cumulative)
7:12 (29:43 cumulative)

so looks like a negative split of 15:04/14:39, and my fastest mile ever in Central Park with the 7:12…between last week and this week, guess I do better with getting the west side hills over with early!!

And even though I was happy to have gotten a goal that I have been chasing for over 4 years, it seemed a little anti-climactic compared to last week!! Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the Garmin issues…or maybe I just need a nap. 😛

And that brings the 2008 racing season to a close, and was a very nice way to end things this year 🙂 Tonite, I celebrate even more…


powered by blueberries

I’m sure you are wondering about the title, and what it has to do with my race report for the Joe Kleinerman 10K. Would any of you ever predict that 3 pints of Blue Point Blueberry Ale the night before a race-not to mention a crappy night’s sleep…could lead to a PR? Hey, stranger things have happened…

So yeah, to make a long story short about my pre-race prep…fellow blogger BrunetteChicagoGal was in town for the weekend, so a bunch of us met up at the Ginger Man to, uh, carbo-load…yeah that’s it. And that was where I consumed abovementioned pints of beer (and one of them was bought for me from a guy who was chatting me up…but doesn’t even live in NY, just here for the weekend, so that was that. Plus the guy was in his 40s and he thought i was in my 20s!! Man…make it stop!!) It was tough to cut myself off after 3-they were quite tasty-but I did. And I made sure water was consumed, and even got in some real carboloading (pasta) when I got home. But all in all, fun evening, was great to see BCG again.

I tried to sleep, but woke up around 3 am for no reason, and couldn’t fall back to sleep til about 5 am…don’t know why that was!! (It’s not like it was marathon morning or anything.) So of course the alarm going off was not welcome, but I had to promise myself I could nap later…and got up, did the usual pre-race routine, and headed out the door.

all smiles before the start Tried to time it perfectly to warm up for a mile, drop off my stuff at baggage (when I realized I forgot to put on my lucky Livestrong bracelet…doh!), and get to the corrals early enough. There was some good music playing on the loudspeaker, which put me in a good mood. Actually didn’t see too many Flyers around. I knew some of them were in Vegas for the weekend doing the marathon or the half, but still…little surprising. I did see Flyer BC on the sidelines (where he snapped the picture before the start)…he told me where to look for him on the course. So between him and Crazy Bandanahead, I knew to expect some friendly faces. When waiting for the starting horn, I could tell people were thinking “enough with the speeches, it’s cold, we want to get going.” And we did…

no smiles face on, this is business!!  and this was only mile 2...Mile 1 (7:49)-Once we cleared the start line, the logjam opened up nicely. I tried to run hard but conservative…taking full advantage of the downhill east side Harlem hill, but to save something for the uphill on the west side, not to mention all the other hills waiting for me!! I was expecting this mile to be around 8 minutes, so I was pleased with the mile split. Or did I go out too fast? Or was this just a result of less congestion due to the corrals (as opposed to 2004, where I had to do a lot of dodging and weaving in the first mile.)

Mile 2 (7:43)-Through the west side hills I go. BC was on the sidelines, with camera in hand, and got another pic of me. One of our speedy masters women, CB, passed by in this mile and said “good job” to me…not knowing how far behind me she was lined up, I figured if I could keep her in my sights for the time being it may be a good day 🙂 With one more uphill to go, hit the mile 2 marker…not bad, not bad. As long as I don’t fall apart, under 50 minutes may be possible…

Mile 3 (7:31)-The long, sloping downhills were very welcome in this mile, my legs needed a little bit of a break from the climbing. When I hit the mile 3 marker, I saw my cumulative time was 23:03…and a little quick math told me that I was exactly on PR pace at this point, and all I’d need to do for the remainder of the race is to stay under 7:40s. I have negative split this course a couple of times before, could I do it today? I’m gonna go for it…

Mile 4 (7:36)-Down the hill by Tavern and around the bottom of the park. This was the beginning of what I thought were the 2 toughest miles, yes even more so than Harlem Hill…because you are tired by this time. What I tried to do is look for people to pace off of. I noticed a GNY woman and a Hellgate woman who were pretty much running near me the entire way so far. So I tried to-at the very least-keep them in my sights. And it kept me going, was still on target.

Mile 5 (7:39)-Time to prep for Cat Hill. Crazy Bandanahead was on the sidelines taking pictures-he tried to get one of me but some idiot jumped in front of me and blocked the shot. dumbass. (not you, bandanahead!) Finally, the hill. Just get it done. Don’t sprint up it, go nice and steady, focus on form, etc…and I reached the top of the hill before I knew it and the legs were actually still feeling good. But the burning question…Cat Hill always does some type of damage to the mile split, how much damage is it going to be this time? The answer-not much damage at all!!

Mile 6 (7:19)-Well, the advantage of not tiring myself out on Cat Hill was that I was able to pick it up for the last 1.2 miles…and my cumulative time at 5 miles (38:18) was just under PR pace…so I knew I had it, the question now was how far under can I go? So time to pick up the pace and give it all I got. Flyer GW was at Engineer’s Gate ringing a cowbell and shouting words of encouragement. Reached the north end of the reservoir around 96th street…and with the downhill coming up, picked it up even more. BC was taking pictures again, but no smiles for me…was all business today!! And the mile 6 marker was a beautiful sight.

Last .2 (1:29)-My finishing kick has never been my strength, but it has been something that I have been trying to work on. During the last .2 miles, I thought of Wednesday’s workout and how I floored the last repeat…just go all out for a minute and change, you can rest later!! And so I did-and this was the fastest I have ever done that last point-two in a 10K!!

And goodbye to yet another old (4-year-old) PR! Final time was 47:06, 7:35 pace-a PR of 32 seconds. Oh yeah!! I was ridiculously overdue for a decent 10K time…I have not run under 50 minutes since the 2006 Mini 10K and the 10K split in the Philly Distance Run was my 2nd best 10K time ever!! I just knew I had to run one where it wasn’t an inferno, and I’m actually in shape and not still recovering from something…so guess this one was perfect timing!!

After crossing the finish, the woman from Hellgate congratulated me and thanked me for being her “rabbit” of sorts in the race…and I did the same. 🙂 And turns out she is a reader of my blog!! (If you’re reading now-thanks again!!)

Made a mad dash for baggage, needed my jacket and gloves and headwrap-while I was fine during the race, now that I wasn’t moving it was getting C-O-L-D!! Saw Johnny and asked him if he beat his “zero one” today…and indeed he did!! Runner26 and jb24 were also around, having run this together as a “fun run.” Chatted amongst ourselves and with other teammates until we decided we had enough of the cold and had to get indoors (and for me, to a local Starbucks for a gingersnap latte.) So our separate ways we went…

Well, I’m damn happy to have yet another distance monkey off my back, and very happy with the execution too-especially considering my longest run since the marathon has only been 8 miles. I really prefer the 10K courses that start in the north end of the park and go counterclockwise-you get the toughest hills out of the way in the beginning and the finish isn’t uphill-unlike the ones that go clockwise and start/end at Tavern on the Green…where you get the Harlem hills in the middle of the race wheren you’re tired and the uphill to Tavern robs you of any finishing kick. (For what it’s worth, this course was my previous PR, 4 years ago.)

And-another nice surprise…I scored 5th for the Flyer women!! This is big, I never score in club points races, as they usually bring out the faster runners. I guess some of our speedier women were sitting this one out…but who cares, I’m taking it, cuz I don’t know if it will happen again!! 😀

And the next burning question…Saturday…will the 4-mile PR go down-even if only by 2 seconds? (And will I need to find the beer I drank last night and drink it the night before every race? 🙂 ) Stay tuned…

hells yeah, it’s my city!!

(aka the official super-long NYC Marathon race report.)

Yeah. Sunday just showed-I totally own this city 🙂

I’ll start this off this long report with the mile-by-mile splits, courtesy of Mr. Garmin…

(my chip time was 3:44:14…so based on my chip splits, looks like 1 second comes off the last .2 and 2 seconds comes off mile 1)

So…as I had mentioned before, I set my goal for the marathon publically at the beginning of August as 3:50. Enough to be a strong PR, and seemed pretty doable for my abilities at the time. However-after the Philly Distance Run, I began wondering if 3:45…although scary, could be doable. After doing Grete’s at a 3:45 marathon pace-and it feeling like an easy run and running that at the end of a 7-day period where I racked up close to 60 miles-I decided to secretly make 3:45 my stretch goal. I tapered well and just trusted my training…

So, race day. Despite the fact that I got an extra hour of sleep due to turning the clocks back, I still found it difficult to actually sleep, and woke up before my alarm was due to go off. Fine with me, more time to do the race day routine. Coffee w/ bagel and PB. Listen to my “marathon morning” mix with some of my favorite and/or lucky songs. Roll out the yoga mat and do some stretching. Get dressed, check a million times to see if I remembered everything, then head out the door.

This year, I took the Staten Island Ferry instead of the bus-I highly recommend it, was so easy. Just hopped on the 1 train to go downtown-took 20 minutes. When I got to the terminal, I waited for TB who was coming from Brooklyn so we could get on the ferry together. We both got on the 6:30 ferry-got seats right away, enjoyed the view, and just gabbed excitedly about what was ahead. Once we got to Staten Island, we were also able to get on a bus right away that would take us to Fort Wadsworth-easy peasy. I was very satisfied about how stress-free this process went.

Finally, arrived at Fort Wadsworth around 7:30ish. There was no line for the porto-potties so immediately took advantage of that. After that, we met up with Runner26 who was hanging out with her college friends in a tent in the orange start. Ate, “hydrated,” tried to stay warm, gossiped, laughed…the time actually went by pretty quickly. It was almost time for those in Wave 1 (which included TB) to check their bags and get to their corrals, so I took that as my cue to make another porto-potty stop (gotta take advantage of short lines while I can!) and then make my way to the blue start village. once there, i spotted my baggage truck and made any final preps I needed to and checked my bag while the line was still short-I had my throwaway sweatshirt and my heat sheet from the SF Half to keep me warm. From there, I walked over to the corrals. Wave 1 hadn’t left yet, so I hung around until they left and Wave 2 was allowed to enter. And I will say-they really did a good job at policing the corrals, I was pleasantly surprised. And they even had porto-potties in the corrals too!! So far-big thumbs up from my 2006 experience.

Finally, it was time to head over to the bridge. The ropes between the corrals were dropped and we all jogged to maintain our position (good, this can be my warmup.) This resulted in an awesome starting spot for me!! Was a little chilly-I had ditched my heat sheet and sweatshirt and arm warmers-was just in my sports top, shorts and gloves but I knew with the strong sun, I’d be warm soon enough. 10 am was getting closer and closer!! Was a little different having someone besides Mary Wittenberg give the “New York City awaits you, the world awaits you” speech-but we still got the ceremonial cannon and “New York, New York” to mark the start. And I crossed the line within seconds!! Here we go, here we go, here we go…

OK-so my plan was to run the first 2 miles in no faster than a cumulative 17 minutes, maybe closer to 17:30. I felt like I was taking it easy, so I was shocked that my first mile was under 9 minutes, and even more shocked to see the 7:40 mile 2. Off the bridge and into Brooklyn, this time on the right side of 4th Ave, so I got to see a different approach this time. The crowds were in effect already, heard a lot more people screaming my name this time around-maybe because I was easier to spot with less crowds? Either way, I liked it. Maybe too much, both mile 3 and my 5k split were faster than I wanted. Honestly-I was doubting the positions of the mile markers, that’s how good the splits were looking!! Question is-would this haunt me in the end? What’s done is done-I wasn’t gonna slow down dramatically to “make up” for that-I thought of something that JS told me once-“Don’t try to ‘make up’ for time, whether you’re ahead of schedule or behind schedule. Aim to hit the pace exactly right at the present moment.” And that was what I did, going forward, I just tried to stay relax, and shoot for 26:30 5k splits. Before I knew it, I was at the mile 8 merge…it was almost like I floated down 4th avenue in some kind of dream state…I took that as a good sign, and I was thankfully still feeling good 🙂

along lafayette ave in brooklynHere was where the wave starts came into play-miles 9-13 in Brooklyn were a much, much more enjoyable experience this time around, no bottleneck that I experienced in 2006 and I didn’t lose any time and slow dramatically here. Lafayette Ave had a great cheering section, I saw Flyer YP cheering and taking pictures. Was still feeling great through Williamsburg and Greenpoint-saw Flyer JT during that stretch and he commented that I was “flying.” Heart rate was a little bit high-at the very top of my easy zone…but that could have been more excitement than actual effort, as I wasn’t breathing hard at all. But I had to keep telling myself so many times…eye on the prize, eye on the prize. I might have been on BQ pace at that point, but that wasn’t the goal today. I’d rather get the 3:45 and finish strong rather than try for 3:40 and bonk.

Almost to Queens!! I noticed that the playground where a lot of people usually cut across was roped off this year…hehe. Made the turn onto McGuinness Boulevard, just as we did in the bridges run so it all looked familiar…hit the half-marathon point on the bridge at 1:50:43-ok, good. If I lose 2-3 minutes in the second half I can still get my 3:45, so as far as I was concerned, I was right on target 🙂

Well considering I got knocked down in Queens back in 2006, my goal for this year was to just make it through this borough still standing 🙂 These next coupla miles were actually a little uneventful…maybe because I was thinking ahead to Manhattan already? Either way, I breathed a sigh of relief when I reached the Queensboro bridge and had stayed vertical 😛 Once again, my training running the bridge had paid off-felt strong and steady, and was still passing people. Mile 16 was my slowest mile so far…only one over 9 minutes so far, but not too shabby considering that it included a bitch of an incline 🙂 Yay for the downhill, I can hear the crowds….

flying high passing by the powergel station…First Avenue, here I come!! Those crowds were just tempting me to go fast, but I tried to keep it under control…remembering the “last 10 miles run” and the surprising hills. Don’t know how well that worked as the splits showed 🙂 That plus I couldn’t wait to get to the mile 18 marker, where 2 miles of personal cheering sections would begin. First one being the Flyers at the PowerGel station. I was in great spirits then…one of my favorite dance songs (“Insomnia” by Faithless) was blasting over the speakers at this time, my teammates were cheering for me…as the picture showed, I was definitely in my element 🙂 What a rush!! Next was the 30K point…saw some Harriers by the White Castle, and shortly after that was the family cheering section!! (this year wearing Jets green…hehe.) Next, Uptown Girl and the rest of her TRD cheering section was just past the mile 19 marker. After that, it seemed to thin out a bit-til I hit the Willis Avenue Bridge and saw Flyer PD playing the bagpipes once again. Kinda made me forget how crappy that bridge felt (more the surface than anything else-don’t like that metal grating, the red carpet didn’t seem to hide it enough this time…)

For whatever reason, I found the Bronx to be much more lively this time around, was kind of a shame that we only ran 1 mile there. Lots of old-school dance music playing…felt like I was at a block party or something. There was also a big screen that showed the runners (I saw me on there!), and “Stronger” by Kanye West playing…always a song to get me pumped to run well!! And I was still holding up very well, much better than in 2006!! At the 20-mile point, I estimated that I needed 8:45s or better to make it under 3:45, and so far so good. Now back to Manhattan…let’s finish this thing!! 🙂

mile 23...the pain beginning to show on my faceUpper 5th avenue felt like a continuation of the Bronx…good music playing, block party atmosphere…saw the Flyers’ Mr. President right before Marcus Garvey Park, was glad to see him as I missed him back in 2006. Then miles 23 and 24 happened. That incline on 5th Ave that would.not.end. Yeah, I knew to expect it, but when you’re tired, it’s still a bitch. Plus, the running room was limited as the spectators were sorta crowding us…and I had to dodge walkers, and those who stopped and/or walked through the water stations (I didn’t stop to walk once-at the water stations I just grabbed a cup on the run)…I didn’t want them interrupting my “rhythm” so to speak-as I was afraid if I was forced to slow down or walk I wouldn’t be able to start back up. My dad was near the mile 23 marker and took a picture…my mom and my brother missed seeing me, but my brother took off to try and catch me to yell out some words of encouragement. (was sorta glad my mom missed me-as she said she was gonna yell “almost there!”…which at that time, i did NOT want to hear…you know why!) Then almost out of nowhere, Derek pulled up besides me…took pictures, ran with me…I didn’t even ask him to but I was so grateful for the support, as I think I went through a little mental bonk at mile 24 (which turned out to be my slowest mile of the race)…at that time, you’re just counting down the blocks to the park, but it seems like forever. Finally, Engineer’s Gate was within view…I said to Derek then “I got this.”

The last 2.2 miles…so many things went through my head. Whatever pain my legs were experiencing at the time was probably nothing compared to what my relative has been dealing with for the last few months, so what’s another 20 minutes. I had the same thought in my head that I had in the Philly Distance Run-that I didn’t come this far to have another “so close” moment…I was so close to the sub-3:45, no way was I gonna lose it now!! After mile 25…good mile, but I wasn’t completely in the clear just yet…gotta hustle for the last 1.2 miles!! Think of how great my last mile was in 2006. Think of that 7:44 mile 13 at Grete’s. You can do it, you can do it. Saw Flyers EF and SD cheering on the East drive leading out of the park…was so glad to see a familiar face or 2 at that point, really gave me a boost!! Just kept the intensity up Central Park South…hit the half-mile to go sign and knew I had it…made me sooo happy. And the fact that mile 26, at 8:16 was my 3rd fastest mile of the race? Once again, I knocked that damn wall down…

That hill to Tavern…always a bitch, but I could take it on (and as it turned out-ran the last .2 at a sub-8 pace!) just counting down the “x yards to go” signs…oh yeah. The finish line calling my name just ahead…I felt like I was in that surreal dream state once again-but this was no dream. Or rather, this a dream coming true!! Put my arms up in celebration once again…sub-3:45 was mine, all mine!! Crossed the line and was officially 2-for-2 when it came to running a great NYCM!! 🙂

Official time-3:44:14 (half splits 1:50:43/1:53:31)

7980/38068 overall
1402/12877 females
530/4462 females 30-39

wearing my medal!! and with my...mmmm...recovery beverage!! Once again-I was happy to stop running, but my quads hated me. I think I was in a lot more pain than I was 2 years ago! I got a finisher photo taken with my medal, but not sure if I was smiling!! Got my heatsheet and food bag, then started the trek up to the baggage trucks…the entire time I was saying “ow, ow, ow”…my legs were in such pain. I wanted to sit down, but I knew I had to walk it off. I actually didn’t mind the walk to the baggage truck, as I had to walk that far to get home anyway 🙂 Finally got my bag, exited the park, met up with la familia and headed to my place to shower and relax, before heading out to dinner and indulging in some fajitas, guac, chips and salsa, and the first of several, uh, “recovery beverages” (aka margaritas.) Continued the celebration across town with the Flyers, which included more margaritas!! Everyone was in good spirits that nite, happy with their times-was very glad to see.
I guess since I was in so much pain after crossing the finish-it took awhile to sink in how everything just went according to plan, everything went so smoothly…that I achieved a goal that over a month ago, I thought would have been “crazy” or “scary.” Only thing I may have done differently was run that first 5K a minute slower…but hey, I still got my goal, so ain’t complaining 🙂 And I got my goal thanks to my great support system-whether you were cheering from afar or on the course-you don’t know how grateful I am that I had you. My training, my mental toughness, may have gotten me to the finish line when I did, but “I get by with a little help from my friends” as well 🙂

What’s next? That’s a topic for another day, another post. Right now, just sitting back and enjoying this one. 🙂

you guys are great at guessing!!

you know that?? 🙂

once again-the most popular response to the poll turned out to be what happened today!!

turned out a cool 3:44:14. yep, a 14:12 PR. hells yeah.

here is how it unfolded (thanks to the chip):

Location Time


5km 0:25:32 8:13
10km 0:51:52 8:20
15km 1:18:26 8:24
20km 1:45:00 8:26
Half-Marathon 1:50:43 8:26
25km 2:12:13 8:30
Mile 16* 2:17:30 8:35
Mile 17 2:24:49 8:31
Mile 18 2:33:16 8:30
30km 2:38:36 8:30
Mile 19 2:41:37 8:30
Mile 20 2:50:19 8:30
Mile 21 2:58:57 8:31
35km 3:05:39 8:32
Mile 22 3:07:39 8:31
Mile 23 3:16:26 8:32
Mile 24 3:25:36 8:34
40km 3:33:00 8:34
Mile 25 3:34:14 8:34
Mile 26 3:42:30 8:33
Finish 3:44:14 8:33

*chip mat for “mile 16” was over a minute after the actual mile 16 marker-my mile 16 split according to my watch was 2:16:19, 8:31 pace-didn’t think I slowed that much!!

make no mistake, it was tough, i sure had to fight for it in the last few miles. and i don’t know what the hell happened with my first 5k split 🙂

on the other hand…today just reminded me what great friends i have, and what great mental toughness I have. and that, my friends-is what got me to the finish line when I did 🙂

more to come-it’s celebration time!!

don’t rain on my gallop

Looking back on Runner26‘s comment to me…“And there’s no rain in the forecast (remember that!)”-I seriously have to laugh. She was right, there was no rain anywhere in the forecast!! And yet-it was raining (lightly, but still it was rain!) from around mile 10 to the end for me. I swear, whenever I run Grete’s Great Gallop, it rains!! Luckily, this was a better experience than 2 years ago (where we all “enjoyed” the downpours!)

So, I really wasn’t planning on racing this thing. I slapped a cool playlist on the iPod, put on the regular trainers, frontloaded with a couple of miles…all signs that I wasn’t taking this super-seriously. Yeah, ran 2 miles from home, down around the bottom of the park to the race start (which also meant I could cheer for those runners doing the Norway Run!)…perfect!! Was definitely enough time to get it done, but man…the baggage area was a distaster area-too damn crowded, then we heard warning announcements to get to the corrals (and it was only 20 minutes to the race start!) I headed over to my corral (yellow this time) and found a few other Flyers and chitchatted til it was time to start…we were lined up in an unfortunate spot, as we were near a speaker and it just made Mary Wittenberg’s voice sound all the louder and more piercing. Thank god for headphones to cut that out a little. 9:00 finally came and the starting horn sounded.

mile 5 on the east side...waving to Flyer BCSo I really, really tried to hold back. There were quite a few teammates who were passing me and I just let them go and do my own thing. I made sure to have slower-tempo (but still upbeat) songs on the playlist for the first few miles (save the fast stuff for the end.) Just tried to stay relaxed. Still was surprised to see 8:37 for the first mile…net downhill or no net downhill, still too fast. Mile 2, up that gradual west side uphill…8:42. Hmmm…guess this is gonna wind up being an MP effort. Either that, or I completely underestimated what effect the fabulous weather (49 degrees!) would have on me. Whatever-honestly, I just kept running pretty steadily and I was really having a great time…enjoying my music, saying hi to people I knew, thanking those cheering, chitchatting every now and then, smiling for the camera-whether it be Brightroom or Flyer BC…yep, this was what a “fun run” should really be!! :-p

The aforementioned rain? Started around mile 10 for me. Like I said before-it really wasn’t that bad but I had to laugh that it happened when rain wasn’t even on the agenda. Was still feeling good, but by the mile 11 marker, I was ready to be done and out of the rain. So I decided to crank it up for the last 2.1 miles…also visualizing the marathon finish. Like in 2006, when once I hit the park, to go for it. And it felt pretty good to be passing people at the end, instead of the other way around 🙂 Resulted in a strong mile 12, a smokin’ mile 13, and a last push up the hill to the finish line. Finished in 1:52:37 (8:35 pace) (according to the NYRR results.)

Doing the splits…

And don’t worry…I don’t think the course was really 13.3 miles…hehe.

The hard work is done, time to relax. Flyer JW thanked me for being his rabbit-we were kinda trading places back and forth throughout…I stayed ahead for a few miles, he finally passed me for good around mile 11. I feel so used :-p Flyer DM and I braved the long-ass line for waffles (as I missed getting them 2 years ago because of the rain!) but was fine as we chitchatted the whole time so it went by pretty quick. And it was worth it 🙂 Also raided the bagels with salmon…and then chitchatted some more with my teammates (and also a closet blog reader of mine!) Finally around noon, we all headed our separate ways…to either nap, or to warm up (I had my long-sleeve shirt and a jacket on, but it was still chilly!)

Seemed like there were a lot of good times today…I looked at some of my teammates’ PRs wistfully and wonder what I would have been able to do if I had raced this. But-on the other hand-I had my good half marathon race 2 weeks ago and more recovery time from that before the big one. Besides, I felt this was more beneficial to work on executing the race plan on the big day…I think as long as the weather cooperates-some good things just may come out of November 2nd…

dress rehearsal? literally.

Thank god for 18 weeks of training…plenty of time to make mistakes, and learn from them. And swear to not do the same thing on marathon day. And for me today-that would be running attire.

Today was the NYCM Tune-Up 18 miler. Unlike 2 years ago, I resolved to really, really hold back and not race this thing. And for the most part, that was the case. My plan was to run 2 miles beforehand, making this 20 for the day.

Attire was the red Flyer singlet (with 93% humidity, you can bet the white one would not be a smart choice today!) and my red and black RunningSkirt-was a dress rehearsal to see if I could possibly wear it in the marathon. But during my 2-mile warmup, I noticed the skirt kept slipping down and it was getting annoying…like the waistband was stretched out or something. I didn’t really have time to go home and change, so I took the 2 bottom safety pins off of my bib and tried to fix it. Seemed to do the trick…but little did I know, it was only a quick fix…

So when I got to the start, I looked for Runner26, as we planned to run together for a little bit. Didn’t see her…so I went to the corrals to line up-actually went a corral back and the person policing the corrals said that “you can move up if you want.” I said that was OK, as I was not racing this thing. I then saw Runner26 and actually, I was lined up in the corral she was supposed to be in, so it was all good. The conditions were crappy and humid, but that just solidified our plan to be conservative and just have fun…

…which we did!! The first few miles were pretty easy, we saw other Flyers we knew, including DG, who joined us in mile 4…and commented on the fact that my skirt was again slipping down :-p Yeah, I kept having to pull it up. And it was getting annoying. So annoying, in fact, that I went a little ahead of Runner26 and DG in mile 5 up Cat Hill, and they waved me on ahead (I knew they’d be fine running together)…I just wanted to finish this as quick as possible without it turning into a race effort. So I just flipped on the iPod and settled into my normal long run pace. The legs were fine, I slowed for gel/water/Gatorade when I needed it, but my god, the damn skirt was annoying…my arms were tired of always having to pull it up, and I felt bad for anyone running behind me. On the other hand, maybe it prevented me from running too fast 🙂

With 4 miles to go, I was so ready for this to be over. So I picked it up to around 9 minute pace for the last 4, with a strong last mile. Finished in 2:47:41-9:18 pace…which is exactly where my long run pace should be so mission accomplished 🙂 Forget 2 weeks ago, now I have never been so glad to be done with a 20-miler in my life!!

The tale of the splits:

Honestly-if the only bad part of this run was a “wardrobe malfunction” and not the legs or feeling like bonking, I’ll take it. And was proud of myself to have shown restraint this time 🙂

So 2 more weeks to go before it’s taper time!! My 2 heaviest mileage weeks…includes 15 miles next weekend, my last 20-miler the weekend after, and lotsa weekday mileage and having to fit it in with the Jewish holidays (at least Yom Kippur is not before a long run this year!)

And as for marathon day attire-I’ve decided I will repeat my outfit from the Philly Distance Run…hey-if it ain’t broke… 🙂

Also on the topic of marathons-can’t believe the WR went down again!! Unreal…

an early birthday present

Yes…with the Philadelphia Distance Run falling 5 days before my birthday…what better birthday present can there be than a new half-marathon PR (not to mention getting the half-marathon monkey off my back? 🙂 )

I’ll start this race report off with the stats and the splits…

Mile splits (unofficial):

Mile 1-8:10
Mile 2-7:31
Mile 3-7:46
Mile 4-7:45
Mile 5-6:45 (short!)
Mile 6-8:59 (long!)
Mile 7-7:53 (sports drink)
Mile 8-7:52 (gel)
Mile 9-7:54 (hill!)
Mile 10-7:47
Mile 11-7:41
Mile 12-7:41
Mile 13-7:46 (another hill!)
last .1-0:50

And now-for the story behind the numbers.

As most of you may know, the half-marathon distance has been sort of a monkey I’ve had on my back for a few years. I set my PR of 1:43 in January 2005, and have not come close since (my next best time being 4 1/2 minutes slower!) Hoping my marathon training 2 years ago may fix that, but both halfs I tried to race were cursed with downpours. But I had a feeling this could be my year…I was patient and decided to save my half-marathon attempt for a good course at a more ideal time of year (read: hopefully no heat and humidity!) And Philly was already good to me with the Broad Street Run…

So the plan was as follows-train it to Philly on Saturday, stay overnight, train it back to NYC on Sunday. And shocker-NJ Transit did its NJ Transit thing…as my train left Penn 15 minutes late with no explanation. (and once again, I was sitting by a bunch of annoying kids who just yapped away the entire time. Why does this always happen to me?) I thought I was gonna miss my SEPTA connection in Trenton, thankfully they held it!! Took it as a good sign 🙂 Dropped my stuff off in the hotel, went over to the expo, got my bib (with a very cool number-#4444!!) and browsed around. I didn’t really do much damage to the credit card, there was nothing I really wanted to buy-though this “Will Run For Wine” singlet was very tempting!! Only thing I bought was a coupla pairs of throwaway gloves, as I will need for the NYC start and I remember they werent at last year’s expo. I ran a coupla more errands, then back to the hotel to rest til dinner…my legs were tired and I was a little worried about that. I met up with Flyer VV for dinner at Buca di Beppo-hey if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…my pre-race meal did me good for Broad Street so of course I duplicated it-right down to the glass of merlot. VV was running not just his first half, but his first race ever so I gave him plenty of pointers. 🙂 I wound up crashing mad early…needed my beauty sleep for the next day!!

Race day…the usual routine!! Woke up too early as usual-had my usual cup of coffee, bagel with white chocolate peanut butter, got dressed, stretched, hydrated…listened to pre-run music…and yes, “Pocketful of Sunshine” was one of the songs as it was at Broad Street, and another one has been added to the list-“Viva La Vida” by Coldplay. I left my room around 6:30 and stopped by Starbucks to get my “magic” concoction-coffee with a shot of vanilla syrup. Drank that and then it was time to warm up…and how perfect was it that the start was a mile away? There’s my warmup 🙂 Hit up the porto-johns…and from what I heard it was perfect timing, as I only waited a few minutes and I heard there were half-hour waits at times. I dropped off my bag at gear check, stretched a little more, and by that time, the corrals were open. I was in corral 4, which looked like it was pretty close to the front. However, these corrals weren’t being completely policed, as there were people who belonged in corrals further back walking forward, and no one was really stopping them…whatever. I saw Uptown Girl-she was in corral 3, so she hung in the back of that corral, and me in the front of 4 so we chit-chatted a little while waiting for the start. Her TRD teammate, AH joined us…he was going for around the same time I was so we figured we could try and work together. Once again, I was pretty calm before the start…gonna be a good thing!! The singing of the national anthem signaled that it was almost start time-oh, but the person singing either botched the lyrics or came up with his own…needless to say there were a lot of “WTFs?” around. The wheelchairs were off, and then so were we!! “Beautiful Day” by U2 was playing as we crossed the start…and boy, I hoped that would be true!! 🙂

There was a little bit of maneuvering in mile 1…definitely a lot of people not lined up right, but maybe a good thing so it could hold me back a little. AH and I stuck together for the first half-mile but then he pulled ahead and I let him go…we’ll each run our own race. Saw Flyer CD and his fiancee (and former Flyer) EB cheering…I smiled and waved to them, was good to see some support on the sidelines. At mile 1…hmmm. I knew I wanted to be conservative, but thought that was a little slow…picked up the pace a little bit as we headed past City Hall and onto Market Street. As for the 2nd split, I don’t know if that was too fast, or was mile 1 long and 2 short? Either way, I was right on pace, and my mission for the next few miles was to just maintain 7:50s or better. I was so glad to make the turn and head west, as we were running directly into the sun and now the sun would be behind us for at least a few miles. Saw CD and EB again near where I saw them previously (the out and back on Benjamin Franklin Parkway)…and through mile 4, all was well…time to leave the city streets behind for a bit and run along MLK Drive.

And this part was much shadier, which was a relief…even though the temps were in the high 50s, the sun was strong which made it feel a little hotter. Was still feeling decent-this definitely was no cakewalk (and as I was telling myself “this is a goal race, you gotta work for it!”) but I felt a helluva lot better than I did at this point in…last year’s Queens Half for example 🙂 I concentrated on just staying relaxed (yeah, some yoga thinking got into me…the word “flow” went through my head several times along that stretch!) I saw singlets from other NYC teams…CPTC, Warren St, NY Harriers…and passed on by em 🙂 When I saw the mile 5 split I said “No eff-ing way…” we were all in consensus that it was short. Confirmed by the long mile 6. Was trying to do the math in my head to average the 2 but the brain wasn’t having it 🙂 Grabbed some Cytomax (which I actually do like!) past the 10K point but spilled part of it on myself…thought “great, now i’m hot, sticky and sweet.” It’s crazy the things that run through your mind during races!

Around mile 7.5, I took my gel and tried to grab some water at the mile 8 station to wash it down…but grabbed another cup of Cytomax instead. Oops!! Hopefully that won’t do damage (it didn’t.) And in this mile this guy, DK ran beside me-one that was a wannabe Flyer and was contacting those what were doing the race to see if anyone wanted to run together…I had said at the time thanks but no thanks, as his plan was to take it easy-and I reminded him of that :-p The response-it’s hard to hold back when you’re in the race atmosphere…anyway, DK asked if he could stick by me so he wouldn’t be tempted to go any faster and I said sure. Actually-it was good for me to have a pacing buddy for the last few miles.

Mile 9 included the Falls Bridge…and the first hill of the course!! Granted, its nothing compared to Central Park, but still, a hill is never welcome 🙂 I said “where the hell did that come from”? 🙂 It was short, crossed over the bridge where there was a bagpiper playing…reminded me of PD playing at mile 20 of the NYC Marathon :)…then a little downhill to come off the bridge and onto Kelly Drive…where there was still a bit of shade, but we were running into the sun once again, so it was definitely heating up. There was no chip mat at the 15K marker, but I looked at my watch quickly and saw it was at 1:13:xx…hmm, guess that 15K PR is kinda soft. At the 10-mile split…I tried to do some quick math to figure out if I was on pace or not…I had sped up a little in mile 10, but was it enough? Whatever the case, time to get to work for the last 5K.

Make no mistake. It was tough. It was hot, my legs were tired. DK was a great pacing partner though, just letting me stay quiet and just run, but being encouraging too. At the mile 11 and 12 splits, I said “nice…” I think I had it. (DK had started 20 seconds ahead of me, so he thought we were cutting it closer than we actually were…may have been a good thing though!!)

My god, mile 13 was evil. The 2nd hill of the course, but at the point where you definitely do NOT want one (reminds me of the last 1.1 miles of the Brooklyn Half!) I was so tired. After mile 12…it looked like I could just coast along at an 8 minute pace and still make it in under 1:43…but why take that chance. This was the defining moment of this race…the point where I told myself the most influential thing…“You did not come this far to have another ‘so close’ moment.” Not just far in terms of traveling, but the fact that I was on PR pace for so long…no effin way was I gonna lose it in the last mile, just suck it up…almost there!!! The mile 13 marker was a relief…it was all downhill from there to the finish-literally!!! My sprint at the end of halfs is never my strength, and it wasnt today, but at that point I did not care!! I crossed the finish line with a huge smile and the first thought that went through my head-GOODBYE, 3 1/2 year old PR!!! 🙂

Got my medal, my picture taken (and several comments about my very cool bib number!!) some water and sports drink-and more Starbucks coffee!…didn’t take food, as once again I really didn’t feel like eating (normally the case after a hard effort like this). I got my bag and walked around the finish area…partially to walk off the effort and partially to look for people. I saw Flyers JB, JA and FR…i saw Uptown Girl who was happy with her MP effort. I walked the mile back to the hotel which I really needed…got cleaned up, checked out, then me and VV (who had a great first half with a 1:52…i told him he’d be able to run under 2 hours!) celebrated our efforts with burgers and beer. Then off to the train station for me, and thankfully a drama-free train trip home!!

I was very pleased with this race!! Unlike the Vegas half-which even though it was a PR, was kinda anti-climactic…this one was very memorable. Plus, the pacing in that race wasn’t my best (only thing that saved me in the last 5k was a tailwind), whereas this one I feel I paced a lot better. I was glad to finally run the half-marathon that I thought I had in me, but was never able to produce…especially since I wasn’t completely tapered for this, wonder what I’d be capable of on fresher legs!! But like I said before-the monkey is off my back, no longer does the half-marathon PR need to be asterisked!!

And as for my NYCM goals? The McMillan calculator predicts a 3:35:49 marathon…add 10 minutes for the hills, still on target for an under-3:50 goal!! Not gonna be drastically altering my goals (maybe be a little more flexible, like hit between 3:45 and 3:49). But next year, maybe next year…