MCM=DNF

I don’t even know where to start with this.  This is probably the toughest race report to write.  Ever.  A day that started off so well and should have ended at the finish line with a BQ instead ended around 20.6 miles in.  And even now, I’m not sure if I did the right thing by calling it quits…

Well as you all know, I had the intention of shooting for a BQ at the Marine Corps Marathon.  And based on how training was going, that goal seemed very doable.  The race results seemed to back that up as well-setting 5K and 5-mile PRs (which were long, long overdue) and throwing down a 1:37:36 at the Philly Distance Run.  I was able to nail some MP miles at the end of a (humid!) 20-mile run.  Everything pretty much seemed on track.  Then IT band issues hit around the taper.  The sports doc did still give me the green light to run the marathon tho, as long as I got some PT to address the immediate issues-which I did.  I was still confident things would go well on Sunday.

So let’s fast forward to this past weekend.  Friday afternoon, I took Amtrak down to DC-nice and easy and stress-free and I just played with the CrackBerry the entire ride 😛  Made it to Union Station with no problems and got a taxi to my hotel in Crystal City.  Later met up with Flyer MF (who was rooming with me) in Georgetown to grab a bite to eat with her and a couple of her DC friends, then went back to the hotel for some much needed beauty sleep…

Expo day on Saturday!!  The expo was very nice-actually bigger than NYC’s!  The official race shirt was a light blue mock-turtleneck long-sleeve (nice, my favorite color!)   Walked around the expo and yes I did do a bit of damage to the credit card 🙂  Picked up a pair of those “recovery” compression socks, another running top and was able to find the “Will Run For Wine” shirt in my size 🙂  When we felt we did enough shopping, we hit up Starbucks to just chill out and get off our feet for a while and wait out the heavy downpours (thank god race day was not Saturday!) before heading back to the hotel, when not too much longer later, it was time to head out for some carbo-loading!!  Met up with Uptown Girl and her parentals at Faccia Luna in Arlington (great place!)  MF’s friends were also there and it was a nice time.  Me, MF and Uptown Girl then discussed the game plan for the next morning…the whens and wheres to meet, etc…then time to try on the race-day gear and get everything ready…and early to bed!!  And one more thing-I had asked for friends and family to “sign up” for certain miles to be “theirs”…I wrote them all on the back of my bib, I wanted them all close to me on race day 🙂

Sunday-race day!!  MF and I were able to get dressed and get everything together in an hour…I had my usual bagel w/ white chocolate PB…we then met up with Uptown Girl at her hotel so the 3 of us could walk to the shuttle bus to get to the start line (and along the way, I got my Starbucks!  Another race-day necessity!)  We then got on the shuttle bus…those Marines kept things well-organized!!  I was gonna listen to my “marathon morning” playlist during the ride, little did I know I had left the iPod in the room…oops!!  But I may not have had much time to listen to music, before we knew it we were at the “Runners Village.”  Seemed like a less chaotic version of NYCM!!  Checked our bags, did other pre-race prep, chilled out in one of the tents for a little bit…and oh yeah, there was the announcement that these were the “best conditions in the history of the race!”  Low 50s and sunny…one of those days where it was like “no excuses.”

So it was time to head to the start…and as well organized as other aspects of this race were, I do have to say the start was NOT.  You don’t do the “honor system” with a field of 40,000…you just don’t!!  Uptown Girl and I were lined up “honestly” by the 3:40 predicted time group and we saw peeps around us and in front of us who had no business being there.  Maybe it would be a good thing since we wouldn’t go out to fast?  We shall see.  Before we knew it…the marine aircraft flyover and the sound of the start cannon!!  And around 3 minutes later, with the sound of “Evacuate The Dancefloor” by Cascada blaring over the loudspeakers, I crossed under the red arch marking the start.  Here we go!!  Let’s make this thing happen…

First 5K (25:43-8:16 pace)
Mile 1-8:36, Mile 2-8:38, Mile 3-8:05
Well as it turned out, lining up “honestly” may have screwed me, as I really spent a good part of the first 2 miles through the streets of Rosslyn, VA trying to find my groove-was just way, way too crowded and even though I tried to keep the weaving to the minimum, I’m sure I lost 15 seconds per mile, if not more on those first 2 miles.  Or it also coulda been the hills too!!  These first coupla miles were fun and the support was great, but oh boy were they hilly.  The 3rd mile had a nice downhill to even things out a little tho 🙂  Think the 5K split was a little short-20 secs after mile 3?

10K (50:52-8:11 pace, 5K split 25:09-8:06 pace)
Mile 4-7:50, Mile 5-8:01, Mile 6-7:59
So finally around mile 4 (and another downhill!) the field opened up a little and I found my groove.  We crossed over the Key Bridge and headed into Georgetown!!  Saw a sneak preview of the streets that we’d have to look forward to in a few miles, but for now enjoyed the scenery around the reservoir.

15K (1:15:55-8:08 pace, 5K split 25:03-8:04 pace)
Mile 7-8:20, Mile 8-7:53, Mile 9-7:56
By the end of this portion, we headed into the town of Georgetown and it was as lively as I hoped it would be!!  We passed by the restaurant we had eaten on Friday nite and I kinda laughed to myself there.  This portion sorta reminded me of Greenpoint in NYCM, which I liked a lot!!  We then turned south to head towards the water…

20K (1:41:01-8:07 pace, 5K split 25:06-8:05 pace)
Mile 10-7:53, Mile 11-8:11, Mile 12-8:06
And at this point, I was really feeling good.  I knew I was doing this, this was my day.  In mile 10, someone on the Greater New York running team said “Go New York Flyers!” I said “go New York!” back…I heard another “Go NY Flyers!” from the sidelines…think it was a coupla Urban Athletics peeps that were cheering?  I shouted back thanks…was nice being far away from home, but still having the NY race feeling.  Mile 12 brought the beginning of Hains Point-which was where I went through my mental bonk in the Cherry Blossom race…wasn’t gonna have that today though!!!  And even though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was pacing really well.  I passed the 3:40 pace group somewhere around here too…didn’t know if they were way ahead of pace, or if they just started closer to the front, but at least I knew I was on track!!

25K (2:06:45-8:09 pace, 5K split 25:44-8:17 pace)
Mile 13-8:04, Mile 14-8:15, Mile 15-8:26
The half-marathon point was just past the turnaround on Hains Point.  Hit that at 1:46:33 and thought perfect-on pace for close to 3:33 flat!  Even if I lost a couple minutes in the 2nd half, I could still bust out a 3:35, which was kinda around what I was expecting.  But I had heard that MCM was a good negative split course, so hoping for better…
But mile 14 was where things started to go downhill-and I’m not talking elevation.  We were running into headwinds here and it was slowin’ it down.  Wasn’t sure if I wanted to expend too much energy fighting it-knowing I still got awhiles to go-so I decided to just try and “cruise” to the 20 mile point, and then “go for it” in the last 10K.  I could average 8:45s or better in the 2nd half and still BQ, but I did want to finish strong too.

30K (2:35:17-8:20 pace, 5K split 28:32-9:11 pace)
Mile 16-8:29, Mile 17-8:46, Mile 18-9:21, Mile 19-9:35
We left Hains Point and headed to the part of the course with all the monuments, the National Mall, etc…which was the part that I was looking forward to previously, but I wasn’t feeling it now.  Things did not feel right.  I don’t know if I had taken the first half too fast, or if it was the IT band talking to me, but I was starting to show the signs of trouble.  Uptown Girl passed by me in I think mile 17 and I could tell she was well on her way to a great finish.  The 3:40 group passed by me here too…this part was filled with spectators shouting my name but it could have been silent as it made no difference.  Mile 18 I had to do the one thing I have never, ever done in a marathon before and take a walk break.  Which was repeated in Mile 19.  Now it was starting to be a race against the clock.  But I didn’t want to leave DC without my BQ!

Mile 20-9:28
No walking in Mile 20-I ran the full mile but saw my mile split and knew I was in further trouble.  Did some quick math and saw I’d have to run the last 10K in 52 and change to still BQ…can I do it?  Can I at least hold on for a PR?  Or finish under 4 hours?

Mile 20.65(?)-13:05
This was the infamous 14th Street Bridge that all runners must pass (well actually, the mile 20 marker) by 1:15 or they can’t finish-or as the MCM calls it, “Beat the Bridge.”  And sadly this day, the bridge beat me.

I started walking for the 3rd time and just felt pain.  I couldn’t run again.  Every time I started I had to slow down to a walk.  My BQ was gone and it was all I could do to not cry at this point.  A couple of other runners who passed by said “I feel your pain”…oh if you only knew.  Another runner who was forced to slow to a walk too kept me company for a few minutes, we were both in the same boat.  Finally I passed by one of those one of those golf cart-looking thingies with medical personnel on board, and they asked if I was ok, if I needed help, did I need a ride to the med tent?  So here I had to make a critical decision.  Do I continue on walking for another 5 and change miles?  Was it worth it?  Should I cut my losses now?

I preface this by saying-I’m not a quitter.  If it’s worth fighting to salvage something, I’d hang in there.  But I made the decision-take the ride to the med tent and call it a day at around mile 20.65.  At the time-I didn’t know what I had to prove by prolonging the agony.  And what’s to say the same thing, or something worse, wouldn’t happen another 2-3 miles later?  So I rested, iced, had some salty snacks and Gatorade (Powerade which was on the course absolutely sucked-not as much electrolytes as Gatorade does and I think may have caused more unnecessary cramping)…thankfully was able to borrow a CrackBerry from one of the medics so I could update Facebook and let everyone know I was alive but had to call it a day, since I am sure my peeps who were tracking me were wondering-and as I was told later, my intuition was right.  (And FYI-that 35K split for me was completely bogus, as they drove over the mat while I still had the D-tag on.)

So after awhile, and some stretching and wrapping of my knee, I had 2 options-wait for the sweep bus which would be another hour or walk the 2 miles to the finish to get my bag with my CrackBerry and everything else in it.  (If only I had money on me I would have taken the Metro…note for next time…)  So armed with one of those mylar sheets to keep me warm, I decided to walk it.  And let me tell you-this was so tough-not so much physically, but emotionally.  I was walking alongside the course with the back-of-the-packers, they are giving their all to finish but I couldn’t do it?  Plus the Marines, the spectators telling me “You’re almost finished”…oh I’ve *been* finished!!!

Nearing the finish, saw the crazy steep uphill to the finish line at the Iwo Jima Memorial and it felt bittersweet…in a way I was glad I didn’t have to climb that hill but in a way I really wanted to.  I just got out of the way of the real finishers and headed towards the baggage trucks to get my bag and check my phone and sure enough I had a shitload of messages…voicemail, text, facebook, IM-and those of you who knew then there was something wrong and reached out-thank you.  Waited what felt like forever for the shuttle to get back to Crystal City…finally there and walking to the hotel…oh and hearing the “congrats” from those who saw me carrying my MCM bag and assuming I finished…yeah.  Could not have been happier to get back to my hotel room, get cleaned up and erase any evidence that I failed to run a marathon that day, and drown all sorrows with a burger, 2 pints of beer and the Yankee game (hey, at least someone won that day!)

Even now, yesterday still feels like a bad dream.  And after reading other MCM race reports from runners who stuck it out no matter what and didn’t give up, I am still questionning whether I made the right decision.  Was I a quitter?  I don’t know-I do sorta feel like one.  And I know the focus needs to be on healing up and getting healthy again…and yeah, as was shown last year, there is still life after injury.  But I won’t lie, this is going to be a tough one to get over.  I really thought it was finally gonna be my time to get the elusive BQ, and with seemingly more and more of my friends qualifying each year…this April is gonna be tougher than normal, cuz I should have been there.

But that said, I am NEVER going back to DC to run a race again!!  2-for-2 when it comes to bad races is a sign.  Maybe Chi-town next fall?  (though I shouldn’t even think of running another marathon right now!)

One final note-another thanks to everyone who reached out to me via comments, emails, calls, texts, IMs, etc…the support was tremendous and much appreciated.

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dreams do come true

This has been such a tough race report to write.  How does one put into words….how it feels to just be floating along for 13.1 miles, to have it just seem too perfect, too easy, a dream coming true right in front of my eyes.  I’ll tell ya, two days later I’m still riding that high and I hope to be riding it in 5 weeks from now…

Long story short-as you know from my previous post…Sunday’s Philly Distance Run went much better than I could have expected.  And yeah of course, there were the tiers of goals before the race…

Main “I’d be happy” goal-Sub 1:45
Stretch goal-under my PR of 1:42:20
Uber secret super stretch goal-1:40…either sub-1:40 or 1:40:xx
 
And which goal did I achieve?  Well once again, I will start this report off with the stats and the splits…
 

And now the story!!  I guess in a way it starts on Friday when I was doing my last run before the race, an easy 3.5 miles with strides at the end…and during the run I found myself daydreaming of running a certain time, envisioning the finish line…the clock saying a certain time…etc, etc, etc 🙂  Anyway run done, work done for now, time to carb up (which included Rosh Hashanah dinner at the parentals on Friday nite!) and rest up…

Saturday morning came…NJ Transit time!!   But a little different this time-you see, I took up Uptown Girl‘s offer to crash with her at her parents place near Philly for the race weekend.  (And also, I get to partake in another Rosh Hashanah dinner on Saturday nite…see, I’m not such a bad Jew after all!)  So surprisingly, there were absolutely no NJT issues on the trip there-you see, that never happens, so of course I took it as a good sign  🙂  So anyway, made it in one piece, and we were off to the expo…got our bibs and techie(!) shirts!!  Didn’t do too much damage to the credit card…the expo was so-so, but when I saw tangerine PowerGels, you can bet I snatched more than a few of them up 🙂  So done with expo, time to go home, relax, put our feet up, conserve our energy, have dinner…before we knew it, was almost time to get my beauty sleep and knowing there wouldn’t be a lot of time to spare in the AM, made sure everything was ready to go…D-tag on the shoe, bib pinned on my top, Garmin charged, all accessories out, etc (remembered Mr. Garmin, but forgot the HRM strap!  who am i…?)…set the alarm on my CrackBerry to 5 AM and after reading and answering some “good luck” texts 😉 went to sleep…dreaming of PRs…

Next thing I knew, it was 5:15 AM and Uptown Girl flipped on the lights in my room to wake me up…holy sh*t why didn’t the CrackBerry go off?  Eventually figured out that it might have helped to turn the alarm to “On.”  Learning for next time.  Thank god I had everything prepped the night before, as I got dressed and ready in record time, since we had to be on the road by 5:30 AM!  (Figured I can have my bagel w/ white chocolate peanut butter and french vanilla coffee in the car!)  Don’t know how I pulled it off, but I did.  And to the city we go…

So…when we get there, there’s another treat in store.  Ya see, a friend of Uptown Girl’s dad has done this race every year and therefore gets VIP access for himself and others…I think you can see where this is going 🙂  Yep, how cool was it to be kinda sorta hobnobbing with the elites (Ryan Hall!), not to mention portapotties that we didn’t have to wait on line for, water and Cytomax at our disposal (and I caught a peek of some “after-race” beverages…hehe.)  Was still a little chilly then, still had my long-sleeve shirt and pants on and would wait to take those off to let the legs stay as warm as possible.  But was cool with it because it obviously meant perfect racing weather 🙂  Just tried to relax, had the iPod and listened to some of my favorite pre-gaming songs…yep of course “Pocketful of Sunshine” and “I Gotta Feeling” were on that list…oh and Madonna’s new song “Celebration” was in there too, definitely a great song to get you psyched up to run well!!

So it’s around 7:20 and us gals decided it was time to roll.  Made any last minute preps and headed towards corral 3 (cool, one up from last year! 🙂 )  Again, they weren’t being totally policed…but what can you do.  And not surprisingly, the NYC local running scene was in effect…NY Harriers, CPTC, Urban Athletics, NYAC and others…ah just like another NYRR club points race, plus 20,000 other peeps.  Well not really like that but you get what I’m saying…sometimes it’s nice to see that NYC familiarity away from home in a way.  (surprisingly, almost no Flyer representation!!  Only saw one other there besides myself…hmmm maybe everyone preferred to run the Queens Half? :-P)  Anyways, was almost go time!!  Before we knew it, it was 7:45 and the elites and 1st corral were off…a minute later corral 2…then in another minute was our turn!!

So mile 1, that was where these wave starts came into play…where last year I remembered a lot of dodging in the mile, I was really able to settle in right away.  Especially since the first few miles are on the narrower streets of Center City!!  Nothing too crazy, just an effort I felt I could maintain for 13.1…and when I saw 7:30 for the first mile, I had a feeling this was gonna be a good day.  And when I saw my mile 2, mile 3 and 5k splits (while passing other local NYC runners that are usually ahead of me in races) I knew it was gonna be a great day!!  Could it be, my dream race is actually unfolding right in front of me?

So now we were going back in the direction of where we started…looked at my watch at mile 4 (stuck by my rule of not looking at my watch unless at a mile split or a 5k/chip mat split)-just under 30 minutes!!  Remember, it was a longtime goal of mine to break 30 minutes for 4 miles…and now I did it in my last 2 races en route to a longer distance!!  Passed by the start/finish area and heard “Let’s Get It Started”…were people still waiting to start at that point?  Either way, that’s one of my fave running songs and was great to hear at this point. 🙂

So now we were on the nice and shady MLK drive for about a 5-mile stretch.  And I was loving that.  The legs knew exactly what to do, they were just totally dialed into 7:30s (give or take a second or 2).  And whereas last year, when I remember that it felt like work…I was still feeling great, was just cruising along.  Hit the 10K point…OMG, that is actually a 10K PR for me!!  Only point where I may have felt the tiniest bit of a “fade” was in mile 8…but my tangerine PowerGel (which thankfully I was able to hold onto!) took care of that 🙂

Mile 9 brought the Falls Bridge, the first “hill” of the course.  Last year I remembered it being totally unwelcome at that point 🙂  But this year was a different story.  I thought of what LG would say to me when we would run up the hills in Central Park…or if he’d be cheering me on in a race near a hill…focus on form, lean into it, look to the top…before I knew it, I was at the top and thought “that’s all it was?”  It really did seem shorter than last year! 🙂  So after turning onto Kelly Drive (and even for the previous coupla miles) I was debating whether or not to start picking up the pace a little…but decided to stick to the plan-first 10 miles for pacing, last 5k for racing.  No chip mat at 15K, but I saw a split of 1:09:45…guess I really need to race another 15K, as my PR for that distance is 1:17?  The 10-mile split brought another PR as well! 🙂  (ahhh revenge on Cherry Blossom!!  I knew I was capable of better than 1:19…)

So remember last year, my then wannabe, now actual teammate DK was running with me for the last few miles, and I remembered I really needed that…but this time was just me…and I was making it happen.  I couldn’t believe it when I saw mile 11….I only have 2.1 miles to go?  How did that happen?  This truly was the race I always daydreamed about…when you’re just flying high, every mile split coming in better than you imagined…

But during mile 12…dammit, a sidestitch got me!!  Just kept running and tried to breathe through it…under no circumstances would I stop or walk, but it signaled that I needed fluids and decided that even though there’s such little distance to go…as soon as I saw a water stop, take something!!  Thankfully, there was one right after the mile 12 marker…and that turned out to be exactly what I needed.  And looks like it didn’t slow me down too much, but of course wonder what could have been…

I remembered mile 13 last year as being evil…as it was the 2nd hill of the course, at a point where you did not want one.  And I barely had anything left, it was all I could do to dig deep and run a 7:46 mile (after two 7:41’s!)  Don’t get me wrong, I felt the incline, but I also felt I still had a little something left to leave out on the course.  Then partially through the mile, KW from the Harriers passed by and said good job, and I said I was gonna try and stick by him…or at least keep him in my sights for the rest of this mile.  Couldn’t quite keep him in my sights for long, but it did get me to pick up the intensity even more for this mile…and I see a CPTC girl…hmmm can I pass by her too?  Well I did, and in the process, ran a smokin’ hot mile 13!! 🙂

Well another thing I think I have improved upon this year is a good finishing kick…as last year at this race, I just remembered it being pretty weak.  Well not only did I have to hold off the CPTC chick that I passed, but I heard the announcer encouraging us to “get in under 100 minutes!”  Wow even with the wave start, I have a chance of getting under 1:40 on the clock too?  I gotta go for that!!  And so I did-making it with 8 seconds to spare!!  Wow!! (and just barely finished ahead of the CPTC girl too…hehe)  Was sooo happy….yet in a way, a little sad it was all over!!

Got my medal, my picture taken…then headed back to the VIP area for the real celebration to begin 🙂  And it turned out I wasn’t the only one celebrating-Uptown Girl smashed her PR with a 1:40, and just ran a very well-executed race in the process.  So anyway, remember how I said I saw certain beverages before…yep they were “adult” beverages :-P…downed 3 bottles of MGD 64…which I guess is the equivalent of one normal beer, as it did not even get me buzzed, not even in my post-half marathon depleted state 🙂  But hey, free beer is free beer!!  And it just felt so nice and celebratory to be tipping those back on such a beautiful day!

I don’t think I need to say any more to sum up the race and how I felt about my performance…I think I’ve said enough 🙂  I can only hope I can repeat this in a month at MCM.  And oh yeah…of course I had to look up what this time predicts for other distances 🙂  And the McMillan calculator says that a 1:37:36 half predicts…a 3:25:50 marathon!!!  Ummmm OK.  I do know I have to keep in mind that this was a supah flat course.  But still!!  At first I thought that I wouldn’t be drastically altering my goals, as all I wanted was reassurance that 3:40 would be doable.  But is it possible that 3:40 may be setting the bar too low…boy, my marathon goal is really up in the air now!! 🙂

my sub-20 5K…i mean 2.81-mile race report :)

So really, I didn’t have high expectations for myself at last nite’s Sunset & Suds 5K, running performance-wise. It was really meant to be a kinda sorta “fun run” for me. Something fun to break up the monotony of seemingly endless miles, wanted to support the local teams (Urban Athletics and the NY Harriers) who were putting this inaugural race on…UWS location was always nice (Riverside Park), free tech-T (a pretty nice one too *and* they still had it in XS when I got mine) and yeah did I mention free beer afterwards? 🙂

So thankfully I was able to escape work at 5 and got home, threw on the racing outfit and the “fast” shoes, ate a little something (once again, powered by blueberries…LOL) and hydrated (not with beer!), stretched a little, then headed out the door…was a little over a mile to where the start was, perfect-there’s a nice warmup!! Went through the usual pre-race motions…got my bib, tech shirt, warmed up and stretched a little more…saw that we had a pretty nice Flyer contingent representing…including but not limited to Runner26, JM, JA, MF, LO, PD, JH. The usual “good lucks” and soon it was time to line up…looked like it was another free-for all but in a race of only 250 people couldn’t be that bad. Before we knew it, the starting horn sounded-and it totally took me by surprise!! OK…guess I have to race now 🙂

So unfortunately, I think I fell back into my old 5K habits and took the first mile too fast (or maybe the Hoboken 5K was actually a fluke and this is just what I do? 🙂 )…partially at the beginning when I was, against better judgement, speeding up to try and dodge others…then during this mile I was also trying to keep LO and some Harriers in my sights…maybe they’d be good to pace off of. Mile 1 was an out-and-back that took us past the finish line (how cruel! 😛 But thats where there were the most people cheering, including Flyer JB)…when I hit the mile marker, I think I actually said out loud “oh my God!”-I was at 6:51. Starting off a race with the fastest mile I have ever run in a race (not including the 5th Ave Mile) may not have been the best thing…but let’s see how this plays out. Maybe, just maybe I can actually keep this up…

Mile 2 included a turnaround and then a little hill…I didn’t feel like I lost a lot of momentum here, but I was getting passed by quite a few runners, and my quads were also paying for that fast start…yeah was fading a little but I just decided to push through it. Someone was calling out what the cumulative race time was-didn’t need to know that, thats why I stopped looking at my watch inbetween miles 🙂 And again we ran by the finish line!! Talk about mind games in this mile! But I actually didn’t do too too bad here…7:19, and I was actually expecting something in the 7:30s-7:40s. But still it being almost 30 secs slower than my first mile…yep, did go out too fast, all I can do now to keep from crashing and burning…

So now comes “just go for it” time, less than 10 minutes of running left. One more turnaround, then a straight shot to the finish line. In a way, this out and back was sorta good as there is a little familiarity and you kinda sorta know how far it is to go. There was a Harrier that was sorta my rabbit…tried to keep her in my sights and try and pick off a few other runners…which I did. The mile 3 marker was in my sight…wow, that was quick!! LG was standing by the mile 3 marker and was shouting encouragement to me to finish strong…I took a split at mile 3 but didn’t bother to look at my watch, just wanted to focus on the finish. But as I got closer I noted the finish clock…which was still in the 19s…oh no way!! I knew what this meant…but didn’t want to dwell on it in the moment, just finish the best I can…hey, it’d be cool to have a finish time under 20, regardless of distance!! And I did-19:56, according to my watch. (results have me at 19:58-though I did start my watch at the starting horn.)

And after consulting Mr. Garmin for the details…he said that “mile 3” was actually .71 mile-yeah, like I actually ran a 5:09 mile!! So that was a 7:16 pace…ok, didn’t crash and burn further in that mile!! I did have a strong finish though-37 seconds for the last .1 (6:27 pace?) So all in all, I ran 2.81 miles…estimated 7:06 pace. So pretty good considering I was training through this and had tired legs, right? 🙂

So yeah, everyone afterwards knew the course was short…and most of us were all just laughing about it. Runner26 even noted that “no one seems pissed at all, they’re just laughing.” Well at that point, nothing sounded better than free beer. So me, Runner26, MF and LO headed to the downstairs level of the Hudson Beach Cafe, where the post-party was…and got on the line for beer-yes, that was a very popular commodity 🙂 Drank and chitchatted for a little bit…then me and Runner26 got on line for seconds but just as we got near the front they said they ran out (but guess they still had one or two more somewhere, because I did wind up getting one.) So since we’d be paying for any further drinkage, we headed upstairs, where we saw a few other Flyers…they were about to leave, but I stayed and had a beer and hung out with LG for a little bit…talking about our race and other stuff. After my third beer for the evening was done, that was it for this chick-I still had running to do in the AM!! 🙂

So all in all, I think it was a good night. First off, I do want to say that UA and NYH did a great job with this race. When there is an inaugural event like this one was, there’s bound to be a learning curve of sorts…and you just roll with the punches. I really liked the feel of this race…like a local club points race without the competitive attitude and i’d definitely be in for running next year! 🙂 As for the race performance-very pleased. I don’t care that it may have been a PR if the course had been accurate. A 5K PR is not the goal, but running a good half, then a good marathon, is. And it’s reassuring to know that I can still run fast, even with fatigued legs and no taper…again, another good sign that training is on track.

And hey-it all made for a good race report/blog post! 🙂

save the best for last

It took 5 years-but the last of my “submasters PRs”, the 5-miler…has finally fallen. And boy did it ever!!

OK, so I think you all know the background of the NYRR Club Team Championships, I don’t need to repeat…so I’ll get right down to business. As always-there were goals for this race. Which were…

Main “I’d be happy” goal-Finally beat my PR of 37:51
Stretch goal-under a 7:30 pace…so 37:30 or better. Based on my recent 5K, this could be doable…
Uber secret super stretch goal-Under 37 minutes. Challenging-but stranger things have happened…

So if you all remember, I was silently (or not) freaking out about not having “fresh” legs for this race, as I just felt tired during all my runs. But still hoping for some sort of miracle on Saturday morning…and you could tell I was taking this race seriously, as I decided to pass on a get-together a teammate was having in favor of resting the legs, watching the Yankee game (at least up til the 12th inning…needed my beauty sleep!) and detoxing.

Saturday morning…and as much as I may have cursed the later start, I can’t complain about an extra hour of sleep. Usual pre-race preps, step outside to be greeted by a beautiful morning, jog a little bit to the park…stopped around 93rd street as the men’s race was passing by at that time and I did not want to cheer and run at the same time. Everyone passed by in a matter of minutes since it was only about a half-mile in so the runners were still bunched closely together at that point. My cheering was a little subdued as I wanted to save my energy for the race, but still felt seeing a friendly face at that point can’t hurt. (And I felt like it was a good karma thing or something like that 🙂 ) I then flipped on the iPod and continued warming up…of course with some good music to get myself psyched up to race (I think “She Wolf” by Shakira is now my new favorite pre-race song!) and the legs did feel a bit better…maybe there is something to this “mini-taper” thing. Warmup done, check my bag, scout out the location of the Flyers post-race picnic, wait is that the men’s leaders coming by? Wow this race just seems to get quicker and quicker each year…it would be a good 5 minutes or so before we saw the first Flyer, so me and a few other Flyer ladies just watched and waited…sure enough, JD runs by as the first of the Flyer contingent…with Laminator and Crazy Bandana-head not too far behind…jb24 looked like he was having a great race too!! Again, my cheering was more subdued than normal…I was actually more acting as “lookout” and “identify that Flyer” for the other ladies, so they could cheer by name and not “go Flyer” 🙂 It’s 9:35 and I need to get myself in the zone…sorry guys but I know you understand! A little more warming up, a little more stretching, then time to hit the corrals and just wait for the start. Deep breaths…kill those nerves, get ready to run!! The starting horn sounds…do the legs remember what to do…?

the game face makes another appearanceMile 1 (7:25)-Well an advantage to being a corral back was that I wouldn’t get sucked out too fast by the more-stacked field-especially since this mile is the west side hills which you all know how much I love 🙂 I decided for at least the first half-mile, just to try and fall in with teammates and other peeps that I see are around my pace at races and not zigzag back and forth to try and move up…it worked 🙂 By the end of mile 1, things were a little more spread out. Up that last hill at west 86th…saw LG with his UA teammates just as I passed a CPTC woman (yay) and saw the mile 1 marker, and I liked what I saw 😉

Mile 2 (7:14)-Was relieved that I started off well, now time to hit that lovely downhill 🙂 However, a sidestitch snuck up on me…dammit, this is early, why couldn’t it wait til the last mile like it usually does? What should have been an easy mile with the downhill was suddenly made tough. Under no circumstances would I walk through this…I kept running hard and breathing deep…and just hoped it would go away. It did by the end of this mile and I was happy with the mile time, but still couldn’t help but wonder what could have been. And there was one point in this mile where I was really flying solo…like i was running by myself with a group a little bit in front of me and a group a little bit in back of me…weird!!

Mile 3 (7:27)-I really had to work in this mile to not let things slip. Hot, unshaded, least crowd support…just tried to maintain-both speed and position, and not get passed. If I do pass a runner or 2 in this mile that would be great…but this is not the time to make my move…especially with the last big hill on the course not too far away. Seemed to work-I didn’t lose too much time on this mile.

Mile 4 (7:44)-Well even before we hit the hill, we had to face another obstacle…a truck near the running lane by 72nd street. Could have been a collision of sorts but that was thankfully avoided…unfortunately the one downside to a 10 am race start…more traffic. So time to face the hill. Don’t kill myself…again, maintain, maintain, maintain. Focus on form. Work the hill. Pass that Running Diva I see walking. Pass by the cat, not much further to go…oh look, I’m at the top of the hill…and I’m gonna pass by another woman in orange 🙂 As well as others. Thank god, the worst is over. My mile split…not bad, but still a tiny bit slower than I would have liked…guess I still need to work on hills…

Mile 5 (6:59)-So with a mile to go, I wanted to avoid an error I thought I made last year. After 4 miles in the final mile...last year, I looked at my watch…and no one is great at math after around a half-hour of hard running, so I thought that a PR was out at that point and maybe didn’t try as hard in the last mile as I should have. I did look at my watch after mile 4 this time (wow that was very close to my 4-mile PR! Come to think of it, I set a 3-mile PR too 😛 ) but tried to refrain from doing the math. And in fact, only time I looked at my watch at all during the race was when I hit the split button at the mile markers-didn’t look at it anytime else…less pacing, more racing!!

Back to the present!! Now’s the time to give it everything…I passed by Engineer’s Gate, where LG was cheering again and he said to me that “now’s the time to run hard” or something to that effect 🙂 And that’s just what I am gonna do!! I kept the last mile of my recent 5K in mind-that I am capable of a good closing mile when it counts, and it doesn’t hurt to, well, hurt a little 🙂 Before I knew it, I had passed the reservoir and now’s the time for all the cheering sections to start. Unlike previous years, there were no smiles…just focus and game face for this chick!! I did hear the assorted cheers, I did hear Bandana-head telling me to “dig deep” but the faces and names were just a blur to me. My lungs were burning by this point but I couldn’t let up now. Just around the time of the final turn…was just me and this one other chick…she’d surge…then I would…turned for home and it was a sprint finish from there…gave it all I had to try and beat her to the line but I was just nipped (though I got her by a second on chip time!) And did the announcer announce a New York Flyer finish…not sure, was again so focused on my finish that I would have totally missed it!! But once I looked at my watch after crossing the line, I so liked what I saw!! I was hoping to run a sub-7 mile in a race…well moreso a sub-7 final mile!! Just made it by a second, but still it was!! And…even better…

All 3 goals achieved for the day!! Final time was 36:49, 7:21 pace…I had surpassed my old 2004 PR by over a minute!! Breaking a PR and doing it in style… 🙂 And from what I heard, quite a few other teammates had great days too!!

post-race silliness :) And time to celebrate…the rest of the day consisting of, in no particular order…picnic, pictures, good friends and other special peeps, iced coffee, a beach in downtown Manhattan, sangria, perfect weather, awesome day…

And oh yeah…I had to check to see what marathon time this predicts…3:36! As far as I’m concerned, training is right on track…and it’s still relatively early too!! But performance-wise, I feel this was my best race ever…yep, even better than the half last year, as here I had to deal with warmer weather and lotsa hills!!

And to everyone who cheered today-thank you, thank you, thank you!! As always-you helped me more than you know…even if I couldn’t acknowledge it at the time 🙂

And what’s next for me? Possibly a half-marathon on the horizon next month…and yeah, I just may have a rough time goal in my mind there…but besides that, just plugging away towards a certain goal on October 25th… 😉

i gotta feeling

I gotta feeling…that tonight’s gonna be a good night…

Whether playing on the iPod en route to Hoboken or by the race DJ, that seemed to sum up last nite’s Party With Purpose 5K. To get right to the point-I finally ran a 5K race where I was happy with the pacing and set a PR in the process. But hey, this wouldn’t be a race report without the details and the story, right…?

So I almost thought I would get stuck late at work, but thankfully I was able to change into my racing attire and escape the office by 5:30…hopped on the PATH train and made it to the Hobe with plenty of time to spare. Got my race stuff, and thankfully there was baggage check this year, so I didn’t have to waste time trekking to/from NYSC to lock up my bag (not before seeing an encouraging good luck text message on the Crackberry :)) Not much exciting pre-race stories…but when I started my 2-mile warmup…well to quote the lyrics above (and just happened that the DJ was playing the song at the time)…I had a feeling this just may be my night. Did my warmup, still a little time to kill…saw Flyers ES, NS, YP and AH while desperately trying to find water…was hotter than I thought it would be! Why can’t those fountains be on…oh wait, there are bottles by the post-race goodies…desperate times call for desperate measures 🙂

With around 15 minutes to go, was time to line up…and of course it was a total free-for-all. Me and ES, who were both out to really race, lined up a few rows back from the front. It seemed like we were a little back from where the start was yesterday, and I wondered out loud if that possibly meant that last year’s short mile 1…well…wouldn’t be this year. Of course the woman behind me heard it and started asking questions “was the course short? was the course long? will it be long this year? was the course corrected?” uh lady…I don’t know. it’s almost 7, can we race already? We started moving up…to where the real starting line was, which was the same as last year. By that time it was after 7 and we were all antsy to get going. Finally, finally, the starting horn sounded…

a little small...but still thats me in mile 1OK Mile 1…gonna run it hard, but not go-out-too-hard-and-die-at-end hard. Again, faster runners passed me and I just let them go…didn’t want to get sucked in. This mile was tight at the beginning, but opened up nicely…heard another DJ playing music, then time to go along the water. Ah, there’s that mile 1 marker. And I am at…7:09! Looks like they may have fixed that mile this year…and you know what, I just may be able to keep this up for at least another mile…

So Mile 2 was the mentally tough mile. That is where I always lose my cool in 5Ks and fall dramatically off the pace. I really did not want that to happen today…just kept running hard, and when I started feeling hot and uncomfortable and about to lose my nerve, I said to myself “It may be hot out, but you’re hotter.” I kid you not…and I don’t even know how that popped into my mind!! There’s the leaders coming back the other direction…the turnaround must be soon. Turnarounds kinda suck because they cause you to slow down and lose momentum (so glad they got rid of those in Central Park races!) And the mile 2 marker showed up in about another half-mile…and this mile-7:18! I was pleased, I really didn’t fall apart here, even with slowing for the turnaround. Things are looking good…

So I can run hard for 2 miles…could I keep it up for the last 1.1 miles? Only one way to find out…just go for it. I kept some of my recent speed workouts in mind…particularly those 1K repeats…tried to channel the energy I had those nights to right now. And I could see the pier in the distance…now all I needed to do was just get there. Finally, we were directed off the street and onto the running path…and I knew it wasn’t that much longer. Oh look, there’s Flyer FR cheering. There’s the final turn…and once again, no mile 3 marker. I can see the finish…come on now, finish strong, who cares if it hurts, you can rest in a minute…not even!! Gave it all I had…and finished in 22:23 according to my watch…official time 22:25, 7:13 pace-and a PR by 12 seconds!! And that last 1.1 miles was done in 7:56…if my math is right, that was a 7:10 pace? Wow, I did finish really strong, even if I may not have felt it.

So afterwards, just waited around for everyone else to finish…me and NS checked out the “beer garden” and thought it was kinda lame, so met up with YP and AH and headed to a bar near the PATH station. I enjoyed a coupla pints of Honey Moon while sitting outside on such a nice night…yeah, I think we all made the right choice to pass on the “beer garden” 🙂

As for the race-very pleased. Not just with the final time, but even moreso, the execution-I just might have this pacing thing down for 5Ks 🙂 And yeah, breaking an almost 5-year-old PR isn’t too shabby either. Maybe, if I actually taper and have cooler conditions…could sub-22 be possible? Also I do suspect last year’s course was short…this year I have no doubt it was a full 5K, so that makes it a little sweeter if that is the case. Funny thing-this year I was 23rd female and 7th in my age group…last year, 24th female and 7th in my age group with a race time about 20 seconds slower!! There were a lot more people running this year though (this year supposedly over 1,000 as opposed to around 600 last year…)…but damn-every year, the field just gets more and more competitive…

And speaking of “competitive”, my next race just defines competitive, the Club Team Champs 5-Miler. Now 5 miles is the last “common” distance where my lifetime PR (37:51) is still from 2004…will that change on August 8th? Stay tuned… 🙂

show me what you got

the game face begins on central park west...

the game face begins on central park west...

Show me what you got lil mama
Show me what you got pretty lady
Show me what you got shawty
Show me what you got baby

Hands up and wave (show em what you got)
and wave (show em what you got)
and wave (show em what you got)

And yeah, another race report where I start off by quoting some song lyrics…this time it’s Jay-Z (speaking of, anyone remember like 10 years ago when everything on the radio was by Jay-Z? Or DMX? Or Jay-Z featuring DMX? Or DMX featuring Jay-Z? Or even better-a collaboration of Jay-Z and DMX? OK, getting off the topic a little here…)

So yeah-for this year’s Mini 10K…well I had a feeling it was my time to show the course and everyone else “what I got.” Unlike some of my latest races…Sunday morning I wasn’t nervous at all…was strangely calm the whole time…from pre-race prep, to my warmup down Central Park West, to lining up and waiting for the start. The weather was a little warmer than expected, but didn’t really faze me. Something good was gonna happen today, I can feel it.

So me and Flyer TB were lined up in the blue(!) corral and listening to the speeches, chitchatting, the usual. And then Deena Kastor addressed the crowd and mentioned that she wasn’t racing due an injured foot, but just running the race easy (um, if 7 minute pace is easy!) with Mary Wittenberg. And where do the 2 of them line up? Right next to me and TB!! I wished Deena a good run and she shook my hand and wished me the same in return. Once again, don’t we have the coolest sport, where we can toe the line with the best of them? I was more excited to get going and race, and soon enough we did!!

Mile 1 (7:28)-I decided to try a different tactic this year with the flat CPW mile…usually what I did was use the flatness to my advantage and go out hard…only to lose 10-20 seconds on the remaining miles. This time, I tried to hold back just a little bit and see what happens. This still turned out to be the fastest I have ever run this mile. Let’s see how this plays out…

Mile 2 (7:33)-Enter the park, enter the hills. Spotted some Flyers, including NC, JN and JJ cheering on the sidelines. Still feeling pretty damn good and just using some other club singlets in front of me as rabbits. And unlike previous years, I didn’t have the “I wish this was over” feeling. I was kinda shocked when I saw the mile 2 split around 102nd street…holy shit, I didn’t lose much time at all!! Maybe, just maybe, the initial strategy can play off…

Mile 3 (7:34)-first real big climb of the race. Right before hitting the hill, I spotted speedy Flyer JS walking and just asked breathlessly if she was ok after I passed by. I knew walking now, couldn’t be good. And right when I hit the hill, I spotted LG from Urban Athletics cheering for the runners as well, and he gave me some encouragement to attack the hill, and assured me that I was still looking good 🙂 Attack the hill I did, and just flew down the downhill…was really a great feeling, just knowing I was having a GOOD day…where I felt horrible in the past, I was still feeling strong. And as for my mile split-wow!! Once again, I am nothing if not consistent 🙂

Hit 5K at 23:29…and I had to laugh at that. Why? Because that was what I ran for 5K 2 weeks earlier…and now here I am running that in the first 5K of the race, a hillier course, and still feeling like there’s something left? And also, I did some quick math and thought…wow, if I keep this up, I’ll PR, I’ll break 47…I know the 2nd half is a little tougher, but I have negative split this course once before (by 1 second, but still it was!) Can I do it…?

Mile 4 (8:07)-Guess the last Harlem Hill, not to mention the sneaky incline of this mile, affected me more than I thought. I expected to lose some time in this mile, but not 30 seconds. Mental note-must work on hills. But this mile wasn’t all bad…I wasn’t feeling horrible. Saw Flyer BC taking pictures, and then GW and JD cheering near Engineer’s Gate…I sorta acknowledged that I saw them, but no smiling and waving for me…the game face was on today.

the light is at the end of the tunnel...just 1.2 miles to go...

the light is at the end of the tunnel...just 1.2 miles to go...

Mile 5 (7:37)-the worst is over, it’s all downhill from here. (or so someone yelled at us. guess she forgot about that last .2 mile.) Time to take it up a notch. And I was just flying by people in this mile…the CPTC woman who I was sorta pacing around in miles 2-4, a NYH singlet, a GNY top…then some woman in a black sports bra who chastized me and told me “not to cut her off.” Um, excuse me missy, you don’t own the road. There was actually enough room and you know what, it’s a race, it’s every woman for herself. (And as someone else told me…she obviously wasn’t working hard enough if she can say that in mile 5!) Oh I had to beat her now…she’s going DOWN!! Down Cat Hill and was hoping to see the Flyer contingent at 72nd street…wasn’t one this year (well with the exception of Dr. Evil and AS taking pictures). Guess they were scattered around the course instead.

Mile 6 (7:38)-Tired. So tired. But there’s less than 10 minutes of running left…run hard now, you can rest later. I finally passed by black sports bra lady for good (yay!) Flyer PD was cheering partially through this mile…and you know, as tired as I was, I still felt tons better than i did last year when I spotted him at that same point…then I had to walk, and I signaled that I wasn’t doing too good. This year, none of that!! Still catching up to and passing people…guess that decision to hold back in mile 1 paid off, huh? 800 meters to go. A little bit harder now. Just one more climb to finish in a coupla minutes…get psyched for that. Moz was around the mile 6 marker and taking pictures and cheering-thanks again!

finito!

finito!

Last .2 mile (1:30)-At this point, I wasn’t looking at my watch, so I wasn’t sure if there was a time to get under, just kill that Tavern on the Green hill. LG was cheering again around here…even though I didn’t see him, I heard him encouraging me to catch some of the women up ahead. Was there enough distance for me to do it…oh what the hell, I’m just gonna floor this last .2 mile. And I was able to catch some, if not all of those women. And-even better-this was the fastest I have ever run this particular last .2 mile up the hill by at least 5 seconds…if not more (I did the last .2 of last year’s Kleinerman 10K a second faster, but that was flat/downhill)-wow!! I didn’t know I was capable of that kind of a finishing kick, that has always been a weakness of mine. Of course, I was so focused on my finish-that I totally missed my name being called by the announcers as I finished!!
 
Final time-47:27, 7:39 pace. 5K splits of 23:29/23:58-not as even as I would have liked, but not a crash and burn either. My 2nd best 10K ever-and a huge course PR!! Yep, I had never come close to touching my 48:59 from the 2004 Mini 10K…til today!! The curse has been broken!!!

now i can smile!!  hangin' after the race w/ laminator and runner26

now i can smile!! hangin' after the race w/ laminator and runner26

So the usual afterwards. Medal. Flower (this year pink carnations…the recession wouldn’t allow roses.) Mingle with the team, trade war stories and pose for pictures. But of course, my real celebrating started later…strawberry margaritas at the Boat Basin was the perfect way to cap off a great day 🙂
 
Bottom line-this race was very encouraging for me. To not only outperform my recent 5K, but to also beat my recent 10K time (on a warmer day and much hillier course!)…very good thing. Only thing that I may wish was different was mile 4…but it’s learning for me, I need to work on hills. And besides that one mile, I have never paced this race so consistently which was a major plus. All in all-this was the perfect boost of confidence I needed with MCM training starting very soon…

And to the guys who were out cheering-thank you, thank you, thank you. You all helped more than you know. And for those of you running the Father’s Day 5-miler…well I will be returning the favor, look for me running in the other direction and cheering for you 🙂