the 2011 season finale: ted corbitt 15k

So as you know, even though the marathon didn’t go my way, I was still determined to end 2011 on a good note, race-wise…obviously running another marathon would not be realistic, but I could tear it up in some shorter races.  One that really caught my eye as being the perfect end to the season, was the Ted Corbitt 15K.  Yeah, a 15K in Central Park, nothing special right?  That said, my 15K PR was way, way overdue for a falling.  Of course, that may have been due to the fact that I only ran the race distance twice in my race lifetime.  First time was back in 2006 and was my standing PR of 1:17:39, and the 2nd time in 2007 was more of a glorified training run.  Plus considering I’ve run faster 15K splits in marathons, and I’ve run half-marathons at a faster pace…yeah, I think you know where I was going with this one 🙂

Based on my recent short races, looked like a 7:45 pace, or around 1:12, should be doable.  There were others who were encouraging me to go for 7:30’s…and oh it would have been sweet to break 1:10…but I knew this wouldn’t be the day for it.  (Did I also mention that my longest run since the marathon was only 9 miles?)

So another nicely chilly morning.  Singlet, black long-sleeve…and after flip-flopping between shorts and capris, decided to go with capris.  (Combo worked pretty well, though I think I may have been better off with short-sleeve and arm warmers.  Lessons learned!)  No subway issues heading uptown, actually got off a stop or 2 early to jog to warm up and jog to baggage.  I headed to the red corral, hung with Flyers AG, JJ, EG and SC while waiting for the start.  AG was “stretching” me out, while JJ and I reminisced about RnR Philly when that was the last time we were in the same start corral, and I said I totally expected him to be ahead of me again.  And so the last “9th race” of the year began…

First loop:
Mile 1-7:55
Mile 2-7:28
Mile 3-7:53
Mile 4-7:39

So given that I really don’t race this distance (even a 10-miler, which is pretty close in terms of distance is a pretty scarce race…last time I raced that distance was early 2009) I was a little unsure how to pace it-is this a long 10K or a short half?  But I decided to employ the same strategy I do for halfs…pace most, race last 5K.  And in this case (as there was no 10K marker) the plan would be to pace the first 6 miles, pick it up a little for 7, race the last 2.3.  So if that meant letting people go in the beginning, so be it.  EG and I ran a good part of the 1st mile together but she pulled ahead and I let her go.  First mile was a little slow, but understandable given the hills, and sure enough I made up for it on the downhill mile 2.  Cat Hill did a little damage on mile 3 but again, made up for it with another net downhill mile…so I was at 30:55 through 4 miles and as far as I was concerned, I was executing the plan perfectly 🙂

2nd loop:
Mile 5-8:04
Mile 6-7:37
Mile 7-7:39
Mile 8-7:45
Mile 9-7:23
Mile 9.3-2:16 (7:04 pace)

The 2nd trip through the West Side Hills was tougher than the first, as this saw what would be my only mile over 8 minutes.  The downhill mile 6 was faster, but not as much as I would like…so time to put the plan into action and kick it up a little bit for the 7th mile.  And it helped I had some rabbits to pace off of in these last coupla miles to keep me strong…my friend JW from Urban Athletics and our own running seal (both would wind up having PR’s and great races too!)  Of course, mile 8, my first “racing” mile would include Cat Hill, but I think I held up pretty well, and was still passing people (and the cheers from Flyers NS and PD helped greatly!  In fact, the cheering support was pretty good during this race…)  Cat Hill done and 1.3 miles to go.  Run hard to Engineer’s Gate, then even harder to the end.  I wasn’t sure if I was still averaging 7:45’s at that point, but I knew I was on track for a BIG PR, so let’s see how big it can get.  (That’s what she said.)

Just past the 9-mile marker, I caught up to and passed EG, saying a breathless “stay with me, you got this”…but I know if I was able to finish around her, then I was definitely having a good day.  Not knowing how long that last .32056788 mile should take me, I tried to keep those 600-meter repeats I had done the previous week in mind and just imagine it was one of those…preferably the last one when I leave it all out there! 🙂  Made the turn onto 102nd to the finish, heard the announcer calling my name…and crossed the finish in 1:11:40, 7:42 pace.  A 5:59 PR…damn, had I known it was so close, could I have gotten another second to make it a PR of 6 minutes even? 🙂  Flyer women finished 3rd and I was the 4th Flyer female…so another bronze team medal for the collection (though to quote Kara Goucher after the NYC Half “I’m tired of third…I’m ready to win one!”  just kidding.  I’m happy to get any placing we can get! 🙂 )

So unlike 2010, this season finale was a success instead of being anticlimactic.  And considering my mileage wasn’t really high after NYC, I think this was a pretty good performance to bang out…which as long as I stay uninjured, I think bodes very well for the spring, and other seasons to come…?

overdue race report #2-join the voices 5-miler

Back with another overdue race report!!  (Oh yeah, hope everyone enjoyed their holidays.)

So the Join the Voices 5-miler was the 2nd race in my hopeful year-ending trifecta.  In addition, this was the last team points race of the year.  But not the same as in previous years, you see usually the Joe Kleinerman 10K would be the last points race of the year.  But that was switched with the Fred Lebow 5-miler which was usually held in January.  Little sad about the break from tradition…and additionally, I would have preferred to race a 10K than a 5-miler (my 10K PR is in definite need of updating.)  But it was what it was and maybe for all I know, this would have been better (no Harlem Hill throwing a wrench in things.)

So was a nicely cool morning, shorts, singlet, arm warmers and CEPs were the order of the day.  Warmed up by running to the park (gotta love race starts in the south end of the park) and quickly dropped off my bag and headed to the start, running into (well not literally) Lam and other teammates on the way.  Listened to the usuall announcements…blah blah blah.  Though did anyone notice that they goofed and said this was a double points race? 🙂

Anyway, in a nutshell, this was my race-sorta uneventful as far as races go.

Mile Split Comments
1 7:21 Around the bottom of the park…good first mile, but did I go out too fast?
2 7:41 Up Cat Hill…ugh definitely need to work on hills-this was weak compared
to my summer races.
3 7:24 Engineer’s Gate to 102nd…and was hoping this would have been faster.
4 7:44 West Side Hills…slow but definitely could have been worse.
5 7:07 Downhills, flats, then the turn onto 72nd to the finish.  Tried to give it all I got!

Final time was 37:17, 7:27 pace.  Definitely way off where I was in the summer, but for less than a month after the marathon and minimal speedwork/mileage, I’ll take it.  Especially since again, still ahead of where I was at this time last year (when I couldn’t even break 50 for 10K.)

And can never complain about getting my pic in the NYRR local gallery once again…

Though gotta love that they made my race time 5 minutes faster…hehe.

So, that was this one.  The report like the race…short and sweet.

overdue race report #1: dick meighan 5k

Finally gonna get started on these way, way overdue race reports! 🙂

So even though I’ve been a serious runner/racer since 2004, I had only run one turkey trot (aka race on Thanksgiving morning) once, in 2004.  I ran a 5-miler on Long Island with my uncle and 2 cousins.  Sadly there will never be another race I’ll run again with my uncle 😦  Unfortunately, I don’t remember too much about the race that year except it was very hilly.  I wish I could remember more.

me, uncle and cousin after race with our finisher medals

And for whatever reason every year after, I hadn’t raced on Turkey Day…most of the time I preferred to get my own Central Park done in the AM and then train it to wherever I’m going, or sleep in 😛

But this time around, I was sorta itching to race.  And I had heard that the Dick Meighan 5K, which was around 15-20 minutes away from my parents in NJ, was a good-albeit hilly-race.  And oh yeah, based on previous race results there was a good chance I’d place in my AG.  Wasn’t expecting a PR, given I was only 2 1/2 weeks out from NYC and that it would be hilly.

How hilly?

So the nite before I stayed over at the parentals, then awoke to a nice and chilly morning, and drove over to where the race was…taking note of where certain uphills/downhills would be.  Got my bib and a nice tech shirt, and then went to warm up on the first mile of the course…which was good as you can see, I would know not to blow it in the first half-mile so to say 🙂  Finished my warmup, did some strides, took care of business and went over to the start.  Looked like it was gonna be another free-for-all, so I positioned myself a few rows back from the front and just waited for the starting horn.

the start

And knowing that the first half-mile contained a big-ass hill, I let people pass me, ran hard but did hold back just a little bit.  The downhill at the half-mile point was very welcome, but in a way felt like after the big hill at mile 8 of the Staten Island half…like I needed 100-200 meters to recover and of course in a short race like a 5K, you don’t have that 🙂  But was pleased with my first mile-7:24.  I then made the time goal of the day to get under 23 minutes…

…which I could get as long as I avoid my usual mile 2 collapse in 5K’s.  Mile 2 was rolling hills, but nothing really horrible.  And as this was 7:23, I was able to hold on.  This was less of a net uphill mile than the previous, so maybe effort-wise was a little slower, but I don’t think by much.  And I had enough in the tank to pick up the pace for the last 1.1 and pass people in the process.  However, in my drive over, I did note one more big hill that would be in the last mile and sure enough with about .5-.6 miles to go, there it was.  I just killed it best I could, knowing I didn’t have long to go.  One more turn…and more climbing…however thankfully the last .1 was downhill into the school’s parking lot, then flat to the finish.  I was neck and neck with this other woman, but she outkicked me to the finish…arrrgh!!  Last 1.1 in 7:52 (7:09 pace.)

chick in black next to me had just outkicked me to the line. damn.

Wound up with 22:39, 7:18 pace…which given the terrain and still recovering from NYC (and minimal speedwork!), I was definitely happy with.  I mean, I outperformed a flat 5K I did 3 weeks after Chicago last year 🙂

So I didn’t know yet how I did in terms of placing, so I went for a cooldown and then went back to the school’s gym (where the refreshments/awards were), grabbed some hot cider and checked out the results.  FOURTH in my AG.  Arrgh.  Missed by half a second-to the chick who just outkicked me at the finish!  And the kicker is that if I were still 34, I would have placed!  It is what it is, I guess.  And actually, I most likely would not have been able to stay for the awards anyway, they started with the older age groups and it would have taken a while to get down to mine, and I had to leave fairly early as my parents wanted to get an early start on our trek to Long Island for Thanksgiving festivities and beat the traffic.  Before I left, I saw and chatted with Ari briefly-he was there with his daughter for her first 5K, which they both enjoyed a lot.  (And I love how she noticed the Yankee charm on my shoe and said “Daddy, look she’s a Yankee fan too!” 🙂 )

So I went home, got cleaned up, headed to LI with la familia, ate and drank more than enough to counteract the morning’s run, and checked the final results online…and I was bumped up to THIRD in my AG.  Whoa.  Apparently the chick who was originally 1st in the 35-39 AG was now 10 years younger, moving us all up a spot.  Was definitely happy about that!!  Though actually claiming my trophy…well it’s taken more work than the race itself!!  First my trophy was actually in the hands of the 1st place woman.  Then when she returned the trophy it was actually the 2nd place one she had, and the one ahead of me had the 3rd place one had no info for anyone to get in touch with her.  So all in all, I will have to accept the 2nd place trophy (which my dad did on my behalf, and I’ll finally get it in my hands next weekend!) and Sharpie it up to show how the real chips fell.  And if 2nd place chick finally decides she wants it back, well that’ll show her to outkick me next time 😛

And next year?  I’ll just have to come back and win my AG outright 🙂

NYCM 2011: the good, the not-so-good, the ugly

Well I guess this will be the official New York City Marathon report.  Figure after a week or so of thinking things over, I might as well have stuff in writing, so maybe I won’t make the same mistakes again…

So I will start this off by the numbers:

Mile Split Time Mile Split Time
1 8:47.24 15 8:43.63
2 7:30.04 16 8:31.88
3 8:14.00 17 8:27.13
4 8:15.08 18 8:25.93
5 7:57.00 19 8:42.48
6 8:03.23 20 9:08.05
7 8:07.63 21 10:37.85
8 8:23.78 22 9:43.07
9 8:18.85 23 10:11.45
10 7:58.28 24 10:25.60
11 8:25.70 25 15:25.37
12 8:13.28 26 10:01.75
13 8:21.43 26.2 2:02.81
14 8:28.04 Summary 3:55:30.58

And now, the words behind the numbers.

So again, even though daylight savings time gifted us with an extra hour of sleep, I still found myself awake way before my alarm.  Again, fine with me, more time to do the race day routine and not feel rushed.  Eat, have coffee, listen to music, stretch, get dressed, make sure I don’t forget anything.  And begin the 3-leg journey to get to Staten Island early enough to prevent any MTA or SI Ferry fails.  And within minutes of me getting to the Times Square station, there was a 1 train, which got to South Ferry with no problems.  Leg 1 complete.  Even though I was supposed to be on the 6:15 ferry and I knew I was a little early, I heard announcements that those of us who wanted to get on an earlier ferry could.  So why not.  Turned out to be the 5:45 ferry!  whoa.  Again, just listened to music and zoned out for this 2nd leg of the trip (except when someone pointed out the sunrise to me.)   Then onto leg 3-shuttle bus to Fort Wadsworth.  Then once there, walking into the Fort while showing our bibs to the security peeps, lest we get thrown out…

So inside, past security, in search of the Local Competitive area.  Actually not as tough to find as I thought it was, thanks to the nifty map NYRR gave us-just had to cross a little grassy area in the “open zone.”  And according to a couple of my friends, I actually got caught on camera by the news reporting live from Fort Wadsworth!  I apparently didn’t look like I knew I was on camera…annnnnd I was wearing my glamorous “throwaway” outfit.  Classy. 🙂

Anyway, I got past “security” and found a place in the local competitive area to just chill out.  I was the first Flyer there, but I was shortly joined by my teammate JD and one of my speedwork buddies, KL, where we all just chatted and chilled out til it was time to check our bags.  By then, the “Snuggie Posse” of AK, NPT and JS was there (their throwaway gear was Snuggies!) as well as other Flyers…Lam, DC, CM, EF, SJ and more!  To be honest-hanging with these people was the best thing about being in the LCS.  The food/drink/coffee offered was the same as it would have been elsewhere, the lines for the bathrooms eventually did get long, but having my friends and training partners around was actually a calming influence  (unfortunately it seemed like no one else would have really been in wave 2 if I wound up having to stay there.)  And I didn’t feel intimidated at all..I was owning it (my low bib #), I knew I belonged there.

So at around 8:50, we were given the green light to head out onto the bridge.  I could see the green start runners in their corrals, waiting to be unleashed…they were after we made our way onto the bridge and some of the people with 3xxx and 5xxx bibs got mixed in with us…which personally I was OK with.  I knew I still had a decent starting position (I could actually see the start line from where I was) and my intention was to line up at the back of the corral anyway.  I got separated from KL and the Snuggie Posse, but I found myself lined up with DC, DK, ML and MH (who scored points in my book for wearing Yankee temporary tattoos, in addition to running another great race!)  And again, they were good people to have around me while waiting for the start, especially DC who was taking pictures and giving me “run happy” (a la Brooks) vibes 🙂  We heard the introduction of the pro men and knew it wasn’t much longer.  The National Anthem.  Mary Wittenberg’s annual speech (“New York City awaits you…”)  The cannon.  New York, New York.  It was time.

Staten Island/Verrazano Bridge/first 5k

So the focus here-staying in control.  If others pass me on the bridge…let them go.  Tried to block everyone else out.  And as it turned out, the first 2 miles wound up averaging right on pace, so mission accomplished.  And actually, I didn’t mind being on the lower level of the bridge at all!  (And please let me be known..the supposed “golden showers”?  Total urban legend.)  However, the part of the green course I really didn’t like?  The part between the bridge and when we joined up with everyone else on 4th Ave…seemed like that part was lacking in crowd support, unlike that part of the orange and blue starts.

Brooklyn!

4th Ave and time to lock in.  Once again, I loved the support and cheering crowds here…sorry Manhattan, but I think this may have replaced you as my favorite borough in the race! 🙂  I was just along for the ride, having fun…and I guess some of my splits may have shown I was having a little too much fun?  But this part of the course felt sorta flat/downhill so that may be why.

By then, was still cool but very sunny and I kinda regretted keeping my arm warmers on.  I took my first gel right on schedule at the 10K point, but found myself having more water than Gatorade along the way…seemed more “refreshing.”

So then the mile 8 merge happened and slowed us up a little bit.  So much for the wave starts eliminating that congestion (thank you, “honor system”!)…anyways, just cruised along Lafayette Ave in Fort Greene.  Unlike previous years, I was actually looking forward to the Williamsburg portion of the course.  Why?  In a way, it sorta felt like “home” for me.  First was seeing Coach T cheering along with EK and KS in mile 10.  I realized that in previous marathons, the coach had never been out there on race day…so in a way, this meant a lot.  Afterwards, Coach T told me that I “looked like I was cruising…that I so had it, was right on pace.”  At the time, definitely true!  Then northern Williamsburg and Bedford Avenue, especially the part through McCarren Park was a “homecoming” of sorts…how many times have I walked along that street from the L train to the track?  Definitely familiar territory.  Turned onto the usually festive Manhattan Ave (oh the irony…Manhattan in Brooklyn…hehe)…a right turn, then a left on McGuinness…just like in the 3 bridges run.  And here was the Pulaski Bridge and the halfway point-1:47:34.  Hmmm a little slow for sub-3:35, but maybe I can run a more even 2nd half than in the past?  But at least you can’t say I went out too fast 🙂

Queens

Not to knock all you Queens bees (hey, I was born in Queens!) but in the past, Queens just felt like a “filler” borough…not really eventful (well except for the idiot knocking me down in 2006)  And I guess it was the same this time around.  I remembered seeing Celia somewhere in mile 14 waiting for her friend to run with but that was about it.  And as a matter of fact, I did start to feel a little bit of a fade.  I told myself to try and keep it together, knock out the bridge, Manhattan will make it all better.  So yeah, the bridge was actually a little bit of relief for me, knowing that once this was done, the worst would be behind me.  I knew I would lose some time on the incline, just wanted for once to get that mile under 9 minutes (which I did.)  Our Denver-ite Flyer TB passed me on the uphill…I knew his “taking it easy” would eventually catch up to my racing this thing (though he claimed otherwise beforehand…think there may have been beers at the after-party riding on it?)  Anyway, unlike the 3 Bridges run, the incline on the Queensboro didn’t feel like it increased in length and tried to pick it up on the downhill, but tried to be careful to not trash my quads in the process…still 10 miles to go!!

First Avenue

Always the part I look forward to most…but today it didn’t seem the same.  Compared to 4th Ave in Brooklyn, the crowds here seemed kind of…subdued?  I dunno.  I couldn’t seem to pick up my pace…looks like 3:35 may be out, but keep it around 8:30s and I can still get a sub-3:40 BQ.  8:30s…I can do that.  And I was able to for a coupla miles.  Oh was it great to see the Flyers at the PowerGel station at mile 18.  And my parents around 103rd with their signs (one sign said “Next stop…Boston!”, the other one along with the lettering had paw prints on it for my dog brother…that made me smile at least 🙂 ) 

But after that, upper 1st Ave had more fading…not sure what was going on.  On top of that, my stomach was bugging me a little.  I had taken all my gels on schedule, and these were gels I have used many, many times in training (tangerine PowerGel) that I knew it shouldn’t give me any issues so needless to say it was a little puzzling.  I saw LG right before the Willis Ave Bridge, he had a bottle of water for me which was much needed.  “Keep it up.  You look strong,” he said to me.  Oh if only you knew how I was really feeling…looks are deceiving…

The Bronx

And as always, PD was making his appearance in a kilt and bagpipes on the Willis Avenue Bridge.  That was the bright spot of this borough for me.  (and I didn’t even spot Yankee Stadium this time…damn.)

During Mile 21, I had to do the unthinkable and make a port-a-potty stop.  I’ve never had to do this in a marathon before, but I just hoped that taking care of “business” then and there would just help me gut out the last 5 or so miles.  Well losing a minute or so in that mile lost the BQ for me…down but not out.  Maybe if I can pull it together I can still PR.  I force-fed myself my last gel-just to hopefully give myself some energy-as we left the Bronx and hoped for the best…

Manhattan-5th Ave to the finish line

I had really lucked out in my first marathon.  If there was a wall, I never felt it.  But here today, in the marathon I was best trained for, I was experiencing the wall.  The gel I force-fed myself did absolutely nothing.  I was afraid to take anymore of the too-sweet Gatorade as I didn’t want it upsetting my stomach any more.  I just took water where I could and just kept moving forward.  NPT passed me around Marcus Garvey Park and said “come on, hang in there, you got this”…oh how I wish I could have stuck with her.  But it wasn’t happening.  So the “just PR” turned into “maybe get under 3:50?”  The 5th ave hill slayed me as always.  My parents were just past the mile 23 marker and as they said later, knew something wasn’t right because I wasn’t smiling like I usually would be at that point.  I just wanted to get to the park and finish this thing.

But I began to feel sick again after I entered the park.  I had to ask a couple of times where a porta-potty was, as I had to go AGAIN. :-\  As there was nothing, I was forced to make an emergency stop at the Boathouse, and thank god there was an empty stall.  But even after getting that done, it disrupted my rhythm, as I found it hard to start running again…I’d start up then slow to a walk.  And I was still feeling somewhat nauseous.  All the spectators yelling my name did nothing…and those yelling “almost there”…oh you know how I felt about that.  A mile and a half to the finish still felt like an eternity.

Anyway, with a million sets of goals out the window, I wanted to still salvage one-finish under 4 hours.  I looked at my watch and did some quick math, and made a deal with myself.  Run/walk it to 25, then run it in to the end.  Making the right turn onto Central Park South was a huge relief.  Even though the mile split was slow, the crowds did make it feel like it went by faster…and I heard a certain Katy Perry song that I really liked, but honestly I didn’t feel like a firework right then and there 😛  The half-mile to go sign was in sight and that brought relief, that I was gonna make it under 4.  I saw Flyer CN around there…she had passed me while I was walking but she was struggling here too…we tried to get each other through this last bit and it helped me to see a friendly face.

Milke 26 came and went, and then there was the evil Tavern hill and then the finish line was in sight…but for the first time, I sorta felt numb while finishing this one.  I mean yeah, I had a smile on my face, arms up in celebration for the cameras, but this just seemed…anticlimactic.  Anyway, another one was in the books and thankfully kept up my perfect record of sub-4’s with a 3:55:30.

After the finish line

Got my medal…and I will admit, I love the quote that is on the back of the medal-a quote from Grete Waitz “In New York, everyone wins.”  I had seen that at the expo and that was part of what kept me going in the late, painful miles…I wanted that medal!!  Got the heat sheet, food and drink bag, finisher photo…I immediately tore into the Gatorade recovery beverage but I still felt awful.  Everything was cramping, I still felt nauseous…and I was just being told to keep moving.  I saw a med tent, with a sign saying “last med tent before 77th street exit” (which was where I had to go to get my bag.)  I was supposed to meet my parents and grab a bite with them but I knew I needed some kind of help…I was in bad shape.  So I hit the med tent-where I got the cramps in my legs and one of my shoulders massaged out.  They also gave me chicken soup, a salt packet, and some regular Gatorade (not the sickly-sweet stuff that was on the course)…I was definitely dehydrated and in need of electrolytes. 

Finally I was feeling well enough to get up and go (and according to the medics, had some color back…I looked pale and sick before they treated me.)  Unfortunately, by the time I got to my bag and was able to get in touch with the ‘rents, they had already left…kinda sucked but understandable considering I couldn’t get in touch and explain the delay.  So was just me, replenishing with a Shake Shack burger and fries and cleaning up to head out to the Flyers’ post-party at The Parlour.  (oh and while showering, I noticed a “don’t do anything new on race day” mistake.  The HRM that came with the new Mr. Garmin?  I hadn’t used it on a long enough run and it chafed the hell out of me.  Plus it was giving me wacky readings all day…max HR of 233?  I don’t think so!)

As for the post-party, was a good time.  Hey, misery loves company, right? 🙂  It did help seeing my teammates and friends…unlike the MCM disaster where I had to drown my sorrows by myself afterwards!  Anyway, the emotions amongst my teammates about their races were varied…happiness, disappointment, indifference, acceptance, looking to get revenge in the next race…just to name a few.  But nothing Blue Moons can’t fix I guess 😛

As for my race?  I think the word that sums it up is “inconclusive.”  Meaning I’m not sure what was the cause-or causes-of it going wrong.  Maybe the 3:35 goal was too ambitious, should have just gone for 3:40?  (As I did not go out too fast for a 3:35 goal.)  Something nutrition-related?  Was the Gatorade on the course mixed in a way that was making me feel sick?  And I had been feeling a hint of a cold the day before and even that morning, maybe that affected me?

Well whatever it is, got 5 months to figure it out.  Hoping for redemption on April 16th…

NYCM 2011: a disaster

Well obviously I didn’t get my goal, or anywhere close to it.  3:55:30.  Thankfully still got under 4 and didn’t get a personal worst, but definitely was not the race I trained for or wanted by a long shot.

Short story-after running the first half right on pace, it all went to hell in the 2nd half.  Maybe my 3:35 goal was too ambitious.  In addition, dealt with nutritional issues that caused 2 unplanned pit stops, lotsa cramping and nausea and even a med tent visit post finish.

Not sure if I am gonna post a full report…still trying to process it all.  Admittedly, it’s quite disappointing for me.  Even dealing with 80 degrees in Chicago last year was better than this…

I’ll let the splits tell the story for now, as ugly as they are. (FYI-the “pace/mile” column is cumulative time, not per mile.  I only wish I was still hitting sub-9’s late in the going…)

my first F35-39 race (staten island half report)

So even though I mentioned the possiblity of racing the Staten Island Half previously, I was sorta quiet about it since I wasn’t sure what my strategy was gonna be.  I had signed up just to have the opportunity to use it as a long run, or marathon-pace run if need be, as it falls on the weekend between my two 20-milers.  But after missing my goal in Philly, Coach T and I talked about the possiblity of racing this one, and he did give me the blessing to go for it.  I ran this race only once before-5 years ago, but just as a training run.  I distinctly remembered 1 hill in the beginning, and a biggie at mile 8, but was described by many as a PR course.  The weather forecast was a bit warmer than ideal, but considering I ran great races in the summer heat, I didn’t let that psych me out one bit.

So that Sunday (4 weeks out from the big day, to be exact), I did the routine that most likely would happen on marathon day too.  Woke up way too early.  Breakfast and coffee (Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice coffee FTW!  Perfect since I ran out of Peppermint and almost out of Gingerbread and those won’t be back in the stores for while.)  Put the race outfit on…went with the Adioses again for the shoes, and actually tried out a different racing outfit-Flyers singlet (I usually wear the fitted top) and my Lululemon Speed shorts (instead of my short fitted Nike shorts.)  As the shorts have gel pockets, I wouldn’t need a pocket in my top…so I wanted to try out racing in this combo.  (is it me, or do I use this half to try out new shorts?  Last time it was the infamous “naked shorts”…)

And I left my place around 5:30ish, and barely caught the 1 train at Times Square.  Yep, even though NYRR suggested we take the 7:30 ferry at the latest, I felt that would be cutting it too close.  I took the ferry to a Staten island Yankee game this past summer, and it was almost a half hour late.  If the 7:30 was that late, I’d be missing the start.  So I decided to take the 6:30 ferry…I’d rather get to Staten Island early and zone out rather than be in the terminal on the Manhattan side and stress out.  And given that the ferry terminal had plenty of runners, I wasn’t alone in that assessment (of course, some may have been frontloading with a few extra miles.)  I strategically positioned myself near the ferry entrance, and when the doors opened, was able to get a seat near where the exit would be on the SI side and a window seat too.  I think this ferry left maybe 5 minutes late…not too bad, I just listened to my race morning playlist and enjoyed the views during the trip.  And even after getting to SI, the time seemed to go by quickly…found a place to sit and chill out (beautiful morning to sit outside by the water!)…chatted with Flyer and non-Flyer friends, before I knew it, was time to head to the corrals.

just out of the starting gate-i'm to the right of purple chick

So I don’t know who was on announcing duty today, but I actually missed Mary Wittenberg.  This guy was going on and on about the weather and how it was so hot…oh yeah and the comment about how the ChampionChip is “as useful as a rotary phone” (if thats the case, can I get my $35 back that I paid for it way back when?)  I even heard the guy was making fun of people who were late because they were delayed by the ferry…yeah there was some drama there.  Not only was the 7:30 ferry late, but it couldn’t hold everyone waiting.  There was an additional one added around 8-ish, I believe?  But still there were definitely a lot of people who were going to miss the start.  (wow-am I glad I decided to go on the early ferry!)  Even though they did say they were going to delay the start, Mr. Garmin said I started at 8:32 (original start time was 8:30) so they couldn’t have waited that long…

So we headed out of the stadium and onto the streets…mile 1 was uphill but I felt in control.  When I saw my first mile was 7:23 I was pleased…but there was the possibility I may have gone out too fast.  Oh yeah, we were running on unshaded roads on a warm and sunny day, and remember that supposed “flat and fast” course?

Um yeah.  I remembered there was gonna be a hill at mile 8, but I definitely did not remember some of the others!

I just kept going…at around mile 3 I saw Lam speed past me…apparently he got caught on one of the late ferries and had to weave his way through the field (but no worries, since he still PR’ed!  yay!)  I said to him to “go get it.”  As for me, it’s possible my fast start worked against me, as the next 3 miles were 7:34, 7:44, 7:42.  Uh oh…could I be in trouble?  Somewhere in mile 4 I heard someone cheering for me…I looked quickly and saw AP, our Master Blaster…since he’s our resident Staten Islander, I figured he’d either be running or spectating. 🙂

Mile 5 dropped to 7:55…yeah that was up another hill.  But still.  I could have very easily thrown in the towel but just make the rest of the race a marathon-pace run but I chose to fight.  Being that this was an out-and-back, what goes up must come down, right?  And we were nearing the part of the course that I really liked, as the turnaround as around a mile away I saw people coming back on the other side…then it was my turn to hit the turnaround…I heard people cheering for me and if I couldn’t acknowledge you, I’m sorry-was too focused on the task at hand but know it was appreciated! 

just passed my teammate with a mile or 2 to go...

Then mile 8 brought the hill.  The one that 5 years ago I said was “a bigger bitch than I am.”  Seemed like it lasted almost the entire mile!  “Come on, Flyer!” said a guy wearing a NYC Triathlon top who was trying to encourage me to stick with him.  Relief when we hit the top.  At 8:04, this was by far the slowest mile of the race, and my only mile over 8 minutes.  Even the downhill right afterwards…didn’t feel like a reward right then and there, took about 100-200 meters to recover from the hill.  Mile 9 went through Fort Wadsworth…boy it’s gonna look quite different in 4 weeks, just crawling with runners 🙂  Come to think of it-I’m sure there was a view of the Verrazano Bridge somewhere in these last coupla miles but I didn’t even notice!  Exited the Fort and went back into town…saw AP again with his son, and he was taking pictures…I’m sure I didn’t look too happy at that point though 😛

So up til mile 10 or 11, was just trying to maintain pace.  By this point there were people to pace off of…NYC Tri guy, and a couple of Dashing Whippets (I just hoped I wasn’t being too annoying, my breathing was getting loud by that point…working hard!)  In the beginning, everyone who had started late and weaving their way through the field…didn’t know who was running what pace!  By now everyone had pretty much settled in.  Memories from the backstretch…me saying “Shut up!” to those saying “Almost there!” and having other runners say “thank you!”…the very welcome sprinklers at the water stations and elsewhere…the DJ playing “Rain Over Me” and me thinking “ooh rain would be nice right now” 

finishing stretch!

After the bridge at the beginning of mile 12, I thought the hills were over…ugh I guess I forgot about one more!  But then I really think it’s downhill from here?  And passing by the mile 12 marker, I could hear the announcer for the finishers but I forced myself to not look in that direction, just crank it for the last mile.  Headed down the ramp into the stadium with about a half-mile to go and I knew it was just a straight shot to the finish.  And the clock was saying 1:40:xx…which was just alright by me!! 🙂

Final time-1:40:27, 7:40 pace.  My 3rd fastest half ever (only 2 faster were in Philly) and a soft “hilly course” PR, i guess 🙂 

The deets:

Split Time Elevation Gain Elevation Loss
1 7:23.8 17 10
2 7:34.7 32 51
3 7:44.3 14 14
4 7:42.1 45 14
5 7:55.2 68 12
6 7:26.2 0 94
7 7:42.6 13 22
8 8:04.8 105 0
9 7:30.6 0 70
10 7:32.5 13 32
11 7:44.0 0 5
12 7:57.3 61 43
13 7:25.0 39 43
13.1 0:43.6
(6:38 pace)
0 0

As you can see, the elevation changes tell the story of the splits!

And I was 12th in my new age group…my highest age-group placing ever in a NYRR race!!  Maybe there is something to this whole 35-39 age group 🙂  The Flyer women took 3rd and I was the 3rd Flyer female so I got one of these:

And yeah, I know the high placing and finishing 3rd among the Flyer women was only because a lot of the fasties did Grete’s the previous weekend…so a little bittersweet.  I’ll take it though!  Hadn’t gotten one of those team medals in a long time (few years?)…we have so many fast women on the team now, the times I finish top 5 are few and far between!

So even though I would have loved to have run 1:38-1:39…or better if that was where the day took me, I’m still happy with this race.  I could have easily thrown in the towel and “tempoed” it but I fought to the finish.  Unlike Brooklyn, I wasn’t roadkill in the last 5 miles 🙂 And besides, I do remember that it was only a few years ago when I was frustrated at being stuck at a 1:47-1:48 plateau for the half, I was trying to break 1:45 but coming up short…now I can knock on the door of 1:40 in non-ideal conditions on a hilly course?  And of course, eye on the prize and I like that this race predicts a 3:31 marathon…

Next?  Now it’s time to get in that last big week and the last 20 miler, then taper down and stay uninjured before the big day in 4 weeks!

third time not a charm (rock ‘n’ roll philly half report)

Before the longer story, I’ll cut to the chase now…wasn’t my best (2nd best, actually), but thankfully not my worst.

So even though I hadn’t really tapered for this thing, I was trying to stay hopeful that I could bust out a good one.  The room number in the hotel I was staying at was a sign…room number 724-and isn’t a 1:37 half 7:24 pace? (1:37 is the open standard for a qualifying time for NYCM/NYC Half…the latter being a little more important to me as I’d like to run that one again and the only way I will get in is to qualify on time!)  So did the usuals the day before the race…hit up the expo (spotted Kara Goucher at the Nutrilite booth-we passed on getting an autograph as the line was too long) and dinner at Buca di Beppo (almost a reservation snafu, but got it sorted out!)  Then time to put out the clothes for the next morning (including folding over my bib so the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly Half” wasn’t showing, that bib was way too damn big!)  And had to decide on shoes…was debating between the Launches and the Adioses, but decided to take a chance with the latter, paired with my black CEP compression socks (the hot pink ones would have clashed 🙂 )

Got up, had my usual bagel w/ white chocolate PB and coffee, got dressed, hydrated, and everything, walked over to the start (a mile from our hotel)…and when I stepped outside, was greeted by some very nice racing weather…great, guess I have no excuses 😛  After checking bags, Flyer GW (my traveling companion) went to do a warmup, I had to take care of other business and stretch a little bit more before heading to the corrals.  Headed to corral 2 this year…moving on up in the world!!   Was joined shortly by GW and JJ, another Flyer.  JJ said he was just gonna run this at marathon pace so I thought “OK guess I need to stay ahead of him.”  National Anthem, then the first corral and elites were off.  Then time to move us up…and I didn’t go anywhere near the timing mats until we were allowed to go-learned from my mistakes at the Corporate Challenge 😉

So another clean start, this staggered start system that Philly has used the last coupla years has worked well.  Settled in right away.  GW pulled ahead, as did JJ…now I didn’t know if this meant that I was going slower than hoped, or that just like last year’s Scotland 10K, he wasn’t really gonna stick to marathon pace 😛  Anyway, the mile 1 split sort of put the concerns to rest.

And the next 3 miles wove through Center City.  I was keeping consistent, and actually wasn’t too far off from my opening mile splits last time I ran this race…but today, was feeling more like work than it did 2 years ago.  Not that I went out too fast, but just that I was gonna have to fight for this one.  There was a guy who was pacing with me through this part…unfortunately lost him a little after mile 4.  Not surprising, he said he wanted to run 1:30-1:35…

So after passing by the start/finish was a little bit of new territory for me.  The last 2 times I ran this race, we ran out on MLK Drive and back on Kelly Drive to the finish.  Starting last year, the course was reversed.  OK, may not be a bad thing, means that hill at mile 13 will actually be a downhill this time? 🙂  But dammit, a sidestitch crept up in mile 5.  It went away after I grabbed water, but resurfaced during mile 7.  After that, I knew I was gonna have to take fluids more than I normally have in a half.  And I was feeling sort of under-fueled too…my gel boost in mile 8 could not have come soon enough.

And mile 8 was my first (and thankfully only) mile in the 7:40s…I thought “oh no you don’t.”  I’m not sure what I could salvage with this race, but at least I want to avoid feeling like roadkill like I had in Brooklyn.  Where’s the Falls Bridge, and the turn to the finish?  Ah there it is, mile 9.  One more mile, and I can try and pick it up to the finish.  Which I did for mile 11, but 12 and 13 were struggles-though I was still passing people!  And there was something with the camber of the road that was aggrevating my right side.  Finally, I could see the mile 13 marker but not the finish!  Oh wait…they got rid of one hill and swap it for something shorter and steeper.  But once I crested that, the finish was in sight and gave it all I had…oh damn won’t be getting under 1:40 on the clock…haul ass and you can finish under 1:39…finished…1:38:58.  Glad that’s over!

Got my medal and a picture and gathered up whatever goodies they have after the finish.  Found GW and JJ afterwards…both had PRed.  In fact, seemed like everyone I knew who ran that day (lotsa local NYC team peeps made the trip out) had PRed…ugh, what could have been.  Thank god for the MGD 64 beer tent to numb things a little.

So I have mixed emotions about my race.  On one hand, I’m definitely glad to get under 1:40 again, shows that 2009’s race was not a fluke.  And hey, if I was still able to run under 1:40 on tired legs, what could I have done had I been tapered?  Yeah…definitely wonder what could have been if I was able to race it.  But have to take it for what it is-a tuneup for NYCM.  (And good learning with regards to hydration and fueling and how much I need.)  Maybe I’ll give it a 2nd go in Staten Island, maybe I’ll just use that as a pace run-we’ll see how I’m feeling in 3 weeks.  In terms of race predictions, McMillan sez 3:28:43…and I usually add 10 minutes for the NYCM hills…so 3:38.  Not quite where I want to be…guess I have my work cut out for me in the next 7 weeks! 🙂