the last 20-spot

I must really love Central Park, and doing all my long runs there.  Well actually I don’t, but when there is a half scheduled the same weekend as my last scheduled 20-miler, well gotta take advantage and roll with it.  So yeah, Grete’s Great Gallop was this past weekend and the 9 am start meant I could sneak in 7 miles beforehand and not have it be an ungodly hour.  Plus it’s a club points race, and even though i’m too slow to score for the team, I should be a good captain and run…etc, etc, etc.  Only downer was that rain was forecasted…well, it’s not like I’ve never run 20 miles in the rain, but I wanted to to listen to music during the run.  And as you all know, my first iPod died at mile 10 of Grete’s in 2006…couldn’t deal with 2 half-marathons in the rain!!

Well as it turned out, though it was a bit on the humid side (93%!), the rain would spare us.  I got out the door by 7:30 and headed to the park to start running.  And actually-what was great about doing those 7 in the park was that the water/Gatorade tables were already set up, so I could grab a cup and keep running instead of having to stop at a water fountain (hey I had my race number on, I had the right to utilize those tables!)  I finished up my 7 miles with the perfect amount of time to spare-just enough time to drop off my bag and find my corral.  Ran into Uptown Girl in my corral and we posed for the Brightroom photographer and chitchatted til it was time to run.

And off we went.  Everyone around me was passing me and I didn’t care, remember this was just a training run…the plan was to do 8:30-8:45 for the first 7, then try and run MP or close to it for the last 6.1.  But the humidity looked like it was gonna have fun with us today.  Which made me glad once again that my half-mary race effort was 2 weeks ago!!  So actually, I kept a pretty consistent pace for the first 7 miles…or as consistent as you can get with all the ups and downs.  BC was out taking pictures with the ObsceneCamโ„ข and I was still able to smile and wave so I obviously was not working too hard ๐Ÿ™‚  Other Flyers were out cheering while running, marshalling or standing still which was very much needed!!

So time for the last 6, time to pick up the pace.  Did run into a problem on that first mile since 1. too many near-collisions at the gatorade table and 2. just north of 72nd, the marshalls did not stop a huge group of people from crossing in front of the runners, which caused another near-collision and prolly slowed me down a little.  But besides that…not bad.  Again, I was pretty consistent…and was passing a lot of people in this loop, including those who passed me in the early miles, which made me feel good.  But I was definitely having to work for it…this time around, I wasn’t smiling so much for the camera!!  Plus I was really feeling affected by the elements…humidity was getting to me, was feeling a little under-hydrated…moreso from lack of sports drink than water.  All I could think about right at that moment was the Electric Lemonade I would be downing at the Boat Basin afterwards.  Oh yeah, maybe I was still feeling the effects from too much beer Thursday night and not enough sleep…either way, this was almost over.  The Gatorade at the bottom of Cat Hill was a sight for sore eyes, even though I didn’t have that much longer to go.  I needed it!!  Flyer EA was helping hand out the cups, and I gave him a signal that I was gonna take a cup from him…but someone else beat me to it.  Thank god Mary Wittenberg was right behind him handing out cups too!!  I downed it and then was ready to be done…about another 10 minutes and I was!! 

Not much excitement to say about the finish-remember this was just a training run!!  Splits are below…

So pretty much, I executed the plan, as I averaged 8:35 for the first 7 and 8:15 for the last 6.1, and this was in crappy conditions too. Miles 5 and 11 are the miles that begin near the top of Harlem hill and end around east 86th street-those splits really put into perspective what a sneaky uphill that mile is.  And one other thing, I used this run to rehearse the race day outfit…down to the shoes!!  Going with the DS-Trainers…and no naked shorts ๐Ÿ˜›

So did the usual post-race stuff…chitchatted and socialized with teammates and whoever else…was hoping to get a waffle but they had run out-and this would have been only 2 hours and 15 minutes into the race-there were people still running!!  And yeah, this leads to another little rant I have, as the raffle started around the same time…and of course, you had to be present to win-or even put your number in.  And again, as the course limit was 3 hours, there were people still out running!!  Shouldn’t these things be open to all runners and not just the speedsters?

Well anyway, I mentioned the Boat Basin before…and sure enough I headed over there…where me and a few others proceeded to partake in what Lam referred to as “the BEST POST-RACE PARTY EVER!”  I got my much needed Electric Lemonade.  And a coupla strawberry margaritas with salt.  Yeah, I think all of us were buzzed and happy after a short time…which led to some pretty funny conversations.  I’m sure none of you would suspect that talk about pro runners, orgasms and charades would lead to laughing so hard you’re crying…I guess you had to be there ๐Ÿ˜‰

And as for me now…TAPER TIME!!!  Oh yeah….


don’t rain on my gallop

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

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

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

The aforementioned rain? Started around mile 10 for me. Like I said before-it really wasn’t that bad but I had to laugh that it happened when rain wasn’t even on the agenda. Was still feeling good, but by the mile 11 marker, I was ready to be done and out of the rain. So I decided to crank it up for the last 2.1 miles…also visualizing the marathon finish. Like in 2006, when once I hit the park, to go for it. And it felt pretty good to be passing people at the end, instead of the other way around ๐Ÿ™‚ Resulted in a strong mile 12, a smokin’ mile 13, and a last push up the hill to the finish line. Finished in 1:52:37 (8:35 pace) (according to the NYRR results.)

Doing the splits…

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

The hard work is done, time to relax. Flyer JW thanked me for being his rabbit-we were kinda trading places back and forth throughout…I stayed ahead for a few miles, he finally passed me for good around mile 11. I feel so used :-p Flyer DM and I braved the long-ass line for waffles (as I missed getting them 2 years ago because of the rain!) but was fine as we chitchatted the whole time so it went by pretty quick. And it was worth it ๐Ÿ™‚ Also raided the bagels with salmon…and then chitchatted some more with my teammates (and also a closet blog reader of mine!) Finally around noon, we all headed our separate ways…to either nap, or to warm up (I had my long-sleeve shirt and a jacket on, but it was still chilly!)

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


(yep, be prepared, another bitchfest. if you don’t want to read, please press the back button immediately. in addition, if you intend on leaving a snarky comment, you best be signing your name.)

the veterans of the NYC racing scene say the same thing about Grete’s Great Gallop…”everyone PR’s at this race”-between the traditionally cool temps, and being at the peak of marathon training. As a result, I was really, really hoping for a sub-1:45…or at the very least, an improvement on my previous half times from this year.

well I guess someone didn’t like my bad behavior Friday nite, because karma truly bit me in the ass today. The weather? Think 42nd Street for me during the NYC Half. And imagine that for 20 minutes before the race, and throughout the entire race. (Thank god I actually decided to wear the DS-Trainers for this one…my regular trainers would have felt like bricks.)

The splits tell the sad story… (hey jbl, hope you don’t mind that I adopted your chart from last year…I liked your course descriptions.)

Mile Split Notes
1 8:04 South end to 59th and then up to Tavern on the Green
2 8:19 West Hills
3 8:03
4 8:15 Harlem Hill/Lasker Pool
5 8:31 East side including the Museum Moguls and Cat Hill
6 8:19
7 8:23* South end to 59th and then up to Tavern on the Green
8 8:29* West Hills
9 8:14
10 8:25 Harlem Hill/Lasker Pool
11 8:37 East side including the Museum Moguls and Cat Hill
12 8:14
13 8:10 South end to 59th and then up to Tavern on the Green
.1 0:54

*I hit the mile split button a coupla seconds late…so mile 7 was probably in reality 2-3 seconds faster and mile 8 2-3 seconds slower.

Final time-1:48:57, 8:19 pace-my 2nd worst half of the year. I knew from the beginning I did not stand a chance for sub-1:45. But I just never felt good the entire time…to add insult to injury, the iPod shut off after mile 10. I looked at my watch after mile 11 and saw that unless I really picked it up for the last 2 miles, I might not make it under 1:50. At that point, since I didn’t have my music, I just wanted to finish the damn thing… (and in another cruel twist of fate, the weather clears up around noon, and the afternoon has weather that would have been perfect for the race!)

I know the conditions weren’t ideal, but I’m still disappointed. Disappointed about a waste of a good racing attempt due to something I could not control. (This would have been my last chance to race a half…Staten Island is too close to the marathon.) Disappointed that I didn’t feel like an athlete-I felt like a fragile flower that wilts at the first sign of bad weather and can only grow if the weather is 50 degrees and dry. Disappointed that after 3 months of consistent marathon training, I can’t seem to improve on my half times…I’m like stuck at that 1:47-1:48 plateau. In fact, I’m not improving in general-I’ve been struggling to keep training runs under a 10 minute pace (man, do I miss the days when I could run sub 9’s) and I just really, really needed a good race to give me a boost of confidence and I didn’t get it.

(And I don’t want to hear from anyone that I was still recovering from Friday-I really did feel fine on Saturday, and besides, I’ve read too many race reports that read “I got soooo wasted last night and was so hung over this morning, but I still PR’ed, yay!”)

Once again, I’m just feeling pretty lost. Running is the one thing in my life that I really need to be going right about now, and it’s not. I guess I’ll just suck it up for 2 more weeks and pray that tapering will help…though I am a little skeptical. After this one, I’m not sure what my future as a marathoner will be….is it truly worth it if the training just sucks the life out of you and your running legs?

now where’s that damn Daniel Powter song when I need it…