the club (champs) can’t handle me

Thankfully this year’s NYRR Club Team Championships was a complete 180 from last year.  Was a good day for me, for the Flyers, for lotsa peeps.

Chill nite Friday nite…carbo-loading (and yes I did have another Blue Moon…lol) and watching the Yanks vs. Sox game…hey didn’t the Yanks win 2 years ago the night before this race?  Saturday I did all my usual pre-race preps and headed to the subway…just in time to see the door of a C train close just as I got there.  Doh!!  My hope was to get to da park in time to see the guys in their first mile, but it was in the hands of the MTA now.

Luckily, another C train came shortly…and I got off the train uptown and headed to 90th street to watch the guys pass by before I warmed up a little bit.  Perfect timing-the lead bikes/truck came by just as I got to 90th.  As it was early, everyone pretty much passed by in a matter of minutes, but I was able to spot some Flyers here and there and cheer.  I then continued warming up, headed to the spot that the Flyers staked out on the east side near the finish for our post-race festivities.  A few minutes later, the leaders approached…the usual suspects were in front (WSX, NYAC, etc) all running ridiculous times.  And of course we were anxiously awaiting our first male and BK said that we should just all cheer like crazy when he runs by.  Sure enough, Lam runs by and the (Flyer female) crowd goes insane.  Strong finish to what was apparently a great race for him!  he was followed shortly by JD, and then Crazy Bandanahead who looked like he was passing lotsa guyz in the final stretch.  But man, the looks on these guys faces…they did not look happy at all.  And I couldn’t tell if it was because of the conditions (it was in the mid-70s and quite humid…probably the toughest conditions we’ve had for this particular race in awhile) or if it’s just the normal “pushing hard at the end” discomfort…

At around 8:35ish, I headed over towards the transverse and the corrals for the women’s start.  So Flyer LH says to me that he “expects me to finish top 10 for the team”-as this time around, the open women’s scoring for this race went 10 deep (like the men’s usually is.)  And of course that expectation is based on my performance on the 4-miler last month…and honestly, this wasn’t what I wanted to hear before the race!  One of the good things about the 4-miler was the fact that there was no pressure beforehand…just ran.  And also this time, there were quite a few fast Flyer ladies who would most definitely finish ahead of me.  Our “master blaster” CM, who always leads the team whenever she toes the line.  Our ultra-chick DC, this would be just a sprint for her.  JR, another quick chick who consistently runs sub-7 pace for these races.  EG, who’s been on a PR-setting tear this year.  And of course EA, AK and NPT, the ladies I do speedwork with…I’ve never beaten them in a workout or a race before.  So there I counted 7 Flyer women that would most likely finish ahead of me and I’m sure there were others I hadn’t seen yet.  Thankfully my Flyer friend JW put her hands over my ears as a sort of sign to tell me to block it out.  Thanks JW-I needed that 🙂  And soon enough it was time to start…took some deep breaths to calm myself further before the starting horn.

Mile 1 (7:18)-so despite the whole “bibgate”, my starting position was actually fine (and in fact, supposedly I missed a pile-up that happened in the first corral!)  Me and EG stuck together for a good part of this mile, weaving our way through the West Side Hills.  And I was pretty pleased with this mile split, showed that last month definitely was not a fluke!  That said, given the warmer and more humid conditions, did I go out too hard?

Mile 2 (7:08)-Down the hill, still running at a good clip.  I felt that I was still keeping it together, in the heat and humidity, and the mile split did reflect that.  I knew that this race was definitely legit and was just gonna go for it from here…

Mile 3 (7:17)-what is usually the most mentally tough mile of the race with the least crowd support.  I had several women to pace off of…a Harrier, a fast woman from Moving Comfort or Running Divas or whatever they are called now, a coupla PPTC women, and I had NPT in my sights up ahead-in fact I have had her in my sights the entire way.  But I really tried to not worry about what they were doing, or where I was place-wise…I said to myself just the fact that I was sticking with these women means I was having a good day.  I was here to run for time, not place.  But the fact I was running with them may have helped a little-I usually lose a little bit of time in this mile and this time, I didn’t.

Mile 4 (7:32)-Cat Hill time.  Just a hill repeat and you’re done with the tough part.  I’ve seen peeps actually climb up onto the cat statue to cheer, today was no exception.  This time it was Flyer TD, encouraging me up that last part of the hill, and it definitely was a relief to be done.  Cat Hill does its usual damage to this mile, though possibly a tiny bit less than before?  Quick check of the watch says I’m at 29:1x though 4 miles (my 2nd best 4-mile time ever!), so all I need to do is kill it on the last mile.

Mile 5 (6:45)-So after keeping NPT in my sights throughout the race, I caught up to her.  “Come on, N,” I said to her as I pulled alongside.  “Let’s work together.”  We did run side by side for a little bit until I edged ahead for good around Engineer’s Gate.  And here was time to crank it up a gear.  And give it everything.  I passed by several other women in the stretch from Engineer’s Gate to the top of the reservoir…and then the real fun part begins, with all the guys from all the teams cheering.  And of course I gotta look good and fast for them 🙂  I wasn’t letting up, no smiles, total game face.  Even when I passed the Flyers’ contingent with around a quarter-mile to go…I heard the cheering, but I couldn’t even tell you exactly who was there, I was so focused.  I saw the orange tape lining the finishing chute and I felt it calling me home.  Rounded the corner…and surprisingly, the woman in front of me stopped after crossing the mat a little before the finish (which I believe gives name/bib numbers to the announcers at the finish)…but I wasn’t falling for that!!  No stopping for me til I hit both mats at the finish!!  And I did hear the announcers call my name as I finished!  And finished up with my fastest mile split ever in a race…like whoa!!

Final time was 36:00, 7:12 pace. Wow-had I known I was so close, could I have given that little something extra to get that second to get me under 36?  But still-cannot complain at all about a 49-second PR, an 8th-place finish for the open women (who finished 8th overall) AND redemption from last year’s underwhelming race!

So afterwards was the usual mingling, picnic, photo-taking, catching up with Flyers old and new…and oh yes, a certain baby Flyer girl made her Flyer event debut 🙂

So this race, I think, was a huge weight off my shoulders.  For several reasons.  1-the 4-miler definitely was not a fluke, and in fact even surpassed that one.  2-finally able to pull out a good race time in non-ideal conditions.  Though I think partially that was due to getting through that 5K last month in 90-degree weather and my long run during Heatpocalypse 2011…I mean if I could get through those…I could get through this.  3-McMillan predicts a 3:31 marathon from this race, and I wasn’t really tapered for this one.  Therefore, training appears to be on track so far.  Which is why for the next 6 weeks, I’m putting the racing shoes away and just concentrating on continuing the NYCM buildup, and STAYING UNINJURED.

Some pictures from the day, thanks to our fabulous team photographers 🙂

the Flyer gurls in the yellow corral

right after the start on 102nd

in the home stretch with the game face on!

me with the Flyer men after the finish


oh how the mighty have fallen

It’s times like this when I feel like my 2009 racing season was more a curse than a blessing.  Even though I can run a race time that, say 2 years ago I’d be thrilled with, now it just leaves me with disappointment and the feeling of coming up short…because I know I have and could do much better.

And that was the case in yesterday’s NYRR Team Championships 5-miler.  As it fell at the halfway point of my Chicago training, I thought it’d be a good way to see where I’m at, and if I need to adjust my goals at all.  Plus I love this race, I almost always run well…well 2004 (pre-blog) and 2007 not included.  The guys-from both the Flyers and other teams are out in force cheering, especially along the final stretch.  And for once, the weather gods cut us a break and gave us 70 degree, low humidity racing conditions for a change!  Basically…I had no excuses today, right? But I was unsure…I definitely had tired legs, even a short run on Thursday was my slowest in a long time. I had Friday as a complete off day but was it enough?  Wasn’t sure what to expect, time-wise…of course I’d like to get as close as possible to last year’s 36:49.  Or to tell me that I’m on track for a 3:40 marathon, it looked like I’d have to run under 7:30s (37:30).  Maybe that would be doable…?

So the usual routine for this race…I timed my warmup to go up the west side so I could cheer the Flyer guys (and friends from other teams) on during the first mile.   Once everyone passed, continued up to 102nd and to the east side over to where the Flyers staked out their spot for the post-race picnic…and wouldn’t you know it, a few minutes later, the leaders approached.  It was a sea of red as West Side Runners had a clean sweep for the first 5 spots!  I saw some friends from Urban Athletics that I cheered for…no Flyers yet.  And another teammate said something like “are any Flyers even running today?”  I guess she meant it as a joke but I didn’t find it funny…our guys are great guys and do their best, regardless of where they finish in an uber-stacked race like this!  But yes, our guys were there and represented…our first guy finishing just under 30 minutes with our 2nd one not far behind in 30-flat.  Unfortunately missed seeing Lam (wish u could still wear Flyer gear!) but saw Crazy Bandanahead and Johnny.  (Cris was there playing photographer too.)  At around 8:35-8:40, heard announcements for the women to get to the corrals so had to hustle…en route to the start I ran into A Marathoner, who seemed happy with his race.  And in my corral was Shelby-we totally recognized each other from our bloggys…and  were joined shortly by Bridges Runner…I swear, these races are always like impromptu blog meetups 🙂   But chatting sorta helped the time to the start pass by quicker because before I knew it, I heard the announcement of “lead vehicle, are you ready?”  A few deep breaths.  And then we were off.

Mile 1 (7:35)-So the start was thankfully clean (even with me being in the 3rd/yellow corral-don’t forget, this race probably only had around 500 peeps, give or take a few.)  Bridges Runner and I were running together in the first part of this mile…she edged ahead after I guess a half mile…and it seemed like I was getting passed quite a bit too.  I was really hoping it’s just because I wasn’t going out too fast and not because I was destined to have a crap race.  I thought my first mile split was a little slow, but was hoping to make up for it in the next 4 miles…

Mile 2 (7:30)-This mile split surprised me a bit, I really expected it to be faster due to the downhills…but my legs still felt a little tired.  Also, by the 72nd street transverse, there was no traffic control…I had to swerve to avoid not only a group of people crossing the road, but also a bike and I think that may have added a few seconds to this mile.  I couldn’t remember if there were any course marshals there…and if there weren’t there really should have been.  (One girl running near me yelled at the people “this is a f*cking race!”)  Also, near the end of this mile, there was a sprinkler station…which was on with a little more force than ideal.  So my choices-run through it and get drenched, or run around it and add more time…I chose the first since why make my race time slower than it already is.  Figured by this point a PR is out…

Mile 3 (7:36)-Around the bottom of the park.  Pretty uneventful.  Just thankful I didn’t lose more time than necessary on this mile…

Mile 4 (7:52)-knowing my weakness on hills, I was a little nervous about Cat Hill, and how much damage it was going to do.  But surprisingly I was passing people…a lot of people while climbing.  A couple of the UA guys passed by while cooling down and shouted some encouraging words to me to help get up the hill…guess it helped 🙂   I saw Flyer JA cheering on the sidelines across from the Met and I kinda signaled with my facial expression that I was struggling…he told me to “dig deep”…let’s see if I can for the last mile…

Mile 5 (7:03)-Now’s just the time to see what I had left in the tank…if anything.  LG, GA, KB and some other UA guys were cheering

Nearing the finish. In that stretch, I had passed by the woman in the NBR shirt, the woman next to me, the woman ahead in orange...and possibly the one ahead of her wearing red too?

and taking pics near Engineer’s Gate…managed to get one of me even though I was somewhat hidden 😛  Thankfully I was still passing women during this mile…near 96th St I saw Flyer EA who encouraged me to catch the woman up ahead…and the funny thing was she even turned around and encouraged me to catch her too (wonder if she wasn’t taking the race seriously?)  North of the reservoir was all the team’s cheering sections which I desperately needed…Coach DC from Urban was cheering enthusiastically for me…so was the Flyers contingent.  Helped me pick off a coupla more women in this last stretch (though for all I know, they could have gotten me on chip time).  The final corner was in sight and Coach JM from UA was standing near there and yelled encouragement for me to finish strong…I kicked til my lungs burned…and then some.  (I still felt it in my lungs hours afterwards!)  The announcer was calling out team names…not sure if they called out the Flyers…but when I was done, I was done!

Wound up with 37:36, 7:31 pace…admittedly, quite disappointing.  If it were 2 years ago, I would have been thrilled with this time.  But being 47 seconds slower, 10 seconds per mile slower than what I ran in this race last year…it’s a lot.  Tried the best I could to enjoy the post-race picnic and the team photo, etc…

Only positive take-aways from this one…I didn’t pace like a moron (passed a lot of people in the last 2 miles) and I had a lot left in the tank for the last mile-maybe too much?  Could I have pushed harder in miles 1-4 and therefore wound up with a faster finish time?  My average heart rate for this race was lower than it had been in the past, maybe suggesting the effort level wasn’t there?

I know what you are all going to say-and that is this is only one race.  However, I have not had a decent race since Brooklyn.  Meaning, a race that suggests a 3:40 marathon.  I’ve had a string of subpar races in a row…the Mini 10K, Corporate Challenge, the 5K in Hoboken, now this one.  And being that I’m further along in training than I have been in the past for this race…shouldn’t it be showing up by now?  According to McMillan, this race predicts a 3:41:11…ouch.  (normally I wouldn’t put too much faith in that prediction, except that this race 2 years ago almost perfectly predicted what I ran in NYCM 2008.)  Should I revise my goal to 3:45 and hope that a 3:45 will still be good for Boston 2012 (since I’ll be 35?)  I just feel like nothing in my training and racing right now is pointing towards a 3:40 marathon…and I’d like to know sooner rather than later if I am gonna need to adjust my goals and just accept I don’t have a 3:40 marathon in me.

9 weeks of marathon training behind me, 9 to go, where to go from there will be a blog post for another day.  I’ll just leave you all with the team piccy for now 🙂

Go Flyers!

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… 😉

harder, better, faster, stronger

Those words, originally the title of a Daft Punk song, more recently sampled in a Kanye West song…ran through my head during today’s NYRR Club Team Championships. Did that help? Read on!!

Now I’ll reveal what my goals for the race were-and in honor of the Olympics, I’ll use medal colors 🙂

Bronze-beat last year’s time (40:10)-get revenge on last year!!
Silver-beat my 2006 time (39:03)
Gold-distance PR…sub-37:51

I was so nervous and excited for the race, I found it a little hard to sleep last nite. (Plus a certain finish of a certain swimming event had something to do with it too!! dayum…) But despite that, I got up right when the alarm sounded, and went through the usual pre-race routine…eat, drink coffee, stretch, get dressed, listen to music, make sure Mr. Garmin is charged…

As usual-I timed my warmup to go up the west side so I could cheer the Flyer guys on during the first mile. And yeah, I was nice and cheered for friends on other teams too 🙂 And they all seemed very appreciative-being that the women’s race is not for another hour, I’m sure that part of the course didn’t have a lot of cheering support. Everyone was still pretty much bunched together, so pretty much all of the runners passed by in a matter of minutes. So I continued on up to 102nd Street, and found some of the Flyer women who had staked out a spot near the finish to cheer the guys on. Soon enough, the leaders came by…finishing in 23-and-change…are you friggin kidding me? I can’t even do 4 miles in 23 and change minutes! Hell, there are times when I can’t even do a 5K in that amount of time 🙂 Around 28-29 minutes, we kept an eye out for the first Flyer, who I knew would be coming in around that time…we did think we saw one, but it actually turned out to be a Reservoir Dog-their singlets are very similar to our latest singlet style!! But one by one, the Flyer men passed by, running strong towards the finish.

After a while, I left to go warm up and loosen up and head towards the start…and yep, even though it was a small field-around 500-they still used the corrals…and yay, I was in the 2nd/red one 🙂 It may not have mattered in a race this size, but was still cool. A bunch of my Flyer teammates were in my corral, as was Uptown Girl. Everybody was chatting it up, the starting horn took us by surprise!! Here we go…

Mile 1 (7:35)-through the west side hills…I knew this mile would give me an idea as to what kind of race I will have…I was gonna go for it!! The crowd support was fantastic…and Uptown Girl and I were running together for most of this mile, I knew I was having a good race when I could keep up with her 🙂 Was feeling good, feeling strong…saw my mile split and was pleased…in the ballpark! 🙂
Mile 2 (7:28)-wheeeeee…..downhill mile!! A bunch of the Flyer and the TRD guys were running in the other direction and cheering. Still felt good!! After this mile I thought “cool, I’m on PR pace!!” 🙂
Mile 3 (7:45)-always the mentally tough mile!! Around the bottom of the park, so the least support. Plus, it had warmed up to about 70 degrees by then and was very humid…not as bad as it could have been, but this mile was unshaded and it took a little bit of a toll on me. This was when I started playing those words over and over in my head…“harder, better, faster, stronger.” Keep me motivated. (Funny…when listening to music pre-race…yeah, I was listening to Kanye, but different song-“Champion”…funny what gets stuck in your head! Anyway, off the subject here…) A couple women did pass me, including one of my teammates, but I was still sticking with others, and even passing others. So all in all, not too bad. Just keep everyone in sight and I’ll be fine.
ok, i guess i was able to manage one smile near the end.  hi guys. :)Mile 4 (7:58)-Flyer SD caught up to me right before Cat Hill…she was another good one to use as a rabbit, as when we’re both having a good day, we’re pretty similar in races. Cat Hill sucked as usual, but I felt strong climbing it, passed a few more women…guess hill work…well…works!! 😀 After climbing the hill I edged ahead of SD for good…last time I saw her til the finish. Knew this mile would be slow, but was happy this was under 8 minutes…that hasn’t happened in quite awhile!!
Mile 5 (7:25)-OK…I knew a PR was out at this point…I’d have to run under 7 minutes, which I didn’t think I was capable of…so do the best I can, whatever that may be-I figured I had the bronze and silver goals in the bag 🙂 As I approached Engineer’s Gate, one girl who was running near me said “let’s go” to me…we both picked it up!! As I passed the reservoir, I caught up to Uptown Girl and another Reservoir Dog, EV…as we entered the “tunnels of cheering” for the last half-mile (or as several Flyers started referring to it as-the more of a game face here“tunnel of love”) I passed EV, then Uptown Girl…I said “come on let’s go!” to each of them. OK-there was a method to my madness…let’s all work together to kick it in…one picks up the pace, of course I will try to follow suit…you get what I’m trying to say 🙂 Uptown Girl and I stuck together to the finish, where once again, the cheering was fabulous…much better than last year, methinks!! I heard lots of “Go (my name)!” which made me very happy..though my face may not have shown it at the time!! Just around the last corner…go go go!!!

And I wound up with 38:11, 7:38 pace…my 2nd best 5-miler ever and a “submasters PR” 🙂 Very pleased.

So after the finish, I said the usual “good jobs!”…and it was cool…Uptown Girl, me, SD and EV finished one after the other…so I guess keeping them in my sights was a good thing 🙂 Everyone then went to their respective teams’ festivities…we had our usual bagel brunch and team picture, and lots of chatting and mingling. (And one of the other teams even shared ice cream with us!! cool. 🙂 )

So yeah…another one coming so close. But once again, my PR was set in 60 degree weather, on an easier course, with no tired marathon training legs. So all in all, I actually think I outperformed that 🙂 Splits may have looked all over the place, but they were actually pretty consistent with the terrain. Kinda wish I had been able to push harder in that last mile, but considering that once again I was breathless and couldn’t speak full sentences for a few minutes after the finish, I think I did give it all I had. And once again-I have not come this close in 4 years, so I’m glad that 2008 is looking to be a comeback year. And I think it could mean good things will happen in the half and the marathon coming up!! This predicts a 3:44 marathon (courtesy of the McMillan calculator) so maybe, just maybe, the 3:50 marathon goal will be within my reach…

And on the topic of marathons, I’m psyched to watch the womens’ Olympic marathon tonite!! Go Deena! (This is providing that NBC doesn’t switch coverage to the trampoline or whatever else :-p)

great expectations

before taking on cat hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guess no one said it was gonna be easy…

tunnels of cheering

oh, what a difference 2 months makes…

5-mile race in June: weather 78 degrees, 54% humidity-disaster
5-mile race yesterday: weather 77 degrees, 66% humdity (lies! i’m sure it was more humid than that)-million times better!

So yesterday was the much-hyped Club Team Championships. Unlike all the other NYRR races, this one is only limited to members of the local running teams-making for a smaller field, and a cleaner start since this one is yet another split-start race (men race at 8am, women at 9am.) I was sidelined for last year’s race, but my main memory of the ’04 race was hearing our guys cheering like crazy at the end, really helping me finish strong in a race that did not go as well as hoped (after a relatively mild summer, the heat and humidity were on full blast for that one!) Anyway, I was looking forward to using this race as a fitness check, to see where I am with my NYCM training. Thankfully, an easier course this year, eliminating Harlem Hill!!

The morning of, I timed my easy warmup jog up the west drive of Central Park to coincide with the first mile of the men’s race…so I could cheer them on early on, I’m sure spectators were sparse at that time. The Flyer men in their red and white singlets were looking good in the early going. But by the time I was done with my warmup, I realized that I was already sweating a lot, and my heart was pounding-conditions were tough, this could make for a brutal race. Me and a few of our gals watched the end of the men’s race to cheer them on. The first 11 men came in under 25 minutes-insane!! (With the first 2 neck and neck!) The first Flyer man came in at around 29 minutes-yowza, he did awesome!! The rest of the Flyer men started to come in, one coming around the first one…and we took note that no one looked happy at all-kind of foreshadowing of what the conditions for our race were gonna be like!! Around 8:45, we headed over to the start on the 102nd Street Transverse-while there, I saw Chelle and then Uptown Girl…chatted for a coupla minutes with each, wished everyone luck…the usual 🙂 Finally, the starting horn sounded and we were off!!

Mile 1-I wanted to be careful here-as the West Side Hills can make for a tough mile and a tough remainder of the race if I rabbit it. I saw a couple of teammates who run around my pace and stuck near them at the beginning, but I eventually did pass them before the mile was up-nevertheless, I didn’t feel like I did this one too hard. The support from the guys cheering on the side was great. Hit this mile in 7:47. Perfecto.

Mile 2-this mile started off with a large downhill, so tried to pick up the pace a little bit there. Saw a big group of our guys running the other direction and cheering (thanks guys!) in addition to Sister Smile over by the 72nd St transverse. Saw a water table right before the mile 2 marker and decided to grab a cup-I had a feeling with the conditions, I’d regret it later if I didn’t. Didn’t lose too much time really, as I drank it “on the fly.” Mile 2 was 7:41-still pretty good, and under goal pace!

Mile 3-this was a pretty mentally challenging mile. As this mile wound around the very bottom of Central Park, this part had the least crowd support. And the heat was starting to get to me a little bit. I made a strategic decision to back off a little bit in this mile-I wanted to save myself for Cat Hill and a strong finish. One of my teammates who was behind me saw that I was slowing a little and shouted encouragement to me to hang in there (she wound up passing me before the mile was up, but said to me afterwards that she “was hoping i’d stick with her.” aww, that was nice.) This mile was 7:52-still good.

Mile 4-yep, you guessed it, Cat Hill. And gotta love our Coach J, he was standing right by the cat!! No seriously, he actually climbed up onto the cat statue. Not surprised, he did that in the Snowflake 4-miler too. He was cheering as I approached and I made a face that pretty much showed I was hurting and he shouted “come on, you’re almost at the top!” Ugh. Glad that climb was over. And I was still feeling affected by the elements…so close to walking but didn’t. Grabbed another cup of water at the end of this mile. Figured all I’d have to do is get through this mile and I’d pretty much be home free. This was my slowest split of the race at 8:12-but I was still passing women during this mile so I think everyone was equally affected.

Mile 5-this mile, especially the last half-mile, is what makes this race so damn worth it.the last half-mile...entering the tunnel :) Surprisingly, I still had a little bit left in me, so I picked up the pace. There was quite a bit of cheering for the first part of this mile, especially around Engineer’s Gate at 90th, but nothing like what I’d see once I got past the reservoir around 96th St. This last part of the race is absolutely unreal-I felt like such a rockstar here. It started with a bunch of the Flyer, Reservoir Dog, and Harrier men screaming my name-and even though it was the very end of the race, hearing that just motivated me to run like crazy, and had me on a high and put a smile on my face that lasted til the very end of the race. Though Coach Toby yelled at me to “stop smiling”-hey, what I can say, I totally feed off this!! I also passed a CPTC woman who I had been trading places with throughout the race..I heard her coach yell to her “come on, you can pass one more!” I thought to myself, Sorry, but that one more is not gonna be me!! The remainder of this mile was what was described as “tunnels of cheering.” Every guy, every team, screaming at the top of their lungs-whether it was for me, or their teammates, or whoever else…I forgot about the conditions, I didn’t bother looking at my watch anymore during that mile, the cheers from the men just carried me harder and further. And wouldn’t you know it, that last mile was my fastest split of the race-7:31!

Final result was 39:03, 7:48 pace. (and I would have been happy with 39:59!)

Right after the finish, I congratulated the Rez Dog girl who finished right behind me on a good race (she too, had been trading places with me throughout the race)…then I saw both Chelle and Uptown Girl again, and congratulated them both on their PR’s!! In addition, a writer for NYRR asked me a coupla questions about the race…and woudn’t ya know it, I got quoted 🙂

Afterwards was the annual Flyer bagel brunch and team photo. This year’s photo was also a huge family affair as well…our Flyer toddler contingent had a pretty good appearance as well 🙂 The team festivities were not over yet though!! A coupla hours later, a bunch of us headed to the North Meadow to take on CPTC in softball. Apparently they beat us big time in ’03, time for a rematch? Considering a lot of us hadn’t played softball in quite a while (yours truly hasn’t played in 15 years!) we really, really held our own!! Had a nice lead going on until CPTC rallied back in the last inning. (but the teams weren’t evenly matched…ours was mostly women, theirs all men!) was still a lot of fun though.

Great day!! I can’t wait to run this race again next year. And if the cheers are even a taste of what to expect…November 5th should be a lot of fun 🙂

And as for my race performance, I think I ran well, ran smart, didn’t let the heat defeat me, pulling back was worth it to have such a strong last mile. I think I could have come close to PR’ing if the weather was better-something to look forward to come fall, especially seeing how it plays out over longer distances. I did pretty well in sub-optimal conditions at a distance that isn’t even my best strength, so…dare I dream of sub-1:45 at Grete’s??

now playing: “get together” ~ madonna