make a plan, stick to it like glue

So unlike one month ago, the Heatpocalypse decided to stay away from the 2nd NYRR Long Training Run.  However, this wasn’t gonna be totally challenge-free, as the humidity was definitely on full-blast for this one.  Additionally, this would really be my first true stint in the 9 minute pace group, as we wouldn’t be getting the blessing to take it easier as we did last time.  But I had a feeling it would be fine.  As I had to run 18 total, my plan was to run with the group for the first 3 loops (16 miles), then one more mile on the 4th loop then back to the staging area to make 18.

Unlike last time, the MTA was kinder to me.  Then again, I left a little earlier, not wanting to take any chances.  The A train showed up after only about 5 minutes (as opposed to 20 last time) so I got to the staging area a bit early, but it was nice to not feel rushed.  As we were waiting for the cue to line up with our groups, we were playing with the pace signs…me particularly, the “7:30 pace” sign 😛  Hey, that could mean 7:30 race pace, right…lol.  But eventually I was given my TRUE pace sign and me and the other 9:00 pace leaders went over to our group to divide and conquer.

So, a few minutes after 7, we were off.  The run started out normally…first half-mile a little fast due to the downhill Harlem Hill, make up for it on the uphill.  After that, my goal was to just “lock in” and keep an even effort, regardless of what the other leaders may be doing…and in the first loop I did lag a little bit behind the other leaders, though I was right on pace (and one person even asked me if the others were going too fast)  First loop ended fine, second loop went well too, Flyers and co-paceleaders HM and MR stuck with me through this loop, as did one girl from Dashing Whippets who was training for MCM.  And of course, MR had to mention how much I just loved that marathon…not!!  Needless to say, I did warn her about the so-called “honor system” at the start! 😉  Another guy said to us midway through this loop, “how good are you, everything is within 5 seconds of 9:00!”  yay 🙂

The third loop was a little bit of a struggle…not sure if it was the humidity getting to me, or I felt a little under-fueled, though I had already taken 2 gels (after miles 6 and 12.)  Or it could have possibly been the Gatorade that was being served on the transverse…not sure what variety it was, but it was really watered down and I sure hope they do not serve that at the marathon and stick to the tried and true lemon-lime endurance formula!  But the gel kinda kicked in around mile 14 and I felt fine for the last 2 miles of that loop.  MR had gone on ahead (his excuse-“needed more rest at between this loop and the next…uh yeah right :-P”) but HM was struggling a little.  I felt bad at leaving the group after 17, as she was doing 20 and needed the support, but I was not prepared-endurance wise or fueling wise to do 20…I had to stick to my plan.  Thankfully MR was going to take on the last 4 miles as well.

So I ran out to the 17 mile-marker, wished everyone continuing on well, then turned around and headed back to 102nd.  And still had something left in the tank to pick it up a little for this last mile or so, while I gave the usual cheers to those heading out for the last loop.  As I got to 102nd, I heard Flyers ST and KH yelling for me then JM saying via the microphone “she can’t talk yet…she’s finishing her run.”  LOL.  18 miles down, no worse for wear.  Though I couldn’t chuck the singlet, Brandi Chastain-style, soon enough…that thing was soaked!!  Oh the humidity…

Annddd…how it netted out in the long run (har har)

So I pretty much stuck to plan.  And encouraging that this felt comfortable, whereas the last coupla years whenever I was debating between 9 and 9:30, I felt 9 seemed like too much of a jump and I was unsure if I I would have been able to handle pacing…but the last 2 LTR’s put those worries to rest (well, for now.)  I didn’t feel like “oh I can’t run any more” when I was done, but there was no reason to keep going…quit while you’re ahead, I say! 🙂  And as always-the Flyers kicked butt paceleading and coordinating the event, as usual! 🙂

lotsa hotties, running long

and it was getting to be that time again…time for another installment of paceleader goodness in NYRR’s Long Training Runs.  My mission, should I choose to accept it…lead the 9 minute pace group for 16 miles.

9 minute group?  What, what?  Yes, I know I previously have been the self-proclaimed “queen of the 9:30 pace group”…but I finally felt I was ready to move up a group.  Of course, it also helped that Coach T told me in response to “well I usually lead the 9:30 group”…”no you’re not! 🙂 ”

double fistin'

However, what I didn’t expect for this initial run in the 9 minute group was for it to fall during Heatpocalypse 2011.  But then again, I have had experience paceleading during unseasonably hot weather.  Remember the 2009 More/Fitness Half-marathon Fun Run?  Where actually I didn’t finish too far off the 2:00 target?  Plus-and this was truly a blessing-NYRR made it clear that pace restrictions were going to be relaxed, up to as much as 30-60 seconds per mile.  Very glad they did that…no need risking training on a run early in the going, right? (in my case, 15 weeks out.)

And how did I prep for this long run?  By hydrating at Studio Square with other Flyers…hey sangria is one of the less evil drinks, right?  Red wine is good for you!!  As is the (alcohol-soaked) fruit in there!  But no worries…for each cup of sangria consumed, there was also a big-ass cup of water too…plus sitting outside in 100 degree weather…yeah, I was feeling no effects of the liquor consumption.  For realz.  Quite a change from the last coupla times I’m indulged in what I have lovingly referred to as “liquid crack” at Studio Square…

Up early, ready to go.  Oh but of course the MTA must throw a wrench in things…waiting 20 minutes for a train-not fun.  Yep, this was the first LTR I’ve done since moving to midtown…and it was either add on 3 more miles, MTA it, or cab it.  (I have a feeling for LTR #2, I’ll be cabbing it…)By the time I got uptown, I hustled over to the staging area, my singlet already ditched.  We did get new pretty orange paceleader singlets to wear (yay for no see-through-ness), and I obliged-both so I can look all official-like, and also because I’d scare the whole population of Central Park if I went “topless” for this one.

niners ready to go!

So me and the other “niners” went to line up…and I think there was a little confusion going on between what group we’re leading, and what we’d actually be running.  Were we running 9’s or 9:30s?  What was the official 9 minute group?  Why are we even doing this?  Are we all insane? 🙂  But not enough time to dwell on that, much sooner than I anticipated, we were given the cue to go.

And as always, as the first half-mile is down Harlem Hill, it started off a little quick but we made up for it on the uphill.  That first mile was right in the 9-9:30 range as I was thinking “ok perfect.”  But for the rest of this loop, the other paceleaders really pulled ahead…and I just let them go (though another Flyer who wasn’t pacing kept me company for this loop-thanks BK!)  If NYRR was giving us the blessing to take it a little easier, you can bet I was taking advantage of it.  No need to be a hero and say “oh yeah, I kept 9’s even when we were told to go slower!”  If it happened, it happened, but I had 16 miles to get through, and I was gonna get through them feeling strong at the end.  And with the exception of Cat Hill, looks like I actually wasn’t too far off?

takin' a breather inbetween loops

One loop down, hit the transverse to gel, hydrate…and grab a sponge at a sponge station that NYRR provided for this run.  GENIUS.  I kept mine with me to re-soak at the water stations and that-plus the eventual cloud cover-did a helluva job helping keep me cool for the remaining loops.  Maybe loop 2 was a little slower, but still not bad?  (Part of it was slowing at the water stations-where I prefer to “grab and go”, a lot of others took a cup and walked with it…understandable given the conditions!)

Another 5 miles down, and as we were at 102nd long before 9:30, we were given the go-ahead to do the 5-mile loop (as the cutoff time was 10 AM, I believe any group who didnt get there before 9:30 either had to do the 4 mile loop, or were stopped from proceeding further.)  And going out conservative on that first loop helped, as I was able to finish the last 5 miles pretty strong and I didn’t feel like I was gonna die once…what a difference from the previous weekend!!  As we approached the transverse to finish off the 16, “Empire State of Mind” was playing over the loudspeaker…kinda appropriate? 🙂

By the numbers:

So even with relaxing things at the beginning, I wasn’t too far off with the pace, especially at the end…encouraging!  (And given that I was dancing around to the music that the DJ was playing in the staging area, some probably felt I didn’t run hard enough 🙂 )  And I survived my first stint in the 9 minute group.  I’ll be back next month for LTR #2, let’s hope there isn’t a repeat of Heatpocalypse 2011 for that one! 🙂  Though seriously, given the conditions, I think things went very well…for myself, for my other co-leaders and for everyone involved!!  The organizers-both in the NYRR and the NYF camp…outdid themselves as usual 🙂

you know the drill

7th year…yep count ’em, 7th year I’ve been a paceleader for the NYRR Long Training Run.  Even the years I wasn’t training for a fall marathon, I’d still come out and run a shorter distance.  And a quick check through the archives says that the only time I ever did not run one was the 2nd one in 2005…as injury recovery and torrential downpours just did not mix.  But ever since, it’s been 2 a year for me.  I was actually not sure I was gonna be able to do this one as it was originally scheduled for last weekend when I was upstate…but it got pushed back a week to make room for the Queens Half…works for me! 🙂

So yeah, by now I know the whole drill with regards to pace leading.  We’re not “precision Swiss watches” but be cognizant (sp?) of the pace and adjust when necessary.  Make sure everyone stays in the rec lane.  Take water.  Be mindful of others in the park.  Have fun.  And as me and my “dynamic duo” partner TB were gonna be paired up again to pace the 9:30s, I knew there wasn’t much to worry about…even if this was my first 20-miler of the training cycle.

So I awoke way too early this morning and was out the door by 6:15, thankfully greeted by probably weather that was as good as you can get for August 1st in NYC.  Located the Flyers table and got this year’s version of the see-through pace leader singlet-and I was actually able to get a small so it wasn’t a minidress this time 🙂  Then began the dividing up into groups…me and TB were with a coupla others but would eventually wind up on our own…

Yeah, even though the Dynamic Duo was, as usual, spot on with the pace, there were a coupla other pace leaders who were running faster (despite pleas from the 2 of us to slow down, as it was pulling the group and the 2 of us too) and as a result, we actually got dropped by the group during the second loop and by the time we were ready to leave the transverse for the 3rd loop, most of the group had left already.  So we, and Flyer EG pretty much ran the 3rd loop together.  I know there are some who said that “oh we felt good because of the weather so we can run faster”…that’s great but then go ahead to the 9’s instead of “pulling” the 9:30’s!  It’s times like this where I feel our efforts to actually do our job and stay on pace are not appreciated…and on the other hand, there are those who complain if the pacers are off (and I know it has happened in the past.)  Guess you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t…

I felt like I was struggling a little by mile 17, the beginning of the last loop…even though I was taking Gatorade, gels, water, and had carbo-loaded I was still feeling under-fueled…that was my slowest mile of the day but managed to pull it together for the last 3, knowing I was in the homestretch…if anything, me and TB were virtually carrying each other through that last loop, we were both beat.  We saw that beautiful Mile 19 sign not too long after Cat Hill and we knew it wouldn’t be too much longer until an even more beautiful sight…the left turn onto 102nd and the Mile 20 sign.  Survived my first 20-miler this year.

The splits:

Yeah, some were a little fast but all in all…not too too bad?  I’m still not convinced yet that this will translate to a minute per mile faster for the marathon distance though.  Just not feeling like much in my training is pointing to a 3:40…need a decent race or 2 under my belt I guess.

So, one 20-miler done, at least 2 more to go…this run topping off a 46-mile week.   This upcoming week is a very welcome cutback…Team Champs 5M on Saturday!  Praying for a decent race for a change this summer….

ltr, minus the hangover

ready to rock...Unlike 3 weeks ago-this 2nd edition of the 2009 NYRR Long Training Runs (aka LTR) was thankfully hangover-free. Amazing how much easier it makes things. Maybe there is something to not getting wasted the night before a long run…oh yeah and crashing early too. As I said in a text message on Friday nite “It’s Friday nite, not even 10 pm and I’m lying down half-asleep…what’s wrong with this picture.” I think partially the week of craziness, drama and morning runs catching up with me…plus an early wake-up call the next morning…

…5 am, wake up, do all my normal long-run prep, find my white quasi-see-through pace leader singlet. Not to mention having to safety-pin Mr. Garmin to my wrist, as the strap broke and I cannot be without him for an LTR, in case the people positioning the mile markers were drunk or hungover instead of me. Left a little earlier than I normally would, as I wanted to front-load with 2 miles to get me to 18 for the day, and I timed it all perfectly-got there just in time to check in, check my bag, find the rest of the 9:30 pace leaders so that we could all divide and conquer. We split up the 9:30s into 3 smaller groups, and I led the 1st group with my “dynamic duo teammate” TB and Flyer CG. We waited…for the 7’s, 7:30s, 8’s, etc…to leave, finally it was our turn.

Started out easy, but at around the half-mile point, our co-leaders thought we were going too fast…I said not to worry since that was due to the downhill and we’d make up for it on the uphill and sure enough we did. This being the 6th year I’ve helped pace these LTRs…I know it’s more about even effort than making sure every mile is the same…its tough to have identical splits in Central Park!! Anyways, this was a very nice group that we got to lead, but it was a big group!! It was tougher than normal staying in the rec lane. I think either the 9:30s should have been 4 groups instead of 3…but we did the best we could, considering it’s tougher to get pace leaders with the LTRs being earlier in the year. Or maybe an extra half-lane like they do for the races could help…hmmm something to think about. Anyway, the actual run part was pretty drama-free…get the miles in, yell at the cat every time we pass Cat Hill, refuel and regroup on 102nd street, start again…

With 11 miles down, CG was done, leaving the group in the dynamic duo’s hands for another 5, when we would then be done and any 20 milers would wait for the group behind us to come in and merge with them. Weather wasn’t so bad compared to during the week, though my shirt was soaked by then…and yeah, there were a few “wet t-shirt contest” jokes. This last 5 miles…though the legs felt fine, the stomach was not doing well-like I would have taken a break during the loop if I wouldn’t lose the group, but I felt I just had to suck it up as I was almost done and hit the portopotties once I hit the transverse. Which I did, but then I had to think about what happened. I ate and drank all my usuals the night before and in the morning. Only thing I did different was that I’ve been trying out a different gel flavor-tangerine flavor PowerGel which has double caffeine…and wonder if that had anything to do with it, since the plain flavor gels I normally use don’t have caffeine?

Well, at least it’s something that can be figured out in the next 12 weeks. And the fact that my legs felt decent after 18, and could have gone another 2 miles was a good thing. But glad I didn’t-no reason to be doing 20 now, and I should walk away from my runs feeling like I can do more, right? 🙂

A short run today ended the week…was debating whether to dreadmill it or wait for a break in the thunder and downpours and just run outside. The latter choice won, and the rain actually felt nice. So that brought me to 45 and change for the week…bring on my cutback week, bring on Club Champs!! I’m ready for you… 🙂

red wine running

Well despite my previous concerns, yesterday’s Long Training Run actually wound up going well. But as it turned out, keeping the pace was actually the least of my concerns that morning. To quote Lady GaGa “Red wine…I’ve had a little bit too much…” Long story short, lotsa sangria (and some white wine too!) on Saturday nite, not enough sleep. (This being one night after downing margaritas at the Boat Basin at a Flyers TGIFF. Hey…at least I’m getting this all out of my system now, right?) Even the extra hour didn’t help too much!! I was still able to wake up and get over to the park in time, but this was not gonna be pretty…

me with my saviors! :)Ran the mile to the 102nd Street Transverse, to see one of the 9:00 pace groups starting their 2nd loop…meaning the 9:30s weren’t that far behind. I just barely had enough time to grab a new paceleader singlet and stash my bag before I was told that my group was here. Thankfully I was paired up with my teammate TB (as we say, the 2 of us make up the “dynamic duo”) and HM, so I knew I’d at least have good co-leaders. And boy, HM and TB had to virtually carry me through that first 5 miles…sweating off a hangover makes for a very quiet Flygirl. TB played cheerleader for this loop…was just way too early for me 🙂 Well, at least it forced me to dial it back, because my worries about the pace? None really! We were all fine.

ready for another loop...bring it on!One 5-mile loop down. HM dropped off after this loop, leaving the 9:30 group in the hands of the dynamic duo. Even though the thought of eating made me feel slightly nauseus, I knew I had to or regret it later. I downed a tangerine flavored PowerGel, hoping the double caffeine could help perk me up a little…it did actually seem to work. (hmmm-maybe something to think about for the later miles in the marathon? As the gel flavor I use doesn’t have caffeine…) This loop actually felt a little better, I chatted it up a little more…and it did help that we had a bunch of really nice people in the group, who didn’t try and push the pace…definitely makes the job a lot easier!!

Another 5-mile loop down! TB was done and left whoever was actually doing the full 20 in my capable hands for the last 4 miles-well actually mine and my teammate JC. Took my plain flavor PowerGel for good measure and was ready to go. All remants from the previous night out of my system, the last 4 miles were smooth sailing. That last loop seemed to fly by…as we made the turn onto 72nd street instead of heading south as we did for the last 2 loops, we knew we were in the home stretch. Then one more Cat Hill. The at 90th street…really almost home!! A couple of the runners picked it up for the last half-mile…JC and I just let them go, with not even 5 minutes to go, if they don’t want to be “paced”…let them!! (though we too had a strong last mile!) Finally, we see the 20 mile sign on the 102nd street transverse and we are done!!

2:12 for the 14 miles…not bad at all!! I did feel like I had to hold back more than I have in the past, which was a good sign. And I’m glad I went with the 9:30s instead of the 9’s, this felt more comfortable (though i dont know whether the 9’s were on pace or not) and the runners were great, were very appreciative of our efforts. I told them no thank *you*-it helps to have runners who really work with you as well!! The organization was great as usual, as were the volunteers…nice perks this year included our own baggage area, misting stations on the course (nice!) and pretzels at the end (which I thought was much better than a bagel for a post-summer long run snack!)

Hung around a bit afterwards and then headed to brunch with some teammates…then after getting cleaned up actually headed back to the park for a coupla hours…yeah, can’t get enough of that place 😛 But I crashed mad early last night, everything did really catch up with me…

So yesterday’s 15-spot put my mileage for the week in the masters category as opposed to submasters (let’s see if you can get what I mean.) 🙂 Legs actually felt fine today…could this mean good things at tomorrow’s 5K race? I hope so…anything can happen!

one down, two to go

20 mile runs, that is!! Boy, am I glad I got this one done.

LTR pacing time again!! By now…everything just seemed like routine. I was “captain” for the 9:30 pace group (ok, I volunteered for that job) so I was responsible for splitting up the group and the paceleaders. For whatever reason, it seemed like there were less than normal!! Maybe the threat of rain scared some people off? Or a lot deciding to run the Queens Half tomorrow? Whatever the case, made our jobs a little easier.

Me and TB were once again paired up and were ready to rock and roll. Though some people on the sidelines thought they had a sense of humor and said “almost there!” ummm…yeah. *rolling eyes* The first 2 loops passed by pretty easily (and I saw Uptown Girl and some of her other TRD teammates acting as course marshalls…good to see you all out there!) with not too much drama except one guy who kept trying to pull ahead and no one staying in the rec lane. And we noticed that when the conversation turned to boys, that we started to speed up, so that topic got nixed for the remainder of the run. 🙂 And dammit, there was a very cute guy who joined our group at the beginning of the 2nd loop, but eventually wound up running ahead.

The 3rd loop…not so well. TB had picked up the pace a little bit, and I stuck to the middle of the group…we were starting to get a little strung out. And the weather, the humidity, the elements were getting to me. (Though I took in a gel after each loop, and had water and Gatorade periodically.) Yeah-I guess you can say I mentally bonked on this loop. I said to TB that I wanted to drop back a group for the 4th loop and that “I can’t do this.” She reassured me that the first 20 was always the toughest, and to hang in there, there’s only 4 miles to go.

So I was able to pull myself together for that last loop. I took off my paceleader singlet since it was soaking wet by that time and I just felt tons cooler and lighter. And it felt good to be able to make the left turn onto the 72nd street transverse instead of heading straight on the West Drive (and it was evil during loop 3 when the course marshall was saying “mile 18, after the turn!!” arrrgghhh…maybe for the 7 or 8 minute groups, but not us!!) But I swear, I felt like I was moving so slow for the last coupla miles, though the splits didn’t show it. Just kept counting down…2 to go, 1 to go, half-mile to go, quarter-mile to go…mile 20!! I was so damn happy to see that sign. I saw Uptown Girl right after I finished and I think she can vouch for the fact that I was totally spent. 🙂 Got some Gatorade (which was like totally needed at that point), did some shmoozing, went to get my venti iced skim caramel macchiatto and home to shower and nap.

As for today…I guess it was not my best pacing job.

(just FYI-the long “mile 7” included a part of the transverse…for the following 2 loops, I hit the lap button at the start, so the really short splits were on the transverse.)

So yeah, a little fast overall. With TB shooting for 3:40 and me for 3:50, I think we were both more comfortable with a little bit faster for long runs, but the 9 minute group would have killed us. Also…what I think was also happening in the later loops was that we were speeding up to pass slower runners and walkers as the park got more crowded, which may have led to the overall miles being a little faster. But I definitely did try my hardest to stick to the pace, when it looked like we were speeding up to much, to pull it back. (And we really didn’t get any complaints…just compliments. Or maybe we did but not to our faces! 🙂 ) I tried to check in at the quarter-mile points…to see if we’d be around 2:22 for .25 mile, 4:45 for .5 mile, 7:07 for .75 mile and adjust from there.

But even though I was assured that the first 20 was the toughest…I didn’t have the “I rock” feeling that I had at the previous one. On the other hand-my average heart rate was exactly the same as the first LTR-for 4 more miles and 10 seconds faster per mile. (And maybe worse conditions?) But my legs were definitely tiring by the third loop. So yeah…may need to revise my goals a little bit. We’ll see how the next coupla weeks go.