boston marathon 2012: pre-gaming

Alright-I know this post is way overdue!! Been a busy couple of weeks 🙂

So even though the final time was not what I had hoped for, everything else about the Boston Marathon and the surrounding events lived up to the hype. And then some.

Instead of one long-winded post, I decided I’d break it up into 3, like I did for my first marathon…I think it deserves that respect 🙂

Saturday, April 14

Time to make the train trip up to Boston!  Was Amtrakking it-nice and easy.  And a coupla other Flyers were on my train too…not surprising 🙂

Trip was pretty much drama-free, but in the time between New York and Boston, the B.A.A. had sent us all an email that included the following:

We are now making the recommendation that if you are not highly fit or if you have any underlying medical conditions (for example-cardiac disease, pulmonary disease or any of a number of medical problems), you should NOT run this race.

  • Inexperienced marathoners should not run.
  • Those who have only trained in a cooler climate and who may not be acclimated (for at least the last 10 days) to warm weather running conditions should also consider not running.

Highly fit?  Yeah I guess.  Inexperienced?  Hells no.  Cool climate and not acclimated…oh yeah.

Not to mention:

Due to the unusually warm weather forecast for the Boston area on Monday, the B.A.A. will defer the entry of those official entrants to the 2013 Boston Marathon for participants who decide not to race.

Wow, now that is huge.  I know it was a controversial decision by the B.A.A., but I think given the conditions, something had to be done to cover themselves.  But I wasn’t considering deferring, I worked too hard to get here.  But I had the premonition that Monday was not gonna be a normal race day at all.

Anyway, got into Boston with no issues and got to my hotel-which was right around the corner from the Back Bay train station!  The hotel was not the most glamorous, but in terms of location, couldn’t be beat-within walking distance of both the finish line and Boston Common (for the bus to the start.)  Also another cool thing was that the BAA was located in the same building!  So after dropping my stuff and getting settled, was time to head to the expo.  Which apparently was in a different place than normal-the Seaport World Trade Center as opposed to the Hynes Convention Center.  And I didn’t find it too much of a pain to get to-Orange Line to Silver Line (or a shuttle)…no different than heading from the UWS to South Street Seaport 🙂

i'm all in-the expo!

the scene at number pickup

 

Expo time.  I was looking forward to this-I’m such a kid in a candy store at running expos 🙂  (Especially since I had some extra spending money from finishing in the money in not one, but TWO March Madness pools!)  But before going shopping, first things first.  Gotta go get the bib.  Being handed the bib, I’m thinking “oh boy this shit is real!  i’m doing this!!”  Then time to get the bright orange bag and race shirt.  Really nice shirt-blue long-sleeve with yellow accents.  But they said we could try it on and I’m glad I did-in keeping with the warnings that they ran small, I had to swap my small size shirt for a medium.  (Hey Adidas-do you assume that all female Boston marathoners have no boobs to speak of? 🙂 )

look what i got!

 

Time to hit the booths!  As I had visited the expo last year when I came up to spectate, I knew what to expect and it didn’t disappoint-great variety of booths-if you want something, they got it!  Expo tip-if you want to get Adidas stuff, go to the booth that is closer to the entrance-NOT the one thats by the number pickup (unless you really want one of those T-shirts)-the booth closer to the entrance is less crowded.  And even though I already had the jacket, I also picked up a hat and sports bra…thought of getting the stuffed unicorn but passed on it 🙂  Did a lap around the expo, picking up other things I “needed” ;-)…then made one last stop at the Adidas booth before I left.  This time I got a pair of flip flops which felt great on my feet (I’m wearing them as I type!), thinking they may come in handy in a couple of days 🙂  And of course I ran into some Flyers-HM (her first Boston too!) and DM (Boston vet, this year just up to cheer.)  After some gabbing I headed back to my hotel to rest up before dinner…

HM and I, shopping til we drop!

 

So I met up with Flyer DK and a friend of his in the North End-aka Boston’s Little Italy.  And he showed up already wearing the Boston 2012 jacket…”Boston jacket etiquette….ur doin it rong!”  Though he did it on purpose to irk me 😛  Anyway, good company, great pasta and merlot at Al Dente-highly recommended!!

So after a long day, headed back to Back Bay for some much-needed rest…

Sunday, April 15

Knowing I wouldn’t get a lot of sleep this evening, I made sure to sleep in 🙂  And for brunch, seeked out my traditional day-before-race pancakes…finally wound up at Five Napkin Burger with a nice outside seat.  Yep, nice day for sitting outside…for running, not so much!!  And I even got a Bellini with my pancakes (don’t worry, I had lotsa water too)-figuring that any “racing” plans for the next day were out the window.  So after brunch, I hit up Newbury and Boylston streets for a little sightseeing and shopping.

At Niketown, I put a little shoutout to the Flyers on the wall.

I also got a sneak peek at the turn onto Hereford….

does this remind anyone else of that "hill" in the last mile in Chicago?

 

and Boylston…

view down Boylston, from Hereford. So close, yet so far away...good to know for tomorrow...

 

And of course, a pic at the finish line.  But I wouldn’t cross it yet-had to wait til the next day! 😉

Soon enough, was time for the “Last Supper”  aka pasta dinner with the Flyers 🙂  We had it at Papa Razzi, which we’ve eaten at before in previous years and this year I took the lead in organizing.  I booked this in February, but the best I could do was 4 tables of 4.  At first they had us all split up, but there was another party that was willing to switch tables with us so they could be near their friends…and vice versa.  (what were they thinking with the seating arrangements in the first place!)

one-half of the Flyer pasta party

 

So again, food and company were great, all exchanged expo chronicles, me and EA had eyes for the cute waiters…and of course conversation turned to this latest email we got from the B.A.A. today:

The weather situation continues to be a significant concern for Boston Marathoners. We have determined that the race will occur in a “red zone” which is considered an increased risk but acceptable for high-level elite runners.  However, it is not considered safe for unfit and novice runners.

We strongly recommend that unless you have met qualifying times for this race that you accept the deferment option from the B.A.A.

Anyone who has not run a qualifying time should also very strongly consider the deferment option.

Again, if you have any medical problems or if you under-trained, then please do not run this marathon.

Those who are running the race should run much slower, adding several minutes to your per mile pace.

Also important, please be sure to complete the emergency medical contact information on the reverse side of your bib.

Remember, unless you are acclimated to the weather conditions forecast for Monday, you should not run.

For those very fit athletes who decide to run, you should take significant precautions.

So while a couple of us (not me!) were debating whether or not to still pursue their original goals, others (including me) were discussing what the revised goals should be.  And reminisced on Chicago 2010-as me, EA, DK, JS and NPT were all Chicago 2010 survivors.

As I said before, deferring wasn’t an option I was considering.  But given that several peeps were making sure I was aware-via Facebook, email, whatever-of this deferrment option, it kind of made me wonder…and I asked Coach T via email “Am I a total idiot for not taking the option to defer?”  His response?  “Run this race.   Your training is in. Relax. You cannot control what the New England weather will be, but you are fit, and tough. Good training trumps bad weather, every time.   Yes, I’ve seen the forecast. I trust your conditioning, and your courage. And you must as well.”

And that’s just what I will do.  There have been other occurances beyond Chicago (e.g., LTR in the Heatpocalypse) that showed that I do know how to be smart when the heat is on.

So after a bunch of good luck phone calls/texts/emails, and laying out the race outfit…

Flyer top, Lululemon shorty shorts, Brooks PureFlows. bailed on the pink compression sox due to the weather.

 

…and all my other necessities for the next day, was time to get my beauty sleep for what will prove to be a helluva day…

Race day to follow in the next installment!

nyc half 2012 race report

So I have been a little remiss with regards to blogging (I guess that’s what work and kinda of a crappy training cycle does to the motivation to write) but I’m sure readers (all 5 of you) knew that I had the NYC Half-Marathon on the agenda.

And to be honest, I was a little apprehensive about it.  Based on how training was going, I knew my previous goals (NYCMQ, PR, sub-1:40) would not happen.  When discussing with Coach T the week before and talking about goals, he didn’t think it was possible for me to not break 1:45 (he was thinking 1:43-ish) but I was even doubting that.  I mean seriously, in what universe does 7:43 pace for 3.2 miles translate to a sub-8 pace for a half-marathon?

But as race week approached I kinda got more into it.  Hit up the expo on Thursday (gotta love that it was right by work and I could go during the day), got my number and tech shirt and did a lap around…not really much to do damage to my wallet.  (I’m saving that for next month. 😉 ) Though I had to get another sparkly headband- ❤ Sparkly Soul!

Sunday morning arrives as does early wakeup call.  I awoke to perfect conditions-in the 40’s and overcast-quite different from the hot, humid summer version of this race 🙂  Did the pre-race routine and headed out the door.  Though I was loving the fact that the start was near Tavern (and therefore less than a mile from where I live), I had to go to the east side to drop off my bag.  So I hit up the N/R train, and it gave me an opportunity to see Times Square “before”…and even saw partiers wearing green staggering home from their St. Patrick’s Day festivities 🙂  Of course the subway was filled with other runners…some more excited to be up at this early hour than others 🙂

I got to 60th and 5th with plenty of time to check my bag and then head west to the start.  I wasn’t really able to get in a true warmup, so thankfully the paths heading west weren’t too mobbed and I was able to jog it a little.  With 20-25 minutes til the corrals closed (7 am for a 7:30 start!) I decided I needed to make one last pit stop.  I thought I was being smart in waiting in line at the Le Pain Quotidien in CP instead of the port-a-potties (figured it would be cleaner and the light would be on too!) but with only 2 stalls, it wasn’t moving as quickly as I had hoped.  (and to top it all off, one woman who wasn’t even running in the race was in line too!)  Flyer DC who was waiting with me eventually gave up and headed to her corral, but I stuck it out, and still made it to the 2xxx corral with a few minutes to spare.

Waiting in the corrals actually went by surprisingly quickly.  I didn’t see my teammates who I expected to be in my corral, I hoped that they had made it in time!  Flyer DK and I chatted away to pass the time before the start.  2 aspects of weirdness I noticed: 1-the announcer pronounced “Goucher” totally wrong and 2-the start clock started running early, there were like 7 1/2 minutes on it by the time the starting horn sounded!

So off and running and by the miles…

Mile 1 (7:58)-time to start executing the plan.  What was the plan?  Try and get to the 10K point and through the park comfortably, try and pick it up a little from 10-15K, then go for it from there.  And of course, this meant letting whoever pass me-especially knowing people may have missed the corral closing and have to line up further back, etc.  Looks like I got off to a decent start.

Mile 2 (7:48)-up Cat Hill and I kept reminding myself not to surge, not to make it into a hill repeat, etc 🙂  Despite that, the split was a little quicker than expected.  Maybe I was finally warmed up?

Mile 3 (7:33)-The time is deceiving, as this includes that long downhill stretch from Engineer’s Gate to the bottom of Harlem Hill.

Mile 4 (8:04)-The start of the tough miles, as this mile included Harlem Hill uphill.  Just kept maintaining the effort, told myself if this mile is over 8 minutes so be it.  Flyer FA was cheering at the top of the hill which was a nice boost!  All in all, the mile split wasn’t that bad.

Mile 5 (7:59)-Last tough section of the course-the West Side Hills.  All I had to do was make it to 86th street and it was downhill from there.

Mile 6 (7:40)-Down the west side of the park, and past the start line!  And with “Stereo Love” playing in the background, the announcers reminding us that we were about to leave the park 🙂  I saw my favorite sign in this mile-“Run faster than Missouri and Duke left the tournament!” 😛

Mile 7 (7:43)-yay, 7th Avenue!  Definitely a lot easier running on the road than dodging people on the sidewalk 🙂  And Times Square was so cool…quite the difference than walking through that area several times a week 🙂  In a way, I think this was more of a novelty now, given I live in midtown as opposed to the UWS in the race 6 years ago…if that makes any sense? 🙂

Mile 8 (8:00)-turn onto 42nd street and kept heading west.  Took my gel around halfway through this mile.  Was a little surprised at this mile split-given the mile was net downhill, I thought it would have been faster. (Garmin said it was 1.2 miles…I don’t think it was that long, but I think was longer than 1 mile!)

Mile 9 (7:53)-heading south on the west side highway…

Mile 10 (7:58)-and south some more.  I felt a little bit of a fade here, maybe the gel hadn’t kicked in yet?  And I thought seeing my office building would make me run faster 😛  (as well as seeing Crazy bandanahead and Flyer SM cheering)

Mile 11 (7:45)-OK, last 5K, time to try and pick it up.  And was helped by seeing the Flyer Nation Hydration Station™ near Canal Street!  After 3 years of helping out at the table, now it was time to be on the other side.  (And they were in a perfect spot this time-as opposed to the 20K point in years past!)  It was great to see them-definitely made this mile feel like it went by faster!

Mile 12 (7:41)-passed by the WTC site, and lotsa cheering crowds in this mile.  And passing quite a few peeps here…guess I executed the plan well? 🙂

Miles 13.1 (7:37, 0:45-6:53 pace)-this part of the course introduced the unknown-the Battery Park underpass tunnel.  Was kinda cool, though I found it a little hard to breathe in there.  Finally I saw the light at the end of the tunnel…literally! 🙂  (And LMFAO’s “Sexy And I Know It.”)  In addition to the 800 meters to go sign!  Oh but wait…to get out of the tunnel there was an uphill!!  Cruel to have it with a half-mile to go but honestly there have been worse things 🙂  But looking at my watch at that point, I knew I was gonna come in well under my hopeful goal time so I didn’t care 😛  Onto the FDR Drive and the South Street exit, which was kinda bumpy-those streets were kept worse than the Coney Island Boardwalk!.  Left onto Old Slip, right onto Water Street.  The 13 mile point was not long after the turn and I could see the finish line up ahead and hear the finish music playing…and what was playing?  “Give Me Everything”!  One of my power songs!  How absolutely perfect was that to finish to?

Finish time was 1:42:26-more than 5 minutes faster than my 2006 time!  Redemption achieved!

And the pacing wasn’t half-bad either…looks like I executed well! 🙂

Split Time Overall pace 5K split Pace per 5K
5K 24:08 7:46 24:08 7:46
10K 48:41 7:50 24:33 7:54
15K 1:13:12 7:51 24:31 7:53
20K 1:37:17 7:50 24:05 7:45
last 1.1K 1:42:26 7:49 5:09 7:33

So after I got past the finish line, i got my bling (aka medal), got my Brightroom pic, my Mylar cape, food bag, then began the trek to get my bag.  Not quite as bad as the death march after NYCM, but this part of the logistics could still use a little work.  I met up with some teammates and headed to Keg No. 229 for some yummy brunch with mimosas, topped off with some “Sweet Action” (beer!  what were you thinking? 😉 )  And already had a congratulatory email from Coach T!  After assembling for a team pic at the Seaport, was time to head home for a much-needed nap and some compression sock action.

So even though I wish I could have gotten under 1:40 again, this race was still a monkey off my back.  First, Boston may not be as much of a struggle than previously thought.  Second, as I said before, much better experience than 2006.  What a difference no downpour during the race makes!  I would actually do this one again.  Well-as long as the lottery lets me in 🙂

cherry tree relay 2012 report

So for only the 2nd time in history, the Flyers actually had a relay team for the Cherry Tree 10-miler and Relay.  And the ironic thing?  After years of me always advertising for relay partners (and having to crash another club’s team twice!) I was actually considering doing the full 10 this time around.  But then I got an email from my teammate AG saying that he and LR were forming a team and wanted to know if I wanted to be “the cream between their cookies” (TWSS!) 🙂  How could I say no to that?  Hence, Team Lickety Split was born.

So race day dawned, probably the warmest it’s ever been for this race (I have memories of being freezing last year-so much that it scarred one of my New York Flyer Gurls relay teammates from doing this one again, hehe.)  Not quite shorts weather, but certainly capris…and…pink compression sox.  In fact, all 3 of us were gonna be wearing them!  (What have I started? 🙂 )

So AG drove me and a couple of other teammates out to Brooklyn-nice and easy (hey bus driver from last year’s Flyer bus to the Brooklyn Half-take note!)  We stopped by the school to get our bibs, souvenirs (fleecey-type caps were ok for something different but I really really miss the long-sleeve shirts-bring them back please! 🙂 ) and the finishing touches on our “costumes.”  AG brought black stuff to put under our eyes (like baseball and football players)…to make us look tough in spite of the pink, methinks? 🙂  We then decided on our pecking order-I’d start off, LR would be 2nd, AG would anchor.  With everything done, we then jogged to Prospect Park for a warmup (well I did, I needed it before something short like this!)

When we got to the relay zone, there was still a few minutes to kill, so I practiced relay slap bracelet handoff with LR-took a couple of tries but we got it down.  In fact, one of the officials wanted us to demonstrate for the other teams…yeah, like we’d give up our advantage?  I don’t think so! 🙂  So then with about 10 minutes to go, I headed to the start…different this year, instead of on the main park drive it was near where the Brooklyn half usually starts-meaning the 1st mile would be a little less downhill than usual-which may be a good thing since I always take that mile out too fast!  So we waited for the starting signal-and it was actually a horn, no “Go!” or something like that 🙂

As for my leg-once again, I’m reminded why I don’t like racing short in the winter!  My legs just felt “tight” and not really warmed up-at least not til well into the 3rd mile 🙂  The 1st mile was slower than expected but that may have been partially due to less downhill than in the past…plus I think I was holding back a little.  Though the mile split may not show it, I actually didn’t feel too bad on the hilly mile 2, and actually had enough to pick it up for mile 3 (whereas in the past I remember barely holding on!)  I see the mile 3 marker and know I only have about a quarter mile left…pick it up a little more.  I pass another relay team runner (relayers had red bibs on whereas the full 10 had white) but as we approached the relay handoff area it was pretty much a dead heat!  I handed off to LR and my job was done.  25:03 for 3.25 miles, 7:43 pace.  Obviously not where I was last summer, but still better than last year’s race…for whatever reason, I never seem to run well here.  Too early in the season perhaps?  But as this chart shows, probably better paced than in previous years?

2012 2011 2010 2009
7:39.3 7:37.1 7:22.8 7:17.8
8:11.4 8:31.3 8:20.3 8:09.4
7:32.3 7:58.9 7:51.0 7:41.7
1:40.3
(.25 mile-6:36 pace)
1:18.0
(.19 mile-6:52 pace)
2:31.8
(.36 mile-6:57 pace)
2:31.5
(.37 mile-6:50 pace)

*Note-2011/2012 I had the first leg, 2009/2010 I was the anchor, hence the .1 mile discrepancy.

So now my role was playing cheerleader for all the Flyers running the 10-miler and being lookout for LR.  But there was a minor freak-out when the bib AG was wearing was a little bent-since he was the anchor, he had the bib with the B-tag on it and it got bent since he was wearing it on a race # belt.  I just told him to take note of our time from the clock in case we didn’t get a final time (but as it turned out, was fine.)  LR finished up his leg with a smooth transition to AG.  And then we got to see and cheer on the finishers…oh but wait, not without incidident, as there was one point where there were 2 horses crossing the roadway-right after where the runners are making the turn to the finish and making their finishing kick!  I think I did see a runner or 2 run into one of the horses, thank god no one seemed to get hurt…but I don’t know WTF those riders were thinking!

So when we began to see peeps that were running near me on my leg, I knew AG wouldn’t be that far behind…and he wrapped up a strong last leg for Team Lickety Split!!  Total time for our team-1:16:19 (though based on a couple of my teammate’s times that I crossed the line with, looks like 14 seconds should be taken off of that…so 1:16:05 unofficial “net” time.)

And afterwards, even though I wanted the bagels and hot chocolate back at the school, the preference amongst our crew was pancakes and coffee (and for me, a mimosa!) before stopping off at Farrell’s for watered-down beer in a 32 oz styrofoam cup…yummy 😛

So yet another fun time in Brooklyn!!  Til next year 😉

 

Flyers representing. With Team Lickety Split and all our pink-socked glory in the center.

 

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…