hot mess on ocean parkway (brooklyn half 2011 report)

Damn.  Gotta face the music I guess.

Well, as I mentioned previously-the Brooklyn Half definitely did not go well.  Even though I was not expecting a PR (thanks to my actual half-marathon PR being a complete and total outlier) I thought maybe I can salvage a halfway decent race.  Not sure if last year’s 1:42 would be in reach, but did feel that 1:45 was a reasonable goal.  And I was ready to take the race on.

So I don’t know, even the morning of felt “off” in a way.  Thankfully, I didn’t have too much trouble waking up (before 4 AM!) since I did go to sleep reasonably early the night before.  Even though I’m in midtown now instead of the UWS, I still elected to take the Flyers‘ bus from the UWS, as we all know how unpredictible the MTA is on weekends, especially early mornings on weekends, especially in Brooklyn.  And that also meant I would be cabbin’ it uptown.  But it didn’t help that seemingly every cab was off-duty and of course I got nervous.  One off-duty cab stopped but after I told him my destination, said he couldn’t go to the UWS.  Eventually there was one who figured it wouldn’t kill him to drive 30 blocks!  So I did get to the bus in time.  However, once the bus was en route to Brooklyn…more nerves and unsettledness.  Instead of taking the West Side Highway to the tunnel as has been done in the past, the bus decided to trek through the city streets to the Manhattan Bridge, just adding more travel time.  As we were advised to check our bags by 6:20 and be in our corrals by 6:40 (race start was 7), we were really cutting it close.  Finally we got to Prospect Park, but it seemed like the driver had no clue where to let us off…I think everyone wanted off the bus by that time.  Figured it out, and once we we got off the bus I made a mad dash for the baggage area.  Seemed like I barely had enough time to check my bag and get to my corral (thank god I didn’t have to take care of other business…may have been no time for that!)  So yeah, waitin’ for the start…

And it began.  Knowing mile 1 would be a little downhill, I tried to keep it cool, and not get caught up with what others were doing, given there were quite a few miles worth of hills for me to deal with.  And as my mile 1 split was only 1 second off from last year’s race, I felt it was off to a good start.  And then mile 2 and evil hill, part 1 happened.  Looks like my long run of 4 trips up that hill didn’t work this time, as this mile was about 15 seconds slower than last year, and I had a feeling that it was going to be a tough day.  Just figured I could make up the time on the downhills…and bide my time til Ocean Parkway.  And once again, I decided it was gonna be a 2-gel day, as the humdity was deadly (close to 100%?  not sure if i quite believe that though…)  So all in all, I was through 7 miles in 56:06…7 seconds behind goal, but I could make that up in the remaining 6.1 miles right?

Ocean Parkway. shoot me now.

Or…not.  Mile 8 included the on-ramp to Ocean Parkway (which definitely felt more uphill this year) and that was 8:15…OK, now 22 seconds behind schedule.  I’d have to do 7:55’s or better for the remainder in order to get 1:45.  Given that I negative split this race last year, I thought it could have been doable, but not today.  I don’t know why or how, but my legs just went dead.  Nothing I could say or do could wake them up.  No water, Gatorade or PowerGel.  They were just stuck in that one slow gear and couldn’t seem to shift gears and go faster.  I was roadkill on Ocean Parkway with everyone and their mother passing me and I just wanted this to be over…but it couldn’t be over fast enough, as every single mile split was getting slower.

evil on-ramp to the boardwalk. and not smiling.

Thankfully, somewhere in mile 12, Flyer JA caught up to me and as I kinda had signs I wasn’t doing too well, he kept me company for a mile, was encouraging while just letting me run (though I was somewhat amused when he told me at mile 12 that it was just “4 1/2 laps of the track to go” 🙂  OK, maybe that may make the last 1.1 go by faster!)  It did help, as I was able to speed up a little bit for miles 12 and 13, though sub-8’s were definitely out by that point.  Finally, Ocean Parkway came to an end and we were able to turn right onto Surf Avenue, then up an evil on-ramp to the boardwalk (which again, definitely felt steeper this year…or maybe my legs were just shot by that point!)  Dr. Evil was taking pictures and had to comment afterwards that I wasn’t smiling whereas others would…um if you were feeling as crappy as I was, you wouldn’t be smiling. 

on the boardwalk...so close, yet so far away...

So, on the boardwalk I did remember one thing I learned from last year, and stayed on the straight boards as long as possible, as they were much, much more stable than the slanted ones.  I looked down at Mr. Garmin at the mile 13 marker and saw that I may possibly be able to get under 1:47, but I’d have to hustle…so I did the best I could given the boardwalk surface…but missed by 2 seconds.  1:47:01, 8:10 pace.  So glad this was over.   But I guess there’s nothing like a Coney Island beach party to drown my sorrows…which may or may not have included dipping my legs in the ocean several times, eating Nathan’s hot dogs, hanging out at Beer Island (which didn’t open til 11 AM this year!), riding the Cyclone (which was scary but less torturous than running the race, lol!), chilling out on the beach, not getting back to Manhattan until it was about time for the much-rumored Rapture….

…and given it was a long day, I crashed mad early for a Saturday night and slept like a baby.  But Sunday, and the day after, and the day after that, the disappointment of the day just came back to me.  If I had to have a bad race, I would have liked for there to be a fixable reason.  But this time?  There was no excuse for my legs to have just gone dead as they did.  And even though it was humid, it wasn’t brutally hot, therefore I most likely can’t blame the weather.  Plus, I was hearing stories of people who PR’ed without really training, or not putting in any double-digit runs…dammit, I put in the work.  Compared to last March/April/May, my mileage was higher this year.  Long runs?  All there-10 miles, 11, 12, 13-even 14 and 15 miles.  And since March, I had been doing speedwork twice a week.  Torrential storms with lightning?  Hit the dreadmill for intervals (and I never do speedwork on the dreadmill!)  Can’t make the workout for whatever reason?   Get the plan B to do in the morning (thankfully this time around it’s not quite pulling teeth to get that info!)  Despite the struggles this winter, once I got over the hump I wasn’t slacking off-little discouraging to be “rewarded” with my slowest half-marathon time in a few years (not counting the ones that were strictly training/MP runs)

But I really wanted a race that would have shown that I’m not kidding myself thinking I can BQ this fall…to BQ means I would have to run the pace for this half-marathon for a full (I really don’t think 3:40 is going to cut it for me, i’m gonna need 3:35 or better)  So not exactly a confidence booster…

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and back to the present…

well, maybe just for now.

did ya know I had a race this weekend?  oh yeah I do.  want a hint as to what it is?

yay for tech shirt!

sooo yeah.  the brooklyn half is to be what will hopefully be the bright spot in an otherwise lackluster 2011 racing season so far*.  I had a good day last year, hoping history may repeat itself?  I do have a coupla numbers in mind but don’t want to say anything as of yet.  (yeah, I have been actually training…sorta on the down low 🙂 )  I have a feeling that I’ll know in the first coupla miles what kind of a day it’s gonna be.  Or maybe the faster I run, the faster I can party at Beer Island afterwards 🙂

and I swear, this one has to be the most in-demand race so far this year…crazy!!  sold out in 2 days!!  I guess partially because it was made a club points race this year, and others using it to get NYC Half guaranteed entry…had a feeling it was gonna sell out in record time!

*Oh and about that lackluster 2011 racing season?  Consisted of the following:

  • A very low-key 5K in Riverside Park in February where I put up my slowest 5K time in a very long time.  On the other hand, there was ice on the course, forcing slowdowns at some points…and who even knows if the course was accurate.
  • The Cherry Tree relay.  Finally got a Flyer team this year!!  The “New York Flyer Gurls” did very well, no thanks to me as I was definitely the weak link…barely breaking an 8-minute pace on my leg while the total 10-mile time for the 3 of us was just under 1:16…you can tell who stepped up to the plate and it definitely was not me!
  • The Scotland Run 10K-little better (48:44) but still weaker than last year’s time.  At least the outfit looked and good and NYRR seemed to agree, as they put it in their local gallery.

the skirt. gets 'em every time.

Guess there’s nowhere to go but up from here?

2 is better than 3

well my post title, that should make sense, right? 🙂  2:59 marathon better than 3:00.  2nd place better than 3rd place (though in the case of Evan on Dancing With the Stars, I wish it would have been 1st!!  But Nicole was obviously the judges’ favorite…)

So wanting an extra coupla easy days after the half, I swapped my speed workout Tuesday for an easy run.  Afterwards, met up with some of the Flyers for drinks after their speed workout.  Had an interesting conversation with the Flyers’ assistant coach…which may or may not be mentioned in a future blog post.

That meant I’d be doing speedwork on Thursday.  And after being in the 3rd group for the first few weeks, my half time earned me a promotion to group #2 🙂  (though there were a couple peeps who said that I should have been in group 2 earlier.)  And of course, it also means the bar gets raised for me in workouts in terms of “prescribed” times but you know what, the times that were set for me to run for the last coupla workouts felt a little too easy, now I know why…

Original plan was short reps in the north end of the park, but the threatening weather conditions…thunder, lightning, rain caused us to resort to “plan B”: 12-14 200 meter reps near Engineer’s Gate…our aim was to try and get enough of them in before the weather took a turn for the worse, and if it did, we’d run hard on the reservoir instead.  I was hoping we wouldn’t have to resort to the rez, as I was wearing my brand spankin-new Saucony Fastwitches for the first time-what better way to break them in than with short reps, right?

Anyway, even though we still saw lightning and heard thunder, it wasn’t raining all that hard (and actually felt kinda nice!) and we were able to get a full workout in.  My first workout with group 2 went well, it was a good group to pace off of (whereas I’d be a little bit in front of group 3)…first rep of course too fast, settled in for the next few, picked it up near the end (especially I think #10, where there was a huge mass of gnats that we ran into that seemed to come out of nowhere!)  Anyway, the damage is as follows…a nice maiden voyage for the new shoes indeed!

Nice and consistent, right?  And getting it all done left me free to happily drink a few beers at Ginger Man with some of my favorite troublemakers 🙂  Indulged in a little too much Belgian beer goodness…I was hurting a little this morning, thank god for a half-day at work!!  (Great quote from my coworker who was chomping at the bit for quitting time to come: “I guess when the office closes and when I stop working are not always in agreement 🙂 “)  And on that note, yay for a long holiday weekend and the unofficial start of summer!!  Where does the time go…

I leave you with some more pics from the Brooklyn Half…

early miles in da park

leaving the park at mile 7...hence me hitting the split button on my watch!

approaching the finish!

another post-race posterity pic

hello brooklyn 2.0

I know I said 4 years ago that Brooklyn would “never be my borough”  Well, I can admit when I’ve been wrong, because the Brooklyn Half course version 2.0…well as I said in my previous post-reverse the course=reverse the curse?  It did indeed.  My 3rd time running this race, 1st time on the new course-I finally had both a race performance and time I was happy with.  (Not to mention a great post-race party!)

So with all intentions of getting to sleep early on Friday nite…ah that didn’t happen-no not because of friends IMing me 😉 …but more because I was sucked in by the Yanks-Mutts game, dammit!  But I did eventually get to sleep and actually did wake up an hour before my alarm and went back to sleep…alarm went off at 4 am and I actually got up without a problem…went through the normal pre-race routine and then headed out the door to catch the Flyers bus…listening to some cool songs on the iPod on the walk over (yes, “Tik Tok” was one of them…lol)

The bus was a coupla minutes late getting to the UWS, but still made it to Prospect Park with plenty of time to spare and with no directional issues or getting lost.  Found the baggage trucks to drop our mini-plastic bags off (yep, had to sorta pack light this time…) and then me and Flyer EG wanted to head to the start in order to get a good starting position in our respective corrals…though there were no signs indicating where the start was!!  After originally walking in the wrong direction and back-tracking, we saw lotsa people walking south and figured that was where the start was…saw the corrals in the distance so that was right 🙂  So by the time we got there, the corrals were almost empty…hmmm so much for everyone having to be lined up by 6:30 (yeah, the “checklist” says 6:50 now, but I could swear it originally said 6:30!)  And honestly, the corrals were not really being policed…like I walked right in to the yellow corral and no one checked my number.  And I bet my teammate who was a coupla corrals back could have lined up with me and nobody would check.  Saw and chatted with Moz for a few minutes (and he would go on to run a great race!) and Maria was lined up with me-she was just doing this as a long run to practice for kicking some Vermont City a$$ next weekend 🙂  And of course, other familiar faces…other Flyers, AU from the Rez Dogs…was like a little party in the corrals 🙂  But before we could race, we had to, of course, listen to all the speeches…Mary Wittenberg, Brooklyn president Marty Markowitz…and oh yeah the singing of the National Anthem (with the lyrics flubbed again!!)  And a coupla minutes later “on your marks” and the sound of the horn…about 50 secs later, cross the start and hoping for the best today…

Part I-Prospect Park, Loop 1
Mile 1-7:54
Mile 2-7:58
Mile 3-7:39

So I didn’t want to get too caught up in the downhill first mile…but I figured if I do that under 8, I’m off to a good start.  My teammates DM and JJ were running with me for the first few minutes and DM even joked that I was gonna pace them…but they both eventually pulled ahead and I let them go-didn’t want to take any chances with the hills early on.  So I was happy with both the mile 1 and the mile 2 split, as mile 2 had the evil hill and I just wanted to get that mile under 8.  But unfortunately in mile 2, I saw my teammate DC and Lam (who was supposed to be pacing her to a 1:30) by the side of the road and it looked like there was something wrong with her.  I yelled out “are you guys OK?” and Lam said they were fine…though eventually I found out that DC had to take a DNF 😦  Anyway, got through the evil hill and knew I’d only have to deal with it one more time, and enjoyed the downhill reward…things were looking very good so far.  One loop down, one to go.  And let me say-I was very pleasantly surprised by the amount of people out in Prospect Park cheering-it was a great boost, and it really shows the support for this race, that so many people were out before 8 am spectating!!  So to all the spectators and cheerleaders-thank you! 🙂

Part II-Prospect Park, Loop 2
Mile 4-7:40
Mile 5-8:06
Mile 6-8:03
Mile 7-7:32

So even though the temps were pretty decent (around 60) and it was cloudy, the humidity was deadly and I felt it.  After 2 miles that were over 8 minutes, I decided to not wait til mile 8 and take a gel now.  Luckily, I had brought 2 gels with me in case I lost one and it may have been good fortune that I did…I felt with the humidity being what it was, it may have to be a 2-gel day.  And I felt better in mile 7 (as the mile split showed!)   May have been because of the downhill or because I knew I was a mile away from exiting the park!!  We were starting to lap slower runners and I will say that the crowd control was excellent-the course marshalls really did a good job in keeping those starting their second loop and those exiting the park separate.  Mile 7 was on the road heading out of the park and I was through 7 miles in 54:52 (7:50 pace)…ok, awesome.  My plan was to get through Prospect Park under 8’s, then pick up the pace on Ocean Parkway…and so far I was right on track.  Maybe I can get under 7:45s?

(Note-even though it may look like my pacing in the park was all over the place, the splits were very terrain-specific.  And yes, that long run I did with 4 trips up the evil Prospect Park hill did help!)

Part III-Ocean Parkway
Mile 8-7:44
Mile 9-7:43
Mile 10-7:50
Mile 11-7:48
Mile 12-7:49

Ah crap, I forgot about that ramp to get onto Ocean Parkway.  And just when I thought I was done with hills! 🙂  But still was nothing compared to the “evil hill” 😉  Coach DC from Urban was out riding his bike and cheered me on.  Off the ramp and onto the Parkway…one that we don’t have to pay tolls on…just run down 😛  Just 5 and change miles of open road ahead of me til I get to the boardwalk.  Even though a lot of the street signs had letters on them, I tried to avoid looking at them and playing the “alphabet game” (sorta “counting down” how many to go)…just run.

Cruising down the (Ocean) Parkway

Even though Prospect Park was filled with spectators, Ocean Parkway was actually pretty quiet.  Though it was good to see some familiar faces from Manhattan cheering.  RB (aka Dr. Evil) was around mile 8 taking pictures…yes, I actually smiled for the camera 🙂  Not too long after, I saw LG and GA from Urban, and that was actually a nice surprise to see them.  And LG told me later that I “really looked comfortable”…ah looks are deceiving!!  Or I can’t resist smiling for my fans.

Yeah, Ocean Parkway was tougher than I thought!!  It actually felt slightly uphill…funny, I thought going the other direction felt slightly uphill too!!  Or maybe it was the elements getting to me, or maybe the fact this was the longest race I’ve done in a long time.  But I just kept going.  Barring a disaster, I had 1:45, now it’s just how far under can I go.  Took my 2nd gel and did some quick math at the 10-mile mark (1:18:09)…hmmm unless I can signficantly pick it up for the last 5K, 7:45s may be out.  Let’s see what happens…well after the legs could only crank out a 7:48 and 7:49 for miles 11 and 12, I thought, well maybe I can beat my 2008 Philly Distance Run time of 1:42:20…it’s gonna be close though!!

Part IV-Coney Island Boardwalk to the finish line
Mile 13-7:52
last .1 mile-:49

At the 12-mile mark, I could start to feel the finish line calling my name.  One more mile.  Less than 10 minutes.  I can do that.  Finally the turn onto Surf Ave and then another left, up the ramp, onto the boardwalk…heard “Nothing But a Good Time” by Poison playing and that actually made me smile.

The boardwalk.  2 years in a row, it tore up my calves and left me in pain for a good part of the race.  This year, none of that (of course it helped there was less than a mile on the boardwalk and I had an almost 12-mile warmup and it was warmer out!)  I did feel the boards moving (though I tried to stay on the part where the boards were straight instead of slanted for as long as I could)…normally I can really gun those last 1.1 miles, but I think I had to step off the accelerator a little bit to prevent from wiping out.  And even though the crowds were great here (thx AP for cheering!), the scenery was very nice…this mile just seemed to last forever!!  I think my legs were tired of the boardwalk 😛  Finally, the Mile 13 sign and I can see the finish line!!  Did the best I could for a finishing kick while staying vertical at the same time…finished!!

Final time-1:42:27 (7:49 pace)-just missing my 2008 PDR time (I blame the boardwalk…thats where I left those 7-8 seconds! 😛 )  But much more important-3rd best half time ever AND first time breaking 1:45 on a hilly course.  I’ve only done it on a flat course (PDR) or net downhill (the old Vegas course)  And to do it on a course that caused me such grief and pain in the past?  Revenge is sweet!

Part V-The Post-Race Party

Everybody was in really good spirits afterwards and ready to have some Coney Island fun.  First off, me and Flyers EG, CN, KM and JR headed over to the ocean…while a couple of them had a desire to go swimming, I just wanted to dip my legs in the Atlantic to give them a nice ice bath 🙂  While it was eventually deemed that the water was too cold for swimming, it felt absolutely awesome on my legs.

Beer Island!!

But the best was yet to come-a lot of Flyers (and other teams, I saw) congregated at Beer Island to toast ourselves and our races.  And I saw they had Honey Moon (the summer seasonal Blue Moon variety) on draft…score!!!  Just a lot of fun kicking back, having a few beers by the beach in the morning with a bunch of friends…love it!!  A few of us were saying how we may need to make this an ending point for some long runs this summer 🙂  Anyway, once done drinking, a few of us wanted to partake in some Coney Island cuisine…originally wanted some Totonno’s pizza but the wait there was gonna be ridiculous.  No worries…next best thing-Nathan’s hot dogs!!  After some dogs and fries, we were all ready to make the trek back to Manhattan and ready for some well-deserved naps.

As for the race itself, although I missed that time goal (PDR 2008) by seconds, I do think it was a much better performance, as that previous one was on a flat course and after 2 1/2 months of marathon training (for NYCM 2008.)  This at least shows that I’m in decent shape heading into Chicago training, and I may not have to train as crazy hard as I thought.  Don’t get me wrong, it won’t be easy.  But I don’t think I have to train as hard as I did last year and just may be able to escape injury this time around.  Only thing I might have liked was the miles along Ocean Parkway to be a little faster…but I know I left it all out there.  Gotta be satisfied with that.

And I give a huge thumbs up to the Brooklyn half, version 2.0.  The curse has been broken, and I am looking forward to running this one again next year!

happy Flyers after the Brooklyn Half

no sleep til brooklyn-redux

Wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy
Got my (Adidas) Tempos, I’m out the door
I’m gonna race this city
In mile 8, Tangerine PowerGel for a snack
‘Cuz when I leave Prospect Park
I ain’t coming back!!

Don’t stop, make it pop
Gonna blow my Brooklyn PR up
This time, Imma fight
‘Til I see the finish line
Tik tok, on the clock
But the half-mary don’t stop, no
Whoa whoa oh oh, Whoa whoa oh oh…

(lyrics taken from the infamous song “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha, modified for the Brooklyn Half :))

So if this post title seems familiar….uh it’s prolly cuz I used a similar one the day before the Brooklyn Half 4 years ago.  And considering I’m catching a 5:30 am bus from the UWS (god bless the Flyers, specifically Dr. Evil for organizing this again-you can bet there would be plenty of #MTAfails, especially it being early morning on a weekend going to Brooklyn!) I think this post title may be appropriate…I do intend to get to sleep relatively early tonite, hopefully there will be nothing on TV to suck me in and keep me awake!!

So I feel pretty much ready to roll.  Did my last short run yesterday (4 miles and change on the bridle path w/ strides at the end.)  Got my bib (yellow-not surprising, I’m sure it’s gonna be a stacked/crowded race) and tech shirt!!  (pretty nice one too-short sleeve, really like the color and design.)

As for the weather…

Maybe a little warmer and humid than ideal, but still better than was originally anticipated.  (And I’m not sure this constitutes the “The weather forecast predicts a warm day” that NYRR says.)

And yes, I do have time goals, but I won’t say them right now-maybe they will be revealed in the post-race writeup.  I will say at the very least I want to erase the bad races I had in 2005 and 2006…reverse the course=reverse the curse, perhaps?

dear weather gods…

…please cut the crap this week.  xoxo, nyflygirl

Yes, I am not happy that both days that I am supposed to race, or put forth a good effort this week, the weather looks to completely suck.

First, rain is predicted for Tuesday.  Which for an outdoor track meet, ain’t good…it’s not like you can just show up, run and go home.  There’s all the waiting around through all the different events, and all the heats…and me being the slowpoke that I am will definitely be in one of the last heats.  Honestly, my heart isn’t in this one, but apparently the time trial is needed to base what my workout times/paces should be for the next coupla months…

But even worse is the forecast for Saturday and for the Brooklyn Half.  Overnight low of 64 on Fri, high of 80 on Saturday with scattered thunderstorms.  Which means most likely during the race, it will be in the 70s and humid.  I know the race start is 7 am, but will that help enough?  I don’t know, my body cannot handle this type of heat and humidity.  I’ve tried these past few weeks to acclimate, but not sure if I did enough.  And if any of you are thinking this is just mental, I can assure you it’s not-my infamous choke job at the 2008 Mini 10K is proof of that.  No matter how hard I tried, my body decided at mile 4 that it couldn’t run hard anymore-and it was only 71 degrees during the race!!

So now I don’t know what to do.  Is there anything more I can do between now and Saturday to acclimate?  Or should I just scrap this one and pick another goal race?  Unfortunately “just finishing” is not good enough for me…I really want a race to show me where I’m at with Chicago training starting very soon, and to show me that I’m not kidding myself thinking I can run a 3:40 marathon.

And I’m kicking myself right now, that Saturday’s Healthy Kidney 10K was perfect weather and that I wasted a good race opportunity.  I thought I did the right thing-looking at the times, I wouldn’t have scored for the team and it was probably better that I was out cheering instead (plus it was cool to run by the start/finish and hear the announcement that the leaders were on course record pace-which did end up falling that day too, by I think 7 seconds?)  But now I look back and wonder what could have been..