Monday, March 31, 2014

Kings Park 15k Review

I ran the Kings Park 15k this past Saturday.  I am writing the race report on Tuesday which is a good indication that things didn't go as planned.  Oh, I ran the race.  And I finished.  Just not as fast as I had hoped.  I heard that this was a tough race.  I heard it was hilly.  I heard it was more difficult than the Great Cow Harbor 10k.  But everything is relative.  One man's hill, is another woman's speedbump.   This was my last chance to gauge my fitness for the Boston Marathon so I was going to give it all I had...  Or not.

I got to the Kings Park High School a little before 8am.  It was an overcast 46 degrees.  Rain was on tap, but not until later.  Packet pickup was at the elementary school about a quarter of a mile down the road.  I got my number and my cozy hooded sweatshirt.  Thank God not another ill-fitting cotton t-shirt!  I brought a small bag that I tied to a leg of one of the tables in the gym.  I trusted that the runners were more interested in getting through this race than scoring a duplicate sweatshirt.

I used the indoor bathroom to avoid another Roosevelt Island incident and then went outside to wait at the start.  I met a woman, Lisa, who just happened to take my high school buddy's spin classes.  She was really friendly.  She was telling me how she was trying to change her life for the good by teaching cooking classes and running!  Good for her!  Five minutes before the start she went to the back of the pack because she didn't want to get in anyone's way.  Considerate, too!  

One reason I don't wear headphones during a race is if it's an unfamiliar course, I try to listen to other people's conversations about the course.  One man was telling a couple of women that there were two really big hills.  Another guy told his friends the first 10k was a fun run, then the last 5k was the race. I overheard a very fit and loud woman shout that this was a practice run for Boston.  It turned out I was standing in front of two men talking about getting to Hopkinton.  Of course, I had to join in.  One guy is staying at a hotel walking distance to Boston Common where most runners will catch school buses to the start.  The other guy is going to drive to the South Street parking lot outside of Hopkinton to take a shuttle bus.  I told them I haven't decided what I'm going to do yet.  Finally, the announcer started the countdown.  The South Street guy quickly advised me to take this course easy because of the hills.  Got it!  Run slow!

The horn went off and I realized there was no starting mat.  I wasn't that far back, but at least 30-45 seconds.  No biggie, I'm running slow!  There were no clocks at the mile markers, just volunteers shouting the time as you ran past.  I prefer clocks.  I ran Mile 1 in about 8 minutes.  I saw the hill at the end of Mile 2.  I ran up.  Not fast, but I didn't walk.  It   leveled off quickly.  That wasn't bad.  But the next one was.  Just past the second mile marker, I saw the next hill.  This one was steep and long.  Was it the second hill that the man earlier spoke of or was this a continuation of the first hill?  My breathing was labored.  I felt like I was moving at a snail's pace, make that an elderly, very tired snail with breathing issues.  My goal was to keep moving.  Don't stop.  Don't walk.  After what seemed like an eternity, I reached the top.  Next was the downhill which was just as steep as the ascent.  I tried to remember what I read about downhill running.  Some say the downhills in Boston are worse than the uphills.  If you go too fast or try to brake too much, you can shred your quadricep muscles making them useless by the time you reach the Newton Hills.  I leaned forward and let gravity take over.  It felt awkward because I naturally wanted to lean backward.  

Mile 6 took us down Kings Park Boulevard which is a long out and back road surrounded by woods and something that looked like an old abandoned mental hospital (think American Horror Story: Asylum).  I was running, but conservatively.  I was waiting for the next big hill.  Miles 7 -9 came and went and I realized there weren't any more hills.  I saw the school.  I had no idea what my time would be, but I knew it wasn't going to be great.  I figured I might as well sprint the last couple of hundred yards to the finish since I still had plenty of gas left in the tank.  The clock read 1:15:42.  About five minutes off what I would have expected if I had run it all out.  

I went back into the gym and retrieved my bag.  Because this was an event put on by my running club, GLIRC, they had a large array of baked goods set out.  I grabbed half of a giant chocolate cupcake, a water, and a Sprite.  I checked the posted results.  I finished 7th out of 54 in my age group at an 8:07 pace, and 194th out of 740.  I hadn't run a race in the 8 minute pace since my marathon.  I was disappointed, but I guess it wasn't bad for running slow...

Boston will be a crapshoot.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sunday With Friends

Sunday morning I got up at 6am to run 7-10 miles around my neighborhood.  Originally, I was going to do this at  Bethpage State Park before meeting up with my fellow blogger friends, Emerging Runner (ER) and The Petite Pacer (TPP).  After watching a marathon of the HBO series True Detective and then reading about real creepy true detective-like cases on its message boards (yeah, I'm a nerd), I decided against it.  Good thing because it was still pitch black out at 6am.  At 6:30 the sun finally began to make its way out.  I ran my regular 7.4 mile loop with one bathroom stop at the bagel store.  I went back and forth about doing an extra 2.5-3 mile loop here or at the park.  I figured it would be cutting it close on the meet time if I stayed local so I ended the first part of my run and went home to change.  I kept my leggings on and just changed my top.  I learned my lesson last week when I was freezing in just shorts and a long sleeve tech shirt.

I arrived at the park entrance a little before 8.  I was following a small black suv that quickly pulled over on the side of the driveway.  I thought it was ER so I stopped next to him with a big dumb smile on my face thinking of how I might annoy him only to realize it was a complete stranger.  I awkwardly waved and kept going.  Once I parked, I decided I might have just enough time to squeeze in another 2.6 miles to make it an even 11.  I ran 1.8 miles north on the bike path.  I called ER to see where he was.  He was already at the parking lot.  I told him where I was and suggested he and TPP start and I'll meet them on the way back.  I saw them at my ten mile mark.  We decided to go back north for the rest of our run.

As usual, TPP took the lead.  ER was lagging a little, but not much.  Once I tried making conversation with him and saw he was having difficulty responding, I knew he was having a tough time.  I felt badly because he has some respiratory issues.  Before I knew it, we were almost at our turn around.  ER wanted to stop, but I couldn't let him.  We were just 2/10s of a mile away from our intended goal.  He was a trooper and pushed on.  We stopped briefly for a chat.  We realized it wasn't normal for ER to be struggling at such an easy pace so early on.  We think it's possible he could have some form of cold induced asthma.  He had spent most of the winter running indoors.  His lungs were not adjusting properly.

On our return, TPP and I ran ahead.  It was an easy end to an additional 5 miles (6 for them).  I was 2 miles short of my scheduled 17, but it was well worth it to spend quality time with friends.

"Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend." - A. Camus (Does this apply to group runs, too?)

Shalane, Deena, & Jazzy Jeff Gallowhat?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

NYCRuns Spring Fling 10k Review

I had been concerned about traveling to the NYCRuns Spring Fling 10k on Roosevelt Island.  I was on the island once when I was very small.  My family and another family took the cable car over from Manhattan.  I vaguely remember the ride over.  I don't think we even spent any real time there once we arrived, we just did it for the cable car experience.  My only other memory of Roosevelt Island is the "famous" cable car scene from the 1981 thriller Nighthawks.  I say famous lightly because I'm not sure how many people have actually seen this movie.  I loved it because gritty NYC action thrillers from the 70s and 80s are some of my absolute favorites.  Anyway, there's a brilliant hostage scene with Sylvester Stallone and Rutger Hauer in the cable car.  Back to the race, I didn't know how difficult it would be to get to the cable cars and how often they ran, so I just drove to Queens and hopped on the F train.  Three stops later and I was on Roosevelt Island.  Super easy.

Now the Roosevelt Island subway station reminded me of another movie:

Scene from An American Werewolf in London

Scene from A Long Island Runner
on Roosevelt Island

I followed a couple of people dressed like runners to the starting area which was a small park.  There was a DJ playing great music (Beastie Boys, yo!) and a ton of people dancing and milling around.  I picked up my number and decided to go for a ten minute run to warm up.  The temperature was a breezy 43 degrees on the water.  I ran down the road and immediately noticed how pretty this place was.  The island is small.  A 10k is two loops of the perimeter.  The streets were narrow and the buildings not too tall.  There was even a cute little church.  One disappointment was many business spaces were vacant.  Perhaps the outrageous NYC rent should be adjusted to consider the population of this tiny, limited access area. 

There was even a farmer's market!

I got back to the starting area and waited around for a half hour before lining up.  One of the NYCRuns staff commented on my Mohawk Hudson River Marathon shirt.  We briefly chatted.  I recognized him from the Narrows Half Marathon I ran last September.  I have to say I really like NYCRuns.  Their emails and Facebook updates are plentiful with chock full of information, updates, and humor.  Their races always feel intimate, I imagine the opposite of the New York Road Runners club.  The NYCRuns staff is very approachable.  They'll even delay the start so everyone can go to the bathroom (which can either be annoying if you've waited a long time in the cold or extremely thoughtful because sometimes when you gotta go, you gotta go...and I should have went when I had the chance....)

The race started and we first did a short out and back at the tip of the island.  I hit the One Mile marker at 7:15.  Oooh this is nice!  I felt good.  The nice thing about out and backs is that when you're up front, you're so happy you're on your side of the cones when passing the other runners.  I don't mean to sound obnoxious.  It's only because I know this from experience of being on both sides of those cones!  Roosevelt Island is in the East River.  We were able to get a gorgeous view of Manhattan, as well as Queens.  I hit Mile Two in 14:45.  I slowed down in my second mile, but not irreparably.  And then it hit.  I had to go the bathroom.  I had eaten an apple cinnamon Quaker oatmeal packet at 7:15 that morning.  I usually don't eat before races (except marathons) for this reason, but I was hungry and thought it best since I wouldn't be back home until around noon.  Bad decision.  I slowed down because if I pushed myself, I might actually be pushing myself.  Ew!  Okay, I know TMI, but I'm just being honest.  It happens to the best of us, right?  I got to the 5k mat which was back at the starting area.  I knew if I didn't go now, I might regret it.  I jumped off course, ran to the icky porta potties, and that was the end of my race.  I could have gone back in, but really the only reason I was running this was to get a handle on my fitness.  DNF.  Second this year (if you count the ridiculous Huntington St. Patrick's Day 5k.   I blame that on my daughter, of course!), second ever!

Back at the field, I saw a guy wearing the official 2014 Boston Marathon jacket.  It was easy to spot since it is neon HEREIAM orange.  I went over to chat a little about Boston with him and his friend.  After, I hopped back onto the F train and headed search of a redemption race.

Kings Park 15k, here I come!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bethpage 3x2 Relay Race Review & A Long Run

Race Review

Saturday was the Bethpage 3x2 relay race.  I arrived at the park at 8am to do a 10 mile warmup before the race.  Not recommended, but I missed my 12 mile run the day before.  I headed north 5 miles on the bike path.  It was a nice change of scenery than the usual southern route I have run in the past.  Once I got into Plainview, I recognized the Holiday Inn along the parkway.  This is the same path I ran on during the GLIRC group run back in December.  I turned around at the Cold Spring Harbor laboratories.

I got back to the Bethpage parking lot at 9:20.  I met up with The Emerging Runner (ER) and his wonderful family.  His wife, also a runner,  is so sweet and easy going and his children are adorable.  It made me wonder how he got so lucky.  Could they be hired actors? (Ha, just kidding!  ER is really just as awesome as his family, as I'm sure you know from his blog).  Our friend and other teammate, The Petite Pacer (TPP) arrived minutes later.  She was fighting off a fever, but still showed up because she's a trooper and a little cray cray (Of course she is!  She's a runner!).  ER gave us our numbers and I quickly changed because I was sweaty from my warmup and knew I'd be freezing waiting for my turn.  I was freezing, anyway.

left to right:  TPP, Center, and ER

The start.

This was a trail race that started on a large field.  TPP went first.  She said she could only manage 10 minute miles, however she came in faster than expected.  She's pretty amazing.  ER took off next.  TPP gave me a quick overview of the terrain.  I was a little nervous because I have a history of taking off my shirt (Oops, Bare Naked Ladies on the brain) faceplanting on trails.  I didn't want to injure myself with Boston so close.  Before I knew it, ER emerged, as his name proves, from the woods and I was next.  I took off pretty quickly on the grass, but once I entered the woods, I became more cautious.  Most of the trail was packed dirt, but there were areas that were muddy, icy, or sandy.  Some parts were narrow, making it a little difficult to pass others (I'm talkin' to you, 8 year old zig-zagging red-headed kid!).  My legs were cold and rubbery and I regretted running the 10 miles beforehand.  I was unhappily surprised to see the One Mile marker when I did because I thought I was almost done.  Finally, I was out of the woods (literally) and headed toward the finish line.  I heard my teammates (family included) cheering me on which gave me a nice boost at the end.  I may have even smiled crossing the finish line, a first for me!

It was a fun experience.  It kind of reminded me of Hood to Coast.  I hope my friends and I do more relays together in the future.

Sunday Long Run  

Sunday morning I slept in.  I had an 18 miler on the calendar.  I wasn't sure how I was going to feel since I had run 12 the day before.  I got out the door a little before 1pm.  I took my usual route north.  After 2 miles at an 8:35ish pace, I picked it up.  I needed to run 14 miles at Marathon Pace, which was 8:17 for me.  There was a good wind coming at me from the north so I was surprised every time Map My Run announced my split paces.  I brought two packages of Sport Beans with me, but only ate one.  I stopped at King Kullen, the 10 mile mark, for some Gatorade.  The last 8 miles would be rolling hills.  I want my long runs to mimic the Boston elevation.  I wound up doing the 14 miles between a 7:32 and 8:55 pace, and my overall pace for 18.35 miles was 8:19.  I was tired at the end, but I got through it without a struggle.    

Monday, March 10, 2014

Huntington St. Patrick's 5k Review

Sunday was the St. Patrick's 5k in Huntington.  I planned on running with my twelve year old daughter.  She and I prepared for the race by staying out late the night before with the rest of the kids drinking red wine at our neighbor's house.  Well, I had red wine.  I'm sure they were whining about something.  I just can't remember.  Later that night, while hallucinating dreaming of how my daughter and I were going to smoke 'em at the race, my four year old threw up twice.  The stomach bug had arrived.  I cleaned her up and decided to postpone the 14 miles (17 total) I was scheduled to run before the race until Monday.  Ha.  Like running 14 miles that morning was going to happen, anyway...

The late start of 12:45pm might as well have been 7am.  Waking, feeding, and dressing four kids, all the while ignoring appeasing a disapproving "told you so" husband, is more time consuming than you might expect.  We were out the door at noon headed for the north shore.  We arrived at the Huntington library to pick up our numbers at 12:35.  My daughter was sound asleep in the back seat.  I threw a blueberry muffin at her head gently woke her up.  The ladies inside the library were packing up boxes and getting ready to leave.   I asked one of them if I could get our numbers and she scoffed that that ship had sailed long ago.  I was surprised at how unpleasant she was about it.  Usually, people at these races are much more friendly and accommodating.  Okay, so my daughter and I would run without numbers.  No biggie.  My daughter had other ideas.  She interpreted this as a sign we should forego the run altogether, go home, and go back to bed,  "No!" I said, "This is going to be fun!  Just the two of us!  Hey, let's take a pre-race selfie!"

Her enthusiasm was uncontainable.

The starting line was right outside the library.   We hung out at the back because my daughter's "knees" were bothering her (meaning, she wanted to go back to bed).  It looked like there were only fifty runners, maybe seventy-five.  I was a bit disappointed and annoyed.  I was expecting hundreds of participants.  If I had known, perhaps I wouldn't have had that third second glass of wine and perhaps I wouldn't have dragged my unwilling daughter along.  I had a good chance of placing in the top three overall women.  I coulda been a contender!!! 

The race started and my daughter let me know that she was only going to run one mile.  We ran down 25A and then made a right onto Route 110.  It was a slow incline, but it made no difference because not even a quarter of a mile down, she stopped.  I reluctantly stopped, too.  We turned around and headed back to the finish.  As we were walking back, the lead runners zipped past us.  They were flying downhill.  I wished I was with them until we came across a  furniture shop giving away free hot dogs and I forgot all about them.  But then I remembered I gave up pork eighteen months ago (dang it!) so I grabbed a couple for the kids.  

We saw Pete waiting with his camera at the finish line.  He wasn't happy to learn that we DNF'd, but not as unhappy as he would have been if we had paid two entrance fees instead of just one.  While waiting for the parade, we met a retired NYPD cop wearing a Hood to Coast t-shirt.  He ran it the year before I did.  He also knew a lot of cops in common with Pete.  The weather was perfect and the kids enjoyed the rest of the afternoon watching the bagpipers and fire trucks go by.  Not a total loss.

UPDATE:  Remember the stomach bug?  No Monday morning 17 miler thanks to him (Like that was going to happen anyway......)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Second 20 Miler Done

I headed out the door at 12:45pm.  It was 38 degrees.  I had on my Mizuno cold weather leggings, a tank top, my blue Avalanche pullover, gloves, wool socks, and my brand new Adidas Supernova Glides.  I was taking a risk wearing brand new sneakers for a 20 miler, but I would rather run through blisters than have to stop my run altogether because of guaranteed cramping and spasms.  I was going to wear a turtle neck under the pullover and I'm glad I decided against it.  The pullover is super warm on its own.  I brought two chocolate mint Gus and money to pick up a Gatorade at the halfway mark.

I headed ten miles north to the King Kullen in Manhasset.  The streets and sidewalks were mostly clear from snow and ice except for one short stretch on Shelter Rock Road.  I was forced to run on the road for a hundred yards which was a bit scary because the shoulder was narrow, I was running with traffic (there's no sidewalk on the opposite side), and the cars zoomed by me pretty fast.  I arrived at King Kullen in (one piece!) an 1:32:34, a 9:16 pace.  I washed down a Gu with orange Gatorade.  I started the Map My Run app because I like to explore the neighborhoods which makes it difficult to remember all the turns and streets after the fact.  I ran 5 hilly miles in South Strathmore, then 3 miles to Plandome.  I forced myself to consume the other Gu at Mile 17.  It was very gross, particularly because I had nothing to wash it down with (I think I'm going to go back to Super Candy for my next long run.  Much tastier and minus the gag reflex).  The biggest hill was at Mile 18 in Flower Hill.  It is only a 110 foot gain of elevation, but it's steep (I think similar to Heartbreak Hill).  I had to mentally will my feet to keep going forward.  Once I crested, I finished the last two miles easily with some pep in my step.  The second half of the run was a total of 10.37 in 1:36:07, a 9:16 pace again.

My new sneakers were the right choice.  I had no issues, except at one point splashing in a mud puddle and getting a couple of drops on the top of my right shoe (boo!).  My legs were sore the rest of the day, but they feel great today.  These next four weeks are going to be pretty intense with high mileage and speed work.  Boston's right around the corner.  Yikes!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Little Cow Harbor Run for Hope Review

L picked me up at 7:30am and we headed north to Greenlawn.  As we neared the start, we took notice of the rolling hills we were driving on.  They weren't steep, but they definitely were there.  We got to the middle school and parked along the street because the parking lot was full.  We picked up our numbers inside the gym.  There were hundreds of people milling about inside and out.  I had cereal earlier so I used the girls' bathroom to prevent any race emergencies, then we headed to the starting line.

L and A

The start.  

There were pace signs and a timing mat at the start which indicated a large field.  I estimated about 1000 runners.  The Peanuts announcer muffled some information into the microphone that probably only he understood.  A couple of minutes past 9am and we were off.

We immediately ran downhill and then it leveled off.  The first mile was through the residential neighborhood with some gradual ups and down.  I hit the first clock at 7:25.  The second mile took us through the little downtown area.  Pretty flat.  The second clock read 14:45.  There were a lot of young kids running, ages 8-12ish.  Thankfully, I passed most of them.  Although, there was a trio of young high school girls ahead of me with whom I never caught up.  Mile 3 brought us back around the school in 22:xx.  I was hoping to finish under 30 minutes.   The last quarter mile was uphill.  It was slight, but not something you hope for at the end of a race.  My watch read 29:xx when the school came into sight again.  I think I subconsciously slowed down assuming I wouldn't make it sub-30.  Even though the school was right in front of us, we had to turn left down the street a couple of hundred yards and then come back around to the finish.  I crossed the finish line with the official clock reading 30:26.  My net time was only 6 seconds faster.

There was water, bagels, bananas, and homemade soup at the finish.  Although the soup smelled delicious, it felt too early for a hearty snack like that.  I just grabbed some water and met L back inside.  We both agreed it was a fun race, but the last quarter mile was not fun.  We checked the Start2Finish timing truck on the way back to the car.  I finished 2nd in my age group and 64th overall.  Apparently, there were only 484 runners total.  I could have sworn it was at least double!  Anyway, I placed in the top 13%.  A little disappointing since I had been placing in the top 10% this past year.  Hmmf.

One race down, three (or four) to go...