NYRR R-U-N 5K Race Recap

Rarely do NYC runners have the opportunity to run a race through Central Park in the evening. Often crowded with tourists and other events, most NYRR races are limited to Saturday or Sunday mornings, bright and early.  Many people took advantage of last night’s NYRR R-U-N 5k, a new socially oriented 5k race. In fact many of my favorite NYC running friends came out for the evening including Meg, Russel, Anne, Beth, Kristin, Jess and 10 Race Pace Runners! I hoped that the smaller race would mean we’d all meet before the start; but, with over 5,000 runners I barely saw anyone I knew before, during or after the race.

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While the 5k was an official NYRR race it was definitely a different atmosphere than their normal races. There was music, photo booths and games entertaining runners before the 7pm start. In fact they even served sparkling cider as a fun bubbly stop next to the water on the course!

The week of the race Anne and I decided to run together, aiming to break our previous PRs which were each around an 8:45 pace. Even though I am very much a morning runner and dread hot, sticky evening runs after a day of food, I hoped that I could pull out a PR.  I ran 2.5 warm-up miles up to the park, meeting her right at the entrance to the fanfare and race craziness. The race was organized differently than normal; featuring a fun run section and typical corrals. We started as far in the front of our corral as possible, in hopes that weaving would be limited.

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Right at 7pm they announced that the race path was clear and signaled the start of the race, reminding everyone to have fun and enjoy the evening. Anne nor I had a perfect method for tracking our pace as my phone died unexpectedly and her Garmin couldn’t pick up a signal even after 15 minutes of attempts.  We decided that we’d use her Garmin timer and just try to run the race as strong as possible.

The first mile went by quickly due to our rapid pace. We both thought it felt fast but we were racing a 5k afterall. Most of this mile was flat other than a gradual downhill, but due to our pace talking more than a word or two here or there was difficult. We pointed out fun running outfits and remarked at how turned around we were. The course was very different than the routes either of us typically run.  As we approached the mile marker I said that I felt like we were keeping a sub-8 pace. Ding Ding! Her clock told us that we crossed mile 1 in 7:55.

The second mile was far hillier than the first including and is where the pain started to hit. My legs felt heavy and the humidity and 80+ degree temps didn’t help. I grabbed a water at the water station hoping that something cool would help. Instead it forced me to spring to catch up to Anne and loose my groove. I kept within a few steps of her until we made it halfway up Cat Hill. Those few steps turned into about a block’s distance but I just told myself that I can do anything for another 15 minutes, the amount of time I estimated I had left. As I crossed the Mile 2 marker I tried to do math and figured that mile was around an 8:15.

Now Mile 3 is the one that had us each talking all night after the race. It seemed very long and not just because we were in pain by this point. It also seemed to deviate from the original race map shared by NYRR. I think the only time I smiled during this mile was when I saw Ali cheering near Engineers’ Gate and when I finally saw the finish line. This was the mile where I internally yelled at myself for not having my Garmin or a charged phone and for leaving my headphones at home. I needed some Taylor Swift pump up music and instead the only thing I heard was heavy breathing and fellow runners cursing the never-ending mile. Based on my final results, this mile must have been somewhere around an 8:30 which means I earned an A in positive splits and failed at negative splits.

 

NYRR results from race

I sprinted across the finish at exactly 26:00 (8:22 avg pace), earning a shiny new 5k PR! Huge thanks to Anne for pushing me through those first few miles and to Jess for helping me become a faster, stronger runner! 

Overall I really enjoyed this race. The fun atmosphere was a welcome change from the typical NYRR event and any race that has popsicles at the end is a win in my book! After grabbing water and a popsicle I headed back to the finish line to watch for Meg, Russell and cheer each of the runners through the finish line.

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The only thing I’d change in the future is a more festive finish line, possibly including a beer sponsor. While they did there best to negotiate discounts for runners at NYC bars, most of them were nowhere near Central Park. The mix of paces and crowds made it hard to find my other friends who ran the race, especially Beth, Meghan and Kristin whom I hoped to cheer for and high five at the finish line.

Luckily a group of us, including Zoe who enjoyed her first NYRR race after moving to NYC this week, enjoyed beers at a nearby bar together.

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Marathon Week Has Arrived and My NYCM Tips

It’s officially marathon week! Suddenly all the training, sweat, and preparation is culminating in an awesome week of excitement! Each day I find myself more and more excited for Sunday.

Today I had the opportunity to kick off the week with Jocelyn, Erica, and a few other local bloggers who were also selected to serve as New York Road Runner’s Social Media Reporter team for the marathon this week.

Since I’ve decided not to actively tweet or take pictures during this year’s marathon, my duties will include covering pre-marathon events such as the NYRR Five Borough Bash and the Expo.

IMG_5191 (640x478) IMG_5192 (640x478) We met uptown at the NYRR headquarters with the NYRR Social Media team this afternoon brain storming ideas and finding out more about our roles and responsibilities.  I’m looking forward to this collaboration and hope you’ll follow us on our Twitter and Facebook. NYRR is passionate about making the 2011 marathon more accessible for everyone; both athletes and spectators alike. They have some pretty amazing surprises up their sleeves for finishers too!

If you see a pony tailed girl sporting this cute shirt and smelling like Tiger Balm, there is a good chance it’s me! Please come and say hello and let me know how you’re journey is going thus far! I’m looking forward to meeting lots of people this week.

IMG_5196 (640x478) A few of the ways that the Social Media Reporter team will contribute are as follows:

  • We will be tweeting and linking to the official marathon hash tags (#nycm and #ingnycm) all week sharing information about events for runners and the public.
  • For runners, following the hash tag may help them find out the best time to attend the expo based on crowds or last minute tips.
  • On marathon day, following these hash tags will help spectators figure out the best place to watch, how to reach a certain mile spot, or see any alerts.

If there are certain topics or information you’d like the team to share, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll share it with NYRR.

When I walked through the door tonight, the week became even more real when I was greeted by this amazing good luck bouquet! My parents unfortunately can’t make the trek up from Savannah for my marathon but they are already cheering me on from afar! This was the best Halloween treat ever!

IMG_5195 (640x478)While I was shopping for my marathon fuel this evening, a fellow shopper inspired me to share a few of my “20×20 hindsight” tips for any readers who are reading the New York City Marathon. She was a bundles of nerves and had tons of questions which were second nature for me now that this is my second time running NYC. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an expert and nor do I proclaim to be one, but having a year of experience certainly helps the pre-race nerves.

  1. As tempted as you’ll be to buy every piece of cool race clothing this week, do not change anything for marathon day. Wear an outfit you’ve completed a long run in, use the same fuel, and don’t buy new shoes! Trust me, the NYCM branded gear is really cool- after the marathon!
  2. Be sure to purchase your regular fuel early in the week, before the expo if possible. Last year I couldn’t find my favorite shot-blocks at my normal stores in the city OR at the expo. They run out of many items early in the week. Also, be careful about testing out fuel with caffeine if you haven’t used caffeinated fuel during training. This can affect some people’s stomachs.
  3. The expo lines can get very long, especially after work and on Saturday. If there is anyway you can go during the week the lines will be far shorter. Following #nycm or #ingnycm for line updates throughout the week. If you HAVE to go on Saturday then do your best to get there right when the expo opens.
  4. You are not guaranteed a NYCM race shirt in your requested size. Therefore, see my above tip in order to avoid lines and get your preferred size. The earlier in the week you go, the better chance you have of getting your perfect size.
  5. Be sure to bring your driver’s license or passport to the expo. Last year they were quite strict, even with me who had a name change due to my marriage. If you’ve recently had a name change, bring documentation.
  6. If you’re taking the ferry, I promise they want you to race on Sunday. It is a public ferry and therefore, as long as there is space, they can’t refuse you access. While it’s probably smarter to go at your “registered time” it isn’t required. But, DO NOT WAIT too late! Keep in mind that after you take the ferry you still have to take a bus to the starting area.

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7. The ferry and starting area are cold. Even if it is 60 degrees there will still be wind whipping. Double the amount of throwaway clothes you’ve planned to use and throw in some magazines to read while you wait. I highly recommend pastel fleece robes from your local drugstore. They are equally sexy as they are warm.

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8. Last year, they let people wait in the ferry terminal, on the Staten Island side, until 9:15. This was the perfect place to stay warm and use the bathroom instead of heading straight out into the elements.

9.THEY DO CLOSE THE CORRALS. If you don’t believe me, and think you can just meander into your 10:10 corral at 10:15, read Leslie’s recap from last year. She missed her call time because we were too busy talking to hear the loud speaker. I suggest heading towards the corral entrance 20 minutes before your corral closing time, which is normally 20-30 minutes before your start.

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10. If you’re friends or family want to watch you along 1st Avenue, I highly recommend strategically placing them as far north as possible. When you leave the bridge you will most likely be greeted by amazing spectators. But, between mile 19-21 it gets pretty quiet. This will give you ample opportunity to find them, grab some fuel or water from them, and keep running with less than a 10k left.

11. Jack Rabbit has an awesome tool which can help your spectator friends figure out when to head out to greet you along the course, based on your pace. Also, ensure they choose very specific locations such as intersection of 1st Avenue and 101st street on the left side of the street near McDonalds. (I have no clue if there is a McDonald’s there but you get my drift.)

12. It truly does take an hour to exit Central Park after finishing. While checking a bag is a pain and something I never recommend, figure out a plan to stay warm during this time. Some people grabbed hoodies from family members during the last mile while other grabbed an extra finisher’s foil.

13. Have fun and smile because you’re going to have a blast running the New York City Marathon!

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If you have any other questions you’d like me to answer please leave a comment and I’ll answer it this week.

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NYRR Run for Central Park 4 Miler: Negative Splits!

 

Happy Saturday!

Even though this morning’s agenda included the NYRR Run for Central Park 4 mile race and my second long run of marathon training, I was still able to enjoy a double date last night and even get in some salt and carb loading.

IMG_3112 (480x640) We saw the 9:30pm showing of Harry Potter 7 Part 2 in 3-D at the Lincoln Center I-Max theatre with our Hogwart fanatic friends Mike & Liz. Luckily they knew a few things we didn’t:

  • Seeing HP7 in New York City opening weekend means you HAVE to be in line at least 2 hours in advance if you want to get seats together.
  • A few handfuls of movie theatre popcorn is the perfect way to load up on carbohydrates since it also includes a nice dose of salt.
  • Looking like fools in 3-D glasses after a long work week is the perfect way to feel like a kid again and forget any stress you left at the office. IMG_0761 (640x478)

I was a little nervous about my 6:30am wake-up call after going to bed past midnight, but surprisingly I was bounding out of bed five minutes before my alarm clock. Maybe it was the new Lululemon outfit I had waiting for today’s run or the fact that I had heard rumor that it was going to be cooler outside this morning than last week.

My morning started out just like any other Saturday of marathon training. I enjoyed my peanut butter and banana half sandwich and a Nuun cocktail before heading out with my CamelBak strapped to my back. IMG_3119 (478x640) IMG_3122 (478x640) IMG_3123 (640x480) This week. per my running coach’s recommendation, I did a true warm-up before arriving at Central Park. I walked from our house to 44th street before jogging a mile up to 68th and Park where I met Jes.

IMG_3126 (478x640)Last night, Jes jumped at the opportunity to use Bo’s bib for today’s race since Bo can’t run for two weeks while his thumb’s nerves heal. I was equally as excited to introduce her to the world of Saturday morning NYRR races since today was her first. We giddily chatted as we walked towards the start. She was amazed by all the people and the organization; not realizing that anything like this existed in the city.

IMG_3124 (640x478) IMG_3127 (640x478) Since we had both warmed our legs up with a mile jog before the race, we spent the remaining time doing some dynamic stretches. Since we both had different plans for today’s race, we decided to line up in the same corral but then run solo once the race started. Jes’ plan was to treat this as a true diagnostic race since it is her first race and she doesn’t run with a watch on a daily basis. My goal was two fold:

  • Run negative splits throughout the four miles
  • Finish the race feeling as if I’d pushed myself but could still run another 3 miles

Not every race is meant to set a new personal record and I’m finally okay with that. In fact, I think I was even more excited about today’s race because it was a new challenge. At 8am, on the dot, the race started and we were quickly moving towards the start line. I had a great feeling about today’s race. The weather was gorgeous, the crowd’s energy was high, and I felt very prepared after a great warm-up and stretching session.

The four miles passed very quickly as I focused on the gorgeous weather, my breathing, and starting out slow.

Four miles later I didn’t PR but I sure as heck registered negative splits! Success!

Mile 1 9:51

Mile 2 9:34

Mile 3 9:18

Mile 4 9:08

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Today’s 38:07 is a 7 minute improvement from the last time I ran this race back in 2009!

image IMG_3128 (640x480)I was super sweaty but felt great and immediately started running back downtown. My goal for the remaining 3 miles was to keep my pace below a 10 minute mile while also enjoying the sights and sounds of the Upper East Side, Midtown, Murray Hill, and finally Gramercy.

IMG_3131 (640x478) IMG_3133 (640x478) IMG_3134 (640x478) IMG_3135 (478x640) IMG_3136 (640x478) IMG_3138 (478x640) IMG_3141 (640x478) IMG_3143 (640x478) IMG_3145 (640x478) Success!

Mile 5 8:56

Mile 6 8:36

Mile 7 9:42

Mile 8 8:07

After an hour and a half of sweating, I was only craving one thing, thanks to Theodora’s influence.

IMG_3140 (478x640) I’m hooked on Zico now. It was refreshing, cool, and the perfect post run treat. In addition, the small amount of sugar helped keep me stable until our lunch at Guy and Gallard Cafe an hour and a half later.

IMG_3146 (640x478) IMG_3147 (640x478)It has been an amazing Saturday!

  • A wonderful long run, that shows great improvements versus last year’s pace.
  • A delicious lunch date with my hubby.
  • Plenty of time outside running errands and enjoying our city’s gorgeous parks, sights, and sounds. IMG_3149 (640x478) IMG_3150 (640x478) IMG_3152 (640x478) IMG_3158 (478x640) Like I said, New York City has some amazing sights and sounds.

Have a great weekend!

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NYRR Front Runners Lesbian and Gay Pride Run

After a Friday night filled with delicious personal size pizzas and relaxing, Bo and I were ready for yesterday’s Front Runners Lesbian and Gay Pride Run in Central Park.

IMG_2775 (640x478) When we woke up, at 7:30, we found out that there was going to be a lot of excitement at the race due to New York’s historic vote while we were sleeping Friday night.

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We quickly dressed and ate our normal pre-race breakfast before hopping in a cab up towards 102nd street. In our race to leave on time I forgot two things: my CamelBak which was filled and chilling in the refrigerator and my Garmin which was still charging.

IMG_2777 (478x640) The crowds for this race were huge since it was the 30th anniversary of the race and everyone was excited from the previous night’s vote. In fact, it took us 10 minutes just to get into the corrals!

IMG_2780 (640x478) IMG_2781 (640x478)We were both expecting a little bit more, um Pride Parade like costumes. For the most part, everyone was wearing regular running clothes though we both thought the colors were brighter than a normal race. After a few speeches and excited cheers, the race kicked off right at 9am on the dot!

IMG_2782 (640x480)Since I knew this race was going to be filled with grueling hills, I chose to sport my new Zensah calf sleeves during the race for the first time. During the Mini 10k I had some minor shin splint pain and didn’t want to risk this again.

IMG_2784 (640x478) I decided, last minute, to try using my iPhone RunKeeper ap during the race so I could keep an eye on my pace and to also test its accuracy.

As soon as the race started, Bo said he wanted to stay with me and start slow since he’s still coming back from injury. I was excited to have a running partner but told him to leave me if he felt he could push faster.

The first mile, considering it included the daunting Harlem Hills, felt surprisingly easy. The crowds and runners alike were all smiling with excitement, the signs were wonderful (Running is Gay and Put a Ring on It were my favorite!), and my legs felt great. I was a little worried since I’d run 3 miles on the treadmill on Friday instead of taking a normal rest day.

Instead of focusing on the constant hills, I really tried to zone into my music since I had a brand new playlist to enjoy.

But, when we hit the first mile marker and I finally paid attention to my RunKeeper, I knew I was in trouble. I kept an 8:58 pace for my first mile! Once again, just like the Mini 10k, I’d gone out of the gate too fast. I knew this wouldn’t bode well for the remaining 4 miles, which still included more hills. My mind quickly started playing games and I was in a negative place. I hadn’t brought my Garmin, I didn’t trust RunKeeper, and now I’d ruined my chance of PRing and even finishing the race strong.

Luckily, Bo told me to get a grip, keep running but try to decrease my pace without going too slow. If I needed, I could go slower each mile as my body told me how it felt each mile.

The second mile was a 9:35, slower than the first, but still not slow enough for my tired legs. I decided to use the water stations as a jog break and move through them slowly. I also did my best to keep running and not give into the negative thoughts. During the third mile I focused solely on the signs and spectators, even turning my music off so I could take in the excitement. My pace for the third mile was a 9:51. Unfortunately, the slower pace wasn’t making me feel much better. In fact, half way through the fourth mile I had to stop for a second because I was light headed and actually lost some of the water I’d just had at the last water station. I purposely took this mile, as slow as possible and was able to maintain a 10:58 pace without needing to walk. After this slow pace I was able to regain my energy for the final mile and finish the last mile in a 10:09 pace. Based on my RunKeeper information I maintained a 9:57 pace but NYRR shows a 10:02. They also show a 5 mile course though so that explains the difference. Bo rocked his first race back, keeping a 9:25 pace and feeling strong.

Five sweaty miles later, I was to forget about this race and look forward to the next one.

IMG_2788 (640x480)It’s easy to get discouraged, especially when I look back at the few awesome races and PR’s I’ve had this season. imageBut, as I looked at my NYRR history I realized that a 10:04 pace was a FAST run for me last year.

Instead of letting myself get discouraged, I’m going to look at yesterdays race as humility check.

imageAs faster paces get easier for me, I still have to run smart. I need to use my resources and tools so I’m set up for success. Instead of getting excited by a fast first mile I want to get excited because of a fast last mile. As the last two weeks have shown me, this won’t happen overnight. But, I’m hoping my upcoming long runs each week can be a great training ground.

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