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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NYRR Mini 10K Race Recap

While some people quickly get tired of running multiple races during the NYRR 9+1 NYC Marathon qualification program, I’ve found that each race can truly teach you something different if you allow it.

  • The Gridiron 4 miler back in February proved to me that speed training works. It was the first time my legs had felt a pace faster than a 9:30 in a 4 mile race.
  • The Wall Street 3 miler was the first race where I felt what so many people feel at the end of a race, complete and total exhaustion. It felt amazing to give the race everything I had and feel a sub 9 pace!
  • The NYRR Mini 10k helped me realize that while a 10k is shorter than a half marathon, it’s still too far to treat as a sprint.

I woke up for yesterday’s race mentally prepared for another PR.

I enjoyed a simple pre-race dinner of whole wheat penne pasta and spicy red sauce at Serafina with fellow bloggers. The food and service weren’t wonderful but the company was classic.

IMG_2528 (640x478)There was laughter, a few awkward boob pictures like the one below, and lots of race discussions.

                                 (Left to right: Me, Theodora, Ali, Emily, Lizzie, and Becca)

Eight hours of sleep later and one serving of pre-race breakfast, I was ready to run my first NYRR Mini 10k!

IMG_2531 (640x478)Luckily I organized all my race gear the night before, complete with a white plastic trash bag since the forecast called for lots of rain and humidity.

IMG_2532 (478x640)I took a quick cab ride up to Central Park and was immediately surprised and amazed at the crowds that had already gathered 30 minutes before the race.

IMG_2534 (640x478)Glad I didn’t need to use the bathroom because the above picture shows the line that had already organized at 7:30.

I took Lauren, my personal trainer’s advice and spent 15 minutes warming up with a few strides, dynamic warm-up, and some stretching. There was so much humidity that I was already dripping before the race started. Even though it was only 70 degrees the humidity made things almost unbearable. But, luckily the rain held off for the race and the cloud cover kept the temperature down. I can’t imagine if it had been hot AND humid!

The starting corrals were smaller and closer together than normal, never before have I been able to see the infamous blue corral from my starting location.

IMG_2543 (640x478) There was lots of excitement around the start as the emcee announced all the special guests running the 40th Mini 10k in honor of Grete Waitz! The Mini 10k was the first-ever all female road race including Playboy bunnies. There were women from all over excited to race, including a few readers who I was able to meet before the race! Hi Marlene and Shannon!!

IMG_2540 (640x480) This race, unlike most of the NYRR races, started outside of the park versus inside. This meant that I was able to enjoy running through the lights of Central Park West. The ladies took over the road!

I started the race excited, and therefore way too quickly. Lizzie and I have talked about it multiple times but for the past few races I’ve started out fast and been able to hold my pace.

The first mile was flat and fast, straight up Central Park West. I didn’t want to worry about weaving so I just stayed in the center and just focused on my music and enjoying the run. I felt great and was amazed to see that my pace was an 8:41. I did my best to slow down because I knew that I couldn’t maintain this pace for five more miles. We entered the park at 90th and then spent the next 1.5 miles battling the Harlem Hills. My goals for Harlem Hills were to keep my speed constant, stay positive, and power over the hills.

Well, I achieved that since I finished the first 5k in 29:41 which is a 9:33, a pace faster than I thought I could keep. In addition, I had kept this pace over the Harlem Hill which meant that by mile 3.5 my legs felt like lead. Even on the down hills there was nothing left in my tank to pick up pace.

I spent the next 2.5 miles chugging water, focusing on putting one leg in front of the other, and promising myself I wouldn’t walk. Around mile 4 my wrist accidentally reset my Garmin which was a blessing in disguise. Instead of panicking over my pace I did my best to find a pace I could maintain for the next couple of miles and continue breathing.

I have never been happier than when I saw the 800 meter mark.

I finished the race, exhausted and frustrated, in 1:01:36, a 1 minute PR but still not as fast a pace as I had hoped to keep. My goal for this race was a 9:45 and I kept a 9:56 instead. In fact, this isn’t a PR I really feel I deserve. Instead of starting out slow, around a 9:50, which had been my initial plan, I enjoyed the feeling of speed when I started and let this get the best of me. Instead of helping me, it kept me from achieving my goal of a 9:45 pace.

A 10K is a distance that is far too long to sprint. It is a difficult distance for someone who is accustomed to half marathon training but is just enjoying the first taste of speed. The only way I’ll be able to mix half marathon, marathon, and speed training together over the next few months is if I focus on negative splits.

IMG_2545 (478x640) So while I surprise medal was earned and a new PR is in the record books, my next goal, for all my races is going to be negative splits. Hopefully I can achieve this in two weeks during the NYRR 5 miler on June 25th!

Question: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a race?

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