Sunday, September 30, 2007

I've Got the Boogie Oogies! and Race Report!!

Let's hear it for the latest amazing people to join the Fred's Team Honor Roll:


The total thus far:


I cannot wait to get to Mile 18 this year with all of your support behind me. Simply amazing.

I wanted to hop on real quick and give y'all a couple of updates of the last Team session, and today's 18 (really twenty) miler, the Marathon Tune-Up.

Normally the Team meets Tuesday and Thursday nights at 7pm. Being that we are not in Alaska, and fall is here, it is getting darker earlier. By the time we began our Thursday night workout, the sun was already half-set. Not a problem when we're at the track, where it's well-lit. More of a problem on the steps, where the one light that would make the steps safe and easy is perpetually burned out. But dig we must, so despite my night blindness ... up the steps, down the hill, around to the water -- mix, match and repeat. The best part are the hill drills -- running up the hill backwards, and the BOOGIE-OOGIES!! What's a boogie-oogie, you ask. It's like a sideways gallop, I guess, is the way to describe it. I actually did attempt to write a whole description, but it confused me, and I know what it looks like. Suffice it to say, a sideways gallop. Chanting, "Jump, shout, boogie-oogie-oogie" is mandatory. Swinging your arms like an enthusiastic dairymaid is optional.

Thursday night was also Generic Birthday night. We've got a lot of September babies in the group (makes sense, right?) me being among them. So I figured, everyone's got a birthday at some point, rather than single out the 4 or 5 of us whose birthdays fall in September, let's just have a generic birthday party after training. So off we go to the best bar in NYC, P & G. It's on 73rd and Amsterdam. Unpretentious, unassuming, and just a great old bar. That link will take you to a NY Observer story from May about how the landlord of the building is trying to shut the place down. Yet another attempt to generify everything that's great and interesting about the city and turn it into a strip mall. Anyway, we brought in pizza and snacks (P & G doesn't serve food except for sometimes cheeseburgers and fries) and had a grand old time. Sadly I couldn't drink -- still on medication. But at this point I could barely get half a beer in me before feeling drunk. So no great loss there.

Commercial interruption number two: here's another commercial I hate. The one for Rhapsody, where the guy talks inanely about the soundtrack of his life, and then thankfully explodes before he can say any more.

And I am unashamedly excited about tonight's ROCK OF LOVE finale. That's right. Unashamed.

Today was the NYRR Marathon Tune-Up, an 18-miler -- 3 full loops of the Park. I was so not looking forward to it not because of the hills, but because of the boredom factor. The Park is lovely, and I am so grateful to have it available, but at this point I know every nook and cranny on that route. Then again, when they have the Olympic Marathon Trials on Nov. 3, the runners are doing five loops. Five! Yikes. The Team added 2 miles to the run for 20 total. I thought I'd do something novel, and listen to Jeff's advice about starting slow. Yes, even slow runners can start too fast, which is what I tend to do, I jump right into a 9:30 pace and then I'm sunk by the end. So here's how my mileage broke down:
Miles 1 & 2 (pre-race:) I decided to run from my house (well, 62nd St) to the starting line at 102nd and timed it to get there with enough time to put my bag in bag check, grab some Gatorade and get to the starting corral. Took it super-slow, plus which I had my stupid bag with me. Also decided to stuff my iPod and goo container into my RaceReady shorts instead of wearing a fuel belt, and needed to get used to the bouncing. TIME: 23 minutes, or 11:30 mile. A little slower than I thought, but I had a bag with me. Bad excuse.

Loop 1 (miles 3-8:) Felt great. Consciously pulled back and made myself not pass too many people for the first 4 miles. Water stations about every mile, with Gatorade at at least 3 of them. A close approximation of the marathon, which is the idea. The "regular" Natural Living guy wasn't there -- at the races, there's this guy who wears a singlet that says "Natural Living" (I am guessing he works for a company that promotes natural living) who runs the opposite of the race, cheering people on. If ever there was a good advertisement for your product, this man is it. He is built like a brick you-know-what and has a smile on his face that lights up the Park. I know it's race season when I see him. And Larry the Lighthouse. Alas, neither were there. But there was another Natural Living guy stationed mid-way up the Great Hill (the one at the north end of the Park) cheering people on. TIME: 58:23, or a 9:44 minute mile.

Loop 2 (miles 9-14:) Listening to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," one of the podcasts I enjoy listening to on long runs. Depending on my mood, I like Phedippidations (as y'all know. Oh, and yes indeed Steve did mention me at the end of the Fred Lebow story. A real honor, and completely unexpected. If any of you are here because of Fdip, thanks for stopping by, and it's been a pleasure running with you!) Also "The Extra Mile" podcast, which was created specifically for people training for the Fdip Worldwide Half Marathon and Kick the Couch 5K (aka C25K) -- more on that in Loop 3. When I need humor and distraction instead of motivation, "Wait, Wait," "Car Talk," and Garrison Keillor has his weekly News from Lake Wobegon stories (not the whole Prairie Home Companion, alas. In my pre-iPod days I'd time my weekend runs to listen to him.) And for hills -- MEAT LOAF!! Picked up the pace a little, started passing people. It's so interesting watching people's running form. Not that my own form is a model of perfection, but there are some people, I'm amazed that they manage to propel themselves forward. There was this one girl I passed, she not only had what I call "duck feet" -- when the feet flap out to the side instead of going forward -- but it looked like her legs weren't moving when she ran; in other words, that she ran from the hips without bending her knees, like there was a beach ball between her knees that she was hanging onto. Freaky. TIME: 56:18, or a 9:23 minute mile.

Loop 3 (miles 15-20:) So much better than the Palisades Run! By this point in that run, I was mentally writing my will. As I passed the 102nd Street transverse (and the elite runners were starting to come in) I still felt strong. And as we pass the transverse I see that the clock is reading 2 hours. Can I make this last loop in under an hour? Can I really and truly do a negative split? It's challenge time!

Now, here's the thing, and it will sound a little like self-sabotage, but hear me out until the end. At this point in a race I will start thinking about my exit strategy -- I let the voice in my head start saying, "You know, you've walked in races before. You can walk up the Great Hill." True enough. Every time I ignore the voice, I feel like I've won a little victory, and it motivates me. It's just knowing I can listen to that voice, somehow makes me more determined not to. It's sort of like when I quit smoking. Believe it or not, I was a smoker, up to a pack a day at my peak. I've been quit now for almost 15 years. Amazing, since I'm only 29, right? Yes, I started very, very young. Hee hee! Anyway, for the first year of my quit, I carried a pack of cigarettes with me everywhere I went. If I wanted one badly enough, I could have one. The question was, how badly did I want a cigarette, that I was willing to screw up the quit? Just knowing they were there and available kept me from panicking, and oddly enough, from smoking. Now, if only I could do that with candy...

Feeling good, pouring on the sauce when I can -- the field is still fairly crowded, and this being a race that not a lot of newbies run, I am with a lot of people who are at my pace, I'm not pushing to get around a lot of people. The highlight of loop 3: I was listening to The Extra Mile podcast. The WWHM is something that Steve Runner came up with on Fdip last year -- a weekend where everyone runs a half-marathon, either a sanctioned race or make up your own -- and it's like we all ran it together (this year he added a 5K for newbie runners.) So everyone has been training together, tracking our progress on his website, the Worldwide Half site, and the Buckeye Outdoor site (that's where I got the sidebar with my training from.) The TEM podcast came from people training for the WWH; they have people send in audio bits talking about their training. A couple of weeks ago I made an audio file while on the run, and talked about the first time we did 12 repeats of Cat Hill. Well, they used it, and that section came on just as I started up Cat Hill for the third time. Hilarious! I was smiling so broadly, people must've thought I was nuts. The Brightroom people took my picture at the top of the hill, if they post it, I'm buying it! My right hip started feeling "soft" at mile 19 -- like if I lengthened my stride, that my leg would wobble out of the joint. This happened to me a lot last year. It was disconcerting, but I did feel that my hip was tight before the run, despite extra stretches. I was glad it held off as long as it did. Because of that, I was afraid to pour on the last bit of sauce as we headed into the home stretch. And, amazingly, I had that sauce. However...TIME: 55:31, or a 9:15 minute mile. Crossed the finish line on the clock in around 2:56:00 (the chip time was 2:52:54)

So.. 18 miles in 2:53
20 miles in 3:16

Today, for the first time this season, I felt I could run a marathon.

After the race, a lovely brunch at Teammate Rich's apartment. Thanks, Rich!! The perfect end to a great day of running.

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