Sunday, December 2, 2007

An Altogether Great Day

Dadgum, but that Hot Chocolate 15K was a cold race!

Yes, I said DADGUM!

Yesterday was a crazy day in a good way. It started with the aforementioned Hot Chocolate 15K in Central Park. First really cold day of the season -- 31 degrees and windy. Got there around 9:00 for a 9:30 start. It was super-crowded. For those who don't know, if you're a NYRR member as of January 1st and run 9 qualifying races during that year, if you are still a member January 1 of the following year you get an automatic entry into the marathon. So a lot of people have a lot of catching up to do, and the last races of the year are packed. There were about 5,000 people signed up for this race (normally it's closer to 4,000.) The problem was, they had a teeny-tiny little bag check, and of course, everybody brought a bag. And for security reasons (their term) they cordoned off a huge section of grass right behind the bag check. Because it was so crowded, all the NYRR coordinators were yelling at everyone not to hang out in the baggage check and not to linger in the road to get INTO the baggage check, and then also yelling at those of us who crossed through the cordoned off area simply to toss our bags into the check area without either lingering on the road or in the baggage check. Aggravating.

By 9:15 I was freezing and miserable. I don't even know why I was there, I already had my nine races. Not true, I do know why I was there. I was very curious to see how I would do on a longer race at my new and improved pace. And a bunch of Teamers were going to be there, and I promised my friend Tom I would run with him. I run slower than him, but he says he tends to go out too fast and crash, and he wanted to run a smart race. It's been so long since I ran in the cold that I couldn't figure out what to wear. I had a hooded coolMax shirt under a long sleeved cotton race shirt, pants, socks, etc. but the question was, what, if anything, to wear over the shirts? I had a sweatshirt and a running jacket. At the last minute I decided to keep the jacket on, I figured I could take it off and wrap it around my waist if I got hot. Also, today was the debut of my Hanukah present, the Nike+. It was a choice between that and a Garmin. Hmm, $29 vs. $299. I wonder what I'm going to get? Oh, and PS: 2 pairs of gloves, a running pair under a throwaway pair.

The course: 2 loops of the Park starting at the 102nd Street transverse, the first loop without the Great Hill, and the second loop without the Great Hill and cutting across at the 72nd Street transverse.

So we start, and the first mile is PACKED. The transverse is kind of narrow to begin with, and they had cordoned off the finish line area there, making it even narrower, so a lot of jockeying for position. First mile took us 10 minutes.

Then Tom took off. I kept up with him, but he was weaving in and out of the crowd. Our second mile was 8:20. I told him I had to slow down, he says, "Sorry, I'll walk the water station." I said, "I can't run 8 minute miles and walk the water stations for 30 seconds." He apologizes and slows. A little. Mile 3 was 8:33 and at this point I was getting mad. My goal was to run the first 2 miles at 9:15 and then start knocking 10 seconds off each mile. I told him I could not keep this pace for 6 more miles and he should go, but he kept apologizing and tried to slow, and because he was trying I ignored the voices in my head telling me to ignore him, and kept up. There would be no negative split for this run, which is what I really wanted to do, and my anger at this actually fueled me for the rest of the race. I tried to turn it around, saying, well, you ran 8:08 average for the Race to Deliver, maybe this is your new "slow time," but I could tell. I wasn't enjoying the run the way I wanted to. It wasn't that I was struggling with the speed, I wasn't. It was just that the whole race was a little push, instead of starting easy and then progressively pushing.

Let me show you:

Actual times per mile: 1 - 9:56, 2 - 8:26, 3 - 8:33, 4 -8:41, 5 - 8:25, 6 - 8:51, 7 - 8:35, 8 - 8:41, 9 - 8:11, and the dividend (what is it, .32 miles or something) -- 2:29.

Had I run it my way, it would have ideally been more like this:

1 - 9:45 (nothing you can do about a crowded start), 2 - 9:15, 3 - 9:10, 4 -9:00, 5 - 8:50, 6 - 8:40, 7 - 8:30, 8 - 8:20, 9 - 8:10, and the dividend -- 2:15. End result -- maybe a minute slower, but for me, it would have been a lot easier.

To top it off, I started getting hot almost immediately, and because I had put the iPod in the jacket pocket, I didn't want to deal with taking off the jacket and the iPod and everything. So I unzipped it, took off the second pair of gloves, took off the hood, and dealt.

Even when I was slower I was still good on hills. Not so much speedy as consistent. Don't know why. Miles 4 & 8 -- you can see a little slowdown, those are the Cat Hill miles. On the second ascent up Cat Hill Tom started falling behind, and I had to slow down to wait for him. He told me after he was getting a side stitch there (and not to belabor -- even though I will! -- but the first and only time I got a side stitch was the Staten Island Half, where I ran 7 miles beforehand at a pace much too fast for me, and bonked hard at mile 6 of the actual race, reinforcing my respect of negative splits!!!)

Hey, ever wonder why Cat Hill is called "Cat Hill?" It's because this statue is hanging over it:
Still and all, there was enough left for a big finish, as you can see by the last mile and change. But here one more thing happened, and now I understand what some people mean when they say they hate it when spectators say things like, "C'mon, you're almost there!" -- as we were sprinting towards the finish line I started breathing audibly, and Tom started saying, "C'mon, you can do it, almost there," and I don't know if he was talking to me or to himself, and he is the SWEETEST person in the world with all good intentions and not a mean bone even near his body, and I wanted to PUNCH him! (sorry, Tom, but I did!)
So we cross the finish line, and I stop the Nike+ and it tells me -- "Distance -- Point oh seven miles."
Long story short -- did a LOT of searching through the Nike and Apple databases, and realized that I was wearing the sensor upside down. I don't wear Nike shoes, I put the sensor in a chip pocket that attaches to the shoe. Apparently the logo needs to be face up. The sucky thing is I downloaded the run to the nikeplus website, and I can't figure out how to edit it. Grrr.

Anyways, time for the race: 1:20:53, or 8:40/mile average, which I am thrilled about, and even though I didn't run the race the way I wanted to, maybe it was good to do a tempo run. I will think of it as a good training run for the ING Miami Half (which I am doing January 27th, by the way!)
Lessons I learned:

1-negative splits rule
2-run your own race
3-repeat numbers 1 and 2, maybe even stitch them on a pillow

I need to embrace not being a good running partner. I'm just not into running "with" other people. I can run alongside them, of course, but unless they're pacing me for speed I would much rather be on my own. Yes, there are times when I do enjoy it, like when I got to run alongside my friend Greg in the Rock and Run this summer, in honor and memory of his brother, and running with Lynn, Harrie and Rich when we did the final 10 miles of the marathon course as our last Fred's Team run. And I do love our group long runs. I guess I like knowing that I have friends on the road with me. Even if I run by myself the entire time, I don't feel lonely, like I do if I do a long run solo. But in general, I don't like to talk much, and I don't like feeling that I have to keep up with someone. I just want to be in my own head, maybe working through a problem that'd been bugging me, maybe listening to music or my running podcasts (Phedippidations, The Extra Mile, and The Final Sprint are my faves) or just enjoying being outside and running. So no offense, but the next time I am asked if I'd like to run with someone, the answer is going to be "no." I'll race you, though. And who knows, maybe I'll let you win!

As soon as the race was over, I had to hightail it home to get ready for a bridal shower. My roommate's friend Margaret is getting married in February (she's my friend too, but I know her through Laura) and Laura and Shirley, as the bridesmaids, threw the shower. it was at a great little restaurant, Bistro 1018, and I had a really nice time. Very girly. We ate little sandwiches and salads, and made Margaret open her presents for all to see. Who knew that garbage cans could be so entertaining? But they were.
As soon as the shower was over, I had to get home and prepare for the evening's activity, a Fred's Team potluck dinner at Rich's apartment. It's where we had that great brunch after one of the longer races, the Tune-Up, I think. Anyways, it was so nice. About a dozen people were there, and who knew that there were some great cooks in the group? Not wanting to kill people, I brought salad. It was also Lucy's birthday, so we had 2 cakes (Karen made a homemade strawberry shortcake, and I had to ignore my lactose intolerance to have some of that!) as well as some killer chocolate-chip cookies and the real surprise of the evening, Martin's -- well, I'm not sure what to call them. They were little squares, the top half was solid dark chocolate, the bottom half was a combination of Rice Krispys and melted Milky Ways. Oh. My. Gawd. They were the most decadently and devastatingly amazing concoction. It was difficult to limit myself to just one (but I did, sigh.) Martin is Scottish, and apparently this dessert is a Scottish invention. I remember when Lynn (also Scottish) brought those Scottish candies to our workout, and if it's possible to add sugar TO sugar, that's what these candies were. What is it with the Scots? I asked if Scottish children were prone to hyperactivity and the two simultaneously said yes. Wonder why?

Anyways, great people, great conversations (some not even about running!) and just a great day. I hope y'all had an equally good one.

1 comment:

The Laminator said...

Nice race report, but I agree with's extremely difficult to run with someone, especially in a race. Congrats on your PR none the less.