Tuesday, March 23, 2010
New York City Half Marathon Report
New York City Half Marathon: 2:05.39 (9:35/Mile pace). 7,109 of 11,494 finishers; 223 of 335 men’s ages 50-54.
Splits: 1) 9:01 2) 8:57 3) 9:04 4) 9:20 5) 9:01 6) 10:00 7) 9:13 8) 9:23 9) 9:09 10) 9:11 11) 9:32 12) 9:48 Last 1.55 miles: 14:00. Total Time: 2:05:39 (9:35/Mile pace). Garmin says I ran 13.55 miles.
(It's a LONG one-feel free to skim through it!)
*Boring pre-race stuff: I set my alarm for 3:30 a.m. I woke up and for a few seconds considered crawling back under the warm covers. Left brain was already trying to be sensible. I instead staggered to the Keurig coffeemaker, which by the way I have named "Katie." Get it, Katie Keurig (Couric)?! OK, bad joke, I know. Katie wouldn't cooperate and brew me a cup of coffee, so I went to Plan B, as in my Black and Decker coffeemaker. Five minutes later I was inhaling my cup of java and ready to get dressed. I had left my running gear downstairs in the guest bedroom so that I wouldn't disturb my wife as I got dressed. I also knew that going up and down the stairs would be a good race morning test of my knee pain. My knee passed the pain test no problem, so there was no turning back. I had decided to wear a short sleeved tech shirt and my long sleeved NY City Marathon over it, along with shorts with long sweats over them. I put globs of petroleum jelly on and between my toes, put on my shoes, attached my D-Tag, and was ready to roll. Well, almost ready to roll. First I had to get rid of the previous night's chili dinner. I knew that eating chili the night before would be a good strategy race morning. Score one for me. I started my car, programmed the address of a parking garage near Central Park into my TomTom (Appropriately named after my wife Kathy, who like my TomTom likes to tell me what to do and where to go), and off I drove. I had a 90 mile drive ahead of me, which Kathy was telling me would take about an hour and forty-five minutes. I would be arriving at Central Park around 6:30 if all went well, so that would give me an hour to park, check my bag, use the portapotty, stretch, and get to the start line. Driving at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning sure is easy. I've never had an easier time driving from Connecticut to NY. I had the mandatory bathroom stop at Mickey D's about halfway there, followed by two close calls of nearly sharting (damn chili)myself. TomTom did a great job navigating me to the city, and I arrived close to my parking garage destination at about 6:15. Problem was, as Tom Tom announced "You have reached your destination," I couldn't see my destination. The parking garage, which I had researched at home and decided to park in since it was only 4/10 of a mile from Central Park, was nowhere to be seen. Great, NY City has invisible parking garages?! I will add that I don't have the best night vision in the world. If it's not well lit or brightly colored, chances are I won't see it if it's dark out. I drove slowly since no one was close behind me, squinting and desperately looking for anywhere I could park. I turned left, and drove by the baggage drop off area, and saw area 4, which was my drop off area. At least I would know where to go if I found a place to park. I circled back to where TomTom was insisting the parking garage was. I looked on both sides of the street, and still didn't see it. I was starting to panic. It was now 6:30, so I had 30 minutes to find a parking place and drop off my bag. I did one last drive-by where the parking garage was supposed to be, again couldn't find it, and headed back to Central Park. I stopped and asked two of New York's finest (Police Officers) where I could park. They both looked at one another, and one of them said "They didn't tell us where to tell people to park." Great. It was 6:40, there were taxi's all over the place dropping off runners, and I wasn't moving. I was starting to panic. I finally navigated through the taxicab obstacle course, and a parking space appeared on the right. There were cars parked ahead of me, and behind me, so I decided it was a legal on-street curbside parking space. I got out of my car, looked at the curb (not painted yellow), looked for "No Parking" signs (none), looked for any "No Parking on Sunday" signs (there were, but 100 feet behind me). To be 100% sure I was legally parked, I asked a police officer who was sitting in his parked car in a "No Parking on Sunday" space 100 feet behind my car if it was alright for me to park up there, and I pointed to my car. His response was "I don't know." I told him that I didn't see any signs that said I couldn't park there, and since I was from Connecticut, I wanted to make sure my car wouldn't be towed or ticketed. I received absolutely no response from him. I guess that should have been a clue that something was up, but since it was now 6:45, I had been driving around in circles for a half hour, and I had 15 minutes left to check my bag, I wasn't exactly thinking logically. I now know that "I don't know" in NY City police officer talk means "Thank-you for helping me meet my ticket quota for the month." Yup, after the race I had a $115 parking ticket on my car. It turns out that I was parked in a Bus Stop area that had a sign about 10 feet up on a light pole that was about 100 feet ahead of my car. There was no way for me to see the sign in the darkness. Had I been parked behind the light pole (Instead of in front of it) that had the sign with the arrow pointing away from my car on it, I would have been legally parked. I was supposed to know that. I'm going to plead "Not Guilty" since I did some online research and found out that if they make a mistake on your parking ticket, and you plead not guilty, it will probably either be thrown out or the fine will be reduced. Lying colorblind police officer put that my car is purple. My car is black. Did Nissan ever make a purple car? I think not. So I'm sending a copy of my registration along with my "Not Guilty" plea and hoping for the best. By the way, in the brightness of day, I saw the parking garage sign that I was unable to see in the dark just 4 hours earlier. Yes, the parking garage and a few others were all within close proximity of the area of my illegally parked "purple" car.
*Boring Race Report: I was glad I was #4361. By the way, as hard as I tried, I couldn't relate any part of my number to anything. 43? 61? Nope, no special meaning. Well, at least they both added up to lucky "7." So I guess I did come up with something interesting about my number. Anyhow, with about 15,000 runners, being lined up in the 4000 group meant it only took me 4 minutes and 15 seconds to get to the start line once the race began. We ran up a slight, longish hill, around a corner, down a slight hill, and were moving fairly well for the first mile. I don't remember many details, except that I was constantly monitoring my left knee to see if I was feeling any twinges of pain. I was also concerned about pacing myself slow enough to survive the 13.1 miles, since my longest training run had been 7 miles, and I hadn't run more than that since the NY City Marathon last November 1st. My mouth was already feeling like I had "cotton mouth," and of course my gum was in my illegally parked car. Mile 1, Rachael (my Garmin) beeped, and displayed a 9:01. I was expecting about a 10:00 mile, because it was a slow start, and I felt as if I hadn't run very fast. I reminded myself to pace myself, relax, and try to be a smooth runner and slow my pace. There was a good crowd cheering us in Central Park, and just past mile 1 I saw a sign that said mile 7. I knew that a large part of the race was in Central Park, and soon realized that it was the first 8 miles, since mile marker 8 was just past mile marker 2. As I was running mile 1 to mile 2, I realized that I was running the same part of Central Park that I had this past November 1st as I headed towards the finish line of the NY City Marathon. It put a smile on my face, rather than the grimace I had back in November! Mile 2: 8:57. I was flabbergasted. I was thirsty as heck. The first water station hadn't helped quench my thirst or gotten rid of my cotton mouth. I wasn't pushing my pace at all, and I had run a sub 9 minute mile. I guess the beautiful morning, cheering people, and company of runners was making it easy for me. Too easy. I still felt that I needed to make a conscious effort to slow down. Miles 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 featured the Central Park horse poop trench. The road was cement, with a slight trench on the left side which happened to have areas of dried horse poop in it. So between avoiding the trench and poop, I was confident I could slow down my pace. Mile 3: 9:04. Again, I was still concerned about my pace being too fast and eventually catching up with me early on and me running out of gas too soon. Around mile 3 1/2, I came to another water stop. I slowed to a walk, made sure I walked and drank two cups of water, and resumed running. My cotton mouth was gone, and the small, continuous up and down hills of Central Park weren't bothering my knee. Mile 4: 9:20. Better, I had slowed my pace down with the help of a water station walk. I was drinking a cup of water at each water station, which were at the 1/2 mile points of each mile. Mile 4 1/2, a quick walk and drinking of water, and a mile 5 split of 9:01. I was still running with little effort, and the hills weren't yet a factor. During mile 5, my bladder let me know that all the water I was drinking needed to find a new home. At about 5 3/4 miles, there were portapottys off to the left, and most of them were empty. I made a quick detour to one. While inside, I laughed about the time I was wasting, but knew it was a good waste of time. Peeing also gave me time to do a quick reality check. I had about 7 1/4 miles to go, my knee was fine, my breathing was fine, and my legs felt strong. Out I went, and rejoined the pack of runners. Mile 6: 10:00 even. Not bad for taking a pee break. I wish I had more details to report, but I was quickly growing tired of running in Central Park, and was glad to pass the mile 1 sign again and get to mile 6. Miles 6 to 7 via mile 2 went well, and Rachael showed a 9:13 mile 7 time. I knew that I was only one mile away from mile 8, which meant I would finally be exiting Central Park and heading to Times Square. First I had to run up a hill I had run up the first time around, but this time it seemed more difficult. Miles 7 to 8 were a bit of a struggle, and Rachael beeped a 9:23 split time. I was starting to lose my mojo, and was hoping that running through Times Square would help me regain some of it. It was the part of the race I had been looking forward to since I learned I had been accepted to run the half. It was a downhill portion out of Central Park. People were standing along both sides of the street, clapping and cheering. I ran past the Winter Garden Theater, and saw the marquee with Mamma Mia lit up on it. I ran past other theaters, restaurants, and hotels. There was a sing- along complete with the words being shown on a large screen. Unfortunately, I've forgotten what song I was singing as I ran by. Mojo restored, I reached mile 9 at 9:09. I made the mistake of starting to count down how many miles I had left to run. Just 4 miles to go....I scolded myself for breaking my golden rule of focusing on one mile at a time, and NEVER thinking about how many miles were left. Somewhere around mile 10 they were giving out Powerbar gels. I don't really like their gels, but decided to grab 3 of them to help get me through the final 3 1/2 miles. Yes, as I was running to mile 10, I was getting increasingly annoyed at the fact that Rachael was beeping about 1/4 mile before the mile marker. Every mile she was telling me I had reached the mile way too soon. I hate that race courses are measured around their shortest points, and 99.9% of us don't actually run that shortest part. Anyhow, I opened up what I thought was a vanilla flavored gel and sucked it down. The Double Latte flavor caught me off guard. Expecting vanilla and getting Double Latte initially caused me to have a gag reflex. Fortunately just after my 9:11 split for miles 9-10 I was able to chug down two cups of water to get rid of the heavy chocolate latte taste in my mouth. At this point my logical left brain started talking smack to me. I had about 3 1/2 miles to go, and left brain was done running. Legs weren't so thrilled about running anymore either. Left brain and legs were thinking that my entire body was ready to call it a day, since up to this point everything had gone well. Left knee also was starting to let me know that it was getting a little aggravated. It was gutcheck time for me. 3 1/2 miles to go, and my brain and body were going into "we've already overachieved and deserve a rest" mode. I forced myself to begin running again. Now it wasn't fun. It wasn't automatic. It became myself forcing my brain to tell my legs to keep moving. It became my right brain telling my left brain to shut the hell up. It became a mind game of "I can do this, I will do this, and nothing's going to stop me." Mile 11, a 9:32. Mojo was quickly disappearing, this time possibly for good. I sucked down a Raspberry Cream PowerBar gel. It tasted good, and gave me the psychological lift I needed. Since my Garmin was showing mile splits too soon, I knew I had about 2 1/2 miles to go. Less than a 5K, I told myself. I had ingested two gels, drank two cups of water, did a quick body check and decided left knee was going to be fine, and reluctantly resumed running. Left brain once again was questioning the logic of resuming running again. I was running, but it was a survival run. I decided a that point not to stop again until I reached the finish line. I knew the gels and water were plenty to get me through the last 2 1/2 miles. I had become way too fixated on Rachael, watching the tenths of a mile pass by more than I should have. I just wanted it to end. I knew that mile 12 would be somewhere around the 12.45 point on Rachael. Finally, mile 12 arrived, 9:48 after mile 11. Again, a psychological downer, since my 9:48 mile 12 Rachael beep meant I still had about 1 1/2 miles left to run. As I ran towards the final mile markers, Rachael started emitting a series of beeps. She was telling me that her database was full. Normally when that happens, she just deletes old data and continues on her merry way. This time she was continuing to beep and yell at me. I pressed "Enter" as instructed, and nothing happened. Underneath the words, I was trying to see how much further I had left to run. I couldn't tell. Plus I couldn't see the timer. At that point I focused on keeping my legs moving, and stared far ahead looking for any sign of a mile 13 marker. I was actually feeling better at that point, probably from the gels kicking in, and the reality that I was almost finished and was going to make it, and with a better time than I had expected. Finally, a beautiful sight appeared. The number 13, all blue and pretty. I passed by it, and the final countdown of 500 meters, 400 meters, 300 meters...I was turning into my normal get choked up and get a lump in my throat wuss self, then 200 meters, 100 meters. I gave it my all for the final 100 meters, and finished strong with a final net time of 2:05:39. I was expecting to finish around 2:10. Given the circumstances of not being able to run the entire month of February due to a groin injury, a back strain for a few days a week before the half, and then the severe left knee pain for 3 days that stopped two days before the half, I can't help to wonder how I did so well. I'm now convinced that a large part of running is mental as well as physical. We runners have the ability to run. That's obvious. We do it all the time. But it's the mental part of running that allows us to achieve our goals. All the training in the world won't work unless our mental state of mind is trained as well. In a nutshell, tell left brain to shut the hell up and you'll be fine. In closing, thank-you everyone for your well wishes before, and now after the half. I probably wouldn't have run the half if it wasn't for this blog. I probably would have stayed home and used the excuse I was injured. All of you played an important part before, during, and certainly now in my success. I love you all. Post post note: I attempted to take a lower body ice bath after I arrived home. I lasted a whole 10 seconds in the tub, followed by 60 seconds out of the tub. I repeated that 6 times, and was so done. How the heck do you guys do that?! I know they work, but damn, I was FROZEN!!