Sunday, March 02, 2008

Coogan's 2008 - Race # 50

Last year I set a PR at Coogan's and it was the fastest I'd ever run up to that point. I remember feeling great after that run. This year, the result was similar, but the feeling wasn't the same.

After struggling to find parking last year, and having to take a cab from my car (!) I learned my lesson this year. I parked about 10 blocks and two avenues away and took a leisurely stroll over to the start. I got there about 20 minutes early, which is about 20 to 25 minutes earlier than I usually get there. It was cold waiting around. It was supposed to be a little warmer today, so I had initially thought of running without a jacket. But the morning was just so cold. I wore my thick running pants, two layers on top, plus a jacket. And gloves and a hat, of course.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'd really wanted to get under a 7 min mile pace for this race. Last year I ran this race with 7:35 miles, but I've really gotten faster. I did a 4 miler in November with a 7:03 pace. So up until a few months ago, a sub-7 pace was definitely realistic. Unfortunately, I've really slacked off in my training this winter. I haven't done much in the way of speedwork or tempo runs, and a few extra pounds of winter weight hasn't helped either. I feel slower.

Before leaving this morning, I looked up last year's PR. (For once, I remembered! I actually came back in from the car to do this.) 23:32. Then I calculated what a 7 min pace would be. 21:45. Whoa! That didn't seem too possible. But I didn't give up yet.

So there I was at the start, hanging around the 7 min/mile pace sign. Just before the race started, the pack compressed a little, and I ended up starting between the 5 and 6 signs. I guess that only made me more annoyed that when the race started, I found myself passing people going for slow jogs, and even race walkers! I'm not denying race walkers the right to participate, but there is absolutely no way they should be starting in the front!

As an aside, the NYRR will be instituting seeded corrals starting in April. They actually tried using a wave start last year, and I had a horrible experience. One of my complaints was that since the corrals weren't seeded, I was constantly passing and being passed the whole race, making it feel even more crowded. I actually emailed my thoughts to them, and so I'm quite happy to see that they apparently listened to the feedback (from others as well I'm sure), and are now trying seeded corrals. I'm sure there will be some problems at first, but I think this is a really good idea. With 5,000 people running all the races in Central Park, things have gotten out of hand.

So anyway, I started the first mile pushing harder than normal. There was an uphill component, and I was really struggling. I definitely was not enjoying this as much as last year. First split was 7:30.

Mile 2 entered into Fort Tryon park, and I remembered feeling strong here last year. I stayed to the left (but still on the right!) and tried to pass people. I just didn't have it in me. I felt myself slow down, and I was upset that I let myself get out of shape. I also started thinking about having to race next week, and was not happy about that. The mile 2 marker took forever to appear, and when it did, my split was 7:49.

Mile 3 is a straightaway, with a downhill component. (It's an out and back course.) Now I was really hurting. I wanted to stop and walk, but I knew I'd be upset about it afterwards, so I kept pushing. I was looking at my watch frequently with "are we there, yet?" thoughts going through my head. At about mile 2.5 my right shoelace came untied. My shoe was still relatively tight, but I had trouble going faster, and I was worried about tripping and/or losing my chip. (This is the second race in a row this has happened, after never happening before. I noticed it didn't seem right this morning. Not sure what that's all about, but I need new shoes anyway.)

I knew sub 7 was out of the question, but for some reason a PR seemed to be a sure thing at this point. But then the 3 mile marker just never came. My watch had lost the signal, and since I was suffering, I thought I was further along than I was. Then as the time kept advancing, without having passed 3 miles, I knew it was going to be tight. I picked up the pace, and eventually passed mile 3 with a 7:21 split.

The time on my watch was about 24:40 with 0.10 miles to go. It was going to be close. I turned on the jets (as best as I could with one shoelace untied) and sprinted to the finish without looking at my watch. After the finish line I stopped my watch and knew that I had just beaten it. My official time was 23:23, for a 9 second PR.

I guess I should happy with a PR, but I'm disappointed because I now know I have more potential. I tried to blame the cold weather a little because it was 30 degrees, but I looked up last year and it was only 34 degrees. I think my fast start led to me slowing down, which always leads to a bad race experience.

Last year's splits were nicely negative:

This year, I started faster, slowed down, and then forced a faster finish:

Even though the mile 2 split is identical both years, in 2007 I was speeding up, and in 2008 I was slowing down. It really makes a difference in how you feel.

After getting home, I put this race into my database, and I realize that this is my 50th race. That's kind of cool. I still have all my race bibs, though I'm not sure where to put them in my new apartment.

Next up is the Colon Cancer Challenge next week. I'm tired of racing, but it will be good to get the miles in. I ran it last year with an 8:03 pace. I'd like to get in under 8:00, but I'm dreading that kind of effort.

In fundraising news, my own total is at $135, but I've recruited 24 team members so far, and we're at $2,100 for the team. Short of my goal, but still good. And there's still a week to go.

If only the warm weather will come already. The next few days are supposed to be better, but I'm really sick of winter. I need to move somewhere warmer...


Blogger David H. said...

Congrats on the PR. I agree on winter. Even though it's warmer here, I'm tired up up and down temperatures. Spring will be here ... soon!

Sunday, March 02, 2008  
Blogger Lisa said...

Congrats on the PR!

Our weather has been a constant UP & Down with temps.....snow one day and then 70 degrees a few days later. It's no wonder we're all sick.

Sunday, March 02, 2008  
Blogger Barry Garner said...

Congrats on the PR. I ran this race and did my own PR as well! I wasn't bothered by the cold. Just the walkers and those who lined up 1 to 2 minutues faster than where they should have been. I think I burned 20 seconds moving laterally.

Monday, March 03, 2008  
Anonymous Professor Shoelace said...

If your shoelaces are coming undone, don't buy new shoes, check your knot!

You can also opt for a more secure shoelace knot:

Monday, March 03, 2008  
Blogger rivkayael said...

Make aliya :)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008  

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