Monday, May 26, 2008

L'Chaim Run for Israel 5K 2008

So with my horrible performance at the Wall Street Run last week, I wasn't too optimistic about this race.

After the race I took Wednesday and Thursday off. Then on Friday I ran a 5 mile "tempo" run. It was about an 8:30 pace, but it felt tough. And my shins bugged me in the beginning.

On Sunday I made a deliberate effort to go slow for my long run. I ended up running somewhere around a 9:30 pace. My shins bothered me a little in the beginning, and I was thinking that I'd have to skip the race on Monday. In the end, my legs settled down, and I decided to see how I felt later. My legs felt a little tight Sunday night, but I really enjoyed this race last year, so I made the decision to go.

I saw a bunch of people I knew at the race, and recognized many of the people from last year. It was really hot and I felt dehydrated before the start. I ended up buying some water and tried to stay in the shade where possible.

Just before the race I moved up in front of the strollers and people with purses. (I learned from the last race!) I ended up only being a couple of rows back, but I was still talking to a friend when the shofar went off unexpectedly. I had enough sense to hit the start button on my watch, and set off.

Like last year, people took off at full speed, and I held back. At least I thought I did. I didn't have headphones and so I was trying to control my breathing. I knew I was working hard, but I was still able to keep control.

All of a sudden I was at the first mile marker, and the volunteer said something that started with a "6". I looked at my watch and saw 6:32. What?! Maybe the mile marker was short...

There were some hills around now, and I was starting to think that maybe I was going too fast. I didn't want to slow down, but I could tell I'd have trouble keeping up this pace. (Or maybe it was psychological.) I could barely see anybody in front of me, so I knew I was doing well. I ended up running the second mile in 7:07.

By the third mile I was really hurting. It seemed to last forever. In the first mile I had passed a lot of runners, but since that time my position had been stable. I could see the same kid in front of me, but I couldn't get any closer. By listening to the people on the side of the course I could tell
that there wasn't anybody right behind me. But I didn't know how far back the next person was, and I didn't want to give up any position. I missed a trophy by 8 seconds last year, and didn't want that to happen again.

I ended up just hanging in there for a 7:20 third mile, and 0:46 for the last 0.1 mile. I never caught the kid in front of me, but the person behind me finished 12 seconds back.

I'm just happy being on the first page!

My final time was 21:48.5, which is a 7:01 pace. That's a new PR by 1:35!! I was 11th overall, and 2nd in my age division. First time I ever picked up any hardware!

How awesome is that?

Ok, so what do I do with this thing now?

After the race, it took me a while to catch my breath and get my heart rate back to normal. Then I hit the "expo" there. Most races I've gone to have bagels, or at best donuts, and occasionally beer. Not so, this Jewish sponsored race. Pizza, knishes, and ice cream. (Some was for sale.) Needless to say, by the time I left I had lost any health benefits from the actual run!

At the expo. See the "Under Armor" kipah's at the right?

After the race. "Carb re-loading".

In other good news, my shins didn't hurt at all. I had a tough time from a cardiovascular point of view, but my legs felt good. So I was really happy with this race.

By the way, these were the overall winners. (I don't think I've seen them around Synagogue before.)

I'm scheduled to run another race this weekend, but I don't think I should race again so soon. Also, part of the new requirements for guaranteed entry into the marathon is to volunteer at a race. I signed up to volunteer later in the month, but I've since been scheduled to be on call that weekend. So if possible, I'm going to try and switch my volunteering into this weekend.

Wall Street Run 2008

Last Tuesday was the Wall Street Run. (The name has gotten ridiculously long to "The American Heart Association Start! Wall Street Run & Heart Walk", but I still call it the Wall Street Run.) I had been looking forward to it, primarily because I was supposed to see ShoreTurtle again. I was also hoping to have dinner with a few other runners and friends. First the Turtle couldn't make it. (He had a good excuse.) Then pretty much everyone else pulled out of dinner. And then finally, it started pouring.

I probably would have just skipped it if the Running Skirt hadn't been so set on going. But there we were setting out on a rainy commute from the Bronx down to Wall Street.

The race sucked for a whole bunch of reasons:

1) The distance was 3.0 miles. I didn't realize this when I signed up, but it's such a stupid distance. The Road Runners didn't provide an age graded percentage score, because this is a non-standard distance. When I last ran this race in 2006 it was advertised as a 5K, but then after they race they realized it was only 2.9 miles. So if they already changed the course to add 0.1 mile, what would have been the big deal to add another 0.1 mile?

2) Walkers and runners start together. They made some announcements about having walkers go to the left or something, but people never listen. There was no actual separate starting area. The starting area is pretty cramped already, but with all the walkers it took me 6:43 to get to the start line. And then I had to spend a lot of effort dodging around people with purses and other people talking on cell phones! The walkers should start 15 minutes after the runners. It's such a simple solution that it's hard to believe it hasn't been put into practice. (Although you can be sure I'll be emailing them.)

3) The course is horrible. Ok, this I won't blame fully on them. The race is held in the Wall Street area, and this is worsened with all the construction going on. But it doesn't take away from the fact the course is cramped, and there are a million sharp turns. But come to think of it, why do they finish the run on the waterfront? Looks nice, but there's even less room to run. So just at the end, instead of putting in that last spurt, I was stuck slowing down behind people. Oh, and 5 feet after the finish line you had to turn to the right. So everyone just stopped sharply at the finish line, and I had to dodge people just to actually cross the line!

It's amazing, the race registration was capped off and sold out at 17,000. With the rain, there were only 4,301 finishers as per the NYRR. I imagine all these problems would have been a lot worse with good weather.

Anyway, if you haven't already guessed, I didn't have a good race. I finished in 24:15 for an 8:05 pace. My slowest pace since June 2007 (excluding races 13.1 miles or greater). I knew some of the points above had interfered with my performance, but I still felt like I had a put in a lot of effort. I was breathing hard, and had a shin splint in one of my legs. I was dejected.

I took the train back up town and went for dinner with "M". I had a grilled tongue sandwich and felt better. (Of course, those sandwiches are part of the problem.) I was glad to shower and get out of those clothes. Race #8 done.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Since the last episode....

The weather has occasionally been nice, and I've occasionally run outside. Mostly the loop in Central Park. I've definitely had a hard time of running more than that.

4/30 - 6 miles in Central Park
5/2 - 5.25 miles on treadmill (tempo)
5/4 - 6.55 miles on treadmill (not tempo)
5/7 - 10.22 miles in neighborhood (nice. break at halfway point.)
5/9 - 3.3 miles on treadmill (intervals of 0.25. first time on a treadmill)
5/11 - 6.03 miles in Central Park

Earlier this week I went back to the track. I'm still not on a training schedule and so I made up a workout. 4 x 1200m with 400m intervals. I was terrible. It was about 70 degrees, but a little breezy, so it didn't feel too bad. I just kept running out of energy.

Here are my splits, with each of the laps.

4:59 (1:38, 1:40, 1:41)
5:01 (1:33, 1:40, 1:48)
5:05 (1:36, 1:43, 1:46)
5:18 (1:40, 1:50, 1:48)

I was so upset at how I just couldn't hang on. I looked up the last time I ran 1200's and it seems I ran them in about 5:04. But those were in sets of two, with only a short break in between. I can't get too crazy over it, but my fitness has definitely declined. AS opposed to my weight...

Fortunately, my down mood didn't last too long. My old roommate made the trip out for some tennis. First game of the season! After a long winter it was so good to be out there in the nice weather. (I've got to work on that as well. I let him take a set off me!)

Today the weather sucks again, and I skipped my run. I'll try and get a tempo run in on the treadmill later, though I'm feeling pretty tired.

Sunday's my birthday. Another year gone by. It's been a pretty good year, but I hate seeing that number creep up again. Not much I can do. (Even if I wanted to forget it I couldn't - my facebook wall is already attracting traffic!)

Next week is the American Heart Association Wall Street Run. I missed it last year due to injury, but I ran it the year before with ShoreTurtle. This year we're scheduled for another reunion, so I'm really looking forward to that. The race itself is sold out, and I'm sure will be a zoo. But it's always good to see the Turtle. (A turtle at the zoo... that's kind of funny. Eh, Maybe not.)

Have a good weekend all!