Lakes run in the dark
Break the Stigma
After the last time I tried to run New York went sideways, I wasn’t sure what would happen this time. Weather did end up playing a role again this year, but overall I just feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to experience the race and the city.
The trip needed to happen on the cheap and I’m very thankful to my friends John and Dillon, who helped me with airfare and lodging. Dillon’s dad Tom also gave me a subway pass for the weekend and my mom snuck some extra spending money in my pocket when I left town on Friday night. I also feel extremely grateful to my immediate family – we don’t get to take many vacations these days and this chance for me to complete a major running goal is a true gift.
Heading into this week, I felt pretty good about my running readiness (even with the two week illness break in September). My yearly mileage is currently the second highest since I started keeping track and I really felt a PR might be possible. That was my A goal for this race, with a B goal of sub-4 and a C goal of finishing without getting hurt.
Option C would be the winning bet, I’m afraid.
When I read the National Weather Service had issued a wind advisory for marathon day, I knew it would be tougher than normal. When I heard the wheelers would start in Brooklyn instead of Staten Island for fear of being blown over on the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, I got really nervous. Turns out that part of the race was terrifying – the wind literally tossed me back and forth and nearly ripped my securely pinned bib off my chest (not to mention my hat). I read later that the reason there was no marker at mile one was because it blew off the bridge and into the water.
The weather Saturday was terrible – nearly the same wind and a constant, cold rain all day. Thankfully, the precipitation cleared out by Sunday morning, but the cold stuck around and the wind picked up. I left the Astoria Boulevard station at 5:30am, taking the N and 4 trains down to Bowling Green and the short walk to the Staten Island Ferry dock for my 6:30am assigned boarding time (made it with five minutes to spare). The waves were big and the wind was howling the whole way across. It’s really amazing how many people can fit on those boats – the police escort was nice too.
When I arrived at the St. George Ferry Terminal, I made a beeline for the waiting buses. They were nice and warm and it was great to beat the crowd and not have to wait outside any longer than necessary. The short ride over to Fort Wadsworth was quick and easy, with the driver dropping us off right in front of the security contingent. The police presence was both reassuring and frightening – you don’t see cops with automatic weapons and full riot gear at TCM.
The starting area zones had lots of great pre-race items (coffee, water, bagels, energy drinks), but it was crowded and cold and everyone basically had to wait around for two plus hours before being called to the corrals. Everything was running behind schedule too, but wave two was finally allowed in around 9:25am. It was very nice that they had extra bathrooms in the actual corrals and there were tons of Goodwill bins to discard the extra layers I purchased just for that purpose.
The canon went off for my wave and I officially made it up the bridge ramp and over the starting line at 10:15:19am. That first hill is supposed to be the biggest on the course, but I didn’t think it was too bad (other than fearing for my life each time a 50mph+ gust hit). My Garmin wasn’t very accurate all race and outright stopped measuring distance at one point, so I quit looking at it when I knew the A & B goals were shot. I held sub-nines for the first seven miles and hoped to at least stay in the nines for the rest of the race, but it was not meant to be.
I knew there were a lot of miles in Brooklyn and it seemed to never end. There were several points on this course that have very long straightaways, so you see waves of people for what seems like forever. I don’t really like that much – all my mind can think is how far I need to run to catch up. The stretches in Manhattan up First Avenue and down Fifth Avenue were similar. Brooklyn did finally turn into Queens, home of my least favorite part of the entire course. The Queensboro Bridge is just Evil. I was slowing down a few miles before that damn bridge, but it put an end to any thoughts of a decent time.
The crowds in Manhattan really were everything people say – the whole course has great support, in fact. It was also fun hearing the bands and DJs (I especially liked the Run-D.M.C. sample in Queens). The brief jaunt through the Bronx tossed a few more wonderful bridges in the mix and I was really surprised by the amount of elevation at the end of the race – it doesn’t look like much on the chart, but Fifth Avenue and Central Park hit you with gradual climbs when you least want them. And don’t get me started on the “little” bump between mile 26 and the finish. More Evil.
I’d been mentally playing a strong finish in my mind the past few weeks of training, but all I felt running past Columbus Circle and into the home stretch was pain and disappointment in my slow time (officially 4:24:14 and a 10:05 pace). I know the wind impacted every runner, but it was still a letdown to not be closer to at least my B goal. Oh well – still grateful for the experience (and to be walking around now without any major pain).
The finish line experience was interesting – I liked the recovery bag idea (everything pre-loaded) and the no bag check poncho was really nice (and an excellent way to warm back up on a cold day). The long march north was a pain, as I basically had to walk an extra three miles or so to get back to the right train station. That walk was made much more enjoyable, though, by all of the people who congratulated me on finishing the race.
Here are the splits reported by the timing mats:
I’ll write another post later this week about the rest of the visit (food, shopping, theater, etc) – stay tuned…
It’s funny, I just read my 2013 Milk Run post and this year was similar in a lot of ways: it was very hot for the race (making a PR unlikely), it got a lot hotter as the day went on, I got my free shake at the Dairy Building and I tried a bunch of new foods afterwards. MK joined me for her fourth year in a row, while SK said she was sick and stayed home (breaking her streak of seven years). Former Olympian Carrie Tollefson was also there, chatting with us afterwards and posing for a group photo.
The quest for a state fair age group ribbon continues. My watch time of 24:10 showed splits of 7:10, 8:35 and 7:30, which barely kept me in the seven minute range (7:47 pace). That was good enough for 85th out of 549 male finishers, though, and 8th in my age group (which had 44 finishers this year). The top four guys in my category finished with times of 17:47, 20:34, 20:41 and 23:16, so it’s still in the realm of possibility. My middle mile was slow this year primarily because I stopped to get water in order to prevent premature death. I also decided easing up was a smarter plan than getting injured before New York.
Changes this year included a slightly altered course that started and ended outside the new West End Market and very different early morning access to that entire part of the fairgrounds (the gate near the start is now closed to pedestrians and cars). I’ll write more about my West End opinions in another post – I was opposed to the removal of Heritage Square, but it’s turned out different than I expected. The new course is probably a little faster than before, with a bigger downhill in the last mile.
MK walked most of the course this year, finishing in 45:36 (a bit slower than her 43:55 PR last year). SK’s name was actually announced during the awards ceremony as winning third place in the under 20 age group, but that was obviously a technical glitch. Carrie Tollefson won the women’s race in 18:27 (5:56 pace), which must be just like winning the NCAA 5000m championship, no?
My three new foods were the chicken in a waffle cone from the Blue Barn, walleye mac and cheese from Giggles and the pizza tots from Green Mill. All three were OK, but nothing I’d add to the regular rota. Foods in that category that I did eat on Sunday included Sweet Martha’s cookies, a Pronto Pup, a frozen cider pop from Minnesota Apples and a small order of Fresh French Fries.
We return again on Saturday for Minnesota Music on a Stick and on Monday for the Journey/Joan Jett concert. I’m sure there will be more food involved somewhere in there too…
Some of the stuff floating around my head during last night’s run:
That was a lot of stuff for a relatively short run…
Yesterday was the 100 day warning for the 2014 New York City Marathon. Last week was also the start of the 16 week training programs for that race, which starts at 9:40 a.m. on November 2 (wave 1). As I found out earlier this year, I was picked again during the lottery (which worked out so well in 2012). I should be getting super excited and motivated to go back and try again, but it’s been a rough go so far.
First off, I really want to take the whole family, but airfare and hotel costs are ruling that out. In fact, I don’t know if I can afford for me to go solo. I’m working a few angles, though – there are a couple friends that offered up couches and I’m about 2,000 Delta SkyMiles away from a free ticket (anybody have any extra they’d like to gift?).
Second, the Minnesota weather hasn’t exactly been cooperating. Spring took forever to arrive, then lasted about four days. Summer has consisted of trail-flooding rains, high dew points and way too many flying bugs. That has translated into lots of summer treadmill time, which also unfortunately means a reduction in miles. I’ve kept up the 100-mile per month goal so far, but a few of those were cutting it close.
Lastly, I’ve just haven’t been motivated to run the past few months. I think part of that is due to general aches and pains that I’m assuming are due to aging (since I’ve been training continuously). It’s tough going out when every time feels like I’m starting over from scratch. I’ve been reading a little bit on hip flexors and wonder if the new pain I’m feeling there is caused by that. My running partner also moved across town, which makes it harder to get off the couch (especially with less-than-prefect weather).
There are a couple of things in play that could help change course on motivation. First, I need to get my weight back in check. It’s been inching up for months and really needs to drop at least ten pounds. Distance running isn’t generally a weight loss tool for most, but it has been for me as I build mileage and cross-train.
Second, I’d really like to get that BQ before I jump to the next age group in four years. That means a 3:25:00 (7:49 pace) if I want a mid-April trip to Boston (April 20, 2015; April 18, 2016; April 17, 2017 or April 16, 2018). This would be an aggressive goal – I need to cut about 18 minutes from my marathon PR – but it might be exactly what I need this year. Plus, how cool would it be to BQ at NY?
My next confirmed race is the Minnesota State Fair Milk Run 5K (7:45 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 24). It would do wonders for my confidence if I can PR at that race and get an age group ribbon (need to beat 21:42 to be in contention).
Thinking ahead to 2015, I’d love to do the spring 50K Superior Trail Race in Lutsen and then run the 50 mile in the fall (I need the former to qualify for the latter). The spring race is May 16th and the fall date is TBD (September). I had that dream about running a BQ at Grandma’s, so I feel like I just *have* to run that in 2015 (7:45 a.m. on Saturday, June 20). I also still want to run the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon (June) and Des Moines (October), but those will probably have to wait at least another year.
Now I just need my body to cooperate and hold on for a few more years…
Last Sunday Colleen and I attended the Get Your Rear in Gear 5K run/walk in Edina. This event is a fundraiser organized by the Colon Cancer Coalition, so we decided to participate in memory of Denise. My aunt also mentioned that my grandmother had colon cancer, which I don’t think I knew.
The course started and finished outside Southdale Mall and had a large area set up with informational tents from various organizations. The weather was perfect and the announcer said there were 5,000 people participating. Reg Chapman from WCCO was one of the emcees and did an excellent job.
I hadn’t done much running this month, so I really had no idea what to expect. The course was supposed to be certified, but my Garmin measured it as 2.88 miles. I loved seeing the 21:10 at the finish, but unfortunately the 6:49 pace the official results claimed was nowhere near what I actually ran. I will take the fourth place finish in my old guy age group, however.
Colleen walked the course in under an hour and they had a great food tent set up with all the usual suspects. Oh, and a giant inflatable colon. Get tested, people…
Section 3AA Boys and Girls Track and Field Prelims, May 27, 1986
The 2014 edition of the TC 1 Mile was cancelled due to severe weather
Thirteen years in a row! Minnesota’s Annual Rite of Spring, the Get in Gear races at Minnehaha Park, just keep getting better and better – well organized, the best running value of the year, a scenic course and believe it or not, decent weather for two years straight. Well, OK, today’s easterly 17MPH wind was not so nice coming across the Lake Street Bridge (and up the dreaded hill near St. Thomas), but otherwise it was pretty great running weather – especially compared to the rest of 2014.
After setting a PR last year of 44:40, I was really nervous about trying to repeat anything close to that time. I’m at least ten pounds heavier and another year into the masters category, so there were two strikes against me right off the bat. Throw in the crappy winter for outdoor training and I had no idea what would happen. I started the race with a 6:55 first split, which seemed way too fast and made me panic a little about finishing without having to stop and walk. I was breathing harder than normal and my calf muscles were very sore. The rest of the splits were all in the sevens – 7:23, 7:41, 7:41, 7:37 and 7:32.
My Garmin said the first mile was way off from where the sign was located, but the rest of the course was pretty much spot on. I felt pretty good coming across the Ford Bridge, but knew my final time wasn’t going to be close to last year. The final stretch went OK, but I finished with a watch time of 46:34 (almost two minutes slower than last year).
Some other stats from the results page:
The finish area had water and Gatorade this year and the food was back in the main pavilion again. Does it get any better than Great Harvest raisin bread, salted nut rolls, bananas and chocolate milk? There was also a yogurt vendor with peanut butter spread samples, but my hands were full by the time I made it to their table. The shirt was technical again (cotton is dead and gone forever, it seems) and the bags were super nice (with an innovative design).
Up next: TC 1 Mile on May 8 (guessing that PR will be tough to beat too)