Love the Run You're With

A Little Bit of 2014

Oh, hey, an update. If you missed me, don’t worry, no one needed to read nonstop complaining about being in a seemingly endless rut with a healthy amount of regression thrown in.

Last spring contained a couple of disappointingly lackluster half marathons, but it wasn’t entirely without its highlights: I placed tenth overall in an NYCRUNS 5K in March. Sure, the field was women-only, and it was held on the same day as the Red Hook Crit, so the fierce competition was largely absent, but it was still such a rush to only pass and never get passed. 

I traveled to the Boston Marathon as a spectator once again. I was never afraid to go back despite narrowly missing the 2013 bombing at mile 26 last year, but I happily opted to spectate at mile 18 among the Newton Hills with PPTC over the chaos of Boylston Street this year. We hadn’t checked who was leading in a while, so everyone was floored when we arrived and walked up to the race mere minutes before Meb surged past us with no followers in sight. Cue hypothetical speculation (anything could happen in eight more miles, after all!) about how amazing it would be if he won and constant phone refreshing until we saw the  headlines confirming it. It was a fantastic day for American distance running.

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MEB!!!! This was such an exciting moment.

And then came time to register for a fall marathon. I’d had my heart set on running Chicago 2014 essentially ever since I crossed the finish line in 2012. Until I didn’t. I love the city of Chicago and having only ever run that marathon and New York City’s, it’s truly tough to choose a favorite. But NYCM beat me up last year, and since I’d yet to see any sign of the return of my 2012 fitness, I knew a fall marathon was not the right decision for me. I didn’t want to throw myself into training for a mediocre (for me) result; I wanted my next marathon to pull off a huge gain like my 22-minute personal record at Chicago 2012. But seeing as how my 2012 PR streak in every distance was followed up by zero PRs and a solid slowdown in 2013 and most of 2014, I knew that was a tall order. Real changes needed to happen first.

I began working with Coach Mark Hadley in June with the short-term goals of regaining my speed and achieving that elusive half-marathon PR I’ve been chasing for years now. I made the conscious decision to not even think about registering for another full marathon until I can check that box off. And I’m pretty sure it’s resulted in the best racing season of my life. Three weeks into training with Coach Hadley, I ran my first smartly executed 10K in Queens, negative splitting every single mile and shocking myself by coming in close to a PR time. In August I raced the NYRR Team Championship 5-miler and finally, finally, achieved a new personal record, my first in any distance in nearly two years. (Sidenote: This was the most fun I’ve ever had in a NYRR race. There was so much team spirit and it was so nice and uncrowded since men and women ran separately and the field was only local teams.) I also ran four 5Ks this summer, each one faster than the last. My most recent 5K was a very small race in Jersey City, and I ended up placing as fifth female, second in the 25–29 age group (medal!), and coming within 9 seconds of a PR with a finishing time of 23:36 (7:36 pace). I am loving this feeling of being “back.”

In disbelief at the Queens 10K

In disbelief after the Queens 10K

Team Championships. When PPTC cheers, you fly.

Team Championships. When PPTC cheers, you fly.

The final sprint to victory in Jersey City. (YEAH that guy got chicked.)

The final sprint to victory in Jersey City. (YEAH that guy got chicked.)

Today I’m exactly one month out from my goal race, the Newport Liberty Half Marathon (a mostly waterfront course, also in Jersey City). I’m not quite sure I’ll be in PR shape just yet, but I’m confident that at the very least it will be a stepping stone toward the Richmond Half, which I’ve got my eye on for November.

On the non-racing front, I made a conscious effort to get more involved with PPTC, as I was concerned that working with a coach would cause me to distance myself from the team if I started flying solo for speed workouts and long runs. But I’ve consistently managed to recruit some fellow early risers to accompany me to Red Hook on Track Tuesdays or the West Side Highway for run commute tempos. The team also got a sizable group together for a to occupy an entire bed and breakfast in the Finger Lakes region for weekend of trail running, wine tasting, and stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking in July, which was soon followed by a day trip to Tarrytown for more trails in Rockefeller State Park. 

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This almost makes city running seem overrated. Almost.

This almost makes city running seem overrated. Almost.

Racing will be minimal as the half approaches, with the exception of the Fifth Avenue Mile in three weeks. I love this race for the rare opportunity to run like hell without worrying about conserving any energy for later. My best mile time is from the 2006 race, when I ran 6:42 despite still being a solid 10-minute miler. Needless to say, I’m ready to crush that time. I’m also psyched to join forces with Emilia for this attempt. We’ve done many of the same races, but usually with different goals in mind, so those weren’t done “together.” This will be our first all-out, head-to-head race against each other since we were in high school. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone, so bring it, E! 

Until next time. I swear that won’t be eight months from now.

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On Foiled Redemption and Moving Forward

Yep, that nearly three-month radio silence was in fact intentional. After the New York City Marathon, I had grand plans to loaf around for a bit (er, I mean, recover) before getting back to regular running for a decent effort at the Houston Half Marathon. In recent years I’ve learned not to chase after aggressive goals at this race when it’s positioned so soon after a fall marathon. I always make a week out of this trip, so I’ve continued to register for the half simply as something to do during my time in Houston before cheering on my sister in the second half of the full.

When NYCM didn’t exactly go according to plan, I toyed with the idea of upgrading to the full at Houston. It  it was over two months away, and it wouldn’t be your standard random, potentially meaningless redemption race: it was in my hometown, I’d be running through neighborhoods I’d grown up in, there would be crowd support, and there would be family and friends on the sidelines. All just like New York.

The deadline to upgrade was pretty generous, so I decide to attempt training and wait until the last minute to switch races to be sure I felt ready. I had low expectations, since most of my pre-NYCM long runs were pretty lackluster, yet I surprised myself this winter. I was running better—much better—than I had been while I trained for New York. I finally felt like I could be my best running self again, that is, my running self before I got injured during Chicago Marathon training way back in 2012. With several solid runs and zero injuries, I felt confident that Houston could be where I’d check off that elusive sub-4 so long as I raced smart and weather conditions were manageable.

Pre-race photo op at the Houston Children's Museum.

Ready for take two: pre-race photo op at the Houston Children’s Museum.

Race day arrived, and I had a solid pace plan in mind: 2M x 9:30, 8M x 9:15, 10M x 8:50, 10K x 9:00 or faster. But by mile 3 the sun was out in full force, and I was already drenched in sweat and covered in salt (despite taking great care to up my salt and electrolyte intake all week long). Not a good start. Yet I managed to stick to my plan to a tee until we hit double-digit miles and my splits started to creep back into 9:30s and higher. I could tell the unusually warm weather (the real feel was already in the 70s by the middle of the race—not quite the twenties, teens, and single digits I’d prepared in back in New York) was going to force me to adjust my expectations, and I quickly made my decision to drop out when I reached my dad at mile 13.5.

Lack of sunlight + watch monitoring + what looks like a skip-run leads me to believe this was at the race start when 9:30 felt stupid easy because it was still supposed to at that point.

Lack of sunlight + watch monitoring + what looks like a skip-run leads me to believe this was at miles 1-2, when 9:30 pace felt stupid easy because it was still supposed to at that point.

More than one person has sympathetically said the decision must have been tough to make, but the reality is that it was actually extremely easy. I don’t run marathons for bragging rights. Being able to say I’ve run x number of marathons means nothing to me; quality matters more than quantity. Plain and simple, if conditions out of my control were going to prevent me from achieving a goal I believed I was prepared for, putting my body through the wear and tear and subsequent recovery from a marathon just to say I finished another one was not going to be worth it to me. I don’t care if that makes me sound like a quitter. I was much more content to cut the loss and call the 13.5 miles at a 9:29 average pace a respectable long run effort for March’s New York City Half Marathon. Not to mention that I had way more fun with my dad at mile 26, cheering on all the runners by the names on their bibs, than I probably would have had on my own out there. My choice was further reaffirmed as we screamed encouragement at runners shuffling their way toward a slow-for-them 3-hour finish. My only regret? Not making the game-time decision before the gun went off and actually racing to mile 13.5 like it was a half instead of reining in the pace for a full I wouldn’t finish. I just might go with this strategy if I ever attempt to train for this race in a Northeast winter again…

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Post-race with our #1 fan. He and his sign made it to three different course spots that day!

Sure, I’m disappointed that I won’t get to cash in on some solid marathon training, and sure, I could do something about that by finding a local marathon, but I really have no interest in running some race I’ve never heard of and have no emotional attachment to. Like I’ve said before, the marathon is not my favorite distance to race, and I didn’t become a runner to ultimately become a marathoner. On the other hand, the NYC Half is a great race I’ve enjoyed in the past, and I’m excited to refocus on it. One of my pre-Houston long runs was 13.1 miles in 1:58. I don’t think I’ve ever run that distance in training in under 2 hours, so this makes me optimistic about getting close to my PR on March 16. Bonus: Emilia will be back in New York to run it as well!

When I took a hiatus from marathoning through 2011 and most of 2012, I got to be in the best running shape of my life and PR-ing in everything from the 5K to the half marathon, including taking 25 minutes off the latter, was seemingly effortless. With continued hard work and no future marathons on the horizon anytime soon, I’m hoping 2014 will bring some similar results.

That marathon PR will happen when the time is right.

That marathon PR will happen when the time is right.

I’ll try not to disappear again in the meantime.

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“Put your hands up, make ‘em touch (Make it real loud!)”: 2013 NYC Marathon Recap

Welp, timewise,  it’s not much of a secret that Sunday’s race was not the one I trained for. But time goals aside, New York City made sure it would be a day I won’t soon forget. Say what you will about rude New Yorkers, but let it be known that they absolutely become the best cheerleaders out there on the holiday that is Marathon Sunday. Lady Gaga’s “Applause” was one of my power songs in training; every time I listened to it I’d get pumped about the crowds I’d see on the first Sunday of November, so the title of this post is a nod to them. Let’s start from the beginning.

Pre-race

In the days leading up to this race several coworkers, friends, and fellow marathoners asked me if I was nervous about it. My honest answer was no, that I was a bit doubtful about whether I’d reach my time goal this time around, but regardless of whether it was going to happen I was more excited than anything. After all, it had been so long since I’d last run the race in 2009 and it’d been so long since there’d even been a New York City Marathon at all thanks to last year’s cancellation. I was also eager to experience running a marathon with my sister. Yesterday marked both mine and Emilia’s fourth marathons, but it was the first time we’d ever run the same one.

No dice when it came to getting consecutive bib numbers. At least they both end in 6?

No dice when it came to getting consecutive bib numbers. At least they both end in 6?

Marathon Morning

I was so happy to learn that my local bagel shop would be open at 5 a.m. on Sunday. We were able to get fresh bagels right before hopping in a cab to the Staten Island Ferry terminal, where we found Theodora and Fiona before boarding our ferry. Once it got moving, we had our first taste of post-Boston security when we noticed the Coast Guard escorting the ferry, complete with a huge machine gun.

Well, this is new...

Well, this is new…

Our second taste came after we exited the buses that brought us from the ferry terminal to Ford Wadsworth. Here, every runner was scanned, patted down, or sent through a metal detector. It seemed intense, but it moved pretty efficiently, and knowing everyone was being checked definitely made me feel more secure, especially after having been at Boston. A few minutes later, my former roommate, Amy, spotted me, and we briefly chatted as we continued on to the area for orange bibs.

After the mile-long walk to our start village, things started to feel a bit rushed and chaotic. Emilia and I originally thought that a 7:15 ferry for a 10:05 start would give us a comfortable window to take our time and get ready for the race, but as soon as we reached the orange village we heard announcements about baggage and corrals closing within minutes. What? They actually announced that corrals were closed while we were still in line to get in, but we were lucky enough to still make our way through. Like Chicago last year, I found myself shedding my throwaway layers just as the usual pre-race rituals began. To mix things up after a performance of the national anthem for Wave 1, our Wave 2 heard “America, the Beautiful,” and then, as per tradition, the cannons were fired and Frank Sinatra began serenading us with “New York, New York.” That was the first and only time I got butterflies and realized Oh my God, this is actually happening.

The Run

Emilia and I started very conservatively on the Verrazano Bridge and took in the sights, which included many helicopters (more security) and a fantastic view of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. This bridge is the highest elevation point of the entire course, and we started on the top level, so this part of the race made me truly feel on top of the world. We tried to keep the pace steady on the downhill descent into Brooklyn, where the never-ending crowds of spectators began. Everyone talks about the Wall of Sound on 1st Avenue, but 4th Avenue is really so much better. These are the miles where you still feel fresh and amazing, the kids are high-fiving you, and you just can’t stop smiling. Around Sunset Park a teammate of Emilia’s from her Houston running club caught up to us and then snapped some action shots while we were in Park Slope.

Flying!

It was here that I spotted my roommate, Julie, who also saw me all the way across 4th Ave despite being my surrounded by other runners. A few blocks later, we were at my dad’s hotel, where he was waiting with his sign.

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As much as I love 4th Avenue, it is kind of a drawback that the bib colors are still segregated during this stretch. As we made our way to North Slope I spotted both Rebecca and Cipriana on the right side, but they missed us all the way on the left side of such a wide street. Oh, well. Soon we were at BAM and the turn onto Lafayette, where the crowds really started to pick up. At mile 8 we spotted Kristi on the left and immediately started migrating to the right where we unexpectedly found Megan before seeing my friends and coworkers, Jamie and Kayley, at mile 9. I was so happy to have seen so many familiar faces in Brooklyn, but it was right around the uphill climb on Lafayette that I began to tune into how my body was feeling and realized that my knees were getting incredibly tight. Anxiety started to set in. I was no stranger to lower-body soreness at the end of my really long runs this training cycle, but I was totally unprepared to experience this kind of shutdown so early in the game. At this point I kept my negative thoughts to myself and continued trucking along with Emilia. We were still slightly behind on our goal pace, and as we made our way along Bedford to Greenpoint and the Pulaski Bridge the tightness crept into my quads, hips, and lower back, and I finally admitted that I was in pain. We hit the halfway point in 2:04, and Emilia said she was hurting too and knew a PR was out the window, but we weren’t injured, so we were going to finish together no matter how slowly that was going to be. That was the last time I let myself look at my watch until we reached the finish line.

The Queens part of the course is not my usual running route to the Queensboro Bridge, so I followed Emilia’s lead on these streets while she announced where we might see some personal spectators. At the base of the Queensboro we scoured the crowds for Emilia’s Astoria roommate, Mandi, and I thought I heard her call my name, but I couldn’t locate her. I later learned it was another coworker, Jhanteigh! Then it was time to head up the silent, steep, and seemingly endless bridge. Since I knew what was waiting on 1st Ave, the lack of spectators on the QB didn’t bother me. I just focused on reaching the top of the incline and the point where it would start to decline into Manhattan. Marathoners behind us began to yell things like “Runners, make some noise!” I couldn’t muster up any additional energy to reply, but I was grateful for the other runners around me who whistled and whooped in response. Finally, finallywe began to make our way down and around the underpass, where we were greeted by the roaring fans on 1st Avenue.

I wasn’t expecting to see anyone I knew for at least another mile or two, but not long after we came off the bridge, Emilia spotted another former roommate of hers, Amanda.  I didn’t remember exactly where my other friends would be, but I knew everyone would be on the left, so we stuck to that side. The crowds were huge here, and I got a boost any time someone recognized my red singlet and yelled “PPTC!” or “Go, Prospect Park!” (Manhattan can’t get all the credit here, though. There were so many great PPTC supporters in all the boroughs!). Before this point, not that many people had noticed that Emilia and I were twins (maybe it was the lack of matching outfits?), but on 1st Ave we started hearing people cheering for us together or asking one another if we were twins. Whenever we overheard that, we turned and gave them a thumbs-up. As we hit mile 18, I was so excited to see Steph and Abby screaming their faces off, followed by another group of friends at the 30K mark. Then we were at the mile 19 water station being greeted by yet another past roommate of mine, Jenny!

So excited to see this crew! Photo credit: Ashley

So excited to see this crew! Photo credit: Ashley

Next up: the Bronx.  Here’s where things got really tough. I took my first non-water-stop break on the Willis Avenue Bridge when the incline started to make all my tight muscles start screaming. After a minute or two of stretching, Emilia and I got moving again. The crowds were still wonderful here, and they pushed us through the mile to the Madison Avenue Bridge back into Manhattan. As we exited this bridge, Emilia heard “Go, Bentons!” and pointed out Coach Cane to me around mile 21. Then she said something about “only five miles left” and I grumbled something back about “more like 5 whole miles left.” But we knew Gabby and some more of Emilia’s Oiselle teammates would be at the mile 22 water station, so we focused on reaching that next. This checkpoint felt like it took so long to reach. I expected them to be right at mile 22 next to Marcus Gavey Park, but it was really more like 22.5. When we finally found them, Gabby gave me a hug and told me I looked great. I wondered if she knew she was lying. My stomach had started rejecting fuel at mile 16, and by 22 I couldn’t even handle a sip of Gatorade, so “great” is not how I imagined I was looking.

As Emilia and I headed down Harlem I noticed that we were getting closer to 110th Street. Instead of associating this with the dreaded 5th Avenue incline, I felt happy that we were almost on the last leg of this street. One more mile on 5th and then we’d be in Central Park. Then we could almost feel like we were almost done. 5th Ave along Central Park felt kind of lonely to me; there were still massive crowds cheering, but we didn’t see anyone we knew, and we missed our dad both here and on 1st Avenue earlier since the iPhone tracking app hadn’t worked for him. Thankfully, that lonely feeling didn’t last long. As soon as we entered the park at Engineers’ Gate I heard someone yell both of our names and turned to see Josie! That really raised my spirits since no one had told me to look out for them in CP. A few minutes later, I saw my college roommate Rachel, another great surprise in the park miles. I saw the mile 25 banner above us and tried to pick it up a little. Central Park South was coming, and when we hit it I finally started to believe the spectators yelling that we were almost there. The crowds were so enormous here, and I knew I probably wouldn’t see Jamie and Kayley again, but looking for them still distracted me from thinking Columbus Circle looked far away. Suddenly, we were there and turning back into the park. 400 meters to go. Check. Mile 26 banner. Check. 300 meters. Check. 200. Check. I don’t know if I’d call our pace at this point a kick, but I could definitely feel our speed picking up. We saw a sign that said 100 yards to go with the finish line not far beyond it. Emilia grabbed my hand and we started weaving through everyone around us to cross the finish line together. DONE. 

Superwomen.

Superwomen.
#twinsies celebrating marathon #4.

#twinsies celebrating marathon #4.

As I mentioned, I didn’t look at my watch again after the halfway point, so I really didn’t know what to expect when I stopped it at the finish and looked down to see 4:49 and change. We could only laugh as Emilia pointed out that instead of new matching personal bests we now had matching personal worsts. On any other day I probably would have felt so crushed to be almost an hour slower than my goal, but all I could think about was how grateful I felt for having Emilia to run with me the whole time, for seeing so many friends along the way, and for all the strangers of New York who came out to scream encouragement at people they didn’t even know. The 2013 New York City Marathon was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I know it would have been so much harder to go it alone. I sort of hated this year’s slogan of “26.2 miles make it a race. YOU make it the marathon.” I thought it encouraged the misconception that “marathon” is a synonym for “race,” not a distance measured by 26.2 miles. (Come on, people. If you understand that 12 inches equal 1 foot, the fact that 26.2 miles equal 1 marathon should be a no brainer. There is no such thing as a “5K marathon.”) But as soon as  I crossed that finish line I thought about how the “YOU” did not refer to the runners, it referred to all the New Yorkers out there, the ones who really make it Marathon Sunday. From the bottom of my heart, I am so thankful for each and every one of them.

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2013 NYC Marathon Training: What Worked

It’s so close! The New York City Marathon is now just a few days away. As my daily mileage has steadily dwindled down to the low single digits, I’ve started to reflect on what changes/lessons helped me get to this start line prepared (I hope!) and  injury-free:

  • Mixing it up. Like this year, I ran 5 days per week while training for the 2012 Chicago Marathon, and 4/5 days were spent within Prospect Park. Don’t get me wrong, I love my park and I’ll take it over it’s tourist-ridden bigger sibling, Central Park, any day, but I’d be lying if I said those miles didn’t get a little monotonous, especially when they were in the form of multiple park loops. This time around, running to work and participating in coached speed work resulted in only 2-3 Prospect Park runs each week, which I now looked forward to.
  • Run commuting = an easy way to get more miles! As much as I wanted to incorporate a mid-week long(ish) run last summer, I just could not drag myself out of bed before the 6AM hour to get it done before work, and evening runs were out of the question (that’s feeding time, y’all). This summer I was able to jump on a Groupon for a cheap gym membership near my office, so I started making the 8 to 9.5-mile journey to Rockefeller Center once a week. To be honest, when I initially examined my training plan I was absolutely dreading the peak weeks when I’d have to run to work the long(er) way. I surprised myself by loving the opportunity to fly up the West Side Highway for some faster miles, and it took me back to my college days of running there in the early mornings before classes. Oh, nostalgia. I was actually sad when taper called for scaling back to the “short” route up the city streets.
  • Speed work is more fun in numbers. In the past it’s been really hard to hold myself accountable in terms of completing solo speed work since I don’t live very close to a track or any particularly flat terrain. Lucky for me, Jackrabbit held a summer track class in Red Hook, and the Prospect Park Track Club came to the rescue when it ended in the fall.  I made the decision to officially join PPTC in order to participate in their speed program, so you can catch me sporting their signature red singlet on race day!
  • When the Garmin starts to become your nemesis, spend some time apart. When I first got this running toy in 2011, it was a huge confidence boost to study my splits after PR-ing in every distance from the 5K to the marathon. Once I started to have to work to break those PRs, the constant obsessing over that pace monitor strapped to my wrist started becoming more and more negative, especially in races. So I went back to my old-school $10 digital watch from Target for my run commutes and ran one of my best long training runs essentially on feel. Speaking of running on feel…
  • It is possible to run fast without a Garmin (shocking, I know). I’ve yet to PR without one since acquiring it (maybe that’ll change on Sunday!), but my favorite part of coached speed workouts ha been leaving it at home and depending on someone else to call my fast (for me), even (!) interval splits.

I’d be lying if I said there was no self-doubt about whether I’ll be successful in terms of my sub-4 goal, but for some reason I’m feeling less anxious about it than I was last year. As much as I would love to break four hours on Sunday, I’m also at peace with the fact that I have my entire life to do that. For now, I’m keeping myself occupied by reading up on others’ recaps and watching videos from past Marathon Sundays to remind myself of what’s so great about this race. To all my fellow NYCM runners, who has you feeling most excited and inspired regarding this race? My favorite NYCM success story is Meb Keflezighi’s 2009 win. That was the last time I ran this marathon, and while I felt my own personal sense of accomplishment after finishing it (my first 26.2!) I also vividly remember what a big deal it was that an American had won this race for the first time in decades, nonetheless one who had overcome such adversity to make an incredible comeback (after fracturing his pelvis during the 2008 Olympic Trials right there in Central Park, it was widely speculated that Meb’s running career was over). Check out this video of his home stretch. I think it’s great that he’s grinning (no pain face!) as he gives the crowd a thumbs-up and motions to the “USA” on his singlet to get them to chant it. I also love that they played “Always on the Run” as he finished! Better believe that’s going on my playlist (though I’m still holding out hope that I don’t need music at all on Sunday).

This “Road to the Finish” clip is also a great one to watch to get psyched for race day; it does a fantastic job of detailing the highlights of each borough. Pay close attention around the 8-minute mark to catch my sister, Emilia, running up 1st Avenue in 2010! I can’t wait to run those streets together this year.

January's Houston Half Marathon was the last race we both ran.

January’s Houston Half Marathon was the last race we both ran.

I’m so excited for that finish line, but I’m prepared to savor every mile leading up to it: across the Verrazano, up 4th Ave (favorite leg back in ’09!), around to Lafayette, over to Bedford, through Greenpoint, up the Pulaski, into LIC, over the Queensboro, through the Wall of Sound on 1st Ave, up to the Bronx, back down 5th Ave, and into every NYC runner’s backyard, sweet home Central Park. Let’s do this.

A final note: I’m bib 26756 in the orange second wave. If you’ll be in the orange start village, let’s hang out! If you’ll be out spectating, tell me where!

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22 Miles + Staten Island Half Marathon Recap

TAPER TIME!

It’s here! I made through marathon training injury-free! (Knock on wood.) I reached 22 miles this time around! I’ve covered 22 miles in training before, but I never reached this particular milestone after getting injured in the middle of Chicago Marathon training last summer. As a result, I’m elated to have made it up to this point of preparation for NYCM. In addition to running the marathon with me, my sister is hoping to get in the NYC Half Marathon lottery for next March’s race, so naturally I want to run it, too. Rather than chancing the lottery myself, I opted to do four borough races for guaranteed entry, which is how I found myself facing 22 miles that included the Staten Island Half Marathon last Sunday.

I wanted to avoid breaking up this run with a gap between the half and my additional miles, so it was clear that the best tactic would be to get to Staten Island bright and early to cover 9 easy miles before practicing marathon goal pace during the race. Like a good little runner with a 4 AM wake-up call, I was in bed by 9 PM the night before—and yet I managed to find myself wide awake during the 2 AM hour. Awesome. I tossed and turned for a while, but I didn’t start to doze off until about 3:30, when it was nearly time to get up anyway. I know they say it’s the night before the night before that counts for pre-race sleep, but I’m sure “they” didn’t anticipate the night before’s shut-eye to be this minimal. I felt like a total zombie when I stepped off the 5:30 Staten Island ferry and set out for my solo miles, but I still managed my planned 10:00 pace for them and hoped I’d be able to summon some more energy for the half.

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This is what Gabby’s ferry view looked like. Mine was still pitch black.

A few weeks ago, Gabby had asked around for a sub-2:00 pacer and I wanted to help her out, but since I’d be running 9 miles prior to the race, sub-2 was going to be a reach goal of my own. I did want to practice MGP (approximately 9:00 miles) on tired legs, so I agreed to start with Gabby and see if I could hang on to that pace the whole time. I studied her splits in her Brooklyn Half recap and gathered that she was good at negative splitting, so I figured we could try 2 miles x 9:30, 2 x 9:20, 2 x 9:10, and then 9:00 or faster for the final 7.1. We started off according to plan, with our first mile clocking in near 9:30; however, it was crowded and a lot of initial weaving got us way off the tangents early on. I was worried about pushing the pace too soon, but my watch was ticking off 9:10 miles at least 20 seconds before we hit the actual mile markers, so I knew if we didn’t work to make up the difference the whole time, Gabby would have to seriously book it to come in under 2 hours in the end.

We trucked along at around 9:00 pace for the first 8 miles, but not long after the turnaround my hips and knees started to feel sore and achy, which has been typical on my really long runs this training cycle. I’m not sure if this is due to higher weekly mileage, 10 years of running catching up to me, just getting old (at the ripe old age of 26), or perhaps all of the above, but I’ve never felt this stiff and creaky as a result of hard training before. Anyway, at this point I was still holding a decent pace for being at mile 17 of my 22, but I could tell Gabby was ready to pick it up, so I told her to go on without me, that it was just my long run while it was her goal race (spoiler alert: she crushed it!). I was still managing to hold a steady pace and figured maybe I’d still have a shot at my own sub-2 finish.

And then. 

I rounded a corner and a hill that hadn’t looked that bad to me on the first half of the out-and-back seemed to have transformed into a mountain before my very eyes. I’ll be honest: I gave up on this hill. I refused to let myself walk it, but my “run” (if you can call it that) was hardly faster. I kept my head down, didn’t look at my watch, and just did what I could to make it to the top. Mile 10 split: 10:42. Fail. As soon as I clocked this mile, I started beating myself up: What the hell was that? This is a race! A marathon goal pace workout! What if that had been in the middle of the marathon? On the Queensboro Bridge? THERE WILL BE NO CRAWLING ON THE QUEENSBORO BRIDGE. PICK. IT. BACK. UP. Somehow I got my head back in the game and slipped right back into my previous pace for the remaining 3 miles.

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One of these is not like the others…

When I saw my splits, I was happy that I was consistent for most of the race (even if most the miles were a tad slower than I would have liked—blame it on having been awake for nearly 8 hours by the time I was done with 22 miles?), but I was still mad at myself for not even trying on that hill. I could have pushed to make that split almost two minutes faster, and if it had been, I probably could have still come in under two hours! Alas, there will be plenty of sub-2 half marathons in my future (without needing to run all the miles before the race), so I’ll cut this loss and be happy about the bigger picture: Gabby got her sub-2, I made it to 22 miles, we’re  now less than three weeks away from the New York City Marathon!

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18-Mile Tune-Up Recap/NYC Marathon Training Update

Pardon the radio silence since last month’s post. To be honest, there wasn’t much positive news to report; while I’ve been nailing my speed paces and my Wednesday 5Ks weren’t too shabby, I’ve been feeling discouraged that my long-run paces have been much slower than what felt like easy LR paces a year ago. Enter the NYRR 18-Mile Marathon Tune-Up. 

When I signed up for this “race” a few months ago, I hoped it would be a good opportunity to practice marathon goal pace (~9-minute miles). After several long runs averaging 10+ per mile, I started to think that goal was a bit delusional, especially since I hadn’t made it up to Central Park at all this training cycle. How could I expect to manage that pace for three CP loops including three climbs each up Harlem Hill and Cat Hill?! I started to think 2:42 (9:00 pace) was out of the question. Maybe I could run 2:50 if I had a good day, but I was sure I’d be venturing into 3:00+ territory for this one. I wasn’t happy about it, but I figured if I could get to mile 18 in three hours in a tune-up, then there still might be a chance that I’d  reach mile 20 in three hours on race day. Spoiler alert: I crushed my three-hour estimate with a finish time of 2:46:26!

I was feeling anxious in the minutes before the race because the baggage and bathroom lines were ridiculously long and I was still waiting my turn when the corrals closed. However, NYRR announced they’d be keeping the starting line open for an extra 45 minutes, and when I finally crossed it (only 18 minutes after gun time), it was so nice to be able to cruise right through it instead of tripping over everyone else who would have been packed like sardines in the yellow corral.

I made a game-time decision to ditch the Garmin and wear a regular stopwatch instead for a couple of reasons: a) After the aforementioned long runs, I really didn’t want to let my pace and mile splits get to my head for 18 miles, and b) I really didn’t want to care about not hitting the tangents. I hate hearing a mile tick off when I can’t even see the mile marker yet because it’s still so far away.

I started with my former roommate Amy, who told me she was aiming to average 9:00 today. As we approached mile 1 she asked if I wanted to know our pace, and I responded that I only wanted to know if we were going too fast. I figured we’d get separated before long, but we ended up running the whole race together, a first for us! Aside from the uphills, our pace was often conversational, which was a great distraction from a pretty repetitive course. When we reached mile 17 Amy asked if I wanted to finish together. I didn’t think I had any kind of kick left, so I said I did as long as I could keep up. But once we reached Engineers’ Gate my legs got excited about being almost done, and the two of us managed something resembling a sprint through the home stretch.

According to Amy’s Garmin, we ran 18.5 miles at an 8:58 average pace (!!!), but NYRR’s official results have us at 9:15. I’m obviously annoyed that we ran so much “extra,” but I’m sticking to the 9:15 pace since I won’t be going by the tangents on race day. Speaking of race day, I’m now fairly certain that I won’t be using a Garmin on Marathon Sunday. Yes, I still wore a watch today, but it ended up being more of a security blanket since I hardly looked at it except as we came through each park loop. Each loop was approximately 55 minutes and change, so I’m pretty pleased with what was a successful attempt at running on feel. I’m even happier that I managed to run so close to marathon goal pace while closing out my highest weekly mileage to date (45 miles)! It’s safe to say my sub-4 confidence has been boosted. Averaging 9:15 pace on tired legs has made me feel much better about shooting for 9:00 pace on fresh, tapered ones.

Of course, once everything was said and done (said and run?), I decided I was interested in seeing some data after all. Here are today’s splits, compliments of Amy:

Whoa, where did that 8:35 come from? Also, that extra .55 is a little bit easier to swallow when it's attached to that 7:22! I've never even run a 5K at that pace and yet somehow I pulled it out at the end of 18 miles. What the what?

Whoa, where did that 8:35 come from? And I can’t hate that extra .55 as much when it’s attached to that 7:22! I’ve never even run a 5K at that pace and yet I somehow pulled it out at the end of 18 miles. What the what?

Here’s what’s coming up on the training front, with a few goals thrown in:

  • A week in Houston for some beach time with my sister. Goal: Don’t die while attempting to train in the Texas humidity.
  • Bronx 10-Miler on September 29. Goal: Perhaps a baby PR, which would be faster than 8:45 pace, i.e. not too much of a reach. Tack on 10 miles (most likely the NYCM course!) to total 20 that day.
  • Grete’s Great Gallop Half Marathon on October 6. Goal: Run as close to 1:50 as possible if the stars align that day. I’m hoping “only” two Central Park loops will feel easy after today’s three!
  • Staten Island Half Marathon on October 13 with 9 miles beforehand for a total of 22. Goal: Take the first 9 miles very easy and maybe, just maybe, finish the half in under two hours, even if it’s simply 1:59:59. This seemed like a much crazier goal before today’s Tune-Up results.

48 days to go until NYCM!

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Oh, Right, Marathon Training…

Don’t worry, it’s been happening, I just haven’t managed to document any of it. I’m about to begin Week 6 of 18 for the New York City Marathon on November 3. As you might recall, I was shooting for a sub-4 finish at Chicago last year; however, a injured left calf put me out of commission for 6 weeks in the middle of training. Despite only having a month to attempt to regain my endurance, I crossed the finish line in 4:05:22, setting a 22-minute PR. This time around, my B goal is to get that 3:5X, but the A goal is to get to that start line prepared and injury-free.

So far, each week of training has looked something like this:

Tuesday: Speed work at the Red Hook Track with JackRabbit

Wednesday: PPTC Speed Series 5K at least at marathon goal pace if not faster (MGP is ~9:00, but I’ve been managing to throw down ~8:30s in the 5Ks)

Thursday: Run commute: ~8 easy miles from Park Slope to Rockefeller Center

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Long run

Sunday: Recovery run

Monday: Rest

One training goal of mine is to slowly (see: not getting injured) increase my weekly mileage to peak at 50 miles at least once. I had a base of 30 miles built up when I kicked off training last month and I’m currently at 37 miles, so I think I’m doing okay on this front. As a local, I’m lucky to have the race course practically right outside my door, so I’m making an effort to include a leg of it in most of my long runs. I succeeded this weekend by incorporating miles 9-16 (primarily Lafayette Avenue, Bedford Avenue, Greenpoint, the Pulaski Bridge, and the Queensboro Bridge) into a 14-miler from Brooklyn to Queens to Manhattan’s Summer Streets. If you’re running NYCM (or even if you’re not), come run some bridges and boroughs with me!

A second goal is to run a strong half marathon at Grete’s Great Gallop in October, as last summer’s injury prevented me from incorporating a single half into Chicago Marathon training. I know I most likely won’t be in PR shape (1:44) for Grete’s, but I’d be thrilled to get as close to 1:50 as possible, especially on those Central Park hills.

Along with Grete’s, I’ve got three more fall NYRR races on the calendar during NYCM training: the 18-Mile Tune-Up (Central Park Loop x 3. Yikes.), Bronx 10-Miler, and Staten Island Half Marathon. I’ll discuss goals for those as their dates get closer.

Last but not least, I have one final important note about NYCM 2013: It will be the first time my twin sister and I will be running the same marathon!

The 2012 Austin Half Marathon was a great way to ring in our 25th birthday.

The 2012 Austin Half Marathon was a great way to ring in our 25th birthday.

Emilia and I have both been running since high school, and we’ve run countless distances from 5Ks to half marathons together before, but never 26.2 miles. We plan to line up side by side on the Verrazano Bridge and (hopefully!) stick together for every step to Central Park. I’ve run some of my most evenly paced races with Emilia, so running this one together should be an extra advantage for that sub-4.

Until next time!

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Brooklyn Half Marathon Recap: Running Happy

Saturday marked my third running of the Brooklyn Half Marathon. A brief history of my experiences with this race:

  • 2011: I mistakenly checked my bag with my iPod still in it. My roommate tried to keep me from having a mini meltdown, and I decided that I had to run fast because if I didn’t, I’d be out there in “silence” even longer. I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason I ran a PR that day, and I’ve since become much less dependent on music while racing (though I haven’t given it up entirely).
  • 2012: This was the first year on a new course, which I loved. It was great to be able to start on the streets of Brooklyn and run around Grand Army Plaza before running one loop of Prospect Park and continuing on to Coney Island (the old course was simply two park loops before exiting onto Ocean Parkway). However, I did not love running 1:49, as I was gunning for a PR, and this was 5 minutes slower than my personal best (1:44:32 from that year’s Houston Half). I laugh at this disappointment now, as I would have been elated to run a 1:49 last weekend. Perspective much?

Brooklyn Half Marathon Map 2013

Source: NYRR

On to 2013. Going into this race, I knew I was not in shape to PR, or even run sub-1:50 for that matter. I was okay with that. I had trained much harder for the NYC Half back in March, but I ended up having an off day and running that race in 1:54. I knew I was trained for a faster time, however, I wasn’t very enthused about finding a redemption race. I’d been training for one race or another without a significant break since the winter of 2011, so I was ready to back off, run enough to be in shape for Brooklyn, and then pick it up to start base-building before training for NYCM.

My former roommate, Jenny, stayed over to avoid the early morning trek from the UES, so it was nice to have some company during the 6:00 AM walk to the start area. The corrals closed at 6:30, a half hour before the race itself, so I expected the next 30 minutes to be lonely since most of my friends were in the second wave, or in different corrals if they made Wave 1. As it turned out, Betsy was in my corral, so it was great to pass the time discussing our goals for the day and our upcoming races. When we finally crossed the start line (nearly 15 minutes later for those of us in the ninth corral!), I wished her luck on her PR goal and we parted ways as she sped off and I began my own race.

Since I wasn’t running Brooklyn for a specific time, I opted to run without my Garmin. The last few races that haven’t gone as planned have usually started too fast as I’ve tried to maintain what I feel like I “should” be seeing on the watch, followed by feelings of discouragement from seeing slower paces and splits toward the end. I wasn’t sure how I would keep my pace under control while running blind, but I figured at the very least I wouldn’t start much too fast for my fitness level. The result? My most evenly paced half marathon ever. If I could learn how to do this during a (time) goal race, I might never race with my watch again.

Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 4.09.51 PM

The first 5K was mostly downhill, so I’m not surprised that it was the fastest split.  There was a significant out-and-back when we ran up Flatbush Avenue, around Grand Army Plaza, and around to the farthest park entrance. During this stretch I distracted myself from running as I looked for my friends coming in the other direction (Success! I spotted both Ashley and Theodora on Flatbush). The second 5K included a stop to take a gel with water, but I’m anticipating that I lost about a minute between pulling over to get the gel out of my back pocket and then walking through the water station, so without the stop the split would have probably been similar to the first 5K. I did slow down in the second half of the race, but only by about 30 seconds in the 15K, and I maintained that pace into the 20K and final ~3/4 mile. The weather was overcast and on the cooler side, which definitely worked in my favor this year. Confession: I usually try to avoid stopping for water in half marathons if at all possible (same goes for all shorter distances). I know this is unconventional, but I feel like it messes up my rhythm and makes it that much harder to get going again, so I usually just push through to the finish before rehydrating. This usually works for me, but Brooklyn is typically the warmest half I’ll race each year, so I’ll usually make it to mile 10 or 11 on Ocean Parkway, take a break, and then try desperately to pick up the pace but instead end up holding on for dear life until the end. Not this year. This portion of the course is a straight shot for 6 miles, and it usually feels endless, but this time I actually enjoyed it since the sun wasn’t beaming down on me the entire time. Despite not being at my speediest, each mile marker seemed to show up so quickly, and before I knew it I was at the 20K and it was time to yank my headphones out so I could hear the crowds as I made my way up to the Coney Island boardwalk to sprint toward the finish line.

Timewise, maybe I would have run slightly faster if I’d had my watch, but my goal was to run a smart race with letting myself get preoccupied by paces, tangents, and whatnot. Mission accomplished: My average pace this time was only 2 seconds slower than that of the NYC Half (8:49 vs. 8:47), but (surprise) it felt much better to maintain that pace the whole time than to start much faster and rapidly decline like I did in March.

After the race, Betsy spotted me again, and I learned that she got her desired 1:44 (guess we’re PR twins now!). We chatted for a bit before she headed back to Manhattan and I made my way back to mile 13 to try to catch my friends in Wave 2 as they finished their race before we gathered for the obligatory group beach photo.

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Final verdict on Brooklyn 2013: Third time’s a charm, and I’ll definitely be back for what I like to consider to be my hometown race.

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On Being at the 2013 Boston Marathon

On Marathon Monday Christine, Leticia, and I arrived at the Boston finish area pumped to cheer for our friends at the mother of all long-distance road races. Many nonrunners “get” that qualifying to run the Boston Marathon really makes you “serious” runner, but anytime someone has asked me what exactly sets Boston apart from, say, the NYC, Chicago, or LA marathons, I’ve explained that “Boston is like the Olympics for us mere mortal runners.” It takes work to get there. I’d heard great things about the energy surrounding this local holiday, and I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself. The streets were lined with flags bearing this year’s race slogan: THIS IS YOUR MOMENT. It wasn’t my moment in that it wasn’t my  race, but I smiled each time I saw those flags and considered the possibility  that one day it might be.  But on that morning I was excited to be a spectator, and I was sure April 15, 2013, would be a day I wouldn’t forget. 

The first thing we did was walk right up to Boylston and Exeter—the intersection where the explosion occurred—to see about staking out a spot near the mile 26 marker. The crowds were already a few people deep, so I urged my friends to move farther down the street. Three blocks farther, to be exact. If you know anything about the final stretch of the Boston Marathon, you know what it means to make a “right on Hereford, left on Boylston.” Despite the crowds, we somehow ended up perfectly positioned in the front row, just a few yards past the final turn of the course. It was exhilarating to watch the elite winners and lead wheelchair finishers and then eagerly await our fast friends, Susan and Celia. After each of their 40K alerts we craned our necks to the right and kept our eyes peeled for our runners, who were supposed to pass by at any minute. When they arrived, it was absolutely thrilling to see how great they looked, particularly when Celia zeroed in on us screaming for her and broke into a huge grin as she powered forward. After we got the text alerts for their finish times we decided to head to the next block, Newbury Street, to find some lunch. As we walked away from the race, we chatted about how strong Susan looked in her comeback race, how happy Celia seemed, and how amazing it would be to someday become fast enough to qualify for Boston and run it ourselves.

The restaurant we picked was predictably a bit crowded, but we were seated on the second floor fairly quickly. We placed our orders, and then I headed to the bathroom on the first floor. On my way back upstairs I felt a slight rumble, like being in a NYC building directly above a subway when a train is passing through. I didn’t think anything of it. We were near the T, after all.

When I returned to our table, neither one of my friends was seated. Along with everyone else on the floor, they were crowded against the front windows, staring at the parallel view of Boylston. I asked them what was going on, and they said they had no idea while motioning toward all the spectators frantically running in our direction. Running away from the race. Many of them were crying. I squinted at a pack of runners dressed alike and still running up Boylston. I quickly realized they weren’t marathoners at all; they looked alike because they were police officers dressed in identical uniforms. It was undeniable: Something awful had obviously happened. We immediately pulled out our phones and began seeing news alerts about an explosion. “Do you think that’s what we just felt?” we asked one another. The bartenders then turned on the news, which depicted the finish area in flames with headlines about bombs going off. We exchanged horrified looks as we realized we were wrong to brush off what we’d felt as “probably nothing.” That’s exactly when the calls/texts/emails/tweets/Facebook messages began rolling in. I have to say, aside from the moments when we were waiting to hear from our runners, the scariest part for me was being next to the scene when it happened, yet learning exactly what had happened at the same time as everyone else outside of Boston. The uncertainty was terrifying, especially when people began contacting me to say that the police were finding more bombs in other locations and we should get out of the city.

By this point we were back at Christine’s cousin’s apartment on Newbury, where we quickly collected our belongings and got ready to walk to our train at South Station. It was a couple of miles away, but we knew better than to mess with the inevitable chaos on the T. Along the way, we encountered a depressing sight: hundreds of diverted runners walking in the middle of the street in what looked like a death march, freezing without their foil blankets and still mostly in the dark about what was going on since they couldn’t access their checked bags containing their phones. As we continued across Boston Common we heard one siren after another as ambulances and fire trucks sped by, and I felt sick knowing exactly where each one was going.

When we reached the station we saw that our train was still scheduled to depart on time, but we were worried about making it out since we had heard that no planes were leaving Logan Airport and other forms of mass transit might be shutting down. Our train did end up departing, but we had only traveled a few miles when it suddenly came to a stop and the police came through with bomb-sniffing dogs. Leticia and I looked at each other uneasily without saying anything during this time. Thankfully, the train began moving again a few minutes later. We could not get back to New York fast enough.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking What if? since Monday. We were just one block away from the blast. One. What if we had stayed at the race just a few minutes longer? What if we had watched at Boylston and Exeter after all? What if our friends who ran had been running slower? What if this had been a marathon I was running? (To put this in perspective, the explosion happened around the time that runners were clocking in at about 4 hours and 10 minutes. My marathon PR is 4:05.) This long weekend in Boston happened to fall right before I started a new job. I thought, What if I had ended up missing out on this new chapter in my career? I know nothing good will come from speculating about how much worse it could have been, but I can’t help it. It was a close call like no other I’ve ever experienced, and I’m incredibly fortunate to have emerged from it alive and injury free. I’m extremely grateful to be able to  say the same for every single friend of mine who was also spectating or running Boston.

Once again, thank you so much to everyone who reached out to me in the minutes and hours after Monday’s events to find out if my friends and I were safe. It breaks my heart  to think that someone could use such a happy sport, my sport, to express hate. One thing’s for certain: This will not bring us down. I’ve made so many great friends through the NYC running community, friends I adore racing with and cheering for. To quote Susan (read her whole post here), “The running community, the runner family, is a great one.  I know we’ll run strong and that we won’t be deterred.  We are strong in that final 0.2, and we will be after as well.”

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NYC Half: Been There, Run That

So much for documenting any of my NYC Half training, huh? The truth is, it was largely uneventful. Thanks to a few snowstorms, many long runs were done in Prospect Park, which got old fast (I run there 4 mornings a week, so I need a change of scenery by the weekend, okay?). In terms of long runs, I peaked at 14 miles, but I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be in terms of speed, so I didn’t have high hopes for a new PR. 

Moving on to race day itself: I got up bright and early at 5 AM and was out the door by 5:30 to take the train from Brooklyn to Central Park. I was just about to go down the subway steps when a girl who was also on  the way to the race stopped me and asked if I wanted to split a cab to the start since she’d been waiting for the train for quite a while. Sounded good to me! During the ride I learned that it was her first half and that we were neighbors, as she lived around the block from me. If you’re reading this, nice to meet you, Brittany! Anyway, we got to the Upper East Side ridiculously early—it was barely 6:00, so since we didn’t have to line up until 7, we had the driver leave us at the first hotel we saw so we could hang out in the lobby and took advantage of real bathrooms before venturing out into the cold to check our bags and head to our respective corrals. 

When I got to my corral I quickly spotted Kelly and we chatted as I tried not to punch anyone while I peeled off my throwaway layers in the middle of the crowd. When I took my sweatpants off I was dismayed to find that my iPod was no longer clipped to my shorts. My plan was to not listen to any music unless I felt like I needed it, so I wasn’t even upset about the prospect of not running with it. I was just mad about potentially losing a perfectly good iPod! I was really hoping that in my barely conscious state at 5 AM I simply forgot it (spoiler: I didn’t. RIP, iPod Shuffle.). The race started a few minutes later, and trying to keep up with Kelly for the first 2 miles was a good distraction, as was spotting Susan, Jessica, Baker, etc at Engineers’ Gate, Emily by Tavern on the Green, and Beth and Abby in Midtown. 

I could tell early on that it wasn’t going to be my day for running fast, but surprisingly, I wasn’t as down about it as I have been in other recent races. I finished in 1:54, 7 minutes slower than last year’s 1:47, but I found this year’s experience much more enjoyable. I ran last year’s NYC Half with a freshly sprained wrist (If you think you don’t need your wrist to run, I dare you to try to run 13.1 miles while holding a limb perfectly still). I pretty much zoned out and just ran to get it done, and wearing headphones blocked out my surroundings even more. This year I didn’t find myself wishing for my iPod once, and I had a blast seeing so many familiar faces along the course. 

In the end I was admittedly a tiny bit disappointed because I expected to be able to run it faster than Houston since the conditions were going to be more ideal. But let’s be real: the NYC Half is a much tougher course, and I probably would have fared better by going into a full training cycle for it instead of racing Houston and starting over immediately. I don’t plan to train specifically for another half marathon until next year’s NYC Half, so my quest to break 1:44 is going on hold for a while, which I’ve decided I’m okay with. I recently did the math and realized I’ve pretty much been training for one half after the other (with last fall’s Chicago Marathon thrown in) since spring 2011. I think it’s safe to say that burnout has set in and I’m ready for a break before I start training for the New York City Marathon this summer. 

In the meantime, I’ll be running some shorter races (including the dreaded 10K distance…) and the Brooklyn Half for fun. If you need a sub-2 pacer, I’m your girl. I’m also eagerly awaiting this year’s 5K speed series. Who’s with me?

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