Archive for January, 2010


2010 New York Road Runners Manhattan Half Marathon

When I laid out my 2010 running goals I said that I wanted to run in two different half marathons this year and have at least one of those half marathons with a sub 1:50:00 time.  At the time I made the post, I was unaware of the New York Road Runners Manhattan Half Marathon — two and a half gruelling laps up and down the hills of Central Park at the end of January.  Naturally, I registered for the race.

It was brisk this morning, but not cold.  The air was about 35 degrees, cold enough that most people were wearing tights, gloves, and hats.  I warmed up by running to the starting line around West 62nd St at about a 10 minute/mile pace.  As usual, the NYRR staff were on the ball on made it incredibly easy to get started with the race.  I found my corral, which was a bit further back than normal due to the larger number of runners in this race, about 5500.

Although my training runs have been floating around 8:10/mi for runs around 7 miles, I felt like I wanted to take this run a bit easier.  I knew I couldn’t overrun and spend the rest of the day in bed.  Also, Central Park is tough, there’s a nasty hill on the northwest side of the park that I dreaded climbing twice.  I set my goal to finish under 2 hours.  The 1:50:00 goal would wait for another race that wasn’t so bad.

I got into my corral, turned on RunKeeper, and prepared myself for a leisurely couple of laps around the park.  My first mile was slow, about 9 minutes, largely because of the large number of runners in the park.  After that point I was able to pick up the pace some.  Familiarity with the park definitely helped out.  I’ve run enough around Central Park that I know every turn and hill in the park.

As I continued I kept up a good pace and RunKeeper dutifully chatted in my ear once every five minutes to let me know my approximate time, distance, and pace.  10:02, 9:25, 8:50, 8:40, 8:35, 8:30.  I was now at considerably under my 2:00:00 overall pace and feeling great.  I decided to try and stick with that pace.  But I was feeling great.  My pace hovered around 8:30, but then began to drop some more.  Even on tough miles, like mile 10 which faced the dreaded hill, I continued to do well.  In the end I crossed the finish line at 1:48:26, an 8:16 min/mi.

Split Times for Manhattan Half Marathon

RunKeeper Estimated Splits for the Manhattan Half Marathon. The Big Hill was Mile 4 and Mile 10.

The race was great.  A completely unexpected find, and even more unexpected that I would do so well.  Two weeks ago I had my first race with a sub 8 minute overall pace, and today I ran an unexpected half marathon and finished faster than I thought I could.  Interesting things await for the NYC Half Marathon in March.  It’s a considerably easier course with considerably more people.  Should I push down to 1:45?  I think I should.

Pace, Elevation, and Distance for the Manhattan Half Marathon

Pace, Elevation, and Distance for the Manhattan Half Marathon


Running on Ice with Screw Shoes

As I’ve mentioned before, I train primarily in New York City, but also spend a lot of time in Minneapolis. While the snow in New York tends to disappear pretty quickly, once it snows in Minneapolis it generally sticks around all winter. Unfortunately, because most of the running paths along the river and through the park do not get enough use, they’ll keep a nice layer of ice on them all winter long.

I attempted to compensate for this when I purchased a couple of new pairs of shoes for running in Minnesota.  I purchased one pair of road running shoes and another pair of trail running shoes (a big shout out to Adidas outlet stores and buy 1 get 1 sales).  The thought was to use the trail runners on the snow and ice and road runners once the weather became more manageable in mid-April.  Unfortunately, as I discovered on my first run in the Minneapolis on Wednesday morning, this was not going to cut it.  My time was fairly slow, to be expected because of the 13°F air temperature, but it was extra slow because of patches of glare ice and rough ice that I needed to slowly navigate.  On Thursday morning my pace improved slightly, despite a lower air temperature around 4°F, but I chalk that up to regaining some of my Minnesota footing and knowing where particularly icy spots in the path were.

I knew that if I wanted to run better in the ice and snow I needed a better solution.  Talking to friends and googling around, I came upon three possible solutions.


Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats (image from E. Krinker on

YakTrax are nifty elastic bands encased in a metal spring that wrap around your shoe and provide dozens of extra contact points with the ground. They’re designed to fit over both shoes and boots and come in a variety of styles, including the durable Pro style.  YakTrax came recommended by several friends in the Chicago area who used them for walking through Chicago snowbanks.  They’re widely available at retail stores such as REI and retail for around $30.

Unfortunately, YakTrax don’t seem to be built for running.  While many runners have had great luck using them for light runs, I’m fairly certain that they would break after a couple of weeks of 50 mile runs.  For most runners they seem to break by having one of the pieces of elastic give way.


Stabilicers Sport (image from

Stabilicers from 32North are a slightly less common option that seem a little more durable than YakTrax. Rather than a series of elastic bands, Stabilicers are more like an additional sole that is strapped to your shoe.  This sole is designed to provide additional traction and features a set of spikes, which can be easily replaced.   It’s also possible to find them at retail, although my REI store didn’t have them, although their online site does.  They retail for about $40 for a pair of the Stabilicers Sport, which have great reviews on REI.  However, the lack of instant gratification made this a little more difficult for me.

Screw Shows

The most low-tech solution was to create a pair of Screw Shoes.  This option was suggested be a friend who read about them in Runner’s World and provide a link to a summary article about screw shoes because the article was not available online.  A little more searching led me to Matt Carpenter’s article about Screw Shoes, where he goes into detail about sizing of screws and extolls readers to make their own.   This seemed like the least expensive solution.  A trip to Home Depot and $3.15 later, I had 36 #6 3/8″ hex head screws in my possession.

Now, here’s the key to my success with Screw Shoes, get a drill with a magnetic hex driver.  If you’re using #6 screws, the 1/4″ hex driver head should work just fine.  Then, just put them all around your shoes in the deepest parts.  In my case this was where the tread was extra deep for trail running. After about 10 minutes of work, I had 18 screws in each of my shoes and I was eager to try them out for New Year’s Day.

My Screw Shoes: The Adidas Kanadia 2 - Awesome on the Top Side

My Screw Shoes: The Adidas Kanadia 2 - Killer on the Bottom Side!

While it was -4°F on New Year’s morning, I still had the best times in the last week. At first I was a little cautious, the shows felt a little funny, especially on pavement.  The whole sole wasn’t making contact and they really bit into the pavement.  It was a hard run.  As soon as I hit ice, about a quarter block away on the sidewalk, the different was night and day.  Where before I was extra cautious, I could easily cruise over the ice with no worries.  I began to tempt fate and run over the black ice, the really slick stuff.  No problems, the shoes bit and let me cruise over at near normal speeds.

After my first run in Screw Shoes this morning, I can easily say that they’re more than worth the $3.15 and 10 minutes of work — not the best $3.15, that would be bandaids or Body Glide, but they make running in winter possible.  Of course, on the down side, I’ve just relegated this pair of shoes to winter running only — but what pleasant winter running it is.

Sadly, it looks like this may be the last time on this trip I get to use the Screw Shoes.  They’re miserable for running on pavement, and I’m sure they’d destroy a treadmill, which as you can see from the forecast for tomorrow, is going to get some use.  Running at -10°F is one thing, but -18°F with a -32°F wind chill is too extreme for me.

-18°F at 9am? That's a bit too cold for running outside. Time to hit the dreadmill!

Recent Tweets

Error: Please make sure the Twitter account is public.

Marathon Times

2011 NYC Marathon3:57:45
2011 Hartford Marathon3:58:17
2011 Chicago Marathon4:20:16
2011 Grandma's Marathon4:07:43
2010 Big Sur International Marathon4:22:49
2009 NYC Marathon4:37:05
2009 Twin Cities Marathon4:43:28
2009 Pittsburgh Marathon4:14:38
2008 Erie Marathon5:11:40

Upcoming Races

  • Nov 6 - New York City Marathon, New York, NY
For previous races, check out my Race Log