Posts Tagged ‘nyrr

24
Sep
11

Race Report: 2011 NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile

It’s been nearly three months since my last race. I was injured or sick for a good portion of August. I was in Europe for two weeks at the beginning of this month. To say that I’m not in peak condition is a bit of a stretch. However races don’t move because of my lack of training. With that I got up this morning to run the New York Road Runners Fifth Avenue Mile – a super fast sprint from the Met to Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan.

I don’t normally run mile races. Last year I ran this race in 6:26. I’m pretty sure that the last time I ran a mile race before that was when I ran the mile in 8:44 in third grade. Back in January I said that I hoped to finish a mile in 5:50. Last night before going to bed I said that if I finished under 7:00 then I’d be ecstatic. I took the train into town this morning, got off at Harlem/125th and proceeded to do a counter-clockwise loop of Central Park. About six miles in total.

This gave me perfect timing to pick up my bib, check my now sweaty backpack, do some stretches, and get ready to race. I lined up near the back of the pack when we mobbed together at the start. I was surprised at how slow the start of the race was. It took me about 10 seconds before I crossed the starting line. Even at the start it was slower than I thought. I felt comfortable. I’m not supposed to feel comfortable during a 1 mile race. It’s almost a sprint. If I felt like I could have a conversation during the race I wasn’t going hard enough.

There’s really not much to discuss about the actual race. You run down Fifth avenue. There’s a small hill, but then it’s kinda downhill. I hit the half mile mark at about 3:20 clock time. I was actually getting a bit worried at this point. I knew I’d finish under 7:00, but would I have a PR? Luckily I was able to do a negative split for the last half mile and finish at 6:20 clock time. I was guaranteed of a PR. I felt good. I felt tired. I was sweaty and stinky. Official time was 6:10. It also marked a milestone that it was the first time I had a 60%+ Age Grade.

Men's 25-29 Starting the 2011 NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile

Men's 25-29 Starting the 2011 NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile

I stuck around after the race to watch a few more heats. Lots people older than me running much faster than me. One day I’ll be as awesome as them. The race was amazingly fun. Fun enough that I’m actually considering practicing for short distances in the future.

Leaders of the Men's 35-39 group at 1500m of the 2011 Fifth Avenue Mile

Leaders of the Men's 35-39 group at 1500m of the 2011 Fifth Avenue Mile

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21
May
11

Race Report: 2011 NYRR Brooklyn Half Marathon

Throughout the year the New York Road Runners hold a series of six half marathons (seven if you’re a lady) — The NYRR Half Marathon Series consisting of the Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island Half Marathons, Grete’s Great Gallop in Central Park, and the More Half Marathon also in Central Park (I don’t include the NYC Half Marathon because so few local runners get a chance to run it). In my mind the Half Marathon Series is better than the other two and the king of the Half Marathon Series is the Brooklyn Half Marathon (there’s a NYC pun in there…). Manhattan takes place in January, so you might freeze. Bronx and Queens are in the summer, so you’re probably going to bake. There could be good weather for Staten Island, but honestly, I’ve never really wanted to go there. The Brooklyn Half held in May is at an ideal time on a good course — twice around Prospect Park then down Ocean Parkway to the Coney Island Boardwalk. Sounds exciting, right? It is!

Unfortunately, there are some crappy aspects of this. First, it’s in Brooklyn, which even on good days mean that it’s going to take two hours of trains to make it there. However, even worse, the race started at 7am and baggage cutoff was supposed to be around 6:20am (in reality it was 6:40am). This meant I either needed to crash on a friends couch in the city and get up at 4am to make it to the race in time, or suck it up and get up at 3:30am and drive to Coney Island, park there, and take the subway to Prospect Park. It gets even better with the F train not running, which meant it was the day for a Q train. Ughh.

Nonetheless after going to bed at 10:30 last night I woke up a little past 3am ready to get in my car and drive the hour plus to Coney Island. I really don’t like driving and don’t consider myself to be good at it. I’m pretty sure the 45 miles from here to Coney Island is the furthest I’ve driven in the NYC area in almost a year. The fog had started to move in by the time that I arrived at Coney Island giving a bit of a surreal feel with the little bit of neon on at 5am. By the time I arrived in Prospect Park 5:45am the sun was starting peek through and there were signs that the fog would be gone soon.

Prospect Park Lake Shortly Before the Race

Prospect Park Lake Shortly Before the Race

The route seemed pretty straight-forward. Twice around the park, including the hill on the north side of the park, then a long straight run to a finish on the boardwalk. I had told myself that my goal was going to be 8 minute miles. As usual, I had no idea how fast I did my first mile because it was a little bit more than a minute before I crossed the starting line. The clock was somewhere around 9:15. For the rest of the race I would spend each mile thinking through what my next mile would have to end at to make me have an 8 minute mile. I failed for the next twelve mile markers. There were a few times, such as when I came out of the park toward Mile 8 when I thought I had it, but then I realized I was actually closer to a seven minute mile.

This race was made of three different parts. First was the two loops around Prospect Park, which was very enjoyable. I love running in Prospect Park, it has nice hills to keep it more interesting, beautiful scenery, is quiet, and, perhaps most importantly, lacks the mobs of tourists wandering about. Although the hills make me slower, I can tell that living at the top of a large hill has dramatically improved my hill running and made it significantly less painful. The second part was a straight shot for five miles down Ocean Parkway. While it seems like this would be a great chance to get to know Brooklyn, it’s not like the NYC marathon. The side roads along Ocean Parkway provide a strong buffer from the communities you run through. Also, running on a nearly perfectly straight road for five miles is horribly boring. Especially when it’s so wide and isolated as Ocean Parkway. Finally, we turned onto Surf Avenue and quickly headed over to the Coney Island Boardwalk.

I had thought the boardwalk would be this wonderful place to finish a race, and from a scenic point of view it was a simply wonderful place to end a race. But from a footing point of view it was a nightmare. The way the boardwalk gave inconsistently and how some boards were incredibly loose or had enormous screws sticking out. As it had been raining for most of the past week in New York the boardwalk was still moist in some spots which made for horrible traction. A great spot to end a race, but let’s face it, if you’re going to run a lot on a boardwalk you’re not aiming to set a PR for that span.

The Awesome Finish Line for the Brooklyn Half

The Awesome Finish Line for the Brooklyn Half

As I wrote earlier, I was originally aiming for 8 minute miles. This would put me slightly slower than my PR set at the 2010 NYC Half Marathon, but still very respectable. I realized after about four miles that I was on a PR pace and not only that I didn’t feel like I was running really hard. I’m certain I could have run harder, but hey, it’s supposed to be an off week.

Pace and Elevation for the Brooklyn Half Marathon

Pace and Elevation for the Brooklyn Half Marathon

Brooklyn Half Marathon Splits

Brooklyn Half Marathon Splits

That’s right, not a single mile was at my goal pace. This is exciting on some levels, but also horribly disappointing. It means that I’m far too stupid to properly set and run a pace. On the bright side, I felt just fine at the end of the race. I had the usual case of no appetite after a race and was tired, but that was much more because of getting up at that god-forsaken hour this morning. When I crossed the finish line, just like last week, my clock time was better than PR. So the question was by how much?

2011 Brooklyn Half Marathon Results

2011 Brooklyn Half Marathon Results

I wish I had known that I was so close to breaking 1:40. I’m certain that I could have kicked in a bit more over the last few miles and broken it. None the less, I am extremely pleased with my time and it portends well for running a good race in Chicago this fall.

Keep Running.

19
May
11

Race Report: 2011 NYRR UAE Healthy Kidney 10k

I’m not certain why this race report took me forever to get up. Oh well, it’s up before my next race…

Another 10k in the park, over the same course as the Scotland Run 10k a couple of weeks ago.  I was feeling a little better, but still wasn’t feeling great. It’s hard for me to feel great about a race when I have to get up so ungodly early for a race. As another larger race I was back in the yellow bibs for this race, no big deal, I wasn’t feeling like I was going to go crazy on this run anyway. No PR for me. Well, at least that was the plan. As usual, epic fail.

2011 NYRR UAE Healthy Kidney 10k Pace and Elevation

2011 NYRR UAE Healthy Kidney 10k Pace and Elevation

Alright, no times there, but you can tell that I held a pretty steady pace despite the hills in Central Park. So, here’s the RunKeeper splits:

Pace for 2011 NYRR UAE Healthy Kidney 10k

Pace for 2011 NYRR UAE Healthy Kidney 10k

Yeah, clearly I was going fast. My previous best 10k was from the Scotland Run a few weeks ago where I had a 7:44 pace. None of my miles were anywhere close to that. I was going fast and feeling pretty good, but I didn’t have a good idea of how good. I was trying to be a good runner and not use headphones, so I wasn’t getting updates on my pace during the race. Furthermore there was a huge slow moving mass at the start and I had no idea how long it took me to cross the starting line. I crossed mile 1 around 9:00. I felt as though I was running a 7:45 pace. Mile 2 was crossed at 16:15, there was no way I was running a 7:45 pace. I felt comfortable. I whipped through the 5k mark with a clock time around 24:20 or so. I had done the 5k somewhere around my best 5k pace. Wow! I crossed the finish line at 47:20 CLOCK TIME. This meant I had certainly smashed my PR for a 10k race, which was 48:02. The question was, by how much? A lot!

2011 NYRR UAE Healthy Kidney 10k Official Results

2011 NYRR UAE Healthy Kidney 10k Official Results

I’m now in the strange situation where not only my 4M pace is faster than my 5k, but now my 10k is faster too. Wow. It was a good day. Next up, the Brooklyn Half Marathon. Once again, I’m not trying to set a PR. Partially because I need to wake up at 3am to make it to Coney Island to take a subway back to Prospect Park and then make it into my corral by 6:40am. But first, a little picture of 2U, the U2 Tribute Band playing after the race.

2U - The U2 Tribute Band

2U - The U2 tribute band playing after the race. These guys even tried to look like the band.

Keep Running.

10
May
11

Race Report: 2011 NYRR Japan Day Run for Hope

This will be a pretty quick report. It was the usual 4 mile route traveling up the east side of the park, across the 102nd St transverse, down the west side, and finishing on the 72nd St transverse. I warmed up with a rather long 3 mile run from the starting line up and around the reservoir, and back to the finish line. The weather was near perfect, calm and about 50 degrees to start the run. After running a few races without pre-race announcements I’ve come to appreciate NYRR’s announcements and the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner”, which was beautiful, even if the lyrics were messed up again. As this was the Japan Day Run for Hope (planned before the earthquake and tsunami) there were officials from the Japanese Embassy who addressed the runners. This was probably the saddest part of the race largely because the ambassador felt the need to stress that Japanese food was safe to eat. The scientist in me wanted to scream at this point. Of course it’s safe to eat, there hasn’t been that much radiation. Ughh. Anyway, back to the race.

As usual, we had that strange start stop thing before the starting line. I’d love to model that as a multi-agent system to see what causes this crush, but whatever. It probably took about a 45 seconds to cross the starting line, which seemed long for having a red bib. Most of my miles were pretty even, or at least better than last time. First mile looked like it was about 7:40 thanks to the crush of runners, mile two was a little over seven miles, and mile 3 and 4 were pretty decent at 7:26 and 7:12. Now, last 4 miler in the park I complained about going out too fast in the second mile. But I never bothered to actually look at the elevation. Mile two is almost entirely downhill, so it makes sense that I’m faster. I’ll keep that in mind for future runs.

2011 NYRR Japan Day Run for Hope splits from RunKeeper

2011 NYRR Japan Day Run for Hope splits from RunKeeper


2011 NYRR Japan Day Run for Hope Elevation and Pace

2011 NYRR Japan Day Run for Hope Elevation and Pace

As we came along side the lake toward the 72nd St transverse I was tired, but not exhausted. Toward the finish line I saw the clock ticking toward 30:00. I knew I’d finish under it because I didn’t cross the start for about 45 or so seconds, but something about beating the clock still resonates with me. I don’t think I actually made it. Probably crossed the finish at 30:01 where I was immediately greeted by Mary Wittenberg, who had also just completed the races and told me and all the other runners to keep moving along. The final results, a PR, but not by much. I’m moving down my 4M time incrementally, from 7:20/mi to 7:19/mi and now 7:17/mi. At this race sometime in the next three years I might break into 6:59/mi range. That would be awesome.

2011 NYRR Japan Day Run for Hope Results

2011 NYRR Japan Day Run for Hope Results

Incidentally, I’ve noticed that this is best age-grade percentage that I’ve had in a race yet, which is encouraging. It means that at least if I’m not getting much faster, I’m not getting any slower and doing better than other people in my age bracket. And now, six more weeks of training until Grandma’s Marathon. I’m stoked!

Keep Running!

17
Apr
11

Race Report: 2011 NYRR Run for the Parks 4M

It’s about 10 weeks until Grandma’s Marathon and this last week was really my first actual week of training. You know, the type of training where rather than ensuring I have a mileage base I actually try to gain some speed. Unfortunately, on Wednesday I was socked with a horrendous cold. Thursday still managed to work, while Friday was an utter disaster. Somehow on Saturday I managed to get my ass out of bed and do a brutal 9 mile pace run. I felt great after the run, but the cold came back later in the day.

Thus, when the alarm went off at 5:30am to wake my sorry half-nyquiled ass up and head down to the city for the Run for the Parks things weren’t looking that great. As usual, I got off at Harlem/125th and walked/ran down to the starting line as a warmup. It was nice to see that there were fewer people at this race, I had managed to reclaim my red number. I don’t suck!

Fewer people meant that I was quicker across the starting line. In my mind it was about 15 seconds after the gun when I crossed the starting line. The first mile went up the East Drive in the park and along with it Cat Hill. As we crossed the first mile marker the sign said 7:59. While I’ve run plenty of miles in under 8 minutes, this was the first time I remembered hitting the first mile marker in under 8 minutes of gun time.

I hit the second mile at 15 minutes flat. A little bit of math showed that I ran the second mile in 7 minutes. I have never run a mile in any race other than a one mile race in under 7 minutes. I also realized that I was killing myself. This was a much faster pace than I intended and much faster than I felt I could sustain. Especially if I was kinda sick. I consciously scaled it back to a pace that I thought I could sustain. My legs began to burn. Somehow I managed to pull myself through to the finish. I knew I’d be close to a PR, but didn’t think that I’d do it. I finished at 29:58 gun time.

Official Results: 29:18 -- a new PR by 7 seconds!

By the time that I made it to Grand Central and was on the train back home the official results were posted. 29:18. A PR for a four mile race by 7 seconds. Looking at my results from RunKeeper confirms that I blasted the second mile way too fast. My shins are now killing me.

Results from RunKeeper. 6:55 for the second mile? That's CRAZY.

In the end I’m now seven seconds faster than I was for my 4M best last May before my hip became unbearably painful. So, being as I’m essentially at the same pace I had a year ago, can we just pretend this past year of miserable running never really existed?

Keep running.

11
Apr
11

Race Report: 2011 NYRR Scotland Run 10k

I’ve been away from running for a little bit. Specifically, I was in China for the last few weeks and while I ran there a few times I didn’t do any races and I certainly didn’t do anything that resembled training. The few times that I did run my lungs felt like Trogdor was attacking and burninating them. I was told that it wasn’t pollution, but somehow I have my doubts.

The Scotland Run 10k was my first real chance to get out and give the legs some serious exercise since I returned. I laid down about 20 easy miles over the past week, but this was the first time I felt like I was going to run hard. My first impression of the race: it’s HUGE. Nearly 8500 completed the loop (and a little more) in Central Park on Sunday morning. A fair share of them were in kilts. A few went the full William Wallace and did Braveheartesque face paint. Sadly, I saw no members of the clan MacLeod running around with swords looking to chop heads off. Also, I realized that I was doing my alma mater, Carnegie Mellon a serious disservice by eschewing wearing anything with the Carnegie Tartan. It was completely unintentional, as in, when I woke up at 6am on race day I forgot.

Now, with respect to racing stuff. I knew I had a good chance to set a PR running this race, mainly because the 10k distance was an outlier in my PRs. I hadn’t run a 10k since September 2008. That race was under similar conditions, as I had just returned from vacation where I spent 10 days intentionally not running and just relaxing in the Greek Isles. Unlike a loop around Central Park, the elevation change in the Great Race is in favor of the runners. The race is almost entirely downhill. At the same time, I was much slower back in 2008, and if I couldn’t beat an 8:11/mi pace for this race something would be seriously wrong with me.

I was a little sad to see that once again I was demoted to yellow bibs. I’m hoping this is a result of many people running NYRR events and not because I was getting slower. The corrals, on the far end of Central Park were absolutely packed. Aside from the corrals at the start of the 2009 Twin Cities Marathon I don’t think that I’ve ever felt so packed in. The starting horn went off and we stood still. Some 1:40 seconds later I crossed the starting line. I think I started RunKeeper a little bit early, but it couldn’t have been that much off.

RunKeeper results from the 2011 Scotland Run 10k

Pace and Elevation for the 2011 Scotland Run 10k

The crowd was pretty heavy going into the first mile, but I was very surprised when I saw that I still did it under eight minutes. Normally with that level of traffic it would take much longer. I chalk that up to the excellent work by NYRR volunteers in enforcing the corral system. Thank you volunteers. Miles 2 and 3 seemed to whiz by. I knew the race was going to be too busy to have RunKeeper chime in my ear, so I was estimating my miles based on the clocks, and I thought they were about 7:30/mi. A nice pace. Of course, then came the hill. Ughh. I shouldn’t complain too much, I’d rather run clockwise as then the hills over by the Met aren’t nearly as bad. But man, I got to mile 4 and saw that it took me nearly eight minutes to finish the last mile. The final 2.2 miles were an exercise in trying to maintain what I thought was my previous pace. Although I was able to pick it up for mile 5, I slacked on mile 6 before crossing the finish line with the overall clock was still under 50:00. I knew I PR’d, the only question was by how much.

2011 Scotland Run 10k Splits from RunKeeper

2011 Scotland Run 10k Splits from RunKeeper

Post race there was a large festival with Scottish music, dancers, and food. It was actually quite a bit of fun. I wrote a couple of postcards from Scotland, used a bike blender, and tried out various Scottish snacks. Sadly, there was no haggis to be found. Also, I didn’t win either the TV or the trip to Scotland. Bummer. However, as I walked back to Grand Central to get the train out of the city I was able to check my results. 48:02, or 2:49 off my previous best time for a 10k. I could be happy with that. I’m also hungry because I know that I’ve got room for more improvement.

2011 Scotland Run 10k Official Results: 48:02, 1866 overall, 1563 males, 56.1% AG.

2011 Scotland Run 10k Official Results

I’m looking forward to the running season heating up. I’ve got a nice lineup of future races in both New York and Minneapolis, culminating with Grandmas Marathon in mid-June in Duluth, MN. I figure I should get serious about training for that, which is why I was on the trails at 6:30am today. I’m stoked right now.

Keep Running.

26
Feb
11

Race Report: 2011 NYRR Al Gordon 4M

Somewhere in my subconscious an alarm was ringing. Loudly. I bolted up worried that I had missed the race. My alarm clock read 2:57am, I still had another 1 hour 33 minutes until I needed to get out of bed for the race this morning. That’s right, I got up at 4:30am for a race in Brooklyn. It was one of those moments when you say to yourself “Wow, I didn’t know they made a 4:30am too!”. I think I only had to get up at 4am for Big Sur and that race started at 7am and required a 27 mile drive in the dark. Anyway, living out in Westchester has lots of advantages, 10 minute commute to the office, much cheaper rent, peace and quiet. One of them most certainly is not how early I need to get up to make it to a race in Brooklyn. Hello 5:10am Metro North trains!

The Al Gordon 4M is a pretty simple loop race in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. The course is the exact same as the Jingle Bell Jog. Start out on the transverse drive, go for a short downhill, then an uphill for mile 1, roughly level for mile 2, quick downhill, level for 3 and most of 4, and a short uphill to the finish. The maximum elevation change between the high point in mile 2 and low point in mile 3 is about 100 feet.

This is also the first New York Road Runners race that I’ve done more than once, having done it in February 2010 and finished in 30:19 (7:35min/mi pace). I distinctly remember having to wander around and freeze before the race because of the non-ideal timing of trains. Today was no different. Especially because I got there earlier than predicted, almost an hour and a half early. Bag check wasn’t even open for another 45 minutes. I took a brief walk around the park for about 2.5 miles to look at the condition of the course. Dropped my bag off at bag check, and proceeded to do a nice quick 1.6 mile warmup at a little over 9 minute miles. Apparently stretching doesn’t make you run faster, but warmup runs do. Anecdotally, my fastest runs usually have had short warmup runs before them.

Just a nice and easy warmup before the 2011 Al Gordon 4M in Prospect Park

The warmup also had the benefit of finishing right at the time I needed to be in the corrals. Rather than standing around and freezing in the corral, I was able to dart right in. Mary Wittenberg took some time to herald all the things that Al Gordon did, both in life and for the Road Runners (more info here from Forbes and The New York Times). I’m in awe of his accomplishments and am truly thankful for the ways that he helped clear the way for the Road Runners and also promoted physical fitness in his life. After the final instructions, including a warning about ice on the path, we were off.

As usual, I started RunKeeper way too early. I would love to have an overhead camera to study the physics and packing of runners at the start of a race as they run for brief bits toward the start, then have to walk, then run, then walk. It’s a little like waves on a slinky. At 42 seconds post-gun and 30 seconds after my start on RunKeeper I crossed the starting line. As has become routine, a bunch of yellow bibs were passing me at the start. I said that I wanted to do the run in about 8:00/mi, which would put me 14 seconds faster than the Jingle Jog, but still about 30 seconds slower than last year. When RunKeeper chirped up at five minutes I was annoyed, it said I was doing about 8:30 minute miles. That couldn’t be right — then I remembered that I had covered those 0.59 miles in 4:30, not 5:00. To keep myself occupied I did the translation to mile distance in my head, 7:38/mi. My legs seemed to be working.

I crossed the 1 milie marker at exactly 8:30 gun time for a 7:48 mile. I had slowed down some, but it was an uphill. After the relatively flat mile 2 I was averaging about 7:37 a mile. Mile 3 is where the downhill is. Even if you wanted to slow down here, it’s tough. It’s a great downhill. I had brought my mile average down to 7:32. My mind started to occupy itself with math…7:22 for the third mile? Wow. Yay for negative splits? I starting to get tired and over heated at this point. The b-tag meant that I couldn’t shed layers, suck it up and deal. The uphill was going to be hard, and it was. Coming around the corner to the finish I could see the clock ticking. “Damnit, this has been a good race, can I finish in under 30 minutes chip time?” My legs ached and I pushed. 30:42 would be the magic time I needed to beat to get a 30 minute chip time. The clock kept pushing and so did my legs. In the end, I wasn’t quite fast enough. the clock was 30:48 when I crossed. I managed to push it home at almost my exact average pace despite it being an uphill and me being exhausted.

Look at that beautiful and constant pace!

NYRR Results from the 2011 Al Gordon 4M - Net Time 30:06, Pace/mile 7:32

A 7:32mi pace? I'll take that. One of my best runs in the past year.

I really enjoy running in Prospect Park. As opposed to Central Park where you’re dodging other runners, cyclists, and clueless tourists, the only obstacle in Prospect Park is dog owners who don’t realize that a 30ft extendable lead is actually a bad idea for a dog. It’s a beautiful and serene course. If you’re only in Central Park, I highly recommend getting off Manhattan for a race once in a while. Or heck, even a simple little training run.

So, despite the 4:30am wakeup time, the day was a success. I managed to fall asleep on the train back home but magically wake up right before my stop. Maybe my internal alarm clock still works.

Keep Running.




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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
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