Posts Tagged ‘chicago marathon’

First thing this morning I spent four excellent hours immersed in the Chicago Marathon’s live stream of the elite race and tracking my friends’ splits via the marathon’s superior tracking program. For a fan like myself, the next-best-thing to cheering on the sidelines at a World Marathon Majors race is watching it on my computer while tweeting back and forth with similar fans. It might even be better, in a certain respect: from the curb I see a snippet of the race, but from my desk I see the whole thing. In any case, the dramatic finishes by Sammy Wanjiru and Liliyana Shobukhova had me shouting out cheers at my monitor.* They are both pretty wealthy now, thanks to the champion purse of $500,000 they will each take home from the World Marathon Majors. Also happy news: the strong performances by top American female finishers Desiree Davila and Magdalena Lewy-Boulet. Also inspiring: how my friends who were out there on the course persevered through the blistering heat that took over the course starting around 10 AM.  A few even PRed, high five kids! Other good stuff: a whole bunch of New York runner friends who raced the Staten Island Half-Marathon today either nailed their marathon pace or PRed. And, my coach from Nike Speed won the whole darn thing! I think that makes her famous. Ah, I really do love the fall marathon season. By 11 AM I had decided that the organizers of the Get to the ‘Point! 5k Run were brilliant to have scheduled their race for 1 PM, since I could spectate from my desk and then turn around and invest that inspiration right away in my own performance.

It was an absolutely beautiful afternoon in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I cabbed it from Sunnyside, Queens since the race was literally just 2 miles away up Greenpoint Avenue but there were no direct buses or subways, and I wanted to save my legs for the race so jogging over wasn’t on the table. I got there with plenty of time. I ran some warm-ups and then leaned against a fence, observing the crowd and basking in the sun. It was an interesting mixture of off the boat/first generation Polish people, and Brooklyn hipsters. There were the guys from the Polish Running Club (I need a punchline here), and there were the North Brooklyn Runners (who showed up to run wearing their team singlets, tattoos and aviator shades. NB most of them beat me).

I was really impressed with the way this race was organized. It was a great size — just a few hundred runners, and the mix of community members and visitors made for a laid back crowd. Lined up at the start were runners from St. Stan’s School, members of the parish (including 2 nuns in wimples), members of the community, and the random runner like myself from another borough. The volunteers were helpful and cheerful, race-day registration took me 5 minutes, and bag check was done with a deck of playing cards (I was 7 of hearts). We even got D-tags for our sneakers, though they did not have timing mats at the start, just the finish. I have to admit, I was a little tense waiting for the race to start. I was wondering how well I’d PR, how much speed I could maintain and how much pain my body could withstand. But finally we were off, and I consulted Little G frequently to see where my pace was. I knew I didn’t want to go any slower than 7:50’s, but how much faster than that I could sustain I wasn’t quite sure. Finally, we were allowed to run.

After 2 minutes on the course I realized that the lead runners had broken away but that I was hanging tough with a group of guys. No women passed me during the first three miles, and one tall, older man from Jamaica, Queens ran next to me and every now and then we’d have short, gaspy conversations. We were nearly even the entire race, and it was nice to have the push-pull going with him. I kept monitoring my comfort level (lungs, legs, shoulders) everything stayed pretty much relaxed (though not easy) until I had about half a mile left. The course was really charming, with leafy trees and cute buildings to look at. Because the day was so gorgeous, a lot of Greenpointers were out on the sidewalks either cheering or sitting in sidewalk cafes, keeping us company. There were enough turns to keep the mostly flat course challenging. I was surprised by my first mile split: 7:28. Since I didn’t feel like I was going to puke or bonk (which is worse? The jury’s out) I cut myself a little slack but not too much, just tried to lock in to the pace. Second mile: 7:36. Okay, still breathing. Legs still lifting. Shoulders still low. Just one mile left! I started slowly passing a guy here, another guy there. I passed this one woman, but I had a feeling she wasn’t going to stay passed since she tried to respond to my move. No biggie, I was running for a PR, not to beat her. With about half a mile to go, I was starting to feel the burn of the effort. My legs were a little heavier, I was seriously panting, and my mantra had become “Shoulders Down Dammit!” since they kept hunching up. As I always do at this point in the race, I thought of Matt’s sage advice that the best way to keep speed is to keep form, so I focused on my form and trusted that would maintain pace for me.  Third mile: 7:25.

At last we rounded the corner for the last tenth of a mile, and I could see the finish line. I locked my gaze on the banner and dug in for a little extra speed. Breathing had become optional since it was kinda ragged. My arms did a lot of work. That one woman passed me, but I knew I was running as hard as I could so all I could do was congratulate her at the finish. Final time, according to Little G: 23:11, which gives me a 7:29 pace. (As I tweeted to AG afterwards, I guess I can drop down to the 7:30 pace group at Nike Speed now.) I was really excited by my performance, since it’s an improvement of 1:23 over my Eisenhower Park race. Gave handshakes to Older Chatty Man and Younger Speedy Woman; they had been my competition and they pulled me forward.

Afterwards, I caught up with SL from NYCRuns, and tried to hang around for the party and awards ceremony but couldn’t wait any longer; it grew into nearly an hour of standing around and I needed to go home and get on with the rest of my day. SL was teasing me because I wanted to know if I placed in my age group or not but they didn’t post the results anywhere. To be honest, I am still wondering if I placed (the chick who passed me at the finish was 27, I asked her how old she was. Hilarious, right?). I jogged home, tucking my Blackberry and iPod into my shorts’ hip pockets and slipping my key pouch onto my shoe. I wore the free tee-shirt we got over my singlet, and took it nice and easy at 10 minutes per mile up Greenpoint Avenue, a grin on my face as I thought with every step, I am making progress, and I am happy right now. That’s more than I was hoping for so I felt lucky!

[UPDATE 10/11/10: official results are now posted. D-tag time = 23:15, 7:30 pace. Overall: 108th. 7th out of 39 in my division (women 30-39).]

*Do you think my shouts of “Sammy! Come on baby!” alarmed my neighbors? How about “My God Lil you are amazing!”

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More positive reviews for A Race Like No Other, including the New York Post, Penthouse (Penthouse?!), Gelf, and the Roanoke Times….. My financial planner was profiled on the front page of the New York Times today… Top-notch dinner companion Mike has posted a new column on his blog Mikeroscopic, proving that it’s never too late to say something profound and literary about the Sex Pistols… JM sucessfully ran the Chicago marathon (yes I just stalked her results online) Yay Murph, could you feel me shooting you good running vibes from Mile 11 of my half today?!.. Among the elites, Lydia Grigoryeva won it, and Constantina came in fourth (Hansons-Brooks Distance Project star Desiree Davila came in right behind her!)…  Stay tuned on how this will affect the standings of the World Marathon Majors, if at all… and just a quick tease for you all, EN ran with me to another PR in the half-marathon distance this morning in Staten Island, with a chip time of 1:48:50 (that’s an 8:18 pace!). I’d like to thank my Adidas racing flats, little G, LM’s white lasagna from Friday evening, and EN (even though I had to urge you on this time through the final miles). Full report to come once I’ve stretched, rehydrated and napped.

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So, GMR participant and colleage JMK came into my office today to tell me that she was googling for information on the course of the Staten Island Half-Marathon this weekend, and Pigtails Flying came up as the fourth result. As she is another book marketing guru, she teased me and said, “You’re using search engine optimization techniques, aren’t you?”

October 12 is a big day for running–for me, for my friends & wider running community, and for the elites. I’ve got the Staten Island Half-Marathon to race; I am secure (stupid?) enough to say publicly I’m going to try and nudge my PR a teeny bit and break 1:53:34. I’m looking for even ten seconds of improvement here.  SI is an easier course than Queens, and the temps will be much more hospitable, so if my body and mind cooperate, maybe I actually have a shot. No matter what, I am confident I’ll break my record for the course (2:22:27), so at least I’ll have that. (Did I just jinx myself?) Once I cross the finish line, I can also cross off another one of my running goals for 2008.

Additionally, I am running this half-marathon as part of the Phedippidations Worldwide Half-Marathon, which is kind of like that brilliant-yet-nauseasting marketing ploy the Nike Human Race, but (BIG BUT) the PWW 1/2 is way better–completely grassroots, 100% participant-driven, and not trying to sell you any godamned thing, except maybe a sense of accomplishment and, you know, some good clean fun. If you are registered to run a half-marathon, a 10K, or a 5K this weekend, click here to sign up and participate in the Worldwide Festival of Races. It’s FREE, easy and subversive (trust me on this one, kids). If you need additional convincing, click here to download The Extra Mile Podcast, an inspiring compilation of listener contributions about their training and goals for all the different races they’re competing in this weekend. A lot of my running buddies are signed up for the SI 1/2: DT, EN, JMK, JD, and that’s just for starters. I enjoy going to races knowing there will be a lot of friendly faces out on the course, I am sure I’ll also see my dear old TNT coaches, too.

Also on October 12 is the Chicago Marathon, the second of the three World Marathon Majors races that fall in the Fall (I couldn’t resist). I know a bunch of runners signed up for this flat, movie-star doozy; but the most important one who’ll be out on that course on Sunday is JM, one of my girlfriends with whom I skied in Utah this winter. She’s an experienced marathoner (and much faster than me), having already run Marine Corps in 2006 and NYC in 2007.  JM is not only running for a PR on Sunday, she’s running to raise money for Children’s Memorial Hospital, where she works as a social worker with children who have AIDS. She’s 75% of the way to her $1000 goal, so if any of you are feeling generous, have a connection to the cause, or just need another tax deduction, click here to donate. I promise you’ll feel as satisfied as if you just completed a speed workout if you make a donation. Not persuaded? The first five people who donate $25 or more and posts a comment to tell me so will get a free copy of A Race Like No Other. Run strong and beautiful Murph, you know I’ll be thinking of you from Staten Island.

How can I let a WMM event go by without at least a nod at the eiltes? The field will be exciting. The women’s Olympic Marathon gold medalist, Constantina Tomescu-Dita, is returning to a course familiar to her (she won in 2004 and has run it four additional times already). American Colleen De Reuck is also competing, I saw her run at the Marathon Trials in Boston earlier this year, [correction: I’ve never seen her run, have just read about her in local races.–PF 10/9/08 8:57 AM] and everything I read about Colleen makes me like her–she’s had a long and successful career, and is currently the top master’s woman in the 10K distance. Plus, she’s a Boulder, CO-based athlete. (Matt–have you seen her race? And thank you, we remember from one of your earlier comments that Constantina is also based on Boulder.) 

Big stuff, this weekend.

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