Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘nate brannen’

This year has been the year I learned how to withdraw. My nature is: when I want something, I hammer away until I get it. But this year, for reasons of health, happiness and situation, I have had to step away from projects, from people, and from races. (Put the hammer down, TK. Now step away from the hammer. Perhaps it’s best if you even avert your eyes from the hammer. Here, have some red wine.) Saturday’s Fifth Avenue Mile is the fifth race this year I’ve signed up for and then had to scratch from my calendar due to my not-quite-right body. Not-Quite-Right; or maybe, Just-Wrong-Enough. In any event, my right hamstring was so tight and achy after Thursday’s strength exercises at PT that I didn’t dare run the Fifth Avenue Mile. All that race asks of us is to run as fast as our heart, lungs and legs will allow; I knew I would be asking for [hamstring] trouble merely by toeing the line, since I’d never be able to resist running at max effort. 

I went anyway, though, to cheer a few friends and then gape at the elites. EN ran a PR, blazingly breaking 6 minutes (5:44–see what track workouts can do for you?), and MDC (my relay teammate) streaked towards the finish, also under 6 minutes (5:37). MDC, more than anyone else I know, runs with visible joy. I recognized the glint in his eye, and was glad for him (though also suddenly impatient for the moment I could ecstatically dash towards a finish line—any finish line– myself). 

I now had a two hour wait for the first elite race, so I stowed my bag and headed out for my long run–10.5 miles through Central Park.  The morning was crisp and cool, the sky an improbable blue. Everyone was out; I was grateful to slip anonymously among them. With my iPod dialed to the M’s, I headed off. I ran one upper loop and one lower loop; tacking on the spit tail that leads to the fountain at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street. All told, I ran 10.69 miles. At a certain point the overture from “The Marriage of Figaro” hit my ears, and I was immediately elated. There’s something about this song that makes me feel strong, graceful, and fast. I picked up speed, yet I breathed easier. I had the chills, I felt like running in es-curves, to glide and swoop. I was overcome with an urge to shut my eyes, to block out every perception apart from the music and the pulse of my body; I turned up the volume instead, now completely shot through with Mozart’s piece. All too soon the instrumental was over, and it was as if I’d been shook awake from a glorious dream. 

Immediately following “The Marriage of Figaro” was “Mastermind” by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. A different kind of tune to be sure, but the uptempo kept me running hard and fast for another 3 minutes or so, as did the next song, “Maybe It’s Just Me.” (I love Butch’s first two lines of lyrics, “Maybe it’s just me/But you seem finally happy.”) Ah, there is always such brilliant serendipity in the alphabetization of the My Top Rated playlist. 

The last couple of miles hurt a bit, my right leg’s muscles were tight all the way from my hamstring up to my lower back. But, it wasn’t an injury sort of pain, it was just a tight, sore ache that I knew would be relieved with stretching and a good rubdown at PT on Monday. I was happy with being able to run the distance without backing down. My slowest mile was the first, in 9:20, and my fastest was the seventh, in 8:47. I ran the entire distance in 1:36:33, for an average pace of 9:02’s. I swear I wasn’t trying—I would have been happy with 9:30’s! 

Afterwards, I stretched to little effect; my right leg still felt like poured concrete. Then it was time for nine (combined) minutes of glory—the women’s and men’s professional races. I stood at the finish line this year, so I didn’t get any of the cool pre-race photos of the elites warming up like I did last year. I was so excited as the announcer introduced the women. Shannon, Lisa, Sara H, Erin, Christen! Ooh, it was a grudgefest between Rowbury and Dobriskey; was Shannon going to vanquish Lisa this year? And oh yes, yes she would—with 0.6 seconds to spare. Times overall were much faster last year (because it was an Olympic year?), although I am happy to see third-place finisher Sara Hall improved her time (4:23.9 against 4:32.6). 

The men’s race had me jazzed with its stacked field. I was rooting for Lagat of course, but you know I am a big fan of Nate Brannen, and think Tegenkamp, Manzano and Solinsky always keep things interesting. I really believed Lagat could win it, now that he had the experience road running, and knew the course. But no, he finished fourth, with a Brit taking first place (compensating for Dobriskey’s loss?), a Kenyan in second, and Leo Manzano taking third. I was psyched for Leo. Nate, who was third last year, came in 14th (still breaking 4 minutes, but just barely). 

Run Blog Run covers the professional race, and Cowboy Hazel reports from the pack (funny I didn’t see him in the park).

Songs I ran to: “Made Me Hard” by The Whitlams, “The Maestro” by The Beastie Boys, “Magic Carpet Ride” by Bedlam, “Magic Number” by De La Soul, “Make Believe” by Matthew Sweet, “Make Me Smile” by Chicago, “Make Out Alright” by Divinyls, “Make the World Safe” by The Whitlams, “Making Out” by No Doubt, “Mama’s Got a Girlfriend Now (live)” by Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, “Mama’s Got a Girlfriend Now” by Ben Harper, “Mama’s Trippin'” by Ben Harper, “Mama Help Me” by Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians, “Man” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Man’s Final Frontier” by Arrested Development, “Maneater” by Hall & Oates, “Manic Monday” by The Bangles, “Mannequin Shop” by Paul Westerberg, “The Marriage of Figaro Overture” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “Mastermind” by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, “Maybe It’s Just Me” by Butch Walker, “Me Myself and I” by De La Soul, “The Me that Was Your Son” by Poi Dog Pondering, “Me Van a Matar” by Julieta Venegas, “The Meaning of Soul” by Oasis, “Medley” by Gipsy Kings, “Merry Go Round” by The Replacements, “Message in a Bottle” by The Police, “Michael” by Franz Ferdinand, “Mighty Mighty” by Charlie Hunter, “Minneapolis” by that dog, “Miss Thang” by Monica and “Misty Mountain Top” by Led Zeppelin

Shannon Rowbury winning the 2009 Fifth Avenue Mile

Read Full Post »

I started writing this post in September 2008 and never returned to it. Meeting Bernard Lagat, and then watching him win the Wanamaker Mile last month reminded me I had this half-composed in my drafts. I am posting it now, five months later, because I think the photos are cool. If you’d like some context, first read about my Fifth Avenue Mile, then about the professional Women’s Fifth Avenue Mile.

 

Soon after the women, the professional men stepped up to run in what would be the most exciting race of the day. The New York Road Runners gathered an amazing group of competitors for this event, truly outdoing themselves. Olympian Bernard Lagat finally accepting Mary’s invitation (after ten years of her asking!) to run his first-ever race off the track. Olympian Nick Symmonds, New Zealand Olympian (bronze medalist in the 1500 meters) and U of Michigan alumn Nick Willis, Canadian Olympian Nate Brannen, and track star Chris Solinsky were also all in the mix.

I felt a little bit like a lurking papparazzi before their heat, as I hung around behind the start line to watch them warm up and stretch out.  I took a few quick snapshots, but then went back to the fences to grab my spot to watch the start.  I got a picture of Symmonds stretching, Lagat striding regally through the staging area with Nate Brannen behind him, and (awkwardly and inadvertently) Solinsky doing a farmer’s blow (trust me, I was not trying for that photo).

(This part of the post is being written now, in February 2009.) Most spectators understandably want to be at the finish line, to see who wins. I get it; I always regert not seeing the final push towards glory. But, when you watch from the starting line, you get to spend more time observing the elites, noticing their quirks, how they stay relaxed and focused. I like that part of the race, when it’s just maximum potential and a giant question mark. Because we all know, that even though the gun hasn’t yet fired, the line up and the wait for “Go” is very much part of the race. The press corps swirls around for a little bit (even Flotrack gets access), but then it’s just the racers, left to toe the line across Fifth Avenue, between the runner’s paradise of Central Park and the classic mansions of the Upper East Side.

And then there they are, at the “Set,” crouched, poised, ready to burst out with arms swinging and chests up. How quickly they disappeared down the avenue!  All of us on the sidelines whipped our heads around, hoping to see who had the lead at the outset. But really, who could tell, and what would it matter in a little less than four minutes? It all could change within inches of the tape.

If ever there was a race when I should have opted to wait at the finish line, this was it. By now it’s been well documented, and you all know the outcome (Willis beat Lagat by one-tenth of a second, in what was Lagat’s first-ever road race), including the Epilogue, where Lagat beats Willis at the Milrose Games. Mary Wittenberg said it was the best Men’s Fifth Avenue Mile the New York Road Runners have ever hosted. I was there, but I wasn’t an eyewitness.

I walked down to the finish line, where I stuck around for the awards ceremony. That’s when I learned for the first time what a happy and humble guy Bernard Lagat is, and when the cute Nate Brannen, third-place finisher, hit my radar. Finally, I tore myself away–I remember what a warm and sunny day it was, and how healing it felt for me to be soaking it up–and headed home on the N train from the southeast corner of Central Park.

(Nate Brannen is the last guy on the right. He trains with Nick Willis, but runs for Canada. His website is cool (especially when you consider that most pro runners don’t even have one), and he blogs every now and then. Check out his post on the Fifth Avenue Mile and his most recent update, in which he discusses how he trains during recovery from plantar fasciitis, including a tempo run on the Alter G treadmill.)

Read Full Post »

That’s right. Kara will be here this week to defend her title for the Women’s Mile at the Millrose Games on Friday Night. You know I’m going to be there, cheering at Madison Square Garden.

Also making an appearance: the humble Bernard Lagat for the Wannamaker Mile, revisiting his duel from last Fall’s Fifth Avenue Mile with Olympian Nick Willis of New Zealand, and trying for his seventh win in the event. (An aside: I like Nick Willis’s attitude an awful lot, but the third-place finisher of the Fifth Avenue Mile, Nate Brannen, I think is kind of cute.)

Also, a BIG FAT THANK YOU to LW, who forwarded me an announcement from Facebook that Kara and Bernard are going to be present at a Q&A after a group run out of New York Running Company’s Upper East Side location on Thursday evening (January 29th). You know I’m going to be there, trying not to make a total dork of myself by blurting out a marriage proposal to either/both of them.

Here are the details:

Learn from the best after getting in your own 3- or 5-mile training run with RUN NYC. Training run will depart NY Running Co.’s Upper East Side location (1059 Third Avenue between 62nd & 63rd Streets) promptly at 6:30pm; athlete Q&A will follow.  RSVP now to news@runnyc.org.

Read Full Post »