Posts Tagged ‘staten island half-marathon’

I post this race report of the Staten Island Half-Marathon concerned that you are all going to roll your eyes and say, “Here she goes again, we’ve heard this song before.” Granted, my nearly uninterrupted stream of PR’s could seem a bit repetitive. But isn’t that the kind of repetition we all want in our running? 

Two hours before my alarm was set to go off, I was wide awake, fretting over the challenge which lay before me. How on earth was I going to break 1:53:34 today? It was a Charlie Brown Argh Moment, if ever there was one. 

Finally, finally 6 AM came and I could leap up with purpose, distract myself with race preparations. I cabbed it to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, where I was meeting EN and his girlfriend AG (who was there to cheer) at 7:15. The terminal was full of runners, which was a pretty [cool] sight. I also ran into one of my TNT coaches, SH, and we all trooped onto the ferry en masse. I ate my breakfast (whole wheat English muffin with almond butter and apple jam) and drank my coffee and became decidedly non-chatty. I am a nervous talker, but apparently I’d entered a whole new realm of pre-race jitters. 

After we’d gotten our bibs and joined the TNT base camp (EN is mentor captain), we went for a very easy 10 minute warm-up run, then stretched. I’ve never done this before a race before, always figuring it was better to conserve my energy for the course, but today I decided to move the warm up out of Mile 1, since I needed to run strong from the start if I was to PR again–my first mile pace couldn’t lag more than 15 seconds. 

As EN and I stood in our corral, he generously offered an alternative race goal: let’s just run it as we feel it, have fun, and not try to PR. Even though this was an unacceptable plan for me, simply having him put it out there without judgment relaxed me enough so I could focus on what I needed to do to hold our goal pace of between 8:33 and 8:38 per mile, which would bring us in just under 1:53. Modest improvement: it’s all I dared ask. 

And, we were off, as luck would (not) have it, I somehow brushed the wrong button on my Garmin and didn’t end up starting my watch until about 30 seconds or so into the race. Another Charlie Brown Argh Moment, as I was totally looking forward to recording my first race on little G exactly. But finally I got him going, and just hit the lap button at each mile marker to record my splits, knowing Mile 1 would be the only one off. 

Even though conditions were much more hospitable than at the Queens Half (60 degrees and 65% humidity compared with 73 degrees and 83% humidity), nevertheless the bright sun beating down, coupled with the late 9:40 AM start, bothered me the first five miles or so–I even came away with sunburned shoulders and nose, despite applying sun block (wrinkles, no thanks). I was also a little dehydrated, and a little hungry–I ate breakfast too early. Gatorade didn’t show up on this course until Mile 4, which felt late. (This season I’ve been insistent on “Gatorade only” during my long runs and half-marathons. I think it actually maintains my hydration more effectively because I’m not diluting the electrolytes.) After I drank that first 8 ounces of Gatorade, though, I felt much better, and was much less affected by the sun, although we did run in the shade at every opportunity. If I do say so myself, I’ve developed quite an efficient water station technique over the years, and lose very little time drinking and eating. EN, on the other hand, slowed down every time to drink his water, and had to burst his speed to meet me up ahead. I felt for him, surely that uneven pace was exhausting.  He commented later via email, specifically for Pigtails Flying:

I have to learn how to drink water while running.  At every water station, I would deftly maneuver around the crowds, grab the water and slow down while hydrating. All the while, TK maintained her aggressive pace, forcing me to sprint to catch up; the uneven tempo finally took its toll around Mile 9, where I could feel exhaustion creeping in. 

The miles seemed to zip by. Part of that impression is surely due to what I remember of the course, which I ran two years ago in 2:22:27. At that race, I simply spent more time at each mile. The segments along the water, through the warehouses, and the out and back all loomed as endless in my mind, when in actuality EN and I handily picked the middle miles off, 8:00, 8:02, 8:04, etc. Mile 8 to 9 was one massive hill, and I motivated my way up it by looking for someone attractive in front of me to ogle. (I think I found the only hot guy on the course, but I can’t be sure as he powered up the hill and I never saw his face. He did have fine arms, however.) That was our slowest mile, at 8:46. 

Mile 10: I sang a little “chicka bow bow” (split–7:57). It’s at this point I quickly did the math and pondered how fast we’d have to run to break 1:50, instead of just breaking 1:53. Mile 11: picking up the pace as much as EN will let me, still feeling like I’ve got plenty to give. EN was hurting at the pace I set, but it was time to reverse our roles from Brooklyn. I urged him on, reminding him that his girlfriend, AG, was waiting at the finish line to give him a big kiss and a homemade banana walnut muffin. Mile 12: ready to go! I’d been steadily picking it up, but when we made the final turn into the straightaway, I though of my declining ladders at 6:40 pace and knew I had it. It was definitely a Hells yeah! kind of moment. EN and I played our How Many game from the Bronx Half, and passed about 36 runners in the last half-mile, but I couldn’t be sure because we both stopped counting. I think we ran the last mile in about 7 minutes, because when I looked at my watch at Mile 12, I thought, there was no way we were going to finish sub 1:50 unless we really laid the hammer down. (Which, apparently we did.) 

EN and I crossed the finish line together, per tradition. It’s possible I knocked into a couple of runners, which is bad manners, I know. (In my defense, a pet peeve elaboration: runners who pull up before they cross the finish line. Don’t they understand that every second counts? If not, then A: Why are you here? and B: Get out of my way!) No swells of emotion for me this time, I just was feeling like a bad ass tough chick. Gave a few hollers of “whoo hoo,” EN and I gave each other a big sweaty hug of congratulations–for running a strong race, for completing the Grand Prix cycle, for running dozens and dozens of miles together. The next time we run a half together, we’ve decided, it will be to break his PR, which I think is 1:44-something.  I really like EN’s take on the event, again from his comments written for this post:

TK later told me I bitched like a little girl but nevertheless, I’m proud of the effort…we set out with a challenging goal and kicked its posterior.  We executed our race plan perfectly, had a ball along the way and started our finishing kick with 1/2 a mile to go.  We completed the Grand Prix with panache and now 26.2 awaits. 

In two shakes we were flopped out on the grass overlooking the water, two cold beers cracked open, toasting all of the above. AG showed up with her banana nut muffins and bubbly personality, and after a good stretching-out we were on our way back to the ferry. It took me nearly two hours to get home, but it was good chill out time, I even napped for a second, my head on AG’s shoulder as we headed uptown on the 1 train. 

It wasn’t until I turned on the home computer and checked my results on nyrr.org that I knew my official time – 1:48:50 (averaging 8:18 minutes per mile). Not only did I break another personal record by nearly 5 minutes, I broke 1:50 (which seemed so far-fetched 24 hours earlier it hadn’t even been suggested as a goal), I came in 24th out of 218 women in my age group, and 176th out of 1429 women overall (not quite in the top 10%, but darn near close to it). 

Oh yeah, and I can check off another one of my Five Worthy Goals.

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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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The Berlin Marathon marked the beginning of the Fall season, it being the first of the three World Majors (Chicago and my NYC follow) that occur in the second half of the year (Boston and London are in the Spring, which you should all already know)… Haile owns this race, having set the world record there last year; and now he’s gone and set another world freaking record while also ensuring himself a spot in history as the first man to run 26.2 miles in under 2:04. Hubba hubba, who needs the Olympics?… I am psyched to see Irina Mikitenko win again, I watched her win London last year on my computer…  The elite field for NYC is nothing short of spectacular, Mary & Corps have really outdone themselves this Olympic year…. As I mentioned earlier, my girl Kara will be debuting her 26.2 mile chops… Also joining will be Paula to defend her title, 2007 World Marathon Majors winner Gete Wami, 2008 Boston Marathon winner Dire Tune, the majestic Catherine Ndereba. Among the male elites, I am most excited about Paul Tergat, Marilson Gomes dos Santos, and Abderrahim Goumri (he came in second after Martin Lel last year)… With each new name the NYRR’s releases, I feel a pang that I won’t be at my usual spot in Queens to watch these inspiring athletes flash by…. I ran my last 20-miler of training on Sunday, actually logging 20.33 miles in 3:09, wow. Ideally October 12th would have been my last 20-miler before taper, but I am determined not only to run the Staten Island Half-Marathon, but to race it… As my training winds down, I can already sense the post-race blues which await me. My friend and colleague EG recommended I read A Race Like No Other to get myself psyched for race day, since oddly I’ve begun to lose enthusiasm for this race I’ve been dreaming about for over a year… Has anyone read A Race Like No Other yet? I know I sent out some free copies… The reviews have been very positive, with an excerpt in this month’s Runner’s World, and an early mention in the New York Post. Library Journal says the book “is poetry for runners; pulsing and energizing in its immediacy, and as raw and persistent as its subject.” Now if only I could get someone to say that about Pigtails FlyingBenjamin Cheever writes in his review in The New York Times that Liz Robbins “packed her book with scrumptious details…” I expect more book coverage as marathon madness heats up in the city; early last week I received my info booklet in the mail, and today I saw my first subway ad as I headed down into the E/V at Fifth Avenue to go to acupuncture… My little G was a perfect running buddy yesterday, it amazed me when I ran past the point in the route I’d always sensed, viscerally, was the 10-mile point. I looked down at little G, who told me: 9.95 miles! See, he and I already have a special connection…One of my industry contacts works support crew in ultramarathons, even though she herself specializes in 5- and 10k’s. She passed me an article by Sunny Blende from the September 2008 issue of UltraRunning magazine that explains why I sweat more now than I ever have before during my runs: “you will sweat sooner and more as you increase your miles and become more fit.” Sweet!… Husband spent the weekend at the Pennsylvania house, leaving me pining away for the mountains’ Fall foliage. Fittingly, Manhattan User’s Guide has raked together all the links we need to get our peep on… And, will someone please give me a massive pile of cash so I can redecorate my apartment entirely from West Elm? Browsing this catalog is like staring at Clive Owen behind glass–he’s right there, and so, so gorgeous, but I just…can’t…touch.

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Ultimately, it has worked out for the best that the New York Road Runners moved the Queens Half-Marathon to September. First off, I no longer have to try and PR in the brutal August humidity. and, secondly, it means the Staten Island Half-Marathon got bumped to October — October 12, 2008, to be exact. Which coincides absolutely perfectly with: the Phedippidations Worldwide Half-Marathon Challenge! For those of you who read my blog and also listen to Steve and/or The Extra Milers, you will know what good news this is.

There was just no way I was going to get out there and do 13.1 all on my own. I know myself. I’d run 18 as part of my training, but to specifically find a 13.1 mile route, and run it that weekend? Sorry, nope, I’m a stickler and I like my races on measured, official courses.

For those of you who don’t know anything about Phedippidations, or the Extra Mile Podcast, visit the website for the Worldwide Half, and consider registering to be part of this global race.  I for one am psyched to put my results up against those of other runners from around the globe. I will run happier, knowing that while I’m out there tearing up Staten Island, other like-minded runners will be tearing up their local road races.  And what I’d really like to know is: are there any other WW1/2 racers here, in New York, who will be participating on Staten Island that day?  And if so, can you give me a ride to the start?

All kidding aside, I’m glad to make the Staten Island Half-Marathon my WW1/2 race. It was the first Half I ever ran, in 2006, and I can’t wait to go back and crush my old course time, set a new PR, and run my first WW1/2, all in the same day.  How often can you run a race for the second time, while also running a race for the first time?  

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I’m typing this report on my first-ever half-marathon at the start of the third game of the National League Champsionship Series.  The Mets fucked up so badly last night I can’t bear to keep more than one eye on them until they show me some competency and dominance of the Cards.

I ran the Staten Island Half-Marathon this morning!  A lot of my fellow TNT’ers ran it too — our coaches highly recommended that anyone who had run 10 miles by last week should run the half-marathon, so ther were a lot of TNT’ers.  The coaches were there, cheering us on, and it was very encouraging to see all the TNT shirts in the crowd of competitors.

So, after much stress getting to the marathon (a tractor trailer overturned on the BQE and husband and I had to find an alternate route to Staten Island. Much shouting ensued; and we ended up taking the Midtown Tunnel, crossing Manhattan, taking the Holland Tunnel, going south through Jersey and then taking the Bayone Bridge into Staten Island!  Insane, but we totally got there on time.), I ended up enjoying the run very much.  The day was perfect: crisp air, warm sun, a breeze that only turned into a headwind for two brief moments.  The route was surprisingly scenic, too.  We ran along the eastern side of the island, so we had fantastic vistas of downtown Manhattan and the Verranzano Bridge (which is one of my favorite NYC bridges).  The trees with their fall foliage were a nice, softening touch.  I must say I came away with a new repsect for Staten Island, that area, at least!

Miles 1 through 4 were the trickiest as I tried to settle into my pace, even out my breathing, and warm up my muscles.  Somewhere between mile 4 and mile 5 I spotted my parents cheering for me at the side of the road; that was a mood-booster for sure.  They shouted that they’d be there when I came back around, too, which gave me something to look forward to.  (Husband was at the race with Matilda, cheering me on at the start and taking my photo.)  By mile 7 I really had my pace, and felt great.  I spotted a few of my teammates, like DR, and KW, and V., which were nice chatty interludes along the way.  They all passed me.  I didn’t care because I felt great and didn’t want to lose that rhythm.  At mile 9 BS caught up to me, (everyone can spot me because I wear my hair in pigtails) and we ran together to mile 12.  It was great to have her to chat with.  Then at mile 13 I was feeling really strong, and zoomed.  I passed everyone who was between me and the finish line.  Of course, when I crossed a gave a little cry, my face crumpled with pride and surprise.

I was nervous about the race, excited but also feeling a little trepidation, afraid I was taking on too much.  But to finish feeling that strong was something else, and I really impressed myself.

Husband was at the finish line, which was so nice to have him there smiling & cheering me on.  I feel like a champ, even though it took me two hours and 22 minutes to finish! My hip is bothering me now, but I took an ice bath and I’m going to ice it while I go and watch the game.  The Mets so far closed their first inning by leaving two men on base, and the Cards now have two men on. Ugh.

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