Posts Tagged ‘ted corbitt’

Ted Corbitt 15k

True confidence is a rare thing. I’ve motored through most of my life gassed up with bravado, pep talks, and blind fear and (sometimes) liquid courage. I’m good at acting spunky, brash, and judgemental–these are all qualities, when combined with how I wear my heart on my sleeve, that combine to confuse the viewer into thinking I’m a confident woman.

Rarely my confidence is actually so, though more and more often I have a realistic grip on my strengths and weaknesses, so I can at least be patchily confident.

Rarer still is when I head into a race feeling confident about being able to meet time goals. It’s a tricky thing, connecting the dots between training (I should be faster in my intervals, I shouldn’t get side cramps, my legs should feel springy, etc) and racing (every step I’ve taken up until this moment will carry me through to the finish line). It’s been so long since I’ve trained with serious intent (January to April 2010), that I’ve forgotten the way all those workouts fit together to form a viable race performance. So, I was nervous. Also: this 15k was the fitness test for Houston. So if I failed to perform in Central Park, then I would have even less hope of breaking 1:45 in my half-marathon a month later. My PR would be a PR, but it would also be a fortune-teller.

Granted, I wasn’t so nervous that I skipped The National concert at the Beacon that Friday night. I went with my best friend, CB, and it was cathartic. Their music is like opera, except sung in mumbles by a self-aware hottie. Also, no one dies, gets married, or goes to war. And there are multiple electric guitars. Amen.

As a nonsequitor for my Twitter followers: Damn you, Hot Cabinetmaker!

Back to the race report.

It was cold, but not nearly as cold as the last time I ran the Ted Corbitt 15k. Rereading that race report now, I realize that I was a lot more reflective during that race than I was this time around. I would be lying if I told you I thought of anything beyond constant system checks (can I keep this pace up without bonking or puking?) and how many women in my age group might be in front of me (less than 50? is that good or bad?). I focused on running the tangents, because I didn’t want to run any further than I absolutely had to (I think I ran about .15 of a mile extra). I focused on my breathing, and my heartbeat–was I relaxed or was I deseprately pushing? And I obsessed over my splits. Mile 1 was quite slow at 8:17 due to the crowding (damn NYRR races) and on Mile 3 I took the hills easy (8:01), hoping to save myself for the final miles. Yet according to my Little G, apart from those two, I didn’t run another mile slower than 7:49.

Every now and then I’d snap out of my self-absorption and try to pass someone. Somewhere around Mile 7 a woman pulled up next to me, practically wheezing, and it was clear she was trying to pass me. Hey, I understand the need to pick people off as a way to maximize personal performance–I do it all the time, and went on to do it a few times in this very race–but there was absolutely NO WAY I was letting this lady pass me. Hell, I was breathing easy! I thought, Find someone else to pass, bitch, sped up and left her in the dust.

There were two women with whom I’d been taking turns leading or following for the bulk of the race. In Mile 7, I decided I’d had enough. I needed to know if I could pass them for good, or if they really did have it all over me. I picked the first one, a woman too skinny for her tights (they sagged around her ass. NO FAIR.). Passed her, and she stayed passed. I was surprised. Then, the second one, she was a little blonde sprite. Shit, I may have tried to catch her in other races, too–she had that archetypal look going on. I thought, I’d like to pass her for good, too. I nearly burned out my lungs doing it, but I passed her and never had the pleasure of seeing her tushy again.

For context, I was trying to beat a PR of 1:16:51. But also, I was hoping to be able to run at least 7:55’s, because if I couldn’t sustain that pace for a 15k now, there’s no way I’d be able to do it for a 13.1 mile race a month later (that’s the slowest I hope to run in Houston). So simply PRing wasn’t enough for me, which is why I wasn’t feeling very confident. My training had been going well, but I wasn’t sure if it was enough to get me to 7:55’s.

Somewhere around halfway through, I was suspiciously confident that I could carry on with the sub-8 minute pace through to the finish line. It came on gradually. It wasn’t cockiness, it wasn’t shock. Simply, I knew I was locked in, that my body was on the case. I knew had it. Did that knowledge make the race any easier? Fuck no–it made it harder. Because once I was sure I’d average 7:55’s, I wanted something more than that. I wanted faster! I wanted quicker! I wanted more speed, more fleetness, I wanted to feel powerful and postpone the gasping as long as possible. My confidence begat my ambitions…en route to them.

This was the proper response to the knowing; I need confidence and ambition to grab a sub 1:45 (and I mean: as SUB AS POSSIBLE) on January 15, 2012.

No doubt there will be a Superskinny and a Sprite there for me to chase in Miles 11, 12 and 13 in Houston. Do Texan women race in full make-up and with teased hair? I hope so.

Official race time: 1:13:07, 7:52 pace. I placed 30th out of 364 in my gender age group, and I PRed by 3:44 (a 24 second per mile improvement).

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Wedged in between a morning of cleaning and an evening of shopping were two inspirational, honorable hours spent watching the world premier of the documentary film Run for Your Life, the story of Fred Lebow and the founding of the New York City Marathon.  The film is directed by Judd Ehrlich, who came to the story through his friend Moshe Katz, who is related to Lebow.

Needless to say, the theater was packed with runners.  The co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival asked for a show of hands of all the runners in the theater, and easily two-thirds of the room put their hand up.  Mary Wittenberg, the current President and CEO of New York Road Runners, was in the audience, as were many of the cast and crew, including Nina Kusick, the woman who won the first-ever NYC Marathon (four laps of Central Park — ugh!).

As a fan and participant in the sport, I already knew parts of the history of the New York City Marathon and Road Runners Club.  But this documentary is a marvellous, rich presentation of road running in my city, and of course, an even-handed presentation of Fred Lebow, the “P.T. Barnum” of road running.

I’m not going to give you a rundown of Lebow’s biography — you can get that from Wikipedia; or better yet, you can go watch this movie.  (Ehrlich’s team is hoping the film gets picked up for distribution.)  In any event, the man and his life certainly make for a great story, whether you are a runner or not.

What I loved most about this film was how the story of Fred Lebow is the story of the New York Road Runners, and of the growth of road running in New York City.  I’ve heard pieces of this story told through other sources, but Run for Your Life really pulled it together in one place.  Wittenberg even said, in a comment after the premier, how the documentary was a huge assist to the NYRR’s efforts to archive their history.  Hearing New York running legends like Corbitt, Spitzer, Rodgers, Shorter, Waitz, and Salazar talk about Fred and the NY Marathon felt like an important thing to be doing. I realize that I am able to train and race as much as I want because of those who came before me, because of pioneers like Fred Lebow. 

 This movie is full of “Ah-ha” moments, in which I recognized the roots of today’s running culture in the vanguard efforts of Lebow and the NYRR’s. For example, the original NYRR’s were a small group of men who ran solely in the Bronx.  I was more suprised to learn that they ran in the Bronx, around Yankee Stadium, than to realize how very few runners were in the community. In fact, the tenor of the film was more homage than expose, more history than recruitment. 

I can’t help but briefly compare it to the other movie I’ve recently seen about running, The Spirit of the Marathon.  That movie was inspirational, expansive, and sweeping; it made me cheer and wiggle in my seat; it felt like it was trying to convince folks to run the Chicago Marathon.  Watching The Spirit of the Marathon was like spectating at a world-class running event.  While Run for Your Life had a few of those moments — when Salazar set the world record, when Lebow crossed the finish line with Waitz at the only NYC Marathon he’d ever run — mainly, watching the Lebow movie felt like I was earning my chops as a New York runner by learning our history.  Now, I can go forth and be an ambassador to non-runners, runners from other cities, and even local runners who may not yet know the story.

Spirit of the Marathon was very much a movie for runners.  Run for Your Life is as much a movie for New Yorkers as it is for runners.  I told Husband when I got home that he would have loved the movie, because of all the history of our great city that by necessity comes into the story of Fred Lebow and the NYRR’s. The grandness of the New York City Marathon is certainly captured here.  The shots of the river of humanity pulsing over the Verranzano and 59th Street Bridges are enough to quicken my pulse, and make me think how excited I am to be one of those runners this November, running in the footsteps of legends like Fred Lebow.

To Judd and crew: well done, and thank you.

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