Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street Run’

Wall Street Run

I have always thought the NYRR’s should be punny and call this race “The Running of the Bulls,” since that is what it feels like. Thousands of runners, stampeding through the streets of the financial district, our sneakers pounding the pavement like hooves, our foreheads and flanks sweaty with the effort of a summer afternoon race. The streets are never wide enough to accommodate the 5,000+ runners and walkers who participate in this event. We stream over the sidewalks, darting our way around fire hydrants, garbage cans, newspaper kiosks, bankers and traders, because the twisty narrow course is not wide enough to contain us all. Runners and walkers start at the same time, and there are no seeded corrals, which means that unless you are right at the starting line, you are weaving and sometimes shoving your way past the plodders, waddlers and joggers. In a nice change up for city runners, just about the only obstacle we don’t have to deal with are automobiles, since the city streets are closed for this race. Take all of the above and shake it up then pour it over 3 miles and you have the Wall Street Run, which I both love and hate.

It’s impossible to run your best race on this course, simply because so much energy and time are wasted on weaving through the field, and because all the turns on this crowded course make it impossible to run the tangents, meaning that most definitely you are going to run too much excess distance. Nevertheless, I was hell bent and determined to run this one hard, to put my previous course time to shame (29:28 in 2007). Knowing I would push myself hard, but not quite as hard as I should, I enlisted a fast friend to pace me. This worked out well since he decided to goal us at 30 seconds faster than what I said my per-mile goal was. Even though outwardly I told him I could never do it, simply the mere suggestion that perhaps I could was enough to make me want to try. He also kindly offered that if at any time I needed to slow down, I could just tell him to slow down. Oh yeah, right. Like I was going to admit I couldn’t keep up! I’d puke first.

The race was just as I’d remembered, and expected, but at least they fixed the water station from the last time I ran it (it was in the middle of a narrow street with tables on each side, creating such a bottleneck that I literally was forced to stop running and had to walk and shove my way thru the crowd of sippers). The first mile was hard, as we set as fast a pace as we possibly could as we tried to gt a little ahead of the crowds–we actually passed walkers. (For shame NYRR’s, why must the walkers start with the runners? Have them start 15 minutes later!)  We (along with many others) were jumping curbs, dodging various poles and posts embedded in the sidewalks, cutting around office workers who were just trying to walk to the subway or bar, and staying highly alert so as not so sprain an ankle in one of the monster potholes adding texture to the course. I was frustrated, but I was working so hard that I barely had the strength to get aggravated about it. I’d give you my splits, but I am pretty sure my data is as fucked as everyone else’s who wore a Garmin that day; the skyscraper canyons did an effective job of interrupting satellite reception.

Mile 2 was also very hard, and as there was a little more space between the other runners, my pacer (who conveniently wore a red tee shirt, easy to pick out in a crowd) picked it up. Great! Not. I was distracted from the pain and my scary panting by the task of remaining alert, and not losing sight of the red tee-shirt. It was sometime during Mile 2 that I thought of DT, and his assessments of the Media Challenges. He always dryly points out at exactly what point in the race it beings to hurt, when you know there’s still a decent distance to cover but aren’t quite sure you have anything left in the tank. I have vague memories of being amused by the marauding runners to my left and to my right. I pictured us all with clubs and torches, rushing pell mell towards some unnamed but shared enemy. Rraahh!

Things opened up even more in Mile 3 as we ran along Battery Park, and then hit the Battery Park City Esplanade. My pacer turned around and told me I looked good, and in exchange I called him a liar. My lungs were burning, I felt sure I was going to either faint or puke the second I crossed the finish line, and the late afternoon heat was scorching my sweaty skin. It was during Mile 3 that I nearly tackled two semi-innocent bystanders. The first was a guy in a black pinstripe suit, who was laughing as he tried to cut across all the runners. Douche, I thought as I shoved him away from me, my hands firmly planted on his upper back. Then, just a few blocks later, a woman coming out of South Ferry didn’t bother to look to the left or the right, instead she just kept following her companion straight across my path, and the path of all the other racers around me. I realized I still had something in the tank when I mustered the strength — and breath — to shout at her WATCH IT! I would not be responsible if she got knocked on her ass. The final few hundred meters were naturally the hardest part of the run, as I was doing everything I could to pick up the pace. Even though all my systems were focused on staying right on my pacer’s heels while avoiding steps, benches and other runners, I still managed to peripherally pick up the scenic landscaping and the river view as we ran along the Esplanade. I have run here before, once with Ansky, and other times by myself, but always in the opposite (southerly) direction. It was encouraging to know where I was, and to be able to finally see the finish line up ahead. I tucked my chin, pumped my arms, lifted my legs as best I could and thought to myself, Push it for just one more minute and then you get to stop.

And stop I did, as soon as my motion stopped carrying me forward. I moved over to the fence and put my hand out because I was gasping for breath and thought there was a fair chance I might get dizzy. Luckily that didn’t happen, but it was still a few moments before I could wheeze out a few words to thank my pacer for so gamely pulling me through 3 miles.  My official chip time was 23:35, or a 7:51 pace, but I was most definitely running faster than that as I know I covered more than the 3-mile distance of the race, what with all the weaving in and out and not sticking to a single tangent.

It was the first time I’d ever run a race with someone faster than I was, and it was both humbling and exhilarating all at the same time. It made me realize I am just a little bit faster than I thought I was, but also that there is a lot of room for improvement. It felt like a strong reminder that I need to get back to my weekly speed workouts with the Nike Pacers out of Paragon Sports, and  that my goals for this Fall and Winter are to set some nice PRs at shorter distances. I may have to put a moratorium on races further than 10k after the Queens Half, so as to ensure my focus on shorter distances. My 5k and 10k PRs really need some dusting off–they are from 2002 and 2006 respectively, both before I ran my first marathon. Since I have 11 full months before I need to begin training for my next marathon, I can really make a lot of progress on whole-body fitness (strength, flexibility) and speed if I get a plan going and stick to it. I’m kind of excited to see what I can do!

Read Full Post »

Yesterday was the AHA Wall Street Run, which is one of my favorite races of the year, as we get to tear pell mell through the streets of the Financial District, like marauding invaders. Every time I run that race I feel like I should be wielding a club, or at least let my hair flow wild about me and give a hearty “Ggrr!” every half-mile or so. Last year, I ran it in a very average (for me) 29:28, and was hoping to break 26 minutes this year. Much to my regret, I made a last-minute decision not to run it, even though I’d ponied up my entry fee weeks ago, and needed it towards my nine qualifying races for entry to the 2009 NYC Marathon. I was still feeling kind of crummy, that on-the-cusp crummy, where my cold could go either way, and my chest congestion was starting to break up but I still couldn’t really breathe well.  It all sounds like a load of woos-ass excuses to me now, but at the time I was concerned I’d get soaked and chilled waiting for the race to start (it was rainy and about 50 degrees), and would get sick all over again. Stupidly, I only had shorts & a tee-shirt — no garbage bag, no warm-up clothes, no hat, no umbrella, nothing. I spent night on my couch, sulking. I feel kind of sulky now, just remembering that I opted for the easy way out.

That’s my long preamble to tonight’s race, the first in the Media Challenge series of 3.5 mile races, which pit various media corporations against each other throughout the summer, with the winners declared after the points are tallied at the end of the series. Competing companies include the New York Times, HBO, and NewsCorp. I enjoy these races because most of us wear team singlets for the races, so it’s highly motivational to try and pick off the enemy throughout the race. Plus, there is the pride factor of putting in a good performance in front of your officemates.

After missing last night’s race, I was determined to gut it out tonight on the course. I was excited, ready to run, since my last run was on Monday. The course is two laps around the lower loop of the park, which was surprisingly uncrowded tonight (I think because the weather looked threatening). Because of my excitement, I went out a little too fast, which made me slow down (it felt) significantly somewhere around 2.5 miles. I passed a two runners on my first lap, but then on the second lap two different folks passed me.  As we came up on the finish line, some blond sprite with perfectly unfrizzy hair tried to pass me, and I was having none of it. I didn’t care what I looked like, galumphing past my colleagues who were cheering on the finishers (have I mentioned before I am not a graceful runner?).  I opened it up and left that chicky in the dust, finishing 21st among females (not sure how many we were total) in 28:12, for an 8:03 pace. Leapin’ Lizards, Daddy Warbucks, that’s my fastest race pace ev-er. By 46 seconds per mile, people.

I assure you, I am not bragging. Nope. Because I realize my pace still resembles mole-asses, when you compare me to the rest of the females running in New York City. What I am doing, though, is sharing my incredulity, and astonishment, with you, my privileged readers. Seriously, 8:04’s today–tomorrow, what?

I haven’t ever run the entire series of Media Challenge races before, since I’ve always had obligations, conflicting plans, and fear of humidity (hate running in it). But, this summer, I think I’ll use them as regular benchmarks of my fitness, since the course and distance will be the same each time. And that blond sprite? Well, hopefully she won’t return to give me a taste of her exhaust.

Read Full Post »

Has anyone registered for the 5-mile NYRR Anniversary Run in Central Park?  It’s on June 4th, at 5:30 in the morning!  I’m definitely running it, in fact I’ve already signed up.  Here are five reasons (one for each mile) you all should, too:

  1. It’s a NYC Marathon qualifying race.
  2. It’s free to register. (FREE, people!)
  3. Five miles before work!!  Five miles of superiority!!
  4. Celebrating our [club’s] anniversary together.
  5. Another chance to prove what a crazy runner you really are.

The Anniversary Run is a weekday race.  There’s something very summery about weekday races, as they are official, on-the-clock indications that our recreation has pushed its way out of the weekend window, and is now filling in the extra hours of daylight we all get during the week.  Corporate Challenges, the AHA Wall Street Run, Media Challenges… I’ll race ’em all!

Home from work today in under 30 minutes (29:53; 8:32 pace, 3.5 miles) for the first time ever.  Kind of a landmark event.  I’ve been waiting for it to happen, I knew it would come.  Of course, I was helped along by leaving work as late as I did — there is considerably less traffic at 7:20 PM, I probably saved 2 minutes not waiting at intersections. It still means, though, that rather than my goal being to get home under 33 minutes, I’ll now be shooting for under 30.  In the scheme of a runner’s world, I’m still not fast. But, I can feel myself becoming less slow.  My successes here, whether quotidian or personal bests, are a treasured consolation on a bad day.

All this without regular tempo runs, speed workouts, or hill training. Naughty, naughty me. Let me pull down my old Runner’s World magazines… I’m looking for the issue that presents Ryan Hall’s half-marathon training plan, as adapted for mere mortals. Here it is, on the top shelf, August 2007. What I like about this plan is that the weekly mileage never exceeds 46 miles. And oh yeah — I also like that Ryan Hall did it (or something like it).

If I follow the 10-week plan for the July 27th New York City Half-Marathon, I’ll have to start this Tuesday with Week 1. However, I don’t yet know if I’ll get in to that race through the lottery.  Really, I was planning to use this training program for the Queens Half, in August, but a quick scroll through the NYRR race calendar shows that it went from scheduled (8/23) to not even on the calendar.  WTF. By the time Staten Island Half rolls around in September, I’ll be waist-high in training for the NYC Marathon.  Considering all of this, I’m going to stick with Plan A and expect the Queens Half sometime in August, and train for that. 

On my run home today, my wandering brain took me through the following scenario.  I meet my running goals for the year (complete the Half-Marathon Grand Prix; run a sub-2-hour half; run a sub-4:30 NYC) and buy myself the self-promised Garmin Forerunner 405.  It’s a crisp November afternoon, and I’m heading home, on a recovery run.  My Garmin happily tracks my every move from midtown office to Sunnyside coop.  And what do I discover upon my arrival? The route I thought was 3.5 miles, for years, from my tracks on gmap-pedometer, is actually 3.3, (or worse, 3.1 miles) and all the “fast” runs home suddenly convert to chump runs.  For sure that would suck.  But, how bad could it be, because if that Garmin is on my wrist, it means that I still ran at the right level to meet my goals, even if my jiggity-jigs weren’t quite as jiggy as I thought.

How bad could it be, indeed.

Read Full Post »