NYRR Staten Island Half Marathon 2019

Initially, I registered for this race just because I needed an October half marathon. I didn’t really intend to race it. But I changed my mind after the Bronx 10 Mile, when I came so tantalizingly close to that A bib I’ve been chasing for years. Except that this would mean I needed to run a sub-1:30 half. I didn’t think that was so impossible per se; I just didn’t think I could do it in Staten Island, because it isn’t a great course. But then I remembered that I did run my fastest half of 2018 there, despite the fact that the year was basically a wash. Since the first half of the course is faster anyway, I decided to give it a shot and hope that I didn’t fall apart to the extent that I lost my sub-1:34. (I already had two of those to use as a NYCM qualifier for 2020, but it just seems like it would simplify things if I ran a sub-1:34 in an NYRR race so that it wouldn’t be subject to verification.)

And then, because this always seems to happen a couple of weeks before a marathon, I got sick. It’s a good thing I didn’t feel as shitty on Sunday morning as I did on Saturday morning, because there was no way I could even consider racing that way, but I still felt plenty awful. So much so that I decided to save my pace band for another day.

But just in case, I scribbled the splits on my wrist.

And I wore my magic shoes.

While feeling like I was wasting precious miles on them because I really, really felt crappy. Usually, I race with a nasal strip because I feel like even if it doesn’t help, it can’t hurt; this time, I needed it because I could. not. breathe.

Because I am a chronically early person, I caught the first ferry at 6 AM. This meant that I spent over an hour freezing my ass off in the terminal on Staten Island, which I was under the impression would be heated. If it was, it sure didn’t feel like it.

This, to me, is torture. Fine while I’m running, but not beforehand. Especially when I don’t feel well. But hey, at least I had plenty of time for multiple bathroom trips, even one at the porta potties after I checked my bag. The line for that one was super long, so I didn’t have much time to wait in the corral before the start, all while shivering in my heat sheet. I don’t know what I would do without those things; they are the best throwaways.

I think it is always beneficial to have run a course previously. So while I might not be crazy about this route, at least I was familiar with it from having run it before! I guess because it’s not such a great course, this race isn’t as popular as the Bronx, which means it was slightly less congested at the start. But only slightly.

I ran wrapped in my heat sheet for the first half mile or so, until my teeth stopped chattering. Then I bunched it up in my hand and carried it until we reached the first mile aid station, because I’d rather dispose of it in (or at least near) a trash can instead of just randomly tossing it on the street. Littering drives me crazy.

The first couple of miles were pretty much right on pace, which is actually a bit slower than they should have been, considering that the first half of the course is faster than the second. But I just did not feel great, and the pace felt more laborious than I thought would be sustainable if I pushed much more than that, so I didn’t even try.

Photo courtesy of QDR

Somewhere between mile 3 and 4, Kevin was hanging out on the median with a camera. Which means lovely photos flying down the descent, and deathly photos climbing the monster hill in mile 8! Between those two points, it’s really pretty flat and was relatively uneventful (minus a random anxiety attack around the 10K mark, because why the hell not?).

The hill in mile 8 is not the one I remember from last year, even though it is actually the worse of the two faced in quick succession. It’s longer and steeper, but you can see it coming. The hill in mile 9, on the other hand, is a bit of a surprise because one second you’re rolling merrily along, and then the next second there’s the bridge spanning a climb that seems to appear from out of nowhere. If I didn’t already know it was coming, I would have been very unhappy indeed. Not that I was super thrilled anyway.

Photo courtesy of QDR

(Toting an empty gel packet, waiting for a trash can.)

I had purposely created splits for 1:29:30 instead of 1:29:59 so that I would have a bit of wiggle room, but I felt like I was starting to lose too much of it. I remember slowing down last year in the last 5K — even though those miles are basically flat, except for a very cruel uphill finish — so I was paying a lot of attention to not doing that this time. It was a huge mental battle, because I could almost feel the sub-1:30 slipping through  my fingers like sand, and it was hard to fight the part of me that said it didn’t matter because I would still have run a huge PR even if I missed it.

When I turned onto the finishing stretch and caught sight of the clock, it read 1:30:31. I knew that my watch was about a minute behind the official course clock, which meant I had roughly thirty seconds to make it in under 1:30, and the distance wasn’t that far, so I might not have booked it as much as I could have since I knew I had it.

And I did.

Somewhere in the back of my  mind, I had the number 1:29:48 as the finish time required for an A bib, but I don’t know where that came from. I obviously didn’t manage that, anyway.

But I did run my first sub-1:30. On a course I thought made it all but impossible, and while sick. To say that I was stunned is a bit of an understatement.

Garmin recorded 13.23 miles in 1:29:56, 6:48/mi.

Officially, 1:29:52, 6:52/mi. 493/9975 OA, 41/4430 F, and 5/667 F35-39. A course PR by 6:14, and a HM PR by 3:17.

This should help me choose a marathon goal, right??

1mi — 5:35.5
5K — 19:25 (6:15/mi)
4mi — 25:14 (6:18/mi)
5mi — 32:11 (6:26/mi)
10K — 40:19 (6:29/mi)
15K — 1:02:27(6:42/mi)
10mi — 1:07:23 (6:44/mi)
30K — 2:11:18 (7:03/mi)
FM — 3:09:08 (7:13/mi)

This is all hilarious and everything, except that NYRR apparently uses a different algorithm than McMillan, and instead of this finish time being equivalent to a 6:29 10K pace (the cutoff for corral A), this happened.

It’s like the universe is trying to send me a subliminal message that no matter what I do, I will never, ever be good enough. Which is really unnecessary, because I know that I’m a worthless shit. The odds that finally earning an A bib will flip me from thinking I’m a total waste of oxygen to thinking I’m the greatest thing to ever grace this planet are nonexistent. I will never be the type of person who thinks I’m superior because I happen to be able to run faster than some other people; the ability to run fast doesn’t make someone a better human. So I don’t really need to be constantly slapped in the face with the you’re not good enough message. Believe me, I am already more than aware of that.

Advertisements

QDR 30K Tuneup 2019

Having decided that the reason why I faded in my last marathon and missed my A goal was because I didn’t do enough long runs, I wanted to do an extra one this time around. Of course, in terms of time spent on your feet, actually racing another 30K would kind of defeat the purpose, and I lack the self-discipline to keep myself from running faster if I happen to feel good, so I wound up registering for this as a pacer. It’s one thing to mess up my own race; I wouldn’t want to do that to someone else!

The last time I was in Crocheron Park, it felt like triple digits. Which, honestly, I preferred, at least prior to running.

I was so cold. Even though that’s an ideal running temperature. (Let’s ignore the wind and humidity. The temperature was perfect.)

Coincidentally, I wore these shoes the last time I ran here, too.

The city bathrooms weren’t open yet, and there were only two porta potties, so I missed the pacer picture because I was in line for the bathroom. This is becoming somewhat of a habit — it happened last week too, when I missed the team picture. But, you know, priorities.

It’s normal for GPS to measure courses long, so I took that into account and intended to run between 7:35-7:40 so that my official average wouldn’t be slower than 7:45. I only had to pace through 20K, and my plan was to speed up to goal marathon pace (whatever that is, ha) or faster for the third loop. I really do like running a 30K as three loops — it makes it so much easier mentally to break it up that way.

I was following the 7:30 pace group, which made a wrong turn on the way out of the park; thankfully someone behind us knew the course and we didn’t go more than thirty steps out of the way! That 7:30 pacer was apparently far more popular than I was — I didn’t have anybody with me for longer than five miles. But I stuck to running around 7:45 anyway, since I couldn’t see what was behind me, and that’s what I was supposed to be doing. Which meant coming through the first loop in around 48:00. Except the course measured long — way longer than could be explained by that tiny deviation in exiting the park — and I passed the clock in over 49:00. Which didn’t seem to be such a problem since I was running alone anyway, but still bizarre.

Part of the reason I like multi-loop courses is because even if you’re running alone, if you’ve just done this exact course, you’re probably not going to get lost. What I did not like this time was that running the two and a half miles south on the Cross Island Parkway meant running straight into a headwind. And I got to do that three times, which was just so utterly delightful, especially on the last go-around when I actually wanted to run fast.

I finished the second loop in roughly 49:00 as well, and my watch was measuring about half a mile long at that point. It seemed very unlikely that I’d encountered the exact same GPS error in both loops, so apparently the course really was long.

A cool thing about this race was that everyone got elite treatment: you could bring your own bottle with your preferred nutrition / hydration and pick it up after your first or second loop. I hadn’t been planning to take advantage of that since I won’t have the option at the marathon, but then I decided I would leave a bottle of water, because it can sometimes be hard to get enough for a gel in smaller races.

Unfortunately, someone else apparently had the same idea, and labeled their bottle so that it was almost identical to mine. That was the bottle I grabbed. I realized it right away and dropped it back on the table, but I wasn’t about to stop and go back to find mine, so I just kept going and mulled over what to do about the gel I had already opened, considering I wouldn’t encounter the next water stop for at least a mile and a half.

Lucky for me, Jeff was volunteering on the course in the park, and when I came across him about half a mile later, he had a water bottle for me because he’d thought they might run out at the stations. That saved me! He even ran alongside me while I drank some of it so that I could give the bottle back to him instead of having to carry it until I came to a trash can. Elite treatment, indeed.

Since I was already on my third loop, I was “allowed” to run faster. I would have liked to run sub-7:00, and I did manage that for a couple of miles, but then I hit that stupid headwind and gave up on the idea. Sadly, I also had to give up on running a very pretty 2:22:22, given how ridiculously long the course measured. (Verified after the fact: it was not GPS error. The course really was long.)

I would have loved to at least finish under 2:24 to beat my time from last year’s Fall Distance Festival, but I suppose that’s not a fair comparison to make since that actually was 30K… versus the 31+ I ran here.

Garmin recorded 19.36 miles in 2:24:11, 7:27/mi.

The hilarious part about this is that the results are compiled as if the course was accurately measured, so my official overall pace makes me look like an excellent pacer indeed.

Officially, I ran a supposed 18.6 miles in 2:24:10, 7:44/mi. 7/58 OA, 2/27 F, and 1/11 F30-39. (I could have won had I not been pacing, since the first place female finished less than ninety seconds ahead of me. Maybe I’m just saving that for the marathon. Hahahahahaha!)

But at least my splits for the first two loops were consistent!

49:17 (7:56/mi), 49:06 (7:55/mi), 45:46 (7:22/mi).

There was no way in hell I could have taken a jumping photo after this. My right leg is all kinds of messed up, but in a weird way, I find it encouraging that I can run 30K (ahem, 31+) at the pace I did while not feeling too great.

All the same, I’d rather finish the marathon feeling the way I did after my last 30K!

NYRR Bronx 10 Mile 2019

The Bronx 10 Mile is one of my favorite races. I always seem to run well here, probably a combination of the course (which plays to my strengths) and the fact that the weather is generally perfect for running.

It was a bit warmer than usual this year. Not especially hot from my perspective, but I noticed it because there have been times that I shivered in long sleeves while waiting for the start, and this year I was only a bit chilled in a singlet. But if the amount of dodging I had to do to avoid being splattered by those with copious perspiration is any indication of how others felt about the weather, it was hot.

That temperature didn’t bother me. It was the full sun on a largely un-shaded course that was more of an issue. And the 82% humidity. But I’ll take that over freezing cold rain any day.

Technically, my only goal was to finish under 1:10, since I came so tantalizingly close last year without knowing that was going to happen. But after the GPS debacle I experienced at the Prospect Park Half, I decided to leave myself more room for error than usual, even having taken into account that this course always measures ridiculously long.

Not that I expected to run this pace for real. It just kept me from having to do too much math. Even though the math isn’t really that hard: just add seven minutes to my elapsed time at each  mile marker, then subtract ten seconds. Good thing the math isn’t hard, because I stupidly used a Sharpie instead of a Maria Tash pen, and this pretty quickly blurred into illegibility.

The shoes you wear when you have a goal. Of course. Because the two dozen times I’ve said it before aren’t enough, I’ll say it again: I love these shoes.

NYRR uses staggered starts now. Which is great for the runners in the first few rows of each wave. I was in the back of my corral, which was the last in the first bunch of those released, and it took the better part of a mile to get any maneuvering space at all. I know this is what happens when you participate in an event with so many thousands of runners, but it is still incredibly frustrating not to be able to hit the pace you want right off the bat. On the plus side, you definitely can’t go out too fast.

The crowding never really eased up, not at all. It got a little better in that I wasn’t literally tripping over people’s heels, but I’ve gotten so spoiled with smaller races lately that being around such a crowd was really not my favorite thing. I don’t love being around hordes of people; nor does my anxiety. But even so, this course is always a joy for me. For some reason it never really starts to feel hard until about mile 8, at which point I’m so close to the end that it hardly seems to matter.

Especially this year, because I knew my sub-1:10 was definitely in the bag, and so I figured I might as well go after that 1:08:20 that was blurred into obscurity on my wrist.

Well. I mean. I didn’t exactly see that coming. But I’m hardly going to look a gift horse in the mouth, now, am I?

Garmin recorded 10.15 miles in 1:07:57, 6:42/mi. I don’t know why this course always records so long, but at least I know that it does.

 

Officially, 1:07:51, 6:48/mi. 491/12424 OA, 80/6057 F, and 10/995 F35-39. And a PR by 2:19!

That also happens to be pretty much my 10K PR pace. Which is why I suppose this makes sense, given that I ran a negative split:

And I also beat my 5-mile PR. Twice.

What I did not do is make it into corral A. The pace cuts indicate that I’d need an equivalent 10K pace of at least 6:29 for that; this race dropped mine from 6:47 to 6:33. So near, yet so far. And I won’t have another chance to try for it until this race next year, really, because I lack the pure speed to do it in a shorter race, and the only decently fast half marathon course on the NYRR calendar is Brooklyn, which of course is always on Saturday. How irritating.

I suppose I could use this result to help me settle on a marathon pace, except that when I plug it into the McMillan calculator, the only thing that happens is that I start to laugh hysterically. These are all so hilarious, I don’t even know where to begin.

1mi — 5:37.9
5K — 19:33 (6:17/mi)
4mi — 25:24 (6:21/mi)
5mi — 32:25 (6:29/mi)
10K — 40:36 (6:32/mi)
15K — 1:02:54 (6:45/mi)
HM — 1:30:30 (6:55/mi)
30K — 2:12:13 (7:06/mi)
FM — 3:10:28 (7:16/mi)

Fall Distance Festival 30K 2019

My failure to make it into the NYC Marathon this year means that I’ll be doing Suffolk County again. I actually prefer that race — smaller events are more my jam, and the course is gently rolling, exactly the way I like it. It’s the “running the last ten miles alone” thing that I find difficult, but I guess that just can’t be helped.

Because I did this 30K last year, I thought it made sense to do it again in order to help me choose a goal marathon pace. Last year, my marathon pace actually wound up being eight seconds per mile faster than my pace here, even though I ran this faster than I had planned.

I had a plan this year, too: 7:30 for the first 10K loop, 7:20 for the second, and 7:10 for the third, which averages out to 7:20, which seems to be a reasonable marathon pace, right around what McMillan predicts off my 5K PR. But the best-laid plans…

The course was a little bit different  — there used to be a second loop all the way to the left. That was taken out and replaced by a longer out-and-back all the way to the right. That’s the only hairpin turn on the course, which is good, because I hate hairpin turns.

It was warmer than last year, even though at the start, I was envious of those people wearing long sleeves. By the second loop, I was envious of those wearing singlets. Not because I was so hot, mind you; I’d take being a little warm over being too cold any day. It’s just that there’s not a whole lot of shade here, and it was sunny. (I guess I should be glad I was wearing sleeves, then. Sunburned shoulders are not fun.)

Breaking in a new pair of 1400s for the marathon… because the Next% is just not for me

The first mile was right on pace, but the second was a few seconds faster, and the third followed suit, and I decided to stop fighting it because it really didn’t feel like I was working too hard. Of course, marathons are deceptive that way, and the first half (at least) should feel too easy, but that’s the point: it didn’t feel too hard to maintain. So I slightly adjusted my plan and decided to at least keep from running faster than 7:10 until the last loop. I stuck to that, with the exception of mile 10, because that’s when I passed one of the two women ahead of me and I didn’t like having her right on my tail so I had to speed up a little to get away from her.

I ran the first 10K in 45:21, which is obviously faster than 7:30 pace, but I wanted to negative split, which meant I needed to come through 20K in under 1:30:42. And I did, finishing the second lap in 1:30:17. Math not being my strong point, I couldn’t be bothered to figure out exactly how long it had taken me to complete the second lap, but I figured it was somewhere around 45:00, so if I ran 7:10s for the last 10K, that should take care of the negative split thing.

At the water station right past the clock, I accidentally grabbed a cup of Gatorade instead of water, and I wasn’t about the mix Gatorade with a gel because that’s just asking for a digestive disaster. So I had more than two miles to s-l-o-w-l-y take in half of that gel, until I reached the next water stop. And then two more miles after that to carry the empty packet until I came across a trash can to drop it in.

The last loop was the only one in which I felt like it was starting to get a little hard, and that’s partly because I was pretty much running alone. There was one other guy near me, but I passed him when he made a literal water stop at one of the aid stations, and then it was just me. And some people I was lapping. Which made it eerily reminiscent of the last ten miles of the Suffolk County Marathon. Great practice, I guess?

It was pretty warm out at that point, but I skipped the last water stop because two people ahead of me stopped dead to take their cups, and it being a small race, there’s only one table, so by the time I went around them I was already past it. Oh, well, it was just another couple of miles to the finish, anyway. And since it was just another couple of miles, I let myself turn the jets on. (“Jets,” so to speak.)

I couldn’t remember exactly what I ran last year, but I knew it was around 2:24. A PR was a given by then, barring some horrific disaster, and even a math dummy like me can calculate that running 18.6 miles nine minutes faster means a decrease in pace of roughly thirty seconds per mile. But a ten-minute PR sounds so much nicer, so I really did try for that, but I fell ever so slightly short.

Still. That’s insanity. I can’t believe that actually happened.

Garmin recorded 18.67 miles in 2:14:17, 7:11/mi.

Officially, 18.6 miles in 2:14:14, 7:12/mi. 6/53 OA, and 2/28 F.

Now I’m still not sure what to do about this whole marathon pace thing. Because off last year’s results, when I thought I had run this at marathon pace, McMillan predicted a 3:27, and I ended up running 3:19. For this year’s results, he predicts 3:13:22… but that’s assuming I raced this all-out, and I don’t feel like I did.

But if I assume that what happened last year will happen this year, with my marathon pace being eight seconds faster than my pace for this 30K… that gives me 7:04. Which is faster than my current HM PR pace and so is obviously crazy talk, even if I am better at longer distances than shorter ones.

So I’m left just as confused as ever about my marathon pace, but at least I have a nearly ten-minute 30K PR to show for it!

The most exciting part of all this, though, is that my Achilles, which has been giving me trouble since the Prospect Park Half a week ago, behaved very well, as did my groin. The latter is always terror-inducing when it gets cranky. Multiple pelvic fractures traumatize you that way. So when I finish a race in one piece, hell yes, I’m going to leap for joy!

Prospect Park 13.1 2019

The choices in my search for a September half marathon were narrowed down to this, or one out in Connecticut. The latter had a much lower registration fee, but once you factor in the gas and tolls and time spent traveling, both races pretty much come out even. I would have driven for a friendlier course, but it didn’t seem any better than Prospect Park, so I went with the easier local option.

This race used to be a 10K, and I’ve done that three times (in 2014, 2015, and 2017). But I have run this half marathon course twice before, since it’s the same as the Go Hard or Go Home Half Marathon. Or the Prospect Park Half Marathon. Which is the same race, but with a different name, just to make things far more confusing than they need to be.

I wasn’t really sure what my goal would be for this, because Prospect Park isn’t really the easiest course out there. I do have a slight advantage because I’m familiar with it, but if you aren’t good at hills, being familiar with them isn’t really going to help you. In the end, I kept it kind of broad and decided to shoot for something between 1:30 and 1:35, which would land me at HM PR pace, ideal marathon pace, or at least with a course PR. And I fully expected a positive split, because it was warm out and I love that, but it does tend to get hotter and sunnier as the day goes on.

I chose these for no particular reason… I didn’t really feel like this called for the magic shoes since I wasn’t sure whether that was in the cards, and I was debating between two other pairs.

These won because they matched my nails.

I made sure to get in plenty of bathroom trips before the start. The line was moving really quickly, so I ended up getting in there four times in less than twenty minutes, but the more, the merrier! Especially before a longer distance race, where I’m going to be assaulting my digestive system with gels.

When I’ve run this course before, it measured 13.11 and 13.16 on my watch. When I ran my PR, my watch measured 13.25. So in my mind, if I kept my average pace below 7:02, I would get a PR.

A woman shot out ahead of me right at the start, which didn’t surprise me; seems like there’s always one, so that I can’t ever win a Trimara Sports race! I may go out a little faster than I should, but not that fast; that’s sheer stupidity, and even I am not that stupid.

This is a weird little phenomenon that I’ve noticed: in most half marathons, my pace for the first mile ends up being my average pace overall. I don’t know why that is. But when I hit the first mile in 6:59, I thought that boded well (ignoring that I went up the hill way too fast), because I was aiming to keep all my miles between 6:45 and 7:10, and that seemed perfectly on target.

All but two of my miles were, actually. The mile markers were pretty far behind my watch, but I thought they’d eventually even out because I run here all the time, my GPS shouldn’t be screwing this up, and this course has never measured super long before. All of my mental math was based on that, and seeing that my average pace was hovering right around 7:00 made it feel like everything was going according to plan.

Little interlude: since my digestive system has been more hateful than usual lately, I tend to take my time with gels; I start one half a mile before a water station, taking about half of it with water, but spacing out the rest of it. Generally, I do this around mile 7 of a half marathon. The water station at the eastern end of Center Drive happened to coincide with mile 7, but I’m super glad I hadn’t started a gel yet, because when I tried to grab a cup of water from the volunteer, he didn’t loosen his tight grip, and on I went, sans water. Partly my fault, probably, for not specifying I was going for water over Gatorade, but oh well. I wound up waiting for that water station on the west end of Center Drive about a mile and a half later, where, thankfully, my cup-snatching efforts were more successful.

see the gel?

Back to my thought that everything was going according to plan… except then I made the final left turn onto Center Drive for that cruel uphill finish. I had passed by the thirteen-mile marker when I had run to the start before the race, and I thought it seemed pretty far west; that’s because it was. My watch hit thirteen miles way before I reached that marker, and it was pretty devastating to realize that after all this, apparently I wasn’t even going to get a PR out of it.

I probably could have pushed harder to the finish, but the PR was already gone. Then I saw the clock, and I picked it up just a tad because I at least wanted to beat my time from the Hellbender Half last month.

My watch says I managed that by two seconds. And missed a PR by thirty. Sure, my average pace is exactly where I wanted it to be, but because the course measured so long, I had to sadly delete this:

I mean, I guess it’s nice to know I have the ability to run that, but it didn’t do me much good here, did it?

And now we enter “you can’t make this shit up” territory.

My Garmin recorded 13.41 miles in 1:33:40, 6:59/mi.

For some inexplicable reason, my official result is 1:33:09.233, 7:06/mi. 7/114 OA, 2/50 F, and 1/19 F30-39.

I normally wouldn’t include the finish time down the the tenth of a second, but I did because apparently, when I ran Long Island, my official time was 1:33:09.3. Which means that this is a PR. By 77 milliseconds. Except going from 1:33:09 to … 1:33:09 doesn’t really sound like a PR, and if I had squeezed out another half a second, this would be a non-issue.

It is kind of annoying, yes. But this is a harder course than Long Island, even if the (hot and humid) weather was more suited to me than the (cold and rainy) weather I had at that race, so I’m going to take this as a PR anyway, and hope to clear up this stupid little ambiguity as soon as I have the chance. And it was a course PR by over four minutes, so that’s nice.

NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile 2019

After finally, finally, finally breaking 6:00 at this race last year, there was no reason for me to continue running mile races. And yet, here we are. The pressure isn’t as intense, I guess, so it’s not so stressful anymore, but I did want a PR… especially since, in my mind, if I ran the Massapequa Mile eleven seconds faster than I did last year, that meant I ought to run this one eleven seconds faster too. May as well shave off a few more and go after 5:45, because why not? I’ve run this course four times already, so supposedly I know what I’m doing.

And I had my designated magical mile shoes!

Of course, I slept terribly the night before. I didn’t worry about that too much, though, because it’s par for the course. If I’m honest, I was a bit more concerned that I might not have fully recovered from having run my age on my birthday (in kilometers, not miles, because I’m not completely insane yet) ten days prior. Even if I barely ran in the ensuing days, thanks to being on a dive trip to Playa del Carmen.

This was my first race in my new age group. And, lucky for me, this year NYRR switched up the order of the heats and started with older age groups, so I had less time to get all freaked out! They also didn’t transport bags from the start to the finish (it never made sense to me that they did that for a mile, anyway), so I dropped off my bag at the finish, made a pit stop, and then headed towards the start. I got a bit waylaid at the PPTC cheer station before I ran to the start, as a result of which I did not have time for a second bathroom trip… and I needed one.

There are two porta potties right near the start corral. They’re there every year, and they’re always behind barricades and nobody is allowed to use them. (Why the hell are they there, then?!) The ones meant to serve the masses are a couple of blocks south. I was worried that if I took the time to go there, by the time I returned, I’d be so far back in the corral that I’d get horribly boxed in at the start and just give back any time I saved by having gone to the bathroom when I needed to, so I stayed where I was.

I suppose that was a good thing, since I was only three rows back, and I got a little boxed in anyway. I guess that helped me not blaze out stupid fast in the first downhill quarter. That, and the fact that I really, really needed the bathroom. (And I don’t mean I had to pee.)

The second quarter has always been the hardest part of this race for me. Having learned from past mistakes, I knew not to pay attention to anyone nearby, and to just stay focused on myself. It was just me and my watch, and I’m actually a little proud of the fact that I didn’t climb over 6:00 pace for that quarter.

I passed the halfway point in around 2:55 on the official clock. Since the hardest part of the course was already behind me, this didn’t necessarily mean 5:45 was down the drain, but running hard when the tail end of your digestive system is staging a mutiny is, well… hard. Unless you want to crap your pants, which I did not want to do. So I kind of coasted through the third quarter in 4:24, and I don’t know what I was thinking about that, but apparently some part of me decided everything was a lost cause… since when I passed the PPTC cheer station a block later, I looked at my watch and saw that my lap pace was 6:24. That’s slower than 5K pace, and obviously completely unacceptable.

The 1500m clock is not my favorite thing; it never has been. I kind of just ignore it, though I could infer that I definitely was not going to be setting a PR today. But once I was past it and I saw the finish line clock, I decided that there was no way in hell I wasn’t going to at least finish under 6:00, so I did manage to pick it up a bit, and crossed with the clock reading 5:56.

It took me a couple of seconds to be able to find the stop button on my watch. Hence the slower “lap pace” that doesn’t accurately portray my finishing sprint, which barely deserves to be called a sprint, but anyway.

Garmin recorded 1.01 miles in 5:57.6, 5:55/mi. More aggressive in the first quarter, don’t be such a wimp in the second half, and there’s my 5:45. Sigh. If this teaches me anything, it is that my multiple bathroom trips before races are, in fact, quite necessary.

Officially, one mile in 5:54; 1583/9275 OA, 208/4472 F, and 19/764 F35-39.  It’s a four-second course PR, which I suppose is not terrible given the extenuating circumstances, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit peeved about not being able to find out how I would have performed without that issue. Murphy’s Law dictates that this race will be on Saturday next year — I’ve been lucky that it’s been on Sunday three years in a row — so the wait for redemption will be super long.

I guess it is a bit poetic that my finish time is exactly one minute faster than my first-ever mile race, which was this same event in 2013.

Mi Gente 5K 2019

Because I am far too old and decrepit to be running my age on my birthday, but somehow still feel compelled to attempt it (albeit in kilometers), I was in need of a 5K on Sunday so that I didn’t end up doing two long runs in one week. This one fit the bill, though I failed to realize when I registered that the MTA would make getting to Riverside Park take almost as long as getting to Pennsylvania. (Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But only a slight one.)

The route was a little different this time, but when I ran the NYC Pace 10K last year, the course was short. As the Queens Pace 10K last month was short too, I figured that’s just how Pace Runs races are, and assumed this one would follow the same trend. Ergo, I didn’t care about wearing shoes in which I can actually run fast, and opted for these since I am American.

Never mind that the US isn’t one of the countries people were representing here; I can’t help it if that’s where I’m from.

I couldn’t make sense of this map in the pre-race email — I had assumed it would be the same course as last year, actually. Not that it makes a difference, because I just followed the people in front of me. There was one woman up there, and I thought about trying to catch her, but then I decided it wasn’t worth the bother. The four hours of sleep I managed to get the previous night were proving insufficient, and I just felt too tired. Which is a pity, because I was absolutely freezing before the race, which means the weather was absolutely perfect while I was running.

There’s a little uphill about half a mile from the finish; that’s the only point at which my heart rate approached anything near what it would normally be for a 5K. That other woman was long out of sight, and having literally just gotten my 5K PR to be accurate on Athlinks (it had been 19:51 since 2014, from a course that was half a mile short), I did not want to have another “PR” to beat, so there was really no reason to try and run any faster. All this was assuming the course would be short, which, naturally, it was.

As I was approaching the finish line, I saw the woman who had been ahead of me running back in the other direction. Evidently she was doing the 10K, which meant that I was the first place female in the 5K. Even though I was on the right side of the road, where the 5K finishers were supposed to go, the people standing there with the finish line tape didn’t realize I wasn’t doing the 10K. They made me go back and re-enact the “breaking the tape” moment. I’m sure that photo won’t look fake at all. (Had this happened a few months ago when I was scouring the planet for a race I could actually win and that also had finish line tape, I would have been kind of pissed. Now I just think it’s hilarious.)

Garmin recorded 2.98 miles in 19:51, 6:40/mi. Looks like the “avoid a long run” plan worked out even better than I anticipated.

Officially, 3.1 miles in 19:50, 6:23/mi. 10/221 OA, 1/120 F, 1/45 F30-39. At least it doesn’t look like I ran a PR when I didn’t, because that would be annoying.