Fourfer Race Recap

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June 2013 will have to go down as a record race month for me. I ran seven races, including the David Lerner Police Appreciation Run, which was not featured in the blog. There were many teachable and enjoyable moments. Below are recaps of my last four races. Excuse the long length of this entry.

HEALTHY HEMPSTEAD 5K

Finally, a nice, fun, feel good race. It probably helped that I got decent amount of sleep, ate a peanut butter sandwich and swigged a little Gatorade an hour before hand. This race was brought to my attention by BGR member Super D (she’s faster than a speeding train), who made a heart felt plea for BGR Long Island to support her hometown in this race. Although I had penciled this race onto my calendar, I was feeling some trepidation after my little episode at Mini 10K the prior week. So I decided to play it by ear, but by Wednesday I knew that I would be back at it. Besides, a 5K would be a safe distance.

BGR Healthy Hempstead

It felt good to run through the streets of Hempstead. There was no park running. Yippee. At mile one, I passed my former employer Tom Suozzi, who is currently running for Nassau County Executive. Got to respect a politician who kisses babies on the run. I ran with him for a couple of minutes and moved on. I was in search of a water station. It was hot. I got my water and crossed the finish line with a time of 28:53. I enjoyed a nice cool coconut water and felt good about supporting the students of Hempstead, which is where the proceeds of the race went. Next up, the MetLife Stadium.

NY GIANTS RUN OF CHAMPIONS 5K

This run seemed pretty cool. New York Road Runners promised that we would run into the end zone at the MetLife stadium to finish the race. And they delivered. I’ll admit that everything before the end wasn’t extremely remarkable. Although, as I crossed the start line there were some burly fellows giving the runners high fives. I suspected that they were former Giants and got a five or two. Pity that I know nothing about football or the Giants franchise. The race route traveled around the parking lot of the sports complex. And I found out why the Giants are such a good team. Turns out that the sun shines directly on them bringing its blessings. Only on this day, the sun was shining right on the runners and on my head. It was 3 miles of unshaded sunshine. And at mile 2.5 there was a hill. Yes, a hill in the parking lot race. Turns out we had to run over a ramp to the overpass of the highway. At the base of the hill, the guy next to me loudly announced to his female running companion, “There’s a hill coming up.” I wanted to smack him on her behalf. Yes guy, we ALL see the hill. Soon after, but not soon enough, we ran into the tunnel to enter the stadium. The few short cool moments in the tunnel were heavenly. The only thing better was running the last 100 meters on the football field into the end zone with spectators cheering and your image on the jumbotron. It was an awesome finish that lived up to the hype. I crossed the line in 29:40.

giants 5k

I really liked this race, even though it was a little wasted on me. It was a family friendly event that provided lots of fun for Giants fans. There was a locker room tour, games for the children and an opportunity to meet players. Plus I had the best orange I have ever eaten. I’m going to have to watch some games next season. Next up, Glow 2 Run 5K.

RUN 2 GLOW 5K

I was really excited about this race. This would be my first fun race. It was an untimed run-walk race that was making its New York debut. I promptly signed myself and my daughter up. She’s 7 years old and I figured it would be the perfect race for us to run together. Turns out my daughter is an international world traveler and was vacationing on the run date. So, I had to go it alone. Or not …

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BGR was out in full force. We had glow in the dark paint, glasses, headdresses and all kinds of accoutrements. We were ready to Glow Hard or Glow Home (that was the race tag line). Bring on Run 2 Glow.

Haaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. That’s my sighing sound. Not the Waiting to Exhale kind of sigh when something good happens. It’s the sigh that you give when your kid brings home a “note” from the teacher or you burn the pot roast. Haaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. To be fair, the signs were there before the race. Sign #1: A couple of days before the race they sent out emails instructing us to bring a change of clothing and not to run in anything that we didn’t want ruined. What? I just thought we’d be glowing in the dark. What is this? A mud run? Sign #2: The most unorganized packet pick up I have ever seen. Everyone had to pick up their packet in person on race day between 5 P.M. and 8:00 P.M. at a tent. Considering the race started at 9:00 P.M. it was foreseeable that there would be a 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. rush. So what do the race organizer’s do? They had you pick up your bib at an alphabetized station and THEN you had to go to another station to pick up your t-shirt. Then you had to make a third stop to pick up your glow gear that they were placing in bags as you stood waiting in a crowd of people flocking a table in the too small tent (the website says the tent is huge). Why were the bags not premade with your t-shirt and distributed with your bib. It was mass mayhem. Even after you picked up your stuff it was difficult to get out because the crowd behind you was pushing forward. I did more sweating in the tent than on the run. We’ll get to the run.

Since we had been waiting around for at least an hour, everyone was anxious for the race to start. By 9:00 P.M. it was dark and there were throngs of people glowing in the tunnel at the start line. Only the race didn’t start. They kept making announcements that the walkers should move south (whatever that meant) and then they changed it, saying that the runners should move to the right. I had a timed race in the morning and so I was in the walking category. We didn’t mind too much because they had music pumping and there was a fun atmosphere but the start was just confusing.The race began maybe 20 minutes late. I’m not even sure.

The race route appeared to be around the perimeter of the Belmont Racetrack facility. After we got going, I saw a couple of kids standing on the side with garden hoses. They were spraying the participants with what I later found out was glow paint. I dodged the kids. I thought it looked a little low budget but the race had just started. After I walked a little further I realized it was really dark and I couldn’t see the surface of the trail that kept switching from paved to dirt and was complete with potholes. And it was eerily quiet. Now I was mad at myself for leaving my iPod in the car. Thankfully, I met up with Wanda, a BGR member and we kept each other company. At around mile 1.5, there was a water station. Wanda went to get some water. The cups were empty. Moving right along. We saw a UV light station. It was easily identified because it was the spot to the left where people had stopped to gather around a solitary light like flies looking at their body paint glow. Wow. This is not what I had envisioned.

Wanda and I picked up the pace. We decided the sooner this was over the better. Besides I think the pungent smell of horse poop that was hanging in the air was getting to us. We bumped into two more BGR ladies. They confirmed that the race was in fact bootleg. And speaking of bootleg, at a couple of spots on the trail there was music being played and a couple of girls dancing. At first I thought they were runners but in retrospect, I believe they were supposed to be some form of entertainment. We continued on and saw some kind of road kill in the middle of the trail. I refused to look directly at it because everything is scarier in the dark, but was told it was a pigeon. Then we saw the highlight of the race. It was a foam station. We stopped and took a picture. There was a man hanging out in the foam, who I figured was a runner assisting with picture taking. But as we were moving along, he said to me, “Oh I have to get back to the bubble machine.” This whole thing was like the Wizard of Oz being exposed from behind the curtain.

Now we were trudging along on a dirt path, making mud with the foam that was stuck to our shoes. We saw an ambulance and someone on a gurney. We figured it was someone who didn’t get the memo that they should not be running this craziness. It was too dark with too many bumps and obstructions on the road. Then we got to a huge parking lot filled with new cars from a dealership. It was too dark to tell what kind of cars they were. But we were so bored that we came up with a concept for a running game show where you were presented with a car key medal and had to run back to find your prize car amid all of the new cars by a certain time. We were snapped out of our fantasy by the sound of music. As we got closer to the music, we realized it was coming out of someone’s car. Seriously? One of the race organizer’s must have recruited their uncle Bob to park his car and open all the doors while blasting his car stereo. I CANNOT. We finally saw the finish line and after getting good and close to it, we ran to the finish. And we were then presented with the prettiest piece of bling.

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True, it wasn’t a car key but things were definitely looking up. It didn’t hurt that we were able to use the “facilities” and I do mean the Belmont Racetrack facilities. Public bathrooms are like five star accommodations at races. Then we saw a child sitting on a bench, and he was saying something to us that sounded like, “War, war, war.” What is it boy? “Water and Beer.” He was pointing us to the post race party. Poor kid looked like he was parched and out past his bedtime. I flirted with the idea of calling child services. We headed to the party where they had some decent pasta, salad and I even saw mash potatoes. I had some pasta and needed to wash it down, but when I went looking for the water all I saw were a few people gathered around a man who was unsuccessfully trying to scoop water out of an upright cooler. It was officially time to blow this unfun fun race. Next stop (after a real post race party at my girl Jazz’s house) the Achilles Hope and Possibility 5 Miler. Jazz had water. Thanks Jazz.

ACHILLES HOPE & POSSIBILITY 5 MILER 2013

I’ll cop to being nervous about this one. It was my first race over 3.1 miles and in Central Park since The Incident. But, I made sure I had my peanut butter on wheat with Gatorade and plenty of water. So I was good to go. Now, I know it was hot out there because I was sweating hard before the race even began. It had to be at least 80 degrees when the race started. I’m not sure why NYRR starts the summer races so late, in this case 9:00 a.m.

Anyway, this race was truly special. It was founded to provide individuals with physical and mental disabilities with an opportunity to participate in a race. And it wasn’t long after the start of the race that I saw just how inspirational the participants could be in their determination. There were quite a few amputees running and I actually got a tear in my eye while I was running uphill and looked over and saw a man in a wheelchair struggling to push himself up the hill. He was literally inching his way. My first instinct was to assist him but I noticed that there were a couple of people with him who were encouraging him but would not physically assist. His determination made me feel really small about constantly complaining about running hills. The runners cheered for him and others who were running with disabilities.

I decided to take my time on this race. and for the first time I saw the statue of Fred Lebow, the founder of the NYC Marathon, looking at his watch. I still didn’t see the panther, or whatever it is on Cat Hill. At mile 3, we (my running partner Janet and I) decided that we would walk the remaining hills. This resulted in my most enjoyable Central Park race. It felt so good to not run the park as if I was being chased by a pack of wolves, which is my usual practice. With .75 miles to go, we decided to run the rest of the race. So of course there was a hill right before the finish line. No problem. We were feeling strong and conquered. I crossed he finish with a time of 56:50.

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Check out the unexpected medal. It was a good day at Central Park. I think this will be my last Central Park race for 2013 and it was good to go out on a high note.

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Oakley Mini 10K 2013 Recap

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Aahh, the Mini 10K. I had been looking forward to this race. It was a PR just waiting to happen. First of all, I have to make clear that there is nothing mini about the race. It’s a full out 10K, yes 6.2 miles. So why is it called a “mini” 10? Beats me. The only thing that I’ve been able to attribute the name to is the fact that it was the first all women’s race. And maybe they thought calling a women’s race a “mini” was fitting back in 1972. So back to me. Since the race started outside of the wretched Central Park and ran along the flatter Central Park West for a mile and a half, this was my chance to make up some time by avoiding a couple of those nasty hills.

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The race starting on Central Park West

As I expected the first couple of miles were great. My only gripe was the congestion. There was a lot of running around others and clipping of heels. But due to the flat terrain, I was still able to make good time. By the time I hit the 3.1 mile mark, I had completed some hills and was feeling good. I heard a spectator yell, “You’re doing great, you’ve got great form!” Despite the fact that there were probably 30 other runners around me, I assumed he was talking to me because hey, I was looking good. My Garmin was telling me that I was not only on track to PR but to run a sub one (complete the race in under an hour). Yeah baby, it was Chariots of Fire. I could hear the music playing in my head … because you didn’t really think it was on my iPod? Today was my day.

Well I’m not exactly sure when the wheels fell off but FALL OFF THEY DID. I remember trudging up a hill at around mile 4.5 and a runner from Black Girls Run was passing me. I didn’t know her but she encouragingly rested her hand on my back for a moment. I had a Annapolis flashback and knew things were not looking good and neither was I.

I imagine this is how I looked.

tired-runner

Not only was I tired and mad at the hills in the wretched park but I started to feel hunger pangs. I was reminded that all I had eaten were two Milano cookies that I had retrieved from my purse on my way to the race. I know, I know. I had done my homework so I knew that the next and last water station was coming up at mile 5. I figured I’d stop, get a decent drink of water and blast out the last mile.

Mile 5 seemed to take forever to come but sure enough the trusty water station was not far off. I walked through and took a pretty good drink of water. I managed to get going again but it was tough. The hills just seemed to keep coming and the temperature was heating up. I wasn’t even finding any comfort in my playlist. In fact, I wasn’t even paying any attention to the music I was just focused on getting through the run. The last time I recall looking at my watch was at mile 5.8. Because I remember thinking, “Seriously, I’m not at mile 6 yet?”

Now this is where things started to get fuzzy for me. I don’t recall much of the last quarter mile of the race. I can tell by my Garmin readout that I stopped running. I really thought I ran the entire race. One thing that I have learned is that running is a massive mind game. Once you start thinking you are done, it’s over. My Garmin has been measuring the Central Park 10Ks at 6.39 miles and so I knew I was going to have to run further than the 6.2 reflected on my watch. This usually isn’t a problem but I just wasn’t up for it on this day. According to Garmin, at 1:01:25 (1 hour, 1 minute and 25 seconds) I was doing a 18:04 minute mile pace and at 1:02:30 I was at 21:30 … What you takin’ ’bout Willis? I didn’t even know it was possible to walk that slow. I must have been meandering around Central Park picking dandelions. If anyone has video of me, let me know because I want to know what I was doing. By 1:03:31 (my official race time) my pace had increased to 14:33. I do remember that part. The finish line suddenly appeared, like a mirage, and I sprinted to the finish. Well at least I thought I was sprinting at the time. I now see that it was more like a super slow trot. I saw what seemed to be two timing strips on the ground and couldn’t figure out which one constituted the finish. I believe I went with the second one to be safe and then stopped abruptly after I crossed it. That’s when I started swaying and felt myself going down.

The next thing I recall, my feet were not on the ground. I was being carried and put in a wheelchair. I heard BGR angel Lisa’s voice calling my name. She later told me that she asked me what happened and I said, “Woo-woo-woosy.” For some reason that’s really funny to me now. I don’t really remember that but I do recall hearing her yell, “Mama Rose!!!” The next thing I know I’m in the medical tent and I heard another one of my BGR sister’s voices. She was telling the medical personnel that she was my family. It was the BGR Long Island member affectionately known as Mama Rose. She and her daughter Shari were putting ice packs all over me. Turns out I was burning up. The medic told me that my blood pressure was good (I didn’t even know that he had taken it) and that I had fainted. Then he made me drink Gatorade. It was purple and tasty. I have to add that one to my repertoire. It was Riptide something or the other. Mama Rose never left my side. She and Shari removed my hat and shoes and made sure the industrial sized fan was pointed right at me. I was feeling much better and figured it was time to leave and so Mama Rose and the medic helped me up. That was short lived. I just couldn’t get my balance. So back into the wheelchair for me. At one point the medic said, “I think you dropped your medal” and handed it to me. I have no idea when that medal first came into my possession but I was really glad to have it. I’m a finisher!!!

Beautiful Bling
Beautiful Bling

My second attempt at walking went a lot better. I was still a little shaky but was determined to get out of the tent. I left Mama Rose and Shari assisting other family members and went to meet the rest of the BGR Long Island crew. Shout out to BGR, they were right outside the tent and I was thankful to stand around with them for a little while I got my bearings.

And a special shout out to the race medics for making sure I didn’t hit the ground. They must have seen the the slow motion disaster coming down the stretch. As unfortunate and embarrassing as this incident was, I was glad to learn a few lessons. Never race without being properly fueled, hydrated and rested. I used to do my training runs on empty but have been working on incorporating breakfast for my longer morning weekend runs. Also, since duty called the night before the race, I was up much later than I should have been, especially since I had run a 5K the night before that. In retrospect, I should have scrapped my personal record plans and just enjoyed the race at an easier pace.

I would love to link my Garmin Connect analysis of the this race but cannot because I didn’t turn the watch off until I got home and had been there for a couple of hours. And the readout leaves a breadcrumb trail right to my front door (can’t encourage the stalkers). Yeah, you know things are bad when you don’t stop your watch at the finish line.

Anyway here are my splits through mile 7.

Mile 1 9:40
Mile 2 9:29
Mile 3 9:08
Mile 4 10:11
Mile 5 9:58
Mile 6 10:34
Mile 7 46:29

Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon 2013 Recap

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Zooma Annapolis promised to be a great race. Zooma puts on a series of women’s races across the country and its slogan is Run, Laugh, Celebrate.  You could run a 10K or a Half Marathon. It sounded like the perfect race for Black Girls Run to participate in, after all we are a women’s running group and Zooma was pulling out all the stops with a pre-race day mocktail party, access to all-weekend yoga and post race massages. They even had a PR program set up so that runners who achieved their personal best or ran their first half marathon would receive a special medal. And, I got to meet the BGR visionaries Ashley Hicks and Toni Carey. What’s not to love, right?

Wrong. I have renamed this race “Zooma Annapol-hades: The Hilly Hot Mess.” Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad if you exclude the actual race from the equation … yeah you know, the real purpose of the event. There was a nice little expo going during packet pick-up, where I got my Achilles taped with Kinesio tape. We enjoyed a well thought out pre-race day dinner that appeared as a special on the host hotel’s menu before taking a stroll through beautiful downtown Annapolis.

Me at the Alex Haley Memorial in Annapolis
Me at the Alex Haley Memorial in Annapolis
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Kunta Kinte, who was portrayed by Levar Burton and John Amos in the movie Roots, along with 97 other Africans ended their involuntary journey to America in Annapolis.

We were enjoying Annapolis and all was good in the world until the actual race. Since the race started at 7:00 a.m., we left the hotel close to 6:00 a.m. but not before I had to re-tape my achilles. The expo taping didn’t make it through the night. The walk  to the start line at the Naval Stadium was around 3/4 of a mile and was a pretty good warm up. At the stadium, there weren’t any corrals and there didn’t seem to be all that many women at the start line. I heard that most of the runners seemed to be lined up at the porta-potties but I couldn’t see the potties from where I was standing. Then the strangest thing happened. It was 7:00 a.m. and nothing seemed to be happening and so I figured the race was starting late. Anyway, a few moments later I heard the announcer excitedly say, “You’re almost at the start line.” What? The race had started? No anthem? No gun? No “On your marks, get set, go?” Nothing! No national anthem. For a race starting in the Naval town and on U.S. Navy property? That might have been an omen.

I was completely caught off guard, I tried to set my Garmin but it wouldn’t pick up a satellite. I crossed the start and began to run. It was hard to get into a rhythm because half of the runners were walking and so I had to try to run round a slew of people. It was hot but I started to feel good after the first mile. There was a water station before mile two but I didn’t it see until it was too late. So I figured I’d catch the next one. It was no big deal since I had just been drinking water at the start line. By mile three we had run a few hills and the heat started to feel oppressive. By the time we got to mile 3.5 I was parched and started to yell, “Where’s the water?” At mile 4 I saw this monster ahead of me.

usnab

Now this picture doesn’t even do the incline on that bridge justice. So now I’m panicking because I don’t see myself running this bridge without water. But a few moments later I spotted a water station up ahead. Relief wasn’t even the word. I get to the table and I pick up a cup … it’s empty. I grab another … empty. Yikes. I realize that the volunteer is pouring the water and there are only three or four cups of water in front of him and the demand was high. I ran behind the table so I was right next to the volunteer and grabbed some water. Desperate times called for desperate measures. I continued to run and passed the 10K turnaround on the bridge.

After clearing the bridge there was a monstrosity of a hill that made the bridge beast look like a walk in the park. After making it to the top of that hill, in not such fine form, I came upon an other water station. This time, there were no cups on the table. I actually don’t even really remember seeing a table. But I do recall that the volunteer was pouring cups of water and handing them out one by one while we waited on a line. What? This time I waited patiently for my water. I believe that was after mile 5.

A mile and half later, I hit a real hydration station that was equipped with Cytomax (Yuck, I guess Gatorade can’t sponsor all the races) and water. At this point, I was at the top of another nasty hill, it was blazing hot and I was mad that I didn’t turn around at the 10K mark. I informed the volunteer that I would be double fisting my Cytomax to which he graciously responded by telling me to take whatever I needed. I then grabbed a cup of water and took off at slow trot. I usually get a feeling of empowerment when I pitch my cup to the ground but now we were in a residential area and I reluctantly tossed my empty cup to the side and it wound up on someone’s lawn (that was a downer). Soon after, I hit the half marathon turn around mark. This should have been a joyous moment but all I could think was that I had to do this whole thing over … and it was HOT. After about maybe a half mile, there was another hydration station. Craziness. I had water though because I wasn’t sure when I’d see another one of these sporadic water stations.

By mile 8 I was in a bad way and I felt a hand on my back. It was one of my BGR sisters, Lisa. She literally pushed me up a hill. Bless her heart. I tried to enjoy the downhill but found I was struggling through that too. My knee was starting to hurt and I decided to take a walk break. WHAT??? I don’t walk my races, the main reason being because I just don’t do the run-walk thing well. Once I stop running, it’s hard for me to start up again. But at this point my time had already gone to pot and I didn’t want to get injured or pass out from heat exhaustion. So I began my run-walk journey, which was more like walk with sparse jogging intervals. I didn’t feel so bad though because most of the people around me were walking too. Lisa tried to get me going a couple of times but I wasn’t really hearing it.

Zooma
Me running to keep up with Lisa’s walk

At around mile 10, a police officer told us that we should turn left.The road looked blocked because there were cars on it but another runner confirmed that we should make the left. Now this whole part of the course was really weird. There were cars, two hydration stations within mile 11 and a make shift turnaround involving one solitary cone on the right side of the road (not even the entire road). The course doubled back to where the police officer was standing and then went back to the stadium. I was really punchy in mile 12. I was thoroughly enjoying my iPod and began to serenade a police officer, “You are in my system, Oh oh oh, you arrrre in my sys-tehehem.” Yeah! Lisa had to come and get me. When we hit mile 13, there was a steep little hill leading us into the stadium parking lot. How obnoxious! As I approached the finish line a couple of runners sprinted past me. Well I was having none of it. I ran as fast as I could manage and rebel yelled through the finish line. Real class. People took notice though. Jennean was crossing the finish line, albeit with a time of 2:42:15.

Post-race. That’s right I’m still not finished. I was handed a bottle of water and my finisher’s necklace. My phone refused to take a decent picture of the necklace.

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Even though I knew we were getting a necklace instead of a medal, I was a little disappointed. The back says, “Zooma 2013.” This brings me to medalgate. Zooma had a PR program where first time half marathoners and those who ran their personal best half marathon received a real medal (it was a very nice one). There was a long line of people waiting for medals and scuttle was that they began to tell runners that they would not receive a PR medal because the course was .25 mile short and so they didn’t have real PRs. What!?! First of all, it is a wonder that anyone even came close to a PR under those race conditions. They would have had a real problem on their hands if I had run myself into the ground to get a PR, only to be told that I couldn’t get one because they had me run a short course. The distance came up short on my Garmin but I attributed that to the fact that I started it late.

We also picked up our swag after the race. That was awkward. We received yoga mats and a metal water bottle (I think because I still haven’t opened the box). While this is some good swag, we had just run 13 miles and had to lug this unbagged stuff around post race. “AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT.” It was extremely difficult to handle the swag, the necklace and post race fueling.  To the fuel. They had snack boxes but I had to pass on the mayonnaised meat that was in there and the neon white pita bread thingies. I just ate the apple and downed a Muscle Milk. At least the apple was tasty. I didn’t see any massages or yoga. I just saw long lines and confusion. So we decided to head back to the host hotel. YIKES!!! Now we had to lug this stuff almost a mile on achy legs. We did approach an ambulance driver for a ride but he said we didn’t want to go where he would be taking us. It was a long walk back to the hotel and I did my best impression of an ice bath with very little ice before leaving Zooma behind. I will not be looking in the rearview for this race.

To be fair to Zooma, they issued an apology and explanation for the short course. Like to see it? Here it goes. http://zoomarun.com/2013/06/zooma-annapolis-post-race-recap/

I received an email from them this evening offering a $20 discount for any Zooma Half Marathon in 2013 or 2014, $12 off any off their 10ks or $10 off a 5K.

I think I’ll cut my losses. On to the next one, The Oakley Mini 10K on Saturday.