Monday, October 17, 2011

A walk in the woods

Running path
Sometimes it takes a walk to find a good run. I'd allowed myself to take a week to recover from the NYRR Staten Island Half. I've been biking instead and I've been allowing ideas of what's next to tumble freely in my head without coming up with a specific plan.

I'd been experiencing loop fatigue. It's a common ailment among city park runners and its most dangerous symptom is a reluctance to run.

I'd managed to avoid this last year while training for the ING New York City Marathon by staying away from running the main Prospect Park loop. Instead I'd come up with a variety of street routes. This year, as I work on developing a smooth pace, I've running most of my mileage on loops that don't include multiple corner stops, hopping over supermarket crates and dodging live chickens.

Unidentified mushrooms
Yesterday I went forging for mushrooms with Jess and though we didn't find what we were looking for, as we walked through Prospect Park exploring the ground I found myself seeing the park in a different way.

Everyone knows the Prospect Park time-space continuum expands when you're running through its backwoods. It turns out the same thing happens when you're walking. Though at first we didn't see any mushrooms. After  while space expanded and we started seeing them everywhere and we found paths I'd never taken before.  I was jealous of the runners on these paths.

Other unidentified mushrooms
I went out for mushrooms and came back with a run. I'm looking forward to finding that path by the water again on my run tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Staten Island Half Marathon

Sunrise over Manhattan

This was the view at the start. Something faraway you could see only if you squinted through the fog. Like my PR.

I'd been training for what I knew was an ambitious PR - I was looking to knock twenty minutes off my half-marathon time. Between my first and my second half marathons I chewed up thirteen minutes and spit them out nonchalantly by the side of the road. I figured if I worked hard enough I could get close to a two-hour half. I'd worked hard and gotten faster; the weekend before the Staten Island Half I ran a 5k and bested my time by two minutes.

As I walked into the corral last Sunday I was listening to the muppets playing Mahna Mahna and was excited to run my best half to date. I was missing my training partner Lindsay who had gotten hurt and Samantha who had a ferry difficult time making it to Staten Island but when the corrals collapsed and we started to move, I was ready to roll.

Pacing is not my strong suit and I have a tendency to get carried away so I was trying to focus on not going faster than a 9:14min/mi pace, but also no slower than 9:30min/mi. I managed to sort of stick to that and was having a great time until about mile 8 when my stomach decided the race was over.

With a high sun on course with no shade, temperatures creeping up near 80 and my stomach being squeezed from the inside out, I decided to slow down for a couple of miles. I thought if I rested from miles 8-10 by going down to my easy pace I'd cool down, recover, then race the last 5k of the course and still get about a 2:05 for a fifteen minute PR.

Slowing down didn't do the trick. I felt my body was either going to explode or I was going to pass out if I kept running. So I started run/walking hoping I'd start feeling better and be able to go back to running. At around mile 10 Samantha passed me and urged me to join her, I waved her on and wished her luck (she went on to an amazing breakthrough PR). Later, a fellow PPTC member from my speed group joined me. I tried to keep up with her but after a few yards I knew that would not be possible.

Please let me get out of here before I puke.
For the first eight miles I'd managed to stay on target for the PR I wanted and had even managed be about a minute and half under. As I shuffled along I kept re-calculating and trying to make deals with myself. I was done racing, but if I could stick to my easy pace I could still finish with a decent time. C'mon! You can still shave 10min! You can do five! But doing the old lady shuffle was all I could handle without turning into sludge and even then I had to take walk breaks. By the time I approached the finish line and heard Jenn, another PPTC member, cheering for me I was starting to feel disoriented enough not to understand why she was calling me.

It took me two days to recover from the wicked race hangover I got from this.

My final time was 2:19:09 for a not too glorious 51second personal record.

It's a bittersweet new personal record. It's not the one I wanted but getting so sick in a race feels like a sort of accomplishment. Maybe it's a rite of passage, or maybe it's the knowledge that I gave it everything I could give it that day.

It also means I still have a huge record ahead of me.  I'm looking forward to my next half-marathon and I plan to get to the starting line with the same Mahna Mahna energy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


The Liz Padilla Memorial 5k is one of my favorite races. It's for a good cause so it get points right there and it's in Prospect Park. Sure, not exactly a flat course but it's where I run weekly so I have the home team advantage. I know where the turns are, when to speed up, when to slow down, and Zoo hill doesn't scare me. It's debatable how much of an advantage it is to know a course that consists of a loop where you'd have to work very hard to get lost, but still.

Secondly, it's an under-advertised quirky race with a small field and it's beginner friendly. On the walk to the start line one teenager told another: "Dude, there's a ton of people behind us! We can win this!" I managed to restrain myself from patting him on the head.

And lastly, besides the traditional ugly race tee (not too ugly this year) it's got the best swag bag. See exhibit A above. That's a real fabric tote in hunter green. It included: a recycle-this-not-that decal, a Road Id leaflet with a discount coupon, a miniature pen, a travel sized toothpaste & toothbrush kit, and a "Need a lawyer?" magnet. Who doesn't want one of those for their fridge?

But that's not all!

There was also a packet of BBQ popchips (gone!), a Vitamin Water bottle, a Butterfinger which is something I've never tried, a plastic cup from Deno's Wonder Wheel in Coney Island, and a John Mayer cd. Isn't he pretty?

In past years I've traded CDs with other friends running since there tends to be a nice assortment including holiday music, but I didn't have a chance to do that this year.

This wast the last item in the bag: there were three Rebootizer packets. It doesn't have anything to do with booty but it's supposed to Reboot you. It's a weirdly floppy package with water at the bottom, powder on top - a squeeze, shake, tear and drink situation. According to the information on the back it helps "prevent the after-effects of food and drink over-indulgence by supporting your body's natural detoxification process." Made in Spain, it looks like it's mostly water, Vitamin C and few easily recognizable and pronounceable herbal supplements (dandelion root, licorice root, angelica root, etc...) For best results, it says, drink before bed or after a meal.

This reminds me of a diet obsessed aunt. While I was growing up, there was a period of time when if she overate, she'd have two clementines on top of that. She swore it helped her.

Since I missed my chance to have it after brunch - not saying whether I missed my chance to overindulge or to try the Rebootizer after the celebratory post-race meal - I might try it before going to be last night. The question is, should I eat a lot to give it a fair try?