Thursday, October 14, 2010

Staten Island

As November inches closer, I thought I'd go take a look at Staten Island, scope out the other side of the Verrazano, and try to figure out my marathon time.

For those of us who don't run with fancy gadgets keeping track of speed, location, and heart rate, one way to guess expected marathon time is to use performance at past races. I hadn't raced properly since I started speed training and I hadn't done any long races in a while. I signed up for the Staten Island half marathon as a way to figure out where I stood. It took place last on 10/10/10 - four weeks before the New York City Marathon

I'd run a few races lately. I did the Team Championships 5M in August. It was my fastest five miles to date, but I'd done them trying to conserve since I was planning on running 9 more miles back to Brooklyn after that to complete my scheduled long run.

Then there was the Fitness Mind-Body Spirit 4M in September which was my slowest four mile race to date, but I'd run fourteen miles to get there and used the race as the last four miles of my long run.

A couple of weeks ago I ran the Liz Padilla 5k. It was Don's first race*, which is why I there running on a scheduled rest day after running 18 miles the previous day. I did pretty well, but it was a 5k - not a distance I'd want to extrapolate to calculate marathon times.

Between my race performance being all over the place and the fact that I often forget to stop my watch after runs, I had no clue how fast I've been going or what my pace should be for the marathon. Forget about running at target pace, I have no way of telling how fast I'm running until I'm done running, and that's only if I remembered to use my watch properly.

I ran the half-marathon thinking of pushing hard. I started out with Kate, a surprise encounter at the ferry terminal. Kate is faster than me, but I hung in there for about a mile before I decided to let her pull ahead and focus on myself. Besides, I was in trouble.

I hadn't seen the first mile marker yet and my watch was showing 12min. When my watch showed 14min I started panicking. If I was running a 14minute/mile, I was in big trouble. I wouldn't make it. What's worse, if this is what running a 14minute, by then going on fifteen minute mile, felt like I was going to die on marathon day. The amount of effort it was taking me to run as fast as I could walk had me sweat dripping from my elbows and I was trying hard not to panic. It took all my mental strength to tell myself I'd just missed it and to wait for the next marker.

For the first time I used my watch to mark the splits. (If I knew how to use the recall function I'd be able to share them with you but unfortunately I can't figure it out and I need to wrap this up before I head to work.)

Around 9M I started to feel relieved the end was near. Then I started panicking again. If I was looking forward to finishing that early, how the heck would I be able to run twice as long in four weeks?

I managed to remind myself I'd be better rested by then (yay, taper!), I'd benefit from having my very own cheering squads along the course (mark your calendars, Cheerleaders: itinerary to come), and I'd be excited to be running. Don't take this personally, Staten Island. You're awesome and you were a great host, but running your half was not as exciting as running a full marathon through all five boroughs. Please don't take it personally, SI.

At the ten mile marker I told myself it was just a 5k ahead of me. No problem. I even picked up the pace. Then at half a mile to go I cranked it up and keep it steady and managed to clock in a half marathon that was eleven minutes faster than my previous one.

Which means I might be able to run a sub-5 marathon.


I was all business during this race, checking my time, checking my splits, trying to focus on pace, and that was not as much fun as just running it. And I mean to have fun running New York.

*Congratulations, Don!


  1. Congratulations on both 5ks! :) Welcome to the wonderful world of road running and racing.