Because fast running aggravates my butt condition more than anything else, I was mostly just a spectator, except for one event. Anthony, Da, Tsing and I (four of the club "gaysians"...aptly named Team Joy Luck Club!) did the "Distance Medley Relay." I had never even heard of a DMR before, but it's a fun event, consisting of four legs of varying distances (1200m, 400m, 800m, 1600m). I was assigned to do the 1200. I hated the fact that the 1200 was first, because I was planning to take it easy, and it would mean that everyone would see that I was last, haha. (I can be insecure like that.) Things turned even worse when, lining up for the start, I realized that Dane was also doing the 1200 for his team. I KNEW Dane would never let me hear the end of it if he beat me in the 1200, so I was forced to make a decision...turn this into a real "race" and end up further aggravating my butt (and possibly jeopardizing my performance in the NYC Half-Marathon less than 36 hours later), or face Dane's ridicule and taunting. The choice was clear.
When the gun started, the faster people in the heat (Kelsey, Peter Macari, Chris Stoia) took off and were quickly way up front. Then it was Dane and me. I decided to tuck in right behind him and let him set the pace. I knew if I were leading, I'd want to pace off the fast group, and there was no way I'd be able to sustain that for 1200m. So for four laps, I stayed one foot behind Dane, giving him the job of dictating how fast we were going and cutting through the stale Armory air. I felt like I could go a little faster, but I was happy to hang back, for a while. I could tell I was psyching him out a little bit because in that fourth lap, he looked back twice to see if I was still behind him.
On the fifth lap, I decided to make my move. Starting on the straightaway on the far side of the track (where there was a nice audience of other FRs watching, haha), I moved over to the outside lane and kicked it up a gear. Dane groaned when I passed him, and I knew he didn't have enough gas to keep up. Even so, I ran that last lap and a half as hard as I could, not giving him any opportunity to breach the gap. I never looked back, and I ended up beating him by a comfortable margin (sorry, Dane!). Stupidly, I forgot to stop my watch as I handed off the baton to Tsing, but I think I did the 1200 in about 4:08 or so. I was very pleased.
After that run, though, I was completely wiped out. My butt was aching, and I couldn't stop coughing because the air in the Armory is just so nasty. Funny how 3/4 of a mile could be so physically draining.
I did end up doing one more event that night, but it was more of a fun run. Because the half-marathon was on Sunday, Koach Kelsey had a special run at the end of all the normal track events. For this one run, the clocks were turned off and we had to take off our watches. We were all supposed to predict our pace (could be anything but most people picked their half-marathon goal pace) and the person who ran a mile closest to that pace was the winner. I picked 7:15, although that was a little faster than what I expected to do in the half.
This was hard! A 7:15 pace meant 54-55 second 200s, which is slower than anything I've ever run on the track before. When we started, I just started running at a comfortable pace, having no idea whether I was going anywhere near 7:15. Eventually, I knew I was going too fast, but it was so hard to get myself to slow down once I had settled on the pace I was going. I did cheat a little, too... I was about to pass Josh (who was not going anywhere near his half-marathon pace) when he whispered to me that he trying to run a 6:57. That made me slow down dramatically.
In the end, though, I was still way off my goal pace, finishing the mile in 6:51. I've never run a half that fast in my life! (Although I'd love to, and be able to finally break 1:30.) 29 seconds off of my goal. I had mixed emotions... I was way off my goal pace, but at least I felt good doing it, and it reminded me that in the real half, I'd have to start off much, much slower.
* * *
Sunday morning was the New York City Half. It started at 7:35, on E. 95th Street. I overslept, and woke up at 6:55, on W. 14th Street. My first reaction was: "SHIIIIIIIIIT!!!"
My second reaction was to throw on my race clothes (which, luckily, I had organized on the floor before I went to bed) and run out the door. No breakfast, no usual pre-race bathroom routine. I was so, so annoyed.
I ran across 14th Street to 7th Avenue to get a taxi. There were no taxis around. So I ran to 6th Avenue. Still no taxis. 5th Avenue, no taxis. But I did see this girl in her racing outfit and approached her, hoping to split the next taxi or gypsy cab that came by. She told me that her mom was on her way to pick her up and bring her to the start. Less than a minute later, her mom pulls up, and I get in the car. I think her mom was a little confused, but she was really nice, and we had a very smooth and fast ride up to E. 97th Street. I still had my bag to check, so I ran up to the late baggage van, all the way up at 102nd Street, and back down to the blue corral at 95th Street. Fortunately, they let me into the corral without a problem, and I was there, all warmed up, at 7:33, with two minutes to spare.
I was so relieved that actually made it to the start on time that it almost didn't even matter to me how I did in the race. And, I just knew that sometime during the race, I would have to make a bathroom stop since I didn't get to go in the morning (and Dane and I had a big carby dinner at Cola's the night before). This might be too much detail, but I almost went to the porta-potty at around mile 6, but at the last second decided to wait one more mile, but then quickly regretted not going, but then the feeling went away and I didn't have to go for the rest of the race. Ah, the unpredictability of a runner's GI system.
As for the race itself, I pretty much stuck to the plan I outlined in my last post, meaning I did about 7:30s in the park, and ramped it up once I got outside. Here are my splits:
Mile 1: 7:26
Mile 2: 7:28
Mile 3: 7:30
Mile 4: 7:37 (rolling hills b/t 80th and 96th on the West side)
Mile 5: 7:25
Mile 6: 7:41 (going up Harlem Hill)
Mile 7: 7:29
Mile 8: 7:35 (last mile in the park, seem to have slowed down a bit)
Mile 9-10: 14:48 (forgot to press lap; sped up and ran with IJ for a bit along 42nd Street)
Mile 11: 7:20 (the band playing "Eye of the Tiger" on the Westside Highway @ mile 10 got me pumped up)
Mile 12: 7:10
Mile 13: 6:52 (felt good for the finishing kick)
Mile .1: 0:41
In the end, I got a 1:37:06, which was one of my slower halves. But it was my first NYRR race since the marathon, I stuck with my game plan, and I was strong at the finish, so overall I am very pleased with my performance. Thanks to everyone who I saw cheering along the way: Matt, Paul, Fred, Todd, Bernd, Tyler, Gabby, Rob, Kelsey (although you almost missed me!) and AJ. You guys helped push me to the end!
* * *
After the Half, Mike Terry convinced me that a long bike ride would be a good way to recover my legs. Easy for him to say, he didn't run the half! But it was a beautiful day on Sunday, so I agreed. We ended up going about 30 miles, meeting on the WSH at 14th Street, going across the GW Bridge, and spending some time on Route 9W (the beginning of the route that many people take to bike out to Nyack, a ride that I've been wanting to do for awhile).
The 30 mile bike ride was, I think, the 3rd longest I've ever biked in my life (the longest was my Half-Ironman relay with Dane and Ryan [56 miles], and then my 36-mile Thanksgiving ride with my brother). It was a lot of fun, and since we weren't going too fast, I felt really good afterwards. Hopefully, if the weather is good this weekend, I might do the full trip from the GWB to Nyack.
On Saturday, though, I'm planning on doing the Wurtsboro Mountain 30k, held in Wurtsboro, NY by the Sullivan Striders. It's a really tough race, with the first four miles rising about 1000' in vertical gain. Two years ago, I finished in 2:17:08 (7:21 pace). It's going to be a "fun run" this year, though... maybe around 8:00 miles or something. But I'm excited!