Friday, September 27, 2013

Birthday Weekend - Part 2 (Fifth Avenue Mile Race Report, News from Newport)

When we last left off, I'd thoroughly enjoyed some non-triathlon birthday festivities. I got home late-ish and was tired from the century ride, two hours of singing and two drinks. And lots of food. And cronuts. I fell asleep answering a text but fortunately woke up and was able to set my alarm for the 5th Avenue Mile on Sunday morning.

My heat started at 8:55, which is decently late for a race. I calculated that I needed to leave my apartment by 7:55 to get to the race with a little time to warmup and not be rushed. I'm sure it all seems very well planned out, the only problem is that I wasn't able to wake up until 7:47, 8 minutes prior to my predetermined departure time.

I'm sure it surprises no one to discover that changing into running clothes and walking Phoebe required more than 8 minutes. I, unfortunately, didn't leave home until 8:20. I sensed I would probably not arrive in time for my heat, but also remembered that there's some flexibility with which heats runners can join.

I arrived at 77th and Lexington at about 8:50 which is pretty shocking. I didn't expect for there to be any chance at all that I'd make it in time. If I'd been so motivated, I definitely could have jumped in just as the gun was going off and run with my proper heat. I was not inclined to do that and decided instead to run at 9:25 with the 30-39 women. In the meantime, I found Michelle and we cheered on the next heat.

At around 9:10, I walked over to the start and lined up. Even though I've run this race a number of times and had made peace with the fact that I (as usual) hadn't really trained for it, I started to get nervous. Although I had some awareness that I've improved (even if marginally) as a runner since last year, my only goal was to break 7 minutes. I therefore planned to run each quarter mile in 1:45.

After some introductory words, the gun finally went off. It took about 20 seconds to reach the start and at that point, I started weaving around slower runners. Finally, I settled into the far right side of 5th Avenue, where I knew Michelle was cheering. Once I passed her, I put on my dead face (no emotion, just staring straight ahead) and focused on the race and how I was feeling.

I finished the first quarter around 1:35. My arms had begun to hurt, but they usually do. It's probably a form thing I should work on. I finished the second, uphill quarter a couple seconds before 3:20, still putting me ahead of pace. Once I was there, I knew I could finish strong because I still felt really good.

Finished the third quarter a little after 5 minutes and tried to push the rest of the way. When I crossed the finish line, my watch read 6:50. By the time I finally fumbled around enough to properly press the Stop button on my watch, it had gotten to 6:52. It was a decent time, but I felt I could have done better.

Me and Michelle in our respective heats. Love that flying look. 
Upon looking at the results, I saw that I'd run a 6:47 and Michelle had run an 8:42, which is fantastic for her first time!

After the race, I texted Amortya to see how he'd fared at the Newport Half Marathon. Get this, he ran a 1:33. For those of you keeping track at home, that works out to a 7:09min/mile pace. This guy is a talented runner and I'm really looking forward to seeing how well he does in the rest of this season. I'm convinced that if he ever starts running outside of the NY/NJ area, he's going to start taking age group awards every time.

In other great news, my friend Allison also ran the Newport Half. It was her first half marathon and she did it in 2:12 and change! Amazing job, Allison!

Nice job, guys!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Birthday Weekend - Part 1 (Century Ride)

This weekend was my birthday weekend and now I am older. On paper, anyway. In reality everything is much the same. But the birthday festivities were great! It all started on Friday afternoon, when I went to birthday lunch with Amortya and ate way too much Indian food. Totally worth it. I'll go ahead and say it was intentional. Good fuel for my bike ride and all. Yes...that's what it was.
We also went for a run after work to NYRR so I could pick up bibs and shirts for myself and my friend Michelle, who was running her first 5th Avenue Mile (my fifth!). I would like to note that Amortya is now impossibly fast. More on that later.
Saturday morning, I woke up early in order to get to the Escape from New York ride hosted by the New York Cycling Club. Check in was supposed to be around 7am for century riders. Unsurprisingly, I got off to a slightly late start but managed to be up in Spanish Harlem around 7:20am. I thought it would be a simple task to head west and arrive in Sakura Park for the start. I was wrong. But at least I met someone with whom to share the saga. It was a guy named Armin (99% sure that's not how you spell it) and we rode and talked and got lost on our way to the start of the ride, which was not right on the water, but slightly east of Riverside Park. Live and learn.

We finally arrived and I got my cue sheet for the century. After I had coffee and a mini scone, I got my bike from "bike parking" and headed out. 

I can proudly say that after crossing the George Washington Bridge 5 or 6 times, I think I'm finally ready to go it alone and do my long rides on that side of the river. Good damn thing, because 15 laps of Central Park is a real bore. Anyway, I crossed the bridge with no problems and found a pack that I was able to stay with. The only problem was that they were doing the metric century (100k, 65 miles) and I intended to do the full century. This would not have been a problem if I was better able to follow directions, but alas. 

Each path was marked with colored arrows that were stuck to the asphalt in the street, so that riders would know where to turn. Unfortunately, I missed the very first turn off for the full century. Once I came to this realization, I had a decision to make: either turn around and try to navigate my way back to the century turn, or keep going with the pack I'd already settled into. 

I opted for the latter, figuring I could always swing into Central Park after the ride and finish up if I needed more mileage. Plus, by the time we got to the first rest stop I realized I'd only missed out on about 5 miles of the century. I therefore decided to begin following the century cues at that point.

The only problem was that I took them... in the wrong direction. Yes, I took them almost aaaalll the way back to the George Washington Bridge. Because I'm smart like that. Once I came to that realization, I turned around and sped back to the rest stop, figuring my best option at that point was to stick with the metric century riders for good. 

So, I did. The rest of the ride was very pretty and scenic. Plus, with the extra distance I'd accidentally done I finished up with about 80 miles instead of 65. That was nice, because I didn't have to make up for it with an insane number of laps around the park. 

Unfortunately, it took FOREVER and I didn't make it home until about 4:30. So...yeah. Next weekend I'm hoping to do a more continuous century (no rest stops, no finish celebration). I don't expect it to be very fast, but definitely faster than 8.5 hours. 

After the ride, I met up with friends for dinner in Tompkins Square Park. I got some birthday beer and may have been a little overzealous about it, since we only managed to finish three of the ones I brought between the seven of us. After dinner, we did karaoke because karaoke is one of my favorite things to do, ever. Also, my friend Jeremy got me cronuts! This involves waiting in line for many hours, so he's basically the world's best guy. And btw, they live up to the hype. It was everything I dreamed of, and more. 

5th Avenue Mile summary and more coming tomorrow!
This actually did happen

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Marathon Tuneup - Race (and Weekend) Report

Yesterday marked the fifth time that I've run the Marathon Tuneup. It's funny, because even though I've run it that many times, I still didn't manage to remember that it starts near the 102nd Street Transverse and not Columbus Circle. I guess, though, if you've read this or this, or even this, you may have noticed my tendency to perpetrate heinous acts of what-the-fuckery.

So, of course, I left my apartment late. I thought I might just have enough time to get to the subway and make it up where I needed to be. Like, JUST enough time. Running to the subway, however, I realized that I didn't have my wallet, so how the hell was I going to get on the subway?! I had to run back home and, once I emerged again, realized there was no way I'd make it in time. I wouldn't have been quite so concerned with getting there right on time, but I was meeting Amortya, who was nice enough to pick up my bib for me. Thus, I hailed a cab.

Cabs are expensive. The only redeeming part is that I was able to take a nap on the way to the race (also a dangerous thing to do. I'm probably excessively wary of cabbies taking overly circuitous routes).  I finally arrived at the Engineer's Gate at 90th and 5th because the 102nd Street entrance was closed (at least I read enough on the race site to know that!).

I had taken not five steps into the park before realizing I'd made a grave mistake. I brought a backpack with me to the race. You can't do that anymore and I knew that! All NYRR races now mandate that checked bags can only be standard issue plastic and that all belongings need to fit inside. I had a backpack full of clothing I planned to wear immediately after the race. For a wedding. A WEDDING.

Immediate panic. I only had 15 minutes before the official start of the race, which was also nearly a mile from where I was. I ran to Road Runners headquarters on 89th and grabbed a bag. Before I left, I made sure I could stuff my entire backpack in there (I could). I then ran like the wind out of the building, into the park, and toward the start to check my bag and meet Amortya.

I think I got there with approximately five minutes to spare. I'd been texting back and forth with Amortya to meet up, and he mentioned the line to check bags was long. Ugh. So I proceeded to run toward back check to see just how long this line was.

It was LONG. Like, if I'd known how long it was, I wouldn't have bothered going to the bag check area at all because it extended so far away. I have never seen a baggage line this long in my entire running career. We could see the looks of horror on other runners as they queued up behind us. After meeting Morty and getting my bib, I told him he didn't have to wait for me because the race start was imminent. But he is a champ, and he waited it out. I heard some guy say runners aren't allowed to have bags inside bags (although I've done this before) so I panicked and took all my wedding stuff (dress, heels, you get the picture) out of the backpack and put it into the plastic bag, trying to obscure the fact that there was an entire backpack in there, too. It must have worked because no one said anything and I felt very stealthy.

We ended up crossing the start at around 7:10. Amortya asked what pace I wanted to keep, and I responded with 9 minutes per mile. I thought even that was ambitious because lately I just have not been feeling speed. I'll have to explore that later. Anyway, we stayed together for the first lap until Morty finally blew by. As usual, I was surprised it went as quickly as it did. Also, I have something cool to show you. Check it out:

The fruits of my erratic labor
Amortya ran it in 2:26:15! That's an 8:08 average, folks. And the only reason it wasn't 2:20 or lower is that he spent 6 miles running at my turtley pace. 

Well, I said it would be a weekend report, too, but this is already too long. Suffice it to say I had a semi-successful long ride on Long Island on Saturday. This coming Saturday, I plan to celebrate my birthday by riding in the New York Cycling Club's Escape from New York ride. I'm just trying to get the miles in!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

(Not) Finding Balance

Despite my best efforts at doing all the things I want to do, lately it seems like it's one thing or another that's falling by the wayside. Most recently, my triathlon training. I think we can all agree that, these days, neglecting any of swim, bike or run will result in a full-scale disaster.

So I tried to think about why it is that I've had such a hard time balancing everything. I came up with the following diagram:

I know, small font. Click on it for a better view.
I've made better flowcharts, but I'm proud of this one because it's a wonder I was able to follow it all the way through my train of thought.

You know what else I'm proud of? A dance my friends and I did last weekend at our friend's wedding. The whole weekend, actually. We traveled to Virginia Beach from Thursday to Sunday for wedding festivities and I managed to get both my long run and a swim done in one day! It wasn't as much as it would have been if I'd been home, but doing long runs early or on an irregular schedule is a feat for me.

Hopefully soon I'll have a little more time to get into detail on my lack of balance. What I know is that I'm now at the have-to-kick-ass stage of my training. 7 weeks. Now or never.

Here's the video!