Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hiya! And Also, Fitness Mind, Body, Spirit Games 4-miler

Okay, I think I'm going to have to blame this on what I like to call "unemployment brain" . . . but seriously? How on earth did over 2 weeks pass without me blogging once? Sheeesh! I had no clue it had been that long! I swear, I have absolutely no concept of time these days . . . I need to get down to Orlando and get into some kind of a routine STAT!

Anyway, despite the mini-blogging hiatus, I HAVE been getting my training runs in for the most part. The only thing that has been kind of difficult is that I have been nothing short of a racing FOOL as of late. And let me tell you, it gets kind of tricky trying to manipulate a marathon training schedule in order to accommodate all kinds of random distance races at all kinds of random times. I'm not going to complain about this, as I have nobody to blame but myself. I mean, no one is holding a gun to my head and forcing me to run all of these races; rather, these races are the result of my stubborn insistence that I MUST get as many of my NYRR qualifying races in as possible before I leave for Orlando in a week-and-a-half . . . because, damn it, I WILL be running the NYC Marathon in 2010, thank you very much! :)

You see, New York Road Runners members can earn automatic entry into the following year's NYC Marathon by running NINE qualifying road races during the preceding year and volunteering for at least one other event. Well, in the past month or so (since quitting my job), I have run in 4--soon to be 5--races: 2 4-mile races, a 5K, a half-marathon, and I will be running yet another half-marathon this weekend. Sigh. That's just . . . a lot. To say that I'm slightly burnt out on racing would be the understatement of the century. In fact, that right there explains why I haven't been posting race reports for these races (sorry, folks). The truth of the matter is that my performances have been mediocre at best, and I simply haven't felt like reliving the races by writing up race reports. Part of my bad performance stems from the fact that I've been forced to do things like run TO the races from Brooklyn (the volunteer at packet pick-up laughed at Wilson and I and asked, "Is this your second race of the day or something?" as we stood in front of him, dripping with sweat. His jaw dropped when we told him we'd run 8+ miles from Brooklyn to get there). But mostly, I've just not cared all that much. I've been treating the races as nothing but a means to qualify for NYC in 2010, and frankly, it has shown in my times.

The good news is that I'll have accumulated EIGHT qualifying races (and my volunteer requirement) by the time that I leave on September 25 . . . so I'll just have to come back to NYC one weekend before the end of the year to race (and visit Wilson too, of course). Another piece of good news is that, after weeks and weeks of racing, I FINALLY earned a PR last week at the Fitness Mind, Body, Spirit Games 4-mile race.

Highlights from the race included an appearance by Bob Harper of Biggest Loser fame . . . AND? An unexpected pep talk from none other than KARA GOUCHER before the start of the women's race (the men ran first at 9 a.m.; then the women competed afterwards at 10 a.m.)! EEEEK! HOLY GIRL CRUSH, BATMAN! Mary Wittenberg (the prez and CEO of NYRR) was giving some last minute instructions, when all of a sudden she stopped, and told us that there would be a special appearance from an unexpected guess who happened to be passing by. When she announced Kara's name, there was an audible GASP! from the crowd. I have never been so star-struck in all my life (and this is coming from the girl who used to drive around celebs like Robert Downey, Jr., Shia Labeouf, Channing Tatum, etc.)! My jaw dropped to about 6 inches from the ground. I guess Kara just happened to be out for a run in Central Park, noticed us all lined up to start the race, and she wanted to come over to see Mary Wittenberg and give us a nice pep talk. Um, wow . . . how is THAT for an added dose of inspiration?! My 'tude quickly shifted from, "UGH.COM; another stupid race!" . . . to "OMIGOD, I LOVE RUNNING! AND KARA! AND ALSO RUNNING! WEEEEEEE!"

We took our marks, got set . . . and we were off! I decided to start out conservatively. I was hoping to PR (previous PR was 35:34), but JUST BARELY, as I was hoping I could do so, but save enough of my legs to still get in a 20-mile run the next morning. The first mile passed in 8:28, which honestly, was a bit faster than necessary . . . but it felt pretty easy, so I just went with it. I continued on, feeling pretty decent, focusing on staying with this girl with a lime green claw clip in her hair. Unbeknownst to me, I picked it up during mile-2 and ended up with an 8:20 split.

Mile-3 is where the NYRR 4-milers in Central Park ALWAYS get a bit hairy for me. The stretch is just REALLY hilly and rough. My legs felt good as I started up hill, but after a while, I began to feel my breathing going. It was pretty humid out, and the thick air combined with the struggle of climbing up hill eventually got me to the point where I was very nearly on the verge of having a full-blown asthma attack. I tried slowing down the pace, but it wasn't enough. As shameful as I felt, I knew I had to slow to a walk to get my breathing under control. I ended up having to walk for a good quarter-mile or so before I finally felt like things were under control. The walking led to a heinous mile-3 split of 10:01.

As I resumed running, I did so at a pretty half-assed pace. I knew a PR was still in my power, but that I was going to have to push myself really hard and suffer pretty badly to earn it. I thought about just phoning it in, and giving up on the PR. I felt myself returning to the same mentality of "Really, who cares if I PR? I just need to finish for this to count as a qualifier." But then, I thought of Kara. I thought, "What if she was watching you right now, cheering on the sidelines or something? Is this the display you would want her to see?! Is this effort representative of who you are as a person and as a runner?! HELL NO, it's not. Pick it up NOW!" And I did. I embraced the pain and suffering I was going to have to endure to end up with a PR. And I went for it with all I had left in me.

I pushed myself so hard during that last mile, that I crossed the finish line, hit stop on Gertie, and immediately collapsed onto the fence that marked the finishers chute. Wilson was right there, congratulating me, but I was on the verge of passing out, and couldn't figure out what was going on. Finally, I recovered enough to look down at my Gertie. 35:32. I'd done it! I'd finished that last mile in 8:28! This meant, I'd PR'd by 2 seconds despite my stupid walk-break during mile-3. Hallelujah! I know that this run was nowhere near what I am capable of, but still . . . it felt good to have overcome an obstacle and still ended up with a PR.

In retrospect, I'm realizing more and more that, rather than complain about having asthma (ask Wilson how many times he's heard this one on a humid day), I have to be smarter about how I deal with it. Rather than continuing to really push myself when the breathing starts to go, I have to slow my pace down earlier. I've been waiting WAY too long to slow down my pace recently. Inevitably, it leads me to a point where I have no choice but to walk in a situation like Saturday's. If I was a bit more attentive and slowed my pace down earlier on, I could likely avoid walking altogether. In the long run, this practice clearly would give me MUCH better race times (after all; slowing to, say, a 9 minute mile for all of mile-3--rather than continuing to push and getting myself to the point of no return--would have saved me over a minute!).

Ah well, another race . . . another lesson learned.

Ha, I'd forgotten how good those PRs feel! I want another one SO badly! I'll be SHOCKED if I don't come away from Sunday's half with a PR. Yes, I'm planning to run 20 miles on Friday, two days beforehand . . . but still, watch out for me Queens Half. I'm coming for you! No excuses ;)


Melanie Tait (Mel Tries to Run) said...

Wow it looks as though I have some catching up to do! You're moving? You quit your job? I need to catch up on your blog.

That is too cool about the NYC road runners and the marathon. One of my besties is moving to NYC TODAY from Sydney and one of the first things she and her partner are doing is joining NYC Road Runners.

Too cool.

I wish wish wish wish I lived inNYC to be there too!

Anonymous said...

you are a racing MACHINE! My gawd - that's crazy! AND YOU MET KARA !!! Sooo, clearly that makes everything worth it ;) Congrats on the PR!! Glad you're still alive and with us in the running world ;) Good luck this weekend!

Marlene said...

If I lived close enough, I'd be all over the NYRR races to qualify for the NYCM. You're so close!

In the Spring I ran a lot of races back to back (9 races in 10 weeks) and my performance REALY suffered. I had a lot of fun, but... you have to draw the line somewhere! haha

Big congrats on the 4 mile PR! Too cool getting an impromptu pep talk from Kara beforehand!

Rachel said...

Soo cool that you met Kara. Also, great job on all those races! I wish they offered something similiar for the Twin Cities Marathon...I totally would have done it!

Spike said...

way to go out and get a PR girl!!! well done! and you got to meet Kara! I'm totally jealous. you should have stolen one of her shoes.

also, I like how you discussed a change in your attitude. it's not what we don't have, but what we do with what we do have that counts.

Running and living said...

I say, you are making great use of your time. Getting those races in so that you can run NY is important. I may do NY in 2010, too, will see.
Con grats on the PR. I have to say, it would be really hard for me not to go all out at the begining of a race after hearing a pep talk from her!!!

lindsay said...

congrats on the PR! very exciting and i'm glad you've found a new boost to running. nice job on earning your nyc qualification! you better make sure you make a return to the city for that last race!

X-Country2 said...


Go get that Queens half this weekend!

Laura said...

Congratulations!!!! So proud of you for getting the PR. When I was unemployed, I was so ridiculously lazy that I didn't even run anything :)

Marathonman101108 said...

Great job "Irish!" I guess you had the luck of the Irish with you, as the saying goes. Cool that you'll be running the NY City Marathon in 2010. Go kick some half marathon ass this Sunday. Personally, I love them. Not too short, not too long. Don't dog it, girl. I want a positive race report...and don't forget to use walk breaks if necessary. As you found out, you can still walk and run and be successful. Glad to see you're back in bloggerland!

Fair Weather Runner said...

what's better than beef and bbq and beer? kara and a PR! nice job!! YAAYAY. what a happy race.

Anonymous said...

That is a lot of racing, but that's cool that you have an opportunity to get guaranteed entry into the marathon. What an opportunity!

And Kara Goucher?! I have a girl crush on her too!

Congrats on a PR... those always feel good!

Steve Stenzel said...

KARA GOUCHER?!?! Yeah, she's a hottie! I'm HOPING she's running the TC 10 Mile again this year, because I am too....!!! ;)

And last year, I was a racing fool like you. It's fun - for a while...

Happy weekend!

aron said...

omg KARA!!!! <3 luckyyyy :)

CONGRATS on the PR!!!

Terri said...

I hear you on the asthma and the breathing, especially in the humidity, it sucks!!!

That is a great race report,and that is very cool Kara came by to give you guys a pep talk. Too bad she didn't run with you too!