Saturday, October 23, 2010

2010 Sleepy Hollow 10k Race Report

I've got NYC coming up in two weeks, so today's 10K was really just a tune-up race. I want to go hard--which is why I picked such a short distance--so I could see where I'm at overall for deciding my pacing strategy.

The race began in Tarrytown which is a small town in Westchester about 30 minutes from NYC by train. My friend and I got there at 8:10 for the 9am start. As we were walking from the train station to the start, a volunteer pulled over in her car to make sure we knew how to get there. Super friendly!

Pick-up was in the center of town in the school parking lot and getting numbers and t-shirts was super easy, though there was a bit of a line for the bathroom with only two port-o-potties. There were good tunes blasting and everyone seemed to know each other. Some people were in costume and it just had a really good community vibe. The course map is a good example of how hometown the whole thing was:

When it was almost time to start I did a couple quick strides and lined up. It's always hard to tell where to stand at these things because you never know who is fast, and who just thinks he's fast. When they sounded the horn, I realized I was stuck behind a lot of people. We did a little loop that helped me get around some slower runners and then we passed the start line again and started down a sharp downhill.

This race was all hills! Ups and downs, but lots of them.

Around mile 1, when we were turning a corner, a moving car got in the way! I turned to the guy behind me and said "Kind of hard to run the tangents with moving vehicles!" He laughed.

After the first mile or so we headed into Sleepy Hollow (we'd been in Tarrytown) and the course got a lot more scenic, though the hills go tougher. We ran past several beautiful parks and there were families out on their front lawns cheering on the runners. Lots of the houses were decorated for Halloween too! Around Mile 3 this guy caught up with me and we ran together for a while. He warned me about some of the more savage hills coming up. On one of them, he fell back a little as I surged forward.

I hadn't seen any mile markers and I had no idea how many people were ahead of me since I could only see two runners because of how winding the course was. The first mile marker I saw was Mile 5, at that point my watch said 31:08.

I ran mile 6 in 6:08, but the final .2 was straight up a steep hill. There was no sprinting up this one, though as soon as it started to level (with maybe 200 yards to go) I gave my best kick and crossed the finish line in 7th place at 38:43. Less than 20 seconds from my PR which was on my home turf in Central Park.

Girl scouts were handing out water as I made my way over to my bag and I got a doughnut from a volunteer. I'm not sure what kind it was, but it was the BEST doughnut ever! She said something about "buttermilk" and "homemade;" I just know I devoured it!

After putting on pants and long sleeves, I headed back to the finish to watch others cross. I saw my friend Lisa cross looking good (if tired) a few minutes later. She hasn't run in quite a while so I was super-proud of her for finishing. Anyway, to keep it short, we spent the rest of the morning exploring Sleepy Hollow and getting in the Halloween spirit.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Race Report: 2010 Jersey Shore Half-Marathon

Let me start off by saying that I now realize how spoiled I am! Most of the time I race in Central Park and can get away with leaving the house 45 minutes before starting time. No so today. such luck today!!! I woke up this morning at 4:45, went over my checklist for the millionth time, did my usual race morning routine, grabbed my bagel with pb and out the door to Penn Station by 5:30. I was on the 6:07 Jersey Coastline and let me tell you, there were some fun faces--tons of kids who had clearly spent the night partying in the City and were still going strong. After a scenic ride of about an hour, I got off the train and found Betina--very easy to spot in her red MCM jacket, with her fire engine red car!

It always great to go to race with someone. We chatted it up on our way to the race after we picked up Bet’s friend who was a half-marathon neophyte. On the way we scoped out the Dunkin’ Donuts situation for the way back--it pays to think ahead. We got to the race about an hour early which was great because we all had to use the bathroom and the lines were long. It was windy too, so we stayed in our warm clothes as long as possible, but when 8:45 rolled around, it was time to strip. I wasn’t sure a singlet and split shorts had been the best idea, but there was no going back.

The starting area had no corrals or anything, it was just a mass of people sorting themselves out. The three of us split up at this point and I head towards the front. There were some speedy looking people, but it was way less intimidating than the average NYRR race where I know on any given day there are at least a dozen sub-elites racing. After the national anthem, performed by a trumpet and drum--crowd sing-a-long encouraged, we were off.

I tried to start our conservative--the race was a double out-and-back (with the first out-and-back being 7.1 and the second being 6)--and I wanted to save myself for the second half. I was a ways from the leaders and for a while was running behind a couple people, and the first mile went by in 6:22. Mile 2 was about the same at 6:23, but then I started to edge up. I realized I was just following the pace of the people around me instead of setting my own pace. Mile 3 went by in 6:15 and I was running by myself, the leaders were far ahead, but there was no one right behind me. I knew the first turn around was coming and that definitely helped my speed. At this point we went by some barracks (there’s an army base on Sandy Hook) which were pretty cool to look at.

At the turn around the 15 mile-an-hour wind that had been in my face was not at my back which meant I stopped noticing it as I cruised through Mile 4 in 6:10 (I think this is where I first saw Bettina and we yelled to each other) and Mile 5 in 6:03 where I met up with a couple guys who were running together. They seemed to be going at the perfect pace so I stuck with them. We had a nice chat and they told me they ran together a lot because only one of them had a Garmin. The best was when the younger one said to me, “Your breathing too easy, the least you could do is fake it.” Ha!

At this point, either there were some mile markers missing, or I just got sloppy because I have no more splits on my watch. We got to the turn-around for the second mile and I was still feeling great but my two new friends started going a little faster and with 6 miles to go I stayed back a little. The second half seemed to go by in a blur though around Mile 10 I caught with a guy in a red beanie who’d been out ahead for quite a while. We each complemented the other but he was starting to slow so I didn’t talk to him for too long. As mile 11 passed I knew I was in the home stretch and that a PR was possible and more importantly that a guaranteed entry into next year’s NYCM was possible (sub-1:23 for my age group). Around this point a guy passed me who had been behind me the whole race. I was ready to go all out yet but I complemented him on his kick and kept at it. At Mile 12 I started counting down the minutes. Once I realized that I was within 800 yards of the finish I started to pick it up and when someone yelled 400 I started my kick. I felt great as I crossed the finish line--the guy who passed me between 11 and 12? He threw up right in front of me!!! Oops. I’m still smiling from ear to ear with my 1:22:12.28 (13th place, no vomit).

After some water, and I bagel I head back to wait for Betina. When I saw her approaching I let out my loudest “GO BET!” and scared the people around me. She had a really strong finish. I would not want to mess with Bet on the race course--super tough! I’m just grateful she let me cross the finish line ahead of her. Next time she might not be so courteous! We then got to watch her friend finish her first half! She did a phenomenal job too, though she said there were definitely no marathons in her future. All in all, it was a wonderful day at the Jersey Shore.