Well, this was a busy weekend. Saturday I planned to go into Manhattan and check out a bike festival that I read about online here Times-Up. After the last six months or so of reading various triathlete's blogs and also hearing all about the Five Boro Bike Tour from my friend, Chelly, I've been seriously considering getting a bike. When I mentioned it to Chelly, she talked up her folding bike and how convenient it was for city living. So, I thought I'd take the opportunity to check out a bunch of different folders at the bike festival.
It just so happens that the Ninth Avenue Food Festival was this weekend, so I thought I could combine the two and eat lunch and then walk across town to the bike fest.
Ninth Avenue Food Festival is a mile long street fair. There's usually quite a few booths featuring foods from many different lands. Of course, like any other NYC street fair, there are also booths selling socks and t-shirts. I made quick work of the festival since there didn't seem to be much in the way of unusual food.
I figured I'd grab something on the way across town. I had about an hour and a half to kill before the start of the bike fest.
I wove my way through the streets and avenues on my way to the other side of Manhattan. I probably walked for about two hours that day. I'd probably regret it the next day.
I arrived at the described location to nothing that looked like a bike festival. I might have been a little early, so I thought I'd sit down in the lovely greenway that runs up the east side of Manhattan. I didn't even know this existed. I wandered up and down the pathways checking out the lovely landscaped pathways and the neat paved walk/jog path and the designated bike lanes. After a little while, a bunch of cyclists approached the area and then I was amid dozens of folding bikes.
This is the Mobiky, a nifty little folder from France, I believe.
This one is a Dahon.
And here is a row of Bromptons - an English import.
This is the Downtube - the one I've decided I want.
Sunday was the 4 Mile Roads & Trails race run by The Forest Park RR one of the local running clubs in this county and part of the Queens Grand Prix that my running club is involved with.
I woke up with a splitting headache and legs that were stiff and sore - from all the walking I did the day before. I popped a couple of aspirin and took a warm shower, hoping to feel better. After about an hour, it seemed to be working, so I headed off to the race.
I met up with about 12 members of the Alley Pond Striders. After a bit of chatting and some info on the course, we headed for the starting line. I wasn't intending this to be a really fast run, but you know what they say about good intentions...
When the race started, I was in a group with about six other Striders. We were running easy, chatting a bit, commenting on the course changes from the previous years and then we came to a switchback. Because they lost use of part of the course, the race organizers had the field go out and back along a paved road for about a half mile. We quickly saw the leaders coming back at us. I felt good, not too pressed, when we approached the first mile marker. The course marshall yelled out a time of 7:54 as we approached. Our whole group let out a gasp - none of us thought we were going quite that fast!
I tried to ease up a bit, since I was sure I had just left most of my race on that first mile. At this point, we started on the trails portion of the course. The park has bridle paths cutting through it for two stables that are located nearby. These were nice to run on, except for the dust that was being kicked up. I started to feel it in my eyes and nose.
The second mile was done in under 17 minutes - I'd slowed down but not by much. I was really starting to feel it and by the time I was about halfway into the third mile, I had to walk. There were some pretty good hills on the course, as well. I walked for about twenty feet, just to catch my breath and collect myself. Then I picked up a jog again and was off.
The third mile was completed in 25 and change. I did some quick arithmetic in my head. If I ran the fourth mile in anything under 11 minutes, I would probably get my best time in this race. So I tried to slow down a bit more, and had to walk again. I started to get passed by some runners and managed to pick up a run again. We then broke out of the trees onto a paved roadway. The finish line was approaching and I managed to pick myself up some. I passed under the finish line in 34:24 - a personal best. I'm really pleased with the final time, but I think I should have run a smarter race. That first mile killed me. If I hadn't gone out quite that fast, I might have been able to finish with a better overall time, as I wouldn't have had to walk. Lesson learned.
It turned out my time was good enough for a second in my age group. I got another shiny trophy for my shelf. Bring on the hardware!
Now, I have a two week break until the NYRR Anniversary run. I'm planning on doing that one as a training run. It's the week before my first 10K. When I signed up it was supposed to be 4.8k, but they've since extended it to 4.8 miles. Rather than pull out all together, I'm going to use it as a long run and have a good time with it.
Oh my gosh! What a tragedy. One of the things I hate about horse racing is when a horse breaks down. Particularly such a fantastic horse in such a prominent race. You feel for the animal. I hope he recovers. You feel for the rest of the participants. How can you rejoice in a win when the favorite wasn't able to finish? And I'm so sorry for Barbaro's connections.
The race winner was Bernardini, but I'm sure it isn't what most people are thinking about. Congrats to the winner and my best wishes to Barbaro.
I guess it is about time that I say something about the race last Sunday.
The race started early at 8am, which meant that I had to leave my apartment by 6am to be sure that I would make the start with enough time to find Chelly, check in baggage and try to get a little warmup.
It was a beautiful morning. Not too cold and the subway ride was fairly uneventful. I got to the park entrance exactly on time and watched as runners started to trickle into the area. Chelly arrived a couple of minutes later and we headed toward the finish line to drop our bags and divest ourselves of our excess clothing.
I felt good. I wasn't planning on going all out, but it was a dry day and an unusual course. The race planners had put in a turn around, which was a new one for me, and I was interested to see how this would play out. Even a small Sunday morning race in Central Park attracts over 2000 runners and the park roads usually have many other people using them, so the plan to have the race field double back on itself ought to prove complicated.
We lined up at the start. I tried to push us up a bit so we could be up past anyone planning to walk, but the start was pretty congested and I found myself back in the area of those running slowly/walking quickly. The horn sounded and we shuffled toward the start line. After about a minute and a half, we crossed the starting mat.
I started to pick up speed and weave through the racers. I felt really good and kind of antsy being held back by the mass of runners. After about a half mile I noticed that the roadway to our right was cleared and the volunteers were yelling at us to stay to our left. The leaders were coming back from the turn around. I started hooting for the guys as the sped past us. I still can't imagine running that fast. The field cheered the first dozen or so runners that passed us. At about the mile marker, the entire field swept to our right. I let myself get carried to the outside of the turn where it was clear of other runners and used the opportunity to pass a chunk of the race. I gradually worked over to the inside, hoping to catch a glimpse of Chelly when we passed each other. This was probably the slowest portion of the race as I was scanning the pack for her turquoise top. You ever notice that everyone seems to be wearing the same color as the person you are looking for? After about ten minutes I gave up figuring I missed her. She told me later that she saw me, but I never found her.
Now more than two thirds into the race, I realize that I've been using up a lot of energy and am going to the bottom of the tank to continue. I've been trying to work on keeping a more consistent pace throughout my races, instead of saving it for a sprint at the end. My times have been getting faster because of this. I was saving too much of myself and then trying to make up for it at the end. Because I have more confidence in my ability I've been running faster in the first half of the race. Right now, this means I don't have a big kick for the end.
I crossed the finish line in 28:40. I remember to stop my watch a couple of seconds later and get a time of 27:10. Later, I would find out that my chip time was 26:58. Not including the Revlon run last week, this is a personal best for the 5K distance.
I wandered to the support tables and grabbed some water. After downing that, I got a cup of Gatorade and started back toward the finish line to watch for Chelly. I couldn't get too close since there were photographers at this race and they were keeping the spectators back so as to not ruin their sight lines. A large contigent of Polish runners come across and I'm worried that she has gotten stuck behind them. I look down the course and see what I think is her coming up to the finish area. I start to look for a way to get closer so she can hear me when she gets closer. She runs with headphones, so I have to be loud or close for her to hear me. I scream as she crosses, but I can tell she doesn't hear me. I run up the course to get past the photographers and come back down and catch her. She's also run a personal best time and can barely talk. I tell her that they've set up a finish line photo area and as soon as she has cooled down a bit we can go get our photo taken. This turns out to be the only picture that they got of me during the whole race.
After scarfing down a couple of Krispie Kremes (do-nuts!!!) We head out of the park to grab a real breakfast. There is a women's only half marathon being held after the 5k and we have to cross the start of that to get out of the park. I find a fellow Strider who, unknown to me, had run the 5K, as well. He informs me that one of our members is in the half. I found out later that she did a 1:45 which means I just missed her when we came back through the park.
This weekend I have a 4 mile race closer to home. I will try and be quicker with the report on that one.
Today began with brilliant sunshine and what promised to be a beautiful day. The plan was to participate in the Revlon Walk/Run for Women, so I got dressed and headed into the city on the subway.
I chose to participate in this event partly because of the unique course. When would I get another chance to run a race that took off right in the middle of Times Square? So I met up with Chelly just outside Times Square and was met by tons of participants. Hordes of women heading in the same direction, dressed in active clothing, and with signs proclaiming the women in their lives whose cancer fight they were supporting. I raised some money for the charity, but, fortunately, don't have a personal stake in the fight. Cancer is not what takes the women in my family.
Since we wanted to get a good run out of this, I suggested getting as close to the starting line as possible. The website had stated that strollers were allowed, but were asked to try and stay toward the rear as not to impede the runners. Of course, this was completely ignored and I was less than 10 feet from the starting line with a stroller on Chelly's heels and a small child on their bicyle to our right.
After a whole lot of announcement over the PA system, which I'm sure were touching and moving, but totally not understandable by those of us on the street, they started the event with a loud bang and whole lot of confetti. Now began about a half mile obstacle race where we weaved and bobbed around walkers and standers and others who really should have lined up farther back.
At about the half mile mark we entered the park and it became one of the most surreal races I've done so far in the city. I was participating in a 'race' of what was claimed to be 40,000 participants and there were fewer runners around me than were doing their workouts on the path. Most races are spent weaving around runners for the entire race, as I slowly pass a few here and there. Today, once I was clear, I hardly passed anyone. Except for the occasional stopped participant who had let the excitement goad them into going way to fast for the first mile.
I noticed at the first mile marker that it didn't seem to match with what my Garmin was telling me. I allowed that the initial start may have messed with my mileage and/or the tall buildings on 7th Avenue may have caused the GPS to miscalculate, but the second mile marker was off, as well. I really felt like I was working hard, but wasn't really sure of the distance, so I was kind of disappointed. The five mile race last weekend has been lingering with me all week and I thought that perhaps I was going to bonk in this race.
With all the distance markers being a little off, I wasn't exactly sure where they were going to put the finish line. I wanted to try and kick it a little in the last tenth of a mile, but was afraid that I would end up having to run farther than a tenth of a mile. I kept up a steady pace and I was right. The Garmin gave the total distance at 3.25 miles and I was able to verify that against what some other people got. My final time for the course was 27:17 - what would have been a PR for 5k and definitely the fastest 3.25 miles I've run. I was really pleased, especially since I thought I was working really hard just to get my normal pace.
They had quite a big post-race expo with tons of giveaways and lots of literature from other cancer charities. The end of the race bagel was accompanied by a small container of cream cheese and small bag of mini rice cakes, for a special touch.
I lost Chelly, though. I wandered the post-race area for over an hour before we finally bumped into each other. Chelly also ran a fantastic time for her race. I'm happy that we're both progressing through the season. We should be killer by fall! :-)
We wandered over to The Barking Dog for brunch. It was a cute place with a doggy decor and pretty good food. I got the breakfast plate which had an ample pile of bacon and hash browns along with three eggs and sausage. Mmmmm!
We then wandered downtown along Third Avenue just window shopping. Chelly picked up a couple of things for the 5 Boro Bike Tour tomorrow, in which she is participating. The idea of ice cream was floating in my head for some reason so I was keeping an eye open for a Ben & Jerry's or a Haagan Daz or any kind of ice cream shop where I could get a cone. Well, there was none to be had and I was kind of bummed. That's when Chelly remembered that FAO Schwartz has an ice cream bar in the store. Let me just say, this is not the place to go if you are on a diet. The sundae I got had three scoops of ice cream, hot fudge sauce, caramel sauce and chocolate chips. And whipped cream and a cherry on top. I didn't eat the whole thing, I couldn't. The other confections they were constructing contained enormous amounts of ice cream. They actually make one called the Volcano that has, I think, 12 scoops of ice cream. It's $100 and is supposed to serve six. My gosh!
Another little race was happening today in Kentucky. My pick for the Derby was Sweetnorthernsaint. I don't bet, but usually favor one or two horses. The winner was Barbaro in a stunning race. I'm happy for his trainer, Michael Matz, who I remember from the showjumping circuit, which was my passion when I was younger. How can you compare an Olympic medal and a Kentucky Derby win? He now has both. I can't wait to see if Barbaro can prove himself in the other Triple Crown races.