I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday weekend! Since I'm going away midweek, I decided to turn the whole thing into a two week vacation. So I'm officially relaxin'! My training schedule for this weekend called for a long run of about 9 miles. In keeping with my recent love of the supported long run, I perused the local race calendar for a race that might fit the bill. Long Beach was holding a 10 mile race on Sunday. Having never been to that neck of the woods, it sounded like it might be a good way to get in some new scenery while I clocked in the miles. The start time for the run was 8am which meant leaving the house by at least 6:00 to allow me time to get lost. I Mapquested the meeting point and hoped for the best. The day had dawned overcast with predictions of possible rain. However, the temperature was already 70. I loaded up my waistpack with Gatorade and Clif Bloks so I wouldn't have to depend totally on their water stops. I dressed in everything that I was planning on wearing for the half next weekend, down to the socks, and headed out the door. The drive was pretty easy. There was some kind of accident on the other side of the highway which required a helicopter to land on the roadway. Hope the people involved weren't too badly injured. But the early hour meant that traffic was fairly light and it didn't hold us up too long. I arrived at the registration and got my bib. I bumped into Andrea from the Striders and thought I saw Gerry, who races every weekend. I had no idea they were going to be there. It's one of the things that I'd like to develop in the club if I get a chance. I volunteered to be webmaster and would like to add a message board to the website where those of us who race can coordinate with each other. I wish they'd get some team colors together. They've put together t-shirts in the past and I have a running jacket with our logo on the back, but nothing that I would want to race in. I'm a little jealous when I see the clubs who arrive in matching singlets. But that's not up to me. The race was right down by the beach. You could see the water from the finish line. By this time the sun had come out and I realized that I had forgotten to slather on any sunblock. I'm probably going to regret that. There were also tons of midges in the air. I tried to sit down and relax before the race but I was being bombarded by insects, so I headed toward the start line. The race started on a major roadway through the city of Long Beach. Once the horn went off and we were underway, I realized that I would probably be bringing up the rear of this run. The short races usually start off that way and then the field comes back to you once the novice runners have expended all their energy in a blazing start, but this race looked like it had more seasoned runners. I settled in to my easy run pace of about 10:20 and just kept going. The first couple of miles wound through the little roadways of this beach community. I saw some interesting houses. I guess beach life attracts some of the more 'eccentric' citizens. At about the 2.5 mile mark, the course went up onto the boardwalk. This was to be about the only elevation change for the day. Running on the wooden boardwalk is an unusual experience. There were a number of bicyclists out and you could feel the vibration in the boards as they passed. We stayed on the boardwalk for 2.5 miles. The beach on our right and condos on our left. It was a beautiful view. After we went back down to street level, we headed away from the beach. The houses through this part of town were bigger and more permanent looking. Quite a few of them looked like they needed some serious maintenance. The sea air can be hard on structures. I was starting to feel the heat and my early rising at this point. There were quite a few wonderful Long Beach residents who came out with their garden hoses to spray the runners as they went by. At one point I actually found myself almost dozing on my feet. Sleeping and running? Amazing. And at a pace that two years ago I would have been pleased to do in a 5k race. I finished up the race in 1:44.01 -- exactly my target pace. I felt it primarily from the knees down. Very stiff, but nothing hurt. A good run. As I headed over to where they were handing out water, I noticed that there was a barbecue fired up and they were making hamburgers and hot dogs. I thought that there was no way I could eat that at only 9:45 in the morning, but that was the only food offered at the finish line. So I picked up a cheeseburger and chowed down. It was pretty good. I walked around a bit with my stuff and looked to see if any of my teammates were around. I saw a couple of NY Flyers and a bunch of people from the Hellgate Road Runners. Unusual for a Long Island race. I had talked to a couple of people from Hellgate at last week's race, so I was looking to see if they were the same people. I noticed a tall blond guy who could have been Josh Morphew. He was standing with a woman who had a little dog on a leash that I thought looked like the one that Josh had posted photos of. Still being a little shy about asking a complete stranger if he was someone I've only 'met' through the blogisphere, I decided to check the posted finishers to see if Josh had run this race. There was his name! So I went over and introduced myself. The woman was Josh's lovely wife, Salena, with his doggie, Harry. We chatted a bit on the usual running and blogging topics - how'd you do, what are you running next, funny meeting another blogger here. Josh said he was sticking around because he may have got an award and then they were going to go for a swim. At this point the organizers announced that they were going to pull the raffle winners first. I heard my bib number called and went up and received a gift certificate for a free large pie at a local pizzeria. Will have to get back down to Long Beach sometime so that I can use it. After the raffles were over, they started to announce the winners. The overall winner actually ran the 10 miles in under an hour. Amazing. They announced a bunch of special awards for top Long Beach resident, top veteran (it was a Memorial Weekend race afterall) and then they started with the age group winners. Josh got I believe it was a fourth in his age division. I hung around for most of the announcements and then headed home. I think I've done everything I can to be ready for the Steamboat Springs Half next weekend.
Yesterday was the Healthy Kidney 10k race in Central Park. I went out with every intention of racing this, but not really expecting a great time. With the half marathon training I've been concentrating a little more on endurance and haven't been doing the speedwork that I really should. It was an overcast morning with the threat of rain in the air. I opted for my capri tights and a t-shirt figuring that the 10k distance wouldn't be long enough to go with shorts. The trip into the city proved my decision correct - I was cold. I got into the park a bit later than I usually do for a race so I grabbed my bib and t-shirt (they give out technical shirts, a reason why this race is always popular), dropped my bag in baggage check and headed for the starting line. The starting line was a pretty good distance from the registration area and the wheelchair race started as I was still trying to get to my place in the chute. The crowd was enormous. I bumped into Ira from my running club. He was lined up with the 7:00 minute pace group, so we exchanged greetings and I headed back further along the chute. I was planning on a 9:00 pace with the intention of pushing it a little if I felt good. There was a lot of speechifying at the start - this race is a men's national level race so it attracts a large number of elite men runners. That combined with the charity group - the main sponsor is the United Arab Republic in thanks to the city for the care their king received when suffering from kidney disease - made for a lot of activity at the front of the starting area. Once the horn sounded, and the race started, we stood around for about 4 minutes. Not too bad for an NYRR race. The course was an entire loop around the park plus about 200 yards, so the start funneled through the finish line. Made for a tight beginning and messed with my ability to settle into a good pace. I went too fast when I saw daylight because I was frustrated with having to practically walk at other points. I managed a 9:17 for the first mile but probably ran harder than that time reflects. The next two miles went pretty well - 8:55 and 8:44. Mile 4 is a hard one with the Harlem hills but I still managed a decent 9:01. I was still feeling pretty good and began to pick up the pace. Mile 5 was back down to 8:41. At that point I decided to go for broke and dig in. I reeled off mile 6 in a blazing (for me) 8:14 for a final time of 55:11. In retrospect, I'm a little disappointed with the effort. It's a new PR, but I've only run the 10k distance once before, a year ago in 55:29. This race felt harder, though, and I think I'm in better shape than I was last year. I wasn't planning on smashing my PR, but I felt I would have an easier time this year. But I felt spent after the race and today my legs are sore. One more long run to go before the next half. I have no goals for the Steamboat course except to finish. I'm expecting a long slog and am just going to try and enjoy the race.
I hope everyone had a lovely Mother's Day! My weekend was a mix of good and not-so-good. I made the mistake of staying up late Friday night. I did a short run on Friday, as my long run was planned for Sunday, so I figured I would be able to sleep late on Saturday morning. Silly me! I got to bed at about 2am on Friday night and was up for good at 5:30am--three and a half hours of sleep. I kept trying to go back to bed, but it wasn't happening. Perhaps I was overtired, I don't know. But I spent most of the day in zombieland. Ran most of my errands because Sunday was going to be busy - I had to get to the post office and send off some packages before the rates went up. They're really jumping for media mail. I then spent most of Saturday afternoon on the couch watching some of the shows I have stored on the DVR so that I can erase them. I finally managed to catch some episodes of Raines, which is pretty good, and Painkiller Jane, which I also like. Turned in early and was dead to the world by 10:30pm. Sunday was the NYJL Mother's Day races in Central Park. Chelly was going to run the 4 mile race at 8am and I decided to do the 10 mile run as my long run for the week. I've decided I really like that idea. The longer runs are much more interesting someplace besides my usual courses and I like to be surrounded by so many other runners. It's why I enjoy my running club, but most of the members who run that long go much faster than I do. So I don't always find someone to run with and end up running alone anyway. This was going to be my first race in Central Park by myself. Chelly and I don't run together, but we've met up before and after all our previous races. But because we decided not to do the same race, I would be finishing about 2 hours after she would. A little long to hang around and wait, so we decided to do our own thing. The race was smaller than most of the ones I've done in NYC - only about 1300 runners - and it was only open to women. Made it much more casual feeling at the start. That combined with the fact that I was planning on running only 10:20 miles meant that I had no pressure getting across the starting line. I had a lot of fun. The weather was beautiful. A little too windy, but sunny and around 60 degrees. The wind was blowing all kinds of stuff around. The blowing blossoms made it look like it was snowing at times. I carried Gatorade, Cliff Blocs and some Jelly Belly sports beans. I alternated between water and carbs at each mile. Just a little each time to keep me going. Felt fine until a little after the 8 mile mark when I decided to eat the entire bag of sports beans. Figured if the upset my stomach I was already almost done. No problem. This is good to know for my half-marathon in three weeks. My left quad is pretty sore today and I feel a little run down, so I decided to take the day off. Can't take too long a break, however. I'm planning to run 10k in the Healthy Kidney race on Saturday. And this one I'm hoping to race.