So the half is done and I'm on to the next one at the end of August in Quebec. I hope I can do nearly as well as I did Sunday. The weekend started Saturday afternoon when I headed into the city, bag in tow, to Chelly's apartment. Since I had to go into Manhattan on Saturday to gather my bib and stuff and then go back again early Sunday morning for the race, I was going to spend the night at Chel's. We headed uptown to Niketown to get my bib. They do a bit of an expo for the race, but it's kind of lame and is really only an excuse to have every runner in the race in the Nike store at some time that weekend. After a bit of confusion in trying to find my name, the volunteer handed me my bib. Brown...with a number of 12757...what the heck is up with that? That put me farther back in the corrals for the start then everyone else I knew. I did last year's race in 2:15 and have been averaging sub-9:00 paces in the races I did so far this year, but they decide to put me back with the people who were probably going to be finishing between 30 minutes to 1 hour after I did. Wonderful! So, after a quick walk back through the Nike store (and no purchases made) we headed back downtown for our pre-race pasta meal at Olive Garden. I opted for a salad and capellini pomodoro but splurged with some chocolate gelato for dessert. Yumm! We then walked around the neighborhood a little to settle our stomachs and enjoy the night air and headed back to Chelly's with the intention of an early night. We were in bed by 9 with the alarm set for 4am. 4am arrived and the snooze button was hit a few times, but we were up and moving around by about 4:20. I had noticed some bright flashes outside, but hadn't really thought about what might be causing them. After we were up for a little while we also heard some rumbling noises from outside. Traffic at that hour? Nope, it was thunder and as we left the apartment at about 5:30, it started to rain. Big, plump drops and I was starting to dread this day. Amazingly enough, in three years of running and racing, I haven't really run a long run in a pouring rain. I usually blow off the run or take it inside if it must be done and the thought of running in excess of two hours soaked to the skin was not terribly appealing. We managed to grab a cab and get uptown to the baggage area. The rain seemed to be lighter as we got further north and was just a drizzle at the corral area. We arrived at the park entrance just before 6am and they weren't letting us into the park. So everyone was standing around grousing about getting wet. As soon as they let us in about 20 minutes later, we headed toward the corral area and into a porta-john line. After taking care of business, Chelly left me to head for her corral (I did say that everyone was in front of me at the start). The rain was easing up and I got into my corral to wait until the race started. I wasn't feeling too confident at that point. But my main goal was to do better than last year and since I had to walk almost the last three miles, I thought I should be able to manage that. I had a pace band for a 2:10 finish and was intending to follow that for at least the first 9 miles or so and then pick up the pace if I felt like I had a lot left. As we started to inch up toward the start line, we could hear the music at the starting line over the PA system and the race announcer talking up the race. It would take me 12 minutes after the gun went off to get to the start line. I settled into an easy pace and got the first mile in 9:46. Not bad, it felt good and that was a bit faster than the 9:54 I would need to get a 2:10 finish. This might end up being a pretty good day, after all. At about one and a half mile I caught up with Chelly. I gave her a bit of push from behind, smiled and wished her good luck as I passed her. The second mile went by in 9:44. I popped a Cliff Shot Block at about the 2 mile mark and took water at the water stop that was at about that point. I was feeling great. I don't remember a lot of the course as I spent a great deal of this race inside my own head. 3 miles went by in 9:38...nice! And the 5k split caught me at 30:41. I felt fantastic through most of the park, barely noticing the hills. I stopped at most of the water stops in the park and I had Gatorade with me so I was doing well. 10k split...1:00.45. Perfect. Almost even splits. I do remember at this point starting to wonder when we were going to get out of the park. It seemed like it was taking forever. What can you say about the turn out of the park. For the second year, I got pumped when I hit the street and started yelling. I know some of the runners were looking at me, but I didn't care. The spectators seemed a bit sparser than last year, perhaps due to the weather and I needed to hear them. So I started yelling at them and waving and basically making a silly fool of myself. Last year they got a photo of me at that point. This year, nothing. As I was going through Time Square, they started a sing-along of Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves. What a great choice and I was singing with them. Crossing the city at 42nd Street all I could think about is how much better than last year I felt. My Garmin was telling me that I was about 5 minutes ahead of my planned pace, so 2:10 was probably in the bag unless I stopped. Heck, I could have walked the entire last three miles. 15k was at some point around here...1:29.34. Almost perfectly even splits. Onto the West Side Highway. All I gotta say is, I hate the West Side Highway. It's almost entirely concrete instead of asphalt and I find that the pounding on the harder surface really does a number on my knees and legs. I had to stop for the first time in the race shortly after turning onto it. I walked for about 30 seconds and picked it up again. I think I walked another 3 or 4 times down this stretch. Not for very long, but the legs were yelling at me. Apparently, I was still running at a pretty good clip, when I was running, because the 20k split was 1:59.35. Almost exactly the same as every other split. I didn't have enough left to really pick up the pace for the last kilometer, but I kept it going and finished in 2:05.48. A new PR! After getting my medal, a wet towel and having my picture taken, I headed into Battery Park. As soon as the adrenaline started to drain away, my calf muscles started to cramp up. I walked around looking for the post race food, but couldn't find any. So I headed to baggage claim and got my bag. I was almost positive I had stuck some kind of bar in there. I found a large piece of cardboard to plop my butt and try to stretch. Changed my shoes and found a Powerbar...yay! Gobbled that up while trying to get my calves to calm down. During the bodily manipulations, my phone rang. It was Ira from the Striders and he was somewhere in the park. I got the details and told him I'd find him in a few minutes. While walking around trying to locate him, I found the food bags. Picked up one and headed into the park. After spending some time comparing race experiences, I noticed the time and figured that Chelly should be finishing about then. So we headed over to the finish line area just in time to find her heading towards us. We then hobbled off the highway back into the park to try and get a food bag for her. At this point, it started to rain again. As we're wandering around looking for food and getting progressively wetter, we decided to bag the whole thing and head back to Chelly's to shower and then find food in her neighborhood. Ira headed off to find the subway and we jumped in a cab to go back home.
I haven't posted all week about the diagnosis I got for Shannon. I'm not sure how I feel so I didn't know what to say. But, for those three or four people who actually read this blog, I guess I should update you. ...LIPOSARCOMA... and, yes, for those who don't know, that is the big C--cancer. I've been trying to stay upbeat, and there is good news with that diagnosis. Liposarcoma is a cancer of the fatty cells inside tissue. It is fairly rare in animals, but is more common in dogs than cats. Tumors form which can be invasive. The good thing about this particular cancer, if there can be a good thing about cancer, is that while it commonly re-occurs at the excision site, it rarely metastasizes. In other words, it doesn't usually spread. And since the location that Shannon has it is on her leg, it isn't likely to be a life-threatening cancer. But we will probably be repeating this week on more occasions. Shannon has actually been great about the whole thing. Because the bandage covered her whole leg, she couldn't bend at the 'wrist' joint. So, she was limping and I was carrying her down any stairs, mostly because I was nervous that she wouldn't be able to maintain her balance. She quickly figured out how to go up the stairs, how to jump up onto her chair and how to get waited upon hand and foot. We went back to the vet's office, yesterday, to have the bandage removed and the wound inspected. It was the first time I saw it and it looks nasty. A bunch of stitches up her leg, which I think were purple. The vet said that everything looked good and just put a light bandage over it. We go back on Sunday afternoon to get the stitches removed. And if the vet OKs it, she's getting a bath afterwards.