Saturday, May 20, 2017

RACE REPORT# 313: AirBnB Brooklyn Half-Marathon

Race#: 313
Name: AirBnB Brooklyn Half Marathon
Time/Place: 7:45am in Brooklyn, NY (Eastern Parkway near Brooklyn Museum)
Distance: 13.1m
Weather: Cloudy, 59F, 48% Hum. Winds from NE @ 11mph

The Statistics:

Despite spending 96% at threshold heart beat or above (65% maximum), I still felt pretty good afterwards!

The Report:
I will admit, I had some fears about this one.  I hadn't lost enough weight, and my lower back has been (and still is, even worse now) hurting me.  I also have a big challenge with this race, simply due to the logistics of distance and start time.  Even with voluntarily falling back to Wave 2, we still had to leave by 5:30 (and that was running late), just to get a spot (luckily) and be able to get to Grand Army Plaza in time to go thru the metal detectors (another obstacle, albeit for our safety).

Right before the race started, I popped a B-6 Vitamin which I had splashed back with a Red Ruby Grapefruit Red Bull.  I had had stuffed shells the night before, and a toasted English muffin with butter that morning.  I don't think I could have crammed any more carbs or caffeine anywhere else in my body.

As the route suggests. the first few miles have us running on the streets around the park but not actually in the park itself.  As I was running down hill past the Mile 2 mark, I was looking for Karen but did not see her.  I forgot she was wearing a red brimmed hat, thinking she was wearing a white one.

The biggest challenge to my physical ability, probably and as always with this course, was the long approach and subsequent hill just passed Mile 5.  However, the encouraging words from a lady who was running with us resonated with me.  "Focus on your breathing.  It's the only hill to worry about.  You can do this, it's not that tough."  were some of the many inspirational statements she made.  And true to form, running those hills in Sea Cliff have properly seasoned me.  I did not have the torturous climb that I thought I would.  In fact, I did Mile 5 in 9 flat, and Mile 6 in 8:37.  In the end, that big hill was as easy as eating flan and I should know, as I was made in Spain after all!

I knew as I started to make my way down the west side of Prospect Park, that I just needed to keep pace, and not blow my load.  And, if I could do this, that I would be able to break 2 hours.

Exiting out of Prospect Park (at Mile 7) also puts us onto Prospect Parkway.  For those familiar with it, this is the part of Prospect Expressway which goes uphill, leading onto Ocean Avenue. It was another climb, however, I knew this would be one of the last little uphills left until the finish line.

During the expo on Thursday. it was suggested advice that when running south on Ocean to stay to the left as it was shadier.  Interesting to say such a thing, when you consider that the left side was not even open for the runners.  It didn't matter though, as the sun never came out on this day.

When you consider that 4 of my first 5 miles were done in a pace of 9+, it was quite an achievement to say that when Mile 6 was done at 8:37, that it would be my slowest mile from therein forward.  I had one hell of a negative split coming my way.  Peeling off the rest of my miles in an average time of 8:06, and even managing to do three of those miles in sub-8 pace.

I was feeling fresh, and noticed how many people I had been passing, nearly ever since the start of the race. I was kicking ass, much in the same way Lucas Hood kicked the shit out of Damien Sanchez in Season 1 of the great Cinemax show, Banshee.  Towards the second half of the race, I was even passing people, who had started 45 minutes earlier in Wave 1.

In addition to the splits above from Garmin, these were the kilometer marker splits from NYRR.  Another ex-Forest Park Runner, also did a great job herself.  Take a look!

I was feeling great as I made the right turn onto Surf Avenue.  It was at that 20k mark where I had decided it was time for MACHINE to go ON (though I had already been increasing the ante all along)

As we all made the final left turn to head for the ramp leading to the boardwalk, I could smell vomit everywhere in the air.  A sober reminder that doing a half-marathon is no easy task, and could get the best trained athletes in us, if we're not careful.

I was now at the ramp, and I was taking off.  A Ramp which turned into a rampage, which turned into a romp of a finish!

My final time of 1:52:35 and 8:35 pace, was much better than I had ever expected it to be.
And despite that I had done some 41 half-marathons with faster times, you have to consider how much younger, leaner, and meaner I may have been in those races.  And still, this finish could be the beginning of something better along the way.

Not since October 11, 2015, and 6 Halves ago, when I did Staten Island at 1:49:50, had I done a speedier half!

3/20/2016-NYC Half- 1:53:48
4/17/2016-Women's More-1:59:43
5/01/2016-Long Island Half-1:53:24
5/21/2016-AirBnB Brooklyn Half-1:58:20
1/22/2017-Fred Lebow Half-2:02:31

Almost right after the finish line, I found Marilyn Charles.  The legacy of Marilyn is astounding.  Awhile back she not only placed in her age group, but would be the overall female winner.  She placed 1st or 2nd in several NYRR-sponsored events, such as the Grand Prix races of the different boroughs like this one here.  When she saw me, she had been walking back, towards the finish line.  I was happy to see her as I used to hang out with her quite a bit when we were runners together in FPRR.  She mentioned that she had not gotten her medal and was going back.  I kidded with her, telling her how she probably ran so fast that she blinked after the finish line and ran right past the medal-givers.....and I'm not sure I was kidding that much, hahaha!

On our way back to the exit and towards MCU park,  a young guy (in his twenties) gave me a lot of credit by telling me that he stayed pace with me, and then I bolted at the end.  When you wear a shirt like I do, it's easy to be spotted after the race.  But then again, I've never shied away from publicity.

I also saw Ramon Miranda "Bikerboypito" who was back in the swing of running since the birth of his child.  He too was a member of NYRR.  It's amazing for a race that featured nearly 28,000 runners, and with how mammoth this race had become in scope, that I can easily spot all my running buddies.  While we were at the family reunion area, I saw Chris Watkins walk by.  And finally at the train station as Karen had since found me, and since her myself and Marilyn walked together, caught up with Jack Berger.  With the crush of people all around us?  Insane!

As the adrenaline began to wear off however, and as we were taking the F train north to connect to the C and eventually our car, I started feeling the pain in my back again.  It was bad.  I don't know if it's muscular or organ.  I surely hope it's just muscular.  I may see a doc, if I don't feel better by Monday.

Lastly, the power rankings:
Age (50-54):    258 out of      708 - Top 36.4%
All Men:       6,067 out of 13,472 - Top 45.0%
Overall:         8,448 out of 27,440 - Top 30.8%
PowerRank Score:  190.74.  Green category (GOOD)

The Photos:
Let's remember where we parked, Karen!

Congregation near the UPS trucks.  Note Karen's truck switched off my bag to the late truck.  Remember that for next year!

The obligatory selfie.
The obligatory group selfie.

Leaving MCU park

Karen wanted the 'Hot Dog' photo

Love the caption on the shirt!

Meeting up with 'Uncle Jack' at the Coney Island subway station

This photo trumps all and it isn't even mine.  Chris Watkins asked this girl on stilts to take this photo.  Idea for me for next year!

Ahhhh yes....The hardware is lovely, isn't it?

Marilyn Charles, Karen and I !

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Variety Is The Charming Spice Of Running Life & My First Job

With the Brooklyn Half Marathon taking hold this Saturday, I had to go and pick up my running materials.  As usual, the NYRR association held the pickup at Brooklyn's beautiful Pier 2, just south of Brooklyn Bridge and Squibb Park.
I wanted to do a short, yet significant run today.  Regardless of the heat outside, I felt I needed to 'spicen' things up and run somewhere where I had not in a while.

I took the 12:53 out of Glen Street, and arrived slight after 2pm at Penn Station.  I was prepared.  Had my ID, Metro Card, return LIRR ticket, and a Citibank & Amex with me.  I also was ready to run as well, so add to that my phone, iTouch, wireless headphones, watch, and compression tights, new sneaks, etc etc.  I was rarin' to go!
As lovely as the Freedom Tower appears from a
distance, I still miss seeing the 2 towers. :-(
The run from Penn Station to Brooklyn was going to be more than 5 miles, but not more than 6.
The heat was definitely on.  It was already 90 degrees and was going up to a high of 95.
As expected, the mob of people was ridiculous.  I figured I was going to have to zig-zag around, and stop short whenever I needed to 
I figured I would report back, via Facebook, at about every mile or so.

I will admit it.  I did something naughty along the way.  I figured I would need to re-apply SPF.  I went into a CVS to buy a small bottle.  The smallest they had, a roll on stick...was $13.49!!!  Robbery.  So I did the unthinkable and yes, with no one looking, and in the back of the store, I opened the nozzle to the Sports spray SPF 50, and quickly spritzed myself on the neck and chest.  It was a small dosage.  As a consumer and good citizen, I know I shouldn't have....but I did it anyway.  The guilt would finally wear off, and transition to some funny moments along the way....

.... like hearing unexpected songs and seeing bizarre buildings along the way;


In addition to all the levity and self-promotion (although, hey, what am I exactly doing now, huh? LOL), there was also an unexpected and touching moment for me as well.  As I was running down 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas), I suddenly came across the building where I had my first job (well 2nd, if you consider handing out fliers for the grand opening of Cards 'N' Such in Forest Hills back in 1976).  It was the Summer of 1980. New York was a hot, "Funkytown", Blondie was asking people to call her, and Billy Joel insisted that it was still 'Rock and Roll' to him. We had all had enough of Jimmy Carter, and I was knee deep in watching nightly doses of The Odd Couple, The Honeymooners, Star Trek and The Twilight Zone on WPIX-11.

My father did not want me to just languish around for the summer, so he found me a job.  It was at a company called the Seeford Organization.  They were a creative-offset printing company.  Located at 100 Avenue of the Americas, and just a block north of Canal Street, Seeford handled all of Iberia Airlines' of Spain's brochures and other promotional material.  My job was that of a personal courier.  Nowadays, you don't see much of them, but back in the day, couriers were responsible for hand-delivering and receiving packages, usually between businesses.  Cy Schulteis (God rest his soul), was the President of the Company.  He was a very nice man.

I started working for Seeford on July 28, 1980 and stayed on until the week before my Sophmore year at St. Francis Prep.   I would do the same exact thing the following August.

The best part of my job was that they would give me a daily stipend for transportation, usually for subways and buses.  All was well until the 3rd day of my job.  That was when I met the "Chipwich".
How beautiful does that look, right?

On a hot summer's day, with all the running around, I started seeing street vendors everywhere selling these things called Chipwiches.  I was hooked after my first one.  

Not having enough money of my own, I decided that rather than taking the subway 3 stops here or 5 stops there, that I would use the money to eat chipwiches, all day long, literally, instead.  It was a vicious cycle, which forced me to have to run fast and dodge around people in Manhattan.  A few times, I would trip and fall.  Other times, I would run into someone.  One time, I even got 'doored'.  Ouch!  Nothing worse than having a door from a store open up, right as your running into it.

Fortunately, none of my injuries were ever serious enough to force me to stop enjoying these scrumptious little frozen sandwiches made in heaven.  

I gained a lot of speed doing this, as I even got compliments in the office for doing my job so quickly (if they only knew...).   I would come home and pass out exhausted.  Goodbye WPIX lineup.  I was too tired to watch that late.

While I had taken track as a freshman in St. Francis, it wasn't until this job however, where I felt that my "running" career had begun.  Thank you Dad & Cy Schulteis for enabling me.  Thank you as well to the fine makers of the Chipwich Ice Cream Sandwich as well!!!

Anyway, I was now passing through the main Manhattan Court Houses, as I was approaching the pedestrian entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. 
Nice view just south of Canal St.

Once I was on the wooden planks the crowd died down.  It was a zoo getting here however...

 As you can see, I was already looking tired (even if I didn't felt that way).  The sun was beating down and I had not hydrated yet.  I figured, "Why pay 3 bucks for a bottle of water from some unsavory bridge vendor, when I get them for free at the Pre-Party Brooklyn Half Marathon expo?

I finally had made it into Brooklyn.  I ran past a few parks, and was suprised to see a park dedicated to Harry Chapin.  I would later on this evening learn that Harry was born in Brooklyn.  He died way too young, crashing his car on the Long Island Expressway after suffering a heart attack near Exit 44-Jericho.  He was only 38.  :-(

I found a new route to the Pier that was so much nicer than what I used to do in the past.  It was a runner's path and it was beautiful!

I actually filmed as I ran (always living on the edge, as Steve Tyler will profess!)

To see my wobbly video of me getting to the pre-party, click here-> Running To The "Finish Line"

And as pretty as the views of this hidden and elevated boardwalk was, the view of the East River was even more stunning.
 Finally, I was Pier 2, as signs now for the race were everywhere.

 Inside the expo (though still outside):

I went in, got my number (and Karen's) and walked around for a little while.  I gulped down several bottles of Poland Spring.  I was so thirsty, that I had spun a wheel and had won a bag....and opted for more water instead.  Later on I bought a beer and a Japanese-inspired Mexican taco at a Takumi Taco stand.  I relaxed, made my way back (had a small vanilla ice cream cone) and took the subway back to Penn.  Made my train on time, and connected in Jamaica to go back home.
In front of an ice-mister.  Ahhhhhh!!!!

Inside the expo

Strategy slides.  Bottom line?  Mile 5 is a bitch. But I knew this already.

Yes New York City has beautiful views as well.  

Wow.  Just Wow.

The Lovely Lady Liberty standing tall and proud in the distance....

Traffic on the Gowanus (I-278) Southbound.  I'm so glad I didn't drive.

The Elevated board walk.  Walking back this time. :-)

New York has endless history.  Everywhere you go there is a story to tell...

Just at the entrance to Squibb Park (which is before the elevated boardwalk that connects it to Brooklyn Bridge Park)

Iconic view of bridges in the distance.  I love to run and I love to travel.  This is a perfect harmony between the two.

A typical tree-lined street in Brooklyn Heights.

When I got home, I jumped into my hot tub.  The next morning (today), I would have learned that I gained a pound.  Unreal.  Guess the food doesn't burn off so quickly.  Evidence of again.  Either way, I had a great time, and it wasn't even the race.  So.....Mission Accomplished!!!!

And now for some stats regarding my run (for next year's repeat adventure, I hope!)