Thursday, May 17, 2012

RACE REPORT: Brooklyn Half Marathon

RACE: The Brooklyn Half Marathon
DISTANCE: 13.1 Miles
DATE: Sunday, May 19, 2012 - 7am

This year’s Brooklyn Half Marathon was challenging and it had nothing to do with the race itself, but rather the logistics surrounding it.  NYRR was amenable to extend their office hours until 8pm on Wed. & Thu. but the race was on a Saturday and not a Sunday, with no race-day check-in.
However, we figured it out.  I drove my trusty SUV to Bonnie's house, where from there we packed some team members also going to run this race.  Bonnie, Eric, Nike, Micka and Pauline rounded out Karen and I.  This was the fullest that my Sorento had ever been. 
Once we got to Prospect, I lucked out, finding a golden spot near the corner of Lincoln and Classon.  on was fortunate to get a spot nearby.  Eric, then drove the vehicle down to Coney Island and parked near the finish line.  We didn’t have to worry about bag check, or taking a 45 minute train over 19 stations in either direction, and having the 2nd driver helped us to sleep in a little longer (yeah, right!  We still had to get up at 4:30am!!)
This was to be my 5th Brooklyn Half, and a new course (which meant immediate course record, ...technically speaking...).  I have to admit that NYRR did a nice job with the new course.  The start area was much larger than what was in the park years ago, or at Coney, years before that.  Pressed up against the Brooklyn Museum, which I had been to once before with Matt & Steffie, the course makes its way south alongside the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, north again up to the Grand Army Plaza, and south alongside Prospect, before finally going into Prospect Park.  Going from 2 loops in years past to 1 loop in Prospect is better.  IMHO, NYRR has taken what I believe is their best Half Marathon, and have made it even better. 
My running number, though not elite, was elite enough.  With over 15,000 runners, getting #1243 meant I had a lot to live up to.  And I typically don’t finish in the top 8% of any NYRR-sponsored event, so it was a higher number than I could have hoped for.
The weather wound up cooler and more humid than the weathermen had forecasted.  Then again, it didn’t hurt to have a 7am start time, regardless of how much Karen and I like to sleep in.
While in the corral, I met this guy named Daniel Sully.  We were talking technology for a little while, and mentioned to me about the wired Bose earbuds that he was wearing.  I love my wireless Jaybirds, but the rechargeable only lasts for about 2 hours.  Thus, I will need a good solution for the 18-Mile Tune Up, the Chicago & NYC Marathons and any 2+ hour training runs this year, which are all soon approaching. One little footnote about Daniel.  He mentioned that he wanted to finish his race in about 96 minutes and he finished in 94 minutes (1:34:02 to be exact).  Great work, Daniel!
I also want to give a kudos to my Motoactv watch too.  Whereas I always had an issue gaining a signal with my Garmin 310XT Forerunner, my GPS managed to connect to the satellites within seconds, even in the face of 15000 plus runners (double from last year’s race.
As for me, I wasn’t feeling as my responsive as my watch.  At least not so much before the race, and definitely not at the tail end of it either.  I guess that’s what happens when you’re forced to wake up at 4:30am.  Living in Port Washington now, the salad days of rolling out of bed and walking 4 blocks to the start of a NYRR race in Central Park are over! 
I didn’t really stretch much either.  I did visit the port-o-sans and did have some toast with raspberry jam and some RedBull prior to launch, but forgot to take my B-complex the night before.  I slept only about 6 hours,  but I did drink profuse amounts of water, though should have had some salt.

The area in which the race took off from reminded me a little bit of the Philadelphia Distance Run.  Eastern Parkway was like the divided boulevard (forgot the name) in Philly.  Our first turn came right ahead of us on Washington Avenue.  From there, we went south, hugging the Brooklyn Botanical Garden on our right.  

A little ways later we were wrapping around the Gardens, as the next hairpin turn took us north on Flatbush Avenue.  Just as I got to the Mile 1 marker, the leading runners were passing me on the other side coming back down from the Grand Army Plaza.  I did my first mile in 7:31, which was fairly fast, but considering the downgrade, I didn’t exhorted much energy, which was good.
The second mile featured running around Grand Army Plaza.  It was an uphill until the archway circle and then a downhill. 
As I came back downhill, I was looking to see if Karen could be spotted, but there were too many people.  Mile 2 was done in 7:43.
Acting stupid while my energy levels could afford it!
We ran south on Flatbush, then turned right onto Ocean, and finally right on Parkside.  The whole time  we continued to hug the Park (Prospect).   We entered Prospect at the southern juncture and did a full counter clock loop.  By then I had finished my 3rd Mile in 7:30, again mostly due to the downhill nature of the mile. 
Mile 4 was completed in the park at 7:47.  I wasn’t breaking any PR’s today (my best, Newport Liberty Half 1:39:59 due to an all flat condition) because Brooklyn is hard, but I had written 1:44:30 on my Sharpie as the time to break in order to break 8 minutes per mile.  My personal best in Brooklyn (or rather course-record) was 1:45:06.  So, with the exception of the first number, everything else looked very doable even when I crossed the 5th mile mark at 7:55. 
There was plenty of Gatorade on the course, but I refrained from that and water until Mile 3.  It was a good move now, but it might have hurt me later on.
Mile 6 was a beast  as expected because the northeast section of the park is where the long uphill climb ensues.  I completed that mile in 8:12, my first above-8 mile, but I made up for the shortfall by posting a 7:42 on the way down the backside of the park in Mile 7. 
Just another sabbath morning?
Unfortunately the lack of running, coupled by the early morning hours, and the expected Red Bull crash, led me to very sluggish mile splits along Ocean Parkway.  I did Mile 8 in 8:02.  Halfway to Mile 9, I developed a cramp in my right foot.  Not good.  Suggestion?  When you load up on liquids the night before, ensure you’re getting enough salt.  My 9th Miles took me 8:01.  Mile 10? 8:03.  I thought I would try and pick up the pace a little once I passed Kings Highway, but even then, I did my 11th mile in 8:00. 
It was becoming unclear for me mathematically speaking, as to whether or not I was going to break 1:44:30, though I felt I had a great chance at beating my previous PR in Brooklyn.

I’d banked 110 seconds total needed to remain sub-8, for the first 7 miles.  However, my 12th mile was not too good, as I posted an 8:20.  Still, I was a good 90 seconds ahead and now that I crossed the Belt Pkwy overhead, it was time to do my thing to solidify not having to scramble madly the last few hundred yards on the boardwalk. 

Mile 13 was done in 7:44, and it took me :46 seconds to do the last tenth of a mile (good enough for a 7:37 pace).   My finish time of 1:43:16 marks my personal best in Brooklyn for a half. 

My pace was a nice 7:53, and very nice it was, for that gave me a second broken record.  By having completed this race in under eight minutes per mile, meant that for the first time in my life, I have completed 11 consecutive races in sub-8 fashion, all from this year.  In fact, the only race I did above 8 minutes per mile (and barely – 8:04 pace) was my first race of the year, the Joe Kleinerman run in Central Park.  
Despite all of my injuries this year, I’ve been extremely consistent, and good, when it comes to my racing.  I also came in the top 17% of the race overall as well.  So it was a really good day overall.
My exhaustion face today was very much in line with the past halves in Brooklyn.  Don't believe me? Look at this pic, and scroll all the way up to the top right at my 2006 finish. LOL.

After the run, I was so surprised to see that NYRR were giving out finisher medals.  This was wonderful, and further made up for the cost of this race being what it was.  The medal was beautiful too. Even nicer, IMHO, then that of the NYC Half.

Eric found me near Nathan’s on Surf, and we walked to the car to get my stuff, and back to the boardwalk to watch the rest of the finishers.  I saw Pauline Seto, and Bonnie cross, and then Karen.
It was a really nice day, and everything turned out very well organized.  Here were the results of our team.  We had a nice turnout overall.

Here's Karen at the finish stopping/inspecting her time..

Well, that about does it here.  More stats and photos to follow, but for now, the new Half Marathon record in Brooklyn is now 1:43:16.  It something when you get a record, but something else when you do it as you get older in life.  I really love my running.  Over and Out.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rainy Days and Tuesdays

...sort of a spin on the Karen Carpenter song with a slight difference on the calendar.   Seriously though, I forgot how much fun it can be while running through a rainstorm.  Though it didn't happen today, there was that threat that it could happen at any time.

I decided to do a long run today.  For me anything 10 miles or over is a long run.  I used to remember struggling to do 6 miles awhile back.  Nowadays, and even if my head's not into it, I can peel off 10 miles, come home, and within an hour or so, I'm feeling ok.  

I ran from my house to Flower Hill and back.  All told it was a little over 10 miles, and I did it in about 1:38 minutes.  In other words, a nice EZ run, just to get my miles in.

My run would have been totally uneventful except for the fact that I lost one of my water bottles.  I searched as I slowly ran back along Hewlett Lane, Country Club Dr, Port Washington Blvd, Shore Rd, and Manorhaven, to name some roads, but I could not find a blessed thing closely resembling the small holster-fitting bottle.  Gray bottle with a yellow rubber spout.  It was filled to the top with Grape Propel water.  Amazing either on how loud my music was on my wireless Jaybirds for me not to hear the drop, or perhaps it fell into a tall bushy fern along the side of the road new the Salem section of Port Washington.  Either way, what an epic fail!

Brooklyn Half Marathon is this Saturday and the pre-race logistics are proving out to be more harrowing for me than the race itself.  The 6:20am baggage check cut off time, coupled with 8pm weekday race number pickup (and no race day pickup) is proving to be a coordination of Schwartzkopfian-proportions.

In other "race" news, I've added pics to the Alley Pond Run blog (give a look-see), and will be volunteering at our annual Forest Park Runners' Race that we host every year.  Looking forward to many photos and some good video, in the hopes to post to my revamped website http:\\
I've since added more members to the Meet The Members page, and will be looking to add more shortly.

One of the newest members Carrie, actually has her own website.  Took a look.  Very impressed!
I will need to get with her on if she actually started off with her own domain (assuming this was a blogger site like this one) and if it was a pain to transfer over everything to the domain.  With 643 posts of mine and counting, it will take a minor miracle to convert everything over.  Oy Veh, and I'm not even Jewish.
Carrie's website in case you're interested is called:  . Take a peek!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Injury Free .... for now..

Despite my current sub-8 streak of races, up to and including the Run For One a couple of weeks ago, I had been nursing an injury near the tibia area.  X-rays came back negative, so it was probably a muscle or tendon related strain.  Nonetheless, it appears fine now.  I've run a few times this week and I seem to be pain-free for now so that's good. 

So, what's happening you ask?  Well, um, let's see.  Tomorrow is the Healthy Kidney 10k race in Central Park.  If I can finish in a sub-8 time again it will be my 10th consecutive, which equals my mark from 2010.  The following week will be the Brooklyn Half.  New streets, new route, but still no finisher medal - even at the prices that are being charged. 

Karen and I recently did the 5 Boro Bike tour.  The weather was nice, but, what a hassle.  Riding with 30000 cyclists, of which many are newbies, which is not a big deal, but being stopped for cross-town traffic every few weeks.  Now that's a pain.

I've been updating my team's website,  which is a labor of love.  As I keep adding to it, I keep getting more ideas.  Next Sunday is our race, the Forest Park classic.  I'll be taking video and photos of the race and posting them up on the web, which should be fun.

Running in a nice red pair of Asics cross traininers, that my friend, Julio Aguirre got for me half-price at Super Runners shop, where he works on 89th in the city.

Last week, Karen and I met with friends, and we finally went to Louie's Bar & Grill right on Manhasset Bay in Sunset Park in Port.  Very nice.  And food was much better than critics said about it.  A little on the pricey side though...

I definitely need to get myself on a diet again, and a run schedule too.  Port Washington is just such a great place to run (in addition to raising a family).  Speaking of which, David is now crawling forward, and Kayla is not far behind.  I love my family!!!