Category: FRNY

2011 JFK Runway 5K Run

Overall Time: 18:20
Pace: 5:54
Place: 8 of 660
AG%: 70.43%

Weather: 50 Degrees,
Start time: 9:00

Splits: 5:50, 5:57, 5:48 (+ some change for the .1 mi)

The JFK Rotary Club has a very cool fundraising race every year — a 5K race on an actual JFK runway! It’s aptly called the JFK Runway Run, and it’s an out-and-back on a perfectly flat and fast course, with planes taking off overhead and all the cool stuff that comes with international jetsetting.

Despite 1.) wanting to focus on longer distances, 2.) having just done a 5K in March and 3.) a NYRR 10K points race in Central Park the same day, I couldn’t let the opportunity to race on the runway pass me by. Two of my Mikes (Sanderson and White) and I went down for this race, and bumped into a half dozen other FRNY folk out there.

As I always do, I got a tiny bit nervous before the race. What if my legs didn’t show up? I’m not doing any speed training, and a 5K is all about speed. On top of that, Benjamin Corbett (a fellow FRNYer) was there and I just couldn’t let him beat me, at whatever cost. Ego is a dangerous, dangerous thing!

The event is fairly small, and there were no real corrals or bib numbers that seeded the fast runners toward the front. We were asked to line up next to different poles that indicated our predicted pace (5 min, 6 min, 7 min, etc.) and after a minute the horn sounded and we were off!

Only a quarter-mile into the race, I notice Benjamin is well in front of me and another kid, Ned, is right next to me. I should be well ahead of Ned but I felt like my pace was good. Were my legs betraying me? Was I going slower than I thought? Based on my effort it sure felt like sub-6:00 miles but judging by the company I was keeping (or rather, *following!*) it seemed I was running much slower — that is, until the first mile marker came up : 5:50 on the nose. Perfect.

GPS Map of the 2011 JFK Runway 5K

Being in the front of the race meant that I ran solo just about the entire way. I was never more than a few seconds away from my friend Sanderson, but without a large group to pace off of or to chase I had concerns about losing focus / concentration (i.e., speed), and also about losing motivation. As annoying as big races in Central Park can be, at least there are familiar faces and rabbits to chase.

In the next half mile I’d keep my pace steady and would soon blow by both Ned and Benjamin. Sanderson was running right with me, but passed me slightly before the hairpin turnaround at the end of the runway. The hairpin turn was really tricky and it seemed to come out of nowhere, which probably cost me at least a few seconds in the middle of that second mile (5:57).

Heading back to the start/finish line, I could judge how much distance I had put between myself and Ned/Benjamin. It seemed pretty respectable, and I felt comfortable pushing the pace just a little bit to try and catch Sanderson. The last thing I wanted to do was to not push myself the last mile of a 5K, because that’s what 5Ks are about : constant but short-lived pain. The only regrets come after the race when you realize you didn’t suffer enough.  With a final mile of 5:48 and a nice kick to the finish I was the holder of a new PR (18:20) and came in 8th overall — my first Top-10 finish in a race to date. I wasn’t able to catch up with Sanderson (18:12), but it was good motivation while it lasted.

2011 Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K Race

Overall Time: 18:29
Pace: 5:56
Place: 189 of 5374
AG%: 69.8%

Weather: 50 Degrees, 89% Humidity, 7 mph winds, Rain
Start time: 9:00

Splits: 5:55, 5:52, 5:56 (+ some change for the .1 mi)

Well, I’ve finally done it : I’ve finally gone sub-6 pace at an NYRR race. I knew it was long overdue for me to finally break 6-minute pace, except that my race season was cut short last year due to injury and I had done no speedwork since August. Given those conditions, it was a little surprising (and incredibly satisfying!) that I managed to both PR and go sub-6.

I ran almost the entire race alone. It was so crowded at the start that I didn’t see anyone that I knew. Also I wasn’t wearing my FRNY garb, so a lot of Front Runner friends probably didn’t notice me until after the race was over.

The details of the race itself are pretty boring. It’s just a 5K, so I just went out a sub-6 pace and tried to hold on. And by the time 3.10685596 miles had gone by, that’s exactly what I did. There was light rain, which was helpful to keep me cool. Everyone complains about the hills at Coogan’s, but to be honest they didn’t seem to bother me at all.

I’m going to try and use this little victory to motivate me for my bigger goals in the year: putting in a hell of a half marathon (1:22?), and then attempting to break 3 hours in my October marathon. It’s going to be a lot of work getting there, but anything worth having is worth fighting for.

2011 Manhattan Half Marathon Race Report

Overall Time: 1:28:35
Pace: 6:45
Place: 173 of 4369
AG%: 66.8%

Weather: 14 Degrees, 56% Humidity, wind 7mph
Start time: 7:00

Splits: …absolutely no idea. For once I decided to run this one without worry about time.

First, a note on the weather: it was mind-numbingly cold. The windchill brought temperatures downy to the single-digits, and everyone was fighting to stay warm. There were icicles hanging off peoples’ beards, mustaches, hair, eyebrows — it was insane, and it really slowed everyone down. I don’t know if it was more mental or physical, but very few people I knew had a good race.

After having been out of running hard or racing for almost 5 months, the Manhattan Half Marathon marked my return to the NYRR scene. Afraid of re-injury, I decided against racing it full-on. Instead, I would run with some friends (Mikey B, Matt) who were going to treat it as a fast-ish run (but not all-out). For a number of reasons, that didn’t end up happening, probably for the best — had I ended up running with them, I think I would have run slower than I had wanted.

At the beginning of the race, my Front Runner friends we were all running a little late getting to the corral, and couldn’t find each other so well. We more or less started together, but if I had any hopes of running some easy miles with friends that was quickly dashed as the horn went off and all 4000+ runners tried to jockey for position at the beginning of the race. Due to the snow and small streets in the south end of the park, the course really narrows down quite a bit. It left very little room to maneuver, and it bottlenecked pretty badly at the beginning. I immediately found myself behind my friends (who smartly let right ahead of everyone at the beginning of the race), and had to fight the next 3 miles just to find any of them.

Approaching the 102nd Street Transverse in the park around Mile 3, I saw my friend Matt. I caught up, and asked, “Where’s Mikey B?”

“Mikey? He’s way behind!”

“Well, where’s Sanderson?” I replied, referring to my training and racing partner.

“Ahead. Go catch him!”

And so I left Matt. I had passed Mikey B much earlier not knowing it, and trying to find him now would be impossible at this point. My mission was to find Sanderson, and that meant speeding up.

So speed up I did. One loop of the park (~10K) later, I saw the orange FRNY logo on Sanderson’s back. He was within striking distance, although I’d have to catch him up Harlem Hill (lately, hills are not my strong suit). If he had been on pace to PR, there’s no way I would have been able to make up the ground to catch him, but he was struggling in the cold and not having a good race. By the time I caught up with him, he looked like death. I’d later see that his splits according to his Garmin were hovering around 7:00 at that point, only to be taken down to 6:30 when I showed up.

We ran the last 3 or so miles together, and crossed the finish line at the same time. I was happy to have run what felt like the easiest 1:28 in my life, and Sanderson was just happy to have the whole damn thing finished.

It was a big confidence booster that I could run a 1:28 without really racing 100%. I ran fast, but not all-out and it’s nice to think of what I might be capable of when I do decide to race a future half marathon. At the beginning of the race, I was nervous that I had lost all my speed and aerobic base — I’d be humiliated if the people who I used to beat were now beating me. But that wasn’t the case. I hadn’t lost much fitness, and in fact cross-training on the bike may have actually helped.

This isn’t to say I’m going to start PR’ing all over the place, or that the rest of the year will be easy. I have a lot of work if I want to hit a 1:23 half marathon and a 2:59 marathon. But at least at this point I know it’s not as far as my worst fears.

2010 Bronx Half Marathon

Overall Time: 1:29:21
Pace: 6:49
Place: 184 of 5045
AG%: 66.28%

Weather: 70 Degrees, 73% Humidity
Start time: 7:00

Splits: 6:58, 6:57, 6:41, 6:57, 6:55, 6:48,6:54, 6:40, 6:41, 6:47, 6:53, 6:38, 6:47, 0:41


Finishing Strong.

This wasn’t the race that I really expected. It all started when I headed down to the train, and ended up waiting FORTY TWO god-damned minutes for it to arrive.  I and all the others waiting for the train were quite irritated — and of course, when we’re only 5 stops shy of the half-marathon stop the conductor makes an announcement: “Dear passengers, due to being behind schedule, the next stop on the train will be Woodlawn.” Woodlawn is course was the end of the line — and past where I needed to be. I, along with an ENTIRE TRAIN of irritated passengers, got off and waited for the next train to arrive. What. The Fuck.

A few minutes later another train comes, and the crazy masses all pile back into the train. I’m sure the passengers in the train were like, “WTF is going on?! Where are all these runners coming from?!”  A few stops later, we make it to our stop, to the cheers and applause of the entire train car.

What ensued next was one part pandemonium, and one part hilarity (I find the two often naturally go together). Hundreds and hundreds of passengers empty the train, and start running to the baggage check / porta potties / start line. They’re darting down stairs, running across traffic, hurdling over toddlers – all trying to make it to the start of the race, knowing that they’re already late.  At this point it’s a little unclear where the race start even is. I throw my bag into bag check, make a quick stop at the john, and head to the “start” of the race – only to find that I am officially more than TWELVE minutes behind the entire field.  Christ.

It was really hard snaking my way through the entire race. I had to run alone the entire time, and couldn’t even find a single person to pace off any of the 13.1 miles. I was irritated, I had to *somehow* find a way to the front so that I could run without being boxed in, and I was alone – this was basically going to be a mental uphill battle.

That in mind, I wasn’t going to try and PR today; it was just too difficult to start off a race in such hellish fashion. I just wanted to run a good pace, finish, and go home.  With a 1:29, that’s exactly what I did.

I was supposed to meet up with Ryan Q from dailymile to run a few miles together, but of course that never happened. He did have good enough eyes to spot me after the race, and came over to introduce himself and his girlfriend to me. He had tried to break 1:26, but told me he didn’t quite make it (1:26:03).  However, I just checked the website and his official chip time is 1:25:59!  I hope he’s figured this out by now! Congratulations, Ryan!

2010 NYRR Team Championships

Overall Time: 30:29
Pace: 6:05
Place: 194 of  783
AG%: 69.9%

Weather: 70 Degrees, 53% Humidity
Start time: 8:00

Splits: 6:20, 5:59, 6:07, 6:08, 5:54

This was a nice little race that I wasn’t so much looking forward to. With an emphasis on trying for distance / marathon training, I was slightly annoyed that I felt obligated to run a 5-Miler. That said, I’m glad I did it. It kept me from solely focusing on distance training, and made me think about speed.

The NYRR Team Championships is a race only open the NYC running clubs who compete in NYRR events. To participate, you must have run as a member of one of the running clubs that year. It’s my first time running the race, and it was a lot of fun to see all the local clubs come out to support their team and make as big of a showing as they can in a team-only event. I was proud to put on the Front Runners New York singlet, and happy that I was able to run well (for me) at this event.

The NYC heat finally broke for this race, and although the race conditions weren’t ideal, they were good enough to try and run this fast.  I’m never very keen on the idea of running races in NYC in August, but these conditions were about as good as they’ll ever get and so I wasn’t go to let it get past me.  A number of my friends felt strong in this race, and several of them PR’ed – including myself. 

Mile 1: 6:20. This felt fast, but as I came to the marker I noticed that I was coming around at a sluggish 6:20 pace.  Shit. I know it’s not slow, but it’s nowhere near where I should have been.  I had to pick up the pace.

Mile 2: 5:59. I picked it up. I went sub-6 for this mile, which felt good. I started to question as to whether this was too fast a pace, but if I’m going to start running sub-6 pace then I may as well push myself and try and start now.  I felt fine, and figured I might as well try and hang onto the pace.

Mile 3: 6:07. Slipped a bit on pace, but not by much – it was fine. Somewhere around here I pass my nemesis, Chris S. To his credit, he had a pretty bad bike crash and an allergic reaction to the antibiotics he was on so he was definitely not feeling well this morning. Normally we would have battled it out a lot more, but today I think his body was recovering from a hard two weeks prior. I would go on to beat him by 1 minute, 15 seconds. It’s my first time beating him, but I know on a better day for him it would have been a coin toss.

Mile 4: 6:08. Cat Hill really wrecked a lot of runners. I passed quite a few people who had gone out too fast and were now struggling up Cat Hill with slightly more than a mile before the finish. It didn’t seem to affect my pace a whole lot, although I did find myself working hard (it’s a race after all). Mentally I knew that the worst was over – the rest of the course is flat, and the idea of finishing was creeping into my head.

Mile 5: 5:54.  I should have pushed more here, because as it would turn out my friend Michael S. would end up beating me by 4 seconds in this race.  He had to crank out a 5:40 final mile to beat me, but I should have done the same even if I didn’t have a rabbit in front of me to chase.  Regardless, this was a PR for me and so whatever disappointment I had over losing to him was met with that incredible feeling of having PRed (and felt good) at a race.  Yay!

2010 Queens Half Marathon

Overall Time: 1:35:00
Pace: 7:16
Place: 137 of 3668
AG%: 62.34%

Weather: 86 Degrees, 63% Humidity
Start time: 7:00

Splits: 7:51, 7:26, 7:08, 7:05, 7:04, 7:05, 7:09, 7:05, 7:23, 7:17, 7:07, 7:26, 7:01, 0:46

Feeling good at mile 5.

Yikes, this was an insane race. It was hot and humid — 86 degrees at the start (7am), and it got warmer as the sun rose from above the tree line.  Everybody slowed down a good 8+  minutes from their expected times. Several of my sub-3:00 marathoner friends couldn’t even break 1:32 today because of the heat, and a number of PW (personal worst) were made today.

A lot of us knew it was going to be hot and humid, but we didn’t expect it to be this bad. We readjusted our goal times accordingly, and set off to do our business.

This was the first race that I started a bit late. I didn’t have enough time to get into the first corral, so I had to sneak into one of the middle corrals – behind something like 2000 people.  This meant that the first two miles were fairly slow, as I wove my way through the crowds.  It also meant that I continued to pass people every single mile of the race – I more or less held a pretty consistent pace (except for a couple 7:20 miles – what’s up with that?) the entirety of the race course. And when people started to fade at the end, I seemed to be passing them left and right.

It’s hard to asses my performance except to compare it to the runners that I’m normally competitive against. I placed in the same order within my running club that I normally do, so at least I didn’t completely fail at this race. Yes, it was slow – but so was everyone else’s. Even the elite runners slowed down – only the winning time of 1:13:39 would have been good enough to be in the top 20 of the previous NYRR Half Marathon Series (Brooklyn).

…finally, it’s over!

It’s easy to be disappointed by my time, but that wouldn’t really be constructive.  When we all crossed that finish line we just looked at each other and without speaking, knew what we were all thinking, “WE MADE IT!” It was a test of endurance, and the goal wasn’t to PR – it was to finish in one piece.

A small group of Front Runners and I went to the Mile 13 marker and went to cheer on the remaining finishers, which was pretty amazing.  There were a lot of people really looking miserable, but managed to put in an extra kick when we started cheering them on to finish strong.  It helped to take our mind off of the horrible conditions that we had endured, and made me realize there were still thousands of runners on the course who were still toughing it out. They needed a little (OK, maybe a lot!) of encouragement, but the camaraderie that came out of cheering them on was pretty inspiring. 

Everyone was swearing they wouldn’t be doing the Queens Half Marathon next year, but I’ll be back. Yes, it was tough. Yes, it was slow. But not all of my races are going to have perfect racing conditions, and I can’t let that stop me. I’m learning not to always race for a PR, but to race and run because it’s what I love doing.  And at the end of the day, despite the misery of the race, I loved every second of it.

2010 Run For Central Park

Overall Time: 24:20
Pace: 6:05
Place: 158 of 5056
AG%: 69.2%

Weather: 85 Degrees, 53% Humidity
Start time: 9:00

Splits: 6:05 5:57, 6:20, 5:57, 6:12

I knew the heat was going to be punishing everyone at this race, but I was hoping that I’d be able to tough it out and not let it affect me. I’ve been acclimating to racing and running in the heat, and I think today it actually paid off.  I matched my 4-mile time from a few months ago, and managed two miles that were sub-6:00. I really believe that if the weather had been more cooperative, I would have gone sub-6.

Regardless, I’m happy with my performance.  There were a few people who helped me out along the way, and I’ll always be grateful to my friends who help me every step of the way.  The first bit of support came from Mike O. and Mike S. who cheered on all the Front Runners, and who made sure to keep me going through the somewhat difficult 3rd mile of the race. 

Another big thanks goes to my Front Runner friend (and nemesis) Chris S., who ran with me during the last mile to make sure that I didn’t ease up on the throttle. He kept right behind me and wouldn’t let me slow down, or even show bad form!  He yelled at me for a good quarter mile : “Relax those shoulders! …Pump your arms! …Only a half mile to go, so don’t even *think* about slowing down!”

There were also other FRNYers cheering the team on (thanks Rob, Koach Kelsey, Josh!), and the constant cheers and support during the race can really make the difference between a good race and bad race. Thankfully, I had a good race.

The race went something like this:

Mile 1 : It had been a while since I started a race uphill, but I know my pace fairly well.  It’s hot – really hot.  Still, I want to see if I can push myself and run through the heat.  I was happy to get my first mile right on target despite Cat Hill, and pushed a first mile of 6:05.

Mile 2 : I’m not over-heating; this is  good.  I’m relaxing and pushing on the downhills. I know this 4-mile route like the back of my hand. Others do too, which didn’t help when a guy next to me says, “The westside is going to be brutal!”  Everyone in the race knows this – it’s a hot and humid day, so no one is looking forward to the uphill in Mile 3. It wa annoying that this guy said this, because it was just sort of a mental / psychological drain. I run a 5:57, which was a good feeling.

Mile 3 : Yup, the westside is indeed brutal. We all knew it was going to be. We’re heating up and the uphills are getting tough. I see Mike O. and Mike S. who keep me going. I manage a semi-ok 6:20 mile.

Mile 4 : This has a net downhill, despite starting uphill. My running buddy Chris shows up and runs behind me to make sure I give that last mile all I have. I’m tired, dehydrated, and hot at this point – but still manage to sneak in a 5:57 time. I cross the finish at 24:20: a respectable 6:05 pace in the heat. I’ll take it.

Father’s Day Race Against Prostate Cancer Presented by ABC7 (5M)

Overall Time: 31:27
Pace: 6:17
Place: 167 of 5203
AG%: 67.8%

Weather: 78 Degrees, 80% Humidity
Start time: 8:30

Splits: 6:11, 6:05, 6:25, 6:29 (20-second walk break), 6:12

This was one of those races that I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy. The heat and the humidity were really a killer, but 5202 racers and I decided to show up and tough it out.  Tough it out we did, but this race marks the my debut — AS A WALKER!  That’s correct you heard it right — I WALKED!  Right after the 3rd mile, I started to overheat and I had to pull off to the side for a 20-second walk.  It wasn’t pretty. I was able to finish that mile in 6:29, but I was disappointed to say the least. 

Except for the walking part, I’m happy with this race. It was slower than I would have liked it to be — but honestly, considering the heat and the crazy humidity I knew that I wasn’t going to be going for some crazy PR.  I PR’ed regardless (only because my only other 5-mile race was when I first started running, and it was a 35:00+ time), and was happy that I kept my shit together.

I ran with a new running friend, Michael S, who ended up being a bit of a help toward the end of the race.  I suppose he’s more of an endurance runner (a 2:55 marathoner) because surprisingly I was able to beat him to the finish. He did make for a good running partner though; having him run with me was definitely good my morale.

The race went something like this:

Mile 1 : I wasn’t close to the front of the corral, so as usual there were a lot of people in front of me who shouldn’t have been.  Annoying.  This 6:11 first mile should have been a 6:00.

Mile 2 : I’m settling in to my groove here, and Michael and I are more or less shoulder to shoulder. As we weave through traffic, he typically led and I was happy to follow. This mile was a little hilly, but nothing terrible. I end up with a comfortable 6:05.

Mile 3 : Yikes, I’m starting to heat up a bit. There was supposed to have been a "misting station" but it didn’t appear.  My attempt to get water met with disastrous results, and for the first time in a race I actually dropped the cup (ugh!) and got no agua.  I started to fade fast.

Mile 4 : I stopped! It wasn’t a conscious thing; my body just stopped and I pulled over to the side of the road as runners passed me.  10 seconds later, my friend Michael catches up with me and starts to walk with me. I yell at him to, "Keep going!" and he does.  After I catch my breath, I pick things back up. This would be the slowest mile, at 6:29. If I take out the 20-second break, this mile was 6:09 which would have been right on target.

Mile 5 : Final mile. I just wanted to hold on, and I did. Michael was in my sights, and he really pulled me through the last 1.5 miles. I pass him and pick up the pace. Somehow I kept my shit together and finished a full 30 seconds ahead of him.  The heat starated to get to people, and I must have passed a couple dozen runners in this last mile. It felt real good, because several of them I recognized from previous NYRR races, and they’re fairly strong runners

2010 Brooklyn Half Marathon

Overall Time: 1:28:24
Pace: 6:44
Place: 207 of 7008
AG%: 66.9%

Weather: 58 Degrees, 86% Humidity, Wind, Clear.
Start time: 8:00
Splits: 6:45, 6:53, 6:31, 6:27, 6:50, 6:52, 6:33, 6:41, 6:44, 6:48, 6:43, 6:55, 6:54, 0:41

2010 Brooklyn Half Marathon - Running along the boardwalk of Coney Island

Not the race I wanted, but it was a good learning experience. My legs had not been feeling well at all in the week and a half leading up to the race. This may have been the results of a little too much partying, way too much drinking, not enough sleeping, and a touch of jet lag (all courtesy of a trip to Las Vegas). Regardless, it would prove to be a good test to see what I could do when I’m not at 100%.

My favorite miles were easy to pick out: Mile 1, because I felt OK, and Mile 13 because it signaled that it was finally OVER. Boy how I wanted this race to be over. After the first mile, my legs started to feel tired — not a good sign. They weren’t hurting or sore; they just didn’t have any real life in them. This wouldn’t change much the remainder of the race.

I went out easy the first two miles (6:45, 6:53) but then picked it up a little bit on the downhills of Prospect Park to throw in a 6:31 and a 6:27. I wasn’t afraid to push myself, and knew I’d have nothing but regrets if I started off slow and continued slow while making excuses along the way. Just because I wasn’t feeling 100% didn’t mean I wasn’t going to try and race this.

The course looped inside Prospect Park twice, before heading out to the Coney Island boardwalk. Before the race, I had anticipated being weighed down mentally inside of the park — doing two large loops of the park (that included a slightly nasty hill) didn’t seem appealing. But the reality turned out to be quite the opposite — due to the great support of all the people who came to cheer, the first 7 miles inside the park really flew by. By contrast, once leaving the park I was greeted by few people cheering (except at fluid stations) and just a loooooong stretch of road leading to Coney Island.

2010 Brooklyn Half Marathon - Feeling good inside the park!

I started to fade outside of the park. Despite starting off conservatively and the hills inside Prospect Park, I averaged a slightly faster pace for the first 7 miles (6:41) than I would for the boring final 6 miles (6:47) trying to get to Coney Island. Normally I’d have tried to negative split this race, but my legs weren’t cooperating. I had to really dig deep to throw in that 6:43 at Mile 11, and I threatened some 7:00 miles toward the end.

This was a good learning experience, and I really can’t wait to tackle my next Half Marathon (depending on the weather, it may be the Bronx Half).

Mother’s Day 4-Miler Race

Overall Time: 24:20
Pace: 6:05
Place: 53 of 4765
AG%: 69.2%

Weather: 44 Degrees, 47% Humidity, Wind, Clear.
Start time: 8:00

Splits: 6:05, 5:57, 6:14, 6:00

I saw fellow Daily Miler Daniel the blue corral with me and said hello. I had forgotten that we were both running this race, but was glad to see him there. It sounds like he struggled that last mile, so that makes two of us for whom this race didn’t go so well.

This wasn’t the race I wanted but I won’t complain too much. My first two miles were OK, but the second the race went along the west side, it became hard to breathe.  The 23 mph winds were taking a toll on my lungs; I felt like I was dry heaving and it slowed me down the last two miles.

While I didn’t completely fail at this race (it was only 10 seconds off from my last 4-miler), I knew my legs had a sub-24 in them but it still didn’t happen. I guess I’ll have to wait until next time.

On the upside, I did help my team (Front Runners New York) place 2nd in the Team Division so I’ll be getting a NYRR medal.  Yay!