Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's Amazing What a Year Can Do

Two weeks, two events, two long runs...done!

Last weekend was the last NYRR's borough half marathon in Staten Island - the one I needed to complete the 4/5 borough races to qualify for the NYC Half Marathon in 2012.  My plan was to take it use it as a bit of a time trial for marathon pacing.

I spent the night at my friend Dahlia's place since we had to be on a 7:30 am ferry to make the race start at 8:30. Initially I thought she was being a little neurotic by leaving her place at 6:45 am, but it turns out, the ferry terminal was jammed packed when we got there. We found our friends Abbey and Nicole (and Nicole's sister-in-law and her friend, too) and luckily, we all made it on.

Nicole and I on our way to the race
 The ferry ended up docking a little after 8 - so it was a bit of a rush to make a bathroom stop, check our bags, and head to the corrals. Note to self: cutting it close on race day does produce anxiety!

I had planned to run the race on my own - but two minutes into the race, I found Dahlia on the course, and we ended up sticking together the rest of the way.  I was working on another 40+ mile week so my legs were a little almost completely dead, and Dahlia had just fasted the day before for Yom Kippur. It was rather warm out (mid-70s and completely sunny by the time we finished. not fun in October.) And, despite reports of a "flat course", it was definately not. Can't you just feel my enthusiasm for this race just radiating off this blog?

At the least the race provided amazing views of Manhattan
But nonetheless we finished, and I was pretty much able to maintain goal marathon pace, so I was overall pleased with how the race went.

And...I'm definitely IN for next year's NYC Half, so that is pretty exciting, too!


I was a little nervous about losing a recovery day the next week since the long run was on a Sunday instead of my usual Saturday slot, but thanks to a minor miracle, my legs actually loosened up over the course of the week.  Good thing too, because I had my final long run on Saturday via the ING Hartford Marathon Relay.


The Hartford Marathon was the goal race for most of those in my summer training group, so I wanted to at least be a part of the event. This year the marathon offered a relay split into 5 legs, and runners were allowed to do consecutive legs.  I signed up for the first 4 legs (about 20.4 miles) and my coach's husband took the last leg.  I figured it was a good opportunity to have a "dress rehearsal" for my marathon.

I spent most of the week freaking out about the weather, but thankfully it was for no reason - race day turned out to be gorgeous. Low 50s at the start, low 60s to finish. Some wind, but not hot. And "not hot" were the key words I was looking for.

After  last week's scramble to the start, I made sure to arrive with plenty of time to spare.  Although this was just a training run, it was hard to not get caught up the race day buzz.

 I spotted the pace groups lining up, and was tempted to join them, but at the end I decided not to, since I won't be using one in New York.
Pace groups gearing up for the run
After waiting in the bathroom lines, I headed to the corrals. Except for the elites and the seeded starts (sub 3:30 for the full, sub 1:45 for the half),  you lined yourself up by pace.  I longingly looked at this corral...
'
One day I will be this speedy. I hope.


And then chose a more realistic group. After all, it was just a training run!
It is a training run after all!
We had some welcoming words, the national anthem, and off we went!

The first mile or so was pretty crowded since we were mixed in with the half marathoners, but once we peeled them off a the split,  we had much more breathing room. I had to stop pretty early on for a bathroom break, but from then on out, it was pretty smooth sailing.

The early miles flew by, and I found my groove.  Even though I ran the half two years ago, which at the time shared much of the same course with the marathoners, I still was a bit unfamiliar with my surroundings. I recognized a few landmarks here and there - mainly the big amphitheater where my boyfriend and I have seen a number of concerts and some of the riverfront parks - but I'll be honest, I kind of had no idea where I was.

We eventually ended up in the neighborhoods of East Hartford and South Windsor, and then before I knew it, I hit the half marathon mark. I heard a volunteer remark "now this is where the race really begins" and I began to mentally prepare myself for some big struggles.

Except they never came. I mean sure, I was tired, and my body was hurting - but I was running for 3.5 hours, that's practically a given.  And, yes it was a bit mentally draining toward the end (are we there yet?!) but it was nothing I couldn't handle.  And sure, I was pretty happy to cross the relay point at around mile 20 and change - but if I honestly think if I had to keep going, I think I could of, and I don't think the wheels would of come off - at least not completely anyways. 

The dirty deets.
The post-race offerings were pretty minimal at the relay exchange - no food, no heat sheet, not even any sport drink. Luckily, I had planned for my boyfriend meet me with his car instead of taking the shuttle bus the race had provided to get you back to the finish.  Although traffic kind of sucked and it was a huge pain to get back into downtown Hartford to the finish area to claim my medal, I was still happy to sit in the temperature-controlled car and change into the warm clothes my boyfriend had waiting for me.
Hey, how often do you get a medal AND a tech shirt for a training run?!
Last year at this time I was seriously questioning how I would finish this marathon.  Two weeks out from my taper I ran a half marathon and my knee was screaming at me for almost the entire race.  The week after, I ran my first and only 20 miler, and it was so tough - I was ready to break down in tears toward the end of the run and could barely walk the next day.

But this year? I say bring it New York...I'm ready for you!

4 comments:

  1. Had I been my usual neurotic self, we would have been on the 6:30 ferry. Nice medal and tech shirt!

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  2. Wow. That's so awesome that you felt like you could have gone the whole marathon distance. I hope to be able to run for that long sometime.

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  3. Great job! The first place male finisher of the MDI Marathon (my hometown in Maine) actually ran the Hartford Marathon the day before and came in third place overall. I hope that one day I can do that!

    You will get to 8 minute pace soon!

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  4. Congrats on qualifying for the 1/2!! That's so exciting. And I really like that t-shirt... quite snazzy!!

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