Category Archives: NYRR races

Queens Half-Marathon ’11: Recap

During this past weekend of moving madness (finally in my new apt…yay!), I also woke up at 5 am on Saturday in order to run 13.1 miles in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens during the middle of some wicked heat and humidity. You know, as you do on a Saturday morning, right?

To be fair, the heat and humidity wasn’t nearly as bad as it was during the NYRR Long Training Run #1 last Saturday, which was easily the hottest day of the summer so far (on that day we only did 10 miles). We arrived at Flushing Meadows Park after grabbing a cab from where we are in Astoria now over to the park, and this was our view:

Not bad, right? The weather wasn’t too bad when we left at 6 am and arrived around 6:30 am. The first loop(ish) around the park didn’t feel too awful either as far as heat goes, but I think that was because we weren’t really out in the sun yet. Once the sun got up there it definitely got hot during the rest of the race.

For those who may remember the Brooklyn half-marathon back in May, you’ll be happy to know that I steered clear of the Gatorade mix thing at the fluid stations and as such, did not get ill during this race. I stuck with water and my Cliffbar gel shots only and the entire race went very smooth despite the heat.

This particular course kind of looks like a rat maze on the map, but it actually made for a very interesting race and the miles felt like they were just flying by because of all the twists and turns. Miles 3 and 11 felt a little like running through the Louisiana bayou given the 6-7 foot tall grass/brush + the ridiculously muddy road + the lakes covering the entire road forcing us to run into the grass in order to get around them (there was a thunder and rain storm the night before). It made for an interesting experience on that portion of the course.

However, this was actually one of my favorite courses to date! Near the finish line (around the fountain of the planets, which was SO cool to run around!) the DJ was blasting a Metallica song and asked the runners to do air guitars as we passed. Um, excuse me…I’m a little busy here if you couldn’t tell (this was about 12.5 miles in)!

And here we come trucking down the last stretch right after the mile 13 sign! The finish chute was just up ahead and at this point we were so ready to cross that finish line! We knew that water, bagels, and all sorts of edible yumminess awaited just beyond that finish. Our finish time was 2:02, which was 6 minutes slower than Brooklyn but still a little too fast for a training-type run. Luckily we both feel just fine and ready to dive into marathon training this week.

I pretty much loved this race. The heat and humidity kind of sucked, but the course was brilliant; not to mention the fact that comparing a race when I didn’t get sick vs one when I did (running the last 6 miles of the Brooklyn half while feeling nauseous and with a stomach ache was not fun)…well, that’s not a tough question, now is it? Everything went according to plan, and I feel like I’m on track to jump right into marathon training starting next week. We intentionally took it slower this time around because of the heat and the fact that we couldn’t afford too much downtime after this race because of the marathon. Seems like that worked out perfectly, and I woke up with my legs feeling fine. I’m still taking 3 days off before I start running again, and I’ll only do two short little runs before jumping back into a long run next weekend. From here on out it’s all eyes on the NYC Marathon on November 6th!

Time to Taper + HOT Weekend in NYC Recap

In case you hadn’t noticed, it was ridiculously hot this weekend regardless of where you lived in the continental U.S. On Friday afternoon I walked out of my office into what could only be described as a sauna and instantly regretted the official NYRR Long Training Run #1 for the NYC Marathon that I’d signed up for on Saturday morning. Given the Queens Half-Marathon that’s taking place this Saturday, I had to get in the 10 miler that I’d been planning on before starting my taper week this week. So, I was up bright and early at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning, and walked out of my A/C’d house to this:

Only 83 degrees? That’s not so bad, right? Two things: a) look at the time stamp and then imagine where that temp went as the morning progressed; b) check out the humidity and “feels like” temp. Yeah, it was hot. Luckily, I had my badge of honor (“race” bib):

And I wasn’t the only crazy out there running anywhere from 6 to 20 miles in the ridiculous heat and humidity:

Surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I had been expecting. I mean, the conditions weren’t anywhere close to ideal and I was pretty much disgusting after the 10 miles were over, but it actually felt pretty good. There were fluid stations every mile, misting stations in 3 different spots of the park, the pace setters took us 30 seconds slower to account for the heat, and there was a recovery area after every loop of the park that featured water-soaked sponges, water, Gatorade, gel shots, etc. I actually had a good time all things considered. Now that the 10 miler is done, it’s time to rest and taper up for the Queens Half-Marathon this weekend! At least we know we’re capable of running in extreme heat if it happens again this weekend, right? There will be no PR-setting for this race, that’s for sure!

Afterward we headed over to the Highline to hunt down the Coolhaus ice cream truck, which is apparently one of the best ice cream trucks in the city. On a day where the temps had climbed to this:

I could certainly get behind something like this:

That’s exactly what you think it is. It was a Guiness chip type of ice cream with two white chocolate chip cookies, which were combined to create the greatest thing ever. Totally worth walking over the Highline in the blistering heat and waiting for about 15 minutes for it to show up.

All in all, it was a busy weekend. On Sunday we spent the better part of the day moving our things into my new apartment in Astoria and the name of the game this week after work will be unpacking and putting the place together for my final move-in this Thursday or Friday. It’s definitely been a summer of moving with Boston, Brooklyn, Queens, and Boston again all thrown in, but hey, at least it’s almost over!

Ridiculously Busy Week

This past week and weekend have been sheer insanity of awesome and busy; consequently, you get a bullet-point recap (complete with photos and links!):

  • New York, the state I call home, passed that one bit of legislation that you probably haven’t heard anything about…as a result, this year’s Pride celebration was crazy, awesome, and exhausting all at the same time. I need a weekend to recover from my weekend! We found out while we were out to dinner at a Cuban place a few blocks from where we’re staying in Fort Greene, and had it not been for the Pride race I was in the next morning, we would’ve probably been out all night. A 3 1/2 hour march down 5th Avenue, people spilling out of bars and restaurants in the village, frozen margaritas, Governor Cuomo, etc.
  • President Obama demonstrates that he still doesn’t get it even after Cuomo’s accomplishment in a Republican-controlled Senate, which is notorious for its dysfunction. His team uses the word “evolving” to describe his position and I use the word “bullsh*t” to describe it.
  • My LSAT score came back, and while I consider it to be a pretty douche move to post things like LSAT scores or even law school grades online (remember this? Cause I do…), I’ll let you all know it was in the 160s, which was not as high as I was hoping for, but still good enough to get me into the law schools I planned on applying to before I took it. There was a harder than average curve (meaning I had to miss less in order to make into the higher scores), but I’m glad it’s over!
  • I ran the 30th annual Pride race in Central Park a mere 12-14 hours after same sex marriage was legalized, and despite the 2 miles we did before the race because we needed to get in 7 that day and the 93% humidity which felt more like 100%, it felt awesome. And most importantly? Rainbow popsicles after the finish line. This should happen at every race.
  • I’m in the process of moving out of my old apartment this week. One funny story so far is Tuesday night I decided that we just had to have my TV and Xbox, and I’d estimate that the place we’re cat/house-sitting at is about half a mile from my old apartment. Paranoid about rolling a 32 inch flat-screen TV along the not-so-even sidewalks of Brooklyn, I enlisted M to come with me after work to help me take the TV and Xbox over. With no car, and the option of an easier method for transportation out of the question, I carried that TV down 3 flights of stairs, the half a mile from Boerum Hill to Fort Greene, and up 4 flights of stairs…my arms are still sore today.
  • I discovered a laundromat around the corner from me that has CNN on the TV’s while you wait, e.g. perfect laundromat for me. There’s some serious stuff going down in Greece and Kabul right now. Yeesh!
  • Rise Against released their video for the song “Make It Stop” last week (or two weeks ago?), and you should watch it if you haven’t already. Fantastic video that had me holding my breath for about 4 minutes:

Recap: Brooklyn Half-Marathon ’11

About 24 hours ago, I completed my first ever half-marathon race (13.1 miles) in 1 hour and 56 minutes. Given the fact that our goal had been 2 hours or a little over, I was elated at this accomplishment. The course took my friend Anthony and I around Prospect Park in Brooklyn twice and then out onto Ocean Parkway straight to Coney Island (see map here). The weather could not have been more perfect despite the constant rain all last week and the overcast/misty day today, and even at 7 a.m. temperatures were nice enough to be totally comfortable in just shorts and a short-sleeve shirt. Turning onto Ocean Parkway required a run down an actual highway onramp and then across 4 lanes of what is clearly a well-traveled highway when it’s not shut down like it was for the race. Like all big accomplishments, there were parts that were mentally tough, but the crowds on the boardwalk at Coney Island really helped to drive you home across that finish line.

Miles 1-4: felt really good, and I quickly burned through the breakfast I had earlier so at mile 4 we took one Cliff Bar chocolate gel shot and washed it down at the fluid station after the mile 4 marker. So far, so good.

Miles 5-6: second time up the beast of a hill in Prospect Park, but no qualms here. In fact, I’d easily say that the Ocean Parkway miles were more difficult than the two trips up this hill. Having been around once already, we knew we wouldn’t see a fluid station down the entire west side of the park, so we decided to stop before the mile 6 marker for Gatorade. I didn’t know it at the time, but the Gatorade was a powder mix variety and not from regular bottles, which became a big problem for me because the only other time I’ve had a powdered mix drink like that in a race, I felt ill and actually threw up after I managed to get across the finish line.

Mile 6.5-7ish: my stomach isn’t feeling so hot and I’ve traced it back to the Gatorade I’d had before mile 6. Feeling ill starts to set in. Damnit, this isn’t good.

Mile 7: the fantastic crowd at the exit from the park was amazing (holding signs like “run now, tequila later” and “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon”) and really, really motivating. We stopped at the fluid station after mile 7 but I steered clear of the Gatorade (which I did for the remainder of the race) and stuck with the water. We got out onto Ocean Parkway and saw what no runner wants to see: a straight shot route with no end in sight. Also, previous mapping of this route indicated that the Parkway was relatively flat and even downhill most of the way. Reality said otherwise.

Miles 7-11: stomach-ache and feeling ill is still not going away and combined with never-ending road in front of us, my mantra simply becamse “one foot in front of the other.” Each mile marker I passed I mentally checked off as one less mile I had to run while feeling like crap. When I started feeling really ill, I’d imagine the music videos for songs that came on my iPod that had videos I remembered (one of them was Peaches’ “Boys Wanna Be Her,” which is a trip to think about while you’re running a half-marathon).

Mile 11: there it is. Nausea. I stopped at the water station, took 2 cups of water, ripped open my last Cliff Bar chocolate gel and consumed it, and walked past the station while making sure I drank both cups of water. This resting/ingestion period lasted for about 30 seconds and as soon as the nausea subsided, I started again and told myself that even if I had to do 11-12 minute miles, I was running those last 2.1 miles.

Mile 12: either my feeling ill subsided, or the fact that the stiffness creeping into my legs was overriding it, but I forgot about the ill feeling I’d had for the past 5-6(ish) miles and just powered through. It also could have had something to do with the freshly-paved section of the road with the nice oil fumes that accompanied it. Why yes, that’s exactly what I want to be breathing in right now! When I reached the boardwalk there was a huge crowd that was going wild, and (of course) Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” was blaring. As I turned onto the boardwalk and spotted the 13 mile marker and the finish line shortly after it my only thought was “there! Go!” As soon as I crossed the finish, I was ecstatic. Not only had I successfully completed the first half-marathon I’d ever attempted, I did so in under 2 hours and despite the fact that my body was fighting me for it.

Afterthoughts: I could not, for the life of me, figure out why the Gatorade had made me feel so ill because I’ve had it plenty of times before in the middle of long training runs with no problems. In fact, during a 9 mile training run we had done a few weeks prior, Anthony and I both stopped for a 20 ounce Gatorade along the route we’d mapped out, and I had no feelings of nausea or anything during the rest of the run or after. The one and only time I’ve gotten sick from something was at the Japan Day race back in 2010 when I had a powdered mix drink that had been handed out when I picked up my race bib at the NYRR offices. After that incident, I resolved to never again drink anything like that during or before a race. I learned on the train ride home from other runners that they also had problems with the Gatorade yesterday, and while it didn’t affect him like it did me, Anthony also said that he thought something was off about it. Next time I’ll be bringing my own.

That part aside, having a stomach ache and feeling ill like that really made those middle miles feel loooooong, and it’s a classic example of the mind/body fight that can happen as an athlete. Your body is sending you every signal to stop and your mind is battling it because you know that there’s “just X number of miles to go.” Especially when I got to miles 10, 11, and 12…I am too stubborn of a person to have gotten that far to just give up there. There’s a limit to how far this battle can go before you really start taking some unnecessary risks, but in this case, I fought and I won. And I crossed the half-marathon finish line in less than 2 hours despite that struggle. Not only are you battling the same elements everyone else is (the humidity, the hills, the psychological effect of seeing the Parkway and thinking “oh my god it’s never-ending,”) but you also have this additional element that afflicts you and only you. But, I did it!! And I’ll be doing it again in Queens at the end of July on the road to the big one: the 2011 NYC Marathon on November 6, 2011.

Photos:

Lined up and ready to start!! This is a shot of the front of the pack in our respective starting corrals (assigned by pace time, so naturally the faster people are up front and the slower people are in the back…we were lined up in the 3000s and I believe the number went up to the 8 or 9000s).

Our view for the last (roughly?) quarter mile of the race from the boardwalk! Every race should end at the beach!

Post-race happy / pre-shower disheveled look. 😉

Onto a New Week!

Welcome to Wednesday! Except, for me it kinda feels like Tuesday because on Monday I was forced into taking a vacation day, so I didn’t return home from Boston until Monday and I started work on Tuesday, which felt like Monday because it was my first day of the work week. There. Was that confusing enough for you?

Some of you might have stopped reading after the first sentence. For those of you who continued, here’s what’s up this week:

  • First and foremost, on Friday (my Thursday, yet actually Friday…okay okay, I’ll stop) I will be in attendance at Terminal 5 for the BAD RELIGION / RISE AGAINST concert!! EEEE!!! This is an important milestone in my life. After seeing Bad Religion in a full-length concert for the first time last year (and having seen Rise Against several times in the past), I am no longer an ultimate awesomeness in concert newbie. No, I am a seasoned concert goer in this caliber of concert and to say that I am e-x-c-i-t-e-d is an understatement. A serious one. Expect some photos this weekend or next week! Lots of them. I even arranged my Half Marathon training and LSAT studying schedules this week around this concert. What? This is perfectly normal behavior.
  • In 2 1/2 weeks (on May 21st) I’ll be running my first half marathon ever: the Brooklyn Half-Marathon in Prospect Park which ends in Coney Island. My training’s been going fine so far, and I have a 9 miler on the menu for Saturday after the concert Friday night. Expect photos and a post about the Brooklyn Half afterward!
  • Oh right, Sunday night…interestingly enough I was not home in New York when “it” was announced, so I wouldn’t have had the chance to see the festivities at the WTC even if I wanted to; but I wouldn’t have wanted to. I think this piece in the New York Times sums up my feelings about the events of the past few days perfectly.
  • Actually, on that note, I wonder why the news media is focusing on two groups’ reactions almost exclusively to the rest of us who are right in the middle? What do I mean by this? Either you are seeing stories about what high schoolers and college students did in reaction (arguably too young back in 2001 to really grasp the significance of what was happening at that time) or people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, etc., who were far more subdued but at least had lived part of their adult life free of the “post-9/11” world. What about those of us who were high schoolers or college students in 2001? We had both the capacity to understand exactly what was happening to the world that day and after, but also had the entirety of our adult lives transformed. We are the “post-9/11” world, and we really don’t know anything different. I don’t think any of us can really imagine our lives without 9/11 and its immediate and long-term impacts. That said, I’ve found that a lot of people my age have had quite conflicted reactions that vary between those that are jubilant and those that seem to be almost indifferent, or both. It’s interesting to think about, and certainly something that will probably continue to define our generation and how we shape the future of this country.
  • On a lighter note, on Monday I signed up for NYRR’s Queens Half-Marathon in July. Two things about this: a) the course map from last year makes me dizzy…should make for an interesting experience; and b) being in July, this will probably be a nice and toasty race. Ruh roh.
  • Finally, on the “I apparently don’t take enough days off from work” front, I am taking off several days this month in addition to the week-long vacation I planned on taking in June because I am significantly over the maximum number of vacation days I’m allowed to carry over into the next anniversary year of my employment, which is in early June. Thus, I’ll also be taking off the Friday before the Brooklyn Half as well as a few days off at the end of May for the Memorial Day holiday (read: last hurrah for LSAT studying + moving things into storage in Boston). Should be fun. Having Monday off this week was kind of an odd experience…I didn’t quite know what to do with myself after I got home from Boston!

Anyway, that’s all for now! Excuse me while I go take some LSAT practice exams, work, run, and watch the ultimate in concert awesomeness this week!!

Oh, P.S. T-minus 5 days until I am a proud owner of the iPhone 4! EEE!!

Week in Review

Did you know that this is a holiday weekend? I didn’t realize that until Friday when no one was in the office (didn’t realize we had so many practicing christians…). 😉 My plans for today include a practice LSAT and then some video games afterward. Maybe I’ll pick up a chocolate bunny or two on the way home from the practice test; you know, to be “observant” of the holiday. Without further ado:
  • In what can only be described as temporary insanity, my friend and I ran the NYRR 4 Mile race yesterday morning in the literal downpour with an additional 4M afterward in order to complete our 8M training run for next month’s Brooklyn half marathon. As of late last night, my stuff was still not dry. Naturally, the sun was out and the weather warm less than 12 hours later and it is currently partly cloudy and 65 degrees.
  • Did you know that your iPhone tracks data about your location? Did you also know that all cell phones do so given the fact that they are the equivalent of tiny GPS trackers on your person that constantly send out a signal to the cell phone towers immediately in your vicinity (in plain English, thanks to the cell phone signal that all phones send out in order to access the cell network you require in order to make phone calls and send text messages, the iPhone “revelation” is really not a revelation and all and also not exclusive to the iPhone). I’m still getting one May 9th when I’m eligible for my Verizon upgrade. 😉
  • At work we sometimes try to address really big, significant cases whenever we can and this week we worked on putting up this petition to address the horrific case in Cleveland, TX, where an 11 year old girl was gang-raped by 19 boys and men and then subsequently blamed for the attack by community members and the media. Somewhere in the outrage over that blame, a crucial message was lost that we felt like she needed to hear, so once we’ve finished collecting the signatures, we have already developed a method of delivering the letter and signatures directly to her. Sign if you’d like to a part of it.
  • R.I.P. Grete Waitz. Amazing New York legend. I’ll be signing up for the Grete’s Great Gallop this October (half marathon length) for sure. Given its proximity to the marathon, it’ll most likely be part of a longer training run that day, but if any year is the year to do this race, it’s this one.

Recap: Colon Cancer Challenge 15K

Apologies for the delay in posting this…I’ve been in full force studying for the LSAT in June (I’m coming to love the Logic Games actually), getting ready to go to Boston to visit the coolest person ever this weekend, and trying to fight off this damned head cold that is putting up a valiant fight against my Emergen-C, Sudafed, and my whining for it to go away.

Where was I again? Oh right, the Colon Cancer Challenge 15K. I woke up the day before and the day of the race with a slight sore throat (the beginning of what has turned into an epic head cold this week), and thanks to the “late” start at 11:15 am, which I really didn’t mind all that much, I was able to sleep in until 8:00 am, leisurely drink a cup of coffee and eat my ritual pre-race PowerBar, and jump on a train with Margot to Central Park. She decided to surprise me by coming down from Boston to see this race because it’s the biggest race I’ve been in so far, and it was a big deal because of the charity drive attached to it that I participated in. Thanks to the enormous generosity of friends and family, I was able to raise $367.30 for the Colon Cancer Challenge Foundation through the FirstGiving website. Even though the race is over, the charity page I set up on FirstGiving is still open and accepting donations through June 27, 2011!

For those who are uninitiated in road racing and/or unable to convert kilometers into miles, 15K is actually 9.3 miles. This is probably the closest one can get to a half-marathon (13.1 miles) without actually running a half-marathon. If you follow me here, then you already know that I’m planning on doing the Brooklyn Half-Marathon in a little less than two months, so this 15K was a great race to incorporate into my training plan for the Brooklyn Half. I completed the 15K in 1:18, which comes out to roughly 8:25 minutes per mile. The more mileage I add, the more I realize that my pace won’t really fluctuate all that much in the two Half-Marathons and maybe even the ING NYC Marathon this year (one would expect it to get slower as the miles increase, but that hasn’t been the case…in fact, it’s been the opposite). So all in all, a great experience!

I’ll end this recap with some good photos the race:

(pre-race) I’ll let Anthony’s caption for this say it all: “Ah the classic Shea face. It says “let’s go/gimme/I’m hungry/shut up/are we done yet/what??/It’s cold/It’s hot/I’m bored/I will DESTROY you”.”

(during race) Anthony and I getting started. Notice the winter running gear? Yeah, even though it’s the end of March and Spring has “officially” landed, it’s still FREEZING outside!! Boo!!

(during race) Yup, giant inflatable colon. Margot and Beth went over the Colon Cancer Challenge Expo thing and saw this.

(during the race) Literally 9.25 miles in at this point! My hand was up to high-five Margot near the finish line.

(post-race) Team stretch!

(post-race) FOOD!! Must have food now!!!

(post-race) ❤ She’s cute. 🙂