Saturday, May 28, 2016

Race Report -- Brooklyn Half

It has taken me a while to get around to doing this, but here's the race report for the Brooklyn Half.
Short version is that it went a lot better than I expected.  Indeed, it went better than I had hoped.  The day was perfect for running (though not the best beach day ever).  I went over with the SBRC gang, and we did a pretty good job of timing our arrival.  The Brooklyn Half is now the biggest half marathon in the world (says the NYRR).  At around 27,000 runners, who am I to argue.  This has led to logistic nightmares in the past.  The last time I ran it, in 2014, we did not anticipate the delay associated with metal detectors, fences, etc. and ended up running to the start, missing the closing of baggage, etc. This time NYRR did a great job of handling the crowds.  Baggage claim was outside security.  This was an interesting choice, but incredibly helpful in terms of timing.  So, we got off the subway, dropped our bags, and then went through the metal detectors.  Because bags were dropped, the security was quick, and we were in our corrals in plenty of time.  The most important NYRR innovation (they've been doing it for a while) is to have the port-o-potties in the corrals.  So, you could line up, take care of whatever, while already lined up.  All, in all, a non-stressful start to the day.

I was toward the back of the first wave (E of A-F), which was fine. NYRR has changed its method for calculating corrals. Instead of using your fastest 5k, they normalize your fastest pace to a 10K, and then use that.  It took me a while to figure out how the they'd come up with 8:08 as a predicted pace, but it was consistent with the 8:30ish paces I ran in Grete's Gallop in the Fall.  Anyway, it worked pretty well.   I started with E's and mostly finished with E's.

The Brooklyn Half starts hilly and ends up flat, so it's important not to blow up in the beginning.  The start line is at the Brooklyn Museum, at the top of Prospect Park.  The first 1/2 mile is downhill on Washington Avenue.  The second 1/2 mile is uphill on Flatbush, then then you turn around and run back down Flatbush, continue around the bottom of the park, run up the same damned hill again, inside the park, and then back down it on the other side of the park.  The mind game is that you carry a lot of adrenaline speed down the first hill, and then have to moderate your pace goals as you head back up.  Also, it's a deceptive hill.  Particularly the second time up, in the park, there's a false summit, and then a steeper pitch to the top.  So you have to be careful not to redline too early.  I did a pretty good job.  I watched my heart rate. It got a bit high near the top both times, but came down nicely once the course turned down again.

First 5 K went by at about an 8:15 pace.  Second 5K a bit slower.  8:50ish, then picked it back up for the last two, 8:35-40.  I had a couple of bad water stops, that cost about 10-15 seconds, but otherwise everything went smoothly.  I felt comfortable the whole way, and, if anything felt like I had a bit left in the tank at the end.  So, 1:53.06 feels great for an early season result.

Big shout outs go to the South Brooklyn Half cheer squad, who gave key lifts at Grand Army Plaza and on Ocean Parkway, as well as Martin and Martha at the top of Prospect Park Hill.

I will post a few photos that will show (1) that I am not in peak racing form; (2) that I have aged a lot this winter; and (3) that, without noticing it, I finished alongside a former student and SBRC running buddy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fear, Trepidation and Low Expectations . . .

The Brooklyn Half is on Saturday.  I'm going to run it.  I love the race, but I'm nervous.  I'm not nervous about finishing. I've logged a 14 miler and a 12 miler in the last four weeks, but I am nervous about what those runs showed.  I'm not in very good shape.  The winter has been tough.  I lost a big chunk of time to my hamstring, and lost my Fall marathon fitness.  Family logistics have had me traveling most weekends, with limited opportunities for runs.  Also, my class schedule seemed to get in the way more than usual.  Blah, blah, blah. . .   Anyway, I'm heavier than I should be, and the result is that my sustainable pace is, um, slow. . .

What I need to do is adjust my expectations, treat it as a lovely day for a training run that ends at the beach.  We'll see if I can pull it off. . .

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

London Calling

Had a great trip to London last week to do a PhD oral exam for a doctoral candidate at UCL and give different talks at the CMA (thanks Phil) and UCL.  Had the pleasure of an 8 miler with Phil before my talk at the CMA ( see photo of us all cleaned up on Instagram).  We ran through various parts of Bloomsbury and eventually made our way into Regents Park ran up to the zoo and dropped into Regents Canal.  Headed as far out along the canal until we hit a locked gate and then back to Kings Cross and off to our respective hotels and clubs to shower and dress for my morning talk on the legacy of the Apple Case in the US.  All great fun and an honor to join Phil for his "I run every day" goal of 2016 miles in 2016. Thanks Dude!

Topped off my London visit with a solo 7 miler along the Thames heading east on Sunday morning.  Fun to get lost on the way back and somewhere end up at St Paul's Cathedral instead of my hotel near the British Museum,  But a quick consult of a map and a helpful passerby did the trick in plenty of time to clean up for Mother's Day brunch with L at Berner's Tavern.

Just to add an odd note to the trip, ran into a very jet lagged Bill Kovacic on Oxford Street on the way to brunch!

The Home Made Half Marathon

So i was supposed to run a half marathon on April 9th but I wake up to weather in the 30s, ice on the ground, and high winds and head back to bed.  I almost never skip races (isn't that the point of overpaying to register and picking up your packets?) but this was not what I had in mind for a spring half.

So I wait one week and wake up to a sunny day with a light breeze and temperature in the low 50s and head out for my home made half, heading south to the very edge of McCormick Place Expo Center on the lakefront and back.  It was truly a joyous run and a final time of about 5 minutes faster than the last half I rumbled through back in the fall of 2015.  I took whatever detours most amused me, even took a sledding hill on the wya and fortunately remembered the bathroom in the parking lot for Soldier Field when I needed it most.  My only goal was to hit 13.1 on my running program and then stopping the clock which occurred about 3 blocks from home.

Obviously I have run lots of training runs of 13.1 or more working up to marathon race days but this was the first time (but not the last) that I do a DIY half marathon.  I highly recommend.

Man v. Marathon

Can the 2 hour mark be broken?  Here's what the NY Times Says,