Archive for March, 2016

Saturday morning dawned sunny and cool. Cold enough for a debate about how many layers I would need instead of the expected long-sleeves vs. short sleeves with arm warmers debate. At least Friday’s rain had given way to clear, sunny skies. A typical pre-race breakfast including one pop tart, one travel mug of coffee, and one shaker of General UCan and then a drive into NYC. (Ucan is a powder that I mix with water before any long run. It contains a super starch that helps keep blood sugar levels pretty even for about 2-3 hours. It’s one of many types of runner’s fuel. For runs over an hour, I generally need some sort of fuel or I end up feeling light headed.)

The Central Park Spring Classic 10k is put on by New York Road Runner’s (NYRR), the same organization that puts on the NYC Marathon. This race was billed as a throw-back race. No race shirt. No finisher’s medal. But at a throw-back price of $10. For comparison runDisney has recently opened early registration for the new Wine & Dine 10K race. The privilege of running a 10k at Disney costs $120 and includes a long-sleeve technical shirt, on-course entertainment with Disney characters,  and an elaborate medal. That price does not include park entry after the race…or any travel expenses associated with a Disney trip.

Rich and I found parking on 5th Avenue, just a few blocks north of the 102nd Street transverse – which is where the race headquarters was located. Same day bib pick-up was quick and easy. Our confirmation email had a QR code which was scanned at any of several stations. The bibs were not pre-assigned so you got whatever the next bib number was. A corral letter was affixed to the bib, although corrals seemed to be more “suggestions” than assignments. The last several corrals seemed to be mixed together. There were plenty of port-a-potties near the start line. The national anthem was sung and then we were off.

Central Park is hilly. I must have a selective memory because, despite having run several races in the Park – including my half marathon PR, I seemed to have forgotten the hills. The biggest hills were in the first two miles which included Harlem Hill. I probably started too conservatively as I planned the first 2 miles in heart rate Zone 3 and the rest in Zone 4. Since my heart rate seems to skyrocket with hills, I ended up walking a lot of the Harlem Hill to keep my heart rate in Zone 3. I averaged about 12 min/mile for the first 2 miles before switching to Zone 4.

I love running races in Central Park. I think it’s beautiful and I love seeing bits of Manhattan outside the protected green space of the park. This was a sunny, lovely day. I was slightly overdressed by mile 2 but not so much so as to cause a major impact. There were more than enough water stops. And it just felt good to run outside.

I’ve had a difficult time trying to figure out how to translate heart rate training into race performance. I haven’t found a formula that says, “run a 10K in Zone 4” or “run a half marathon mostly in Zone 3.” So it’s a work in progress. My training has recently stabilized after 18 months of sporadic running where I lost some speed (and gained some weight). I’ve seen some improvement in pace on my training runs this year so I was hopeful for a decent finish time. I was pretty satisfied with my finish of 1:11:39 (which translates to 11:32 min/mile). I was hoping that I could compete with my 10K PR (1:07-ish) but that will wait for another day. At least I’m getting myself back to where I was. And I definitely could have run the whole race in Zone 4 as I had enough juice at the end to know I could go faster.

Next training stop will be a pair of half marathons on my way to the NYC Marathon…. If you want to contribute to the Children’s Hospital please click the link below…

To most people March 8, 2016 was just another date on the calendar. For the 82,172 people who entered the lottery to run the NYC Marathon this year, March 8th was Selection Day. 19,083 runners won a spot in the NYC Marathon. Unfortunately, I was not one of them. Outside of the lottery, there are several ways to gain entry into the largest marathon in the world. If you are super speedy, you can qualify for the marathon based on your finish time in another race.  You can gain automatic entry by having run the race 15 times in the past. New York Road Runners (NYRR) offers a 9+1 program where you run 9 NYRR races and volunteer at 1 race in the previous year to guarantee a spot. Or you can run for charity. Which is what I’ve decided to do.

I have previously run the NYC Marathon for charity. My mother, who had been my biggest running fan, died unexpectedly at Christmas in 2012. A few months later the Boston Marathon bombing occurred. The combination of the two tragedies convinced me that 2013 was the year for me to run in the NYC Marathon. I wanted to run for my hospital – Montefiore Medical Center – but they didn’t have a running team…yet. I decided to run for Team for Kids, a great charity that helps children get and stay healthy through running. Besides the obvious advantage of helping children, running with Team for Kids offered several benefits. As the official charity partner of the NYRR, Team for Kids had convenient bussing to the start line and a large tent in the starting area – not insignificant for someone starting in the last wave who would be sitting in the starting area on Staten Island for hours.

Last year I was invited to join the newly formed Champions for CHAM, the running team started to support my hospital. CHAM stands for the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, an amazing institution that I’ve called home for almost 9 years. Unfortunately my life wasn’t in a place where I could commit to training for a full marathon. This year my boyfriend and I both entered the lottery, mostly in solidarity with a dear friend who had committed to running NYC for charity. We were both shocked when he won a lottery spot in the marathon. At that moment we both agreed that I would reach out to the Champions for CHAM team and see if I could join them. I consider myself lucky to be running for a charity that means so much to me. In addition to training to run 26.2 miles, I will be adding meaning to my miles by raising a minimum of $3000 for a great children’s hospital. I am so excited to begin this endeavor.

In upcoming posts I will be sharing the great training debate, updating on my training and fundraising, and talking a bit about why I love working at CHAM in the Bronx. I also hope you’ll consider donating to a great cause. Even $5 can help!