I’m Calling it Coogan’s

Yesterday morning Esther and I trekked up to Northern Manhattan for the most unique race on New York Road Runners calendar, the Washington Heights Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K.  This race through Washington Heights’s streets is more than a race—it’s an event.   Known for green bagels, live bands playing salsa, blues, jazz and classic rock along the course and a kid’s races showcasing the next generation of young runners.

In the crowded corral before the race.

In the crowded corral before the race.

The race may have a new name but runners still call it Coogan’s the same way New Yorkers still call the RFK Bridge the Triborough Bridge.  Although the name is new the course is the same tight hilly out and back that’s both challenging and beautiful.  Starting near the armory runners head up Washington Height’s narrow streets heading uphill towards Fort Tryon Park passing the cloisters and looping around the park and then it’s down the rolling hills to the finish.

Heading out to the start

Heading out to the start

Yesterday’s race was the first race in NYRR’s Club Series and although I had a cranky knee from last Sunday’s Central Park Marathon there was no way I wasn’t running.  I planned running slow or maybe pacing a teammate.  I also planned on taking a few pictures along the course as I ran.

The Race

Out and back runners in Fort Tryon Park

Out and back runners in Fort Tryon Park

Starting in a cramped corral, snapping random pictures as I went, my fellow racers pulled me out fast—but not too fast.  Watching NYRR’s volunteers frantically trying to keep outbound runners from spreading out into the incoming lane—in a field of about 6000 it seemed as futile as herding cats.  Passing the first-mile marker I looked up and saw the lead runners heading towards the finish.  I wasn’t running for a p.r. but seeing that still gets in your head a little bit.

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Heading into Fort Tryon Park I ran an 8:08 first mile surprised at how well my knee was behaving.  Soaking up atmosphere and moving forward along Northern Manhattan’s rolling hills I ran a 7:56 second mile.  Hmmm.

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Passing bands playing classic 80’s tunes I headed towards the finish.  There was one hill left at about 2.5 miles and then it’s all downhill.  Picking up the pace I saw teammates Rohan and Dred cheering as I passed them.  Passing the last hill my pack of runners opened up running downhill towards the finish.   I finished in 24:23 good for third overall on the Quicksilver Striders.   Not bad for a guy who wanted to take things easy.  After the race, Esther and I munched on green bagels and watched the kids races with teammates.   Regardless of the name, the race experience didn’t disappoint.

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The Central Park Marathon

 

Runners lined up for the start of the race

Runners lined up for the start of the race

I woke up to silence.  Where was the annoying buzz of my alarm clock?  Looking at the clock it said 6:00.  “Damn I forgot to set the alarm.”  I wanted to be finished with my morning stretch and walking Chico by now.  “Don’t worry Frank, you still have time,” I told myself.  Moving faster than I wanted, I did my stretches made coffee and walked Chico.

Kissing Esther before I left, I let her sleep in, a luxury she rarely gets.  She planned to meet me towards the end of the race when seeing her smiling face would give me a much-need boost.

Leaving home at 7:30 there was still time to get to Central Park before the 8:30 start.  Listening to the Canada/Sweden gold-medal game as I drove in I tried to get into race mode as the butterflies were swirled around my stomach.

Concerns     

Race Director Steve Lastoe giving runners last minute instructions

Race Director Steve Lastoe giving runners last minute instructions

It’s no secret I came into this race unprepared, I’ve posted about it here and here.  The last time I ran a marathon without any long runs was the 2012 Long Island Marathon.  My Dad had hip replacement surgery a few weeks before the race and I did very training runs and no long runs while he recovered.  I knew if I didn’t run a smart race, it would start getting ugly after about 15 miles.

Strategy

Coming in I knew I wasn’t running a p.r.—I was ok with that. Running a smart race meant fixing mistakes made in past marathons. Before yesterday I ran 10 marathons—went out too fast in all of them—and paid for it in the last six or seven miles.  A 4:45 marathon was my goal, to do that I planned on running a 2:08 for the first half and 2:37 for the second half. That meant running 9:46 splits for the first half of the race and 11:59 splits for the second half.

Pre-Race

Dropping off my bag at 8:15 I said hello a few NYC Runs Crew members who are Facebook Friends and walked the mile to the start of the race.  I got my first surprise of the day when I heard, “Hey Frank!”  Looking up I saw my friend Linda, who told me here husband Leo was running the marathon.

I found Leo at the back of the corral with a hug and a smile.  Leo is training for his next Ironman and like me the rough weather cut into his mileage.  Coming into the race with a tank of gas that was less than half full we knew running a slow steady pace was the only way to get through this race.  Leo looked at me and said, “5:14:59”, a reference to the race’s 5:15:00 time limit.

The Race

The course started on 96thStreet, 1.2 miles from the 102nd Street Transverse from there it was five loops from the transverse to the bottom of the park.  Thankfully Harlem Hill was not part of the course.  Leo and I spent the first loop catching up on family and friends and cracking the kind of jokes that make our wives roll their eyes.  Passing the 72nd Street transverse we cheered a woman running the half—on crutches.

Leo and I starting Loop 4 - Photo Linda Perales

Leo and I starting Loop 4 – Photo Linda Perales

We ran the first loop faster than we wanted—running splits between 9:18 and 9:49.  Starting the second loop Leo told me his longest training run was 10 miles.  “Don’t worry,” I told him, “we’ll make up for it today.”

The second loop was similar to the first, only slower, running “the tits” the pair of hills on the west side and Cat Hill on the east side will do that to you.  Passing the Fred Lebow statue Leo pointed to the other side, “Look there’s Linda!”  We waved as she snapped a few pictures as we passed.

At the midway point at my watch said 2:09 and change, my legs still felt good but were moving slower.  Running over 40 races in Central Park taught me where the downhills are and where to ride them for speed and where to let gravity carry me to save my legs.

14 miles in Esther texted me, she was leaving for the park, I replied, “14.30 in two2217.  Linda is in the park—call her when you get there,” thankful for the voice recognition software on my iPhone.

Finishing our third loop, I looked up and saw Coach Maria, who told me she’d pace me for a loop or two.  Seeing Leo and I running together she said, “You guys look OK.”  I told Leo about the running joke Maria and I have.  Almost every time she’s come out to pace me, she finds me running with a pretty girl.  Today she found me running with you.

On our fourth loop, Leo said, “you carried me 17 miles, you have to go.”  I told him,” You kept me

Making the last push for the finish - Photo Esther Priegue

Making the last push for the finish – Photo Esther Priegue

running a steady pace, I didn’t carry you.” Fighting our way up a hill that felt like a full D Cup we fist bumped and I coasted down the next hill to navigate the last nine miles solo.

Running more than walking I passed Linda as I started the last loop—giving her a high five I said, “One to go.” Checking my watch and doing mental math, I realized I was ahead of pace.  Coasting down the east-side hills with three miles left, I thought if I could keep this pace, I’ll run a 4:40.

I spent the last three miles alternating between running and walking.  I played leap frog with a blonde runner dressed in green for two miles, taking turns passing each other.  Walking up Cat Hill my 4:40 was slipping away from me.  Starting a slow shuffle at the top of the hill I passed her, when my shuffle became a walk, she passed me, and then I passed her.  At 96th Street she passed me for the last time.

With a half mile left, I shuffled towards the transverse listening for music and the end of the race.  Checking my watch at the last turn, I could still break 4:45.  Looking up and seeing Esther and Linda shouting “4:45” I mustered up a last kick finishing in 4:44:26.

After hugging and kissing both Esther and Linda, I gave them my race recap as we waited for Leo to finish.  He came in at 5:02:10.  Walking over on shaky legs I gave him a hug to congratulate him.  Coach Maria came by to congratulate both of us.  “Hey Maria, I ran my 20 miler today,” I joked.

It didn’t matter that this was one of my slower marathons.  Coming I knew I didn’t have my best, but I dug deep and finished what I started.  For today, that was enough.

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The Central Park Marathon—It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

© NYCRUNS

© NYCRUNS

Tomorrow morning I’m running marathon eleven, the Central Park Marathon.  This is the second year for this race hosted by NYC Runs—I ran the half last year—and like last year I’m coming into the race unprepared.

Last year’s Central Park Half was my second race after recovering from a broken foot.  Although I have two healthy feet, I’m not as confident as I was three weeks ago. Icy roads, steady snowfall and a recent bout with the flu kept me off the roads and treadmills and sapped my energy.

Looking more confident than I feel as I pick up my bib.

Looking more confident than I feel as I pick up my bib.

I managed a 1:29:05 in last weekend’s Cherry Tree 10 Miler on rubbery legs.  I’ve run no long training runs and am just starting to feel like myself.  So why am I running, if going in I know it’s going to be a long miserable day?  I’m stubborn.  The entry fee is paid.

Although tomorrow looks like a long miserable afternoon, it’s also a challenge.  I want to see how I’ll do when I’m not at my best.  I’m looking to run a spring ultra in April or May so at the very least it will be a long training run with Gatorade.

Planning my strategy for tomorrow, I know Central Park well.  I know five laps up Cat Hill and “the tits,” the double hills in the West 70’s will be rough, but I also know where the down hills are as well.  My plan is to keep my ego and in check and run a smart race.  If I don’t chase others and run my race it will be ok

So how does someone run a 26.2 mile race when they are only prepared for 13.1?  I’ll let you know if the race recap.

Throwback Thursday – Are You a Runner?

Esther running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2006.

Esther running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2006.

It’s Throwback Thursday, so I am reposting a Classic Post, Are You a Runner?  Read on and let me know how many times you were shaking your head in agreement.

I rediscovered running shortly after meeting my wife Esther in 2008. We raced on weekends and went for morning training runs before work. One of our first dates was a twilight run in Central Park. So imagine my surprise about a year later when she told me, “you’re a runner, I’m not a runner.”

Esther’s not your prototypical runner, then again neither am I. Her curvy figure is more J-Lo than Lolo Jones, but her exploits have gotten more people to sign up for their first 5K or four-miler — I know this personally because I am one of them. I imagine my surprise when she told me after finishing about 70 races, “I’m not a runner, you are a runner.”

Leo and Linda, two of our closest friends and running buddies would constantly tell her, “you’re a runner,” but she didn’t believe us. It wasn’t until we were in bag check after her 100th race that she realized,” ok I’m a runner” — something the rest of us already knew.

You don’t have to look or run like a Kenyan — most of us don’t. If you are still uncertain if you are a runner, I put the following list together:

Do you have at least a 30-day supply of race t-shirts?  9992

Have you gone out for a quick run before the blizzard hit?

Does your running watch double as a dress watch?

Do you have one pair of dress shoes and eight pairs of running shoes?

Is your idea of designer labels, Nike, Under Armour and The North Face?

Have you hopped from foot to foot on cold winter mornings waiting for the GPS on your Garmin to synch?

Are you the person who convinces friends and family members to sign up for their first race?

Do you own at least one book by Hal Higdon, Scott Jurek or Dean Karnazes?

Have you read Born to Run and, then ordered Pinole online and signed up for an ultra-marathon?

Do you own the movies Forrest Gump, Run Fatboy Run or Chariots of Fire?

Have you posted pictures of you and Bart Yasso, John Bingham or Dean Karnazes on Facebook?

Have you run a half marathon in the morning, showered and went to work?

Do you use Active.com, NYC Runs, or NYRR to fill your race calendar?

Do you have a profile on Athlinks and looked for your rivals on race day?

Esther and I after my first race in 2008

Esther and I after my first race in 2008

Do you get antsy if you’ve gone over two weeks without signing up for a race?

Is your idea of a double-header a race on Saturday and a race on Sunday?

Have you put off knee surgery because you already up for races the next two weekends?

Do you plan your vacations around destination races?

Is signing the family up for the Ragner Relay your idea of an ideal vacation?

Do you see your neighbors coming in from a night on the town as you are leaving for a Sunday morning race?

Have you gone for a run as a date?

Do passing other runners, kids on razor scooters and women pushing Cadillac Strollers during training runs in Central Park give you a rush?

Have you thought running 52 marathons in 52 weeks like Julie Weiss and Dana Casanave is really cool?

Have you raced on back-to-back weekends, or rather back-to-back days?

Have you thought about giving race t-shirts and old running shoes as wedding favors?

Do you wait until after the race to wear the race t-shirt?

Have you posted race pictures as your profile picture on Facebook?

Have you signed up for your next marathon, while picking up your bib for this weekend’s marathon?

Has your medal rack run out of spaces for medals?

Is at least one wall in your home wallpapered with race bibs?

Do you have so much race gear that you had to buy another dresser to hold it?

If you found yourself making a mental checklist or nodding your head as you read this, guess what? You’re a runner. It’s not about how fast you go, what’s important is that you get going. A mile is still a mile whether you are running them in six minutes of sixteen minutes.

Did you like the post?  Shake your head in agreement?  Post a comment and let me know.

Five Minutes with Heather Ziegler

HZ2AName:  Heather Zeigler

Location:  Downers Grove, IL

Occupation:  Supervisory Workers’ Compensation Claims Examiner for the DOL

Facebookwww.facebook.com/hzeigler

Instagram:  HeatherZeigler7

Race History

How many total races have you run?  100+ (I have no idea of the exact total!)

How many 5K’s have you run?  No idea  – probably about 5 a year since 2005

How many 10K’s have you run?  No idea again – less than the 5K’s

How many Half Marathons have you run?  40

How many Marathons have you run?  73

How many Ultras have you run?  2

HZ5

Are you a Marathon Maniac/Half Fanatic?  How/why did you join them?  Yes.  I am a “double agent.”  I became a Maniac first.  I had made a personal goal to run 50 marathons before I turned 50 in the Fall of 2010 (I was 30).  At that point I had only run 2 marathons.  At my first marathon after I had made that goal, I met a Maniac that had something on her shirt about running 52 marathons in a year.  I thought she was crazy!  I talked to her and another Maniac for a bit before the race and when I told them my goal they laughed at me.  I had no idea how easy my goal was until that moment.  I quickly became a Maniac after that and I completed my 50th marathon when I was 32.  I’m 100% sure that I will reach 100 marathons before I’m 50! J  I am also now a Half Fanatic.  I enjoy being both because it’s allowed me to meet so many people.  I haven’t gone to a race without knowing at least 1 person since 2011!

Other running groups/affiliations?  Run it Fast, 50sub4, 50 States Marathon Club

How long have you been running?  I had to run in college for Navy ROTC (1998) but I hated it and I was not good at it at all.  So, I don’t really feel like I started running until 2005 when I started to run for me and really started to enjoy it!

How did you start running?  I started to enjoy running after I had my daughter in December of 2005.  I had always been a pretty big girl but once I started to lose weight from the running, I fell in LOVE!  I lost about 45 pounds in early 2006 and I haven’t turned back.

HZ3

What is your favorite distance?  The Marathon

What do you do when you are not running?  Spend time with my daughter, go to movies, read, and EAT!

What am I asked about running?  I get a lot of questions about training and shoes.  And what my favorite races have been.

What is on your iPod playlist?  Anything but country!

Because of running I am skinny and happy!  HZ8

When I travel I am usually traveling to run a marathon

Favorite running memory?  My favorite running memory was at the Leading Ladies marathon in South Dakota this past summer.  I took a road trip with my mom and my daughter to this race.  I had been getting closer and closer to running a Boston Qualifying time so I chose this race because of its fast course…it worked!  Coming in to that finish with my mom and my daughter there cheering me in was exhilarating!  I had never thought that I could run that fast and having it all come together with two of the most important people in my life there to support me was awesome!

What is your running pet peeve?  Well, as far as my pet peeve for other runners, I would say that I hate it when people start in the front when they should start in the back of a race.  People should know their pace!  As far as my pet peeve for races, I would say they have to have enough water stops and enough water for everyone and I have many, many pet peeves about race websites…basically, they better be extremely informative!

Before a race I – My pre-race rituals have changed over the years.  Now I like to have something with carbs for lunch and a salad and margarita for dinner.  I also like to try to get a good night’s sleep.  I’m not a very superstitious person though.  I don’t get too stressed out if I don’t stick to that plan J

HZ11

I’m Down 1.2

ScaleThis past week has been a rough one, not because of writer’s block, I have a few things to write about, but because I’ve had the flu.  The flu gave me a worse beatdown than running a 60K race.  Although I’ve run only one 60, I was running two days later.  The flu made it hard for me to get out of bed, much less sit in front of a keyboard writing new posts.

That said, I did make it to Weight Watchers for a Sunday weigh-in and lost 1.2 pounds.  I don’t this was due to good food choices or having no appetite at all but I’ll take it.

Since New Year’s Day I’ve lost 4.6 pounds, not a tremendous amount, but little bits add up.

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The Bucket List

It’s February, the weather is cold and the roads are icy.  This winter more than any in recent memory has wreaked havoc with my training plans for spring races.  Winter’s the time to dream and plan—the time of year when research new races, those I’ll run and those dream of running.

Destination races are a chance for new experiences on different courses.  This was after I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 2009 - Photo Esther Santiago

Destination races are a chance for new experiences on different courses. This was after I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 2009 – Photo Esther Santiago

After much thought, I put a Bucket List together.  Some races are obvious choices—others more obscure and probably influenced by geography— I live in the Northeast.  Check out my list, let me know how many are on your Bucket List.

1-The Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon is the Holy Grail of marathons.  This race run annually on Patriots Day, the third Monday in April since 1897 is the goal of many runners, and caused countless others to daydream about qualifying.  Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about running Boston.  Qualifying for Boston takes more than a dream, it takes hard work to make your Boston Qualifying (BQ) time.  Running the 26.2 mile course from Hopkinton to Copley Square may be the hardest to cross off this list but sometimes you have to dream big.

2-Big Sur International Marathon

The twisting course down Highway 1 from Big Sur to Carmel is a popular destination race.  The breathtaking views of the Pacific Coastline and a grand piano player make up for the fact the course is brutal.  The toughest stretch is the two-mile climb between miles 10-12 known as Hurricane Point. If you are looking for a personal best, this is probably not the race for you but if you are looking to run a course that resembles a picture postcard sign up as soon as registration opens.

3-Marine Corps Marathon

Esther and I enjoyed running the National Marathon in 2010.  Is returning to the DC area to run the Marine Corps Marathon in my future?

Esther and I enjoyed running the National Marathon in 2010. Is returning to the DC area to run the Marine Corps Marathon in my future?

Known as The People’s Marathon the MCM is a favorite among first-time marathoners.  Run on a scenic flat-fast course through Arlington Virginia and Washington D.C. with heavy crowd support.  The Marine presence is everywhere—leading pace teams, manning water stations and handing out encouraging runners. The race course passing many of DC’s monuments and finishing in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial and having a medal placed around your neck by a uniformed marine give this race its patriotic feel.

4-Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon

Named the Best Named Marathon in the country by Runner’s World Magazine, the course goes through downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.  Origins of the race’s name vary from Cincinnati once being a porkopolis to I’ll run a marathon when pigs fly.  Great crowd support, many of them wearing pig noses ease the pain of the 350 foot elevation gain from miles 6 to 9 on this brutally hilly course.  What other race has runners being hugged by a winged pig after crossing the Finish Swine?

5-Chicago Marathon

After running the New York City Marathon three times, why would I want to run Chicago?  I’ve never been to the Windy City so it ranks high on my list of destination marathons.  The flat and fast course winding through Greektown, Little Italy, Pileson (Czech) and Chinatown is host to four world records and has been called New York City without the logistical problems.  I know I won’t be setting a world record but is a personal best possible?  Hmmm.

Château Frontenac dominates Quebec City's skyline.  Photo – Quebec  City Tourism/QuebecRegion.com

Château Frontenac dominates Quebec City’s skyline. Photo – Quebec City Tourism/QuebecRegion.com

6-Quebec City Marathon

Another popular destination race, Quebec is as close one can get to Europe while still in North America.  This point-to-point race between Levis and Quebec City is run in conjunction with a half marathon and a 10K race.  Ferries take runners to the start of their respective races. The course run partly on bike paths along the St. Lawrence River is picture postcard material.  This is a great race to plan a long weekend around.  The downside, the course is marked in kilometer not miles.

7-Oceans to Sound Relay

I’ve recommended running this 8-person 50-mile relay run on a scenic course over Long Island’s rolling hills from Jones Beach to Oyster Bay to my teammates as a team-building exercise.  Since running my first ultra last fall, I’ve been thinking of channeling my inner Dean Karnazes and running the course solo.

The start of the Yonkers Marathon - Photo Esther Priegue

The start of the Yonkers Marathon – Photo Esther Priegue

8-Yonkers Marathon 

Yonkers is the second oldest U.S. marathon—after Boston.  Dubbed a marathoner’s marathon by two-time Olympic marathoner John Kelley, the hilly course through Hastings on Hudson and Yonkers cause many to signup for the half.  The challenging hills between miles 4-5 and 20-21 do not make this an ideal course for newbies—nor does the five-hour time limit.  After running the half four times including last year’s personal best of 1:53:43 has me thinking maybe it’s time to try the full.

9-Brooklyn Marathon

How is this small local race on my bucket list?  “Runner’s World Magazine wrote, “The Brooklyn Marathon offers small-time charm that New York’s monster marathon cannot.”   NYC Runs founder and Brooklyn native Steve Lastoe’s dream was to bring Brooklyn its first marathon since 1909.  I’ve always enjoyed racing in Brooklyn, the races have an attitude comparable to the borough that hosts them.  The current Brooklyn Marathon Course is eight loops of Prospect Park but the race’s organizers plan on taking the course onto Brooklyn’s streets—maybe as soon as this year.

10-Empire State Building Run Up

The only race on this list that’s not a road race—it’s a tower race.  This 1576-step vertical challenge replaced the spot the New York City Marathon once held.   Starting in Art Deco lobby the field of 700 winds up the building’s stairwells to the 86th floor observation deck—the view of New York City’s skyline lit up at night more than make up for their burning quads.

That’s my Bucket List.  Let me know what you think.  Use the comments field and post which races you would switch or give me your Bucket List.

 

I’m Down 1.6

ScaleNew week, new late post—at least I was happy with this week’s results.  For the past three weeks I’ve been tracking my weight loss through weekly posts, Starting here, regardless of the number on the scale.  After two bad weeks, this week stepping off the scale at 199.6.

I made better choices this week.  I didn’t overindulge on carbs Friday night before the Go Fast or Go Home Half, and I didn’t have a huge post-race meal.

New Year’s Day I weighed in at 203 pounds and although it took time for me to embrace better eating habits again, I’ve lost 3.4 pounds in February and 32.8 pounds overall since last New Year’s Day.

While I’m happy to be less than 200 pounds, it’s still one week at a time.  I didn’t get depressed when I gained weight the past two weeks and I’m not over enthused by losing 1.6.  I’m taking it week by week knowing there will be good and bad weeks.

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Don’t Look Back—Someone May Be Gaining on You

Saturday Morning I was back in Brooklyn for another training race— The Go Hard or Go Home Half GO Start 3Marathon.  The flat fast course and 34 degree weather made for a different experience than last weekend’s halfs.

Bay Ridge is known as a difficult neighborhood for parking so I arrived an hour early for the 10am start time.  After picking up my bib, stopping at bag check and stopping at the porto potty, I walked around a bit to get used to the weather—after racing in 17 degree weather last weekend it didn’t take long.

Strategy

Like last weekend, my goal time was two hours.  I planned to run nine-minute splits, but since I was running a flat course on fresh legs, I might not need the two-minute cushion and knew I could finish closer to 1:58.

Concerns

Running on a flat course in field of about 150, I didn’t want to get pulled at the start.  I had to keep my ego in check and run my race.  Icy patches on The Promenade caused the race director to change the course from two 6.5 mile loops to a series of four complicated loops.

Pre-Race

Meeting with teammates Reggie and Coach Maria, and VC Sal we talked about the course and our race goals. Surprisingly it wasn’t windy—heavy winds on this course can change your day quickly.

v bridge

The Race

Starting out fast at the horn I took off quickly so I could avoid the initial bottleneck—too quickly.  Checking my watch a quarter mile in I was running 7:12 pace.  Looking up and seeing Reggie pass me, I fought the urge to chase him, knowing I’d regret it later.  After a series of quick out and back turns resembling an interval drill more than the start of a half marathon, I ran the first mile in 8:28.  Was that too fast?

Heading towards the Verrazano Bridge I posted 8:20 and 8:23 splits for miles two and three.  The multiple loop course allowed Reggie and me to swap thumbs up upon passing each other and shout to Maria when I passed her.

Reggie and me before the race

Reggie and me before the race

Warm weather and amazing visuals made this race a pleasant.   Looking up at the end of another loop I saw the sun shining brightly off the Freedom Tower in the distance.  Running splits between 8:25 and Go Hard Bling (2)8:30 between miles four through nine, I used other runners to keep pace more than my Garmin.  Reggie and I passed each other at about the same spot on each loop—running effortlessly I thought, “Don’t look back—someone might be gaining on you.

Turning under the bridge for the last time, two runners blew past me.   With two miles left I fought the urge to chase them.  Checking my watch it said 1:35.  “Don’t panic Frank, run your race.”  Moving ahead I kept an eye out for the pier and the finish, picking up the pace as it got closer.  With a quarter mile left I opened up, pushed by Reggie shouts.  Looking up I finished in 1:52:49.

Afterward

Reggie and I compared notes as we waited for Maria and Sal.  Maria and Sal finished in 2:01:04 winning her age group.  Although Reggie and I were both happy with our times we knew we caught a break—34 degrees and not windy were ideal conditions for a February race.

 

New Weekend New Half

After finishing last weekend’s half marathon challenge, tomorrow morning I’ll be heading back to Go hard or go homeBrooklyn for the Go Hard or Go Home Half Marathon.   I won’t be alone—my teammates Reggie and Coach Maria will be running it with me.

Tomorrow is the first day of February (where did January go) and spring marathons (and dare I say ultras) are right around the corner.  It’s time to get in some competitive miles in a few training races.

Unlike Prospect and Central Park’s rolling courses—tomorrow’s is pancake flat.  Starting at the American Veteran’s Memorial Pier, the course is two loops on the Shore Road Promenade, translation for non-Brooklynites, the strip between the Belt Parkway and The Narrows (the tidal strait separating New York’s Upper and Lower Bay).

I was introduced to this race by VC Sal after running December’s Ho Ho Ho 5K.  VC Sal is Sal Carretta, a local race connoisseur.  A member the Van Courtland Track Club, Sal samples races the way foodies try trendy restaurants.

New York Road Runners recently acknowledged him for completing his 1000th race.  That’s 1000 NYRR races, who knows how many GLIRC, Rockland Road Runners, and NYC Runs races he’s run.  If you want info on a race in the Tri-State Area, ask Sal.

Although tomorrow will be warmer than Sunday’s frigid conditions—I am worried about the wind.  Running the Narrows Half on the same course I spent half the race fighting a solid headwind and half getting pushed by an equally solid tailwind.  I’m bringing an extra layer just in case.

With three weeks until the Central Park Marathon, I need mileage and a good mental challenge.  I think tomorrow’s half is just what I need.

Not exactly a picture of tomorrow's course, but you get the idea.

Not exactly a picture of tomorrow’s course, but you get the idea.