Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bronx half-marathon

Well, I had a wonderfully enjoyable time, it was a really good run! But I was having to fight the tendency to laugh at myself on the subway ride home, because I really thought around mile 7 or so that it was going to be a super-fast time also, and then it was not such a thing at all!

Hmmm--felt a lot like the Philadelphia one in November (where I surprised myself by running really quite fast, 1:54:14), but the course (here's the PDF map), though I found it quite varied and enjoyable, includes a lot of the sort of out-and-back loop where you first think "Oh, how nice, I am having an easy half-mile running downhill" and then a moment later "Goodness, those people coming back the other way are struggling up this long slow incline!"

I think I went a bit too fast for the first four miles, but the real thing was that it became astonishingly windy as we came onto the Grand Concourse. It may not show up so clearly in my split times, because some of the windiest bits were also downhill bits, but it was clear to me as I was running that I was slowing down even as my heartrate climbed. Several wooden barriers blew over, and there were a few moments when I really felt my legs being blown out from under me! It is curiously enjoyable, in a rugged way, but I suspect not conducive to the fastest possible times...

Hmmm, why is it my impulse to have all these explanations before I give the times?!? I will indulge it, in any case, and have a few more thoughts first:

1. The race two weeks ago just didn't feel good. I was coming down with a cold, and also coming off an exceptionally stressful and tiring work week. This week things really eased up psychologically mid-week and I had quiet Friday and Saturday nights at home, which is what I most like. Very beneficial.

(2. On the other hand, the times are barely different, especially considering hilliness of the first one compared to the second! ARGHHHHH!)

3. The last two months have been very complicated and stressful more generally; I've kept on as reasonable a training schedule as I could, but it's really a triathlon schedule rather than a run-specific schedule. Quite a few weeks where I only ran twice, for instance, though I always had a suitable longish run at the weekend. I should not be surprised that my run times don't get a lot faster. And for this next stretch of training, building bike fitness is actually more important than really increasing run fitness--the fact of the matter is that we have to make choices about priorities...

4. I'll do a couple shorter races in the next couple months (there's a 3-mile one uptown in early March that training partner L. is very enthusiastic about doing, so I'll do five earlier that morning and then race it with her and have a lovely brunch afterwards; and I think I will do the Scotland 10K at the end of March, also with a four-mile warmup first so that I can count it as a long run with some tempo work). And some modest bits of speedwork, and try and get the weekly run mileage a bit higher. But the time to work on running speed will be after the 70.3 in May. The next important race for me after that is the New York Olympic-distance triathlon on July 20, which I would like to do quite fast, so it will make sense to think about how to make the run get faster over June and early July; and then I'll move into marathon training for Philadelphia in November, during which I can continue to work on speed. I know I can get a lot faster still as a runner, I haven't leveled off yet from the beginner improvement curve, but I will have to be patient!

4. Goal for Brooklyn half in late April, which is the next of these Grand Prix ones: 1:54-55 time goal, but more importantly EVEN OR NEGATIVE SPLITS. I will recalibrate my watch properly and start really thinking about this. Doesn't matter so much in a half-marathon, but clearly crucial for successful marathoning...

OK, here are times and splits. It really was a good run, I was working as hard as I could in the last couple miles, but I felt very strong throughout. Distances are slightly off due to calibration issues--obviously really it was 13.1 miles rather than 13.46 as the device claims!

(It is not much faster than my laborious and hard-won time on the hills of Central Park two weeks ago, that's the crazy part! I really felt like I was running so much faster and easier, very deceptive--on the other hand this was really a mentally easy race, whereas that one was something of a test of willpower--interesting--all this is very educational and informative, I find...)

Official NYRR time: 1:56:45 (8:54 pace)

(372/1146 women, and 1628/3261 overall. I think this is very decent--it's a more serious group of runners, I think, who do the Bronx half than the Manhattan half. Seems like I can come in around a third of the way down on the women's results and at about the halfway mark for gender-neutral. Considering I was always the slowest kid in the class on the fifty- and hundred-yard dash, or tediously finishing the wretched wind sprints in a tortoise-like way as everyone else looked on from the end of the basketball court--I stopped doing that stuff as soon as I could, but they make you do it when you're a kid, even when you're miserably bad at it!--it is a victory over years of experience of myself as the worst athlete imaginable. I am definitely on the endurance over the sprint side of things, I do not have twinkly toes, I can actually run quite fast now for short distances but I do not enjoy it and I can only imagine that my muscles have only a tiny handful of fast-twitch strands amidst a large bunch of slow ones...)

(Triathletes are fitter and more accomplished than runners, I will not be able to come up so high in the standings especially in the first ones I do, I am thinking that aiming around the middle of the women's pack will suit me in terms of pacing for those races.)

Actually now I look at the splits they're fairly even, I can see the couple spots where something threw it a bit off....

(Distances are obviously messed up, thus pace counts sound better than they were in reality, that really is why I was surprised by slow time I guess!)

8:43 (156), 8:26 (162), 8:28 (161), 8:35 (163), 8:30 (165), 8:43 (164), 8:42 (164), 8:56 (167--this was where it was getting very windy!), 8:43 (165), 8:30 (168), 9:03 (167--still windy, but also I slowed down for a gel and water, I had thought of trying without but felt I'd been working hard, was getting slightly mentally fuzzy and would probably benefit pace-wise in last three miles even if it cost me 10-15 seconds during consumption--I was hitting lactate pace pretty strongly these last couple miles, had to slow down a few times for mild non-stomach-related queasiness, the gel seems to me in retrospect clearly worth it in terms of energy and mental focus), 8:20 (168), 8:46 (172), plus last half-mile with 177 average HR and lap-end HR of 180 (7:24 pace)...

OK, got to recalibrate, I think as I look at it now that I actually did a surprisingly good job holding a pretty steady pace but that those numbers were leading me astray! I knew they were "faster" than I was really going, but was not mentally capable of calculating the difference on the spot...

7 comments:

Wendy said...

Well done! (I think having fun should be a primary goal for most events.) And of course we can't set PR's each time out, no matter how much we'd like to.

Fast twitch vs. slow twitch ... you may surprise yourself along the way here too.

Danielle in Iowa said...

I would actually not make such claims about triathletes vs. runners. I often place higher relatively in triathlons than in running races and it largely has to do with being best on the bike out of the three (since that is so much of it). So if you place lower, it might have less to do with fitness and more to do with inexperience on the bike. My first tri I was 62/71, 16/71, 46/71 for women on the swim, bike, run respectively and I came out at 26/71 overall.

Dorothy W. said...

Nice job! It's incredibly windy out today and surely that was a huge factor. You're making me long to go out and run!

Laura said...

Congratulations! And that wind was definitely BRUTAL. When I was heading out on the Grand Concourse, I just kept thinking "it's okay; it will be behind me and pushing me forward on the way back." But then of course it stopped on my way back, and started hitting me sideways instead! Frustrating. Great job with the speedy time :)

Morrissey said...

hmm...not too sure if I would agree with that comment "Triathletes are fitter and more accomplished than runners"....nevertheless, good race

Jenny Davidson said...

Seems like everyone who actually does triathlons already is extremely skeptical about my starry-eyed notion that triathletes are miracles of fitness compared to runners! Hmmm, potentially disillusioning...

Brent Buckner said...

Good event!

re: fast twitch vs. slow twitch
Wingate!

re: triathletes fitter than runners?
How to establish comparable populations, how to get data?

re: relative placing in tris
Yeah, bike dominates.
*sigh*