Monday, July 28, 2008

pam's new york city half marathon race report: guest post

this is pam's second half marathon in one month! i'm so happy to post her race report from the nyc half yesterday. last month we ran the fairfield half marathon and she contributed a great race report. in between these two races, she ran a hilly 8 miler (w/ilana) at the putnam county classic!
next month, we'll be lining up for the catskill mountain 100k relay. tentatively, each member of our 5 person team will be responsible for covering 20k of the distance. but more on that later. right now, enjoy the race report!
NYC/Nike ½ Marathon Race Report
My adventure in running yesterday’s NYC Half Marathon began a few months ago when I convinced my good friend Ilana that she was ready to run her first Half Marathon. So, we both entered the lottery - - - Ilana got in but I did not. Uh oh! In came Frank to the rescue with the suggestion that I join the World Lung Foundation’s team and run with a great group of people. I am so glad that I did. As a team we raised well over $10,000 for a great cause.

Last week as the event drew close I came down with a trio of physical issues - - - strep throat, sinus infection and an ear infection. The trio really knocked me out all week. I was very concerned that I wouldn’t be strong enough for race day. But, all worked out ok after getting some antibiotics.

The night before the race Ilana and I spent the night in NYC with her friend Jenny and Taya. We had an awesome pasta dinner at Sotto Cinque (87th and 1st) and then early to bed.
Ilana and I awoke to thunder, lightning and an annoying light drizzle. We walked across town to meet the World Lung Foundation team and do the drop bag thing. We weren’t allowed into the park initially because of the lightning. That cleared eventually and most precipitation ended just before the start.

Ilana and I were in the 6000s group. We worked our way up to our assigned corral, got on line for the port-o-johns and stretched. Ilana was getting in the zone/mentally geared up, soaking in the surroundings as she acclimated to her first really big race. I had done one other race of this size so it wasn’t all that new to me - - - I was more worried about having the strength to pull off an under 2 hour goal, Before the race Ilana and I had talked a lot about what her target finish time should be. We had decided on about 2:10 given the anticipated humidity and that it was her first half marathon. But, I knew she had an under 2 hour capability and that was what I was aiming to pace her at.

The race started and we walked until our coral got closer to the start. I was amazed at how quickly we got up to speed approaching the start. We were at our race pace stide even before hitting the starting line. It was crowded for quite some time, but we were at our 9:04 pace after the first mile. Right on schedule.

Ilana and I tackled the hills of Central Park very aggressively - - - typical for our approach to racing (we’ve done numerous races side by side). We bobbed and weaved our ways through the running pack, bumping elbows enough times that eventually we stopped apologizing to each other. Our energy fed off of each other beautifully. We kept hydrated and felt pretty good during the lap plus around the park. By the time we exited the park (at mile 7.25 or so) we were down to an average pace of 8:45.

As we exited the park and hit 7th Avenue we both expected to feel this great sense of relief to be on wide open streets, to hear the crowds and to know it was flat to slightly down hill from there. But, somehow, hitting 7th Avenue was like hitting a brick wall for both of us. We didn’t discuss it at the time, but we both had led legs by then - - - perhaps we tackled the park too aggressively.
As we ran down 7th Avenue we tried hard not to look at the street signs. We grabbed cold wet sponges, Gatorade at nearly every aid station and a Power Gel as well. As I turned onto 42nd Street I had the oddest sensation for the middle of a race - - - I suddenly wanted to go shopping. I’ve never been in Times Square when I wasn’t shopping! But, all I had was $10 tucked in my fanny pack - - - wouldn’t have gotten me much, plus I had this 2 hour time limit thing I was working against!

As we turned onto the West Side Highway it hit me mentally the distance we still had to travel - - - not in miles but conceptually having to still pass all the landmarks between 42nd street and the Battery. I was so spent. I guess the week of not feeling well had really taken its toll. My legs felt like led. My breathing was labored. I was dizzy and had a headache. So, Ilana and I started to walk for 30 seconds at each fluid station while rehydrating with Gatorade or water. That pattern really helped especially since there were so many fluid stations in that 4 mile stretch. Smart race management!

I kept looking at my watch. We were still under our 2 hour target but were now at about an 8:50 pace. So, we kept pushing forward as hard as we could. As we crossed over the 11 mile mark it occurred to me that we were in uncharted territory for Ilana - - - she hadn’t yet run more than 11 miles. So, I kept checking on her to make sure she was hanging in there. She was doing amazing. She really kept it together, ran a smart race in terms of managing hydration and keeping pace with me. For the last 2.1 miles I fed off the energy of helping my friend smash her 2:10 goal and ran harder just to make sure that we even smashed my 2:00 goal for her.
As we approached 800m left I thought … ugh! Two laps around the track seemed like an eternity. Then, at 200m we saw a man collapsed in the middle of the road. EMTs were tending to him and things didn’t look too serious. But, it was still unnerving.

In typical Ilana fashion, we sprinted for the last 100m and crossed the finish line holding hands gripped high in the air. 1:57:49 - - - two minutes to spare. I can’t wait to see the professional picture of our crossing. We were both totally spent at the finish but also invigorated by the achievement.

We wound our way through the finishing chute to find Ilana’s husband Matt, some water, wonderfully refreshing wet towels and grabbed a professional photo of the two of us. Then, we made our way to baggage pick up and the festival area at Battery Park where we hooked up with the rest of the World Lung Foundation team. We sat through the awards ceremeony and skedaddled out once the monsoon rains hit.

All in all - - - an amazing day. Wasn’t my strongest half marathon but it was my best by far. I ran with a great friend, helped her achieve her goal, overcame feeling like garbage all week, made some new friends (thanks Jenny and Taya! And the WLF team) and raised money for a great cause.

Sorry for rambling on … but hope you enjoyed my NYC/Nike Half Marathon tale. Hope to see you all out there next year!
check out the race photos.


Bob - said...

Awesome Re-Cap Pam...sounds like a good mental battle and very cool on closing it out at the end to reach the goal :-)

TonyP said...

Nice report !

Anonymous said...

Pam, great post! I work for WLF and, in addition to being inspired by the $ raised by our fantastic team, four or five of our staff want to run next year's race and join in! I'm already plotting my first runs around Brooklyn's Prospect Park this week to get back into running after many years. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Bob - thanks. The best part was getting to see the sense of accomplishment on Ilana's face.
Tony - thanks.
Steve - thanks. It is great that the staff is inspired by yesterday. They were amazing on the sidelines. It seemed like every couple of miles I heard a yellow shirted "friend" shout my name. It was very uplifting to see the smiling faces. Good luck getting back into it. It is well worth the effort.

CTmarathoner said...

Pam ---awesome report --I am so proud of Ilana (and you -with feeling spent and dizzy at mile 11, for finishing well) for running strongly and finishing in 1:57 -she seemed no worse for the wear. Funny comment about going shopping in Times Square! What worked out the best, besides helping your friend, was that you were able to raise $$ for WLF!!! yeah! you rock!