Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Bronx Half Marathon

This Sunday (9-July-2006) was the New York Road Runners' Bronx Half Marathon. I had signed up for this race weeks ago though I wasn't sure that I would actually run it until about 12 hours before the starting gun, which is probably not the soundest of ideas.

Once I finally decided to do the race, I told myself that it would just be a training run - the first longer run of my marathon training schedule. After all, the Bronx course is difficult and it was sunny and nearly 80 degrees at the 8AM start.

Someplace deep down in my heart of hearts, my competitive self had other ideas. A training run wasn't enough. I wanted speed. I wanted to race. I wanted to PR. And so, I set out at a quick yet somewhat reserved pace.

Before I continue with the race recap, let me just say that I haven't been doing very many "long" runs of late. Plenty of 4 to 7 milers at tempo pace, some hill work at 5k pace, but nothing really long enough to be considered "preparation" for a half marathon. These past few months I've run several PR's and have been peaking for so long that I thought it was the new norm, but to be honest I've been slacking in my training. Not so much in terms of effort when I am running, but slacking in the consistency, determination and motivation departments. Frankly I have been coasting.

Back at the Bronx Half, I lined up toward the front with some teammates, the gun when off and so did I. I tried to be somewhat conservative, knowing that the heat and the difficult course would take their toll on me. Once I crested the first hill, less than a mile into the race, I knew it was going to be (please forgive the expression) an uphill battle.
  • Mile 1: 7:15
  • Mile 2: 7:20
  • Mile 3: 7:25
  • Mile 4: 7:40
  • Mile 5: 8:57 (this mile must have been marked wrong!)
  • Mile 6: (whoops forgot to hit the lap button!)
  • Mile 7: 14:21
  • Mile 8: 7:50
  • Mile 9: 7:49
  • Mile 10: 7:51
  • Mile 11: 8:13
  • Mile 12: 8:28
  • Mile 13: 8:28
  • Mile 0.1: 0:29
  • Finish: 1:42:14
Mile by mile my pace slipped and thoughts of a PR were washed away by sweat, fatigue and Gatorade. Instead my thoughts turned to just holding onto a sub 8-minute pace. Then I thought about dropping out... I actually considered it for a moment which is something I have never done before.

The miles wore on and I knew I could finish but not before the Grand Concourse had its way with me - the return trip of this "out and back" leg was especially challenging for me. So much so that I had to walk for a minute just before the Mile 12 mark (A huge thank you to the runner that passed me saying "you can do it - almost there man" and the spectator that said "lets go Astoria runner. Stay strong").

With some Gatorade in my belly and a cup of water on my head the end finally grew near and I was able to pick up my pace some for a strong finish.

The good news is that I now know I need to focus and re-commit to my training. I've got to put in the work to reap the rewards. I have ambitious goals set for races this summer and in particular a very aggressive finish time for a little race on November 5th and slacking off just isn't going to cut it.


Sempre Libera said...

Sometimes we all need a little kick in the butt to get re-motivated.

Still, nice work -- it's a tough course, and the hills and lack of shade on the Grand Concourse are brutal.

Morrissey said...

hey man- you never gave up right? That's a good thing! Also, remember the long hill on the parkway between mile 7-9? That's crazy! I also agree with you on the mile marker 5. When i looked at my watch, i was like WTF?!?!! It's pretty funny when we say we want to run conservatively on any race, but when the adrenaline sets in, we just want to aim for the PR ( i know that's what i did!). I only wish i could run a little slower on the first 3 miles...probably wasn't running a smart race. But great job on the race and you can easily spot me- just look for the asian kid with spikes!

Ginger Breadman said...

Think of it as a training run - it's good to have days like that - and you said you did learn from it. Just think how you'd feel if you hadn't done all the tempo and hill runs. You've got time before November. I'm so jealous - I'd love to run that little race.

nyflygirl said...

as i've said elsewhere, the Bronx is a weird race-either you love it or hate it. I'm part of the latter group.

Good luck with your training this summer-may we both kick ass on that "small local race" in November :)

Just12Finish said...

Funny how at the start of a race, a PR always seems to be a distinct possibility! Perhaps you shouldn't have spent the day before BASE Jumping so much ;) A good half nontheless.

Mark said...

I'm not a runner. Mainly because I'm a horrible runner. Even in grade school, I was a horrible runner (followed by solid poor performance in Junior High and High School).

Just completing a race like that is unfathomable to me. Even if you didn't hit your goals you should take solace in the fact that most people (non-runners) wouldn't finish at all.

For the record, if I'm being chased I can run pretty fast. For a short distance.

Josh said...

Sempre - Thanks for commenting and yes the Grand Concourse was a challenge! The good news is that I have been very consistent with my training (at least this week).

Morrissey -Yup, I am pretty sure that it was you! I'll be on the look out for you next time.

Ginger - Good advice. Come and run NY in November! You can still get in through some charities.

NYFlyGirl - Yup! Let's both rock the house in NY.

Just12Finish - Perhaps you're right. If I wasn't so busy with extreme, death defying sports I could concentrate on my running. Yeah, as if!

Mark - I'm was a pretty lousy running when I started too. I am still a pretty lousy runner. I have just built up enough endurance over the years to lousy myself over long distances. It ain't pretty but I get it done.

Deene said...

not bad splits for a training run. the main thing is that you did not give up. good job!