Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Manhattan Half-Marathon: 2:18.58 PR
Watch the race video here
My first "long" race was the 2007 Manhattan Half-Marathon. My time was 2:30.03 and my pace was 11:27.
My time in the 2008 Manhattan Half-Marathon this morning was 2:18.58. My pace was 10:36. It was my fifth Half since I became a distance runner and it was a PR, surpassing 2:19 set twice last year (Brooklyn and Oklahoma City).
This morning there was no snow as had been forecast. It felt like 26 at race time. We made two full loops around Central Park plus an extra mile to make up the difference. For me it was technically my first long training run for the April 6 St. Louis Marathon, coming fast.
My legs felt strong, like my first week of strength training already was making a difference. I could feel it in my quads -- I had more leg drive than I ever had in one full loop around Central Park. The hills started to take a toll on me in the second lap and my goal is to reduce and eliminate the number of occasional walks between fluid stations. I lose about 5-10 minutes per race by walking.
I met my Big Cat teammate Roxygen from Long Island at the finish line, where I gave her her bib number/souvenir shirt that I had picked up for her at race registration on Thursday. The baggage check situation is a nightmare for the Manhattan Half, just like last year. This time you had to check your bag by 8 a.m. (8:30 start time) at 90th Street on the East Side of the park, and after that you had to check it 12 blocks to the north (102nd) at the finish line. So Roxy and I checked ours at the start line and then we had to run a full mile down to 84th Street (Metropolitan Museum of Art) for the start. While we were running, the starter's horn went off, and we watched the entire field of 6000-plus runners run toward us as we passed the full field just to hurry back to the start line.
The good thing about that frantic start, however, was that I was really warmed up for the start. It didn't matter, because you go by net time anyway. We started exactly 7 minutes after the starter's horn. It was kind of cool to see the lead runners coming right at us, too. The elite of the elite.
I walked the first fluid station and Roxygen headed off to the races at that point. I then put in my iPod earbuds and cranked my Shuffle for the rest of the Half by myself. I have John Mayer's last album on it and I have to say that those songs always are reliable for me -- I lose myself in them. I also wanted to repeat my favorite John Mayer lyrics here, from "Split Screen Sadness." They are:
It's only the air you took
And the breath you left
My friends, that says it all about this entire life we are leading.
I inhaled and exhaled hard for 13.1 miles, and I had a temporary "ah fuck it" moment around Mile 11 or wherever we got close to the Boathouse on East Drive. At that point I knew that the Cat Hill climb was coming. I allowed myself to think that I will have been much faster than this event one year ago, and that's good enough. Stop and walk. Then I wanted a PR. I just wanted to attack. Run. Lift your quads and just keep going. You did 26.2. This is nothing. Grit it out and get to the finish. I ran most of the remaining way.
Roxygen and I had actually waited to cross the starting chip mat at exactly 7:00, so that it would be really easy to just subtract and know our net splits at every mile. That was a big help at the finish. I was the clock and knew I could break 2:19, which is something I wanted to do, and so I sprinted the last kick and watched as it said 2:25.58. Subtract the 7, and that was my net time.
I am not happy with New York Road Runners now, because there were only apples and water at the finish. The bagels and Gatorade were gone. I'm sorry, but 2:18 is not an embarrassing time and I think I should have gotten more than a freakin apple. At the OK City Half, there were people from Hardee's handing out cheeseburgers, food everywhere, also medals. What is the deal with the Manhattan Half? Are we supposed to be so spoiled by the NYC Marathon treatment that this is just a warmup run that doesn't matter?
I had my chip removed from my shoelaces, and then saw another Big Cat teammate, George (Runner aka La Lynx), and Roxygen headed my way. They wanted to get our picture taken together. I was still in lala land at that point, amazed as I always am about finishing. I got my bag, and we started walking to the subway. I got a chocolate and orange scone and hot chocolate with Rox, and then she headed for LI to make strawberry pancakes for her crew.
It has been a terrific weekend overall. I spent the entire day Saturday in the famous main library branch on Fifth Avenue, working in the ornate Rose Main Reading Room on top of 5 million books below me. I had my laptop in front of me, a 2-inch stack of my printed manuscript, and several fragile books from the 1700s and 1800s that I had checked out. It was a honey hole for research on this day. My MS grew to 246 pages. A little more work on Chapter 5 and it is done, and I will be talking to agents I know. I also want to have my followup book concepts in order before making the full proposals.
Very big things are afoot in 2008. It is going to be the biggest year of my life. I wish everyone great racing and great happiness in whatever you are doing.