I have a lot of running this week. The weekend is two NYRR events then six marathons in the next week for the New England Challenge. I’d rather not run these right before a bunch of marathons, but my calendar doesn’t have many openings for the nine events I need to run for guaranteed entry into the New York Marathon. I’ll take it easy today.
This run is sponsored by the Consulate of the United Arab Emirates. Instead of a camel, one of the booths brought a camel-like dog, which is as New York as Central Park gets on a weekend morning. By the time this race is done the park will be full of dogs getting their first pee of the morning.
This event is backed by Sheikh Zâyed, who received a kidney transplant in 2000. I’ve run in Abu Dhabi, the rich emirate that most people pass by because they go to Dubai, which is the flashy emirate Abu Dhabi bailed out. The Zayed Marathon in Abu Dhabi raises money for kidney disease patients.
But I didn’t take it easy, despite the “swampy conditions”. This weekend was a preview for summer with very warm weather with high humidity, according to the official race report. How cool is it that NYRR follows up like that? CARA, the homologous organization in Chicago, wasn’t so put together even though they did a similar number of events with the similar sized fields (and dues).
I started off a bit fast, like everyone does, to get away from the field. This is a 10k, so we’re going to go around the entire outer loop of Central Park, starting on East Drive at 68th Street and going counterclockwise. That means we’ll have a big downhill at the top before we hit Harlem Hill, then a long, mostly downhill run on West Drive.
I thought after the big hill I should take it easy because I have the Japan Run tomorrow then all those marathons. It’s not the distance that gets me, it’s the speed. The faster I go the worse the impact on my joints and the more tearing in the muscles. After the hill, I just kept going hard. After four miles, I just kept going.
At the end, I had run my second-fastest 10k (the Pride Run is still my personal record). Looking back at my race history, I saw that this is the first 10k I’ve run in over two years. How did that happen? Too many marathons, I guess.
It’s already May, but this is only my second 9+1 run. These events fill up quickly so I missed out on the winter and early spring events, but I should catch up quickly.
I don’t have much time to think about that since I have another race tomorrow after which I go to the airport for my trip to Maine.
After last night’s decent performance in the mile, even though I missed my goal by seconds, I was a little too confident today. On the taxi to the start area, Thom Gilligan of Marathon Tours and one of the people responsible for the Bermuda Triangle Challenge, says this is the toughest 10k course he’s ever run. There are some monster uphills. It’s not the uphills that killed me and made this one of my most embarrassing efforts ever. I have to run a marathon tomorrow and I barely made it through this dinky 10k. It’s barely worth the time it takes me to write this. I got beat by a guy in a full on bear costume, as well as almost everyone else.
The sun didn’t even come out today. It was overcast, which is normally the sign of fair weather for running. It almost burnt through the clouds before the start.
Almost some sun
Bermuda may sound like a paradise, but it’s not this weekend. It’s overcast and windy, and as pretty as the beaches might normally be, they are completely unattractive in this weather.
There are some hills
The race started at the sports stadium and went downhill for two miles. I ran these at my usual 10k pace, somewhere just above 8 minute miles. At the two mile mark I realized I was in some serious trouble though. I was overheating. It’s warm here, but also very humid. I’m not at all acclimated. I needed some water. I slowed my pace, but the problem with overheating is that even a slow pace is still generates heat. Once that happens, my respiration rate freaks out. I wasn’t even three miles into what should have been a leisurely run and I was walking.
The course, flat on the east-west lines and hilly otherwise
I wasn’t that concerned about the 10k. It’s embarrassing to walk in any event, and the shorter the more embarrassing it is. If this were just a 10k, it’s not a big problem. With a marathon the next day, it’s a big problem. However, I have to remind myself that I had to walk part of a 5k two weeks before my Goofy Challenge. Sometimes you just have bad days, and when you have bad days you know there will be more of them. The more you have the more you know you can survive them and that they don’t necessarily mean that the next day is going to be bad too. I thought about Graeme Obree, who didn’t break the hour indoor cycling record on the day he booked the track. He only missed it by a single kilometer. Instead of going home, he drank lots of water throughout the night, stretched every couple of hours, and came back early the next morning to try again. But, I also have to remind myself that I’m not Graeme Obree, or any other sort of athlete at that level. I’m barely even a runner.
I got to the first water stop at 3 miles and chugged a couple cups of water and some Gatorade. I got myself running again. Or, I was shuffling. I wasn’t recovering as fast as I wanted. I made it past Mile 4 and walked some more. I alternated running and walking, feeling really warm. Around the Mile 5 marker, a guy in a bear suit passed me. He had the head and everything. I was dying from the heat in just shorts and a shirt, and he was doing better than me.
The hill at mile 5 was a killer. It was moderately steep and long. There was another hill just before the finish, and I could see the Bear guy start to walk. I thought maybe I could catch him, but after a few steps he was back to running. He finished ahead of me by a couple of minutes.
I got beat by this bear.
I finished in a pace that I wouldn’t be satisfied with in a very slow recovery run. I like that the medal says “Finisher” explicitly. I finished. I also ran, as they say. I merely made it from one line to the next before the organizers went home.
Now I need to regroup, refuel, and plan for tomorrow. I’m going to need to take it a lot slower and manage the heat. The time cut-off is seven hours, and I hope I don’t need all of that. I’m going to set a maximum pace on my watch and try to keep to that no matter how I feel. Under these conditions, I’ll be satisfied with anything under 5 hours. I just don’t want to pass out from heat exhaustion.
I don’t get a New Year’s Day run this year. I’ve never been to Milwaukee despite living not so far away—an easy drive, so I decided to celebrate the New Year there. Once I had already made reservations at a hotel I started looking for runs; there weren’t any in the area on January 1st, but there was a double event on December 31st. I could run the 5k starting at 11:30am then the 10k at 12:00pm. I’ve done this once before with the Heroes of Hope run. If I run the first one fast enough, I have some time to get some water and almost catch my breath before the next start.
It was a great day for running, clear and around freezing. That’s not so great for the pre-race, but everything except for the race was indoors. The start line was outside one door and the finish chute came in through another. Even the porta-potties were inside (and there were plenty of them). I hadn’t pre-registered, so I went to register for the two events. The woman who took my forms gave me a discount for the double registration. Instead of paying $70, I only had to pay $50, which would have been the pre-registration cost. I don’t feel too bad about that since I wasn’t going to take the New Years champagne that came with the registration (which was moot anyway since they ran out before the same-day runners had a chance to get some).
The convoluted course
The indoors start area
The course gave me a nice view of the leaders, who were already coming back through the first double flow portion as I was entering it. Those 5k leaders are fast. They are running 5 minute miles, maybe even slightly faster. I can’t run that fast for any distance, not even a quarter mile.
The 5k start
I’m a bit disappointed in my 5k run. I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular, but I wanted to put in a good run despite the upcoming 10k without thinking about the 10k. I caught myself backing off in a couple of spots to save some juice, which I didn’t want to do. I wanted to finish in 24 minutes to give me some cushion for my delay across the mats, some time to make it through the finishing chute, and a little to change by bib and timing chip.
It almost looks like I’m running
The indoor congregation area which was comfortable before I started was now oppressively warm even though it was probably the same temperature. I grabbed a bottle of water and went back outside.
I got at the back of the pack for the 10k start, which would be two laps of the 5k course.
I would run the first part of my wife and figure out what I wanted to do after that. There was no time limit and the break in running made my legs feel heavy, so an 11 minute pace was fine for a start. After a half mile, I picked up the pace, and after two miles I had averaged a 9:30 pace. If I could make an hour, that would be fine.
Somewhere in there I slowed down to talk to a Marathon Maniac, but picked it up again, running at about a 8:30 pace and getting a bit faster. Instead of an hour, I wanted to beat 54 minutes, which is normally not a problem. It would be a bit of a challenge with my slow start and my conversation in the middle.
Caught in the pack
Some of the course was just parts of a road or parking lot marked with cones. Some of the parts were a bit narrow and I ran at the pack pace for those to not be too pushy. It’s not like I’m going to win any awards.
Taking a break on the pace through a narrow part
Somehow I got my calculations wrong and crossed the line in just under 56 minutes. Part of that is ignoring the last 0.21 miles, and part of it is just not thinking straight during the run. Even now, completely at rest, I don’t know what my average pace should have been to get 54 minutes, much less what my pace should have been for the last two miles.
Oh well. I had chocolate milk at the end (I really wanted it after the 5k but I knew it would probably end up on the course if I chugged it then).
I was in Madison for Thanksgiving for friends and I’ll get a chance for a different Turkey Trot. I’m always up from running in a new place.
Just a bit over freezing and overcast, it was perfect race weather, and once again I’m surprised that all of my favorite cold weather gear is black—compression tights, my Team Ortho Monster Dash hoodie, and Lululemon gloves and hat. I have plenty of long-sleeved shirts in orange, bright green, yellow, white, and other non-black colors that would probably be just fine, but when I’m waiting to start and just after I finish, I haven’t found anything more comfy than the Team Ortho gear.
I had an especially long time waiting for my start this time. Not the start, just when I would actually crossed the line. I got there early to register. Since I was showing up in Madison the night before, I wouldn’t have time for packet pickup (and if there is going to be race day registration, why couldn’t I just pick up my packet?). I went back to my car to wait until start time. I don’t know why so many people want to stand around in the cold.
But, I should be the one to talk. I starting walking back to the start area 15 minutes before the start and my intestines decided that I needed to use a porta-john. That’s usually not a big deal, but I was running the 10k, starting soon, and the 5k started 15 minutes after that. The lines were full of 5k people 15 minutes earlier in their schedule. That’s no big deal; there’s absolutely nothing at stake today. I’m not going win, or place, or even PR. I shouldn’t have pre-race jitters but here I am in line for the porta-johns.
I’m almost to the front when the gun goes off, more than couple minutes early. I’m talking to another 10k runner as it happens. No big whoop, though. I’m next-next in line, but it takes forever for me to get my turn. I do my business quickly, leave the porta-john, and run to the start.
The start area is a mess. The 5k runners start latter, but they go in the opposite direction, making a figure-8 where the races join only at the end. That means that when I cross my start line, I’m running directly toward the 5k start line 200 meters away, and they are all facing me. Both sides of the start area are crowded with spectators and 5k runners going toward their corrals.
I don’t know how late I started, but I don’t catch anyone, not even a walker, for a half mile. It sucks to run intervals all alone, and that’s almost what this feels like minus the warmup. It feels worse. The best thing about events is the shared surge. We all run much faster with the herd, but here I am, alone. I get to the mile marker, having passed fewer than 10 people, mostly walkers. Some other runners must have started late because I wasn’t blowing by them.
I get to the first mile marker at 15 minutes and change by the race clock, having run a 7:45 minute mile. I didn’t start that late, I guess. But, whatever. I was still alone. This wasn’t fun at all and I wanted to find someone to run with. I’d be satisfied with 55 minutes today, although my PR is 50 minutes something.
At a mile and a half I could see the back of the main cluster, and a little before Mile 2 I latched onto the back and started working my way through the group. I was warmed up now and had lots of short term goals—pass the guy in the turkey hat, pass the runner in the Get Basted & Cluck shirt, pass that guy in the “Recall Walker” shirt, and so on.
The Recall Walker people are everywhere
The course is just what I like, too. Lots of rolling hills give me plenty of short term goals and mix up the muscle use. I tell myself I can take a slight break at the peak, then don’t. I just keep on running. It feels okay to pass people. I’m not going very fast, maybe a 8:30 mile, but I kept passing people. Running around groups of people kept me off a steady pace and each time I had to do it I thought about how much I was adding to my path. An extra step here, and extra step there. One pace is about three feet. Run around one hundred groups and that’s about 100 meters. An extra hundred meters is an extra 30 seconds. I want to get up to a group running at a respectable pace and back off the gas a bit.
The profile, with rolling hills
After Mile 2, the course has an out-and-back dog leg with the turn around at Mile 3. During this part I get to see all the people who would normally be behind me already coming back. No matter. There’s a water stop that I blow by, as well as a couple more “Recall Walker” shirts.
At the turn around, one of the 10k runners who was waiting in the porta-john line with me catches up to me, so we run together for a bit. She didn’t go over the start line, so she figures that she won’t get a time for this run. Still, she’s running a 7:40 pace, and I can’t hang with that (not even on a good day) so I let her go ahead. I have plenty of time to make 55 minutes.
The course, with dog leg
After the dog leg, the course uses part of the Capitol City Trail, going through a conservation area. That’s nice, but I don’t see any wildlife. A little later, I pass a sign that says “Entering Hunting Area” or something like that. I think about my all-black running outfit. Why couldn’t I have worn something orange?
It’s not too long before I pass the sign that says “Leaving Hunting Area”. The distance between the signs seems too short. A rifle bullet would go from one sign to the next while barely slowing down. Maybe it’s just shotgun. I don’t feel any better about that since I don’t want either of them entering my body.
With a half mile to go, the 5k course merges with the 10k course for an uphill stretch to the 6 mile mark. It’s a nice little hill and it doesn’t hurt as much as I think it should. These hills look worse when I’m at the bottom of them. I had plenty of cushion to come in at 55 minutes, but I didn’t back off. I was only putting in an 80% effort, but hey, it’s a holiday.
I finished with 59 minutes on the gun clock. That’s not bad for starting 8 minutes after everyone else. That’s my official time too; they must have turned off the start timers, so they missed me starting. Oh well, the more I run the more glitches with timing I’ll have, but that’s the third one this Fall (or two and half if I take half the blame on this one).
Running in San Francisco in the summer (or any time, really) is preferable to almost anything in Chicago. I’ve found that I like running in the cold much better. Several people told me that Mark Twain had remarked “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco., and even though he never said that, it wasn’t even true this week. It was warm and pleasant. It rained one day, causing the locals much concern. “It never rains in July!” they said.
I almost didn’t make this run. The bus toward Golden Gate Park took much longer than I thought it would, and I didn’t know how to quickly get across the park. I just walked straight across the park regardless of paths. There’s a lot of interesting places to run in this park: asphalt roads, dirt roads, trails, and at least a couple of tracks, and never a flat piece of road from what I saw. I’d love to have a park like this in Chicago.
I also discovered that the $20 bills I thought I had brought were actually $1 bills behind a single $20, so I didn’t have the right entry fee. Luckily for me the guy behind the table was cool about it and took the money I did have.
The course started off downhill and really fast, with all sorts of people flying by me. I wasn’t thinking much about a time today, so I just ran my own pace. I figured most of the people were running the 5k, so in they’d run really hard on the first loop and be done. I was in it for two loops, so I wasn’t going to kill myself keeping up with them. And, many of them disappeared after the first lap.
There are two loops there
There were many gentle hills in this course, with only a couple of short sections of really steep slopes. On the uphills I did okay, but everyone was passing me on the downhills. These people just let themselves fall downhill without much thought. I guess that takes practice, but I’d need some place with downhills to do that.
I was going pretty strongly despite that, but looking at my time, I figured I wasn’t going to break 50 minutes so I didn’t push that hard, thinking that my 10 k record was somewhere in the 48 minute zone. I ended up with 50:29, in the unofficial timing. This was really an informal race. As finishers entered the chute, the officials tore the tag off the bottom of their bib and added it to their string, which kept track of the finishing order but without times.
Once I got home, I realized that my 8k best time was in the 48 minute mark. I haven’t run more than a few 10k races and I had shaved over a minute off my previous best time. Considering the course and its hills, I think that’s quite an accomplishment.
The best part of this run, however, was the food. If you’re in California, you get strawberries and bananas.
The finish was right next to the polo grounds, which looks like it’s a nice place to run, having an asphalt loop and a packed dirt loop, although with all of those nice trails and hills around, why would you want to run in flat circles?
I found out about City Running Tours when I was writing about my run in Copenhagen. I missed my chance to run with them there, but I noticed they also worked in San Francisco.
I ran about a mile before I got there though, because the Pride Parade had blocks many of the downtown streets and rerouted the busses.
Dykes on Bikes waiting to lead the parade
I met John, the guide, and one other runner under the clock tower of Ferry Building. There were supposed to be many other runners, but some of them rescheduled when they decided to go to the parade instead (they could have done both, is what I say).
John from City Running Tours, at the Ferry Building
We started at a leisurely pace north toward Pier 39 along the Embarcadero. Along the way, John pointed out the various landmarks and told stories about them, although we had to dodge many of the people waiting to board cruise ships. Once we got away from some of the buildings, we could see Alcatraz. I couldn’t help but think of Eddie Izzard’s “Prisoners coming!” bit.
Alcatraz, prisoners coming
We went as far as Pier 39, the big tourist draw and took a short break to look at a few sea lions sunning themselves on some of the docks. There used to be hundreds of sea lions, but that they have recently moved on. We took a break to look at the few sea lions sunning themselves, then headed back south toward AT&T Field.
John told us that the area, Rincon, is under a lot of development, spurred by AT&T Field, which was our turn-around point.
Standing in front of AT&T Park
After the run, I had to make my way back through the Pride Parade, which had kept the busses from coming to the end of their run.
The Pride Parade
It wasn’t all bad. I found a hot dog stand where I could replace all the calories I just lost.
Looks better than it was
John leads other tours, including ones across the Golden Gate Bridge and some on trails, too. I would have tried some of those put I figured I had enough running going on for the week already.
This was a really interesting event, being another low-key club run in Golden Gate Park, which, again, was a major pain to get to. Even though I left even earlier than last time, the bus still took forever. San Francisco really needs to work on its mass transit system. People told me San Francisco has a good system, but apparently they haven’t been to a real city.
This run is organized by the Dolphin South End runners, who pass around organizer and time duties. A lot of people already knew each other, which made for a friendly group. It’s an inclusive group for runners of all abilities. They have people who’ll run up and down Strawberry Hill in under 20 minutes, and some people who’ll take more than twice that time.
However, as a visitor who’d only run in Golden Gate Park once, I was almost immediately lost as the race director explained the course to the group. Since this was an informal run, it wasn’t a closed course and there were minimal markings. The course is also windy, with lots of landmarks that I had no idea about. I figured I was just going to have to stay with the group so I didn’t miss a turn.
The first part of the course was on the road, but after a quarter mile it turned toward a reservoir that we had to skirt to get to Strawberry Hill. That’s an actual hill that we spiraled up to get to the top before we came back down. I felt really good on the uphill parts, although I know I could do a lot better if I did some hill training. I was certainly at my max effort and my heart wanted to pound out of my chest. Still, it’s only 25 minutes of pain, and half of it was going to be downhill.
But, I’m not that fast on the downhills. Everyone else was throwing themselves down the hill as fast as they could, passing me with ease. Maybe if I knew how to run down hills, I could take it easier on the downhills.
Unlike the unseasonable rain, it was also unseasonably warm. The parts on the trail had shade, but the last bit on the road were directly in the sun. I didn’t want to back off, but I could really use a bit of water. However, since this is an informal club run, they didn’t have the frills like water along the course. No big whoop: I could be parched for five minutes.
Overall, this had to be the most fun I’ve had at a 5 k, I think. It was a small group and a wonderful course. I’m sure that there are many other interesting runs in this little park, and maybe I’ll get to come back to discover some of them.
It’s the first run of the year! It’s going to be a tough one too because it’s bitterly cold and it snowed last night. It snowed a lot. There’s a lot of snow on the ground and even the locals are cold. But, this is the land of Garrison Keillor and the bachelor farmers, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the runners are above average.
This is the first run in my Team Ortho Challenge. Each run gets a medal that’s a pie piece that fits together with the pie pieces from other events to form a giant Thundercat of a medal.
I dress up with all my winter gear: my ski jacket, ski googles, tights and wind pants, and the rest of the snivel gear I need to keep warm for the half hour before the start and in which I’ll overheat during the run.
There’s quite a bit of standing around for this run as they ensure the course is safe. The roads are a mess so the police want to take extra care. That gave me time to look at all of the start banners; one per state flag.
The run isn’t so much a run as a test to survive the event. People won’t be setting PRs in today’s run. I wonder if I should have signed up for the 5k instead of the 10k.
The road is slick with snow that won’t melt but also has no other way to go. The runners keep moving it around, but it’s not going away. It’s more like a lump of bread dough that gives when you push it but springs back.
This makes everything very slippery, so my strides are much shorter. If I try to push off, I just slip.
The end is the worst. It’s almost over but that finish line is so far away as I trudge through the snow to get to it. It’s just like running in soft sand.
My first 10k and I get to run through a zoo to do it! I can’t remember much about this run other than not much of it was actually in the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is actually better since it’s narrow and slippery in there.
I finished, so now I’ve done a 5k, an 8k, and a 10k.