2013 Marcie Mazzola Race Report

Last turn before the finish

Today’s run (Marcie Mazzola 5K): 3.1 miles

This morning I ran the Marcie Mazzola Foundation race for the fifth year in a row. This race was originally scheduled for last April, but the date was moved to the end of June because of a Mazzola family issue. I was concerned about running this race in the summer heat, but the ample shade made it bearable. This year I was joined by a couple of industry colleagues who were running this race for the first time.

As I’d expected, my performance did not match prior races I’ve done at this distance, but I was not disappointed. In previous years, I was racing every month and that helped me maintain my competitive focus. It’s halfway through the year and I’ve only participated in two races so far. I ran about 15 minutes on the treadmill yesterday to “activate” my leg muscles, with a combination of elevation (training for the hill on Woodhull) and speed. It’s hard to know if that helped, but I don’t think it did any harm.

Team Emerging Runner arrived at 7:45 AM for the 8:30 start. Unlike the spring race, when the morning temperature requires extra layers prior to the start, it was nice to be comfortable in just my race gear. Registration went fine, and we watched the kid’s fun run that happens 30 minutes before the 5K start. Soon after that I saw my friend Bill, an experienced racer, who had never run the Marcie Mazzola race.

Bill and I made our way down to the starting line on Park Ave and I noticed that the crowd was smaller than last year. No doubt this was due to the race date change, because the organizers announced that there were over 500 registrants. The race results showed 15 DNS’s, most likely runners that signed up for April but had scheduling conflicts today. There were 103 less finishers this year than in 2012.

Once Bill and I established our position behind the line, we were joined by another friend, Mike, who had walked to the race from his house. Mike runs triathlons, but had not run Marcie before today. As we waited for the countdown, I described the course and tried to prepare them for the hill on Woodhull Rd. Neither seemed intimidated by it.

The official Marcie 5K Pace car

The race started on time and soon after seeing my wife and kids on the sideline, we took the right and climbed the big hill that goes on for half a mile. I felt like I was moving at a decent clip and I passed a number of runners along the way. I’m still experiencing upper respiratory issues and as I made my way up Woodhull, I started to wheeze and cough. I think I’m getting closer to recovery (it’s been three weeks now!) but I was concerned about pushing too hard. I backed off the throttle slightly, until my breathing regulated. With all that, I was a little disappointed to see that I ran the first mile in 9:30.

Seconds after the start

In past years, I’ve run that first mile even slower and still finished in the 26:00 range. I ran as fast as I could today, but missed my average 5K finish time by almost two minutes. I was hoping to break 27:50, but I ended up finishing in just over 28 minutes. If this race had a timing mat at the starting line, I may have have hit my targeted time. Considering the lack of race training I did to prepare, I’m fine with today’s number.

Post-finish hydration and electrolytes

I ran miles two and three in the high 8:00 range, bringing my overall pace close to 9:00. I never felt concern about sustaining my pace, although the last segment going east of Heckscher Park, followed by a brief but noticeable hill, always makes it challenging at the end. I always want to break nine minutes, but that didn’t happen today. Still, even with a small field of runners, I ended up in the top 40% of finishers.

Racing buddies, Bill (left) and Mike (right)

Bill came in half a minute before me and Mike came in shortly after I’d finished. The path to the finish line is on an incline that has a dogleg that points runners to the chute. I thought the timer said 27:58 when I went through, but the official results have me 10 seconds after that. Either way, I was happy at the end, with my family cheering me on as I crossed the line.

After taking almost three months off from racing, it was great to be back in competition. I didn’t have any expectation that I would perform well today, but I didn’t want to embarrass myself either. Another Marcie Mazzola race is in the books, and I’m looking forward to my next race, that is likely to be the Dirty Sock 10K. That’s a race that demands some real training so I’d better get started. But today, I’m going to focus on a little post-race relaxation.

Race report: Long Beach Snowflake 4 Miler

The finish line

Today’s run (Long Beach Snowflake race): 4 miles – 35:00 (8:45 pace)

This morning I ran the Long Beach Snowflake 4 mile race for the third consecutive year. After the devastating effects of hurricane Sandy, I was sure the race would be postponed this year. But the spirit of the city was evident today and the race went on. The course was different than prior years, but the experience felt similar. Weather conditions were far from ideal, but it could have been much worse.

The view beyond the finish line

The race was staged at the Lindell Elementary School, nine blocks north of last year’s location. I arrived at 7:45 AM, hoping to beat the crowd in case parking was an issue. The school actually had plenty of parking and I found a spot close to the building. There were 129 less participants this year than last year and I was especially glad that I’d signed up. Although I live 30 minutes from Long Beach, I felt an obligation to participate and support this city that has been through so much.

Pre-race crowd keeping warm

 After picking up my race bib and shirt, I took in the sights and sounds of the growing crowd as we moved closer to start time. Every race is different, but the pre-race energy always feels the same. The school gym kept everyone warm and comfortable until a member of the race crew ushered us to the line ten minutes before the start. I was glad that it was almost race time, but the cold winds made me wish I was back in the gym.

The crowd assembled behind the starting line as the race director organized people so that the faster pacers could start at the front. I stood a few rows behind them, because I like to be swept along by the speediest runners for the first mile. After some inspiring statements about Long Beach’s recovery from the storm, and a quick review of the new course, we counted down to the start.

The course went directly south for half a mile, turning east on Broadway for the next 1.5 miles before the turnaround. I didn’t realize that Broadway was so close to the old boardwalk. I’d expected to turn left after passing a couple of blocks, not ten. I was being passed left and right, despite my attempts to keep up with the faster crowd. I felt some relief to make the turn at Broadway, but I knew I still had three and a half miles to go.

There’s a point in every race when I feel that I failed to train properly for that event. It usually comes after the first couple of miles, when I begin to question my ability to sustain my race pace. Today was no different. I came through the first mile in 8:06. A good pace, but it was almost 15 seconds off last year’s mile one split time. I hoped to stay below 9:00 for the remaining splits and I managed to do that, although mile three recorded at 8:59 on my Garmin.

It’s always a fast crowd in Long Beach and getting passed can be disheartening. It wasn’t until I made the turn at mile two, heading west, that I saw the large number of people behind me, still running east. Instead of feeling happy, I worried that they would all eventually overtake me. This race felt hard, probably because I haven’t gone all out in race mode for months. Still, I felt that I could handle the pace I was running, and I ended up finishing in the top 35%.

I settled into my stride at three miles, coming through a few seconds under 26 minutes. It seemed to take forever to reach Lindell where we took a right, heading north for for the last half mile. By 9:30 AM, cars were trying to cross the course at some intersections. Traffic control did their best, but I actually saw a couple of cars impatiently cutting through with runners still crossing the box. I had no incidents, but a couple of cars made me nervous.

I finally saw the finish chute when I had a block and a half to go. I tried to muster more speed, but I was at my physical limit. It would have been nice to cross the line earlier, but I left nothing on the course today and ran the best pace I could maintain. I was very happy to cross over the line. I felt all four hard miles at that point, yet I also felt strong.

Why am I smiling? The race is over

After the race, I watched some runners come in before downing a Gatorade and taking a few pictures. I was disappointed that my friend Steve, who ran this race with me the last two years, couldn’t participate today. I’ll tell him what he missed. For me, it was a validation of my fitness and a pretty good effort. I may not have loved every minute of the run, but I sure loved the feeling when I finished.

Race report: 2012 Oyster Bay Supervisor’s 5K

Big crowd, 70 more runners than last year

Today’s race (Oyster Bay Supervisor’s 5K): 3.1 miles 
25:58 – 8:22 pace

When running a race, it’s always good to be familiar with the course. I tend to do better the second time I run a particular race, as I did at today’s 2012 Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor’s 5K. I came very close to achieving a PR this morning, but ended up falling short by eight seconds. Still, I did break 26 minutes, if only by two seconds.

I arrived a few minutes after 8:00 for the 9:00 AM start. The temperature was a chilly 35° and I was concerned about parking too far away from registration. I was counting on parking close to the starting area so I could stay warm in my car before heading to the line. I ended up parking at the high school, which was a quick three minute walk to the registration area.

Registration went well, just like last year. The race shirt was actually a sweatshirt, this year’s in grey with blue and black graphics. I returned to my car to pin my bib and fuel with Accel Gel. I headed back up with 15 minutes to spare and lined up near the start. On my way there I was passed by a runner who tripped on a loose cable while doing strides. Fortunately, his spill onto gravel didn’t diminish his spirit and he was up and running seconds later.

For some reason, a large crowd of runners had assembled in front of the line, perhaps because the area had a lot of warming sun. The race starter announced that people needed to move behind the line, and a big wave of people pushed us back a little. The starter then asked that the front area be reserved for 6:00 pace runners.

The guy in front of me turned and asked (not in a nice way) if I ran 6 minute miles. I didn’t answer him, but I did make sure that he saw me when I passed him going up Berry Hill Road. So there were 630 nice people at this race and one jerk. That’s a pretty good ratio.

The race started right on time and I looked forward to attacking the long hill that would eventually give way to an equally long downhill stretch. I felt great from the start and the cold air helped a lot. I wore a long sleeved jersey, shorts and compression sleeves on my calves. It was the right combination of gear and I was comfortable throughout the race.

Since I was familiar with the hill, I knew where I was when we passed the 1 mile point. I came through in 8:30, over 30 seconds faster than last year. I had trained on hills and it was paying off. Berry Hill Road becomes a little steeper at the one mile mark, but I knew that and was prepared to work harder. I was surprised how many people I was passing on the hill. I almost finished in the top third today (okay, it was the top 39% percent) but that’s better than my usual spot, exactly in the middle of the pack.

Once the turn onto Sandy Hill Road came into view, I knew I’d have some relief. I was careful to remember that I still needed to keep pushing for that last mile and a half. The downhill stretches did help me recover and I felt like I was running as fast as I could while still maintaining a safe stride. The last thing I needed was to overrun my turnover capability and take a spill on the course.

At around the 2 mile mark, my friend BL came up on my side and said hello. He’s a great example of how discipline and hard work can deliver amazing results. Two years ago BL was twice the size he is today, but he started walking, and then running, and he hasn’t stopped since. He races almost every weekend and is now faster than me.

The course takes a left turn onto East Main Street where the downhill ends and the road rises. It actually felt good to be climbing again. I was able to tap some surprising energy as I surged along the final quarter mile. The clock said 25:01 when I passed the 3 mile mark and I hoped to make it to the finish in 48 seconds to secure a new PR. Unfortunately, it took me almost a minute more to cross the line.

I felt great at the end and I didn’t care that I’d missed a PR. I caught up with BL who broke 26 minutes for the first time today, finishing almost half a minute before I did. I was happy that he achieved a PR. He certainly earned it.

This is a great race because it gives as much as it takes. The long hill is a great challenge but manageable with training. I realized today that I should probably focus on downhill technique which would have helped me today. Still, no regrets. My next race will be the Run for the Warrior’s 10K in November and I’m excited to start training for that. But for now, a little rest today and a long recovery run tomorrow will do just fine.

Race report: Cow Harbor 2012

Crossing the line (in white, directly right of tree)
Today’s run (Great Cow Harbor 10K): 6.2 miles
58:32 (9:26 pace)

Despite concerns about a rain-soaked start to the 35th running of the Cow Harbor 10K, we ended up having near perfect weather for the race. At the start it was overcast, and by the end it was sunny, but temperatures and humidity remained moderate. I didn’t achieve a PR or even a PB for the race, but I was happy with my results that fell right in the middle of my prior two Cow Harbor efforts.

Team Emerging Runner arrived at Northport high school about ten minutes before 7:00 AM and we caught one of the shuttle buses that take runners and their crew to the Laurel Avenue school. This school is ground zero for the race and I made my way to numbers pickup before the lines got too long. I saw that I was assigned a 9000 series number, based on my predicted finish time.

The trick to managing 5,000+ runners is to put them into corrals with a staggered start every minute to spread out the field. It works extremely well but you need to do a little math every time they call a mile split, backing out the number of minutes based on your bib number. So if your bib starts with a 4, and the first mile split is called at 11 minutes, you’d subtract 4 minutes to get your pace of 7 minutes per mile. Easy right?

Dave 2.0, on left

We saw a lot of friends while we waited for the race to begin, including Dave who had suffered a heart attack at a race in February. He has recovered impressively well and it looks like he had a great race this morning, beating my time by over a minute. We had a mini reunion with a group of teachers from our kid’s elementary school, and I saw my my work colleague Bill, who was running Cow Harbor for the first time. He was concerned about the James Street hill, but he ended up running a great race.

I didn’t train intensely for the race this year and my only goal was to finish under an hour (mission accomplished). I was caught by surprise when it came time to release my start group. Due to the number of people in front of me, I thought there was still another flight in front of ours. That worked out well because I didn’t experience the countdown jitters that I normally get.

Off to a good start on Laurel Ave.

I took an Accel Gel 2nd Surge twenty minutes before the start, and I felt good coming off the line. I was concerned that I’d have a repeat of the New Hyde Park 8K start, when I found it difficult to keep up with the crowd. Unlike that race, I wasn’t fighting a cold, and I moved along well through the up and down (and then mostly downhill) Scudder Avenue. The crowds were out in force to cheer us on.

A little after the first mile, we turned onto Woodbine and ran near the water where the crowds were even larger. Between the noise, the people, and a large group of bagpipers, it felt surreal to be part of the entertainment. We quickly passed Main Street and reached Bayview Ave with a rise that only hints at what’s to come 3/4 of a mile later. And by that I mean James Street – AKA, “Widow Hill.”

Starting point of the dreaded “Widow Hill”

There are many ways to approach James Street in this race and I watched that play out once again as I began to take on the hill. Some runners attacked it and others chose to walk it. Like I did the previous two times, I accepted the challenge and adopted a steady pace that I felt I could sustain throughout the half mile of steep road.

I refused to look ahead lest I’d be discouraged by the amount of hill that was left to climb. When the road became even steeper I knew I was near the top. When it leveled out I felt great relief, but tried to increase my pace. The post hill section doesn’t provide much recovery time as the road rises once again before leading to a lengthy downhill span between the 2.8 and 3.75 mile points.

Just after the 5K mark I spotted a work colleague who told me she’d be standing on the corner of Eaton’s Neck Rd. and Ocean Ave. We tried to coordinate last year but I just missed her. It was great to see her and her dog at the halfway point of the race.

I felt remarkably good at that point, with the trauma of Widow Hill behind me and a stretch of downhill road in front of me. I wasn’t monitoring my pace, but my heart rate was holding steady in zone 4, as I’d planned. I felt good but I knew I’d soon need to switch gears and take on the long climb up Waterside Ave.

Waterside Ave goes on for over a mile and it’s mostly uphill. Some say this section is worse than James Street, but I disagree. Both require patience and an acceptance of the elevation, but Waterside’s grade is far more subtle. I kept a pace that made sense and allowed me to stay with the crowd. I began to fatigue around the five mile point but I never had concerns about bonking. I’d filled my gel flask with two Accel Gels with the 4:1 formulation (carbs/protein) and I sampled it through the last few miles.

Pumpernickel Hill isn’t as bad as James Street, but it comes near the end, after 1+ miles of fun on Waterside. I was up and over it fairly quickly. As I got to the top, a spectator was screaming, “A 77 year old man just took the hill!, a 77 year old man just took the hill!” over and over. Impressive yes, but enough already. And not in my ear please.

Encouraging message near the end of the race

I always expect the last part of the race to be triumphant, with a predominantly downhill section that leads to Main Street and the finish line. But after everything that comes before that point, it’s hard to exploit the opportunity to push hard. It’s basically a matter of holding the gains and pouring it on with whatever is left at the end. The finish chutes appear when there’s about a fifth of a mile left in the race. Like an oasis, they seem to remain out of reach despite moving relentlessly toward the line.

I crossed the line 58 minutes after I started, though I didn’t check the clock when I came through the finish. I saw my wife and kids and that made me happy. They are a great support team. I had to look up my results later, and they closely matched my Garmin’s time.

After the race we headed to the crowded waterfront festival where I was able to get Gatorade and a couple of bananas that helped restore my electrolytes. There was a great band playing and lots of booths showing products and services. We ran into Bill and one of my daughter’s teachers before getting back on the bus that took us to where we parked the car.

So one more Cow Harbor race is on the books. Mohamed Trafeh won the race today for the fourth time and Alisha Williams was the first woman to finish. I know there are bigger races with many more participants and more features, but on Long Island, (giving due respect to the LI Marathon Festival of Races) nothing quite compares.

Race report: Corporate 5K

Registration check in. Sign those waivers!

Yesterday’s run (Corporate 5K): 3.1 miles – 26:22 (8:30 pace)

I like to keep my running life and my work life separate in this blog, but every once in a while they’ll come together. Back in June we had a summer picnic in Central Park and I organized my colleagues for a 1.6 mile fun run. Last night I participated in a 5K race that was put on by my company as part of a corporate wellness program. It was an interesting experience and a lot of fun.

This 5K consisted of employees from four of our corporate divisions that have offices in NYC. The company is holding 5K’s in other cities for other divisions based in those locations. A group of us left the office for the 1 train that took us uptown to Riverside Park, where the race was being held. The registration process started out a little bumpy but they did get through the 170 or so runners (and walkers) reasonably fast. We were all asked to sign waiver forms even though we’d already done that online.

Pre-race warm-up

Before the race, the organizers had participants run through some dynamic stretching exercises. Soon after that, we assembled behind the starting line for the race. There were a few speakers who talked about the event, the importance of fitness and how our company is contributing to charitable causes that support this initiative. This went on so long that my Garmin turned off its GPS and I had to scramble to reacquire a signal before the start.

Our course was interesting. We started at 108th street and headed north about eight blocks before turning south. This turnaround put us on a secondary path that was, at different times, packed dirt and broken pavement, with lots of twigs and branches from the trees. I gingerly avoided those branches since I was wearing my very minimal Hattori’s. There were a number of rises throughout the course and some were fairly challenging.

Our route took us by the river where we did a couple of out and back loops before heading north again toward the finish. This was my first evening race and I expected to struggle but I didn’t feel much different than I normally do. The out and backs provided an opportunity to see my position in the race because I would pass the the leaders going the other way. At other times, I could see those who were behind me.

The race ended with a straight section of recently paved blacktop and I ran hard to the finish line. A number of us questioned the length of the course because our GPS watches showed it to be less than 3.1 miles. I looked at my run in Garmin Connect and saw that the signal had drifted in a number of spots. That usually accounts for distance loss since the GPS often “cuts corners” due to sampling frequency.

After crossing the line, we spent a few minutes recovering. After that we claimed our bags and headed back to the subway to get us to our trains and buses. Others stayed for drinks and hors d’oeuvres but most of just wanted to get home. I have to say that all my colleagues did well. KWL finished in the top 10% and FS also finished high. Everyone else came in around mid-pack, as I did. With the majority of runners in the 20-29 age category, I think we did just fine.

2012 New Hyde Park 8K race report

Crossing the line later than I’d hoped

Today’s run (New Hyde Park 8K): 45:30

I ran the New Hyde Park 8K this morning for the fourth consecutive time. It wasn’t a disaster, but it could have gone better. No PR today.

I’d done all the right things to prepare — steady training, speed work last weekend, and two days rest prior to race day.  I wasn’t feeling 100% yesterday, but I did some light upper body work followed by some core work that seemed to help. I didn’t have a great night’s sleep but I felt fine this morning. More rest would have been good.

The weather was perfect when we arrived at the Denton Ave. school where the race begins and ends. There was a little miscue with my registration and they couldn’t find my race package. Fortunately, they did have my proper tag and bib number. The crowd seemed smaller than last year, but a quick comparison with last year’s results shows there were slightly more people running today. But the feel of the race was different this year, lacking its usual excitement and energy.

Feeling okay after the start

We assembled for the start under sunny skies, I took a position about 20 feet behind the line. After one false start, we were on our way. I was looking forward to running this course and I felt fine for the first few minutes. I started feeling the effort soon after that, far too early in the race. Still, I had little trouble keeping up with the crowd. I was concerned about sustaining my present pace over five miles.

I came through mile 1 at 8:32 and struggled with a couple of small hills before the route spilled onto New Hyde Park Road. I wasn’t even near the 2 mile mark when I began to struggle. New Hyde Park Road rises for a while before dropping ahead of the turn onto the service road for the Long Island Expressway. I stopped at the first water station and took water. Usually I’ll slow down but keep moving, but in this case, I came to a standstill. That cost me at least 30 seconds, but I’m glad I did it.

The stretch along the service road was tough, but I held my pace for the most part. The shaded stretches were a godsend, but after coming up the hill leading to Shelter Rock Road, it was all sun. I had filled my gel flask with two Roctanes that I took between miles 3 and 4 and I believe they helped get me through the end of the course without a bonk. At mile four I was disappointed to see that my cumulative time was far behind my goal time. I was hoping I might (at least) come close to my prior finish times.

The last part of the course routes through a neighborhood leading to the field behind the Denton Ave. school. By the time I turned off Shelter Rock Road I was ready for the end and was visualizing the green field where the finish line is located. I wasn’t struggling by the last mile, but I knew that this race would not go down as a great performance. I was disappointed to see the clock showing 45 minutes when I finally reached the field, and crossed the line at 45:30.

I’m not sure why today’s run was so difficult, but I definitely wasn’t on my game this morning. I averaged a 9:10 pace which I’d consider good on a training run, but I missed my target of running sub-9:00 race.

Rather than settling the score in 2013, I’m thinking that I might look for a different race next June. I don’t have the same affection for this event that I have for some other races, and I’m primed for a new challenge. Still, I got a great workout and I was able to share the experience with my wife and kids. Every race can’t be a personal best and I accept my performance without complaint. Racing is about challenging yourself, and today, it was a struggle. But at least I tried and I toughed it out. I win.

Race Report: 2012 LI Half Marathon

Proud to earn the medal

LI Half Marathon: 13.1 miles — 2:08:47 (PR)


This morning I ran my second half marathon and the results were (happily) better than the first. I finished the race almost 14 minutes faster than last year. All those weekends at Bethpage clearly paid off, and a healthy knee took care of the rest.  


My day started early and I was joined by my friend TC who came by my house at 6:00 AM. We did last minute preparations, like pinning bib numbers and packing our gear bags, before we headed over to Eisenhower Park. The roads were clear and we made good time. We quickly found parking spots and walked over to Charles Lindbergh Boulevard where the start of the race was being staged. In our excitement we forgot to take notice of where we’d parked. It was something we’d regret later.


Even though we were early, the crowd was already large. It quickly grew to thousands and, before we  knew it, race time had come. Last year there was a dearth of porto-pottys and this year it appeared as though they’d doubled the number. That made things much easier for people and prevented the need to use the grounds along the starting line as ad hoc facilities.


I located a spot in the 9:00 pace range and after some unexpected fireworks, the crowd was off. With over 5,000 runners on the move, we basically shuffled past the starting line. It was good that the race provided a starting line sensor that captured net times for runners, but for some odd reason “official” times are calculated from gun time. 

Consequently, my “official” pace was based on a time that was three minutes longer than my actual time.  It’s a bad policy because it punishes people who follow the rules and line up at their pace range, rather than move to the front of the line. I really don’t understand that. Since they record the runner’s net times, why don’t they use them?


But while this race is about performance, it’s also about the experience. Knowing what to expect after running the race last year really helped me manage my expectations. The loop around Nassau Coliseum, that felt so long the last year, went by very quickly today. I couldn’t believe how soon we reached the 5K mark and I appreciated my healthy knee when we passed the four mile sign. That was the moment of truth for me last year, when I debated whether to drop out to protect my knee.


I maintained a steady pace as I made my way up Post Road to Jericho Turnpike, stopping for the briefest time to grab water to wash down some GU Roctane I had put in my gel flask. That turned out to be a great way of managing fuel. I hit the 10K mark in just about an hour and I ran strongly through the next few miles. At one point, on Brush Hollow Road, a band was playing a fast tempo blues song that perfectly matched my cadence. Although I usually prefer silence when I run, I appreciated all the live bands that played for us today.


When I reached Wantagh Parkway I was still feeling good, but the sun had come out and the entrance to the Parkway was the steepest incline we’d yet encountered. I made it up fine and enjoyed some of the downhill sections, although one uphill section went on for a while. All along the race, I thought about the quote: “Run the mile you’re in” and that helped me focus on the moment, instead of thinking about the miles ahead.


Once we hit Carmen Avenue I was pretty psyched because I knew that I would beat last year’s time by a measurable amount. I was careful not to mistake the full marathon’s 24 mile marker for a sign that we’d reached 12 miles (like I did last year) and when I saw the 11 mile marker, I knew I had enough in reserve to finish with some strength.


We entered the park and I actually needed to pass some runners on the narrow pathway. I saw my dentist up ahead and greeted him as I caught up. I yelled “Let’s go!” and we picked up the pace. He was able to sustain it, but I needed to drop back to my previous pace after a couple of minutes. I knew when I was getting close to the end, and started to feel some excitement. My Garmin said 2:04 and I knew I had a good chance of breaking 2:10, which was my stretch goal.


The last quarter mile was hard and the crowd along the path was deep and LOUD. I saw the finish line and put in as much effort as I could until I crossed. I was in so much better shape than last year at the end. I saw TC, who had nailed the distance in 1:50, waiting near the line. We celebrated each other’s performances and made our way slowly to the Finish Line Festival. The crowds were so thick that we decided to skip the festival and head to the UPS trucks to get our stowed gear.


We had no clue where to find our cars, so we walked around for over thirty minutes until we finally located the lot where we’d parked. I thought back to last year when I could barely handle the ten minute walk to my car after the race.


A foot soak with Dr. Bonner’s peppermint soap helped a lot this afternoon and I’m going to take a couple of days off from running to recover. I am pleased and happy with today’s race and I’m proud of my friends who also ran today. Is it realistic to think that I could break 2:00 in a half marathon some day? I’m not sure I can, but after today’s race, I can considerate it a possibility.

LIRRC 2012 Hangover Run: well done fun

Today’s run (LIRRC Hangover Run): 5 miles
47:19 (9:28 pace)

Happy New Year! Last night went later than expected and I didn’t get to sleep until after 12:30 AM. I did catch an hour’s nap earlier, in an attempt to bank some needed sleep, but I don’t think it did much good. Even so, I got up at 6:30 and tried to decide how to dress for this morning’s fun run in Eisenhower Park. The NYC news station showed 44 degrees, while our local station showed 32.

I finally settled on a long sleeve base layer topped with a short sleeved jersey, along with my new CS running pants. It was a good choice but I may have been fine with only one layer on top. When Team Emerging Runner joins me on cold days, I can wear more layers to keep warm. I just hand off my jacket before the race begins. Today I was by myself, so the extra layer helped while I stood waiting for the start.

I have to hand it to the Long Island Road Runner’s Club who put on today’s event at Eisenhower Park. LIRRC does it all with a minimum of frills (no race shirts or pre-registration) but they charge very little to participate and they hold many races throughout the year. Today’s Fun Run was a gift because the event was open to all. Post-run refreshments were served and not a penny was charged to participate.

It was friendly crowd who milled around near the start area and soon we were off on our 5 mile run. The LIRRC provides a timing clock but the tracking is up to the participants. No one wins this race but I’m sure the swiftest runners compete for bragging rights. The course is five times around a measured loop within the park. Every time you pass the timing clock at the start, you’ve finished another mile.

It was interesting to run this “Hangover” run. I didn’t see too many sluggish runners nursing hangovers. It felt like a race. Since it wasn’t actually a competition, I decided to run it a little faster than a recreational run at that distance, but not as fast as my 8K race pace.

It may have been last night’s late bedtime, or the fact that I haven’t taken a rest day since last Monday, but I couldn’t generate a lot of speed. The first mile seemed to take a while and the clock showed 9:02 when I passed it. Miles 2 through 4 were run slower as I settled into a more comfortable pace. At the last mile I decided to step things up a little and passed a handful of runners before crossing the line at 47:19.

Even though I didn’t have a hangover, it was a great head-clearing experience. Just think, I’ve got a perfect streak going this year, running every day and averaging 5 miles each run! Sadly, the streak will end tomorrow when I take a well needed rest.

Race report:Bethpage Ho Ho Ho Holiday 5K

32° at start time, I was tempted to wear the race sweatshirt

Today’s run (Ho Ho Ho Holiday 5K): 3.1 miles – 26:06 (8:24 pace)

I wanted to finish up the year with a December race because I’ve never competed in this month. Not counting the Nissequoge Turkey Trot that I ran for fun on Thanksgiving, today’s race was my tenth of the year. I had no idea of the scale of the Bethpage Ho Ho Ho Holiday Run, but there were well over a thousand people milling around when I got there.

Our weekends can be busy and today my daughter was hosting a holiday party for her friends. Due to that, I went solo, but I did see some people I knew once I got there. I received my sweatshirt after picking up my race number and dropped off some toy donations. After that I walked back to my car to attach my bib and store the race shirt.

It was 32 degrees when we assembled on Broadway and waited for the start. I tried to get closer to the front, but the masses of people prevented any further progress. Santa is the theme of this race and at least half the runners wore seasonal clothes with Santas and elves being the costumes of choice. I had no idea that Under Armor sold running tights in red and vivid green.

As expected, it took about three minutes before I could get up to my planned speed. There were so many people on the road I was afraid of tripping. In fact, I almost stumbled over an elf who cut in front of me just as I was about to zip by two runners.

With no chip sensor at the start, I thought my first mile split time would suffer because I didn’t get to full speed until I’d covered a quarter mile. When we reached the first mile I could see the split clock, but with the crowd in front of me I could only see the two numbers to the right of the colon.The numbers were just rolling past :00 and I figured that meant 9:00, but in fact it was 8:00. That was a happy surprise.

Race course: twice around with a loop in the middle

I figured I’d keep the hammer down as long as I could and the flat course helped. Our route was basically a rectangle of wide streets with one small loop that diverted us through a neighborhood. We ran the rectangle two times and passed the Middle School twice. I would have liked a more scenic route but the lack of distraction helped me focus on my speed and form.

Since we did two laps around the course, I knew where we were when we reached the final section that diverted from Broadway into the school driveway. I sprinted the last tenth and crossed the line a few ticks past the 26 minute mark for an overall pace of 8:24. It wasn’t a PR but it was my fastest 5K this year and I ended up in the top third rather than my usual middle pack position.

I congratulated a colleague from the office who crossed the line a couple of minutes after me, but I couldn’t find a couple of other people who I’d hoped to see. I headed home soon after, rather than wait for the awards ceremony.

Later in the day, while the party was raging at home, my son and I went to Dick’s sporting goods to get a requested item. While we were there I saw that they had the Kinvara 2’s on sale for $59.00, an incredible bargain. I asked for a pair in my size and tried them on to confirm the fit and was disappointed with the feel. I ran around the show department “track” a few times and decided, bargain or not, the shoe didn’t work for me. Oh well, the search continues.

Tomorrow I plan to do a longer run, very slow, to help me recover from today’s intense race. This was a great event and I’ll plan to run it again next year.

Race report: 2011 Run for the Warriors

Field of Honor near the 10K start

Today’s run (Run for the Warriors 10K): 6.2 miles

Clock time: 56:05 – Net time (chip): 55:50

The Run for the Warriors race is in its 4th year and I’ve participated over the last two years. Last year I ran it in 56:23, which (at that time) was my fastest 10K to date. I had low expectations for today’s race because I have not been running well this past month. Due to that, my weekly distance has dropped about 30% since the end of September. I’m pleased to report that I beat my performance expectations handily today.  I’m not sure why, but I’m happy that I did.

This race is all about those who serve in the military and the families that support them. There’s a strong patriotic theme overlaying all the proceedings and the event feels both festive and serious.

The organizers did a great job, as they did last year, and they corrected a few things from the 2010 race that made it a better experience. First, there were twice as many Port-O-Potti’s to handle the 2,000+ crowd than there were last year. People appreciated that. Secondly, the 10K race started before the 5K this year. That prevented much of the congestion we experienced last year, caused by the side by side walkers who blocked runners that started behind them. It was still crowded at the start with just the 10K runners, but it was much better this year.

Like last year, the pre-race program involved the acknowledgment of the soldiers who serve in the armed forces and the local service people who’d lost their lives in battle. It was an emotional scene with family members that lost loved ones running in their honor.

Starting the 10K race with a shout to my family

The race started at 9:30 AM and that caught me by surprise because the website said the 10K start would happpen at 9:45. Luckily, my daughter was paying attention and she rushed me to the line just minutes before the starting gun sounded. Suddenly we were off and I was was about to discover whether I had the fitness to compete today.

I had taken a GU Roctane gel twenty minutes prior to the start and I felt good as we began to move. We all started slowly due to the crowd. That was fine with me because my original plan was to start slow and pick up speed if I felt I could maintain a faster pace. By the time we reached the off-ramp on Sunrise Highway, leading to Wellwood Avenue, I knew that I had enough in reserve to get through the race. My original goal was to run this race under 62 minutes and I thought I had a good shot at that.

The course is flat and probably more downhill than uphill. I passed a fair number of people on Wellwood, but I also got passed by more than a few. There were two soldiers doing the entire race on their hands and feet and that looked really hard. I felt badly for them but they were doing it in symbolic solidarity with their overseas compatriots.

We passed the first mile and I saw that I was pacing at 9:02 and worried that I was going too fast that early in the race. I felt good so I maintained that pace and, before I knew it, we had taken the left onto E. Hoffman Ave. This road parallels the LIRR tracks and it had been resurfaced since last year’s race.

The smooth blacktop was an excellent surface to follow and at the 2 mile point I was cruising. I really felt like I was floating. I managed to catch up to a few runners and pass them and I kept encountering a group of soldiers who were running together in line, stopping every mile to do a series of push-ups. Must be great to be in that shape.

When we turned north onto Great East Neck Road that intersects with Route 109, I had another Roctane gel. I didn’t really need it then, but I wanted some extra energy for the remaining three miles. I took some water to wash it down and, when we hit 109, I was feeling well fueled.

I’d come through the 5K point at around 28 minutes and was looking for the 4 mile marker along the northern road. By this time I started to think I might finish with a decent time. The following minutes were unremarkable and I wondered if I’d already passed 4 miles when my Garmin chirped. I was amazed to see I’d just passed five miles!

I saw the sign for the exit onto Sunrise Highway that confirmed that I was on my last mile. I was running well but the off ramp had a long steep rise and I felt some strain for the first time in the race. Before long we were heading down the ramp onto Sunrise and race volunteer yelled “Almost there, just a half a mile to go!” As always, that last half mile seemed longer than it should, but when I saw the big flag and the crowds along the road I kicked into finish mode.

100 feet to the finish line

About 100 feet prior to the line, my wife and kids stood cheering and this gave me the impetus to push even harder at the end. The clock said 56:05 when I finished, but my net was 13 seconds less. No big deal. Either way I was just north of the 9:00 mark but my goal prior to the race was to stay below 10:00. I made that goal for sure and felt very strong after the race. I guess my conditioning was better than I’d judged it to be.

It was great surprise to run this race that I almost skipped because I thought I wasn’t ready to do it. I give my wife credit for convincing me to run the race regardless of my performance. Next weekend is the Long Beach Turkey Trot, another 10K. I’ll go into that with greater expectations but, like today, I’ll run my race based on how I’m feeling and see how it goes.