Hills. Hills are just……dumb. Aren’t they? I know that, as a runner, I should love them. I have read the famous quotes about running on hills – “hills are speed work in disguise”, “hills make the run more interesting”, and the oh-so-charming “…running on hills make your butt look better”. Well I have to tell you…the disguise that the hills were wearing during my 13.1 mile jaunt through Brooklyn last Saturday (May 18th) was exceptional, and the miles became more and more interesting as the morning wore on.
The 2013 Brooklyn Half Marathon began near Prospect Park in Brooklyn. I was in the second wave, and my goal was to simply survive the park and get my sluggish rear-end on to Ocean Boulevard. Ocean Boulevard would take me directly to Coney Island and the finish line. I knew what the course had in store for me, so I developed a game plan while riding the #2 train from the Upper West Side early that morning: start slow. Conserve the gas in your tank as you climb the long incline in Prospect Park. Be patient and get the thought of competing with whoever happens to be waddling next to you out of your thick head. Get to Ocean Boulevard without being winded. And then coast until mile 10. Then run the last 5k of the race as if you were on fresh legs.
That was the game plan. Doesn’t it sound pretty logical? Doesn’t it sound doable? Reasonable? It appears to be a wise course of action.
Now…knowing what you know about me…do you think I actually stuck to my wise game plan, or do you think I chucked it at the very moment I started my GPS watch? Take a moment to think that one over sports fans….
The moment I crossed the starting line and started my watch, I was surprised that my legs felt as fresh as they did, coming off my recent increase in the training work load I’ve subjected myself to. So what did I do? I stepped on the gas and decided to climb the first hill to the mile 1 marker as if I was running a 5k. And this momentum kept me going through mile 2, as I came back over the same hill in the opposite direction and made my way to the entrance of Prospect Park. As I came down the second hill I had a huge smile on my face, shocked at how good I felt. At that moment, I thought of that marathoning quote I’ve heard many times over the years:
“You feel good? Really? Well don’t worry… that won’t last.”
My positive momentum remained as I entered the park between miles 3 and 4. I knew all along that I was keeping a pace that well exceeded my game plan. I knew I should have corrected myself while I still had the energy to do so. But did I? Of course not. Why? Because I am a Craftsman (a real high-quality, state-of-the-art, grade-A tool). As I began the long incline in the park that exists between miles 3.5 – 5, I hung on to my last thread of positivity. I knew it was a matter of time before the wheels began to come off – all I wanted to do was hang on for as long as I could before they did.
As it happened, the wheels came off after I conquered the incline. I was running on vapors 2 miles after exiting the park. My pace fell apart over the last 4 miles and I sputtered to the finish line with a time of 2 hours and 20 minutes. This was 8 minutes faster than my time last year on this course. But 20 minutes slower than the goal time I had set for myself. I wanted this race to be the first time I cracked the 2 hour mark. It was not meant to be.
As I sat on the Q train on the way home, I performed my annoying post-race ritual of watching my inner video tape of the race I had run, and began to dissect the errors made. My failure to achieve my goal time became clear very quickly:
· Never start a half marathon at a pace per mile that you normally run 5k’s in. That’s what I did. That was dumb.
· Once you develop a game plan for a race, STICK TO IT. Don’t go off the reservation. And make sure the game plan corresponds to the training you’ve completed, at a pace you know you could hold for the entire distance. I didn’t do any of this. And what’s more, I knew I was making a strategic mistake as I was running…yet I failed to correct myself. I am a colossal doorknob.
· LET THE KENYANS GO. Let all those people around you that take off at the start of a half marathon go. Don’t feel the need to chase after them and stay on their heels. RUN YOUR RACE – NOT SOMEONE ELSE’S. Only you know what your pace should be. RUN YOUR RACE. I think I must have told Zues only knows how many team mates at practice these very words all last year. But do I heed my own advice? Of course not. And why do ignore my own advice? Because…you guessed it…I’m a humungous dipshit.
· Hold back on the reigns at the start, and then try to negative split a race. If you trained hard, you know you can handle whatever distance you are racing. So really stay under control at the start and then let your pace slowly pick up as the mile marker go by. Did I hold back? Of course not. I took off at the start, I let the excitement get the best of me, and I kept my foot on the gas until I ran the tank dry. That, my friends, is toolish behavior at its best.
The Brooklyn Half Marathon was a wonderful race. Well organized, fun, and festive. I highly recommend it. Just don’t make the moronic mistakes I did.
The next morning, I headed to Central Park to participate in the 2013 AIDS Walk. This is a 10k walk / jog / waddle that raises money to fight this dreaded disease, and over 45,000 people come out for it. It’s a wonderful morning in the city, as you get to see the symphony of diversity that makes New York City truly unique. People of every race, shape, color, and religion were out there in the rain, raising donations for a great cause. And they all did it with broad smiles on their faces. That was the elixir I needed to make me forget my prior day’s poor performance.
Next week I plan to jump head first into triathlon training, by mixing swimming, biking, and weight training to my existent running regimen. This will result in much more time each week devoted to training, which will mean that I’ll begin pulling two-a-days for at least 4 days during each week. I’m expecting to be sore, as I begin to use new muscle groups. I’m expecting to be tired and cranky, simply because I’m always tired and cranky and quite frankly I’m good at it. And lastly, I’m expecting it to be hard – but that’s OK, because triathlon training is supposed to be hard. It’s the hard that makes it great.
This journey just keeps getting more and more interesting.
P.S.: I’ve added a new section below which summarizes the statistics for each of my 2013 goals. I just figured that listing some stats would be fun. So….enjoy.
A Quick Statistical Snapshot of Where I Stand as of May 23rd 2013:
Goal #1: Run at Least 2,013 Miles in 2013
Miles logged: 395.2
Miles to go: 1,617.8
In order to accomplish my goal, I need to average7.2 miles per day through December 31st, 2013. There are 222 days left.
Goal #2: Drop to 185 Pounds
Starting weight: way too embarrassed to admit right now
Weight lost thus far: not enough to even warrant mentioning at this point
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to lose more than 25 pounds by December 31st, 2013.
Goal #3: Run the Fifth Avenue Mile in Less than 7 Minutes
Quickest mile run: 7:05 (2011 NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile)
Quickest mile run in 2013 thus far: 8:14 (accomplished on May 4th).
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to drop my speed for the 1 miler by 1:15.
Goal #4: Run a Sub 4 Hour Marathon
Fastest marathon run thus far: 5:07:36 (2011 ING New York City Marathon)
Fastest marathon pace maintained: 11:43 per mile
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to drop my average marathon pace per mile by 2:30 (shooting for a pace of 9:13 per mile) in order to drop 1:07:37 from my best marathon time.
Goal #5: Complete My First Ultra
Furthest I have ever run: 29.5 miles (not run during an official race)
Distance of my scheduled 2013 ultra: 37.28 miles
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to finish the NYRR 60k on November 16th 2013.
Goal #6: Complete My First Triathlon
In order to accomplish this goal, I need to complete the 2013 New York City Triathlon, scheduled for July 18th. 1 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2 mile run.
BY setting some pretty challenging goals for myself, I am trying to generate interest in / donations to The Dream Team Project. This charity’s mission is to raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Being s former wish-granter for the New York City Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.
If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website: http://www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for. Please consider donating to this worthy cause. Thanks!
…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409