Someone famous once said, "You cannot cross the same river twice." I think it was either Chuck Norris or "Weird" Al Yankovic (heh heh). The saying kinda makes sense, since the river flows and technically the water you touch the first time cannot possibly be the same water the second time around. This past weekend, for me that "river" was the course for the NYRR Queens Half Marathon 2011.
The NYRR Queens Half Marathon 2010 was the first race I ran in after resuming running, after a break of a few years. In the beginning, I ran just to try to lose some weight. At some point, I entertained the idea of running the NYC Marathon, even though I was, most likely, only logging 3K a day (not even 2 miles!). A half-marathon seemed to be a good yardstick to see how good my endurance was. I did not know much about running in the heat but made sure to stop at every water station just to be safe. I had a baseball cap on and just some khaki short and the NYRR official cotton tee. I walked from Mile #10 to Mile #11 then let some guy soaked me with a hose. Not a good idea, since the wet clothes weighed me down and the water killed my cell phone. The cover for the old phone's charging port was all tattered and anything, especially water, could get inside the phone easily, and the water sure did. I eked by the 3-hour time limit, with 6 minutes to spare. The good thing is the race gave me confidence that I can do a Half Marathon.
This year I got compression shorts and many more races earlier in the year. I set my best time for a Half Mary with the Manhattan Half in January, on a very cold day, like 9 degrees (!), with 2:23:40. I almost matched that time with the Brooklyn Half in May, 2:24:40. It was a decent day, not too hot, and it would be nice if I had the same finish time or better. The weeks leading up the Queens Half NYC was also known as The Baked Apple. It was hot! Like 90 to 100 hot! Still, unreasonably I hoped that would somehow beat my 2:23:40 record. Even though I just took the whole month of June off from running to give the left foot time to recover. The rest helped, but I felt sluggish in the two races in the early half of July.
The day of the Queens Half came and it was not so hot. Still hot when you run but not as hot as last year's. I slowed down for Gatorade and water after Mile #3, #6, and #9, then also #11 and #12. From Mile #12 on I had my cell phone play "Mezamero! Yasei! (Awaken the Beast Within)", from Naruto Shippuuden Season 2, over and over, and that helped keep me going, perhaps even picking up some speed. As usual, when the finish line finally appeared, I sprinted for it. If I recall correctly, I did not feel as bad as when I finished the Queens Half in 2010. Compared the time for Queens Half 2010 and 2011, this year I ran 14 minutes faster, or 2:40:47. People with better capabilities can excel themselves, or set Personal Record (PR) regardless of weather conditions or other factors. For me, I better stick with comparing similar races. Even though this year's Queens Half stayed inside Flushing Meadow Park the whole time, i.e. no College Point Boulevard, it was not too much different. No point comparing apples and oranges, i.e. summer races vs. winter races. Maybe, just maybe, in a few years, with the current running schedule maintained, who knows, I will be able to outdo myself, hot or cold, but for now, I'll be realistic.