03 May 2012


Why should runners work on their upper body?  Especially the arms?  So that if and when their legs are too tired they can use their arms to push themselves off from chairs, floor, etc.  Seriously, I really did that occasionally the hours after I ran the Verrazano Half Marathon.

Pre-race bib and shirt pickup did not work for me.  The one day that I was in Manhattan the pickup location was in Brooklyn.  I had a car with me and it acted like a leash on me.  I could not go anywhere too far lest I find a free parking spot, which is a rare thing in Manhattan's Chinatown.  I actually entered the subway at the R train's Whitehall Street but had to get out because the wait was too long.

On race day I got up early to catch the B64 bus to get to Owls Head Pier.  I rarely take the bus but the alternatives include riding the subway in a roundabout loop or driving, which would mean putting up with looking for a parking spot AND burning gasoline, which I try to avoid at all cost.

I got there too early and there was only a beardless Steve Lastoe setting up the mat, perhaps other race officials nearby too, but there was hardly any runners yet.  It was cold and windy with no place to hide so I headed off the pier to the side of the nearby deli.  It was really the driveway for the parking lot of the adjacent building.  It was sunny and warm there, there was a place to seat, and the wind did not whip around the corner.  What a big difference!

Eventually I got my bib and singlet and got back to the warm spot to put them on.  I thought I saw my ex-DailyMile friend Heather.  Good thing I did not approach the person as the real Heather found me later on.

There wers just 400 runners so when the time came there was just a short announcement about the course.  Four miles toward Ceasar's Bay, loop back before the baseball field, back to the pier and you have 8 miles down.  Out again toward the bridge and pass it just a little bit, 2.5 miles or so.  Turn around for the pier then about 2.5 miles.  The fast runners were told to start first and the rest began their run shortly afterward.  Thus began the inaugural Verrazano Half Marathon by NYCRUNS.  Not much of a corral to separate the runners according to their paces.  For a slow runner like me, that mean I did not have to walk some extra distance to get to my corral.  Small is beautiful and simple.

The course was advertised as "flattest and fastest" and I knew that was true.  At least the "flat" part.  I live not far from Caesar's Bay and use the Belt Parkway waterfront as one of my regular route.  For hill training, I usually include the few footbridges that go over the Belt.  In theory, I should P.R. easily.  Flat terrain and familiarity, what more can I ask?

I started out a few steps behind Heather but she soon disappeared from view.  I never join group runs so the only time I compete against others is during the races I registered for.  My first competitor for the Verrazano Half was a Woman in Bright Red.  I passed her somewhere during the first 4 miles but after Mile #8 she passed me.  Likewise there was a Woman in Light Brown, who I think also took over me after Mile 8.  I suspect I lost my lead of Light Brown and Bright Red because I had to drop the hoodie that I had on at the start of the race.  Apology goes to the person at Mile 8 who I handed the sweaty hoodie to.  I automatically thought it was a volunteer, who would gladly help out the runners.  I meant for her to throw it to the bag-check people but I found out afterward that she pretty much dropped it where she was standing.  I cannot blame her.

Without the sweat-drenched hoodie, I think I ran a little faster.  I managed to pass both women but soon found two other people who ran roughly at my pace.  I shall name them Neon Green and Neon Red.  They were walk-runners, i.e. they would run some distance then walk, then ran again, resumed walking.  In my book, during a race, you should walk only when you need to drink or take GU.  Much to my frustration, the two walk-runners would run past me, got overtaken when they walked, but then resumed the lead when they ran again.  At Mile 10.5, I had the lead and joked with the race official there about moving the cone closer to me to save me a few yards.  He moved the cone a few inches instead.  With just about 2.5 miles left to go, I took a short break and let out a loud whoop.  I do not how that work but it felt good whooping when tired.

Ms. Neon Red was probably a pacer for Ms. Neon Green.  Around the time of my whoop, Neon Red decided she had enough of me and ran ahead.  I told Neon Green that she and her pacer were killing me.  "Don't you ever give up?", I jokingly asked.  As I passed Neon Green, I told her that when I catch up to her friend, I would tell her that Neon Green said hello.  Wishful thinking.

With about 2 more miles to go, I started to feel something twitching or pulling in my left calf.  Soon the right calf had the same sensation, too.  Probably the onset of cramps.  I had to "go to work" after the race so I feared that if I pushed too hard, my legs will totally give out and I will have to work the 9 hours in extreme pain.  So I alternated between walking and running.  As she passed me, Ms. Light Brown was kind enough to nudge me with a "Come on" but I could not run at the time.  Neon Green passed me as well and I had zero chance of catching up to Neon Red.  I am sure Bright Red went past me as well.  It was just me against my uncooperative calves.  Maybe it was insufficient training, perhaps it was because I did not stretch enough before the race.  The pain eventually subsided and I was able to run over the finish mat, i.e. not limping to the finish.  Definitely not the usual sprint I enjoy so much, but at least I ran. At the finish line, to a person standing nearby I asked, in a conspiratorial tone, if there were anyone behind me.  I know I am slow but I would really hate to finish dead last.

I had a drink of water and took a bagel.  Congratulated the two Neon ladies.  Someone, perhaps Bright Red, told me that she liked my "roar".  It is fun to act silly sometimes.  I found my hoodie on the ground, near where I handed it off, a bit beyond the finish mat.  I totally forgot to stop my Garmin.  When I did, the time was 2:26.  I learned a few hours later that my time was 2:25. I did wonder, when I went over the mat to get my hoodie, then over the mat again to get back to the pier, did my time get recorded a second time then my finish time the average of the two?  I don’t think it would matter that much.  I am just glad that with cramps and all I still finished below 2:30. Next chance to P.R., NYRR Brooklyn Half Marathon!


  1. Linus, I'm exhausted just reading this post. Phewww!

    I must say that in the last year and a half you have been amazingly dedicated to exercising, running/jogging in particular, I am truly inspired by your commmitment.

    Keep it up the good work. Take care and until next time!

  2. Hey Qap, good job with the V. Half - I am ashamed to say I never get anywhere except a five minutes walk now and then!!!!!
    I like the new look of your blog - it looks nice, clean and "sophisticate"!!!!
    Not much going on here in STL. Have a good weekend/week.