20 March 2017

NYRR NYC HALF-MARATHON 2017

Wishful thinking, it is part of human nature, right?  There I was last night, laying awake wishing I will pull off a miracle and finish the half-marathon in 2:13, which was my best time for a half, back in 2012.  But I no longer run everyday any more.  Back in 2012, fresh off from a job that dragged on for 12 mostly painful years, well, there were some good ones, but near the end it was exhausting, I had much time to prepare for the half-marathon in Staten Island.  Yes, I ran my best 5K back in August last year, by having a good friend pace me and I also used better breathing techniques.  But it was a 5K, or 3.1 miles long, versus a half-marathon, glorious 13.1 miles.  The cheering crowd in Times Square and elsewhere supposedly can give runners a good boost, but it won't make up that much to cover lack of training.  Yet I dreamt a little.  Then I decided I would just be socially unfriendly and not spend time on queue for porta-potty.

It was my first time running the NYRR NYC Half-Marathon.  The high cost, $120+ I think, was a main factor for me to avoid it.  There are so many other races to spend my hard-earned money on.  Sure you don't get to run through Times Square but is that alone worthwhile the big fee?  But last year I was supposed to be a guide for an Achilles runner who decided at the last minute to run with some friend of his, so I ended up at the cheer zone for my track club instead.  It was nice to be out there, seeing all the energy.  I volunteered at a water station for the NYC Half some years ago, but being at the cheer zone was different.  I decided then that I would actually run it.  It helped that I did all five races for the five boroughs of NYC to gain automatic entry into the NYC Half.  I know, the NYC Half is so highly sought after you don't just register for them.  You either earn a guaranteed entry or try your luck with lottery, or some other means.

There was a big snowstorm on the Tuesday before the Sunday race.  Then the weather report said there would be more storm or lousy weather on the weekend.  Ay yay yay, just my luck, another messy run like the Staten Island Half 2016.  Luckily, it turned out there was no precipitation whatsoever.  Just so very cold!  I try to make the races as simple as possible so I went without bag check.  First time ever I had a disposable layer on, both the top and the bottom parts of the body.  I hate the idea of throwing away clothes that are still wearable but I have too many pieces of clothes anyway.  Besides, NYRR does a good job of collecting the throwaway clothes for Good Will.  I placed my pieces neatly on a rail, near other people's stuff, I am sure they will find a new good home.  I just had the scary feeling that I left something valuables in those clothes, but I made sure there was nothing.

I was in Wave 3, Corral D.  At NYRR races, a slowpoke like me is usually in Corral K, but because the NYC Half had three different Waves, it appeared like I moved up several Corrals but I know better.  It was nice to bump into track club members: Jackie, who was a volunteer team leader; and Murray, who was assigned to the same Corral and Wave with me.  Murray planned to run at a certain pace but we started out together and he periodically said we were too fast than his planned pace.  Around Harlem Hill I went ahead with my pace, which was not that much faster, but I wanted to at least beat my 2:30 from last year's Brooklyn Half.  I ran a few more Half-Marys since Brooklyn but I was sort of a pacer so my finish time was 2:45 or 3:00.  I ran slower going uphill then tried to make higher leaps as I came down the hills.  I walked twice to wolf down the Gu's that I brought with me, and maybe again shortly afterward to grab water or Gatorade to wash the stuff down.  I think I stopped one more time at Mile 12 to get another drink, last one for the long stretch home.

I did stick to my plan of not stopping for anything other than walk breaks.  I acknowledged when called but did not stop for photos.  That's the extent of my being unsocial.  It was good to see Jackie again around the 72nd Street Transverse in Central Park as she tried to get out of Central Park to get to the finish line.  I loved how Joe at 42nd Street cupped his hand to better holler at me.  I don't run with headphone and keeps my eyes open so I usually catch everything.  Actually, I probably saw Joe with his cupped hands before I heard him.  Also on 42nd Street I spotted Linda from the back and asked for confirmation while she was re-fueling, nom nom nom.  I knew Joyce would be at Mile 9's fluid station, with the Back On My Feet group.  She perched high on something so it was easy to spot her and we exchanged greetings so it was good.  Another wishful thinking, I thought there might be a chance my club's cheer zone would still be around when I got there.  But it was a cold day and for us Wave 3 people that would mean the cheerleaders have to be there for like three hours.  I had a PPTC hoodie on so occasionally other people would call the club name and I would respond with a fist pump or such.  All the words of encouragement really made a difference, even if it didn't make me finish faster, it sure kept me going.

Strava app messed up and didn't record the tunnel portion of the race.  Instead, it said I went quickly uptown to Chambers Street then zoomed back at the tunnel exit.  It also went bonker in Times Square.  Altogether, per Strava app, I ran over 22 miles at 6 or so minutes per mile.  Of course I didn't.  It still said I did 2:30, but since I stopped Strava after a few steps past the finish line, it turned out I made sub-2:30, or 2:29:43 to be exact.  Sigh, such is the life of a slow runner, had to forgo toilet visits, sacrifice most social interaction, i.e. no stopping for photos, just to squeak by some goal.  Some fast runners would have stomach cramps, wait on long lines for the toilets, then still P.R. by 15 minutes.  But with this sports, it's usually just the runners against their younger self so I'm good.

16 March 2017

PROSPECT PARK SESQUICENTENNIAL - ROUTE INSTRUCTION

At 9 A.M. Sunday April 2, I will help lead a run with the Prospect Park Track Club to celebrate The Park's 150-year anniversary.  The route will spell out... drum rolls... "150"!  I already posted what the route looks like but while it is obvious to me how it should be run, it may not be so to others.  Follows is the step-by-step instruction, as shown in the accompany picture:


  1. Start near the corner of 10th Street and Seventh Avenue, on the side of the street closer to 11th Street.  Note that we won't start at the corner but rather slightly away from the corner, toward the park.
  2. Start the watch/app (which from now on I'll just call "watch"), walk across the street then pause the watch.
  3. Run around the corner to 9th Street and Seventh Avenue then un-pause the watch.  Wait a little bit for the straight line from 10th Street to be drawn.
  4. Run toward the park then turn right toward 10th Street and make a U-turn to head toward 8th Street.
  5. Follow arrow directions, be sure to make the kick-up at the lower left of the "5".  I want to make sure "150" does not look like "ISO", so these little extra lines here and there are actually very important.
  6. At the corner of 7th Street and Eighth Avenue, the back corner of New York Methodist Hospital, pause watch again.
  7. Run around the block to the corner of 6th Street and Seventh Avenue and un-pause the watch.  You should be at the entrance to Barnes & Noble Bookstore.  Again, linger at the corner a few seconds to make sure the straight line from 7th Street and Eighth Avenue is drawn before continuing on.
  8. The rest is straightforward, IMHO.  Run toward 1st Street and Seventh Avenue then loop back toward 2nd Street, run counter-clockwise as shown to make the zero.
  9. Stop when you get back to 1st and Seventh.  The run is less than 3 miles, if you want to have more mileage, but without messing up the "0", draw the "0" again but this time at Carroll Street and Prospect Park West instead of turning into Carroll, continue on toward Grand Army Plaza. Of course, if you already stopped your watch when you first got back to 1st and Seventh you can run anywhere without marring your work of art.
Hope you find the instruction useful.  Sign up for the run at 




14 March 2017

PROSPECT PARK SESQUICENTENNIAL

Prospect Park in Brooklyn opened to the public in 1867.  It is turning 150 years old this year.  The Prospect Park Alliance is hosting many events starting Saturday April 1.  On April 2, my running club, the Prospect Park Track Club, will host a run in cooperation with the Alliance.  I designed a route that spells out "150".  Faster runners will lead the group from the front while slowpokes like me will lead from the back.  The run starts at 9 A.M. and will be slightly less than 3 miles.

PPTC runs normally start from Grand Army Plaza but this run is different and will meet at 10th Street and Seventh Avenue, which is the top of the "1" in "150".  Actually, it will be slightly away from that corner, toward the park.  Usually when runners spell words and numbers they make very blocky and straight characters.  I go through great length to make sure the characters are curvy, that corners are rounded and not at ninety degrees.  It is easy to mistakenly spell "ISO" instead of "150" so I want to avoid that.  More details will be provided on how that's done.

Register at https://goo.gl/UknXdS

For more information about anniversary events hosted by the Prospect Park Alliance, visit

https://www.prospectpark.org/news-events/events/2017/4/2#opening-weekend-2017