Yesterday was the big NYC Marathon Opening Day event, the day when all of us lottery entrants hope that our names are drawn and we can start planning those long and arduous months of training. Like the many thousands of other non-guaranteed lottery entrants, I attempted to open the road runners site around noon only to discover that it was offline. What followed was a somewhat painful wait for confirmation filled with repeated clicks of the browser’s refresh button. Later that evening, when I was finally able to access my marathon profile, I received the unfortunate news that I was not one of those lucky few selected to participate.
I’m disappointed that I didn’t get in because the date of the race has a certain significance to me and it would have been nice to run my first marathon on that day. I’m generally not a sentimental person, but in this case it was particularly disappointing to miss out. However, like any good scout I had planned ahead and am happy to say that I will take part in the Philadelphia Marathon on November 18. A couple of months ago, when details of the Philly event were release, I booked a hotel room for the weekend and marked the first day of registrations in my calendar. With that task completed in early April, it was just a case of confirming one or the other.Even though it would have been nice to have run my first marathon at home in NYC, I’m delighted to have Philadelphia as an alternative. My sister and her family live nearby, so we will certainly make plans to meet up and I have heard from others that it’s a really nice course along the Schuylkill river.
As for the NYC marathon, I will most certainly be in next year. Thanks to my diligence and competitive streak, I have already racked up 4 qualifying races this year with two more to come in May – well on my way to completing the requirements for guaranteed entry to next years NYC marathon via the 9+1 program.
Ever since I ran the half-marathon I have had some discomfort in my left knee. The problem manifests itself in two ways; when I’m going up steps or when I sit with my knee bent for an extended period of time. I had been self-medicating with Aleve (it’s the easiest on my stomach while still providing effective pain relief) on-and-off but was getting a little concerned that the problem had shown no signs of dissipating. Admittedly, I have been running three to four times a week to stay in shape for the Brooklyn half-marathon. Although common sense suggests that rest would be the best thing for my knee, I kept pushing myself.
Ask any expert and they’ll tell you – listen to your body. Out of stubbornness and the belief that I could run it off, I kept popping pills to mask the pain and pushing myself to log additional miles. Although common sense suggests that rest would have been the best way to allow for recovery, for some unknown reason I was not heeding the warning signs. After a couple of weeks the pain had not subsided, so I decided to ask a professional. I was due a visit to the doctor anyway, so as we were going through various topics I asked him about the pain in and around my kneecap. I had done some self-diagnosis (always a bad thing) and thought it might be runner’s knee. The doctor did some basic tests and determined the ligaments and cartilage to be in great shape. He said it was probably bursitis, but had me get an x-ray to eliminate the possibility of some other hidden problem. I’m still waiting the results, but in the meantime I got a cold wrap for my knee and have started using it to reduce swelling and inflammation and hopefully lessen the dependency on painkillers.
I’ll circle back to this in a week or two, once I know the results.
I have been running for a little over a year now and have always tried to take good care of myself. Without a coach or team to provide advice, I have essentially been flying solo for all this time. That’s my choice, but clearly I am missing out by not being around more experienced runners. Sarah, a friend of Jess’, has been running for a long time and occasionally shares some words of wisdom when she hears that I’m struggling with something. I take this advice seriously, as she clearly knows what’s she’s doing but it made me re-think my solo approach.
With the move to Brooklyn all done, I checked the road runners website and noticed that there were a few clubs in the area that provide good resources for novices and intermediates.
I’ll take some time to review the specifics of each and might venture to run with them once or twice. My schedule is going to play a significant role in determining what I can do, as I start back to school in September. This means that I can really only plan on doing my long runs on Sunday mornings as I’ll be attending classes every other Saturday. Anyway, I’ll see what these groups offer in terms of resources and what their runs schedules are like. If I’m lucky I’ll something that works for me. More to follow on this particular topic soon …
On Saturday I ran my second 10K and first warm-up for the Brooklyn Half-Marathon on May 19th. In my previous 10K race, the Joe Kleinerman 10K in Central Park, I completed the course in a time of 54:45 while averaging 8:46 per mile. To be fair, I had not trained all that much for this race as I had spent about two weeks following the NYC half-marathon recovering and easing back into running. In the weeks leading up to Scotland Run I got in a few 4 mile runs but was not feeling exceptionally fast. As a result, I did not have a particular target time for this race and was simply aiming for an improvement over my previous 10K best.
The Joe Kleinerman 10K started and finished on the east side around 102nd street and circumvented the park in a counter-clockwise direction. The Scotland Run was slightly different in that in started on the west side around 68th street and traveled clockwise around the park. Interestingly, I had never run the park in that direction so although all the sites were familiar, it felt somewhat strange to be running up sections I was used to traveling downhill and vice versa.
The weather on the day was perfect and I lined up in the 5000 corral. The early stages of the race felt slow and there was definitely some dodgy moments as I picked my way through a heavy crowd. Imagine my surprise then when my watch showed 8:30 at the first mile marker. With that as motivation I pushed on and knocked out the next two or three miles at an average pace of 8:10 – including the triple threat on the west side and the Harlem Hill. The east side provided some respite and allowed me recuperate slightly and hold back some reserves for the final push.
I kept the pressure on over the final couple of miles, and cresting the last hill, felt a wave of emotion come across me as the sights and sounds of the crowd at the finish line hit me. Although I suspected I was going to post a good time, when I glanced at my watch and saw I was on course to beat my previous time by three minutes I felt elated. The grin on my face as I crossed the line defied the pain I felt inside, but was just a reflection of how proud I felt about my accomplishment.
After spending the last year and a half based in Central Park, I’m moving my training runs to Prospect Park in a few weeks. Why so? On the personal side, things have been going extremely well with Jessica and we’ve decided to move in together. Our place in Boerum Hill is about a mile from Prospect Park, so most of my outdoor runs will be based there in the future. I’m sure I’ll miss the proximity to Central Park – especially on race days – but otherwise I’m looking forward to getting out of Manhattan.
A friend had mentioned the Brooklyn half-marathon a while ago and I was watching out for it on the New York Road Runners calendar. The race was listed as TBD for quite some time, leading to speculation among many in the running community about a change in date or course. Nevertheless, details of the race were published two weeks ago and the registration date set for March 26th. I was out of the country at the time, and arrived home that afternoon. Knowing the popularity of the race, one of the first things I did when I got home was to open the NYRR site and sign up for the race. Lucky I did, as the race sold out in a matter of hours.
Having completed my first half-marathon only a few weeks ago, I’m excited to do it all again. The course sounds very interesting and the finish, along the Coney Island boardwalk, is something worth looking forward to.