Watching the NYC marathon in Brooklyn – 2016 edition

img_4726

“What’s good?” – this post tries to answer that

Less than three weeks until race day on November 6!

If you’re running, this is high-anxiety time, when every training sin (workouts missed, long runs bailed on) comes back to haunt you; when thoughts of everything that could possibly go wrong run through your mind in a continuous loop (you fall off a stool while reaching for a high shelf and twist your ankle, you miss a connecting flight and are stranded in Atlanta, you contract food poisoning the night before the race); when your interpersonal relationships are strained by this obsession of yours that no one who’s not running quite understands.

But if you’re spectating along the course, as I will be this year, this is a fun time. Instead of visualizing the long climb up the Queensboro Bridge, you can visualize brunch spots; instead of obsessing over those twinges in your left calf, you can obsess over finding the best tacos in Sunset Park; instead of planning your best race, you can plan your best race day.

Last year’s guide was pretty popular, and I’ve gone through and made some quick updates and corrections to keep it useful for 2016. But because it was so much fun to do the research, I’ve been back out there running the marathon’s route through Brooklyn (in nice, manageable segments). In the process, I’ve found a whole bunch of additional places worth checking out.

So, here it is – the all-new 2016 edition of one Brooklyn runner’s totally idiosyncratic guide to where to eat, and what to do, along the NYC marathon course.  Continue reading

A nearly perfect race (the Bronx 10 Mile, 9/25/16)

image

Something I thought I’d never do: post a finishing medal photo

Sometimes, despite your best efforts at self-sabotage, things just come together on race day.

A bit of background here. I will always remember the 2006 Crim in Flint, Michigan, as a perfect race. It remains my personal record for 10 miles (1:07:38); I placed third in my age group in a competitive field, and was among the top ten masters (against Russians who were no doubt doping); I ran negative splits, with the last mile (a 6:20-something) my fastest.

Much has changed over the last decade. I went through cancer treatment and chemo-induced menopause. The Big Three automakers – and with them, the state of Michigan – almost went belly up. I gave up on racing for a time, got married and moved to Brooklyn. The city of Flint had an emergency manager imposed on it, stripping its elected officials of their authority (and its citizens of their political power), and ended up with a poisoned water supply. I joined a new running club here in Brooklyn and started racing again.

But racing now is different. Continue reading

Race report: Superfund, super fun (September 8, 2016)

img_4538

Pre-race. Is that red “stop” hand trying to tell us something?

Here’s a great idea. Let’s gather a group of runners at an otherwise deserted playground in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, at 10 pm on a Thursday night and instruct them to run from one of the nation’s most polluted waterways (Newtown Creek) to another of the nation’s most polluted waterways (the Gowanus Canal). Other than starting together and crossing the same finish, there’s no set route for the (roughly) 10K distance. It’s up to each runner to figure it out.

Sound like fun?  Continue reading

Spills and thrills – Percy Sutton Harlem 5K (August 27, 2016)

img_4443For the last race of the summer (as defined by Labor Day, not the autumnal equinox), I headed uptown to Harlem.

I had company from the start. A couple of PPTC teammates were entering the F/G station at the same time as me, and another two joined us shortly after that. We talked, mainly, about coffee. My insulated travel mug, which I’d filled before running out of the apartment so that I could sip my morning coffee on the train, was quite the conversation-starter.  Continue reading

Summer races – an omnibus report

IMG_4269

My #1 summer racing goal: NOT to require ambulance services

Here it is: an overview of my summer 2016 racing season, presented chronologically. Since I’ve fallen so hopelessly behind on race reports, I’ve stinted on the usual copious detail and tried to tease out broad themes instead.

NYRR Retro 4 Miler (June 4). The official theme of this race was running “old-school.” Sweat bands, “Stop Pre” t-shirts and pscychedelia abounded (kudos to the PPTC teammate who wore a vintage team singlet picked up at the Beacon’s Closet resale shop). Continue reading

Race report – the Brooklyn Half (May 21, 2016)

pptc post BK half

The track cat made it to the beach. (Photo credit: Andy Wong)

Runners who take racing seriously know the importance of race-specific training. Most training programs include the same basic components – short, speedy intervals; longer tempo runs at a fast but sustainable pace; hillwork; long, slow distance to build aerobic capacity – but the emphasis given to those components and the way they fit together will be different if you are training for the mile versus a 5K versus a marathon. Your training should mirror your goal race.

By that light, the race I’ve been training for these past few months would combine running and birding – by, say, subtracting the number of species seen over a 10-mile distance from your finishing time. I’m pretty sure I could kick ass in a race like that.

Unfortunately, the race I was actually running was the Brooklyn Half Marathon.  Continue reading

Race report – Scotland Run 10K (2016 edition)

post-Scotland Run

Don’t look for me in this photo – I’m not there (for reasons that will be explained). Photo credit: Christine Goh

Half the fun of New York Road Runners races is getting there, so it’s only right that this (tardy) report should begin with an early-morning train story.

Weekend construction-related service changes are the bane of racers, but for once, they broke in my favor. Not only did an F train come right away – it was skipping 14th and 23rd streets, turning its usual pokey course through Manhattan into something approaching express service.

IMG_4071

I used to be a morning person.

I settled into a mostly-empty car and closed my eyes. At Jay Street, a mother, father and adult daughter, all laden with suitcases, boarded. They headed toward the empty bench I was on, then stopped. Continue reading