Hacking the park

IMG_5289

Team portrait (we were named by the individual in the middle)

A couple of weeks ago, I received one of those mysterious email invitations that cause those of us with suspicious minds to wonder if the offer is entirely on the up and up. Would I like to participate in an exciting event called “Hack the Park”? For free? With a guest of my choosing?

The only catch was – well, as far as I could tell, there was none. I was invited, but not required, to blog about the experience . . . and since I’m always on the lookout for blog fodder, why not?

I said sure, and invited one of my Prospect Park Track Club teammates to be my date.  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

Race report – Gaza 5K

gaza 5k

See how happy I am to be running “for the children”! (Photo credit: Monica Jorge)

I don’t normally do “cause” races – not that there’s anything wrong with them, they’re just not my thing. This particular cause, though, is close to my heart. The race benefited UNRWA community mental health programs for the children of Gaza, who’ve witnessed far too much death and destruction in their short lifetimes. Continue reading

Race report: the NYC Half experience

NYC half mile 12.75

So glad to see Andy. Even gladder this race is almost over. (Photo credit: Andy Wong)

The NYC Half is a race I swore I’d never run: too big, too expensive, too early in the year, too much of a pain in the ass. Then, late last year, I logged on to my New York Road Runners account and saw an utterly unexpected message congratulating me for having earned guaranteed entry to the 2016 NYC Half.

I caved immediately. Continue reading

Chasing Boston (part 10 – the end)

Still smiling after 22 miles - a personal record (Photo credit: Eric Brooks)

Still smiling after 22 miles – a personal record (Photo credit: Eric Brooks)

Well, I did it. I finished the New York City Marathon in 3:58:50, well under my Boston qualifying time of 4:10:00.

I’m not sure which makes me happier this morning: the fact that I’ll be joining Kathrine Switzer and a whole bunch of my friends in Boston on April 17, 2017, or the fact that I don’t need to run another marathon for almost a year and a half.

I didn’t achieve my most ambitious time goal, which is OK. Nor did I achieve my goal of negative splits. If I wanted to be hard on myself, as I often do, I’d describe the execution of my race plan as “start slow and finish slower.” If I were to cut myself some slack, I’d point out that this was the most evenly-paced marathon I’ve ever run, and that five of my fastest miles came in the second half.

I must be getting soft in my old age, because I’m inclined to cut myself some slack.

Besides – given my adventures in the medical tent at the finish line, no one could accuse me of not giving this race everything I had.

Here, then, is my race report.

Continue reading