Race Report: Rockland 5 Mile Turkey Trot

In which I submit another race report and extoll the virtues of Tivo, dessert and sleep.

Yesterday was my second running of this Thanksgiving Day race, the Rockland Road Runners’ Turkey Trot. The weather was wonderful for running: upper 40s, overcast, no wind to speak of. The good conditions yielded a much bigger turnout as compared to last year: 1400+ runners. The Elvis impersonator looked much happier to be there this year too.

This was the second of three races I’m running in as many weeks, and the one I care about the least. I did an easy 10 miler on Wednesday, so I knew my legs wouldn’t be as “fresh” as they could be yesterday morning. Still, in relative terms, this was my best race so far — slightly better than the 10K in Nyack last weekend. New 5 mile PR — 36:41.

I know the course was a bit easier than in Nyack, because my heart rate was at around 91-92% max throughout the race. It was 92-93% max last weekend. (What did people do before heart rate monitors?) I was aware, while running, that I could have pushed harder, but I just didn’t want to. Although one woman passed me at around mile 3 and stayed five seconds or so ahead of me all the way to the finish. She was driving me a bit crazy, as each time I caught her, she’d open up the space again. Turns out she was in my age group.

Speaking of which, I missed an age group award by two slots and about 1:20, which was fine. I would have been surprised to have won anything given the field size, especially coupled with my “I just don’t feel like running faster” racing strategy. Jonathan won his again, however, with a time of 31:14. Sir Speedy.

We followed up with an early dinner out in Tuckahoe, capped by some lovely cake and dessert wine at home. Then collapsed into bed at around 9PM for ~10 hours of sleep. A couple of party animals, we are.

Three days of quiet await me, with only recovery runs and a Sunday 18 miler to punctuate them. I may go see a movie. But today I’m inside avoiding the Black Friday madness.

I did acquire a new toy recently: a Tivo DVR. We missed television coverage of the NYC marathon earlier in the month, since we were on a plane back from Nevada at the time. Plus there’s stuff on at odd hours that I can’t watch, either because I’m asleep, running or engaged in that incredibly inconvenient, time-sucking activity known as “working.”

It’s a useful gadget, although a bit overenthusiastic about auto-recording things it thinks you’ll be interested in. For example, it had us pegged for fans of the ’80s sitcom “Full House” and elk hunting programs. I have no idea why. At least you can refine it by programatically saying things like, “Never grace my cathode ray tube with the likes of John Stamos or Bob Saget again! Anon!” The upside is that I now have about 10 hours of English Premier League and Euro Cup 2008 Football awaiting me, plus a bunch of movies.

The best part? You can pause television, and there’s an “easter egg” that allows you to set up the remote so you can skip 30 seconds ahead at a time. This enables you to zip through several minutes of commercials in just a few seconds. That is worth the price of admission alone.

Next up: the Hot Chocolate 15K in Central Park next Saturday. I’m going to taper a bit for that one because I do care about how I do in that race. Next week’s a recovery week too, which means lower mileage, so my legs should be in better shape on Saturday. My goal is to run it in under 1:11:00. It’s not an easy course — plus there are always wildcard factors like wind — we shall see. Last year’s field was 4,000+ people, including lots of fast middle aged women…names I’m starting to see over and over again, in fact!

Yesterday’s splits:

Mile 1          7:25
Mile 2 7:10
Mile 3 7:07*
Mile 4 7:22
Mile 5 7:07

Finish time 36:41

Average pace 7:20

*When I first started racing two years ago, I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be able to run this fast.

Race Report: Nyack Hospital 10K

We ran the Nyack Hospital 10K race yesterday. Nyack is a charming little village just over the Tappan Zee bridge, in Rockland County. Aside from a 10 MPH wind from the west, it was a good day for racing: cold and partly sunny.

Nyack is situated on a hill overlooking the Hudson river, and after getting a look at the course and elevation map, I have to admit that I was apprehensive. I don’t like going out a lot faster than my target pace. But almost the entire first half of the race is downhill (the first mile being quite a steep descent), then the second half is flat to uphill (with two particularly steep ascents at approx. miles 2.75 and 4.5). So I opted to run as fast as possible for at least the first couple of miles, try to stick to a 7:30 or lower pace in other places, and slow a bit before the two hills so I could make it up them without going into oxygen debt.

I ended up really enjoying the course. It was a blast to be able to race along for the first couple of miles, then have the mental challenge of the uphill second half. I didn’t make my ultimate goal time of 46:00, but I did make my “good enough” goal of 47:00.

And the results are in! The good news is that my work over the past few months is starting to pay off. I won my age group category (40-49) and came in sixth female overall. So I’ve collected what I hope will be the first of many cheap trophies. It was a small race (199 people), but still…

Jonathan did pretty well too, winning his age group and coming in fifth male overall.

Power couple!

Thursday is the next race — a 5 miler that I’ve done once before. Also a somewhat challenging course: steep or rolling hills for the first two miles, then pancake flat for the remaining three. Much bigger crowd, though. In foul weather last year, it attracted close to 1,000 runners.

Yesterday’s splits:

Mile 1          6:47
Mile 2 7:14
Mile 3 7:45
Mile 4 7:32
Mile 5 8:05
Mile 6 7:33
Mile 6.2 1:52

Finish time 46:51

Average pace 7:32

Road Tested: Pearl Izumi Shine Wind Mitts

Since I’ve been trying to lose weight AND up the mileage, my wine consumption has dropped off dramatically. This has resulted in a reduced amount of money being spent every month on wine. But I’ve determined that what used to go for wine is now being spent on running shoes, clothing and other accessories. I wonder if I can deduct these purchases as “necessary medical expenses.”

I have a thin pair of running gloves (don’t know the make since I cut off the chafing tags), but they’re not quite warm enough when the temperature drops below freezing. So yesterday we took a trip to the Westchester Road Runner to do some glove shopping. $72 later, we were the proud owners of a pair of Pearl Izumi Shine Wind Mitts (say that a few times in a row: “shine wind mitts”; doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?) and Brooks Vapor Dry Gloves. Fortunately, our hands are similarly sized, so we can get away with glove sharing, as long as we don’t run at the same time.

I tried out the Pearl Izumi’s today on my long run (19.2 miles). The wind chill temp out at the start of my run was 21 degrees (Farenheit). The gloves were perfect for this weather. I even used the little pull out mitts that slide over the fingers when it got windy. They’re comfortable, windproof and short enough that they don’t interfere with my hulking Garmin 305 watch.

Once the temperature got up to the low 30s (again, wind chill temp), I swapped them for my lighter no-name gloves. I don’t know how water resistant the Pearl Izumi’s are, but they were great for a cold, windy day like today.

Haven’t tried the Brooks gloves yet. They’re thicker (and waterproof), so I’ll wait for a day in the teens or lower to try those. At the rate the temperature’s been dropping lately, it should be “temperature: Pluto” by next month…

Potpourri post

Just a random post to check in.

The big news of the past week was, of course, the big two races in New York: The mens 2008 olympic trials, during which elite runner Ryan Shay died. What can you say that hasn’t already been said about this? It’s just very sad.

The other big event was the NYC marathon, for which Paula Radcliffe staged a spectacular comeback. And Gete Wami came in second to win the World Marathon Majors — netting her a purse of half a million greenbacks — just 5 weeks after winning the Berlin Marathon. That’s called “running for the money.”

Since my last post, I recovered from the dreadful cold and took a quick trip out to Las Vegas. Since I’m so lazy, I’ll just point to my sister’s blog post about this fabulous family trip.

I will add that we did two runs while there, an 8 miler and a 15 miler. Las Vegas is hands down the worst place I have ever run. We basically did a huge circle in both cases, with the famed Strip in the middle. But all the streets are 6-12 lane jobs, so it’s incredibly noisy and the air is filthy with exhaust. The average humidity is something like 6% most days, so you’re constantly dehydrated. No wonder we only saw one other runner. Probably another idiot tourist.

At the conclusion of the longer run, we managed to get trapped behind a 64 acre construction project while trying to get to Dean Martin Blvd. We ended up getting rescued by hotel security, who had to drive us back to our hotel. That was pretty comical.

This week was spent getting over jet lag and ratcheting up the mileage yet again. The week’s not over yet, but barring disaster I should top out at 70 miles this week, which I’ll hold for three weeks, followed by a recovery week. And that’ll be it for the base building phase. It’s hard to believe I ran 26 miles during the week in June that I started this oddysey. I was looking over my running logs and found that in 2006 I averaged just 20 miles per week. My marathon training was around 40. And until I started base building in June, my 2007 average was 30 miles per week.

It’s amazing how adaptable the body is. These days, a 10 mile run is like a four mile run used to feel. In fact, it’s now my favorite distance. It takes about an hour and half and I’m pleasantly tired at the end, and very relaxed. So that’s my favorite run of the week (this may also have something to do with the fact that I do this one on Fridays). I’m wondering what my favorite “no big deal” distance will be a few months from now — 12? 14? 16?

No injuries so far, knock wood. I’m hyper vigilant to the point of paranoia. The past two days I’ve had very slight, intermittent shin discomfort on one side. So no progressive long run on Sunday, just an easy 18 miles. I monitor my resting pulse every day and run very easy if it’s more than 4 beats above normal. And I’m sleeping like a fiend some nights. If I need 9+ hours, I sleep 9+ hours. Going to bed at 9 o’clock does feel a bit weird, though. I suppose I can use the writers’ strike as an excuse soon.

The weather has been fabulously cold in the mornings — mid-30s, which is perfect for me. And there are more races than I can run to choose from in the next three weeks. Next weekend I’ll either do the Nyack Hospital 10K or the Mamaroneck 5 Miler. Haven’t decided on which one yet. Then a 5 Mile Turkey Trot in Rockland (if the weather isn’t horrible like last year). And — again, weather permitting — the Hot Chocolate 15K in Central Park on December 1, two days before I kick off my 18 week training program.

Finally, we’ve decided that in light of the fact that we’re both trying to “lose what we won in Las Vegas” (no, not money; just a few extra pounds), we’re going to go out for Thanksgiving dinner at a local place (An American Bistro in Tuckahoe) rather than make a bunch of stuffing and other food that will further derail us as “leftovers.” I’ll probably do turkey and trimmings for Christmas, but within reason.

So there you are. Race reports to come.