Sunday, March 29, 2015

Guest Blogger: Enrique's NYC Half Marathon Race Report, March 15, 2015

Every once in awhile I ask one of my athletes to share a race report as a guest blogger here on Creating Momentum! Enrique has been doing fantastic work during the entire time I have known him, PRing race after race, running further and faster than he ever has before in training.  I have been hoping he would have some time to write up something for the blog someday. I feel very fortunate that he was kind enough to share his latest race experience with us all here!

Please enjoy this humorous Race Report by one of my most inspiration runners - Enrique! 


Pre Race: 6:30 A.M.

While walking together with my cousins from the parking lot on 65th street, we saw the first runners going towards the south end of Central Park. We barely made it just in time to drop our baggage on the UPS trucks. Baggage #12017 was the last bag thrown into the truck number 12.

As I turned to look for my cousins, I saw Saville. He was standing next to truck number 13 changing his shoes, holding on to Marissa's small shoulders. A moment later, his bag went skipping hands in midair until it landed behind the door of the truck.

From there we went behind the long lines to enter the park. The job that these people decided to accept was called Security. In this role, they were tasked with the frustrating job of frustrating others by slowly checking on every single runner using metal detectors. This security measure was implemented by communicating with the people only using facial expressions and hands gestures:
- Eye contact with a slight nod up with the jaw = "You are next"
- Circling the hand inward repeated a couple of times = "Come"
After a brief pause, the runner in front of Security takes a couple of steps to go across the machine. 
- Green dim light to the left of the runner = "This runner is safe to continue." 

So finally this person, this runner, who has already run 5 half-marathons throughout five boroughs in New York to qualify to enter this race... This runner who paid a $200 fee... This runner who transported himself across the river, under tunnels to pick up a number, a shirt and other paraphernalia to wear on race day without security checks…This person who got up in the middle of the night to drive in before dawn to get here early but had to wait along time in this line… This person is now finally deemed safe to enter the park and run. Thanks to what happened in Boston, long security lines like this for big races are happening.  But it just feels a bit misdirected, especially when this runner, who loves racing, and who has trained very hard for this race needs to find a port-a-potty and do a warm up and he would hate to miss the start! ;)   

- Last gesture is the repeated gesture of rolling the hand = "Permission to move forward." Finally!

Once finally past the security lines, I separated from my cousin and his girlfriend.  Needed that port-a-potty pit stop and warm up run. One mile at 13mm pace towards the corral. Made it just in time to hear the end of the National Anthem.

7:45 A.M.
Heard the gun for the second wave,
…  music blasting,
… female voice of the announcer cheering for the runners.

This group was anxious.

We slowly march towards the starting line. Set up my smart phone to start the GPS app.  Making sure the Garmin had a good signal. The pace was picking up.  Each step quicker than the step before until we are jogging. Everybody looking down for the blue and fuscia lines on the floor.  Left hands hovering over the right hands ready to start the Garmins.  In a single motion, the right foot steps over the rubber of the official timing mat, the left hand releases the button on the Garmin, quick look over to the official clock to know the delta. Head is up, heart is pumping the pre-programmed pace, lungs picking up the pattern.

The race has started!
Mile 1 (9:07): The starting line is placed conveniently on a downhill. With the excitement, runners will start faster than the desired race pace, but this allows the runners still in the corrals to start moving before they get to the line. I was comfortable running 9:30 to start the race. I was placed right behind the 1:55 pacer. Was thinking to get closer to the 1:50, but I have trained for negative-splits. Felt right being behind them. Had my first gel.

Mile 2 (17:28): The legs were loosening up. I took advantage of the down hills in the park but averaged a slow start.

Mile 3 (25:57): Decisions to make:, should I speed up on the flat surface leaving the park and use the big hill to rest? To climb the hill I had to slowdown, -- the decision was made, and went hard on the flat (7:55 mm avg pace). Walked the water station and took my electrolyte pill.

Mile 4 (34:31): The plan worked, slow climb up the Harlem hill and rested the muscle groups used on the flat terrain before. Gravity would take over on the other side, so the climb down was a series of long strides (resting again).

Mile 5 (43:12):  What?! The event clock was broken!! "Go with the flow" but people were passing me, checked the Garmin to see if I was fading. Nope. Actually people were pushing on the rolling hills of the park. More decisions. Mile 6 is flatter and then there is 7th Avenue downhill. Decided to hold the pace steady.

Mile 6 (51:42): Legs were going smoothly and feeling strong, the smell of the Tiger Balm was flowing. Time to let loose. The next 2 miles were the fastest portion of the whole race, …after that is 11th Avenue concrete awaiting us. Walked the water station.

Mile 7 (59:38): Was that the sound of my 10K record been broken? Wait a second, so I also broke my 5k record today. Nice. I was catching up to all the people that passed me before. The event clock was completely off, that screwed with my mental game. Have to mark the laps using the Garmin.

Mile 8 (1:07:01): Turned into 42th Street.  Wow! Look at all those people stuck in traffic! Checked the Garmin, 7:45 pace? Too fast! But feels right?... This is a downhill.  I can use mile 9 and 10 to recuperate and let loose again on mile 11. "Wow, that girl looks hot... I can catch up with her... she is going to be my rabbit! ..."

Mile 9 (1:15:07): The momentum from the previous mile carries me, couldn't slow down the legs. My rabbit was still pretty far ahead but within reach. Had my second gel, calculated that it would take 20 minutes to take effect, it would be 1:35 by then, so that would give me the energy much needed to do the final push.

Mile 10 (1:23:13): Caught up to the 1:55 pacer and left them behind. The distance between my rabbit and I was shorter. "Crap! I was suppose to use these 2 last miles to rest... Oh well, this is going to be over soon." … "Haven't seen an interesting sign today." … "These water stations are so filthy! In Tokyo you can run barefoot. Maybe I'll sign up for Tokyo again and run it barefoot, it is so clean! … FOCUS!" … "Where is my rabbit?"

Mile 11 (1:31:26): "Nice, this is going to be over in 16 minutes, let's push it and catch up with the 1:50 people."

Mile 12 (1:39:16): Started to pass people. I could see the sign of the 1:50 VERY far ahead of me. That sign is my NEW rabbit. Caught up to my old rabbit on the tunnel. No more stopping at the water stations. As I was getting out of the tunnel, that hill did a number on my legs. I raced my old rabbit on the hill, -- big mistake. I needed to slow down in that hill.  That would have been a nice 15 seconds rest to push for the last stretch.

Mile 13 (1:48:08): I could see the sign of the 1:50 pacer about 1 minute ahead of me. My old rabbit was 5 seconds ahead of me. Took a deep breath and while other people were celebrating and opening their arms, I was digging deep looking for that last sprint.

Mile 13.1 (1:51:10): Yes! New personal best. Caught up to my rabbit and congratulated her for a great and fierce race. We hi-fived and I went back to my life.

I find it very interesting that every time I checked on the Garmin, my pace was under 8, but, the average for almost every mile was on the 8’s except for miles 8 and 12, both of which were on the 7s.

This race was very re-assuring that I have a sub-4 within me, but I need to work more on the long runs to be able to maintain a sub-4 pace for that long.

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