Saturday, May 17, 2008

Completing the Trifecta - 3:10/1:30/40
Race Report from the Healthy Kidney 10K

Ever since I completed The Best Run Ever (Part I) last August, I had it in my head that in order for me to consider myself a pretty decent…okay, a good…all-around runner, I needed to complete the Trifecta of road racing. What is the Trifecta? you ask. Well, I consider the Trifecta as a 3:10 marathon, a 1:30 half-marathon, and a 40:00 10-K. Each of these accomplishments are significant in its own right, but being able to claim success in all three of these endeavors would speak volumes about my versatility as a runner.

Going into this year, I knew I had problems with my short game. There was really no reason that I completed the first two legs of my trifecta on my first attempt at each of those distances last year but couldn’t break through the 40:00 mark for the 10K after four or five attempts! I realize it’s a bit faster than the equivalent race times for the longer distances, but still, I’ve been hoving around the 40-41 minute mark for more than a year and with the gains I’ve made in my other race distances, it’s a joke that I cannot improve on my 10-K time. Finally, I told myself, enough was enough, and embarked on an intense training regimen for the past two months, geared specifically to building speed and stamina for this 10K road race.

What is to follow then, my friends, is the aftermath of my training, and my response to all those critics (namely Me, Myself, and I) who’ve ever doubted that I’d ever run fast enough for long enough to break 40. I’d like to call it “Breaking the Speed Barrier”. You can call it the “Race Report from the Healthy Kidney 10K” if you need to be objective about it.

My Apartment [6:30AM] – It’s two and a half hours before the start, one hour before my alarm is set to go off and I’m already awake. Today is Saturday. What’s wrong with me? My mind is requesting a return to its peaceful slumber while my body is already anxious to get up. Suddenly, I remember that I hadn’t yet charged Rover (my Garmin). In less than two seconds I’m standing and scrouging through my athletic bag for my digital pet. I find it snuggling next to a half-eaten banana that I’d left for a snack but had forgotten to eat. It wasn’t until it lit up again during the charge that I was able to breathe a little easier. As I proceeded to head toward the bathroom to wash up, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d have been better off with a real pet instead.

The Corner Deli [7:20AM] – I’m waiting in line for my standard race day breakfast - toasted poppyseed bagel with cream cheese. The store manager takes my order, translates it to the guy working behind the stove in a language I don’t understand and sits back down.

“You going running today?” he asks me staring at my blue tech shirt with matching bandana and matching shorts.
“Yeah, there’s a race today in Central Park.” I offered, walking over to the fridge at the back of the store to grab a Gatorade.
“What is this ‘Laminator’? What does it mean?” he asks when I’m back at the counter.
I let out a smirk. He must have caught a glimpse of the back of my race shirt as I was walking away. I am quite proud of this shirt really, it’s the only one I own that is customized for me. It has the word LAMINATOR written in big bold lettering across the back uniform-style.
“It means one who runs really really fast…in Chinese!”

Walk To The Start [8:00AM] – Hallelujah, the weatherman is wrong again! I’m walking slowly toward the race start at the southeast corner of Central Park. All week, they’ve been forecasting winds and heavy rain for this morning. But as I look up at the sky, the only rain we had must have stopped overnight and the only winds I feel are the artificial ones whipped up by the speedy bikers passing by. In the distance, I see large crowds start to gather and my stomach starts to feel wheasy.

At The Start [8:50AM] – Damn, I’m late! There’s still ten minutes left to the start of the race, and yet I’m already stuck way in the back of my corral. What the heck is this? I thought by virtue of my three digit race number signifying my right to start in the front, I should be right near the front. Instead, I’m stuck behind several hundred people because some runners with bib colors other than dark blue have slipped in to the corral from the sides and now were intermixed with our group. I inched forward by a couple of rows, but then decide it’s not worth the aggravation. As I wait anxiously for the start, I close my eyes and focus on my race mantra for the day – Run within yourself! You can do this!

Mile 1 [6:18] – In roadracing, as in poker, it’s sometimes better to be lucky than good. By the time I passed the first mile marker, I was convinced I was the luckiest runner in the race. Right out of the starting blocks, the guy next to me made an aggressive move and got his legs caught in the pothole next to the curb. Ouch! Then at the quarter-mile mark, the runner right in front of me slips on the wet pavement and collapses face-first to the ground! Since stopping was not an option in a stampeded of runners all moving in excess of 9 m.p.h., I take a leap of faith and hurdle over. Fortunately, I land safely on the ground on the other side. The guys right in back of me weren’t as lucky though as I heard the sounds of more than a few runners tumbling behind me. Yet, even after the lucky breaks, this mile was not without its troubles for me. Somewhere midway through, just as I was about to summit over a hill, my shoelaces become untied! Aarrgghh…such a rookie mistake, I thought to myself as I struggle over to the grassy area to fix them.

So with all of that, to finish my first mile with that time at that pace without injury, was inadvertently exactly where I wanted to be.

Mile 2 [6:17] – In my head, I was excited because I was running comfortably at a blistering pace. In my heart though, I felt I’d let my team down because more than 50 people must have passed me by as I was tying my shoelaces. Since this was the first race that I entered as a Flyer, and it also happens to be an important point race where timing ultimately isn’t as important as your place in the standings, I couldn’t help but wonder if my one mistake would end up costing the team collectively. I fought hard during this part of the course to regain some ground against the competition. Running through the rolling west side hills, I was amazed by how fast my legs were moving even though I thought I was still breathing comfortably. I glanced down at Rover to see an average HR of 180! Okay, maybe not! As I was running fast in one particular section, some guy I just passed yells out “Laminator” in a weird drawn out voice. I looked back to make sure he wasn’t someone I knew, yelled back “You know it!” and sped up just a little bit more just in case he had any ideas of passing me back. I am glad to report that he was not to be heard from again for the rest of the race.

Mile 3 [6:18] – Harlem Hill, we meet again. Although we’ve battled many many times before, I vow that THIS time, things would be different. I vow that THIS time won’t be like the LAST time, when you sucked so much life out of me that I lost the will to fight the rest of the course. You see, Hill, unlike LAST time when I was fresh out of my winter slumber and not so used to the trickery of your ways, THIS time, I have been practicing, mindlessly subjecting myself to your punishment time and time again, day after day. And although many fellow runners would have me believe that running you in a counterclockwise direction was generally more acceptable, I have continued to take the direction less traveled on each and every speed run in order to familiarize myself with your repretoire. And although you won’t acknowledge it, even you must be surprised at the ferocity with which I’m attacking your roads; sliding up and down with relative ease, like a brush on canvas. I don’t think you’ve ever seen me run these parts at this pace. C’mon, admit it. You are a little worried. From now on, Hill, please do not attempt to question my sanity, break my spirit or use fatigue as a fulcrum to your mischievous ways. Let’s be clear. That LAST guy who used to be scared to come by this parts LAST year does not run here no more. In his place, will be THIS guy, the new Laminator, and oh, he is so NOT afraid!

Mile 4 [6:46] Ouch! Maybe my battle with Hill took more out of me than I thought. Finishing up the hill and running along the Upper East Side of the park was akin to physical torture. A few people were passing me now, which isn’t really helping. Never mind I spilled the cup of water I grabbed at the last water station all over myself and almost tripped and fell when I attempted to grab another one, or the fact that my heart rate average has climbed into the mid-180s, Rover’s letting me know that I am still way ahead of my PR pace. Although in my mind, I wanted to run competitively and score well for the team, I also know that I’d burn out very quickly and ruin my changes for a PR if I am not careful. Suddenly, I remember what I’m supposed to do in situations like this. Run within yourself. You can do this! I slow down a bit and decide to take a more conservative approach for the rest of the race.

Mile 5 [6:23] Breathing a little easier now, and speeding down Cat Hill less than 1.5 miles away from the finish, I suddenly come to the realization that I’m actually having fun. It is a weird feeling to have at that exact portion of the race. Physically, I’m fatigued, achy, somewhat dehydrated, and want so much for it to be over. Emotionally though, on so many levels, I was euphoric and didn’t want this feeling to end. For one thing, I was running a PR race on a perfect Saturday morning on my way to possibly completing the Trifecta, which I’ve dreamed about all winter. Secondly, I was thrilled to have inspired some old and new friends (Hi sRod!) to join me in this race. Thirdly, I’m not even running just for myself, but as part of a team that I’m so proud to be a part of. Lastly, with the completion of this race, I think I finally have the confidence to believe that I’m a good runner…which as you all know, is an idea that I’m not very comfortable with.

Mile 6.2 [7:42] Coming up around the bend now, I try to summon up whatever’s left at the tank, but gas is expensive these days and fuel is running on empty. All I could muster up was about a 6:28 pace for the last mile. It seems like my body was content to just coast to the finish. Then, right at 400m mark, I can see the last of the turns leading to the finish at Tavern on the Green. In front of me, I see a pack of five girls about 10-15 feet in front. I’d been chasing their tail for the past half mile, but no matter what pace I went, they all seemed to be just a little faster than I was. Suddenly, at the 200m mark, I can see the finish, and the huge crowds gathering on both sides. In almost every other situation, I am a strong proponent of “Ladies First”, but right then at that moment, something about crossing the finish line a step behind five girls with hundreds of spectators watching really really bothered me, so I reached back and gave all I had in a dead sprint to nip them all at the finish.

It wasn’t until about 20 seconds later, when I finally regained my breath, that Rover and I were able to celebrate!

Final Stastics
Finishing Time – 39:44; (PR by 0:43)
Pace –
6:24; Age Graded % - 68.1%;
Overall Place – 272/6273 (4.3%); (BTW, Bib number was #271)
Gender Place – 241/3438 (7.0%);
Age Place – 88/2386 (3.7%);

Trifecta complete!


Irish Cream said...

Hell yeah! Way to go, Lam! Congrats on a great race (and per usual, a fabulously entertaining race report)!

Reid said...

Sweet! Way to go, Lam! That is so great. I am in awe. This trifecta, although never really thought of this way, is also a goal of mine. Not sure when I'll be doing another 10k, but I will do it. Congrats on the HUGE PR!

Andrew is getting fit said...

Way to go! Loved your race report and congrats on the trifecta!

mom2beccaNallie said...

Wow, you are fast. Glad you survived the bumps and bruises in the beginning miles. Congrats on the new PR and the ultimate trifecta:)

The Gods were upon us as the weather for the race could not have been better!!

DebbieJRT said...

fantastic! Congrats on getting your trifecta.

Reluctant Runner said...

Congratulations on a fantastic finish and a really gripping race report. Love the "brush on canvas" image"!

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Trifecta? Wow. That's pretty sweet. My goals are usually to finish :D

Run For Life said...

Wooo hooo!!!

Jamie said...

Nice job on the trifecta. Very impressive!

audgepodge said...

Way to go! Thanks for the entertaining race report.

mom2beccaNallie said...


I still can't believe how hilly the Healthy Kidney 10K course was. Until that race, I thought my brother was kidding me when he said Central Park is filled with hills (and rolling hills).

My first race in the Park was the Colon Cancer 4M, and he warned me that there was a big hill at mile one (also known as Cat Hill). Well, as we were running, I'm thinking this is flat and easy. We came upon Cat Hill, and before I knew it I saw the statue of the Cat, and it was over. I laughed and said, you call that a hill? LOL I was kind of embarrassed, as I could hear people around me panting. But till the Healthy Kidney race, training here in Centerport (very hilly), made that one hill seem like nothing.

Guess it was kind of a cruel joke on his part, but he did not prepare me for the hills of the HK course, and though they didn't beat me, I wasn't able to run this course as I had worked myself up to on the 4mile course (all out).

But, I will be much better prepared in the future for 'any' course that happens in Central Park from now on:)

I do hope to complete a trifecta of my own sometime in the future:)

Viper said...

Great job on your badassary! My trifecta is more along the lines of Johnnie Walker, Bushmills and Old Crow, but I guess we have different goals.

Xenia said...

Congrats on your new PR and your trifecta! Never doubt it, you are truly a great runner.

nyflygirl said...

congrats on completing the trifecta! :) and good to see that I am not the only one who named my Garmin (though "Mr. Garmin" isn't quite as original!)

FYI-those people who didn't have blue bibs that may have been in front of you at the start were the "local elite" corral-for points races, those runners who have achieved a 72% AG or higher get that start. So something for you to shoot for!! :)

jb24 said...

Congrats on the PR! There were several PRs from members of the Thursday night running group. Also kudos on completing your "trifecta" - that is quite a herculean effort. I'd be happy to complete one third of your trifecta in my lifetime. See you on Thursday.

sRod said...

Did we run the same race??? Congrats gain man.

Debbie said...

What a great race! I like the better to be lucky than good comment on the first mile. Awesome job!!

Trakmaniak said...

1) you name your garmin? Rover? Oh my….
2) Laminator – come on…give us the true meaning…not a tease like “It means one who runs really really fast…in Chinese!”…man I really need to go back to learn Chinese then...
3) your blue tech shirt with matching bandana and matching shorts – ok…see I don’t match up my bandana’s to my shorts and shirt…so your good with that. Wheew…how many colors do you have?
4) Nice Triple crown…you deserve it. Means that you’re an all around runner…and congratulations on completion of your triple fecta!
5) Even with all the troubles that you had you had a great race…damn! How fast can you really go without those issues? Hmm…faster?
6) Umm the whole number thing of being one number off of your bib…that is a little freaky there….but I’ll give it to you…
7) Believe…damn son! You can’t believe that you are a good runner…you got to be kidding me. You’re a really good runner…welcome to the goods of our club, you passed me already…

Anonymous said...

Awesome job and a great race report. What a great running goal (maybe I need to come up with something similar?).

I know what you mean about waking up way before you need to on race day. It's hard to keep the excitement and nervousness in place.

You rocked it! Congrats!

What did you do to celebrate?

MissAllycat said...

Nice PR! Sounds like it was a great race. Congrats!!

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one that named my Garmin (mine is Carmen). :)

Nothing like the fear of getting "chicked" to put a little extra gas in the tank! ;)

Nitmos said...

Excellent. Does the trifecta come with any cash rewards?? Nice recovery after the hill speed bump. What's you have a 5k goal you want to break to make this a four-ecta?

P.O.M. said...

Saaah-Weet~! (aka sweet!)

Did you really say "It means one who runs fast in Chinese?" That is hilarious!

Jillian said...

Wow! The Trifecta! You've officially inspired me. Loved your RR and way to go on your PR!

Robert W. said...


Congratulations on a great race and a great race report.

I particularly liked your conversation with Harlem Hill. My conversations with it have been shorter, less entertaining, and involved words that don't belong on a family-friendly blog.

Congrats again!

Betsy said...

Well done, Lam! I recently had a very similar conversation with a hill during a race. We can take those punk hills!

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