Sunday, January 25, 2009

(Freezing) Cold Weather Racing
Race Report for the 2009 Manhattan Half Marathon

There are races you run for time, races you run for training, for practice, or just the experience, and then there are those races where the conditions are so tough that you run just to say you had the courage to start…

The alarm sounded at 6:00AM, and I turn, instinctively hit snooze and roll over to the cooler side of the pillow.

When it sounded again ten minutes later, I turned it off, sat up in bed and wondered why this eerie feeling felt so oddly familiar. Ah yes, but of course, we were in the exact same situation two weeks ago, when I bailed on my 5-mile race because it was 27F with a wind chill of 17F (You can check this post to refresh your memory). Well now, we were faced with the prospect of running a half-marathon in 16F with wind chill in the single digits. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper and had a million and one reasons for why I ought to go back to sleep (I’m not a freezing cold-weather runner, I had to work on my Grand Rounds presentation for tomorrow, I didn’t hydrate well yesterday, I didn’t sleep well during the night, yada, yada, yada) But then I remembered the phone conversation I had with my coaching protégé F.L. late last night when she told me she just finished her first ultramarathon in five and half hours, and I knew I had to get over my fear of the cold weather and prove to myself that I’m a better runner and a bit tougher than I give myself credit for. Besides, I knew I was prepared for this race, having gone outlet shopping for cold-weather gear a week ago and had 15 miles in them a day later. So I bundled up the best way I knew how, ate a yogurt and a banana, and left the apartment.

Outside, the weather was as cold and brisk as I had expected. Because the start of the race was located in the southwest corner of Central Park (whereas I lived close to the northeast corner), I had a long slow walk over to the start. Since I didn’t bring music along (I don’t race with music more out of habit than as a moral statement) I had a lot of time to think about things on my journey over to the start. I thought about my four goals for this race (1. Start; 2. Finish; 3. Run a course PR – 1:30:49; 4. Finish under 1:30). I wondered if there was a temperature limit below which this race would turn into a fun run. I questioned the sanity of the others who were walking with me to the start. I dared to ask if there’d be water at the aid stations (or just ice). I speculated whether they’d be anybody running in shorts (should’ve known better…I alone saw two). Mostly though, I thought about why on earth am I out here on this crazy cold day, subjecting myself to the elements, daring to run 13.1 on a course that I’ve done countless times before. Why am I punishing myself this way? Does anyone care that I’m doing this? Do I care?

I found my answer once I got over to the baggage area and saw the large crowd of runners who were already there, pinning their numbers, stretching on park benches, jogging around to warm up, chatting with neighbors about upcoming races and race strategies, everyone doing runner things that I can and do fully comprehend. And then I understood why I’m here…why the freezing weather and the negative self-doubts could not turn me away…I’m here because this is where I belong. I belong here because I’m a runner, nothing more and nothing less. So even though others will call me crazy (heck, I’d say I’m crazy!) I’m most comfortable running around Central Park with all the other crazies who are here with me today.

Once I got to my assigned corral, and the race started, the wind died down and everything progressed pretty smoothly. I ran pretty conservatively right from the start, knowing that I wasn’t running for a PR or a stellar time this go-around. Just starting and hopefully finishing was victory enough for me. However, this is not to say that the race was easy…not by any stretch of the imagination. Believe you me, by the second time you have to climb Cat Hill and Harlem Hill, you just want to shoot yourself in the foot if it means you don’t have to go up any further.

Perhaps, a look at my pacing for the race will give you all an idea of how it went for me…The important thing is that I came, I started, I finished, reached all my goals and took home a course P.R. All-in-all, it was a pretty awesome race experience for me.

Pacing By Miles
Mile 1 – 6:31 [Avg HR- 144; Max HR- 159] Around Southern Tip.
Thoughts: A nice conservative start. I like.
Mile 2 – 6:42 [Avg HR- 163; Max HR- 168] Cat Hill #1
Thoughts: Let’s take this slow. Don’t burn out in first loop.
Mile 3 – 6:36 [Avg HR- 163; Max HR- 169] Northeast Corner
Thoughts: Recovering some speed. I’m not so cold anymore.
Mile 4 – 6:56 [Avg HR- 165; Max HR- 174] Harlem Hill #1
Thoughts: Wow, that was tough. But still on pace for sub-1:30
Mile 5 – 6:46 [Avg HR- 170; Max HR- 173] West Side Hills
Thoughts: Can you believe F.L. ran up 4,000 ft of elevation?
Mile 6 – 6:38 [Avg HR- 168; Max HR- 173] End Loop #1
Thoughts: Loop 1 done. Gosh, why can’t this just be a 10K?
Mile 7 – 6:46 [Avg HR- 167; Max HR- 171] Around Southern Tip.
Thoughts: Are you serious? Walkers? Don’t let me join them.
Mile 8 – 6:59 [Avg HR- 167; Max HR- 173] Cat Hill #2
Thoughts: Must. Do. More. Hill. Training. That was tough.
Mile 9 – 6:41 [Avg HR- 165; Max HR- 167] Northeast Corner
Thoughts: I’m so tired. Can I take the next exit and go home?
Mile 10 – 7:14 [Avg HR- 167; Max HR- 173] Harlem Hill #2
Thoughts: I want to die…Now. Can I move any slower?
Mile 11 – 7:01 [Avg HR- 170; Max HR- 174] West Side Hills
Thoughts: C’mon…you’re moving like a pansy. Let’s finish this.
Mile 12 – 6:51 [Avg HR- 166; Max HR- 171] End Loop #2
Thoughts: I’m exhausted, but one more mile to go.
Mile 13.1 – 7:22 [Avg HR- 171; Max HR- 178] Last 1.1 Mile
Thoughts: Pushing hard for the finish. Luckily, didn’t hurl.

Final Statistics
Finishing Time – 1:29:06
Average Pace – 6:48; Age Graded % - 66.5
Overall Place – 231/4506 (5.1%)
Age Place – 51
Flyers Place – 3

Personal Records
Course PR (Previous: 1:30:49)
Fastest Half Marathon in Manhattan (Previous: 1:30:49)
Coldest Race Ever Started & Completed (Previous: 31F)
Coldest Half Marathon Ever (Previous: None Below Freezing)


Running and living said...

7:11...."Can I move any slower"...that would be "I am flying" for me. Congrats on braving the cold weather, and on setting a PR. Ana-Maria

Anonymous said...

That is one nice list of PR's! Congrats on a freezing and great race.

nyflygirl said...

Love the mile-by-mile commentary...great race!!

14 degrees is nothing...try 9 degrees in the 2005 Frostbite 7-miler :-p

see you at the awards gala?

Cowboy Hazel said...

Great job today! Glad to hear that you braved the cold and fought through it. Those runs always mean the most.

Meg said...

Congratulations!! I did 8 miles yesterday in similar weather and wouldn't have wanted to do any deserve a double congratulations for the weather!

audgepodge said...

Geesh - I felt chilly just reading your report! I love how sub-8:00 is slow - heehee. I think I ran that once when I was flying down a downhill! Congrats on getting a PR in such severe conditions

sara said...

congratulations on your new PR! i think just reading your race report made me cold ... it took me a mile to feel my feet when i ran the Philly Marathon in 25 degree weather.

aron said...

awesome job!!! way to hit all your goals and get over the cold fear! you are awesome :)

Andrew is getting fit said...

That's a lot of records! Happy Year of the Ox too btw!

Run For Life said...

Brrr, that's pretty cold! Congrats on obtaining all your goals and getting out there.

Mark said...

Well done!!

J said...

WOW congrats on a great race!! I loved the suspense in this report!

I have had those moments in races when I am like "Why didn't I run more hills??" Great job on getting out there! I love the thoughts from each mile!!

RazZDoodle said...

You probably trained outside, didn't you? Show off.

Nitmos said...

Nice job! A new Sub-Freezing PR!

A race so early in the year? Not for me. I'm waiting until May.

Chic Runner said...

Wow! Congrats on such a great race and a PR in such freezing conditions. How do you remember what your thinking at each mile. I try to and I can't! :)

Laura said...

Congratulations Lam! And your post was really inspirational - I loved when you were talking about just getting to the start and remembering why you run :)

Marie said...

Congrats on your PR! And way to get out there in the freezing cold. I just couldn't do it.

runner26 said...

great race! and great report!

you'll notice that our esteemed photog basically got a pic of me at a standstill?? i was not really moving too fast ;)

congrats again!!

Julianne said...

Lam, another great race and race report!!! Congrats on your course PR and breaking other PRs on this race, too. :-)

Erin said...

Wow, great job! I ran this too...did not appreciate the chunks of ice in the Gatorade.

Are you running the Bronx half?

sRod said...

See what I mean that no matter what the weather someone in Central Park will be running in shorts? People around here are crazy...although I'm crazy myself being out there to see them.

Good for you being out there. I just couldn't drag myself out to volunteer.

Oh yeah, and congrats on the PRs!!

Clicky Web Analytics