Monthly Archives: March 2013

More Things I’ve Learned While in New York

A continuation of yesterday’s post:

13. New Yorkers love St. Patrick’s Day. Technically I already knew that, but still fun to see in person. And since there has been non-stop sirens since this morning’s parade, I think there are many people enjoying the occasion just a little too much.

14. Long term weather forecasts are just as accurate here as at home. I am sure the weather was supposed to be spring like, hence all the short sleeve shirts in our bags. Right now it is snowing.

15. If you are in FAO Schwarz don’t get too excited when you see the sign for the international candy. I checked it out thinking I would find some interesting chocolate. Instead I found Kit Kats, Aero Bars and Dairy Milk Bars.

16. Despite the fact you take your life in your hands, walking in this city is a blast. You can pick out the tourists because we all have a death grip on our children, but it is fun to force your way through the crowds and navigate the roads of Manhattan. Haven’t tried the subway system yet (and kind of want to avoid it during the St. Patrick Day celebrations that have started a day early), but I have to say this city is very walkable.

Tomorrow is race day. Not looking forward to the early morning, all the earlier now that I see how far back my corral is, making it that much farther from my hotel. I am pretty sure I will see the front runners finish their loop around the park before I get to start!

What I’ve Learned About NYC So Far

We have been in New York City now for a little more than 24 hours and here is what I have learned so far on my first visit to the Big Apple:

1. I LOVE Central Park!

2. Pedestrians here don’t really value their lives.

3. Cyclists value their lives even less than the pedestrians.

4. Don’t take it personally if an angry cab driver honks at you, they honk at everything.

5. Even if you stop your car for a pedestrian who is directly in front of you, the cars behind you will honk at you. Apparently the rules are you should take aim at the pedestrian.

6. The hand sign at intersections does not mean stop walking across the street. Here it means pause momentarily to contemplate the concept of stopping, then just go anyway.

7. Manhattan kids are dressed better than my kids.

8. Manhattan kids are dressed better than me.

9. Manhattan kids are dressed better than anyone I know (no offence to everyone I know).

10. The woman here wear very nice shoes, no matter the temperature or how much walking needs to be done. I am wearing my previous pair of running shoes that were used for 600km and you can tell that just by looking at them. They are, however, the most expensive pair of shoes I have ever owned.

11. There are many revolving doors in NYC. I know this because my children want to play in all of them. (And thanks to the NYRR guy at race kit pick up who politely reminded them that they need to be careful and not play in them)

12. I love this city! I am a country girl at heart, but if we ever win millions I want to rent an expensive Manhattan apartment for a summer and spend my days running in Central Park. I did an easy 4k run in the park today (plus kms of walking) and loved every minute. My opinion may change after the race and I have done all the hills, but right now I can’t imagine a better place to run. And I admit there was a little part of me that associated Central Park with crime scenes (based on watching t.v shows and movies…I know, they’re fictional) but it is a fantastic place to go for a solo run. There were runners and cyclists everywhere, even though it was still a work day. And in the Park I felt as though clothing-wise I actually fit in wearing my running gear. It is worth coming back just to run the paths of Central Park. Can’t wait for the race!

Almost There

The hard work is done and the NYC Half Marathon is almost here. Last week’s training went really well – so well in fact that it crossed my mind that maybe I had “peaked” too soon. But I keep reminding myself that no matter what, the adrenaline of the day will help carry me to the finish line.

So, what have I learned during the last three months of training?

1. Speed really does come at the end. I felt throughout my training that while my endurance increased, my speed diminished. Of course it is probably unfair to compare my speed when my goal was 5k races to my speed for half marathon training. But just this last week I became a fast runner again. “Fast” of course is all relative, but compared to the 6:05 min/km pace I was running so regularly (sometimes slower), it came as quite a surprise when a few days ago I ran a 5:39 min/km 10k, giving me a finish time only 15 seconds slower than my fastest 10k race. I did three runs this week at a faster pace than what I plan to do in N.Y, so hopefully as I work my way through hilly Central Park it will feel “easy” in comparison.

2. I think I learned to listen to my body this time around. I used John Stanton’s training schedule as a guide, but I also went with what my body felt like doing. When I ran that fast 10k I had not started the run with a plan to do that pace. In fact I had planned on a very slow, easy going pace. But once I got going, my body wanted to go faster. I told myself to slow down a couple of times, only to check my watch shortly after to find I was going faster still. Conversely, when I ran yesterday my legs felt a little heavy and tired. I quickly changed my goal to running only 4k rather than the planned 6. There was a time when that would have really bothered me, but now I feel ok with giving myself a bit of a break.

3. Speed isn’t everything. Obviously when you run, time becomes a big deal. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t all be running around with fancy GPS watches and obsessively tracking the results. At least I assume I am not the only one like that! But my biggest highs came not from my fastest runs, but from my most comfortable. Just over a week ago I ran 20k comfortably. Regardless of the time, that in my books is one heck of an accomplishment. It wasn’t that long ago when my goal was to run 3k without gasping for air and struggling to finish. What an amazing feeling to run that distance and feel confident that my body wouldn’t let me down. Not only that, but that I would feel good after the run. I can’t really ask for more than that!

4. And the final thing I learned? It may sound cliche, but I really can do anything if I put my mind to it. This time last year I said I would NEVER run a half marathon. Assuming I complete the race this weekend – change that – WHEN I complete the race this weekend, I will have run 3 half marathons in 5 months. Whether it is running or something completely different, I think we all need these challenges in life, something that makes us say, “Hey, I did this and I never thought I could!” Let’s face it, no matter how old we are, there is a kid inside of us looking for that pat on the back, that finisher’s medal, that sense of accomplishment. The kid inside of me is feeling pretty good right now 🙂

Last Long Run

Yesterday was my last long run before race day. I love the feeling of heading into the last long run. Even though it is not the actual end of the journey, it does kind of feel like an ending. The last two months have led to being able to run 21.1 km and yesterday I ran 20k. Not quite the full distance but enough to prove to myself that this is something I can do. The last long run is kind of like the dress rehearsal before the real production. At this point there really isn’t much to change or fix, no miracles are going top happen in the last 14 days.

So how was the long run? Amazing! I picked a route that would be somewhat dry after all our wet snow this week. Even more importantly I picked a route with only 2 potential places to have to stop for red lights. I wanted to have the opportunity to run with no walk breaks, something I have not done at that distance before. When I headed out it was cold and windy, much colder and windier than I expected. I admit I almost changed my route and thought maybe I should head into more sheltered roads. But then I remembered that on race day I have to deal with whatever the weather hands me, so I continued with my original plan. The route had a fair number of grade changes that I hope will help me be prepared for Central Park.

Without going into lots of boring details, lets just say I maintained a very steady pace in the first half, increased my pace in the second half, took no walk breaks (!!!) and finished in exactly 2 hours. I ended up running a faster pace than I planned, and certainly a faster pace than my training schedule suggests. I kept debating about whether or not I should slow down, but the thing was, the pace felt good…really good. At no time did I feel I was pushing myself harder than I should. I am not actually planning on running the NYC half at the pace I did yesterday, largely because all the advice I have been given suggests going easy in hilly Central Park and then picking up speed in the last half of the race. So I don’t want to push myself too much for speed in the park, only to have nothing left in the last half. I’ve also heard that the race is so crowded at the beginning that you can’t start fast even if you want to. So if I can come in under 2:12 (o.k – I would prefer under 2:10) I will be pleased. But yesterday, if I had continued for the last 1.1k, I would have finished in 2:06:36 – not my fastest, but very respectable. So my feeling is now, whatever happens on March 17th, this training session was a success. Even more so because today I woke up and didn’t even feel like I had had a long run. My body is not protesting, I am not moving slowly and I don’t feel like I, well…ran a half marathon. This is only the second time I have run that distance outside of a race (so four times in total) and I know the first time I was feeling it (translate that to I was HURTING). Today I am not hurting. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but all of this training is paying off. Like many things the progress is small enough to not always be aware of it, but it is happening. Now I feel like I can head to New York knowing that I have worked hard and made progress, even if I run a slower race than my previous two half marathons.

P.S I also realized half way through the run that if February were a regular month (30 or 31 days) yesterday would still have been part of my personal monthly best (see previous blog). So I have decided that my official monthly total – or should I say 30 day total – is actually 190km. WOOHOO!!!!!!!