Saturday, November 26, 2005

Knickerbocker 60k Race Report

Knickerbocker 60k, Central Park, NYC, 8:30am

Temperature(Humidity): 32F(27F)-39F(34F),54%-33%

I was going to be in NY for the thanksgiving weekend so I skimmed through the NYRR calendar to see if they had anything I could use to burn my Thanksgiving dinner. I would have probably missed the Kickerbocker 60k on the calendar but I remembered Amy's report from last year (so she is kind of responsible for leading me to the dark side ;) ). I had wanted to run an ultra sometime in my life so this seemed like a good time to get the monkey off my back.

The conditions on race day were pretty chilly. It ended up being in the high 20s-30s with the wind chill, but when I woke up I found myself wondering why in the world I was abandoning my warm bed to even think about running 60k somewhere... Finally, I did take the train into the city and made it to the NYRR office. I was one of the first ones to get there so I ended up spending quite a bit of time people watching. The folks coming in seemed pretty hardy. I heard someone talking about how they enjoyed going on 32 mile runs on the trail that passed by their house :O Hmmm... what was I doing here again?

The Race:

The race comprised of one 1.46 mile out and back, and nine 3.98-mile loops around Central park. I'm pretty sure we ended up running more than that since we had to share the course with the others. However, I bet this is no biggie in ultras. I'm sure everyone ends up tacking on a little more especially in trail ultras. Luckily, I had got in some hill training for Steamtown so the rolling nature of the course didn't bother me. In fact being able to use different muscle groups probably was a good thing over 37+ miles.

I would have preferred to run in shorts and a T but I was forced to tack on another layer of longs both on the top and bottom. I decided to run without gloves so my fingers ended up getting numb in no time. Though it did warm up after a couple of hours before cooling down towards the finish.

When the race started everyone seemed to dash off as if they were just running a marathon ;). So after the first short loop I found myself right at the back, jostling for the last positions with an old lady who looked about 70-100 years old (hence forth referred to as old fit competitive lady: OFCL). Though out the first big loop OFCL and I seemed to be "racing" each other - I passed her on the uphills, she passed me on the downhills; I passed her on the turns, she passed me on the straights. The lady just couldn't let go :O Finally, at the end of the loop I though I had gotten past her. My strategy for the run was to try and run non-stop for as long as possible except for 20-30s walks at the water stops of each 3.98 mile loop to get in the fluids properly. As I stopped for water, OFCL pulled a Joan Bernoit Samuelson move from the '84 Olympics! She skipped the water stop! So the second loop was a repeat of the first loop. Finally, towards the end of the loop she gave in. I noticed that she had started panting. I hope this did not cost her the race. I did end up looping her later on. I passed and looped many others during the run but there was no one else like OFCL. I bet she has quite a story. When I'm her age I don't think I'll even be able to walk a mile.

I had wondered if running nine, four-mile loops would get a bit monotonous. However, I had never run in Central park(or Manhattan) before so it was kind of nice. After a bit I guess I had just zoned out and it would not have mattered even if every mile were different. For a lot of the race I ran on my own but for some parts I drafted off three different guys at different points. Each of them maintained a steady pace before I had to pass them. At the finish I introduced myself to them and complemented them on their race and pacing. I also tried to draft off a cute female but she soon started walking :( As expected there were no spectators but the folks getting in their runs at Central Park were awesome. They could relate to what we were trying to do and were constantly cheering us. Their cheers gave me quite a boast. A lady on a walk remarked to her friend - "This must be another Turkey trot". I am not surprised! After the thanksgiving dinner I bet we looked like turkeys and at the pace we were running at, we must have looked like turkeys trotting :)

Personally, I think going into the run I was pretty intimidated by the distance. At the halfway point I remember thinking "Ok. So I've gotten to the half. Great - now I've JUST got another 18.64 miles more to go." I tried to split my race into thirds and concentrate on each part. I also though about other landmarks to keep at it - the half marathon point (at 2:00), crossing my previous longest run (at 3:32), the marathon point (3:58), the 27 mile point etc. I was talking to a couple of experienced ultra runners at the end of the race and they mentioned that while a 50k race was slightly different from a marathon, at the 60k point there was a noticeable difference. I could surely relate to this during the run.

At the end I could not have been more satisfied with the way things went. I jumped into this race on a whim. I had done no specific ultra training. My longest run before this was 26.2 miles/3:32 hrs. I had just run Richmond two weeks back at race effort. Therefore, I had expected to hit the wall at some point and spend quite a bit of time walking. Being able to run all the way through was great! In fact each third of the run was faster than the previous third. It's good to be able to cross off the "run an ultra-marathon" off my TO DO list. I doubt I'll be running another ultra anytime soon. The JFK 50 miler sounds ... Hey, I didn't say that :O Don't put words into my mouth!


1-2 : 9:18(150), 9:13(156)
3-6 : 9:13(154), 9:03(164), 8:47(158), 9:30(158)
7-10 : 8:57(157), 9:01(159), 8:43(158), 10:05(157)
11-14: 9:07(157), 9:08(162), 9:02(161), 9:11(162)
15-18: 8:58(161), 9:00(162), 8:41(161), 9:58(161)
19-22: 8:44(165), 8:49(169), 8:32(165), 8:52(167)
23-26: 8:54(167), 9:09(169), 8:55(169), 9:13(168)
27-30: 8:29(168), 8:38(171), 8:26(172), 8:50(173)
31-34: 8:56(170), 8:42(175), 8:21(173), 9:14(172)
35-38: 8:52(169), 8:47(175), 8:20(173), 7:33(178)

Garmin : 38.02 miles - 5:39:39 @ 8:56, Avg HR- 165
Official: 37.28 miles - 5:39:39 @ 9:07
First 3rd: 1:56:13 @ 9:10
Second 3rd: 1:53:52 @ 8:59
Last 3rd: 1:49:34 @ 8:39


OA: 21/87(finishers), 110+ starters
Male: 20/69, AG: 6/11

For the rest of the year I intend to take some R and R time and then decide if I want to run a spring marathon. My main goal for 2006 is to spend atleast six months training properly for a fall marathon to see if I can get a reasonable PR and get closer to a BQ. I have not seen much improvement in my first six marathons (MCM '04-3:27, Philly '04-3:25, Boston '05-3:29, VCM '05-3:32, Steamtown '05-3:18, Richmond '05-3:23). There's even more work to do on my official PRs for the other distances half: 1:37, 10k: 43:30, 5k: 20:38! So that's about it for my last race report of the year. It's been a great ride for the last 13 months - my first six 'thons and my first ultra :x

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Richmond Marathon Race Report

Richmond marathon, VA, 8:00 am

Temperature(Humidity): 40F(75%)-59F(30%)

When I realized that it was almost time to catch a flight for Richmond I found it difficult to believe that I was even signed up to run a marathon. After running Steamtown on 10/9, I had hardly gotten in any miles. An even more ominous omen was that my trousers were now fitting a little tighter thanks to the junk I had been eating lately. So it was going to be an interesting race to say the least. I had told myself that I would not run a marathon unless I felt that I could shoot for a sub-3:30 (merely running to finish seemed pointless) so this was the very least I would be satisfied with. Apart from that I had no other goals so I felt surprisingly relaxed right up to the start of the race (I even slept well the night before the race).


I went for the course tour organized by the Richmond Road Runners, which ended up being very useful during the race. It was nice to know what to expect at every point of the race. The course had appeared hilly during the tour but luckily these inclines were not that perceptible while running the race. I also noticed that 26.22 miles was quite a long distance - the tour kept going on and on (luckily this was not my first marathon!). After the tour Carter (Zipper) gave Jane (Mooky) and me a ride to the dinner FE. It was quite a turnout with Thomas (Thomas113), Joe (Shoeless), Wally (jdw113), Rick (nooner), Jennifer (JValentine), Bruce (TheBeast), runcam, dougal (Phil?), papajohnw, Doug (RunnerDoug), Gary(Radice) and perhaps a couple of others who I missed. The food was great - I was one of the few who managed to finish the enormous portions.

On the morning of the race I looked over and over again in the lobby of the Marriot for the pre-race FE but I could not find it (I should have read the FE thread more carefully). I had intended to start off with Rick and Jennifer and stick with them for as long as possible but I could not locate them at the start either.


mile 1: 7:44 (166)
I had no idea as to what sort of pace I would be able to maintain so I had decided that I would go by HR and see how I felt after the first five miles.

mile 2: 7:52 (171)
mile 3: 7:44 (169)
In the next 2-3 miles I started getting passed by hordes of runners. One runner even had a 3:30 pace group sign pinned on himself (Interestingly I would pass a lot of these folks later on).

mile 4: 7:50 (168)
I loved Monument Ave - what a lovely stretch. They had some "Pick your goal" signs, listing famous times - Tergat, Ruiz, Gore, Oprah etc. I though this was pretty neat.

mile 5: 7:46 (168)
mile 6: 7:50 (169)
The guy who gave us the course tour was manning the water stop at this mile.

mile 7: 7:27 (166)
I enjoyed the long downhill and used it as a chance to get my HR down.

mile 8: 7:36 (171)
As we approached the bridge I heard them playing "I'll Survive". I tried to carry some of the momentum from the downhill to the bridge.

mile 9: 7:36 (169)
The next couple of miles were along the James river. I spent some time admiring the peace and tranquility of the river.

mile 10: 7:48 (168)
mile 11: 7:46 (172)
mile 12: 7:39 (173)
mile 13: 7:44 (172)
I heard someone call out - 'Are you Sub?' I turned around to see Mike (Anson). He did not come to the dinner on Friday so it was so nice to run into him. He was well ahead of pace and well on track to go sub-3:30!

half: 1:41:31 @ 7:45
My half split was about a minute off Steamtown. It was also unlikely that I was going to pull off anything Steamtown-esque in the second half. However I decided that I really needed to hold onto what I could.

mile 14: 7:37 (171)
mile 15: 7:27 (171)
Ah, another nice downhill to enjoy before I have to deal with the bridge.

mile 16: 7:45 (172)
Onto the bridge... Luckily there was no wind this year but this was the only time during the race that it did feel warm with the sun on my back. I could also feel the concrete surface. An old lady had made it to the bridge to cheer the runners!

mile 17: 7:43 (173)
At some point around here I believe there was a "junk food" stop or something. I though I was getting water and instead got cola. I threw it away without taking a sip. Luckily there was water soon after.

mile 18: 7:42 (173)
mile 19: 7:40 (173)
mile 20: 7:39 (175)
20: 2:34:16 @ 7:43

mile 21: 7:44 (174)
I was gradually beginning to fade. Well, I knew I that the Steamtown last 10k wouldn't happen at every marathon.

mile 22: 7:53 (174)
A guy running with a lady told me that I looked good. I looked at him and told him that he looked good too (really, he looked amazing). The lady running with him then coyly indicated that he looked good because he had started running at mile 20 and was giving her company to
the finish.

mile 23: 7:57 (174)
mile 24: 7:52 (174)
The course had entered the "ugly" industrial part of town. Pretty much in synch with the way I was feeling now.

mile 25: 8:04 (177)
I tried to keep this split below 8:00 but a smallish hill took care of that.

mile 26: 7:52 (176)
Luckily this was downhill. Else it would have been so much more difficult.

mile 26.22 1:33 - 7:03 (174)
As I was reaching the finish line I told myself, "Don't think about your finishing time. You can run a marathon and no-one can take that away from you!"
last half: 1:41:40 @ 7:45
last 10k: 48:55 @ 7:52

Avg HR: 172


chip: 3:23:11 @ 7:45
gun: 3:23:20
OA: 310/3532, AG: 45/240, Male: 275/2142

Considering that this was my second marathon in 5 weeks and sixth in 13 months I'm pretty satisfied with being able to hold onto an even split. This was also my second fastest marathon time so that was nice.

As soon as I finished, I ran into Shoeless (Joe) - he'd blown his BQ time. That made me happy (I might never BQ so I will be feeding off other people's joy). Then I saw nooner (Rick), he'd finished a minute ahead of me - maybe if I had located him at the start I could have hung onto him for a bit during the race. Finally, I saw Gary (Radice), he had gotten his 2007 BQ with plans for a holiday in Italy in 2006 instead of Boston. After I got my massage it looked like my legs had not gotten as beaten up as my previous marathons. I could walk down stairs comfortably - this usually took me about three days post-thon. I wonder if this was because of the course topography or because of my diminished aerobic fitness? I also spent some time at the finish line cheering the 5-6 hour marathoners - it was inspiring to see them cross the finish line.

I enjoyed the Richmond experience and would surely recommend the marathon. The course is scenic (except for a couple of miles in the beginning and end) and the race is well supported by the folks in Richmond. As I left Richmond on Sunday, I could not help feeling a little nostalgic looking at the empty streets, which just a few hours back had been bustling with runners...

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