NYC Runs Haunted Island Halloween 10K Race Recap

Since I had bonked in the last mile of the Staten Island 5K and had a ‘take it easy’ half marathon in San Francisco, I really wanted just one PR this fall. My last two 10Ks (UAE Health Kidney on 5/30 and Queens 10K on 6/21) were painful, humid slogs. This 10K featured slightly more crisp weather and the experience of more speed training and cross-training.

I came up with A, B, and C goals in 2-minute increments (55-57, 57-59, and 59-1:01) based on mental math, and my C goal would have me PR. I had ran the 5K version of this race last year, a 10K last December, and another 5K on Roosevelt Island on Memorial Day (where I got my 5K PR of 26:16), but the course had changed just slightly based on construction. Roosevelt Island is very flat, which really helps in the PR department. NYC Runs doesn’t have corrals for this race, so there is some definite bottlenecking at the start of the course, but it gets a lot less crowded by mile 2. I knew to be aware of sidewalk dipping and some uneven footing, but overall I’m a big fan of races on Roosevelt Island and it feels like a pretty known entity.

I took a 70-minute restorative yoga class on Friday night, so I felt pretty relaxed going into this race. The 9:30am start time really helped, too. I had my usual breakfast of 2 mini frozen waffles with cookie butter, some iced coffee, and plenty of water. I sometimes use almond butter if I’m feeling healthy, but speculoos works just as well. It also tastes great with bananas and I have Wafels & Dinges to thank for this combination.

I entered the start corral toward the middle/back with some friends, one of whom (Gabby of Marathons & Macarons) wasn’t shooting for a PR but was still going to race it a lot faster than me. Our teammate Johnny was way in the front, where he rightly deserved to be (coming in 4th overall and 1st in the 20-29 age group). I wasn’t running with music because I wanted to be hyper vigilant of my breathing and my body.

This being a race held on Halloween, there were some great costumes. But I was glad not to be wearing one. I wore my long-sleeved team shirt and planned to roll up the sleeves as needed. I definitely could not have handled the extra bulk of a tutu or the head warmth of a character hat. A teammate who ran the 5K kindly took photos of us 10K runners. I didn’t see her the first time, but then I caught on to where she would be.

RI run 1

I was stuck behind several couples on miles 1 and 2, but decided to keep drafting them until the path got wider. Then came the Minions and the penguins. I noticed 3 separate groups of people dressed up as Minions and am delighted to say that I only finished behind 1 group of them who passed me around mile 4.5. The couple dressed in full-body penguin suits kept with me during their selfies, then sped up and stayed ahead.

RI mile 2-5

I saw some teammates after the 5K, which gave me a little juice for the fourth mile before I inevitable slowed during the fifth. My splits had been looking so good, but my overall average pace from this was 9:30 which means my Garmin (Forerunner 220) and I have some issues to work out.

Ri run mile 3-5

RI run mile 5

My Achilles felt ok and my breathing was fine, so I finally took it up a notch on the final mile. My Garmin was off by 0.2, so when my watch beeped for mile 6, I knew that I really had 0.4 miles to go. I managed to stay ahead of a pack of piñatas, much to my relief, then caught and passed the girl in front of me before attempting a sprint finish. My watch had somehow gotten so off time (I saw splits of 9:10-9:24 but nothing slower), that my final time of 59:04 felt a little slow. But it is a PR! And a negative split! I’ll take it!

RI finish watermark

The finish line photos are not taken from a flattering angle.

I got 48th out of 137 ladies in the 30-39 age group (and 307 out of 646 total finishers). Top half, all right! I grabbed a lot of candy for immediate and later consumption, then we got a very filling brunch. I rested my laurels the rest of the day and foam rolled so that I could make my Halloween debut as Angelina Ballerina later that night, then cheer on NYC marathoners all day Sunday.

Ri group finish

Post-race celebrations with candy in my backpack. We are not in costume.

RI 10K strava

Look at that flatness! I know my first pace spike was in response to cheerers, but I have no idea why I picked it up so much at the 4 mile mark. I think that was when I was struggling with water and tried to take an unnecessary ShotBlok and dropped it.

The shirt for this race was the same logo as last year’s tech t-shirt but was a cotton long-sleeved shirt and I love it. They ran out of (unisex) mediums so I grabbed a small. It’s very fitted but I can still wear it over a tank, as seen below before my rowing class.

hauntedislandshirt

This was possibly my final race of 2015 because I need to heal my tendons, so it was nice to go out on a PR.

Bronx 10 Mile Race Recap

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On Sunday the 27th, I was fairly ready for my morning when the alarm went off at 5:21am (so I can snooze until 5:30). I had signed up for this race back in June and it’s my 4th of the NYRR Borough series (ran the NYC Half, Brooklyn Half, and Queens 10K earlier this year). This race was my first ten-mile race ever and my first race in the Bronx. I had originally wanted to keep at 9:35 pace throughout, but as my heels started giving me trouble in mid August and continued throughout September, I slowed my goal down to 9:45/mile and then to anything under 10/mile. I want to stay healthy for the Nike Women’s Half in SF October 18th, so I decided to treat this as a training run more than anything.

And that’s what happened. Before the 8am gun, I sipped some Gatorade (only available up near the start because of the Bronx 5K that was occurring) and stopped to talk to a speedier teammate on my way back to my corral. By the time I was done drinking and about to line up, the corrals were all moving up closer to the start. I slipped in somewhere near my “I’ letter but ran into teammates who were in G and H, then a friend who was in J found me. She and I went over our goals for the race (1. finish 2. steadyish pace 3. feel “ready” for our upcoming half marathons) and agreed to at least start together.

We carried on a conversational pace hovering around 10 minutes for the first 5 miles, clocking in a 9:45 third mile, then a slower 4th mile when we slowed for some water. We got to see the winners and sub-elites after the turnaround when we were done with 3 miles and they were done with 7, which was amazing. We applauded for a lot of them and Jaime was able to let out a fair amount of wooos for the women. I then got to see some fast PPTC teammates and cheer for them (and vice versa), which was a huge boost. I was smiling a lot through the 10K mark and enjoying the upbeat tunes around the park turnaround. Our legs were definitely feeling heavier right around the 5 mile mark, so I popped 2 pink lemonade Honey Stinger chews and washed them down with some Gatorade. The mild downhills gave us a lot to look forward to. Our chitchat grew more intermittent and we tried to count down the hills remaining. I took 2 more Honey Stingers at Mile 7 with some water.

Finally, with only 1.5 miles to go, I was feeling ready to “finish strong”. I picked up the pace to a 9:30 then sped up the last mile to a 9:00, and a sprint finish. The finish line really snuck up on me after a small uphill/downhill. I was hoping for some finish line photos, but MarathonFoto only has the cheesy ones I took with Jaime, including where the photog told us to bite our medals. Better than sorority arm, I guess?

I can’t wait to wear the shirt for this race because it is neon green and will hopefully help with visibility at night. I’m so glad I got to do this race for my 4/6 (guaranteed entry to the 2016 NYC Half!), see some more of the Bronx than my usual work-related Fordham Rd. jaunts, and feel more race-ready for SF.

Waving hello to the final water station teammate
Waving hello to the final water station teammate
Strava Pacing and Elevation Profile
Strava Pacing and Elevation Profile
After the finish
After the finish, clutching Gatorade cup

Fifth Avenue Mile Race Recap

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After boldly declaring back in June that I was taking the rest of the summer off from racing, I actually did. I ran one final 5K at the Al Goldstein Speed Series on July 1, then went on vacation back down South, where I managed to crank out just a few sweaty miles in both Richmond and Durham, choking with humidity. I went on a mid-July “runcation” in the Berkshires with my running club and managed 7 miles on a towpath in the rain along with some Appalachian Trail hiking. During the group run, I actually had to remove my glasses for the last 3.5 miles because they were so streaked with a blend of sweat, rain, and oils that my vision was more impaired with them on. Aside from a few solo park loops, I cheered on my teammates at NYRR Team Championships, lounged by a few pools, took a free SoulCycle class in Montauk, and took an entire 7 days off from running in mid-August by accident. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I joined ClassPass in late August as well, in hopes of finding acceptable cardio alternatives, semi-regularly attending yoga to really stretch out my tight legs, and trying new-to-me stuff like barre and SurfSet. Needless to say, my return to the gym and the 3 or 4 days a week running schedule was not a smooth one. The weekend before the 9/13 5th avenue Mile race, I had to adjust my goals a bit. My A-goal was still sub-7 minutes but this seemed highly unlikely. I negligently was in the Hamptons during Labor Day weekend, when I had otherwise planned on a track time trial, so I chose to push it on a treadmill instead on the Tuesday before. I huffed and puffed my way through a half mile at 8 MPH (7:30 minute mile), slowed down for a half mile, then squeezed in another half mile at 8.1 MPH (wow, really upping the ante) during the Serena vs. Venus Williams U.S. Open game. This let me know that I could at least go under 8, where an 8:10 was my fastest 5K split this year so far. I really wanted to hit under 7:19 because this is the best mile time of mine that I can remember from High School. I was a sprinter and hurdler from 8th grade – 11th grade, so the mile always seemed and felt like an impossibly long distance to me. The longest I ever ran at a meet was 800m, so it’s good to know I’ve had the same mental pacing issues for the last 1.5 decades. Would it feel really cool to beat 16-year-old me? Yes. I am the same height but have an extra 30 pounds on my frame.

I rolled up to the Met Steps (so Gossip Girl!) at 8:20am or so Sunday morning, collected my # and T-Shirt (I’m not normally a fan of non-tech shirts but oooh this one is soft) and dropped off my bag after packing some Honey Stinger chews into my zipper pocket for the extra miles after the race. I wanted to cheer on the 15-29 Women (Group A) but was still in the bathroom line when they began. Good thing I’m new to Group C. I grabbed a few water cups after and sipped them slowly and slipped into the middle of my corral after the 15-29 Men started. I saw some much faster teammates of mine squeezing along the left side to get near the front, where they belonged. I happily stayed in the middle-back of the corral. At 5’9, I felt like one of the taller ladies, but I’m sure some of that was just the uneven ground.

And we were off! I hadn’t reset my Garmin Forerunner 220 to beep every .25 miles because I planned to run the first half sub-8 then see how I felt. Of course, how does one feel after a quick but not sprinting half mile? Like they can pick up the pace. I went out a little fast (whoops, 6:50, didn’t mean to see you there!), slowed for the uphill, then figured that since my heavy breathing wasn’t super audible, I could really speed up in the last 200m. I chose one other tall lady to catch up to and picked her off in the final 50. I couldn’t choose between quicker turnover and longer strides, so briefly resembled a fawn learning how to run. A friend tried to get a picture but I was just too fast for an iPhone on the final 100m. My watch said I’d cracked 7:24, which is exactly what NYRR agreed on. My stated B-Goal was sub-7:30, so that felt pretty good. Do I think I have a sub-7 in me? Yes, sure. Could I inch it down to 6:45? No, probably not at my current fitness and injury level. But those are goals for next year, when I hope to join my teammates at some local track meets after winter speed training classes. I’m coming for you, track mile. It’s been over a decade, but I’m coming for you.

Post-Race with PPTC Teammates
Post-Race with PPTC Teammates

I watched the D, E, and F groups run before squeezing in a conversational 4 miles around the reservoir with 2 of my teammates. My Achilles were hurting something fierce; I had worn my Ravennas instead of my Pure Cadences in anticipation of the extra miles, but I think all that time sprinting would have been painful either way. We then got some crepes and iced coffee before checking out the local speedsters and the pros. Sadly, I missed most of the Masters and Malcolm Gladwell’s heat, among others. I definitely plan on racing this again next year

MarathonFoto got some terrible pictures of me during the race and a few after both solo and with teammates. The solo shots have me convinced that I need to learn some poses other than “sorority arm”, “peace sign” and “congratulatory arms up”. Will double-thumbs-up make a comeback? Stay tuned.

Fall Racing Schedule

I’m already many weeks into my latest Half training cycle but feeling fairly unprepared. I’ve cut a few long runs short (did I learn nothing from Brooklyn this May?) and tended toward cross-training in lieu of some of those mid-week 3-milers. After battling and beating plantar fasciitis this spring in my left foot, I’ve had some Achilles pain the last few weeks. But I am feeling way better this week after increased mileage and cross-training. My next 2 races are:

The Bronx 10 Mile

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The Nike Women’s San Francisco Half

Nike Womens Half 2015 Course Map

I registered for the Bronx 10 Mile back in June along with the Mile, knowing it would sell out. I then entered the late-June lottery for Nike SF and got in early July. The timing is great other than a busy wedding weekend in between the two, leaving me wondering when to squeeze in another 10+ mile long run. But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, either before I depart DC, the day before the wedding, or after I come back.

I’m considering adding on the Staten Island 5K plus some extra miles SI around that day (October 11), which is exactly one week before Nike. I’m not even trying to hit a personal record in SF, due to those killer hills, shown in red above. Instead, I just want to enjoy my time and consume all that race swag. Assuming I’m relatively injury free after the Bronx, I plan to sign up for the following races:

  • NYC Runs Haunted Island Halloween 10K. I ran the 5K version last year and while I got a 5K PR earlier this year on a similar Roosevelt Island course, I am overdue for a 10K PR. I hated life and the humidity during both the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K and the Queens 10K and walked through the water stops. I think late October weather might be perfect to best myself on either of those runs. I’ll be cheering on many of my friends in the NYC Marathon the day after, so hopefully a race the day before will get rid of my marathon FOMO. Plus I’ll be going out for Halloween that night before waking up Sunday to cheer on my marathon running friends. I live right along the course then will probably take the subway to the finish.
  • The Staten Island 5K on 10/11 OR the Race to Deliver 4M on 11/22. Either one will be my 9th NYRR race this year and thus my final race in the 9+1 series. I could of course do both and hope to improve on my NYRR best mile pace. I’m also considering the Jingle Bell Jog for this reason because it’s near me in Brooklyn. I did my volunteer time back in April at the Japan Run and had a great time but am also glad to have it out of the way now that everyone is trying to squeeze in their races and volunteer credit.
  • Richmond Half Marathon on 11/14. Why yes, I would love a hometown race with the option of getting both Dixie Donuts and Sugar Shack Donuts after. This would be the Half I want to PR on this year. There are hills, but I’m pretty sure they’re more gentle than those in San Francisco. A friend who ran it last year told me there’s great crowd support, plus my family is pretty much obligated to attend and cheer me on. It would have been even more reasonably priced earlier in the summer, but I’m glad I’ve waited to register so I can watch for injuries.

So, after a fairly slow summer, it looks like fall will be pretty busy. Let’s hope I stay injury-free and that the weather cooperates.