Sunday, October 28, 2007

Poland Springs Eternal

After nearly a 3 month self-imposed moritorium on racing, which I did primarily to focus on long runs, I decided it was time to pop my cherry again (as if). One more race before Prince Charming arrives at the ball...

This was the second time I run the Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff. The last one was on Halloween Day, 2004, and the results were frightful too. The net time on that race was 44:43 but the gross time was 49:44. Something tells me, that my net time was probably higher, giving me a closer to 10 minute per mile than what I wanted. Still, it was an excellent run in that it was my final qualifier for my entry into the 2005 NYC Marathon, a race I will never soon forget.

This time around everything's different. Although I always consider myself a novice, I guess I'm no longer that rookie that I was once. All race day preparations were done perfectly last night. All morning stuff was done accurately and efficiently. In fact, this race was the utmost example of efficiency.

I discovered that the cost for the LIRR is only $3 each way when travelling in NYC.
The LIRR takes me from here (Kew Gardens) to there (Penn Station) in 16 minutes. Sure as hell beats the "E" train!

In fact not only was I able to sleep longer (till 5:51 am - it would have been 6am, but I was too eager), but I got there in plenty of time. Best of all...The LIRR never even took my ticket so I was able to use it on the return! (THANK YOU LIRR!!!)
The connection to the northbound "C" at Penn Station was right there in front of where I came up the stairs from the railroad. And the subway took me to within a block of the park's entrance on 69th. Excellent execution.

The air was much colder than suggested. I hope they are wrong like this again next Sunday. 61F for a high, is too high for a Marathon. As I am writing this the temp is 49F but because of the 18MPH wind, the "real feel" is more like 42F.

About the only "boo-boo" I did was to eat Ileana's string beans last night. The string beans were fine. It was the red kidney beans mixes in, that gave my lower torso the gaseous and smelly effects of Elizabeth, New Jersey. A minor inconvenience, and a trip to the Port-O-Sans, and all was well again.

As with all races, there were hordes of people walking around in all directions near the starting line, the baggage area, and the port-o-sans.

In addition to the fanfare, and the occassional halloween-costumed runners (two girls as candy corn, one guy dressed up as bam-bam), the race featured "Better Off Dead", a rock band that primarily does classic rock covers. They are not only one of the bands that will be adorning the 26.2 mile route next Sunday, they are actually center stage at Columbus Circle at 59th & Central Park West too. Here's a little clip:

and here: (the camera stopped by itself..ugh!)

The start of the race, had it's typical "rah-rahs" from Mary Wittenberg, President of the NYRR club. Things like, "Who's gonna be here next week to run the NYC Marathon?!" and all that other stuff.

I did not bring my watch with me, figuring to be worry free.

I was going to not even time my race.



The first mile took forever to cross, but when I deducted the time that it took to cross the starting line to the Mile 1 marker, I figured I did it in 9 minutes 21 seconds. I chose to not drink water at the stop.


The second mile took less than forever. Even with several uphills along the way, I did the second mile in 8 minutes and 37 seconds. I have still not taken any water. I improved over the first mile by 44 seconds. Awesome!


The third mile was mostly downhill. I ran a little bit faster. And noticed that I've been passing a lot of people in front of me. Not bad considering I was lined up in the 8-9 minute miler section to start with. I skipped the water again. HTFU (or Harden The Fuck Up) was in play. I decided that instead of playing it safe, I decided instead to be a tough guy. I finished my third mile in 8 minutes and 18 seconds. That's an improvement over the second mile by 19 seconds. Very Good.


The fourth mile had a few minor uphills. Now I sense that I am moving very fast, yet I have no shortness of breath. I'm actually feeling unnerved, because this rush of speed is not affecting me as it had in the past. So I go with it. And it suits me fairly well. I did the fourth mile in 7 minutes and 42 seconds. I improved over the third mile by 37 seconds. Amazing.


The fifth and final mile was remarkable. The finish line for this race is the finish line for the New York City Marathon next week, and is one of the major reasons why I chose to run today's race. By now, I am passing people like blurs on a radar scope. Come and gone. Come and gone. Nobody is passing me anymore. The southern loop of the park is almost all flat. The west side going back north is uphill. I envision that my arms are like titanium pistons to propel me forward, like a locomotive train. I start to see a grandstand up ahead on the left. It instantly throws me back to the finish of my previous Marathons. The effect has completely taken me over. At this point I feel like I am floating, but in reality I am on fire. I'm burning the course up. When I crossed that finish line, I barely even breathed hard. Not bad for someone who just finished his 5th and last mile at six minutes and fifty-six seconds per mile, a 46 second improvement over my last mile.


Mile 1: 9:21
Mile 2: 8:37
Mile 3: 8:18
Mile 4: 7:42
Mile 5: 6:56
Total : 40:55
Pace : 8:11
Overall: 1728 place out of 5973 Top 29%
Gender: 1331 place out of 3081 Top 43%
Age Grp: 216 place out of 454 Top 48%
FPRR: 2 place out of 7 Top 29%
Gonzos: 3 place out of 16 Top 19%

I left immediately after the race, and got home at 9:58am! Record time considering that the race started at 8am.

Well that was my 9th race this year with the NYRR. And you know what that means....

2008 .... HERE I COME!!

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