06-17-2014

The Untold Story: Race Spectators

Whenever we read race recaps, we read about the course, what the runner thought of the race or the organization, the conditions, whether it was a bad day or not…and sometimes we read about the spectators. 

I really got a chance to feel the power of race spectators during the 2013 New York City Marathon, and randomly was thinking about this yesterday, which is why I wanted to write about it. I know I’ve written about how much I love the running community a few times now, but I wanted to focus this post on the spectators.

My Personal Cheering Squad

As runners preparing for a marathon, we sacrifice a lot. We train for 16-20 weeks. We get up early for long runs. We miss out on fun events because we need to sleep. But spectators sacrifice a lot too! The day of the marathon, my brother, sister, dad and boyfriend woke up at 5 am with my mom and me to head to New York. We got there around 7 am, and our race didn’t start until 10:50 am. They had to entertain themselves and wait around for over 3 hours!

Once the race started it was GO time. While we were trekking our way through the boroughs, they were navigating the subways. Squeezing onto packed subways in order to make it to where they said they would be. They were running around making sure we would see them. And all that for what? 30 seconds or less as we ran past them and said hi? But regardless, they smiled, they cheered, they made signs for us.

marathon-sign

We did miss them at a stop once, but instead of complaining they just got right back on the subway and went to the next stop. Since they missed us, that meant waiting extra at the next stop around mile 22. Once again, we saw them, said hi, and kept going on. Since they were at mile 22, that meant they had to book it to the finish if they were going to see us in Columbus Circle. We saw them right before the finish, and then finally finished those 26.2 miles. But the day wasn’t over yet. They still had to wait for us to get our medals, get our bags, and somehow get back to West 63rd street from West 81st street (almost 1 mile away). But they waited patiently.

Once we got to our meeting location, we were able to take family photos and recap our day. 

They were troopers, and what the spirit of the marathon also entails. It’s not just about us runners, but also about those who support us. Who get up early right there with us. Who run around all over the place to get pictures of us, see us for 30 seconds, hand us our GU or extra water. But then there are also the strangers…

The Other Spectators

I want to thank ALL race spectators here. You cheer on random strangers. You scream your heart out and pump up the runners. This is what got me through those 26.2 miles in New York. Every step of the way my mom and I heard our names being yelled. At one point a chant was started by a group, “PATTY…AND TINA! PATTY…AND TINA!” It was awesome. When we got into Central Park, I stopped to walk. A group started cheering my name and as I slowly started to run again they got louder and louder. This lady ran alongside me and said, “Here take some frozen grapes!” 

In the 2011 New York City Marathon, around mile 21 I was done. I was walking and miserable. This random stranger stepped on the course when he saw me and said come on you can do this! I said, no I am dying right now my legs are shot. He was like, “I wanted to run NYC, but I didn’t get in. So I’m running Philly next week. But you’re here and got the opportunity to be here so we are going to run!” He then grabbed my arm and started jogging with me. He was like “Come on, we’re going to the next corner.” So we jogged. He wished me luck and sent me on my way. I will never forget that moment. That is what the spirit of the running community is.

All of this is why my mom and I went up to Boston to watch the Boston Marathon this past April. Many asked us why we were going and if we knew anyone. Our response? “Nope, we just want to watch the race and cheer people on.” We wanted to pay it forward and cheer our hearts out. It was such an amazing day. 

boston-marathon

After reading Heather’s (from Relentless Forward Commotion) post about her experience running in the back of the pack, it made me kind of sad. The running community is a great one, so why are we not supporting ALL runners, regardless of pace?

Race spectators help get runners through the race, and it was sad to read her and other’s accounts of how there aren’t many for those who are in the back of the pack. Every runner deserves people cheering them on, yelling out their name, high fiving them.

Which is why my mom and I told each other that from now on, after races, we will stay and keep cheering on our fellow runners. We had always planned to be at this year’s NYC Marathon as spectators as well, so we can’t wait to scream for all of you who are running! 

Moral of this post? Thank your fellow spectators. Whether it’s your family or a total stranger, they have made some sacrifices to get to that race as well. They don’t have to be there, but they are…for you. I’ll leave you with my New York City Marathon recap video I made, which shows our story, but also that of our spectators. Let me know what you think!

Do you enjoy watching races when you’re not running them?

Tell me one race spectator experience you’ve had in the comments!

********************************

Follow Reach Your Peak:

09-25-2013

5th Avenue Mile Race Recap

This is one of my favorite races.  While some people may think it’s crazy to pay to run 1 mile…actually people think it’s crazy to pay in general…this race is so fun!

Saw this on Jess’s Facebook Page (blog: racepacewellness.com)

I was also excited because my dad would be running this one too, along with me and my mom. The race is broken up into age groups, so we all got to see/cheer each other on.

We got there around 8 and I registered and quickly did a 1 mile warm up. I was hoping to beat last year’s time of 7:07, but I knew it might be hard. I had run the past 12 days prior (didn’t actually realize this until now) and the day before we had a big tailgate for the Rutgers football game, aka I was standing for hours. It’d be hard but I was going to try to get that PR!

I had butterflies waiting in the corral and once I started running. I had to calm down in order to breath right. Does anyone else get butterflies when they first start a race?

I love this race because it really does fly by. They have signs at 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, 3/4 mile, and 100 meters to go. At the half mile mark there is a slight downhill so you can really turn it on for the rest of the race.

I was feeling more tired during the race than I did last year so I figured I wouldn’t PR. I tried not to look at the clock, plus I’m bad at mental math anyway so it would do me no good. I suppose I could have looked at the street signs (the race is 20 blocks) but I didn’t think of that lol. I started my phone stop watch at the line and planned to stop it once I crossed.

Before I knew it, it was over! I sprinted the last 100 meters because 3 girls around me sped up and I did not want to be passed! I finished in 7:23. I’m okay with that!

Afterwards, my mom and dad went for their warm up run, as their races were back to back. I couldn’t get a picture of my mom because I lost her in the crowd, but here’s my dad:

photo

He had been running the past few weeks again to prepare for this race and I knew he was excited for it. He didn’t think he could break 8:30, but he ran 7:22! We stayed and watched a few more races, then my mom and I went to run an extra 3 miles. When we got back, the 80+ category was up. Seriously so inspirational! Check out this man:

I hope I am still running when I am older, I don’t care how slow I go.

Afterwards, we went to get some breakfast before the professionals race. I wanted to watch Jenny Simpson race, especially because I got a pic with her at this very race last year!

She won the race in around 4:18? Seriously, can I be that fast??

I didn’t get to take a picture with her, however I did get one with Olympian Leo Manzano:

As I was writing this post, I looked up 1 mile races in NJ…and found one on Nov. 30! I will definitely try to run that, and hope I can PR since it will be after the marathon!

Overall, it was a great day for a race. Can’t wait to run it again next year!

Have you raced 1 mile before? What’s your favorite race distance?

********************************

Follow Reach Your Peak:

 

09-09-2013

Week 10 of NYC Marathon Training

Another week done. Now we are about to get in the tough portion of Hanson’s Marathon Method…I’m kind of nervous! This week includes 6×1 mile repeats, an 8 mile tempo run, and a 16 mile long run…

Here’s last week’s recap:

Monday:

Track workout.

4×1200 meters with 400 recovery @ goal 5K pace.

We felt really good for this track workout, as opposed to last week’s where we started to doubt ourselves. Our paces were right on the money, and we felt strong overall. Obviously I was tired by the last 2 reps but it always feels good to finish a tough workout. My dad tagged along and did his own track workout because he wants to run the Fifth Avenue Mile with us in a couple of weeks!

Family track workout

Tuesday:

Off

Wednesday:

8 mile tempo run with a 1 mile warm up and cool down. Total=10 miles.

Another great run for us. I felt confident going into this that we could keep our goal marathon pace for 8 miles. While we didn’t hit each mile EXACTLY due to hills, etc., the average pace was good and we were mostly in the range, as seen below (though we definitely started too fast).

Thursday:

Had to move my schedule around because I knew I wasn’t doing my long run on Saturday this week (football game). Today we did an easy 5 miles before heading to a Blake Shelton concert! Who are my country fans?

Friday:

10 mile long run for the week.

When we left, we said let’s just do 8. We were feeling tired and slugging, but once we got out there we felt fine. At mile 8 I said let’s just do 1 more mile, then once we hit 9 we were like, well we might as well make it 10! The weather was great too…though I still get salt stains from sweating too much! Who else gets these?

Saturday:

Early morning 6 miles before heading to the Rutgers football game. Check out this weather??? A little TOO chilly for me but I cant complain.

Sunday:

Was supposed to do 7-8 miles but decided to take the day off. My mom has been feeling really fatigued, and this upcoming week will be a tough one, so we called it a rest day. Hey, we haven’t skipped any days yet in this plan and it’s been 10 weeks! This is the best I have ever done following a plan :)

Do you think taking a rest day before a hard week is ok? One day won’t make or break us right? I was a little paranoid all day about it but it felt good to just relax!

***********************

Follow Reach Your Peak:

05-23-2013

Brooklyn Half Marathon Race Recap

Ok, I have finally gotten around to writing this recap! Let’s just jump right into it.

So we woke up at 4 am on Saturday morning, which was the earliest I have ever been up for a race. I went to sleep at 9:30 the night before, but was tossing and turning a lot thinking about this race. Do you get actual sleep before race day?

My dad drove us in and we got there around 6:15. Here’s the pretty sunrise we saw on our way in:

We used the restrooms and then basically just hung out in our corral. I really liked that each corral had their own set of bathrooms. It didn’t get too packed or have crazy lines which I was expecting if they just had a long row of them outside of the corrals for everyone.

Our corral was set to start at 7:30 am. As the time got closer, I got more and more nervous. Not necessarily because I wanted to PR (which I did) but because I just wanted to finish and not have to stop because of shin pain.

At 7:30 we were off, and the first 3 miles were great. We felt good. and from what I remember our splits were:

Mile 1: 10:15

Mile 2: 9:18

Mile 3: 9:25

My plan was to do the first 5 in 9:30 pace then pick it up to 9:20 pace. Well, I thought I could do this during the first 4-5 miles. Then Prospect Park happened.

I was expecting hills, and I train on hills but for some reason these hills just really slowed me down. One in particular was super long, like probably half a mile (maybe a little less). Once we got out of Prospect Park we were at Mile 7 and it was pretty much flat but the damage was done. I was beat, it was hot and humid, and I was sweating A LOT aka losing a lot of water and salt.

photo 3

Running in the park

photo 2

Finally leaving the park onto Ocean Parkway

Isn’t my shirt drenched with sweat so attractive? :-p The humidity definitely started slowing me down. I was glad we were on the parkway heading straight to Coney Island, but personally, I thought it was pretty boring. It seemed as if it lasted forever. But, at the same time, the miles did tick by quickly. I don’t know how to explain it haha. I was glad that we were at Mile 7 after the hilly park, because if it was Mile 4 or something I would definitely feel defeated.

Anyway, so yeah the parkway stretch was boring. At mile 9 we had to stop and walk to fuel and just take a break. My mom’s knee was bothering her as well. Once we started running I made a pact with myself that I would run until the next mile, then walk a short break, then run to the next mile again. I kept telling myself it was just a treadmill working. Just hold on for a few more minutes then you get a break.

At mile 11 I knew we had only 2 more miles. I WANTED to run the whole way but I just couldn’t catch my breath with the humidity. What is so frustrating about this race was that my legs and shins felt great. But I just couldn’t get my breathing right. Also, at Mile 8ish we knew we wouldn’t hit our time goal of around 2:05. I would be happy with anything around our original half marathon time. At Mile 11, I really thought we’d finish 2:15.

RANDOM NOTE: There were NYPD officers around Mile 10 who were cheering on runners and yelling out, “DO NOT WALK. YOU WILL GET A SUMMONS.” That gave me a little pick me up. I love spectators.

So then we finally made it to Mile 12. There were a ton of spectators on the road entering Coney Island which really helped me speed up a little bit and not walk at all in the last mile. I saw the sign that said, “800 Meters To Go” and was pumped. I thought, ok just 2 laps on the track. I can do this. I always break things down into laps on a track when my mind needs a little help.

Then, I saw the ramp up to the boardwalk. SO CLOSE! This is another complaint, however. The ramp was not big enough for how many runners there were, so we had to all slow down A LOT. Like, almost walking. I got to the top and my mom and I sprinted as hard as we could to the finish. We also FINALLY remembered to raise our arms up for a posed finish picture. In the 3 halfs and 1 full we have done, we always have forgotten to do this.

Screen shot 2013-05-23 at 10.34.06 AM

And then, we finished! My mom’s stopwatch said 2:11 and I was honestly shocked. I thought we finished around 2:15 because of how our pace slowed. Our official finishing time was 2:10:56 which was basically our 1st half marathon time from 2011, which was also way flatter (2:10:58). I’ll take it!

So happy to be done!

We got our medals then kept walking. My dad and brother were at the finish and took a lot of photo and video of us. I love when our family comes to support us!

photo 1The good thing about the day was that it was cloudy the whole time. The bad thing was the 70% humidity. But what can you do, race day is always a toss up of whether you will get perfect conditions or not.

We had to leave right after the race so we didn’t get to experience any of Coney Island. Sad. I put on my new compression socks by 110% and iced in the car. I will be writing a review on this product very soon!

I had a few stomach cramps for a few hours after the race, but made sure to get in some protein in the car and ate some eggs. Other than that I couldn’t really eat until dinner that night.

But good news, very little shin pain after! In fact, my legs were just stiff and tight. I took a 4 hour nap while having my legs raised that helped too :)

The next day, I was a little bit sore but not much, and the third day I was perfectly fine! Best I have felt after a half marathon. So, at least my body has gotten used to the long distances!

So that’s pretty much it! I would rate this race a B. The route wasn’t anything to write home about, but the finish on Coney Island was pretty cool. I was disappointed with my time, but then realized, hey, my body just ran 13.1 miles and feels mostly fine after. I need to give myself credit. Plus, I didn’t even get my worst time ever which was what I was expecting.

Overall, it was a good day, and I’m happy I felt so good afterwards, as opposed to how horrible I felt after NYC Marathon.

Who else ran Brooklyn? What were your thoughts on the course? In general, are you disappointed when you don’t hit a time goal?

Follow Reach Your Peak:

04-29-2013

Run as One 4M Race Recap

On Sunday, I ran the NYRR Run as One 4 Miler in Central Park. The goal was to do it in half marathon goal pace, so around 9:00 minutes per mile. I ended up averaging 8:50-ish per mile!! It was challenging BUT more like “comfortably hard,” instead of really hard.

Pre-race

NYRR has my average pace at 9:05 per mile, but my Runkeeper app (and my mom’s) said we ran 4.2 miles and at a faster pace. I figured it was the tangents, etc. but a fellow runner tweeted at me that he had the same issue with his Nike app and his Garmin, and that others were commenting on this issue as well. They had new B-tags for this race so maybe that was the issue? Either way, I’m going with my Runkeeper time!

My mom and I finished together and felt really strong overall. We probably could have kept running! We ended up doing a 1 mile cooldown in the park before heading out. My brother and dad came to support us and take pictures as well =)

Overall, it was a great day to run! Beautiful weather and I felt awesome. The hills didn’t really phase me either, I really felt like I was powering through them. Hopefully my successful long run, and this great race bodes well for May 18!

Did you race this weekend?

Follow Reach Your Peak:

04-22-2013

Miles for Matheny 5K Recap

Yesterday, I started the day off by going to the Rutgers Unite Half Marathon in the morning. My half marathon training group was running and I wanted to go support them. It was great being a spectator for once and taking the race in!

It was on the chillier side but a great day for racing all around. I left early then headed back home to start warming up for my 5K which was at noon. My mom and I did some dynamic warm up drills, and jogged the 1 mile to the park where the starting line was. It’s so convenient having a 5K right in your town!

The course has 2 major hills and a few small ones, so it’s tough. I finished in 27:26, which isn’t my best and I really wanted to PR but you can’t always get your best time! Overall, I felt really strong and my pacing was even, so I am happy with that. Plus, I did get 2nd in my age group!

Mom and me at the finish.

 

It was a great day, and at least it wasn’t rainy like it was last year! This race always has great post-race food so we had a bagel, then headed over to the lunch tent where there were a ton of burgers, hot dogs and desserts. Yum!

Afterwards, we did a cooldown mile back home. I was exhausted and ended up taking a 2 hour nap as soon as I got home. Those post-race naps are the best!

My next race is this upcoming weekend. It will be me and my mom’s first NYRR race of the year – a 4 mile run in Central Park to raise money and awareness for lung cancer. My running coach had me doing a 4 mile tempo run this week, so I figured I’d sign up for a race to make it seem easier/give me more motivation.

Less than 1 month until a) the Brooklyn Half Marathon and b) I graduate with my Master’s degree!!!!

What spring races are you doing this year?

Follow Reach Your Peak:

04-09-2013

Running For Charity

I have some exciting news!

As you may know, my mom and I will be running the NYC Marathon in November. We got in with the 9+1 NYRR program last year, and are so excited. We ran it in 2011, and it was killer…I did not finish the way I wanted to. So this year, I’m coming back with a vengeance!

Us after finishing in 2011. I was BEAT.

Anyway, my mom and I decided we also wanted to run for charity. After looking at different charitable organizations, we decided to run for DetermiNation of the American Cancer Society!

We are so excited to fundraise again this summer for a good cause. I just set up our fundraising page and wanted to share it with you all. I know the race is still a long way away (fundraising deadline is end of September too) but if you could please help us kick off our fundraising, I would greatly appreciate it! Any amount helps, even if it is $1. We want to make a difference and join the fight against cancer!

Our fundraising goal is $3,000 which I think we will get to no problem. If you want to check out our team page or donate, here it is!

In 2011, when we ran for Team Reeve, I sold t-shirts where all proceeds go towards fundraising, I think I will do that again too!

Thank you in advance, and I’m really excited to start marathon training in June!

Have you ran a race for charity before?

Follow Reach Your Peak:

03-26-2013

Are You Faster Than a Ridge Runner 5K

This past Sunday I ran my first 5K of the season! I wasn’t expecting anything huge from this race…I was using it more as a a fitness test. While I obviously WANTED a 5K PR, I knew it was unrealistically…but that doesn’t mean I didn’t try. Despite that, I finished in 27:55.

It was tough. Not gonna lie. So my average pace ended up being 9 min. per mile. That’s around my goal pace for the half marathon so it was a bit discouraging that that pace was so hard for only 5K! My legs felt fine, no shin pain really…but my breathing was just off. My lungs just didn’t feel like they could handle it. My first mile was in 8:30 and then it all dropped from there.

IMG_7545

But it’s ok! It’s a starting point for my goal 5K race on April 21, and my half marathon on April 27. I’d love to break my 5K PR of 25:42 in April, and break my half marathon PR of 2:07. We’ll see!

Anyway, my mom and I placed 3rd in our age group at the 5K. She did awesome! She came in front of me in 26:39. It’s one of her fastest times yet. She’s trying to beat her PR of 26:10. So we both got some medals out of it!

And they ran out of race shirts since we registered that day, so we got this awesome shirt instead (that was for the high school kids who sponsored the race):

I love memes :)

Did you run a race this weekend? How did you do?

12-29-2012

2012 in Running!

This is a fun post inspired by Theodora at Losing Weight in the City. It’s a great way to recap 2012 and relive some running moments I may have forgotten about. Here we go:

1. Best Race Experience: I loved all of the NYRR races this past year (me and my mom’s first year with NYRR). But my favorite was definitely the 5th Avenue Mile. I had an awesome race, it was so thrilling running 1 mile down 5th Ave, and I chatted with Kara Goucher and Jenny Simpson.

runners high

So excited to chat with Kara!

So excited to chat with Kara!

Me with Jenny Simpson

Me with Jenny Simpson

2. Best Run: I can’t pinpoint one specific training run that I loved, but I know that running in the fall was my favorite time. This year especially because I wasn’t marathon training in the fall. I was able to really enjoy my fall runs without worrying about distance and pace. Who doesn’t love fall scenic runs like this?

3. Best piece of new gear: Nike capri pants. I always said I’d never wear capri spandex to run or the gym. I thought it’d be too hot, so I always wore shorts. Now I love capris!

4. Best piece of running advice: Hmmm, I will go with my running coach Marc. He pushes me to work hard and not make excuses. I’ve been training him with 2 years now, crazy! Whether it’s advice about pacing, races, shin splints/injuries…he is always responsive and helps me out.

5. Most inspirational runner: I’d have to say Dorothy (from mile-posts). I only recently stumbled upon her blog but she has run 20+ marathons! She truly inspires me to work hard and chase my dreams. Her mantra of “I Run This Body” is one I repeat to myself in races, and a good reminder that a lot of it is all mental.

6. If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? Exciting…successful…relaxed….and marathon qualifier because my mom and I completed the NYRR 9+1 races to automatically qualify for the 2013 ING New York City Marathon!

What are your greatest moments? How about 2013 Goals? I will be writing a separate post on my 2013 health/fitness goals…stay tuned ;)

11-20-2012

Race Recap: NYRR Race to Deliver 4 Miler

Let me start this post by saying…my mom and I have completed 9 races out of the 9+1 NYRR program!!! Which means, we just have to volunteer, and then we are set for the 2013 ING New York City Marathon!!!! Words cannot explain how excited I am. I plan on conquering that course, and coming back with a vengeance after last year :)

Anyway, my mom and I were excited this was the last race we had to do. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved running in NYRR races, but it’s getting cold and driving back and forth to NYC every few weeks is $$$$$.

That morning was pretty cold when we got to the park (35 degrees I believe), but we started jogging and warming up, so once the race started it wasn’t that bad.

Photo credit: instagram.com/saenim

I told my mom we’d start off easy and feel it out. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to run this race faster to test myself out, or take it easy. My last race of the year is Dec. 8 (5K), and I kind of wanted to see what pace I could run 4 miles in. After a mile, I was feeling awesome, so we decided to run a bit faster. We weren’t going 5K pace by any means, or close to our max, but it definitely wasn’t an easy, comfortable pace!

I felt really strong, even going up those Central Park hills. As my RunKeeper app told me my splits, I knew I would get a PR or close to a PR in the 4 mile. I was just excited I was feeling awesome!

I ended up finishing in……

OH WAIT. I have no idea because my D-tag didn’t work for some reason so NYRR didn’t post my results. Sad. Luckily, I was using my RunKeeper. Actually, it’s pretty weird that happened at the ONLY race I was using my GPS tracking app. Good thing I did! The only downside is, that the final distance said 4.1 miles, not 4. It’s common for GPS watches and apps to be a little long during races, because most people don’t run the tangents of the course (which is how courses are measured out). Therefore, I have no clue if I officially PR-ed, but I’m guessing that since my 4.1 mile time is the same time as a previous 4 mile time, that I did get my best time. My guesstimate is 35:45.

Splits for 4.1 miles

Afterwards, we got our water and bagels and went to get our picture taken. We planned this pose in advance :-p

Holding up 9 fingers for 9 races DONE

It was a beautiful day in the park and the perfect temp. It was in the 40s but once we warmed up we were actually wishing we didn’t wear our cold gear tops.

I found this picture of the race on Instagram too…I thought it beautifully depicts fall/November in Central Park:

Photo credit: instagram.com/saenim

We couldn’t be happier than we completed our goal of 9 races in 2012 with NYRR! It’s been a great running year :)

What’s your next road race?