Thursday, March 24, 2011

Race Report - New Bedford Half marathon

By Mark Vatour

For the last 3 years I’ve raced the New Bedford Half Marathon a season opener. While it conflicts with Quncy I like the level of organization (chips, waterstops, clocks at every mile and a fairly good crowd support). New Bedford has a large field with a good showing from the BAA etc as it is a final Boston tune up for many. This race is always cold as it is on the water and there are two moderate hills. This would be my longest run in a while but after and abysmal performance at the Multisport Expo TT I was hoping to run 1:30 but decided I’d be happy at 1:31ish.

So after long a long bathroom line I shed a few layers and headed off to the start. The gun went and the race started. For the first few minutes I was assessing just how little clothing I was wearing and how cold I thought I’d be. I went though the first mile at 6:10 and realized I was in trouble. Sensible racing would have had me staring at a lot closer to 7minutes. Oh well. I was quickly passed by Karen Smyers and decided I’d stay with her (in my mind she must be the she must be the smartest person in the race right?). The miles seemed to click a way. I’d drink a little but not a lot as the water as it was cold and I didn’t want to wear it. I was using the race clocks to do the math in my head rather than look at my Garmin. I went though mile 7 is 45minutes so I knew I was ahead of 1:30 pace but was starting to feel a bit tight. The New Bedford course is notoriously windy as the race turns along the water and this year was not different.

At each passing mile I was trying to do the math of how much of a gap might have. I had started to “give back” time and watched my cushion shrink with each passing mile. I also started having flashbacks to Brian Quigley passing me at mile 9 a year before. So with one eye on the race clock and another over my shoulder kept running while I started running out of gas. I finished at 1:29:12, pleased to be under 1:30 but definitely learning something of a lesson about having gone out too fast. Quigley never caught me as he never showed up. Michelle Quigley did and seemed to have a great result.

Race Report - NYC Half marathon

By Brendan Hall

New York, New York, the place of my birth, how I do love thee so. And what's not to love? The energy, the crowds, the excitement, the homeless dude playing the cello whilst singing "Wind Beneath My Wings" in perfect pitch. It's a spectacle and a perfect venue for an early-season half marathon. Now, since certain BTTers made my time look like I pulled a rickshaw with a family of four through the course, I'll spare you the details of my belabored motoring and focus on some of the more colorful aspects of my race weekend experience. (I did manage to pull off a 3+ minute PR with the rickshaw, btw)

I drove down Saturday morning and met a friend for a nutritious brunch in the West Village after which, while bouncing around in the early spring sunlight and breathing in the crisp air with its record-breaking pollutants in parts per million, I happened upon two cute little dogs outside of a cafe. They started sniffing my Converse and I returned the favor by petting them and asking the owner what their names were. When I looked up to meet her eye-to-eye, it was none other than Hillary Swank...seriously! I'd like to say that I maintained my composure and said something SO charming to the two-time Oscar winner in yoga pants that we spent the rest of the day cocktailing and making out but instead, I'm pretty sure I told her she looked hot in "Boys Don't Cry" and then blacked out. Moving on...

As Eric mentioned, the "expo" was nothing to get excited about nor was the swag bag. It wasn't overly crowded when I went, which is nice because I was still getting over my run-in with Hillary and crowds generally freak me out like clowns at a child's birthday party...or anywhere for that matter. I was hoping to pick up some Gu and/or other race fuel and they had nada. The only memorable item in my swag bag was Axe Body Soap which is hilarious for any number of reasons. After the expo I headed to my hotel to nap and woke up just in time to meet my brother at a sports bar and catch some NCAA hoops over Chicken Salad sandos...and a beer or two. (Sorry, Jorge!)

I rose to meet the race day at 5am, wolfed down all of the bodega bought breakfast treasures I had secured the night before and after watching 3-4 episodes of ESPN, headed out to catch a cab, a task I assumed would be easy at 6:45am...I was wrong. I ran all over midtown trying to flag someone/anyone down for a ride to 95th and 5th and after 20 minutes, I finally convinced a fellow runner who was already in a cab at a red light to let me jump in with her. My first cab-jacking...what a rush! We arrived to the race start with plenty of time to spare for a quick warm-up before the gun went off.

The conditions were perfect and running in Central Park is always a blast no matter what time of year. Great crowd support, a few long ups and downs before hitting the super flats of Broadway, 42nd Street and then West Side Highway. At the end of the day, I hit my goal of 1:35 and was pretty pleased with myself. So much so, I pulled off a second cab-jacking to get back up-town. I highly recommend jumping in the lottery pool next year. I know I will. Now, back to updating Hillary's wiki page...

Race Report - NYC Half marathon

By Eric Lambi

I decided to race the NYC half this year largely because I am a wimp who cannot handle the hills and wind at the New Bedford Half. I made this race the focus of my winter training with the goal of setting a new half marathon PR (previous PR 1:22:50). So with that in mind, my wife and I left our only child in the hands of a complete stranger on Saturday morning, did the long drive to NYC, hit the expo to pick up my number (expo was lame), ate dinner at Carmine's in the theatre district (didn't like, don't recommend), went to the Lion King (very good, do recommend) and hit the sack about 6 hours before my 5AM wakeup call.

Sunday morning I left the hotel a little before 6 (race start time 7:30) fearing that I would not be able to find a cab and would be forced to take the subway. As luck would have it I got a cab almost immediately. Apparently, my cab driver was training to join the Nascar circuit because we drove around the perimeter of Central Park at interstate speeds, weaving in and out of the other taxis driving the other racers to the starting area. The ride raised my heart rate and adrenaline levels, which surely improved my race time.

The NYC Half race course is point-to-point and starts in Central Park. It loops around the park for 8 miles then heads south out of the park through Times Square, over to the West Side highway, and south to the finish near Battery Park. The Central Park section is rolling and twisty, requiring a lot of focus on your tangents. The last 5 miles outside of the park are flat and fast, and we had a tailwind, which really helped on the finishing straight. My plan was to run between 6 and 6:10 miles for the first ~5k and evaluate how I felt from there. Showing how committed I was to this plan, I ran each of the first 5 miles all 6 minutes, but was still feeling good at this point and knew I was going to have a great race. The sixth mile at the north end of Central Park was mostly uphill and I took it relatively easy, clocking a 6:15 (slowest mile of the race) and then gradually sped up on the downhill section to the park exit near mile 8.

Running into Time Square was absolutely the highlight of this race. The announcer mentioned at the start line that this is one of only two annual events for which Time Square gets shut down (the other being the New Year's Eve party), and this section of the course really makes the race unique. Inside of Times Square I lost my GPS signal, so I was focused on staying with the racers around me. I crossed the 10 mile mark at 1:00:2? and knew that I would be able to break 1:20, a faster time than my pre-race expectations, relatively easily. I considered the possibility of going into the hurt locker and trying to break 1:19, but I have a marathon this coming Saturday and thought I would be better off keeping something in reserve for that race. As a result, I spent the last 5k staring at my Garmin making sure I wasn't running too slow and watching others pass me and fade into the distance. I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:19:40, which I was thrilled with. This is a good result for me and gives me a lot of confidence heading into next weekend's marathon (The National Marathon in Washington D.C.). I'm now doing my best to recover and prepare for that race.

Post-race we went to my favorite restaurant in the entire world: Norma's at Le Parker Meridien (  I highly recommend this place to anyone who likes to eat.