Monday, September 21, 2009

Chris Hoban Memorial 5-Mile Run: Race Report

Yesterday was the first time I ran a race through the Prospect Park Track Club. It was called the Chris Hoban Memorial 5-Mile Run and took place in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Most of the events I've done this year have been through the New York Road Runner's Club (NYRR) which at about 40,000 members has to be one of the largest running clubs in existence. There were notable differences in the experience of doing a smaller race.

First of all, I didn't have to get up at 4 am to make it up to Central Park using weekend subway trains (notorious for their service changes and unreliability.) The race itself didn't start until 10:30. The start line was about 3 miles from my house so I left at a leisurely 9 am and walked/jogged as a warm up. I also gave myself ample time to get my race number and use the restroom before the 10 am opening ceremony. At a half an hour the ceremony was a bit long and tough to stand still through. Chris Hoban was a New York police officer who was killed in an undercover drug buy 21 years ago. I had a young uncle who was killed that same year and I remember what a painful shock that was to my family; it still stings a little to think about. So, I had a lot of respect for what they were doing and the fact that they used the event to do good for their community. At the end of the ceremony an NYPD helicopter did a low dive over the crowd which frankly, completely freaked me out.

Then we lined up behind the starting line. This was so much different than NYRR. There were no corrals. It did not take me ten minutes just to get to the start line. My race number was so small at a mere 3 digits. The run itself was beautiful route. It took us down the Shore Road Promenade which is a great running and bike path with a view of the New York Bay complete with Lower Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty, Staten Island, and Verrazano Bridge. Then it looped up 3rd Ave (parallel to 4th Ave, the first leg of the New York marathon) and back to the start at Xaverian High School.

My goal for races 10K and under is usually to try to burst the average pace of 9 minutes per mile. I have yet to do it in a scored New York Road Runners race. This annoys me to no end because the quicker your pace per mile the closer your corral is to the start line (and the less time spent standing around after the gun goes off.) I did run a 5 mile in New Jersey last year where I was a few seconds under the 45 min total time so I know it is possible.

The first leg of the race was pretty crowded so there was a lot of jockeying for position. I tried to stay pretty conservative but not easy. I focused on short quick strides like I had been practicing. I did not have my music because I wanted to be completely present in what people were doing around me but I did try to channel some of my songs mentally to keep the rhythm in my arms and legs.

At the halfway point I was right on pace but the idea of maintaining the pace for another 2 and a half miles seemed like a tall order. The mile markers weren't that clear with volunteers shouting split times as you ran by. As a result I got a bit disoriented about how far I was and how much was left in the fourth mile. At one point I remember thinking I would have had to run a 5 and a half minute mile in the last mile to make it under 45 minutes so I had to let go of my goal. Still, I managed to maintain my intensity and was psyched to look around and see that I was mostly running with guys. I could see a few ladies ahead of me but I was definitely ahead of the big crowd and up with the above average runners. There was a big hill right before the finish line which sucked but the downhill into the finish made for a nice final kick. To my surprise the clock read 44:17.48! So I made my goal with a 8:52 per mile pace afterall.

I just downloaded the pdf with the race results and I've been pouring over it. Unlike NYRR race results it doesn't calculate my age and gender place so I actually went through and counted all the 20-29 year old females who placed ahead of me. The first 5 in each age/gender group got trophies. I was very pleased to find that my score placed me as #12 among the women in their 20s. My overall place was 227 out of 612 finishers. That definitely beats my usual NYRR placement which is something in the thousands.

It was definitely a nice change to do a more local race and I will definitely try to do more. Maybe next time I'll memorize some mile mark landmarks in advance so I don't have to worry about the high school aged volunteers shouting confusing numbers at me in my runner's fog. Although the focus of this race report has been on the numbers I still think of it as a by-product of my training. I am most proud of the fact that I could run in a way that I felt strong. I was challenging myself with the pace all the way through but I never lost form or felt that I was risking injury in order to achieve my result. My goal is to continue to improve gradually with an emphasis on good practice.

Random side note: as I was walking past the ambulance parked at the finish line, the runner sitting on the stretcher getting his knee iced and taped was none other that the guy I blogged about drafting off me in my blog last week. I swear I'm not making that up. The path we were running was part of the race route but it was still weird to him in there.


Jess said...

Ha! That is hilarious!! Just goes to show...

Congrats on the great time :)

Donna W. said...

I am a volunteer on the Hoban Run Committee. I just want to thank-you for your kind review (well mostly kind. We’ll take the criticism as a way to improve next year’s race).
Next year is the year we're going to bring it all together: shorter opening ceremony, starting on time (3 minutes late isn’t too bad), larger mile marker signs, accurate splits, and a faster award ceremony.

It's been 21 years since PO Chris Hoban was killed, remembering him is symbolic of remembering others we have lost the other members of the NYPD, FDNY, and our Armed Forces. “Lest we forget.”

You didn’t mention the music on the course at start the Xaverian Orchestra, and on the pier the Xaverian Pipe Band No mention of the post race party music the band “Head Over Heels”, and DJ Tommy Tunes. There wasn’t just a helicopter buzz overhead there was the FDNY fire boat with the spray sailing up the Narrows touting its horn (as seen in your picture), and an NYPD boat as well. Food and beverages: ice cold beer, Pepsi, Myoplex, hamburgers, hot dogs (with sauerkraut), Utz snacks (a variety of potato chips, regular, BBQ, and salt and vinegar), and cotton candy. There were long sleeve t-shirts for adults (the color was cardinal –very nice), short sleeve for the PeeWees. For the kids there was a moonwalk, a large slide, and a carnival booth. Every PeeWee received a medal for their athletic endeavor. All this for $15.00 pre-registered (adults), $7.00 PeeWee.

What are the race fees for NYRR races (especially if you’re not a NYRR member? I think most of NYRR post race parties are a bottle of water and a bruised peach.

The post race party finally ended about 4:30 PM, when DJ Tommy Tunes closed with Kate Smith singing “God Bless America”. It was the only way to get the Striders off the dance floor. Brooklyn how sweet it is!

Donna said...

Sorry, I forgot to mention that the Hoban Run is the 3rd leg of Brooklyn's First Triple Crown; the "Bay Ridge Belmont" so to speak. The first two races are also local races, the Kenny Dolan
5K, and the "Coney Island Preakness"-The Cosme 5K. For more info please visit:

Mike said...

Loved the Xaverian Bag Pipes at the 69th Street pier!

Lady Southpaw said...

Hi Donna,
Thanks for checking out the blog and the very detailed comments!

Overall, I would say it was a well organized, fun race, and definitely worth the entry fee.

Yea, it's very unlike me not to bring up the music seeing as that's my area of expertise :) I also enjoyed the Xaverian Orchestra and the bagpipes on the pier. Although, I missed out on "Head Over Heels" because I had to go.

Great work!

Donna said...

Would you mind if I put a link on the Hoban Run website to your blog?

Lady Southpaw said...

Sure, go for it :)