Saturday, November 13, 2010

ING New York City MARATHON: The Race Report

My first ING New York City Marathon, in a word it was, bittersweet. The more I look back on it the more it feels sweet, but at the time I had a little bitterness that took some of the excitement out of the day.

There was one issue that seriously got in my way mentally. I mentioned it to a few people but tried not to make a big deal about it before the race. The last time I went to a doctor she noted that I had a heart murmur (see diagram B below for a basic explanation.) I asked her if that would affect my plans to run the marathon and she said she didn't think it would be a good idea for me to do it. I decided I wanted another opinion so I went to a cardiologist with a copy of my echo cardiogram to get a better idea of exactly what risks were involved. His opinion was similar to the first doctor's. He said I had an increased risk of developing a fatal arrhythmia during extreme exercise. However, it was not a huge risk because I'm in great health with normal blood pressure and no other symptoms. As a doctor, he didn't want to give me 100% clearance. Although he did say if I really felt I had to run it, to use caution and drop out if it was too humid, polluted or if I felt dizzy. He also mentioned dehydration could increase the risks.

This was very upsetting because I had trained so well all season and I felt great. I had gotten the 9 minute mile down to a science and during my last couple half marathons I spent more and more miles in the 8:30-8:40/mile range. I got my 5K time down to a 7:30 pace and my 1 mile record was 6:31 which I hit once in practice and once during the 5th Ave mile race. I was really set on getting as close to a 4 hour marathon as possible (which would be a 9:22 min per mile pace.)

The other thing was not as big of a deal but was probably more of a consequence of my own stubbornness. I wanted this race to be a solo mission. All season I had been training with Team in Training. I ran the Hamptons Half with them as my main event so I did my duty with all the fundraising and mentoring already. I didn't do some of the fanfare with them that goes with race day. The main thing was that I didn't take the bus over with the team. Mainly because it didn't make sense since I live really close to the start line on the Brooklyn side of the Verrazano. So I got my own transportation thinking I would end up running into some people I knew in the corrals beforehand. I didn't see anyone! It was a maze of unfamiliar faces.

That aside, all my pre-race rituals went like clock work. I felt fueled, hydrated and I had a chance to empty my bladder. I decided to run with my fuel belt which I didn't want to do, but I was so paranoid about the hydration factor I really wanted the extra security. I felt really dehydrated after my last 20 mile long run and I didn't want to risk that happening again.

The route is very appropriate for my "solo mission." It is starts with a tour of all the neighborhoods I've lived in since moving to New York. Basically, the Brooklyn section starts where I currently live, goes through the neighborhood I moved from and ends in the neighborhood I lived in when I first got here. In between are an array of my favorite hang outs and stomping grounds. It's all the different evolutions that I've gone through since I moved here as a bright eyed girl from Michigan coming straight out of college. There have been different apartments, room mates, jobs, boyfriends, friends, the only common denominator has been me. It's my personal experience of the borough.

Waiting for the start they blasted Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York," through the speakers and I could already feel myself getting choked up. I was running with a heart rate monitor for the first time which was another factor in my overall race performance. They say nothing new on race day but a doctor friend of mine suggested it as a measure to keep an eye on what my heart was doing. It was the worst before the race because I would see the rate rise with every surge of anxiety that I felt. I felt extremely emotional listening to Sinatra and looking up at Verrazano, a bridge I can see from my apartment building and something I was really excited to run over. Still, I was extremely nervous and I didn't want to get too excited early on and create higher risks later in the race. At this point I decided I should try to develop more of an even kiel and stay cool in the face of this race.

I had talked to friends and co-workers beforehand asking them where they would be along the route. I figured I would see at least some of them. Not one. Somehow, I managed to miss everyone! The worst of which was my boyfriend who I missed in THREE places. I blame myself. I didn't specify the side of the road. I may have been to vague in my understanding of exactly where they'd be. Also, I was a little sad my parents weren't there, but there were some obstacles that came up for them and I told them not to worry about it. I could've tried to help them plan out a trip further in advance but I didn't. Early in the race this also weighed on me a little and again it caused me to decide to bury my emotions and keep a sense of calm detachment throughout.

My first marathon was very emotional. I ran with Team in Training in San Francisco. I ran with my friend Jess. We talked about our friends and family members touched by cancer we were running for. I saw my parents and our coaches along the route. It was more about the people than the place. New York was the opposite.

When I first signed up for New York I put my estimated time as 4:30 because I wasn't confident in my goal at that point. As a result I was in a slower corral than I've been used to the last year or two. The crowd was so thick and I was running slower than I had run in a race in well over a year. I was running slower than I had run in any of my training runs by a minute and sometimes over. That was both hard and frustrating. There were so many people it was tough to do anything different from the pack. Plus worrying about my heart made me paranoid about taking off too fast too early. Interestingly a few of the times I tried speeding up my heart rate actually went down. I really do feel like there is such a thing as running too slow and that it is almost as hard as running too fast. Unfortunately the nature of the course and all the people made it difficult to ever find a truly comfortable rhythm.

That's all the bitter, now for the sweet. The race fans were awesome!! Even though I couldn't find my friends there was no shortage of complete strangers cheering me on at every turn. I loved seeing all my familiar neighborhoods and how they fit together. It was like putting together a puzzle I always missed when riding the subway.

Then of course there was the music!! I really got excited by all the bands. Of course you would only get a small taste of each of them while running, but the ones with a lot of guitars and a good beat always got me really excited.

That's what gives me hope and makes me not too sad about the heart murmur thing. I still want to be a part of the marathon experience even if I don't end up running another one. The thought of putting together a new band and playing more races in the future definitely got me going.

Running so conservatively through Brooklyn and Queens meant that when I got to the 59th street bridge I still felt pretty good. First Ave was great of course with the cheering crowds and the road opened up so it didn't feel so packed. Getting to the Bronx was pretty sweet because it meant we were turning back toward the finish.

Fifth avenue was tough because it was so long. Also, a lot of people were reduced to walking at this point. There were so many walkers that at one point they actually blocked the entire width of the road and I had to slow down and squeeze in between people to get through. It was awful.

I also faced the mental block that I had been hitting in the last few half marathons. That last 3 miles is my worst. I know I'm close and that makes me want to stop and I'm not close enough that I feel comfortable picking up the pace because 3 miles is still pretty far. This is what I was feeling as I entered Central Park. I was starting to feel how sore my muscles were particularly on my right side. The rolling hills and the fact that the finish was not in sight made it feel impossible to speed up. It wasn't until the finish was actually in sight that I felt I could pick it up a little.

As I crossed the finish line the time was the same as my first marathon 2 years ago 5:37:30 (or there about) but I started an hour after the clock started (plus the time it took me to cross the start line) my official time ended up being 4:35:51 (10:31 pace per mile.)

For the first time in long time I decided to get an official post race shot with my medal (I usually skip these in the regular NYRR races.) The look on my face is utter relief and elation. I did not die and I did not feel the least bit dehydrated or injured! However, all the muscles in my legs were screaming as I waddled into the flock of slow moving runners being very gradually herded to our bags and out of the park.

At this point I saw my friend Jess, which seemed appropriate since she was the person I ran my first and only other marathon with. It was good to re-connect with her after not seeing her in so long.

In the end it was overwhelmingly a positive experience. I think even on a day when I was not worrying about my heart I probably wouldn't have run a 4 hour marathon. My guess is it would have been closer to 4:20 or maybe 4:15 given all the thick pack, hills, and my lack of experience at this distance. The weather was perfect! You couldn't ask for better!

Now I'm looking forward to perfecting my half marathon and 10K times. I don't want to go through that worry again over the marathon distance. The doctors said it was fine for me to keep running, it was just the distance that was dangerous.

I want to make my contribution to the marathon experience be the music. I can live with that.

Speaking of which, I have teamed up with Hella Sound Premium Running Music and PRS Fitness in contributing to a series of running music workouts. The first one is a collaboration between Jonathan Jones of Linwood Studios and I called, "Strides: Choose to Run." It is a 25 minute, 180 bpm tempo running rock music set that contains a warm up, 6 x 30 sec "stride" intervals with 1 minute recoveries and a cool down. I used it through out my marathon training as a sort of maintenance run between my more intense speed/hill work and the long runs. I found it really helpful.

The thing that differentiates "Choose to Run" from other types of running music is that there is a narrative story line through out the work out. I really want to create more pieces like this. It's a different way to relate to a piece of art, by actively moving with it. Plus, you're getting your speed work in. There are more of these in the works. Please try it out and give me feedback on how it goes! You can tweet me @lady_southpaw or join the Lady Southpaw Running Music Facebook fan page and comment on the wall.

Here's an excerpt we put on Youtube:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Team in Training--Hamptons Half Marathon 2010 Race Report

This past weekend marked my third event with Team in Training (TNT.) This organization, an extension of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, helps train everyday people to become endurance athletes. In addition to getting a complete training program with group practices and nutrition coaching for half marathons, marathons and triathlons, participants raise money toward cancer research and patient support services to help families in their struggles with blood related cancers.

For me, this organization has been a real gateway into the running community. It took me from being some one who ran on the treadmill for 20 min at the gym or in the park for 3 miles on the weekend, some one who never timed herself, had little idea about pacing and had never run a race, into a marathoner and completely obsessed runner. I first came in contact with the organization in 2008 and trained with them to complete the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco. You can read more about that and my connection to the cause here. That was also the first time I wrote a "running song" as part of my fundraising. Here is the youtube video.

Then last year I did a "Fast Track 10K," which was recounted in this blog post.

So far the marathon has not been my favorite racing distance. It's hard to get ready for and the training is very time consuming. However, I knew after completing one that I had to do New York. I've been watching friends do that one too many years in a row. I also wanted to be sure to train right, so I signed up for TNT again as a mentor. This way I didn't have to do as much fundraising and could help others in completing the task.

As a mentor I was assigned to the Hamptons Half & Full Marathon as my official event. I am guessing it was because I already had guaranteed entry into the New York Marathon so they gave those spots to the people who needed TNT to secure their registration. Doing the Hamptons Half as a preparation race for NY works out well because it's just over a month before the big race and it's not too far to travel.

I got lucky because my sweetie A.H. used to work out in the Hamptons so he knew some one we could stay with for free. It was a fun weekend.

When we first got out there the weather was miserable! It was cold and rainy. I got A. to do a quick 20 min jog with me, our first run together ever (I'm trying to convert him) and I started wondering about whether that purple singlet was going to be adequate given the weather.

Glory, glory Hallelujah! The weather the next morning felt like nothing short of a miracle! It was gloriously sunny and crisp, the perfect conditions for a race. We rolled in with just enough time to make it through the porta-potty line. I didn't have time to get cold because no sooner had I found my mentee Ken, author and pacing buddy, in the corral than the gun went off. My adrenaline was pumping and soon I talking Ken's ear off about complete drivel. At that point I decided it would be better for both of us if I broke off and let him have his own race. I figured it would be a matter of time before he passed me as our history showed; I liked to take off faster only to have him catch me about two thirds into the race.

My plan was to run the first 5 miles in an 8:40-9:00 mile/min pace window, run the second 5 miles in 8:30-8:50 min pace window and do the last 3.1 miles all out. My PR race was a 1:57:09 at a 8:56 pace so I figured as long as I was doing sub 9 minute miles I would probably PR. Still, it took me a year of running half marathons and chipping a couple minutes off at a time to get down to that so I was a little nervous about sustaining the new pace for that long. I blew it in 5 miles by coming in a minute plus faster than the bottom of the pace window, but I felt great so I didn't worry too much about it.

The course was beautiful. We went by fields and through woods. There was even a stretch on a dirt road. A couple weeks before I had the opportunity to do the "Reach the Beach" relay with some TNT team mates in New Hampshire. That terrain was the perfect preparation for the Hamptons race. That experience also changed my mindset a lot about how hard and fast I could push myself in race conditions. I did all my relay legs in around at or near and 8 min mile pace and felt pretty good about it. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to put together a good blog post about that experience but our captain Joel wrote a great one that can be found here.

As I came into the 10 mile mark I noted that I was no longer below my pace window but still safely inside of it. I was starting to think about speeding up when Ken came trotting up behind me. I was surprised I hadn't seen him before this point and tried for awhile to keep up with him as part of my speed increase. Unfortunately he lost me before we had run a mile together. Miles 11 and 12 were very scenic as they took us along the harbor with a nice view of water and troupe of girls scouts all very eager to give us water and gatorade.

When I hit mile 13 I could have sworn the clock read 1:43 something. This got me excited because I thought there maybe a chance of coming in near 1:50 for my total time. The previous weekend I had done the NYRR 5th Ave mile race with a time of 6:31. I thought if I could pick it up maybe I could at least whip out one sub 8 min mile. I made my best effort to pick up the pace but weirdly I felt like I was running slower. It was unfortunately up hill toward the end. Also, there was that extra .1 of a mile. Anyway, maybe I was wrong because I'm sure it was still sub 10 min....

Final Time:

1:53:34 - 8:43 pace - PR by 3:35 minutes!

Overall, I felt strong for the majority of the race, only the last couple of miles sucked because I tried to push the speed. I'm going to take this as a sign of more PRs to come. I wasn't sure once I got sub 2 hours that I would chip away at it much farther, but now that seems more plausible. It's also got me thinking about a sub 4 hour marathon, but we'll see about that in month.

The thing about being a mentor is that your job isn't done once you cross the finish line. I chatted with some of my faster mentees to see how their races went. Then I went back out onto the course to cheer on some of the slower mentees and the marathoners who were still racing. This is the moment that makes doing all the extra paperwork and weekly emails required for being a mentor pay off. It's really rewarding watching some one who probably never thought they could be a runner cross the finish line of a half marathon or marathon. Being a part of a team makes the whole experience extra fulfilling because there are coaches, mentors and team mates cheering you all along the course. There were lots of good feelings to go around that day, it was definitely a success.

If you are interested in learning more about or supporting this organization I encourage you to check out the website by clicking here. Even though the fall season is coming to a close it's never too late to donate. Also there are plenty of slots open for future events! Thank you to anyone reading this who already took the time to donate. Your generosity plays an important role in making so many good things happen! You are the reason that this organization can continue to make people healthier.

On a completely unrelated note, Lady Southpaw Music got a mention on the Psychology Today blog this past week. Give it a click here.

Keep on Running and Rocking everybody!

Friday, July 23, 2010

NY Mini Race Performance and Meeting Meb

The NYRR New York Mini 10K race was well over a month ago now and it just hit me that I didn't wrap it up with a performance report!

I had a phenomenal time. The New York Road Runners Club is known for there large and well organized events and the entertainment portion was no exception. The sound crew was awesome and everything went off without a hitch. I played a few songs before the race and a set after the race and right before the awards ceremony. Some one even came up to request one of my pre-show songs again which was super cool.

Thanks to the wonders of twitter I had been able to recognize a nyrr photographer who had been tweeting that he was covering the show. As a result I was able to get the pics he took of me onstage immediately after the show. All he asked was that I give him photo credit. So here are a few master shots taken by Michael Chadwick. If you happen to be looking for a photographer check out his website or follow him on twitter @ChadwickPhotog

I was happy to see several other of my tweeps there. Before the show I saw @Ashmoe of and fame. I also managed to play the BoldPaceMusic blog's pick for running song of the week last week, "Engineering Masterpiece," while @BklynRunner was in earshot (which was a song she had personally requested.) After the show I saw @herroyaltallnes jamming out and snapping pics. I officially met @Running_Fox for the first time and @SpeedySasquatch even stopped by. I recognized a few other people from facebook as well. Special thanks to my sweetie @Hickey462 for playing roadie and toting my gear around (the parking was quite a feat as well.)

As I was leaving I found myself a few feet from one of my running heros, and let's face it the hero of many female runners of our generation, Kara Goucher! I was too shy and in too much of a hurry to stand in the line of adoring fans but I did snap a quick camera phone shot as I walked by.

Speaking of running celebrities in my "I intended to blog about this a long time ago," vault.... Check out this great autograph I got from last year's ING New York City Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi! I got it while attending a sponsored event at the Run Footlocker store on Union Square back in April. I decided it would mean more to me to have him sign my Runner's World to Lady Southpaw and tried desperately to explain my concept as quickly as possible (as there was a long line fans waiting.) He actually humored me with his very sweet message of "To: Lady Southpaw, Best wishes & Thank you for writing songs to Runners. Run to Win, Meb." This one is definitely going into a frame to be hung in my "music studio" (AKA bedroom.)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Running Music Performances at Races

If you are going to be anywhere near Central Park this Saturday June 12 please stop by the NYRR Women's Mini 10K! There will be a Lady Southpaw performance before and after this event around 8 and 9:40 am respectively. It should be pretty exciting as two of my heroes Kara Goucher and Paula Radcliffe will be running but not racing because they are both pregnant. How BadAss is that?

2010 has been a pretty good year for Lady Southpaw running rock performances at races. It was more than a year ago now that I was musing about that as one of my goals.

To kickoff the year, in January I played after a hash.

In February I performed after the Valentines Day 5K with the Brooklyn Road Runners Club thanks to support from (which included helping me duct tape my mic to a hand truck when I forgot my mic stand, very smooth.)

In March I rocked mile 11 of the NYC Half Marathon with New York Road Runners Club (scroll down to the bottom of the entertainment page to see a Lady Southpaw link on youtube.)

April took me to the Asbury Park for the Jersey Shore RunAPalooza Half Marathon & Marathon Relay.

A group of us representing went down and had a great time. This was a big first for me because they had me sing the National Anthem before the race. The only picture I have from that event is of my back, and the backs of all the racers as we gaze lovingly at the flag on top of the Asbury Park Convention Hall. I got to play inside the hall during the expo which was pretty cool considering big acts like Bruce Springstein and the Rolling Stones have all played there. It was a bit funny with just me and my one little amp; can anyone say reverb? That place is like a huge echo chamber but a kick-ass experience nonetheless.

Have I mentioned that is a great resource for all things running in the New York area? This includes a race calendar, local running clubs, partner finder, and the best running bloggers in NYC.

Again, if you are in the Central Park area this Saturday, please please please come support!!

If I had to make a goal for next year, it would be to get a full band together.... Sooooo.... if you happen to know any musicians who are running-inclined pleeeaaase send them my way lovelies.

Thank you. That is all.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Brooklyn Half Marathon 2010 - Race Report

Before sitting down to this race report I had to re-read my Brooklyn Half Marathon Report from 2009. My, how far I have come in the past year of racing. I ran for a long time without even entering a race and now I am starting to recognize them and run the same ones annually.

Last year's Brooklyn Half was my first official Half Marathon race on record (although I had run the distance in marathon training.) As a result it was a huge eye opener. It was unseasonably hot and humid that day in 2009. I struggled to maintain a 10:30 min/mile pace and by the time I reached the Coney Island boardwalk it felt like one of those dreams where you are trying to run fast but your body doesn't respond, like your wheels are spinning and you are going nowhere.

After that day I decided I didn't want to make my goal to just run faster, because that pushing really sucked and I hated every minute of it. Instead, I wanted to make running faster feel easier.

When watching fast runners it's always astonishing when they look like they are actually expending less energy than their slower counterparts. This is usually the result of physical conditioning, experience, and technique. Of course natural talent also plays a part, but if your goal is not to win but just to enjoy running, lack of natural talent is a very surmountable issue (I should know as some one who is naturally very snail-like.)

After Brooklyn last year, I read up a lot on form, incorporated more hill and speed training, and ran with new groups of runners. I completed 3 other half marathons since that one: NYC, Staten Island, and Manhattan. Each time I got progressively faster.

By the time I reached the start line for the Brooklyn Half 2010, I had one goal in mind: to run this half marathon in less than 2 hours! Brooklyn is my favorite borough, my adopted home town of the last 6 and a half years, I had some unfinished business with it after last year's performance in misery. In addition to weekly speed training I had been using my home turf advantage to do practice runs on different stages of the course. This included sprinting that final boardwalk stretch to mentally prep for the finish line and avoid last year's bad dream. I also did hill repeats in Prospect Park and countless loops to be ready for that stage of the race.

The day before the race I did a short tempo run on the treadmill practicing my 9 min/mile race pace. I forgot my iPod and was forced to entertain myself with the sound of my feet against the rubber. Interestingly, it made this chant come into my head. I ended up remembering it during the race. It was an interesting trick that I may use for some Lady Southpaw compositions in running music down the road...

Enough of this running tangent. Here is the breakdown:

I woke up early enough but was a bit too leisurely getting my butt out the door. Somehow I managed to get there when they were doing the last call on baggage check. This surprised me because I had deluded myself into thinking I was early. Once I had taken care of that I found myself at the end of a very long porta-potty line. Unfortunately, this stop was not optional, I needed it way too desperately to wait until I was on the course. I also didn't want a porta potty stop to detract any time (as it had when I ran Manhattan.) So, I got to the start line after the gun. Being at the back of the pack was very frustrating for the first mile because this race was so full it was hard to get around people. In my head I kept fearing this stupid fact was going to keep me from my goal as my last race was 2:00:23. A few seconds doesn't seem like much until it keeps you from hitting your goal.

By the time I got to mile 2 I was more or less up with my pace group, and the time on the clock was right about on target. This was a huge relief. My trip around Prospect Park was pretty uneventful.

I decided to wear the fuel belt. It's annoying and I hate the sight of it in my race pics but not having to wait for fueling stations and not having to drink gatorade is priceless. Last year I didn't wear it and I regretted it, so I've been sporting it for all the other halfs. This was no exception and hydration wise I felt pretty great throughout the race.

Ocean Parkway felt endless! That was the one stage of the half I didn't practice I started mentally planning my practice runs to include it next year. It was the only time I felt my pace lag. When I hit 9 miles I saw I had 43 min to make my goal and was projecting that it should only take 36 to run, unfortunately this meant I lost a couple mins on miles 9-12 because I got a little too comfortable. However, once I started nearing the last stretch I picked up some speed.

At that point I was so happy because I realized I was living the experience I wanted to have last year. I was challenging my pace and not feeling defeated by it. I was running fast (for me) and still feeling strong.

I was beaming as I ran through the finish line because I knew I hit my goal! What a great feeling, knowing that I had worked so hard and it actually affected my performance the way I wanted it to. That may sound funny, but at a time when so much of my life seems out of my control or the outcomes are counter to what I had planned, being able to set a goal and achieve feels really phenomenal.

Official Time:
1:57:09 - 8:56 min/mile pace
(up from 2:17:28 in 2009!)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

NYC Half Marathon 2010 Performance Report

First, while I'm blogging I just want to mention I had the opportunity to check out the new Run by Footlocker store on Union Square devoted to all things running. They decided to have their official grand opening festivities coincide with the NYC Half weekend. It was a convenient hop to the expo from there. The people working this location (14th Street & University) were all very knowledgeable and intent on pulling out all the stops to serve the NY running community.

I even got this cool T-shirt:

Now onto the race report. It seems like only 7 months ago since the last NYC Half Marathon, oh wait, that's because it was. Having the race in March was a breath of fresh air after last August's sweat fest. It was a crystal clear beautiful day.

I ran this race for the first time last year and really enjoyed it. This year it was my goal to play running rock for it. When I arrived at my little station I was downright giddy when I saw the big blue Lady Southpaw sign. I felt I had conquered the Everest of running organizations, I was playing a New York Road Runners event. It took me awhile to find the right contacts, but once I did I found the organization was very efficient and I really hope to get the opportunity to do more of their events soon.

I got there with plenty of time and leisurely setup all my gear. Last month I had the fiasco of forgetting my mic stand at an event in Brooklyn and I was forced to improvise with some creative use of duct tape (thanks Steve!) This time I had everything all packed up before I went to bed last night and a checklist to look over before I left in the morning. I still managed to forget my sunglasses, but they were optional.

My spot was on 15th Street and the West Side Highway. I was in the oasis for entertainment after Time Square and 42nd Street where there is nothing but stimulation and before the "wall of sound" into the finish. Right behind me was a water station, porta-potties and a "high five station." So in general it was a small point of relief for runners in one of the more difficult parts of the race. They had 11 miles behind them but they were still not done.

It is so interesting to watch a race in its entirety. You really see the bell curve of race paces. It was utterly mind-blowing when the first guy went sprinting by in under an hour from the start! I was star-struck when I saw Deena Kastor. Then the crowd gradually forms until the street is packed and tapers away again leaving you with those not as genetically gifted or facing a race that didn't go as planned and visibly fighting the pain of it. There is really the full gamut of human emotion from elation, to strong focus, to ease, to battle. It was exciting.

For about 45 minutes I was completely eating it up. I was having the time of my life, playing my songs and rocking out. I know people could only hear me for a few seconds as they whizzed past, but I really felt connections to many of them. I especially got a kick from the ones who waved or shouted, "I saw your page on Facebook!" I felt like everything I had been working on so hard was really coming together!

I got through all the "Songs For Running," playing "Engineering Masterpiece," more than once and a couple of covers. Then halfway through my cover of the Cranberries song "Zombie," the sound just cut out! I couldn't believe it. I had my power source charging the entire night. When I checked it, it still showed that it had power. I think maybe it was just shorting out or over heating or something? I turned everything off and turned it on again. It worked for a little bit but then the same thing happened again. That pretty much sums up the rest of my experience. I would turn it off, leave it for a couple minutes then turn it on again, with the sound on lower or playing a less intense song or something. Then, inevitably, it would cut out again after a couple minutes. Sometimes I could make it through a whole song, but most the time only half of one.

So far I have only used this power source for much shorter events. I don't think it had ever been on that long without a break. In the future I think I will break it up into shorter sets and see if that helps. I really don't want to have to buy another one at this point because those things are expensive and this one is so portable! I will probably do some research into and see if there is anything more I can do about it.

It was unfortunate that a large portion of the mid pack missed out on my playing anything. I joined the High Five Station briefly while I let the generator rest. That was super fun too. At some point I just figured f* it and played some of the more straight rhythmic songs without any amplification. Considering that the runners don't get to hear that much of the song anyway, not having sound didn't seem to make that much of a difference. It was a much better vibe when I was trying to sing then just standing there disappointed, looking like I was leaving them dry with the music. Of course I probably looked a little air-headed, as if I didn't realize there was no sound coming out of my amp. Oh well, you live you learn. I still really want to do this again and keep improving on the process!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wave to Lady Southpaw on Mile 11 of the NYC Half Marathon

After much relentless spamming of the New York Road Runners Club I was invited to play at one of their races! I consider this a major achievement. All the details have been coming together in the past week, so I am blogging this with only 3 days until the big event.

This Sunday March 21st, 2010 will be the NYC Half Marathon. I ran this race last year when it was in August. In my race report I revelled in all the course musicians and fantasized (or should I say prophesied?) playing the event this year. Click here if you care to reminisce. I even mentioned my disappointment that there was a big gap in music on West Side Highway where you need it this most. So now I am very excited to report I will be playing mile 11 on the West Side Highway and 15th Street.

Here is my little section on the course map:

I'm excited to be playing across from the fluid station being operated by the Hudson Dusters, a team I have r*n with as part of

Anyone who has run the NYC Half knows that this stretch of the course is one of the most difficult. As I recall, the loop around Central Park is challenging for it's hills and generally establishing your pace. Then there is a thrilling downhill romp through Times Square where you are so excited to be out of the park and there is so much going on it fills you with energy and excitement. This is all well and good until you hit the West Side Highway. The last leg. You feel like you are almost done, but don't be fooled there are still miles to go before you can sleep. I remember assuming I had less than a mile left when I hit the 11 mile mark only to realize I still had 2.1 miles to go. Perhaps I was delirious from the heat, which will not be an issue in March, but that long straight shot to the finish seemed endless.

That's where I come in (well for the fraction of a minute you'll be able to hear me as you pass...) playing my electric guitar and singing to get you pumped up! I will play through all of my "Songs For Running," the E.P. that can be streamed or purchased through Reverbnation and also available on iTunes. I will also be playing some of my favorite covers sped up to 180 bpm. Selections include songs by artists such as: Blondie, P.J. Harvey, Green Day, Ben Kweller, and maybe others I can't think of right now. There will be nothing under 160 bpm.

So if you see me make sure to wave! Or at least smile and nod a little. That won't drain to much energy, in fact it might help.

Check out the full entertainment line-up on the NYRR official page:

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Express 3 Race Report

So far 2010 has been a horrible year for the "Running Rocks" blog! There are so many times I've meant to write something and it hasn't happened. Anyway I wanted to get something out for February 2010. Also, I want to record my races of the past month, therefore, I bring you the "Express 3 Race Report."

January 24, 2010 - Manhattan Half Marathon (Central Park)

Overall time - 2:00:23 pace/mile - 9:11

The gist: My main goal for this race was to go sub 2 hours. Therefore, I wanted to run as close to a 9 min. mile pace as possible throughout. Unfortunately, my GI tract did not cooperate. I may have overdone it on the pre-race nutrition and hydration a bit. I was desperate to go the bathroom as soon as I got off the train, then again right before the race start, so it shouldn't have surprised me when I was ready to burst on the course itself. Miles 1-7 went according to plan. Then, mile 8 I got that desperate bursting feeling again. I slowed down drastically and with the Harlem hill on the horizon I was afraid I wouldn't make it if I didn't find a latrine. In the situation I think it was the right decision because I would have continued to slow down and been extremely uncomfortable had I not stopped. However, it's tough to look at that time without thinking if I could just deduct the time it took me to make the extra pit stop I would have my goal. Onto the 2010 Brooklyn Half, I have some unfinished business with that race. That will be a great place to hit my goal!

February 21, 2010 - Cherry Tree 10 miler (Prospect Park)

Overall time - 1:27:37 pace/mile - 8:46

The gist: I was really happy with this time! I ran around lot before the race between the number pickup, the NYSC where I dropped off my stuff and the start (which I overshot by nearly a half mile and had to run back, the PPTC start line was not as obvious as the NYRR corrals...) I feel confident had it been a Half Marathon I could have hit the sub 2 hour goal. This time I really didn't make a lot of effort to do everything right: I didn't get the right amount of sleep and I didn't think much about race nutrition (no gu's or electrolyte beverages on route) yet during and afterword I felt awesome. The only problem was I ended up feeling pretty beat up the next day. My ankle that has been acting up on and off this year felt pretty stiff for the rest of week.

February 28, 2010 - Al Gordon Snowflake 4 miler (Prospect Park)

Overall time - 32:29 pace/mile - 8:07

The gist: Great race! This is a PB for my fastest race pace ever!! I think it really helped that I ran the same loop three times last week in the Cherry Tree 10 miler. It made this one seem like a breeze. My ankle was a bit stiff in the beginning. The thing I found in the first mile was that it actually hurt more if I went slow and less the faster I went (good incentive to speed up!) Also this race started with the big "North Hill," which meant a lot of the people directly around me slowed way down and I couldn't stand it. So, knowing the course as well as I do, I knew that I could take the hill relatively fast without sabotaging myself later (especially knowing we'd only do it once!) As a result I sped around the outside and passed a ton of people going up the hill (thanks to Coach Sasquatch and his killer hill repeats!) Then when I got to a faster paced group I settled back into the pack. I also knew mile 3 would be mostly downhill and used that to my advantage. Mile 4 I felt like throwing up a little, but managed to pull myself together going up the last hill on Center drive into the finish line. I was singing the words to my song "Engineering Masterpiece" in my head and it really helped a lot for the final push.

Al Gordon is actually the first race that I've run two years in a row. It's a bit disappointing that it went from being a 5K to a 4 miler this year because I really wanted to set a new 5K PR and also it makes it harder to compare the times but the improvement is clear:

2009 Al Gordon 5K Overall time - 28:54 pace/mile - 9:19

Overall I have made a lot of progress this year. I wish I could say it was all because of the new music I've been working on. In a way it is because it has inspired me to do a lot of extra research into running and testing of what works and doesn't. As a result I have added a lot more "quality running" work outs (tempo, intervals and hills) and have tweaked my biomechanics. Going from a heal to a mid/fore-foot strike has helped me get faster. Unfortunately, it has also assisted me in getting my first running related injury- the ankle thing. I have a theory on where I went wrong there that maybe the subject of a future post.

2009 Brooklyn Half Stats - Overall time - 2:17:28 pace/mile - 10:29

Brooklyn Half Marathon 2010 - You will be toast!