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: