100 Things About Running Entry #6

100 Things About Running Entry #6

or Why I’m NOT Running the NYC Marathon

I know. It’s a big one. Possibly on more bucket lists than even Boston. It seems like everyone wants to run it (at least judging by all the angst on FB and various running forums today as it’s supposed to be announcement day for those who got in via the lottery – though apparently emails may not go out until tomorrow it’s looking like now). And if you live in NYC and run but show no interest in it, you’re sort of looked at as some kind of alien from another planet.

I know this because I’m not running it this year. Or probably ever.

I could have. I’m a NYRR member and last year I ran my 9 races and volunteered at one. Heck, I even ran at least one “extra” race because I got qualifying credit for one I wasn’t able to run – due to the Christmas blizzard, they gave credit to anyone who’d registered for the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run…and I was stuck in Orlando, so there was no way. By virtue of those two facts (membership AND 9+1) I had a guaranteed entry for 2012.

But the bottom line is they flat-out out-priced me. You have to draw a line and stick to it. My line was $200. Had I registered, I would have shelled out $227.

Granted, $27 isn’t a huge amount in the great scheme of things. But you have to draw the line somewhere, and for me $200 was it.

Would I have run NYC in 2012 if the cost had been under my bar? Yes. Part of me would have liked to have run it for a few reasons. First, I do think it would be a neat way to see the city. Second, the peer pressure in my running club is enormous, and you can sort of feel like an outsider if you’re not running it or haven’t run it. Third, I do love New York and living here. But as I said, I had my line, and I’m sticking to it.

Will I spend more going to Disney? Yes. Unless I somehow rack up enough airline miles to fly for free and stay with my sister or a friend, I will be spending more. BUT I get a vacation out of it. Ditto if I run San Francisco or Big Sur one of these years (I’ll talk about those in other posts). Or any other race that will require travel. I’ll be able to have a little vacation. (Chicago will be happening in 2013…and that’ll be another one that will just be airfare and race registration as I’ve got enough friends there I can definitely crash somewhere.) There are other marathons I’m looking at (such as the Donna) that are cheaper and in the case of the Donna actually does good without having to pledge a certain amount to a charity. ALL the money collected for it goes to help fund breast cancer research!

New York is somewhere I can literally run almost the entire course. My running club does a “Blue Line Run” which covers the last 20 miles of the marathon. About the only section I couldn’t do on my own is the bridge that opens the race. And while I’m sure it’s amazing if you’re on the top deck, with my lack of speed and my luck I’d be stuck on the lower level where…let’s just say if urban legend holds true you WANT to be in the center (not good for a run/walker like myself) to avoid getting wet with stuff that’s NOT water.

I am 100% content with my decision to not run it. I know there are people – many of whom applied through the lottery and didn’t get in – who don’t understand how someone could have guaranteed entry and not use it. But I have to be true to myself. And while I love the city, I just don’t feel a burning need to pay over $200 just to run it. I’m not a freak or an alien…I just have different priorities than some people. I don’t criticize them, and I’d hope that they wouldn’t criticize me. (And believe me, I know there are a lot of people who don’t get the draw of running Disney. That’s ok. As an old professor of mine used to say, “That’s why god made chocolate and vanilla!” Hee!)

It’s all about choices and priorities. And ultimately, it’s about running…and isn’t that what binds us runners together? The love of running? Regardless of where we run. šŸ™‚

To those who are running it, good luck! And hopefully I’ll see you at Mile 24 (where my running club is in charge of the fluid station…and also has a cheer section)!

100 Things About Running Entry #4

100 Things About Running Entry #4

Or… My Experience With (and Thoughts on) Competitor Group

I’m just going to say up front that these are my own opinions based on my personal experiences and those of some of my friends (I will indicate which is which) as well as what I’ve gleaned from interviews with them, specifically on The Marathon Show. Your experiences and opinions may vary, and that’s fine. This is my blog, and I’m stating my opinion.

Competitor Group is the group that puts on the Rock’n’Roll (RnR) race series that does marathons and half marathons all over the country. And a 10K in New York City.

The New York 10K is my experience with them. NYRR (New York Road Runners) seemingly has a lock on Central Park, and so RnR did a 10K to come into the market. In wanting to support something to provide choice, I figured I’d do it, so I signed up. It was expensive for a 10K – I want to say $60 or $70 – but it did have bling, and it was inaugural.

My first clue that they really hadn’t thought this thing out was seeing that they were expecting 6000+ runners. The NYRR and Prospect Park Track Club (PPTC) races held in Prospect Park are capped at a max of about 4000. And if they lap the cap is even smaller. The road around the park is just over 3 miles, so clearly there would be lapping going on. Red flag number 1. Then the location for number pick up was announced. I didn’t expect an expo since it was only a 10K. But they picked possibly the smallest running store in the city to hold the number pick-up. It was crazy. Then they randomly put all of us who registered early – before there was an “estimated finish time” on the registration form – into the last corral with a ridiculously slow estimated finish time. So a lot of us were having to change our corral. I’d brought proof of time and was put in Corral 7. By them simply putting a little round sticker on the bib and writing the new corral with a sharpie on the dot. I found out my friend who I was planning to run with was given the choice of 7 or 6 because our estimated finish time overlapped. It was not a problem to change my number when I got home. And as it turns out no one bothered to check the numbers anyway. But back to pick up…they were running out of bags and shirts so that people were having to get them the next morning. Fast forward to then. Less than an hour before the race, only the porta potties where registration was going on (yes, they were still registering people…total cash cow) were unlocked. None further up the course, which many of us had to pass based on the subway stop we got off at. We got into the corrals, and then it was announced that they were delaying the start by 15 minutes because people were STILL registering. Once we got underway, the race itself was fine. No big problems, though there was much lapping going on. After, when it was time to collect my baggage, it was horrible. We’d put them on rental trucks based on our numbers. Now…if we were going from Prospect Park to somewhere else in Brooklyn, this would have made sense. However, there was less than half a mile between the finish village and the registration village. There was no need to move the bags PERIOD. But they did. Now at NYRR races (the regular ones…not the NYC Half or NYC Marathon), yes, you go in on your own and get your bag, but your bib is checked against that tag on your way out. Here, we found that bags were being and had been tossed out of the trucks at random, thrown between trucks, and essentially were not being watched at all nor was anyone bothering to match up bibs with tags. Thankfully as far as I heard no one’s bag was stolen, but that’s sheer luck really. Basically it was a big cluster and I’m not doing it again. Especially when I can run laps of Prospect Park any day I choose for free.

This past December, Competitor put on RnR Las Vegas. Which was by al accounts one huge cluster fuck in pretty much every way it could be. I have some friends who ran it and they said they have never been so happy to simply get out of a race experience alive as they were. The horror stories that were all over the internet were truly shocking. People having medical issues afterwards – being curled up/collapsed on the floor for hours before any EMTs could get to them because of the crowds, running out of water as well as people who have run many races getting violently ill all around the same time, no one maintaining any order for who got into what corral (that one didn’t surprise me at all), and massive overcrowding on the course. Just do a google search and you’ll find PLENTY. Oh yes, they ran out of medals. And there were plenty of reports of people who were shuttled closer to the finish and crossing the line being given them (this is a stated policy on the RnR website…yet the person interviewed on The Marathon Show (it’s coming up) said he’d never heard of that happening) as well as some people reporting that some volunteers weren’t checking bibs or anything before handing one over.

They went on The Marathon Show shortly after the event and basically blamed the whole collapse of the corrals at the start of the half on “new and inexperienced runners” who “got antsy and jumped the gun, just pressing forward”. The reason they ran out of water/cups at later aid stations? The volunteers were cold and abandoned their stations. The medals? Oh, they knew going in that they were short (did I mention they were still registering people at the expo, already knowing they were short on medals?) but did and said nothing. The water? “It was hydrant water, but it’s tested.” They took very little responsibility for anything.

They were back on the most recent episode of The Marathon Show talking about the changes they’re making to ensure that things don’t happen again. My jaw did drop when the guy actually said that the corral collapse at the start was their fault – that they had to move people through faster. So at least he wasn’t blaming “new” and “nervous” runners on that anymore. It does sound like they have made changes that should help. The people getting sick? Well, the Las Vegas health department (or someone that’s local out there) determined that it wasn’t the water but that they must have picked up some virus. That all hit them at the same time? I would have felt better about those findings if someone neutral in the situation – as in not Las Vegas or even Nevada based – had conducted the testing. Because clearly they’re going to have a vested interest in saying their water is 100% safe. But still…the testing was done and the report shall stand. He didn’t mention the medal issue. But he said they are keeping the cap at 45000 runners between the full and the half. So theoretically if they order 45000 medals they should be safe.

So it will be interesting to see how this year goes for them. There are a lot of people who think that Competitor can do no wrong and will do any and every one of their races. there are others who have had bad experiences at various races they’ve done. It seems to be it and miss as to which cities they do well in and which they make a mess of.

Las Vegas was never on any plan I’d had regardless of who’s doing it. I’m probably one of three people in the world (me, my mom and my dad) who have no desire to ever set a toe in Las Vegas. So it held no interest for me at all.

They are expanding to international races now – this weekend they did one in Edinburgh, Scotland. I’ll be interested to see how it went. They had one scheduled for Dublin, Ireland in August, but it’s been pushed back to next year. I love Dublin and have been considering it. The airfare was ridiculous for 2012…probably because it was scheduled DURING THE OLYMPICS and Dublin’s close enough I could see it being a point of “fly in here and then catch a cheap hopper over” kind of place. Competitor’s story on the postponement is “Competitor Group, organizer of the Rock ā€˜nā€™ Roll Marathon Series, has decided to postpone the 2012 Rock ā€˜nā€™ Roll Dublin Half Marathon until 2013. We realized with great regret a need for more time to create an entirely new event to meet the high standards established by the Rock ā€˜nā€™ Roll Marathon Series and expected by our local community partners.” And they claim there was “tremendous support”…but I suspect that the ridiculously high airfares and the fact that it was scheduled during the London Olympics has a lot to do with it. (It would just make them look stupid to say that had anything to do with it because those dates have been set for years. But that’s my opinion.) I do love Dublin and may still consider doing it. But I’m going to look closely for reports from non-RnR junkies about their international races to see how they go.

In the meantime, I for one will pretty much avoid the Competitor Group races just on my experience and that of my friends. Yes, they may put on some good races, but that only shows that they know how to do it, so there’s really no excuse for why others consistently have problems – often the SAME problems year after year.

For those who love them, great. But I think the voice of those of us who haven’t had good experiences with them needs to be heard as well.

100 Things About Running Entry #2

100 Things About Running Entry #2

My First Race

This one actually turned out to be not the one I thought it was going to be. Initially I thought it would be the Race for the Cure (I know…I know better now and will be finding other ways to help fund breast cancer research, but we didn’t know SJK would turn out to be so anti-women then.) – I’ve known a lot of people with breast cancer, and my pseudo-older sister had died from it, so it seemed like a good fit.

But then I heard about the World Trade Center Run to Remember, which was the week before Race.

While I didn’t (to my knowledge) know anyone in the towers or planes or ground who was killed on 9/11, the WTC was a part of the two trips to NYC I made in high school, one in particular one of the only times I really felt accepted. And that day is indelibly a part of me – of all of us. This run distributed the funds among several organizations. And it had one big advantage over the Race. This one is held on Governor’s Island. Which is flat.

So I chose to sign up.

It was really a nice first race. Not too big, but not too small.

It was the Sunday of Labor Day weekend 2010. I got up and dressed in whatever I chose to run in that day, then headed into lower Manhattan to get on the ferry over to Governor’s Island. It was cool – they’d chartered the ferry just for those of us running and those coming with to spectate or volunteer. Once we got there, I had a while to wander through the tents of the organization, tie and re-tie my shoes, hit the porta-potties…numerous times.

There were no real corrals for this race. Those of us running lined up in the front – following the advice in Marathoning for Mortals I lined up towards the back knowing I would be slow – and the walkers behind us. I think the walkers may have even started after we did.

I had my iPod with me with a special playlist for the race. Because I am so musically inclined, I fall into pace with the beat of whatever music I’m listening to, which isn’t always a good thing, but I wanted to use it to my advantage so I wouldn’t go out too fast. I purposely put slower (not SLOW but slower) songs first and built up, and I had “Die Vampire, Die!” towards the end when I figured I’d be needing it, finishing with “I Run For Life”.

Overall it went well, especially for a first race. The only little glitch was that I’d probably overhydrated and had to take a pit stop during the race, thus losing a couple of minutes. Pitstops are (for me and someone at my pace) to be expected in full and possibly even half marathons…but for a 5K? That was a mistake I intended not to make again. But the rest went well. I did a run/walk plan, but I didn’t have a regular schedule for it, which I do now. I ran until I needed to walk, and found (as everyone who uses the “run until I need to walk” method finds) that starting back running was hard. I did it, but it was hard.

I finished in around 41 minutes, and I was so proud of myself.

I’d run my first race. And been well and truly bitten by the running bug.

Races getting closer!!

Races getting closer!!

Yesterday I hit the gym for a run. Because of construction, I had to walk more than usual to get there, so I decided to make that my warm-up, meaning I could start running at the beginning. Which is really more like what I’ll do at the races. I also just left my iPod on my “faves” playlist which, while made up of faves, I’m not as familiar with what songs in what order. This is a good thing, which I will explain in a moment. I had been running at between 4.5mph and 4.7mph for over 20 minutes before I even looked at the display on the treadmill!! At that point I slowed to a “walk” of 4.2mph for about 5 minutes, then back up to my running pace (which, ok, may technically be jogging, but so be it). Towards the end I did bump up to 5mph just to see, and managed about 3 minutes at that pace. When I hit the 5K mark, the timer said 40:47!!! I almost ran it in 40 minutes!!! That’s, like, huge for me!!

Now…that whole not as familiar with the playlist thing… I love my Girl Power mix, don’t get me wrong. But I need to start putting the ipod on shuffle with that one because in no time I’ve learned the order of the songs, and it messes with my mind. I’ll get to the end of about the 4th song in and be all “OMG I’M TIRED!!!!” Which isn’t cool. So we’ll see what I do tomorrow – a list I’m not as familiar with the order of or the Girl Power list on shuffle. I’ll let you know.

I do know my run will have to be early tomorrow. Because I need to be in Manhattan and in line no late than 5:30. In line for what you may ask? Why a Heart concert! I won tickets to it – it’s at this smallish (I think) venue where it’s all standing room, and you can only get in by winning tickets. I entered, not expecting to win, and what do you know? I won! WOOHOO!!! Very excited!! Their new album is GREAT! You should totally get it!

I’m thinking I may get a heart rate monitor for workouts – it’ll tell me based on my own heart rate how many calories I’m burning so I can enter them more appropriately. The amount can vary so widely based on age, gender, etc. There are some not too expensive ones out there. I may pop into Modells tomorrow either pre- or post-run and see what they have.

Yay for the US Open Tennis going on!! It’s given me something besides H&G TV to watch. Seriously, I go home for a week and I come back an H&G TV freak. LOL.

WTC Run to Remember is this Sunday. It’s on Governor’s Island, which means it’s flat. That should be nice! Hopefully Earl will stay away and it won’t be rainy and gross. The Komen Race for the Cure is the 12th. If you haven’t donated to me and would like to, you can do it here. Muchly appreciated if you can. If you can’t, just send good thoughts my way! šŸ™‚ Thanks!!

I’ve decided I’m going to get another tattoo for my race (I swear I am so Gen-X. Must. Mark. Events.). Since the Komen was the first one I’d planned to do, I’m going to use that for my symbolism for it. Well, that and…you’ll either get it or you won’t. A heart with wings. Trust me. It ties in. Probably going on my left ankle. šŸ™‚

And…thus endeth this totally random and possibly pointless entry. šŸ˜›