Organized(?) Chaos…

Yesterday was the American Heart Association Start! Wall Street Run/Walk.

It was a marathon qualifier*. It was in the evening. And it was out of Central Park. Three very good selling points. Oh, and a fourth – it’s only 3 miles.

I’d also heard from my peeps on the RWOL NYC Marathon board that it’s pretty much a cluster since there are no timed corrals – just one for runners and one for walkers…and that they’re not the best patrolled, meaning there will be walkers who work their way in and to the front of the runners’ corral.

Still…I like to experience these things for myself, so I signed up.

The forecast the last time I looked before leaving school was for 95% chance of rain – possibly torrential – at race time. Oy! Still, I won’t melt. And I’d been smart and brought a garbage bag to tie my bag in in case of rain (I learned something from Coogan’s anyway!), so I figured what the heck. Go for it.

Turns out the forecast was wrong and we had sun for the race! Of course that led to a humidity level of 93%, which is the worst I’ve run in yet. Oh well.

I stood in the “corral” with several Front Runners buddies, one of whom assured me that I’d be fine – she had lined up further back, where she thought she should be, last year and had to dodge so many walkers she was lining up closer to the front and just going. (Of course looking at the results (unofficial at this point**) she has a pace of 9:03, so…) So I stayed put. The national anthem, the horn, and we were off!

Like a herd of turtles. See, rather than putting the start posts on the sidewalk to give us as much room as possible on a narrow Lower Manhattan Street, they were placed ON the street, effectively giving us about a lane and a half to funnel through. I had realized that I forgot to change my foot pod to the shoes I was wearing for the race, so I crossed my fingers and started RunKeeper. For once it seems to have for the most part worked. I started it early though, so my phone could be away before the start (I don’t trust the pocket on the leg of my running shorts yet). I started my Garmin at the start mat for my intervals and for the time a bit more accurately.

Suffice it to say that the first few blocks are what I imagine the running of the bulls in Pamploma to be. Minus the bulls of course. I knew my pace was way fast for me, but I was scared to slow down. I didn’t want to be trampled! I was extra conscious of moving to the side and making sure no one was right behind me AND signaling a drop to walk when I was going to. I mean, I always do that, but I wanted to make darn sure I didn’t give anyone a reason to run into me. (I was run into a couple of times while I was running and there was no apology – and no, it was actually not in the uber crowded part. I don’t know what I did to piss off this girl, but she totally plowed through my left arm, turning me slightly – and kept going. Not cool chickie-poo. Not cool.) Because I went out SO fast, and because of the humidity, I wasn’t able to do full six minute runs after that first one. But I did the best I could.

About the time I saw what I assume was the Mile 1 clock (saw the clock, never saw the mile marker), I started playing leap frog with an older woman. She’d get ahead on my walking segments, I’d get ahead on my running segments. It turned into a game for me, which made it fun when I was questioning my sanity for doing the race. (I’ll leave out what a cluster the water station was with none of the usual “Fluid Station” signs NYRR has up. I survived, but it wasn’t pretty. It could have been a lot uglier though, so I’m counting my blessings.)

As we turned into the final stretch, there was a volunteer there with a bullhorn telling us there was a curb and to please step up. Yes folks, a CURB that must be climbed on a race course! What even? LOL. We were running along the Hudson shortly after that, and it was kind of cool that there were a couple of restaurants with outdoor seating along the way, and the patrons were all cheering us as we ran! Very cool!

I got to where I could see the finish signs, and I was trying to decide when I should kick – especially given the crowded sidewalk. Then I spotted my leapfrog playmate and I wasn’t going to let her beat me. So, as Coach Jenny would say, I went fishing. Threw down my hammer and ran. Passed her and headed to the finish line. Only to almost crash into two girls who stopped dead in the middle of the two mats at the finish line. Please to note: a lot of races will have two mats at the finish signs…keep moving over BOTH of them. And then keep moving once you’ve crossed the line!! (NYRR actually usually has three – one that pops our names up on a computer so that the announcer sometimes will say your name as you’re crossing the line. Pretty cool.)

I got my Garmin stopped, and it read 36:27. The RunKeeper app actually seems to have worked. Its time was 42:27…but I’d started it 5 minutes early, so time-wise it seemed ok. Distance-wise? It said 3.39 miles. Now, I know I didn’t run the tangents, but .39 worth of not running the tangents? Seems odd. But several people have reported that their GPS was also reading over – and a couple of people had the exact same reading as me. So who knows. Of course, NYRR is measuring it based on 3 miles. So my time as listed right now is 36:00 for a 12:00 pace. Per my Garmin time and RunKeeper’s distance, it was a 10:45 pace. Honestly I feel like the 12:00 is probably more correct, but…

You know how I said above the results were unofficial? No one’s really sure what’s going on, but it appears to have been gun time for some and chip for others? I haven’t seen an explanation from NYRR but the page says that the results are unofficial and to stay tuned to the page for further updates. So we’ll see what ends up happening.

Overall it was a fun little race. Will I do it again? Depends on the date, but probably so. It’s nice to get out of the parks. And next year I’ll know a little more what to expect.

Each race is its own little learning experience!

* On the marathon qualifier thing… NYRR has a little perk for members: be a member by the end of January (or renew your membership when it comes up for renewal if you were already a member prior), run 9 qualifying race, and volunteer at one race (affectionately known as 9+1) during that year and you get a guaranteed entry into the following year’s NYC Marathon! So like I’ll have guaranteed entry into the 2012 marathon after I run one more race! WOO!


2 thoughts on “Organized(?) Chaos…

  1. Hi Beth,

    I saw this link to your blog on a Runner’s World forum and thought I’d come check it out. I’ve read a few of your posts and really enjoy them. I’m just starting out running using Jeff Galloway’s book and appreciate reading the experiences of someone who actually run/walks through lots of races. I currently alternate 2:1 and 3:1 on my short days and am up to 6 miles on my long days. I’m finishing my short days at a 10:30 pace. Anyway, I noticed that you mentioned that you “made sure to signal a drop to walk”. How are you supposed to signal? I’m planning on running my first 10K in San Francisco in August and then I’ll sign up for the 2012 Disneyland Half Marathon. It’d be nice to know how I’m supposed to let people know that I’ll be starting to walk. Thanks and keep up the postings, I for one am definitely learning a lot from them.


    • Hi Andy! Thanks for reading my blog and for commenting! You’re totally right – I should have explained that. I will in my post tonight! 😀 Promise!

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