Posted by: mmartininycmarathon | July 20, 2009

Road Race and 12 mile training run!

Hello my race fans! It’s been a while since my last posting but got a couple things I would like to update everyone with. The training has been going well so far, well until this past week. I have come down with yet another training injury… the dreaded shin splints. Yup, I have gotten it in my left shin and it has just gotten a little worse today but hopefully it is just working its way out of my system. As always with these injuries you take the right steps to recovery with rest and ice. I may see Sara this week but depends on how it goes this week. In the meantime I may just have more time to write these blogs! 

CPC Race for Central Park Road Race

Saturday was the Run for Central Park 4 mile race. It was the first Team for Kids group race and it was def something special to meet with all your teammates and go out with all of them. My friend Dani was battling a groin injury and with my doubt of my shin, we both decided to jog together and use this as a training run. We literally went ALL the way to the back in the 7000 corral (we were supposed to be in the 2000 and 3000 numbered corral). Just a side note, the corral system is used and determined by your best per mile pace time in any NYRR recorded race. Generally, runners at the front will be the professional runners and then the recreational runners following. They break the corrals up by color and by 1,000 runners in each one. So the smaller your number, the faster you are, unless your injured and decide to jog like me and D! It took us almost ten minutes to get to the start line and we exchanged some funny stories including how I had to pee because I over hydrated again! Once we started we tried for a 9-10 minute pace to be safe. Everything for both of us was feeling pretty good and we would check in with each other during the first mile. After we past the 1st mile we slowed down a bit until we had to stop at around the 1.5-1.75 marker. Dani was just tightening up so much that it was better we just walked. She suggested I run on, but my philosophy is, we start together, we finish together. So we made our trek on up to the 102nd transverse as the slow runners became the fast runners. We talked, and took it all in. It was def a different way of experiencing a race that we probably at that point would have been almost finished with, but it was a lesson. The main thing I tried to keep in mind is, sure you could run this and you could shoot to PR, but why. Really why? Our main goal is to be fully healthy for November 1st and we use these races to break up the training and to get some friendly competition in. It also teaches you how to pull back, not even in training when your hurt but just the idea and principle of pulling back. When you are starting the Marathon and you are full of so much energy and excitement you will need to know how to hold back and run at a much slower pace. These races are a fraction of what it would be like on Marathon day but the adrenaline will still be high and you still need to be able to pull back to achieve the best race performance. So while we walked we talked about holding back, funny movies we have seen or wanted to see and other things to help us keep going. Ha, we even thought of crossing the park to cut a mile off, but we wanted to do it the honest way. As we got past the three mile marker there wasn’t that many runners left and we kept hearing “keep going, go Team for Kids”… and we just smiled and sometimes waved (the volunteers with the bull horns were quite entertaining) We did end up finishing the race with some of our teammates on the side close to the finish. I suggested we maybe run the last turn but Dani wasn’t feeling it. I think at this point she just wanted to finish and go home. Our official time was 56:07 (14:01 per mile pace) but most importantly to me, we finished as teammates and supported each other, I mean, thats partly why you are in it, right? I was very happy and proud with the reason of this race and that we finished. It was a lot more than any PR time would ever be able to give either one of us.

We finished!

We finished!

12 Mile Training Run

So, after getting our timer chips clipped it was past 10AM and I had to meet Emily for a small run that I told her I would do with her. I said my goodbyes to Dani and literally sprinted down to Columbus Circle. I feared I was too late and that she would have just started without me (I think I set a PR from 72nd to Columbus Circle, haha). As I got to the spot I told her we would meet, I saw her and was relieved and had took a sec to get my breath back. I told her about the race, what had happened and that my left shin was bothering me a bit. And of course I still had to pee at this point so before hitting the road we stopped at the bathroom. I met Emily at one of the Team in Training runs and we finished the last 3-4 miles of a 9 mile run together leading the pack and going at a 8 minute pace. She is a natural runner, and goes fast. I haven’t run with anyone who you feel is always a half a step faster yet does it with such ease. She is training for the Hampton’s Marathon on September 26th with TNT. Her goal for Saturday was to do 12 miles which would be two full loops of the park. For anyone who has not done this, doing one is merely a goal with the Cat Hill, the massive Harlem Hill and then ending with the trio of rolling hills. It was progressively getting hotter as the morning wore on and at this point I had already been out for over an hour. We started our run at the lower part of the park working our way up to 68th, basically covering half of the race course I had just done. I could already feel a instant burst of speed as we quickly made it up past 102 in about 20 minutes. We wrapped around going past Lasker Pool & Rink and finally reaching the infamous Harlem Hill. We took it with sheer conviction tearing up its steep and long incline, cresting it like no ones business. We descended and flew through back on familiar grounds near 102nd and 72nd on the West side to roll with the trio of rolling hills. This area is always better because there are more people around, might it be other runners and/or people out walking their dogs or playing with their kids. We stopped at around 100th street to get some Gatorade, took a few sips and continued on. We were making great time and when we finally reached the bottom of the park we clocked in at 51:23 (8:34 per mile pace). I think at this point both of us felt like 6 would have been OK. At around mile 4 I told Emily, I might just have it in me to do another full loop with her, if we don’t go as fast. We went off the main road after we finished and talked and decided we would do the second loop at a slower pace. We had finished the Gatorade and filled up with water before heading back out to begin.


Emily had done her undergrad work at Baylor then moving onto Notre Dame for one year of grad work. Quite impressive and an alumni of my favorite university! We began our second loop of the park and I thought, am I actually doing this? I had never done two loops, nor 12 miles and here I am after not being sure if I could race in the morning going ahead with another set. I must either be nuts, suicidal, or perhaps both. The Gatorade was holding me down so I discarded it knowing there would be fountains around if we needed them. We were going at about the same rate we had before and really at no point did I feel like I couldn’t go on. It was just the start as we made our way up the East side. I felt when we started out and was at about 72nd, we were still at a relatively fast pace and told Em that we still have Cat Hill and the Harlem Hill… (a long sigh could be heard and we both knew we had a task to take care of).  We talked a bit but we quickly became quiet and focused on the task ahead. There would be murmurs of  “hows your shin” or ” how ya feeling… good?”…  a response of  ” yea, I am ok”… and “we can do this”… ” we got this”…  would be exchanged. Cat Hill wasn’t as difficult but was still a bit hard to get climb up, esp the second go round. As we approached 102nd street I was tempted for a split second to want to go left, which would have cut out the Harlem Hill, but at this point we both knew we had a huge challenge ahead of us and I like to think that this is when we rolled our sleeves up to get to work. I cant even remember if we were talking trying to keep occupied but I remember being really tired at this point. Harlem Hill is the toughest and steepest hill in Central Park and often times skipped in group training runs and after running about 8.5 miles it was getting tougher with each step. Emily was stronger on the hill as I lacked behind, struggling to keep going, pushing forward, digging deeper. I felt the burn in the side of my quads just trying to maintain the pace and driving up to crest the hill. We stayed side by side, and we finally made it up. After the fight, Em exclaimed, “great job” and I just murmured… “yea, you too, great job” or something like that. Once that was done we still had to descend back down and tackle the rolling hills. Oh Central Park, how you love killing your runners with all your beautiful hills. We were probably at 10 miles at this point and I had been out for over 2 hours. I was at a point where I just kept going with the pace, not really focusing on really on thing. It was at this point I kept thinking, OK I have to learn how to maintain and keep going even if I feel like I can’t. Small milestones were set in seconds and reached a bit quicker. I would replay the day, what I had accomplished and how much longer we had. We agreed we both needed water as we were checking in from time to time. We had stopped short of the 72nd street Transverse, at just about 11 miles. We paused for a second as some obviously comfortable looking bench warmers watched us as I stopped in shock as my knees were so tight and hamstrings even tighter. We checked in to see how each other was doing knowing we only had about a mile to go. We continued on, picking up the pace anticipating the finish. We reached 72nd Street and this area was filled with bikers, strollers and more runners. I realized that we had been out for over an hour and a half and that it was about the time people were starting their Saturday afternoon strolls through the park. As passers watched we continued and then it happened… I slowed down and stopped. Nothing, nothing left in the tank. I was barely about to shout Em-i-ly.. but she heard and stopped and came back as she was already about a foot ahead. I just slouched over putting my hands on my knees and told her that was it… I couldn’t go any further then… but that we had to, we were so close, we just had to finish. We were about 50 yds from Tavern on the Green, the Marathon finish line and as I looked ahead I told her, once we hit that small descending hill we bolt. It helped when she told me what had already done the loop twice and that we did Harlem Hill twice which makes it even harder, it truly helped putting it into perspective. We walked as I got some energy back and we bolted down to 59th where we had begun our second loop. We finished in 55:12 (9:12 minute per mile pace) and overall for 12 miles we had finished in 1:46:44 (8:54 per mile pace). As I reflect, I realize that similar to the race with Dani, it is about pushing each other… pushing each other to keep going when your legs burn or keep going when you have an injury. I blame the heat and lack of nutrients in my system for breaking down to the point that I could not go on. I actually bought GU Energy gels that I plan on testing on my next long run.

That brings me to my last bit. As I finish up this blog posting, my left shin is still sore. It is manageable and I hope it is just strained and not a stress fracture. I plan on resting tonight, relaxing and icing. This week will be another dismal training week, probably no running, but I will let it heal and hope it gets better to hit the road again. We are 103 days away from the Marathon and this journey continues to get more and more interesting and intense. Thanks to all of you for reading and do please leave comments!! I will be posting another blog about my happy hour with Calico Jack’s with details too! Happy Running (and watch out for the black cat at Cat Hill!)


Cat Hill

Cat Hill



  1. Well at least you look happy in the photo! Feel better.

  2. haha! lookit me all pale and injured and grumpy! 🙂 I need to get out in the sun more and stop being so morose! 🙂

    thanks for walkin it with me!

  3. ps- GU Gels are how I jam on any run 8 miles or longer. I’m a fan of ‘espresso love’ flavor (2x caffeine) and the Roctane version (with caffeine AND amino acids. it amps you up and helps you repair along the way! yay!).

  4. Way to get through that 12 mile run.. definitely knew how you were feeling when I had to do that double loop around CP for my 1/2M a few months ago. I’m a fan of sport beans.. haven’t tried the gels yet – but I should at some point. something about sucking in goo doesn’t sit well with me 🙂

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