Tuesday, April 8, 2014

March Madness: My NYC Half Weekend

Short Version:

HM Time: 1:53:36 @ 8:41mm pace
Overall Place: 6849/20790 (top 33%)
Gender Place: 2189/11009 (top 20%)
Adjusted Gender Place: 2916/11009 (top 26%)
Age Group Place: 609/2616 (top 23%)

Long Version:


What do you call someone who runs a half-marathon, performs in a concert, then comes home and goes to an opera rehearsal for another 3 hours? If you guessed completely insane, you would be correct. Welcome to my world. 

As someone who has played the flute for almost twenty years, staying active in the music world has always been important to me. However, it is sometimes hard to get involved since there are so many other talented amateurs out there looking for the same thing. So when opportunity knocks, you do whatever it takes to answer the door. 

I was already signed up and training for the NYC Half Marathon when I found out that a community orchestra that I regularly play with was having not one, but two concerts in March, and the second one would be taking place the same day as the half. Well, the timing would be tight, but I would be able to get home, shower, and catch the metro-north to White Plains in time, so no biggie. I guess I'll survive without my post-half marathon nap just this once. 

Then, about a week before the race, I found out through a friend that they were looking for musicians to play in an opera orchestra the weekend after, and that rehearsals would start the same Sunday night. Although I knew that I already had a dress rehearsal and a concert the week after the half, I hadn't done a pit orchestra for over 5 years, and knew that I would regret missing this opportunity. Before I knew it, my Sunday was jam-packed, and what had started out as my goal race was only the beginning of a long and exciting day. 

Race Day

When I last ran this race, it was warm enough for me to wear shorts and a tank, but this time, it would be absolutely freezing at the start. I wore my warm running pants, a long sleeved tech, and my running jacket as well as my ear-warmer headband. After waking up early, getting dressed, and eating a quick bowl of cereal, I took the train down to 59th street. Due to tightened security protocols, runners were only allowed to enter at the bottom of the park. 

As I walked towards the corrals, I saw security officers handing out containers for people to put their keys and other metal items in before they went through a metal detector. For one awful moment, I completely freaked out because I thought that they were going to take my phone and keys away from me. However would I get back into my apartment after the race if I didn't have my keys? They have no right to take my phone!!! How can I sneak my items through this checkpoint?

Wait a minute. This is what happens when Dahlia doesn't have caffeine first thing. Obviously, everyone would be getting those items back after the security check, like they would in an airport. Oh yeah. Everything is fine now, move along. Nothing to see here!
Looking pretty cheerful for a coffee-less zombie...
Naturally, I get to my corral MUCH earlier than I needed to, so I spent a long time out there freezing my tail off. My friends Rachel & Diana were supposed to start in my corral with me, but they got there later so we didn't find each other. After what seemed like forever, wave 1 was finally starting. As I was about to cross the start, I thought I saw those two ahead of me, but I didn't have a clear enough view to know for certain. It shouldn't have surprised me that it still took a few minutes to cross the start, but what can you do?

Almost immediately, I decided that I didn't want to look at my watch. I knew I wasn't going to PR, especially in this weather, and I had no intention of putting any extra pressure on myself. The first 5K wasn't too difficult - the only major hill was Cat Hill and it was right at the beginning, so I almost didn't even notice it. Last time, we hit the 5K point as we were about to hit Harlem Hill, but this year, we did a small out and back on 110th street - that way, they could fit more people on the course and shorten the amount of time in Central Park. as I was running towards the turn-around, I saw Rachel briefly and we said a quick hello.  The out and back was ok, and I enjoyed the change of scenery, but running up and down 110th street wasn't THAT interesting. 

Since the next 5K had both Harlem and the West Side hills, I knew that it would be the most difficult part of the race. I kept mentally telling myself that it would all be easier once I left the part, and did my best to keep pace without completely wearing myself out. At mile 5 or so, I took my first GU, and things seemed to be going smoothly. 
Out of my way people! I have a concert to get to!
Now that the hardest parts of the race were out of the way, it was time to look forward to Times Square. Running that mile is always the most entertaining for me, but I knew that it would end all too soon. Shortly after that, we made our way onto the West Side Highway, where we would be for the next few miles. 

I started getting bored after the 15K mark, especially since it looked like some of the entertainment along the course left after the famous athletes came by, but I kept at it, knowing that it wouldn't be too long until I ran through the tunnel and finished the race on the streets near the South Street Seaport. After taking my last gel around mile 10, I was mentally prepared to get this over with. 

Since my Garmin was so far ahead of the mile markers, I was almost relieved when I knew that I would lose reception in the tunnel as it wouldn't record as much distance for that small interval. Speaking of the Battery Tunnel, it was longer than I remember it the previous time, and while it was enjoyable at first, it soon felt unnerving and I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. 
Spoiler alert: I made it out of the tunnel
Happily, I made it out, and knew that I was almost done. As I followed the clocks along the course, I estimated that I would finish faster than a 1:55, but I didn't know by how much, even if I was correct. As I crossed the finish, I finally glanced down at my watch and saw my time of 1:53:36, and although it wasn't a personal record, it was my best half-marathon time of 2014. Not too shabby. 

I seem to do much better when I don't look at my Garmin - I had a small negative split, and my 5K splits were almost dead even. 

Concert & Rehearsal

My concert after that went well, and I enjoyed my operatic pit orchestra experience tremendously. I may have been a runner for three years, but I have been a musician for over three times that long, and am thrilled that I continue to be able to keep my playing up.
Relax, guys, I've been doing this since I was nine. Of COURSE I know what I'm doing.

Overall, I ended up participating in five performances in the month of March, including two concerts with the Really Terrible Orchestra of Westchester (yes, that's their actual group name), one concert with the Weill Cornell Music & Medicine Initiative, and two performances of Der Freischutz with the Utopia Opera Company. I played flute and piccolo with Weill Cornell, and oboe for the other concerts. 

Tech rehearsal for Der Freischutz
Coming up next: My first short distance PR since 2012. Thanks for reading! 

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