One Mother’s Day tradition that I have is to do the Rubin Run on Mother’s Day starting and finishing at the JCC on the Palisades. Prior to 2012, the Rubin Run consisted of a 10K or a 5K, or you could do both as I did one year! The courses wind through the lovely neighborhoods of Tenafly, Englewood, and Englewood Cliffs. Unfortunately, there aren’t very many people who come out of their homes to cheer on the runners, but the volunteers provided by the JCC are wonderful!
Last year I signed up for the inaugural half marathon. The course is basically twice around the 10K course, and having done the 10K a couple of times I was familiar with the course. Basically, it’s rolling hills with one monstrous hill in the beginning. Fortunately, the 2nd time around the half marathon course is altered so you only have to go up half of that monstrous hill.
Mother’s Day dawned rainy. By rainy, I mean “OMG it’s pouring, I need to start building an ark in the back yard, this is going to be a very uncomfortable race, I have to change my choice of clothing”. Originally, I was going to wear a tank top, capris, and arm warmers. But with the heavy rain, I changed it to a short-sleeved shirt — who wants soaking arm warmers? So I quickly selected my bright orange Miami marathon shirt from 2012 thinking that the bright orange color would be good for safety since it was overcast and nasty.
Driving to the event there was light rain. Walking over to packet pickup, there was light rain. I went to the ladies room and when I came out, the rain had stopped. I went back to my car to await the start of the race and ended up talking to a lady parked beside me. She was really nice — we discussed races in the area and she told me about a marathon she did a month ago in Amish country where she was running with Amish guys wearing their regular clothes, and there were Amish women running the half marathon in their dresses and bonnets. Cool!
I have the most useless ability to find 4-leaf-clovers
Since I have a tendency to go out too fast in races and then crash and burn, I decided I’d give the negative splits strategy a shot. My goal was go start out at 9:00-9:05 min/mile pace and work down to about 8:45-8:50 min/mile pace in the 2nd half of the race if possible.
It was chilly at race start, and I looked longingly at some people’s gloves. We started the race, and it took a couple of miles for me to warm up.
The sun came out, and the weather was absolutely beautiful for the rest of the race.
Despite the fact that there were a few women “challenging” me and passing me, I did not take the bait but instead stuck to my goal of keeping it easy in the first few miles. I ended up running behind a man and woman who were running together and chatting. Eventually, maybe around mile 4, I caught up to them and ran and chatted with them. That was fun! They were friends whose kids played on the same soccer teams, and since my kids play soccer and are around the same age, it was good conversation. They also noticed my Miami shirt and we discussed that race as the guy had run it a couple of times. I told them my goal of negative splits and bid them adieu somewhere around mile 7. As per my plan, I ate some raisins and took an electrolyte tablet around mile 6.
I was running alone for a bit and noticed a guy up ahead running in the middle of the street. A car was coming up behind us, so I called out that there was a car coming and he moved over. He and I ended up running together for a few miles. It turns out he’s a cyclist who likes running as cross-training. The reason he runs in the middle of the street as much as possible is to prevent injury due to ankle torquing from the street incline. He said he was 60 years old and paid attention to things that can reduce injury.
As we were running, an older Asian man came up beside us and said something. I didn’t understand him, so he repeated it. It sounded like he said, “Do you want to talk?” Then he went on his way. I turned to the guy next to me and mentioned that I wasn’t sure what the guy said, but apparently we both heard the same thing. We came past a young Asian woman who said the man was about 70 and was an inspiration. The Asian guy kept calling out, so I guess he was entertaining himself. I knew that 70 or not I couldn’t keep up with him!
Eventually I pulled ahead of the guy with whom I was running and ended up running the last couple of miles “alone”. I passed a few half marathoners and a lot of slower 10K runners. Without looking at the bib color I didn’t know who was in what race, but it was motivating to keep reeling runners in.
I checked my Garmin and saw that there was less than half a mile to go and 2 women in front of me. I made it a goal to pass those 2 women. With about 400 m left to go, I sped up as fast as I could. The feeling reminded me of the typical track repeats I’ve been doing consistently in training. I blew past those 2 women (who may or may not have been half marathoners) and crossed the finish line in 1:58:19. Each woman received a red rose at the finish line (which is very nice).
Here are my splits from the race:
Mile 1: 8:52
Mile 2: 9:51 (monstrous hill)
Mile 3: 8:54
Mile 4: 9:08
Mile 5: 9:07
Mile 6: 8:54
Mile 7: 8:58
Mile 8: 9:06
Mile 9: 8:45
Mile 10: 9:02
Mile 11: 8:54
Mile 12: 8:47
Mile 13: 8:46
Last 0.16: 7:55
I was very pleased with my results! I finished a minute and 10 seconds faster than I did on the same course last year, plus I felt GOOD in the process. Unlike my half marathon in March, the 2nd half of the race didn’t feel like a grueling death march. If I hadn’t been chatting I might have finished sooner, but who cares, I had FUN and felt great. Besides, this was my fastest half marathon finish time since August, 2011. It’s motivating to see that training is paying off.
At the food table I grabbed some orange slices and ran into the 60-year-old guy again. He said he was happy to have finished in 1:59 something, just under 2 hours. He said he had been tempted to keep up with me for the last couple of miles but decided that wasn’t wise for him that day. We congratulated each other and went on our way.
When I returned to my car, I changed into a dry shirt and sandals, had a banana and a protein shake, and talked with my car neighbor. She said she wasn’t so pleased with her time of 1:46 which for her was slow. I’d LOVE to have her “slow” finish time ha ha. We hope we run into each other in the future!
I ended up being the 16th female finisher and 10th in the 40-49 age group (actually, 2 of the top 3 finishers were in their 40s — it’s like the women around here turn 40 and start training like mad).
What did I learn from this race?
1) Running negative splits works! Gotta try that more often.
2) Keep up the training — it’s working.
3) Chatting with runners during a race helps pass the time.
4) Track work is helping me finish strong.
5) Need to work on developing Achilles’ strength as those are hurting.