On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

JFK Runway run

Here you go. Here it is. Finally. Incontrovertible. Here is why you can't rely solely on your Garmin:

Out-and-back course. On a runway. Start was the same as the finish. Turn around at the 1.55m. And yet I somehow ran a pretty solid downhill on the way back, and I finished at a lower elevation than I started. Fantastical!

Now, I know that when you look closely, we're only talking about a change in elevation of ~40', but let me tell you: it wasn't there. There was no change in elevation. I'm not going to rail on how many people rely on their Garmins for distance calculations instead of trusting the race directors or the certified course. Listen up, and then we'll let it drop: due to how the Garmin works (think "magic travels between the sky and your wrist"), it is not always wholly accurate.

Moving on.

This course map? Is pretty freaking cool:
I have a thing about planes. I travel somewhere between "recreationally" and "frequently," and I hate it. I hate it. I hate the security theater involved in removing your shoes as TSA gropes you; I hate the turbulence; I hate how ghetto flying has become.

So naturally when I heard about a race on a runway, I had to sign up.

I think this is what passes for "modern art" in the world
of aviation. I don't really get it. It kind of reminded me
of a burnt out plane. I really wanted to climb in it (not allowed).
The race itself was exactly what you'd expect, namely a straight out and back, perfectly flat course. We registered in JFK's "Building 14," located in a back section of the airport that most of us have probably never seen before. After that, they bused us to the start, which was (as you see) on a runway on the outskirts of the airport. The race had a small town feel to it, which had both pros (small field!) and cons (the start time was more 9:08 than 9am; there were loads of walkers with strollers and jeans).

This was some sort of test center for rescues, also at the start.
I really wanted to go in here. Also not allowed.
Yes, there were planes taking off and landing while we were there, but they never felt close. We couldn't exactly wave at the passengers, and I personally never even saw landing gear. The race might maybe have been more fun if the runway had been in use. (Just kidding!) But the runway was well used, as evidenced by the tar that coated it and caused one's feet to stick ever-so-slightly.

Our race souvenirs included fly swatters.
I don't get it either.
My race wasn't the best. The day was cooler than expected and I was even more tired and sluggish than I'd been Saturday morning for my longer run. I went out too fast, finishing the first mile in almost 9 minutes flat, and then staggered through the next 2.1 for a 29:09 finish (watch time - still haven't seen official finish times). I know I'm not in great shape, but a 28:xx (at least) was within reach, and I was too tired to achieve it. Sweaty, I got back on the bus and drove home, where I promptly passed out on the couch for a much-needed nap.

For another take on this same race, read E's race report about her age group win and how she met Miss Liberty, a local beauty queen.


  1. So jealous! I wanted to do this one but then spaced out about it. Sounds like it was a fun race.

  2. Is there no way to calibrate that Garmin? Surely it must need to be calibrated at some time during its lifetime.

  3. It's GPS... I don't think that you can calibrate it to the best of my knowledge.

  4. Way to go!!!! That does sound like a super fun race!!

  5. I cannot believe you missed out on the Miss Liberty festivities. Next time! ;)

  6. Ha! Funny that you ran downhill on a flat out and back.

    Was getting to this race as annoying as getting to a flight?