Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thoughts on NYRR and the Brooklyn Half

For those in the NYC running scene, the topic of NYRR often provokes endless debate.  There are many fans, and just as many detractors.  The most recent topic of conversation around here has been the Brooklyn Half Marathon.  For those of you that need context, NYRR has an annual series of half marathons - one in each borough of NYC.  These races have been well produced, reasonably priced (around $25 for adult NYRR members), few frills half marathons.  No medals, no tech shirts, water and gatorade affairs.  I have participated in the series for several years, and definitely enjoyed them.  Brooklyn has always been a popular race - and always sells out quickly.  This year, NYRR changed the course (to allow more time on the streets and less time in Prospect Park), dramatically increased capacity for participants (to 15,000 from 5,000 in years past), and also nearly doubled the price (to $45 from $25).  This, in combination with the NYRR MEMBER price for NYCM (currently $217) has prompted this blog post.

I'll start with a few positives:

  • NYRR has definitely been at the forefront of making running accessible to the people of NYC.  I started in their beginner running classes, as have many people that I know.
  • One of NYRR's core missions is to engage students in NYC schools to get them started in running, which is a cause that I support.
  • NYRR has been evolving as distance running (particularly marathoning) has increased in popularity.  NYRR puts on a large number of races, that are for the most part well organized, and reasonably priced.
  • The New York Marathon (and other races) have been increasing in popularity, and NYRR has been increasing the size of the marathon as much as is feasible.  I don't profess to know the first thing about race directing, but it's clear that a tremendous amount of effort goes into the planning and execution of the New York Marathon, and the field of participants has grown every year.
Now to the negatives:

  • There is definitely a feeling that New York Road Runners is turning their back on the local running community in NYC.  NYRR has taken on a more "global" mission, and there is definitely a perception that the local races are being used to fund prize pools that attract elite runners to races (such as the NYC Half, the Healthy Kidney 10k, the Mini 10k and the NYCM) which is causing race fees to rise.
  • The New York Marathon has eliminated the guaranteed entry for life that was previously awarded to people that have run 14 NYC Marathons.  To me this indicates that "local business" is less important to NYRR than attracting runners from around the country or the world.
  • Prices for races continue to rise.  Again, I can't speak to the cost of putting on races - but many have commented that the price increases are regular and seemingly excessive.  I have strong doubts whether I will use my guaranteed entry for the New York City Marathon, when I know that there are great alternatives out there (like Marine Corps,, or Philly to name a few) that cost less than half the price.
In my opinion - it seems that NYRR is turning into more of a "Global" running community and less of a "local" NYC focused organization.  I'll also say that's OK.  The fact is, for those that complain about NYRR incessantly, there are other alternatives.  NYCRuns is an up and coming organization, that has produced numerous successful, smaller events around NYC (The Brooklyn Marathon, The Yonkers Marathon/Half Marathon, this years first ever Verrazanno Half Marathon, to name a few).  They are in no way competing with NYRR, but they are offering an alternative for runners seeking a more "local" community in NYC.

The Holiday Marathons continue to put on events (maybe not in Van Cortlandt Park anymore, but we'll see what happens there) - they are a great no-frills, free alternative for folks that don't require a medal or a tech shirt.

To sum it up, I honestly believe that NYRR doesn't "need" local NYC runners business, especially not for their marquis events (NYC Half, NYC Marathon, etc).  There are plenty of runners that are vying for a limited number of spots.  I'm believe that the NYC Marathon would sell out even if no New York City runners participated.  Their mission seems has shifted focus from the local runners that have gotten the organization off the ground.  That said, there are alternatives available for anyone that chooses not to participate in NYRR events.

I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts on the topic...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Why I should never look at my Brightroom photos

How I feel when I'm racing:

What I look like in my Brightroom photos:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Spring Goals

Now that March has arrived, it's time to start thinking ahead and mapping out some of the rest of the year.  I took a quick look at my 2011 recap post, and started to think about the goals that I had in mind for this year.  Here's what I've got so far:

  1. Progress against goals:  So far, I picked off one of the goals already, a sub 32 minute 4 miler.  I hit that at the NYRR Gridiron Classic. Hoping to continue the PR trend with the Coogan's 5k on Sunday.  My course PR for Coogan's is 25 minutes - would be delighted to see that one fall.
  2. Progress against plans:  I have signed up for the Red Bank Olympic Tri and the LI Half Marathon as my spring goal races. Given that this is my first Tri, my only goal is to have fun, and learn as much as I can.  I haven't set a time goal for the LI Half yet, but based on what I've seen so far in training, I think that a big PR is within the realm of possibility.
  3. New Equipment:  Given that I have committed to one tri (and possibly another, more on that later), I finally took the plunge and bought a road bike.  I had to get past the sticker shock associated with cycling (especially as compared to running, where your big investment is a pair of shoes).  Now that the weather is getting warmer, I look forward to getting out for a ride, and starting to come up to speed on that.
  4. Upcoming Races: I signed up for a sprinking of NYRR races (mostly ones that have kid's races) - still planning to get my 9+1 this year, in case I want to run the marathon in 2013.  I have another big goal in July, but I'm still holding back on pulling the trigger on that one.  Should be able to commit to that in the next week or so, but I'm 90% of the way there.  I'm planning to sign up for the Marine Corps Marathon as my fall goal race, and have already signed up for the Brooklyn Marathon as my "fun race".  Still uncertain as to whether or not I'm going to use my guaranteed entry for the New York City Marathon - that probably depends on whether or not I make it into MCM.
As far as my training, the multisport approach continues to work for me.  I am thinking about investing in some swim lessons, because I don't feel happy with where I am at the moment.  Will see where that goes.  Since the majority of my cycling training has been on the spin bike, I'm sure I'll have a better sense of where my training is when I get out on the road.

As far as nutrition, I'm not where I need to be - but plans are in the works to change that.  It's amazing how quickly good eating habits unravel when you lose focus, and how hard it is to put the structure back in place.

All in all, things are running according to plan - and I'm feeling optimistic about where the spring will take me!