I signed up for this race 10 days in advance, which is pretty far in advance for me. I told myself, and everyone else I was running this for fun. I didn’t want the PR attempt pressure but secretly I wanted to chip away more time at a larger goal or maybe even hit it. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Friday night we picked up our bibs after Joe was finished with work (I took the day off to just relax). The expo was a little overwhelming for someone who doesn’t love crowds (yes, I know I live in New York City which means I should be used to them), but it was incredibly well organized. I was even able to get a corral change on the spot (I don’t do a ton of NYRR races so my last best time was much slower than my actual last best time).
We looked through the gear, took a couple of pics at the picture stops and headed to Trader Joe’s then home to relax.
Saturday was laid back, we prepped for the race, did a shake out run then headed into the city to run a quick errand then grabbed dinner at a cute little spot off 13th. One of my favorite things about living in the city, no shortage of great food options and all within 5-10 minutes of wherever you want. We got home around 8:30, I rolled out a bit then tried to get to sleep around 10:30.
I woke up race morning after getting the worst sleep of my life and went straight for the coffee. I drank my La Colombe Draft Latte and decided I’d go for broke today. I’d been somewhat preparing to do so and had a loose plan in mind, I’d keep it in the low 7s on the uphills and rip the downhills (my more muscular quads give me an advantage here). I don’t like planning out a pacing strategy too much, I prefer going by feel and knowing where I can play to my strengths (downhills and crowd support).
To get to the start, I took a cab to Prospect Park with Joe and Kurt which made it stress free and easy. The company also calmed the nerves. Within half an hour we were at the park. We checked our bags and warmed up. I felt ready minus that my coffee only woke me up and didn’t quite do its other job.
I got in the corral a bit early, I was planning to run faster than the fastest pacer in my corral and didn’t want to have to dodge people too much, especially on the downhill where I could bank time without interest.
I lined up with the 1:35 pacer knowing the first mile was uphill the goal was to pass them but not blow past them until the downhill. To be honest, I wasted a lot of energy passing people at the beginning. This is something I’ll want to reign in next time.
The first 4 miles I felt fantastic. I had all of the energy, and I was zooming. I saw my friends at the mile 4 water station just before heading up to the Manhattan Bridge – this was quite a boost, though I wish it had been at mile 10 or 11 where I desperately needed it. Heading up the Manhattan Bridge was hard, really really freaking hard but so cool. This bridge is really underrated and a lot of fun to run up even though it’s quite steep.
Running up the bridge I felt strong, but on the downhill my stomach fired off a warning shot. I knew this wasn’t good news so I slowed up a bit. My body wanted to go faster and my stomach screamed no, making the downhill pretty uncomfortable.
Next up was my least favorite part of the race, the lonely FDR drive stretch. It didn’t help that the mile markers here were WAY off.
I spent the next 2 miles searching for a port-a-potty. At mile 8 I spotted one and I cheered a little. I had resigned myself to the fact that I might have to make the side of the FDR a port-a-potty. By this point, I really had to apply the breaks to avoid that. 92 seconds later, I felt much better. I was starting to bonk a little and this is where I really should have taken a gel. I pushed through it but by mile 10 I was done mentally.
Going through Times Square is arguably the coolest part of the race, but by this point I was just ready to be done. I was really tired and didn’t truly get to enjoy it, especially not the incline at 42nd. For some reason, I really enjoyed that turn into the park, even knowing this would mean a LOT of hills. I saw Joe again for a brief second at mile 12.
Knowing his goal for the race meant I needed to get my behind in gear. I found a second wind for mile 12 but died again at mile 13 and had nothing to give on the uphill finish.
It wasn’t my best finish, and I didn’t feel strong on that last stretch.
This is a story of going out way too fast, and holding on for dear life. Is it a good strategy? Absolutely not. Did I learn to fight to hold on in a way I never would have to otherwise? Absolutely. Is that valuable? Absolutely.
I also tried something different this time. I didn’t look at my watch for the first few miles (except for the mile time), instead I went by feel.
While these splits are truly all over the place it is, ironically, a step in the right direction. Most ever sub-7 miles and despite mentally crashing at 9 and 10, I was able to rally a bit. My mental game clearly needs work but the other work is paying off.
Also worth noting; mile 12 was really somewhere around 7:08 – my GPS messed up a little, but the course was still about 0.10 to 0.15 long which is common with big races.
I’d highly recommend this half to anyone who isn’t afraid of potentially frigid weather (it can be in the 20s at the start and at best in the 40s), doesn’t mind a LOT of hills (360+ ft of gain) and isn’t from New York – I can’t imagine how cool it would be for a tourist getting to run through an empty Times Square. If you live here, it’s
probably the coolest NYC course that’s only 13.1 miles and it’s logistically a breeze so I’d still recommend it if you’re going to be running long that day anyways.
What’s next? Figuring out how to really get in control of these stomach issues – hoping a more plant based diet helps. Sharpening up some shorter, short distance speed. Training for New Jersey Half and Brooklyn half with a couple of shorter races in the middle. And I’ll actually be tapering for these next two, so we’ll see how that part goes!