Some alternative titles for this post:
NYC Half Marathon Recap: Almost Doesn’t Count.
NYC Half Marathon Recap: I Hate the West Side Hills.
NYC Half Marathon Recap: Can’t We Just Count my 20K Split as my HM Time and Call it a Day?
So, as you might have gathered, I did end up PRing at the NYC Half with a 2:02, but it was not quite the sub-2 time I was hoping for. I wish I could blame on the weather (pretty perfect – high 40s, overcast and hardly any wind) or the race being over-sold (despite the race being expanded to 15,000 this year, I had my space – I was even able to run through water stations consistently) or any other factors out of my control, but that wouldn’t be honest or fair. The simple truth is, I just didn’t have the fitness to hang on to my pace on this course for this particular day.
Race day started off with a lovely 5:15 am alarm at my friend Dahlia’s place. The morning was pretty uneventful – until we were headed out the door, and the string on my plastic bag for baggage check broke! Luckily, I was able to stuff my warm clothes into Dahlia’s bag. The last thing I wanted to deal with was a broken bag and missing warm clothes post-race.
We headed out the door at around 6ish and grabbed a bus that dropped us fairly close to baggage area right outside the park. Since the baggage trucks closed at 6:45 am (and we didn’t need to be in our corrals until 7), I was tempted to suggest skipping it. But the thought of chilly post-race temps quickly changed my mind. And then it was off to the corrals!
|pre-race Central Park|
We ended up in the corrals super early, but at least it gave ample time to hit the bathrooms. Dahila’s number was 9xxx, and mine was 8xxx, but I decided to wait with her in her corral. We put down the same predicted time, so not sure why we were in different corrals to begin with. We had about 45 minutes to kill before the race would start and when we would actually cross the line, so it was nice to have someone to chat with. I ended up bumping into another friend as well, so I was definitely glad I moved back.
The time passed much more quickly than if I was waiting by myself, and before I knew it, it was time to get going! I knew both my friends were going to be a bit faster than me, so I said my goodbye and planned to run my own race.
The first three miles were awesome. I was feeling great, and I was right on target. Cat Hill didn’t seem to bother me at all, and I was in a groove. I hit Harlem Hill after the 5K point, and that was ok too. I felt a little more winded, but still hanging in there. Then, right after Harlem Hill came the West Side Hills right before mile 5, and that‘s where I started to fall off pace. Unfortunately, right after those pesky hills, came time for my fuel break, and by the time I hit the 10K point, I was over 2 minutes behind pace.
Right after the 10K point, I got to leave the park and hit the streets of the city. I had about two miles on the city streets heading down Seventh Ave to 42nd Street, all the way to the West Side Highway. I tried to soak up the energy, pick up the pace, and try to make up the time, but to no avail. By the time I hit mile 8 on the West Side Highway, I kind of knew my sub-2 goal was probably not going to happen.
At this point I was starting to feel pretty dejected. After all, it’s a pretty crappy feeling to know your goals aren’t going to happen that day. My legs were also starting to feel heavy, too. As I passed by a water station, I was tempted to slow to walk. I felt like there was no real point in pushing the pace since I was going to miss my goal regardless.
Then, I yelled at myself to pull it together. While I was not on pace to make sub-2, I was on pace to make a PR. And after finishing 4 half marathons in boroughs all over the city (with insane wake-up calls) just to get a slot in the race, I was NOT in the business of giving up on this one. And so I rallied, and continued running as hard as I could, which at that point was around a bit over a 9:20 min/mile.
Miles, 9, 10, and 11 clicked by uneventfully. I knew there would be some sort of underpass coming up, but I didn’t know what to expect. Did I miss it?
A few minutes after I passed the mile 11 marker, we ran into a huge tunnel, and I thought clearly, this must be the underpass. The tunnel went on for the better part of the mile, and I found it a bit stuffy and reminiscent of the infamous Queensboro Bridge from the full marathon. But thankfully, there was less than a mile to go, not another 10!
Daylight finally broke through the tunnel. I climbed a rather uncomfortable incline (really? one more hill at this point in the race?), and sure enough, I was almost done. I passed the 800 meters to go sign, then 400, then 200, and the finally…the finish!
As I crossed the finish line, I thought “please God, let me at least have beaten my PR from last year!” When I saw my text with my 2:02 time, I just felt relief.
I made my way through an extremely crowded finisher chute to grab my heat sheet, medal and snack pouch and found Dahlia waiting for me. We walked down until we found a spot to change into our warm clothes. I have never been so happy to have a warm fleece jacket and sweatpants waiting for me!
|Post-race smiles…and medals!|
After taking approximately 150 years to make it out of the packed downtown area and onto a subway to get back to the Upper East Side, we quickly showered and changed into normal-people clothing for a celebration brunch. After all, what’s the point of racing if you can’t celebrate with cocktails?
While I wish I ran a bit faster and broke 2 hours, at the end of the day, this race was a step in the right direction. After all, my previous 2:03 hm time was set in New Orleans (aka on a super flat course.) This PR is hopefully just a stepping stone. And, I also have to take into account that I was pretty injured post-marathon and was out for a fair amount of weeks, too.
Now it’s time to step up my game, work a little harder, and try to meet my goals at the next one!