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|
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?
Now it's time to step up my game, work a little harder, and try to meet my goals at the next one!