Monday, January 22, 2007
Manhattan Half Marathon Recap
This was qualifying race number 2 (and race 3 for the year). We ran a double counter-clockwise loop (and then some) of Central Park (the loop is about 6 miles).
This was my first half marathon of the year (the first in the NYC Grand Prix) and my longest race/run since the marathon. It was so cold this morning when I woke up (20°F/-7°C) that I decided not to worry about time. I just decided to run between the water stations and hope that I didn’t hurt myself – it’s hard to feel what’s going on with your body when the temperature is so low.
I missed the train I’d meant to catch, but still got to the race with over a half hour to kill. I huddled in the lines for the portable toilets, then huddled next to the Met, trying to decide if I should put on the extra shirt I’d packed. I was shivering in my wool coat, so I decided to make the change. It involved taking off both the coat and my overshirt, which already had my number pinned to the front, but those few seconds bare-armed were worth the extra layer against the cold. My hands, though, were freezing. I waited an unbelievably long time to get my bag in to the truck. There was a lot of grumbling – the reason for the long lines was the volunteers’ insistence on organizing the bags in the truck, even though they’d be driving them up to the finish and unloading them into a separate baggage area. It took so long to get through the line that I had to jog up to the start (not complaining about that – I was freezing!!) and heard the start as I went. I ducked under the tape and joined my fellow runners as we shuffled to the start. We zoomed up the East Side and climbed Harlem Hill. Our first water station was on 110th Street and not only was the water frozen to the table and iced over, but the Gatorade was slushy!! And frozen to the table. After a couple of miles of running, I warmed up just about everywhere except my hands. My hands were so cold that they hurt! It was so bad that I didn’t think they’d warm up and after the first water station, I pulled my fingers out of my gloves and into the palms. After about 4 miles, though, my hands did start to feel better. When I took my gloves off after the race, my fingers were bright red! I tried not to run too hard and to just let my legs go at the pace they wanted. It wasn’t too difficult, because I couldn’t really feel them. The hardest part was the breathing. As some of you know, I run in winter against doctor’s orders. I had bundled up, wearing a hat, ear muffs, and a gaiter for my neck, plus 3 layers to cover my chest, but I still had trouble breathing. While I was able to make my goal of running between water stations, the water stations themselves hurt my breathing. I had to drink very cold liquids which made my chest cold, which made it more difficult to breathe. I ended up using my inhaler 3 times, including the pre-race puff. I made it through the first loop by telling myself it was only one more loop after that one. I made it through the second loop by telling myself that it was the last time around. That’s not really a lot to go on when the loop is 6+ miles, but it worked for me. I also went over the course (which I’ve run many times by now) in my head, reminding myself of the uphill, downhill or flat bit coming up. My favorite water station stop was the last one before the finish – there was a 2-inch block of ice in the cup!! I’d learned through the past 7 water stops to gently squeeze the bottom of the cup to break through the ice on top. This time, I was turning back to get another cup when the ice popped out of the cup, dropping to the ground which was littered with the usual cups and the disks of ice of varying sizes. It was pretty cool. That last water station was also the start of my final mile (and then some). When I started running again, I just let my legs go. I knew I was going to set a course PR, so I decided to set myself a goal of breaking my course PR (2:17:31) on the official clock and by finishing the 1.1 miles in less than 10 minutes. I’m happy to say that I crossed the finish line at 2:16 on the official clock and finished the last 1.1 miles in 9:52.
And now, a little word for the sponsors – in this case, the volunteers on the course. I spent a good part of the race marveling at the support we were getting – from the volunteers at the water stations to the volunteers along the course cheering us along and helping us stay on course. From the silent, seemingly sullen volunteers to the wildly enthusiastic volunteers who could be heard cheering before you could see them and long after you’ve passed them. We runners were able to stay somewhat warm as we ran, but they were staying in the same place throughout the race. The volunteers at the water stations were not only standing out there in the freezing cold, but they were getting their hands and feet wet while they did it. So, here’s a big THANK YOU to all of the volunteers who really showed their mettle today!!
And extra kudos for the man who was finishing the half marathon at 3:20 as I walked back across the Park to the subway home. Yes, he walked 13.1 miles in 3 hours and 20 minutes in sub-zero temperatures. That’s quite an accomplishment!!
Official stats: my race time was 2:12:33 (a course PR by 4:58) for a 10:07 pace over the 13.1 miles. I was 3426 out of 4391 total runners, putting me in the 22nd percentile. It was 21°F (-6°C) with a wind chill of 14°F (-10°C) and 32% humidity. My splits were: 9:25, 11:34, 9:26, 10:18, 10:16, 9:58, 10:22, 10:48, 9:35, 10:21, 10:34, 10:07, 8:55 and :57 for the last tenth of a mile.
Thanks for all your support!
P.S. Celebratory treats – a 7-Eleven Santa Fe Chicken Caesar Salad, apples with caramel dipping sauce (or dipping toss as my niece used to call it) and Italian hot chocolate, plus various treats from my Christmas stocking and some dark-chocolate-covered Ginger Altoids.