Race 23 was the NYC Half Marathon. We ran a loop and then some clockwise around Central Park, down 7th Avenue through Times Square, across 42nd Street and down the West Side Highway to Battery Park.
Goals: to run between water stations, to set a course PR (sub 2:08:49) and to set a distance PR (sub 2:02:49).
The event started at the expo on Friday afternoon. I timed my visit to coincide with the appearance of Haile Gebrselassie and Catherine Ndereba, who answered questions from the crowd and then gave autographs and took pictures (except with me, whose camera broke the day before). I had them autograph my bib (picture in the album). I wandered around, had a badge made, got a pace bracelet, picked up some freebies (Vaseline, hair bands, sunblock), then went home for a nice restful evening. Saturday was expo day again. Hendrick Ramaala and Abdi Abdirahman did the appearance and signed my bib. In the general questions session, I asked them about cross-training. Hendrick said he doesn’t do any and Abdi said he does abs after his long runs. The moderator was quick to point out that they’re professional athletes and that running is their job and that it’s good to be physically fit in a variety of ways. I was first in line for the autographs (I learned where to stand at the Friday night appearance) and when I told them my goal, they kidded each other that I was going to be right behind them. They wished me luck and signed my bib. This bib is going to be framed!! I went to work to wait for Elizabeth, who was arriving later. We met back at the expo at around 3. Well, by the time I got there, she and Jenna had finished with the expo (which I know now is tiny and nothing special, expo-wise) and were shopping at Niketown. It was so nice to finally meet Elizabeth in person after getting to know her through her blog. We chatted while Jenna finished shopping, then I went to mass. I can barely kneel before running a half marathon, so I was certainly not going to attempt it after one!
Race day – I had to be in my corral by 6:15, so I was up at 4:30 and out the door by 5. I missed the bus at 86th Street, so I walked across the Park to the starting area (that counts as a warm-up, right?). I got myself ready (inhaler, sunblock, etc.), dropped my bag and headed to the 7000 corral. Elizabeth was already there and while we were chatting, my friend, Paul, with his friend, Mitch, showed up. They are both training for a triathlon and were using this race as a training run. Elizabeth and Paul both decided to use me as a pacer (no pressure there!), because they wanted to run slowly and not race. As we started moving forward, compacting the corrals (we were about a half mile from the start), another friend, LK, found us. He’s on a new training regimen and was supposed to keep his heart rate at or below 145, so he was going slowly, too. We continued to move forward until we started hearing snatches of the national anthem and then the horn. We finally crossed the start line at 4:55. I’m not very good at talking while running, so I limited myself to pointing out landmarks to Elizabeth. I’m apparently not very good at thinking while I’m running, either, because I missed out on some pretty big ones, including the finish of the NYC Marathon. Sorry, Elizabeth!! As always, I stopped at every water station, drinking water and Gatorade and taking a short walk break at each one. There were plenty of spectators and I even saw someone I know in the crowds: Brenn, who is also a member of our corporate running team. We hit the 5k marker at 31:25. The first few miles were a bit of a struggle, especially getting up the hills on the upper west side of the Park. Elizabeth and I ran together for about 5 miles at which point we separated, though Paul and I continued on together. In the 7th mile, my first goal went by the wayside. I had meant to use my inhaler at the last water station, but forgot. My chest was getting tighter and tighter and when I started feeling light-headed and seeing stars, I stopped, puffed, and walked until I felt calmer. It didn’t take long and Paul hung with me until I was running again. We crossed the 10k mats at 1:01:17 (I learned later that the winner had already finished by that time). My total time for the 7th mile was 9:35, so I was clearly running too fast for this kind of humidity. And then, after a short sweeping uphill, we turned left and headed out of the Park onto 7th Avenue. Not only was this an environmental change, from a beautiful green park with trees rising on either side to city streets with skyscrapers rising on either side, but the crowds swelled and the music started (there was no music in the Park). From the brass band at Carnegie Hall to the DJs and dancers along the West Side Highway, you could still hear the band you’d passed fading away as you started hearing the band you approached. The buildings of Times Square are visible as soon as you hit 7th Avenue and I tried to keep my eyes on them to pull me forward. As with last year, I completely forgot about being broadcast on the jumbotron in Times Square until it was too late. I hope someone saw me and recognized me, but I didn’t recognize anyone on the screen when I looked up. As I turned onto 42nd Street, I was gasping for a water station – I needed the walk break and the fluids! Three times, we had to run 2 miles (more or less) between water stations. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to have one of those long breaks 8 ½ miles into a half marathon in August in NYC! We passed several bands and DJs and then 7-Eleven (no more Kwik-E-Mart) and finally arrived at the water station. There were boxes of Carb-Boom gel for us to take, but I used my own (plain PowerGel). I probably should have taken the Carbo-Boom – it took nearly 2 minutes for me to get the stupid packet open!! Oh well, at least I had a nice long walk break. Paul couldn’t wait and took off, but I caught him before the turn onto the West Side Highway. In contrast to the glorious transition from Park to city streets back at mile 7+, the turn-off onto the West Side Highway was a transition to the most difficult section of the course. As hilly as Central Park is, the trees provide plenty of shade, as do the buildings in midtown. No such feature on the West Side Highway. Not only were we completely exposed to the blazing sun, but we moved from asphalt to concrete! The crowds were still good, though, and there were water stations in every mile. There were also supposed to be misting stations, but I didn’t see any. I crossed the 15k marker at 1:32:04. By the last four miles, I was getting grumpier and grumpier. On a walk break to drink water, I got irritated by a spectator standing in the road and waved him out of my way. Coming into the last water station, someone decided that it didn’t matter that people were running down the Highway; he was going to walk across it by way of my left foot. I called him a not-very-nice name, throwing in a glare for good measure. Bad me – we were all tired by that point and I’m sure he just wasn’t thinking straight. Hopefully, he didn’t hear me. I had gotten separated from Paul by this point and saw him go flying past in the last mile. I was beginning to chase after him when I remembered that his plan called for him to run the last mile fast, so I let him go. I had long ago realized that I couldn’t make my time goals, but thought I’d try to see how close I could get to a course PR. I crossed the 20k marker at 2:02:22. In that last half mile, I passed a downed runner, surrounded by cops, and a little farther along, the EMTS were moving a stretcher onto the course to retrieve him. I didn’t hear anything more about it, so I assume it was dehydration. I hope he’s okay. I also passed Brenn again and he cheered for me a couple of times, which helped push me along to the finish. I missed my revised goal of finishing in under 2:13 on the official clock, but it was close.
Paul was waiting for me at the finish and we picked up our medals, then got our picture taken together. We found Mitch, then Paul and Mitch took off while I headed over to grab my bag. I ran into Fabian, Roberto, Lou and LK (whose heart-rate average was exactly 145 – way to go, LK!) on my way out. I got a little confused and ended up back in the finishing chute, but eventually made it to Andrea and Brady’s place, where I took a quick shower and then we headed back out for dim sum and Divalicious!
Official stats: I finished in 2:08:23 for an average pace of 9:48 over the 13.1 miles – a course PR, by just 26 seconds. According to the Nike+ results, I was 6099 out of 9920 total finishers, putting me in the 39th percentile - the NYRR website has me listed as the 6362nd finisher, which would put me in the 36th percentile. It was 71°F with 61% humidity. My splits from my watch were: 9:59, 10:49, 9:46, 9:49, 9:40, 9:35, 9:38, 9:25, 10:44, 10:03, 9:41, 9:03 and :59 for the final .1 mile (9:50 pace).
Celebration treats: Andrea and Brady are fellow chocophiles, so they provided me immediately with some Valrhona chocolate (Manjari and Araguani), then we walked up to Chinatown for dim sum and then stopped at Divalicious for chocolate-fountain-dipped treats (I had the ice-cream-filled cream puffs – yum!). When I got home, I had my last Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper (don’t worry, Nathalie, I still have yours) – slushed, of course, and (again, provided by Andrea and Brady – thanks, guys!!)*
Next up: Media Challenge #5 (8/8) and the Run for Home Plate (8/11).
Thank you for all your support!
*This may seem like a lot of treats for someone who only hit one goal, I did set a course PR and it's my 3rd fastest half marathon time. Not too bad for someone who ran a marathon a month ago and is still recovering from some pretty painful injuries, not to mention it's a half marathon in NYC in August!
Race day pictures here: http://new.photos.yahoo.com/album?c=mytripsandraces&aid=576460762405076910&pid=&wtok=I5jP.Q1OY04w20jDDxU.tQ--&ts=1186450092&.src=ph
For those of you who missed it, the Anheuser-Busch Libation Loft album is here: http://new.photos.yahoo.com/album?c=mytripsandraces&aid=576460762405067110&pid=&wtok=f6RXDnpfTQuZd9CrAD6qvQ--&ts=1186193758&.src=ph (if you want to see the videos, let me know and I’ll send the links).