Race number 9 (7th 2009 marathon-qualifying race) was the More Half Marathon, which took us around the big loop of Central Park twice plus a little over a mile more to complete the half marathon. The marathoners had to complete the half marathon course, then run the middle loop twice and then the lower 5-mile loop to finish the 26.2.
Goals: to run between water stations and to set a PR, which would have meant breaking 2:02:42. I had worked out a specific race strategy, but I’m not good at pacing, so I wasn’t sure I could make it work. I wanted to run the first 3 miles at 9:30, the next 3 miles at 9:15 and the last 7 miles at 9 or so.
Despite yet another weekend of subway changes (including having to take a bus to get to where the train was running local, not express) I got to the Park early. I was hungry (I’d forgotten to eat breakfast), so I drank a cup of Gatorade, which was not the smartest idea. I wandered around the festival and lined up for a pre-race massage. I got really ticked when two volunteers cut the line for massages (one of them was male). The massage was supposed to be for the participants and they could have waited until 8, when we’d all be off running the race. Luckily, I made it through the line and had a really nice massage. I dropped my bag, used the port-a-potty one last time then headed over to the 9-minute-mile marker. I’d told Roxy I’d see her there and found her just after the National Anthem. She had Mike Hayden with her and we posed for a couple of pictures before Roxy and I got down to business.
It was a very crowded race and we had a very slow start. It’s only two more races before the walkers will be forced to start at the back by the new corral system and I can’t wait. Roxy and I ran together (she’s faster than I am, but ran a half marathon last weekend, so we were staying together pretty easily) for the first few miles. Our first mile was a 10:10, which immediately put my strategy out the window. I didn’t want to try to catch up to my plan too quickly, but I did decide to skip water stations. After all, I’d had that cup of Gatorade right before the race. Unfortunately, the walk breaks in the water stations are as much about a break for my lungs as a break for my legs and I had to stop in the 5th mile. Roxy shot on ahead and I felt a little badly about having held her back. I walked for about 2 minutes, then started running again. I’d successfully passed the first water stations and was just a minute behind my pace at this point, so I decided to skip the water stations until I’d passed the start again, just after the 7-mile marker. I decided to take my gel and take a bathroom break, just to see what kind of time it would take. My goal time was out of the question by now, so it didn’t matter that much. Except that it wasn’t. I was confusing my PR time with a sub-2 time, so I gave up a little too early. When I came out of the port-a-potty, I looked around to see if Roxy was around and she was just coming up, so I waited for her and we fell back into step again, seeing Mike at the 72nd Transverse. It was so nice of him to come watch us run, especially because it wasn’t the nicest weather and he must have been freezing!
Back around the Park again, I made pretty good time on the hills. I felt strong, anyway. I lost Roxy again, but must have been in the zone, because I didn’t even realize it had happened until she wasn’t there all of a sudden. We’d chatted off and on, but had also enjoyed companionable silences. It was really nice running with her and I hope to get faster so we can do it again. On this loop, I stopped at each water station, but tried to keep the walk breaks brief. It got a little crowded again as we started to lap the walkers. I think it’s great that they’re out there participating, but when they’re walking 3 or 4 (and sometimes more) abreast, it’s difficult to run at your own pace, because we were still limited to a portion of the road (as always). As I came around to the 12-mile marker, I realized that I’d confused my goals and that a PR was still possible, but had miscalculated again. I put on as much speed as I could, but in the last half mile lost a lot of energy yelling at walkers to get out of the half marathon finishing lane. We were supposed to be split into 3 lanes: marathoners on the left, walkers in the middle, and half marathon finishers on the right. I was running in the proper lane, but walkers kept drifting back into the right lane, blocking the way. Even though it was frustrating and I lost some time dodging them, I didn’t miss the half marathon solely because of them. There were several points along the course where I took more time than I needed and the combination of delays lost the PR for me.
After the race, Mike found me and then we found Roxy. We got some pictures taken and then we headed back to the train together. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to join them for breakfast, because I’d already made plans to go to the opening of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef, which my friend, Andrea, contributed to, and I had to get home, shower and change, in order to get back down to the World Financial Center in time.
Official stats: my official time was 2:04:10 for a 9:28 pace. My splits were 10:11, 9:31, 9:10, 9:11, 9:44, 9:00, 9:00, 11:51, 8:56, 9:22, 9:11, 9:32, 8:31, and 1:03 for the last tenth of a mile. I was 1352 out of 5948 total half marathon runners (plus 146 marathoners), putting me in the 77th percentile, and 368 out of 1378 in my age group, putting me in the 73rd percentile. It was 45°F, 71% humidity, and 12 mph winds.
Consolation treats: I had a slushy Dr Pepper when I got home Brownies and cookies were served at the opening and I had some of each. Yum!
Next up: Adidas Run for the Parks (4/20), Brooklyn Half Marathon (5/3)
Race pictures are available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7411850@N04/sets/72157604464489559/.
Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef pictures are available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7411850@N04/sets/72157604465052035/ (I’m sorry for the poor quality, but my good camera was being repaired, so I had to use my crappy old starter camera.)