I had been dreading this race basically since I signed up last November – peer pressure from some of my co-workers who were running – because 2+ loops of Central Park is never that fun. Especially if you’re trying to go somewhat fast and it’s cold out. But, I started warming to the idea (see what I did there) in the last week or so thinking the race would be a good way to get in some type of workout. It’s been freeeezing in NYC all week, and despite Tuesday’s snowstorm and a little snow on Saturday, NYRR decided the course was safe enough to keep it a scored race instead of making it a “fun run.” Thank goodness – running and racing is plenty fun, but there’s something about a “fun run” that I just don’t like.
Anyways! Woke up on race morning and did the usual stuff – toast with peanut butter, banana, 1 cup of decaf coffee, stretching and stuff. It was about 18 degrees out, so I tried to leave my apartment at the last possible minute to allow for a ~2.5 mile warm-up and get me into the corrals before they closed.
I didn’t really have a plan for this race other than to not freeze and stay fairly relaxed. During my warm-up, I started to think that sub-1:45 would be a good number to shoot for, or maybe sub-8 minute miles. But in the end, I kind of just did whatever.
Miles 1-4: 7:51, 7:51, 7:38, 7:44
These miles felt pretty easy after getting up Cat hill, and I held myself back from going anywhere near uncomfortably fast knowing there were a whole lot of hills ahead. I started to realize how much better running multiple loops of Central Park is in a race setting, and NYRR did a good job to get people excited. I remember thinking, “And this is why I do it” during those first miles (also known as: cheesy running moment). After a few miles it didn’t even feel that cold anymore. Getting up Harlem hill was definitely rough, but not having a specific pace or goal in mind was really helpful as I just told myself to get up the damn thing as best I could, no pressure.
Miles 5-9: 7:54, 7:38, 7:48, 7:55, 7:40
These miles went by in kind of a blur. I didn’t drink anything during the whole race because I thought the fluids would be slushy and/or frozen and didn’t really feel thirsty. I did take a Hammer Gel around mile 7.5-8 to help keep the energy going. I still felt pretty good going along East Drive for the last time, and knew getting up and over Harlem hill again would be the hardest (it was). After that I started counting down the remaining hills to the finish, and kept thinking about how generally good I still felt.
Miles 10-13.1: 7:49, 7:58, 7:37, 7:38, 7:25 (0.1+)
Crossing 72nd street for the last and final southern loop to the finish on the other side of 72nd street, I still felt really good. It was weird. This guy pulled up next to me and said, “I’m dying here!” I’m not sure if he was trying to start a conversation or what, I mean, who does that at mile 10 of a half marathon?? I grunted at him, thought “well I’m not!” and left him in my dust. Around mile 11 I started thinking that maybe I could even PR, which was definitely not something I had anticipated. Just don’t lose it now, I told myself. I refused to look at my Garmin so pace/time would freak me out and instead just pushed it to the finish line keeping the same steady, mostly comfortable pace.
Official: 1:42:54, 7:52/mile.
I’m not sure if the mile markers were off, the satellites were wacky or what (maybe both?), but my Garmin was a pretty far off. After grabbing some frozen Gatorade and an apple (for later), I turned around and ran the ~1.5 miles from the finish back to my apartment before I had a chance to get too cold.
This is only about 30 seconds slower than my current half PR, so I’m pretty happy with it given the course and mileage I put in this week (~61). I think the whole not having a plan and just running worked really well for me and I felt much more relaxed than in other recent races. Not paying too much attention to the Garmin also really helped, although looking back I wonder if I could have actually PR’d if I had pushed a little more here or there. But regardless, it’s a great confidence booster for one of my big goals this spring, which is a sub-1:40 half.
smoked salmon, ricotta cheese, egg, onion, bread from Maison Kayser
Total runner’s high engulfed me for the rest of the day, and met up with some of my RD buddies (one of whom also raced in the morning) for a delicious brunch before becoming immobile on the couch for the rest of the day. Since I had been working Sundays at the running store for so long, I haven’t been able to do stuff like this for a long time. How come no one told me (full) weekends could be so fun?
Favorite post-race meal? How often do you look at your Garmin/watch during races?