It seems like I’ve been planning this race forever. I got a guaranteed entry last May based on my finish time at the Brooklyn Half Marathon (2:11:23).
I was hoping to run the race when the course was only through Manhattan. (Now it starts in Brooklyn.) And I had entered the lottery several times in the past but never got in.
So I signed up for the NYC Half Marathon as my 35th Half Marathon for several reasons:
- I got a guaranteed entry.
- I love NYC.
- I had enough pts for a free hotel room.
- I had friends running it.
- They changed the course to get rid of most of the Central Park hills at the end.
- It’s such a prestigious race. How could you not?
Half Marathon Training:
If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan. I ran my last half marathon on February 10 in Florida in the rain.
But after that race, due to possibly walking on the beach, I experienced leg discomfort.
So, I skipped many runs and sought the help of a chiro who did ART on my leg. I completed about 8-9 ART sessions (with minimal relief.)
Though I don’t usually care much about my short runs, I do like to get in a 10, 11 and 12 miler before each half marathon.
For this race, I obviously did not. One short run each week and a longish one. All with some leg discomfort.
Yes, I was nervous that I was not prepared for run 13.1 miles and I was nervous about making my leg injury worse.
So the goal for this half marathon was finishing!! If my leg started to bother me, I would just walk. It’s a BIG race, There would be many runners finishing behind me.
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
I learned some valuable lessons about pre-race prep during a previous race-cation — rest the legs and fuel adequately the day before the race.
Of course, in NYC, you walk and I did. I walked to the expo and met Cari there. We had a blast catching up (even though we had seen each other recently)
and taking lots of goofy photos.
I actually didn’t buy a thing at the expo (but those NYC running shoes were tempting.)
Cari and I walked around the city for awhile and after we parted, I headed back to my hotel and had pizza for dinner (per usual) and a pastry for dessert. Carbs. CHECK.
It was still too early for bed so I walked to Hudson Yards which had recently opened a mall and “The Vessel.”
After strolling around the super expensive shops in the mall, attending a cooking show in Neiman Marcus (with samples), I tried to plan my race outfit and get to bed early.
In bed by 10 am and only 7 miles on the legs CHECK.
I brought my usual race breakfast of oatmeal and coffee with me and got up around 4:15 am. It was chillier than I hoped so I put on an extra shirt, a throw away shirt, jacket, DIY arm sleeves, sweats, grabbed a foil blanket and took off for the shuttle bus.
For $17, a guy organized 4 buses that would leave from Manhattan and get you to your corral entrance.
Where the bus departed from was about 1.5 miles from my hotel. I could walk (30 min.) or take the subway (10 min.) It was cold and dark so I thought I’d take the subway. Just missed one and they don’t come very frequently at that hour on a Sunday. I worried about missing the bus so I walked/ran the 1.5 miles.
I arrived around 5:30 for Bus 2 which was scheduled to leave at 5:45. Already sweaty. But with a smile. I realized for the first time in a long time, my leg felt fine!!!!!
I decided to take off my sweaty long sleeved shirt and just race in the short sleeved one (with DIY arm sleeves and gloves.)
The bus was nice and warm and with a bathroom. Woo Hoo!
We left late (around 6 am). I was in Wave 4 but many on this bus were in Wave 2 and 3 so the bus dropped Wave #2 first, waited and then Wave 3ers left the bus. Next we drove to the Wave 4/5 entrance. We got there around 6:45. I got off and headed with the others to the park. We couldn’t get close since it was late and had to walk many many blocks. Once in the park, we had to check our bags, go through security (removing your belts, phone, even watches) and then find the corral entrance.
It was cold and luckily they gave out foil blankets to stay warm. I still had on my throw away and sweats too. But I was still cold since it was windy as well.
My wave started at 8:30. But by the time most of the Wave 4 runners got to the entrance, they had closed the gate. They told us that we had to wait until 8:45 with the Wave 5 runners. Many runners were pushing and shoving and whining about it being too disorganized.
True but the race was CHIP TIMED so…whatever.
Eventually they let us in. I threw away the foil, my shirt and sweats…. (and wished that the sun would come out and I had worn a long sleeved shirt and tights.)
I’ll do my best to recap the race below. (Warning: it’ll be long…)
My plan, as usual, was to stop and walk briefly at every water stop (so I wouldn’t get dehydrated even in the cold) and to stop and walk longer to eat a GU at every other water stop.
Anyway, here’s how the race went:
9:57, 9:22, 9:38, 9:26,11:19
Of course, the start was very crowded and slow going at first. In fact, I was surrounded by runners the whole race – the benefit of a big race with over 25,000 runners.
The start line was in the middle of Center Drive. We started by heading east and after a slight downhill on Center Drive, we took a sharp left onto East Drive. We quickly reached the main hill, commonly known as “Prospect Park Hill” or “Battle Pass Hill.” I had run quite a few races in this park so I was familiar with the hill(s). And I was feeling strong at this point so I ran them. I was suddenly very hungry since my breakfast was many hours ago. I stopped at the second water stop and tried to stall until at least mile 4 for my Gu.
We exited the park at Grand Army Plaza (the arch above) and took some sharp turns onto Flatbush Avenue. We were on Flatbush for the next 4 miles. First there was a downhill along the park and then we returned back up Flatbush, through GAP, and onto a long downhill. There was timing mat at 5k point and I was very pleased at my pace – much faster than I had planned. (I had to look at my Garmin at each timing mat since I started at 8:45 or so not 7:30 am). My water/Gu stop was probably longer and slower than it should have been but I guess I needed the break.
The tail end of mile 5 was the beginning of our approach to Manhattan Bridge and—yep, it went uphill.
This was the beginning of what made this race so scenic and iconically New York. It was hard. Probably the hardest part of the course. I seemed like we went uphill forever and minimally benefited from the downhill. With the sun at our backs, the wind picked up. I was cold. No lie. And I had to hold my cap so it didn’t blow off into the East River. But the views from the bridge were amazing. I tried to focus on all my surroundings – Freedom Tower, Empire State Building, etc. to get me over this bridge.
When we got off the bridge, we had finished 6 miles. The hard part over, right?
The start of mile 7 included two sharp turns: first onto Canal Street and then immediately onto Allen Street, where we hit the 10K timing mat. Again I was amazed at my pace. Pretty steady and around 10 min/mile. Allen Street was surprisingly downhill as well as scenic, and this portion of the course gave us a perfect view of the bridge we just conquered.
At the end of Allen, we turned left onto South Street and ran for half a mile before merging onto FDR Drive.
All of sudden all of the mile markers seemed to be off. Apparently they had reversed miles 7 and 8 (on the wrong sides of the street).
10:51, 10:36, 10:33
At Pier 36, we began our 8th mile and merged onto FDR Drive. This 3-mile stretch was mostly flat but included some up/down ramps. Compared to the sections both before and after, this stretch was a welcome reprieve from serious changes in elevation.
Around this time, I took my second Gu at a water stop. I walked again for too long. I had been stopping at and walking briefly at almost every water stop.
This was only part of the course without much crowd support. The crowds were awesome throughout the race. NYC running fans rock big time!!. I was wearing a cap that said “Run Lucky” and people kept calling out “Go Run Lucky.” Very cool (and welcome support.)
I loved FDR Drive for its scenic views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines as well as the UN building. Every time I see this building, I recall my childhood dream of working there someday (Even my majoring in languages in college did not get me that job.),
By mile 9, the mile markers were closer to being accurate.
We crossed our next to last timing mat at 15k. My pace was slowing down but still not too bad.
Finally we turned onto 42nd street. It was uphill too. Ugh. My legs were starting to get weary. The highlight of this section was at 3rd Avenue with the iconic Chrysler Building just ahead.
9:40, 10:33 (lost the satellite during mile 11?)
The beginning of the final 5K started a gradual uphill climb all the way to the finish! There were some ups and downs. But I focused on taking in all the sights around me -—the Chrysler building, Grand Central, the New York Public Library, and Bryant Park, etc.
When we turned right onto 7th Avenue, we were running down the middle of Times Square, a magical and memorable experience. While this was also steadily uphill, I didn’t mind. The energy was positively electric. I’m pretty sure I had tears in my eyes.
We hung a right onto Central Park South as we finished up mile 12 and entered the park at the southeast corner—the same corner you exit in the final stretch of the NYC Marathon.
I was glad that they eliminated most of the hills from the end of the race – No Harlem Hill or 3 Sisters. Still, my legs were toast by this time. It had been 5 weeks since I had run this many miles and my quads were feeling it.
Mile 13- 13.43:
We turned on the 72nd Street Transverse and would finish at the same spot as the NYC Marathon, between Sheep Meadow Park and Tavern on the Green.
There were still minor ups and downs, particularly at Bethesda Fountain, Well, actually they all felt like ups. I walked a few extra times trying to save up enough energy to sprint through the finish line.
800m to go…400m … 200m – it seemed endless. I kept mumbling “WTF is that finish line??”
Excited but dying…
Yes, I dragged those legs across the finish line. (Who stops their Garmin first!?)
I immediately got my medal and posed for a quick pic.
Then they handed you a bag of food (filled with water, Gatorade, apple, pretzels, protein bar, etc) and a foil blanket that a volunteer taped close (A nice gesture).
I was still cold and anxious to get my bag with 2 shirts and a jacket. It was an easy walk out of the park and to trucks on Central Park West which were nicely labelled by wave #.
Once I got my bag, I texted Cari so we could meet up and go to Starbucks (to warm up and debrief).
Additional Race Reflections:
Garmin time= 2:15:49 (probably lost satellite signal)
Chip time = 2:16:01
I have yet to figure out how to negative split a long race. Maybe I need to train better (You think??)
My finish time was faster than my previous two half marathons. (2:20:29 and 2;20:09). I am thrilled about that.
I secretly wanted a sub 2:12 finish (before I got injured) so I would have the choice whether or not to do this race next year.
As you can see from the stats above, I went out too fast. And my lack of training caught up to me after 9 miles. I was on track to time qualify for next year if I had a decent 2nd half of the race.
Enough whining…I am so grateful to be able to visit NYC and run a race. I am unbelievably happy to have run without any pain.
I always have foot pain (on the bottom of my left) and blisters on the side of my right. I expect it. But not today??!!
Too cold? Stability running shoe? Mizunos?
No idea but I was going to return the Mizuno Wave Inspire 15s because they were uncomfortable on my 8 mile run. Now I’m not sure.
All in all, I thought this was a great race. Maybe when I am 70, I’ll be able to run it again.
Until then, there’s a bigger challenge – NYC MARATHON – Nov. 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Easy packet pick-up. Organized expo. Not too large and overwhelming.
- Lots of fun photo ops at the expo.
- Real bathrooms and comfortable location to wait at the start/finish (if you chose to use the non-race organized bus ($17).
- Many porta potties at the start. Long lines but they moved quickly (I was told – did not use).
- Foil Blankets before the race.
- Bag Check. Well organized before and easy pick up at the end
- Water and Gatorade stops at almost every mile or so.
- Gels available at several water stops
- Many porta-potties along the course.
- Music at various points along the course.
- Awesome crowd support (except FDR Drive, obviously)
- Well marked course (except see below)
- Clocks at 5k, 10k, 15k, 20k
- Pacers (useful only if you started in the correct corral).
- Very cool medal.
- Gender specific long sleeve tech shirts.
- No lines for post race refreshments (gave you a bag immediately)
- Foil blankets put on and taped close for each runner
- Those who did NOT get a medal got a guaranteed entry to the 2020 race
- Long Manhattan Bridge climb
- Hills at the end in Central Park
- Tired legs after mile 10
- I did not dress warm enough
- Confusing Corral starts
- Mile markers for miles 7 & 8 were wrong
- They ran out of foil blankets at the end
- They ran out of medals
- Only race logo clothes at the expo (would have loved glasses, magnets, etc.)
- The course was LONG (at least 13.5 some recorded it as 14m)
- Nothing 🙂
Would I recommend this race?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Do it if you can. You won’t regret it.
No, it’s not an easy course. At least 25,000 runners are there so it is crowded. But running from Brooklyn to Manhattan is such a memorable experience (maybe I’m biased?)
I laughed when I saw the graphic below – such an accurate picture of my race:
A local race. An inaugural race. A downhill course. Lots of running friends. Should be fun…
Since today is Tuesday, I’m also linking up with these ladies.
Happy Running! Ever run this race? Do you want to? What is your favorite half marathon? Pl,ease share.