I was surprisingly chill about this race. I think it was mostly because I knew I wasn’t going to be properly trained back in January and I decided this was going to be a fun run. Why not defer? Probably because a no pressure race appealed to me, and I wanted to enjoy it with some friends, almost all of whom were Wave 5. Yay turtles!Memories of the @nyrr #UnitedNYCHalf on this #MedalMonday Click To Tweet
How do you know it’s a good expo? Going three times is a good indicator.
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I unlocked a volunteer stint at the Expo when I upgraded my NYRR membership. I love giving back and think it’s important, but I am a delicate flower with an absolute preference for indoor volunteer opportunities. I really didn’t want to have to navigate personal bib pickup on the same day so I went quickly after work on Wednesday.
What I really liked about the Expo was the layout/flow. It was easy to navigate and intuitive. For a big race it’s a relatively small Expo, but that was good, it wasn’t overcrowded with
tchotchkes. Only vendors were New Balance and JackRabbit, but each had a fair amount
While I liked the race shirt, I really loved some of the alternates, including one I may or may not be sleeping in right now. More on that later.
I had fun navigating the Expo, lots of silly photos and it culminated in a strategy session ( I know, I know!) and a pace band or six. The strategy session didn’t psych me out, surprisingly. I think it was mostly because I didn’t care. I just wanted to finish and if that meant walking after mile ten like Lauderdale, so be it.
I knew only the last two were really in play, but I wanted some time to think about what my strategy was. I knew it was going to be a hard start, but I wondered whether I could bank some time for the Manhattan Bridge. So this was more about the splits vs. the actual race time.
as I mentioned in the Run Down, the volunteer tee was a perfect light tech blend. This will be wonderful for the heat of summer. The actual volunteering process was easy, I knew I was rostered for tee shirt distribution and on check in we were all led for a brief “training” before we replaced the outgoing first shift.
As I happened to slide in to women’s extra small, my station wasn’t that busy compared to the others. I got to know the women on either side of me as we chatted about the races we’d done/were planning on and prepped bags for the busier third shift which would get the after work crowd. NYRR has a good system for shirt & bib collection and the only remotely complicated part was people who couldn’t decide their size. Luckily they had other volunteers doing t-shirt modeling.
Purchase: cherry blossom chews! They are one of the few that I don’t find too sweet and can be maddeningly hard to find, so I had to grab a couple of bags.
I didn’t need to go back a third time, but errands were done and I’m always happy for the chance to catch up with Darlene so I met her at the Expo Saturday for some silliness.
Saturday evening was when some of the butterflies started. As I tucked into my avocado toast, I began doubting whether I could do this. Shut up brain. You can do this. This is your sixth Half and third this year. You’re less hurt than Lebow. Shut up. With that in mind, I got a couple three hours sleep and hopped on the Q to Brooklyn around 6:40.
The 2019 course is different from the new 2018 course. For a relatively new race, this has had more times of year and routes than I can count. New in 2019 was more Brooklyn (a loop in and next to Prospect Park) and less Central Park. I will never cry over a lack of Cat Hill.
- I feel the start was well organized. Throughout the last few months there were emails about reporting times for each wave and even which stations we should use. I think the move to five waves was a good one as 25K runners is a lot. Human arrows made it easy to find the starting area, security was quick and there were plenty of portapotties. From then I just meandered the area until we were able to get into our corrals. Like the Rockland Lake Turkey Trot, I didn’t have a good idea of which way was “forward” since I don’t know Prospect Park well at all.
- I loved the views. They’re mostly from a point of view from which I rarely see NYC. I’ve only walked the Manhattan Bridge once or twice and rarely walk that section of the East River Greenway, plus running through Times Square is just magic. I didn’t get too many photos since taking off the gloves and fishing out the phone was one step too many. These weren’t my typical touch screen gloves as I planned to toss these during the race. A couple more pics on Instagram though. I think what made the course go relatively quickly over the last nine miles was the scenery. More on this below though in the “bad”.
- I am really, really happy with my race “strategy” which was to walk the hills or whenever felt necessary. This was only a race against myself. I honestly didn’t even notice the hill in mile one. I kept waiting to hit it, and then we were out of the park. The out and back on Flatbush wasn’t great, but it also wasn’t that long. Serenade from one of the PPZoo animals helped too. I noped out of running the Manhattan Bridge early in the incline but after that only stopped to walk briefly on the FDR on the incline before 42nd Street and at the water stations, which is my normal. Oh and to hug a colleague who froze his ass off to cheer for us, but that wasn’t lungs/legs related. The last 5K, which I was dreading for the hills and headwind, flew by. Something magic about running across 42nd Street and then through Times Square. I wished we could have headed right into the Park at 7th, but by this point I was in the zone and actually passed a couple of runners. I felt GOOD
- Despite wearing the 2:40 band, I didn’t really look at that much, in fact it was stuck in my sleeve. But I knew it was ~12 minute miles and thought I’d probably come in around there with some early good miles early. First four remarkably consistent, mile five was the bridge and ten was fiddling with the shoe/FDR ramp but overall I was fairly consistent. I only looked at my watch when it buzzed at the mile markers, which was a sign that the race was going fairly quickly. I really don’t feel like I hit a wall at mile ten, which reinforces my Lauderdale theory that it was the heat more than the training.
- I was almost pain free throughout. My achilles and hip chirped, but nothing like Lebow and this morning I was just you ran thirteen miles sore and not you’re injured sore. PT worked on my calf and hip, but we were pleased.
- This is my second best Half Marathon time and only second in the 2:30s. I am really, really pleased with this because it’s not an easy course and this was not a proper training cycle. I’m going to recap PT more fully now that I’ve graduated, but I had a duh moment today when trying to figure out where this two-three minute improvement over the prior two races this year came from. Most of my PT was strength training.
- Fueling was pretty good. I had a NutriGrain bar on the train to the start and sipped my Propel. I had my cherry blossom chews and a ginger ale Gu with me, and grabbed a Honey Stinger vanilla on the course to try another day. I took two chews while I was walking on the bridge at ~ mile five and another along the FDR somewhere around mile eight. I was good on this, though I need to think for what I’ll do for longer. After the race, Darlene and I went to Starbucks and that hit the spot as a “recovery” drink until I could re-fuel with sushi. Always great to debrief live
- I’ve never done a Rock’n’Roll race, but I LOVED the music along the course. Sweet Dreams are Made of This was blasting in Times Square and there was music near Barclays. I’ve done mostly OK running outside without music since my new watch, but this made me realize how much I love it. I also know I’m going to need something to get me through the long training runs, so it might be time to figure out a music solution.
- The crowds were amazing. This had the best crowds of any race I’ve run. Lower East Side and Times Square were so full and exuberant. Lots of funny signs and costumes.
The Bad: not really bad, more like less than ideal
- Carrying a sweatshirt for twelve miles. OK, this was self inflicted.I had planned to discard it in the corrals and then toss head band, gloves when I felt warm, but I was too cold. Well the sweatshirt got too hot in about mile one but I kept thinking I was going to get cold, so didn’t want to drop it. Result? Some hysterical MarathonFoto shots. On the plus side, I have a disposable sweatshirt for fall.
- The chafing, oh my god the chafing. This bra is going in the garbage as every time I body glide, it finds a new place to rub. Luckily it’s in a spot where a normal bra doesn’t hit. OK, this one is legit bad, not “less than ideal”
- I thought I was going to have a blister. The outside edge of my right foot was irritated the last couple miles so I stopped into the medical tent on the walk out of the park. Luckily it was just a hot spot. Who knows the cause, maybe socks sat weird. But on the plus side, I was able to snag a heat shield there as they ran out at the finish.
- Running under highway signs can be disheartening. I’ve run on roads before but neither Ocean Parkway nor the Grand Concourse are highways with exit signs telling you just how far you are away from 42nd Street. Ooph. Exit, one mile is great if you’re in a car, less so if you’re on foot with a wonky watch.
- I could not figure out how I went from ~ a tenth off over the first six miles to .25 off after 7 and .45 off after eight only to drop back to .10 off after nine until I read some on social media. Buildings and GPS can be an issue, but I think mile markers 7 and 8 were in the wrong place since everyone seems to be reporting that. I’ll own the 13.49 though as I know I was zig zagging and didn’t do a good job of running the tangents.
- Part of the reason my only goal for this race even before injury was to have fun is I probably won’t run it again. The lottery is a crap shoot and schedule wise I can’t do 4/6 this year. If they repeat the Virtual Half with Strava for guaranteed entry to 2021, I may go that route. Or maybe I’ll luck out with the lottery-who knows.
- Three Halfs in eight weeks is a little much for me. I’m so glad I did them, but I won’t repeat that next year. Actually, I can’t. Lebow and Lauderdale are the same weekend so at most I’ll be doing two.
- I don’t think I’m going to do the Women’s Half. Could I? Yes. Do I think two+ loops of Central Park is the best move for a better but still recovering Achilles? Probably not. But it’s not sold out so I may change my mind.
- I want to find a flat, fall/winter Half in 2020. With my Brooklyn Half time and this race, I think 2:30 might be real. 2:35 is for sure.
Wow, that was a lot. And there’s more percolating in my brain. This race made me very, very happy.
On to some more active recovery.