Well, the NYC Half happened. Again. For the 6th time for me. And I am VERY happy about it. I hadn’t trained, I was 13 minutes slower than last year, but this was such a different story from the NYC Marathon a few months ago…!
The truth is, since July my training has been a disaster for one reason or another (and there were many!!), and I knew I wasn’t going to PR, so I just wanted to use it as a training run, maybe to see if I can muster Boston in a month, maybe to see if I had lost all my running mojo. But it was horrible going into it, I had done so well last year in this race so coming back with no expectations was hard. And the NYC Marathon 5 months ago was just so painful on my untrained legs that I was really dreading this. I had assumed I was going to suffer for 13.1 and there was no way around it, turns out, there was one.
Race Morning: It was really cold, and I was getting to the start 1 hour early. Brrrr. Walked into a brand new clean portapotty with no line and I just wanted to stay warm in there… I had extra clothes on, two mylar blankets, hand warmers, you name it, I could barely move with that many layers on, but my feet were not having it: they froze! They had security checking our checked-bags and then we all went through metal detectors going into the park (yey!), and then a walk to the corral where I met up with a few friends (Rose, Ilana, Julie, Marie, Jason!). We huddled and waited. Rose and I determined we’d take it easy and to try to go together. We talked about how we both had so gotten off the wagon, I said training starts here. This would be a long run, and I would take if from there. Soon enough we were moving…
Race ON: The first miles felt ok. My feet were still frozen but we were determined to take it easy, have fun, run it as a longish run and that’s what we did. We held our horses.
Miles 1, 2, and 3 were quite conservative.
On my post where everyone guessed my finish time, I had assumed I’d do around 1:50, which is 8:30 pace, so I started thinking that maybe I am more in shape for a 2 hour marathon, which I haven’t done in a looong time. Oh well, it is what it is. I felt GOOD, and that is all that mattered, I was not going to push it.
At Mile 2 I saw Juan and his phone froze so he got no pictures. I am sure he was as frozen as the phone… I always feel so bad for the spectators! Then I just started seeing everyone pass me, everyone. People I know did slower than me in the NYC Marathon. I knew I hadn’t trained since so I know I was in way worse shape but it made me feel good that I could hold my pace back as much as I wanted. You can all go!!! I felt so relaxed and in control. Being in control in the early miles of a race is tots HARD people!
Soon we were up in the Harlem out and back and hello Harlem Hill x2. I love out and backs! You get to see everyone! It was wild to be out of the park and everyone sped up a little. Rose and I held it in place.
Miles 4 and 5: a bit faster and settling up in a rhythm.
After we crested the hill and went to the 90s, I saw Juan again. I stopped for a roadside kiss. I was feeling good now that I was feeling my feet again (it really took 4 miles!!) and was warming up. Then I started losing Rose, she told me to go, I told her I’d get Gatorade and wait for her there but never saw her (I’d end up losing her and she’d come in a few minutes behind me). But, I just wanted to hit the gas. I wanted to get to Times Square, make that turn and see what I had. I turns out, I didn’t wait until Times Square…
Miles 6 and 7: need for speed already!!!
Going through Times Square is ALWAYS exhilarating, even the 6th time you do this race. And it widens up SO much, you feel like you can fly… I spotted a Team Up runner and we introduced! It was pretty cool!!
Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww: F U N!!!! Then we turn onto 42nd st, the street narrows a bit and the wind….!!!!!! well, we pushed through and kept rolling down. Luckily, my Dashing Whippets team was there to cheer us all up, handing out gels and water. I got so excited, I grabbed a 2X caffeine gel which would probably kill me if I tried it, so I put it right back. And forgot the water. Cheering stations can really make you lose it.
Seems like I was having a fun time, right? I was. I have a slow time to prove it ;-) (don’t scream, slow compared to last year’s!!!) But… with fun comes responsibility and since mile 5 I was feeling good: I was on a roll and kept tearing at it little by little.
As soon as I hit the westside highway and found NO WIND (WTF?!???! It was colder in the park!!! I was dreading the wind and cold here for no reason!?!), I opened my lungs, I let the Hudson nasty air sip in, and sped up. UP UP. From there on, I was picking up runners 10 at a time. You know, if you were there, this is quite probably where 9 out of ten people started to slow down: I WAS FLYING!
Miles 8 and on: Time to Fly!
I lapped the tunnel part up there (“mile 12”) as there’d be no GPS there, and the last bit (“mile 13”) I am sure is wrong because in the seconds it took to locate satellite it made it look quite slow. I know I was sprinting for my donuts…!!!
Did you see how I sped up after mile 6, as I had recommended to do in my post? If you didn’t notice, here it all goes again:
Yes, I probably did start too slow, but whatever. What matters is that I was strong at the end and had a lot too push. Quite a difference from last year‘s pace, but still another great pacing example.
The last mile includes over a half a mile in the tunnel, which I didn’t hate as much as last year (because I knew there was an exit somewhere!!) but then you get out, you make a left and OMG, I was SOOOOO EXCITED to be there. I had to hold the tears back (yes, I cry all the time when I race) and all the flags and the finish and it felt SO GOOD to be back, and to be on the road again and to feel strong and to be able to finish with a kick and to know that even if unprepared it doesn’t have to be as bad as the NYC Marathon was if you can pace yourself… It was amazing.
Then it was over. I was so happy. I wanted to hug all those sweaty runners. Then I wanted to punch a few of them who stopped right at the finish for a selfie (seriously people!!! there’s 15K runners behind you!!!! WTF!). I was back to happy in two seconds. I am moody like that ;-)
Got a few pics and with two steps I found friends and team mates… I was just back to frozen in a few seconds!!!
I love this race.
Now I know that, not only I can set the tone for a race and pace as I please (without pushing myself into pain for no reason!) but that I can also enjoy a race and finish it without ANY training… in a decent time too, plus have fun, AND not FALL!! I felt very happy about the results…
see how happy I was???
Juan knew I wanted donuts. Juan got me donuts. Juan is a keeper. I ate almost all of that.
Right after the race ended we got on the 1 train uptown to Finish Line, we had some food, chatted, celebrated, all that. The platform and the train was crowded… and a bit smelly ;-P
Finish Line was fun, but soon I couldn’t wait any longer for the 3 hour shower I was looking to do at home… plus the nap. Then burgers… ah, I love how doing a 13.1 makes me think I can go on some sort of food bender. I do have 5 weeks until the Boston Marathon and I know I am not in shape to run 26.2 comfortably, but I can’t seem to be able to make a decision about going or skipping it… I just counted the weeks back. If I manage a long run the next two weekends, I’ll let myself participate in the marathon. If not, then I am not going to Boston.
One week until my birthday, the next craziness. One thing at a time here.