Tag Archive | BIOMECHANICS

New York City Half Marathon Tips, Course Strategy and Logistics

You know the “don’t wear anything new on race day” and all the basics… now, let’s do the United NYC Half Marathon as well as we can. I have done this race 8 times so far -from 2:06 in its first year, 2006, to 1:36 in 2016, and I keep running into people who haven’t raced it and have lots of questions (post in the comments section below if you have any questions not covered here!).

And in case you want to see photos and read my race reports, go here for all of them, or, here is the 2015 NYC Half report, here is 2014 NYC Half and 2013 NYC Half. Also, download the custom pace bracelet, I created for this pace strip based on the race strategy below.

PRE RACE LOGISTICS

Make a race prep list of what you’ll need a week or two before and sort it all by stages, here is a Marathon Packing List to start with. Whether, you’re travelling or not, get everything in the list ready as soon as possible. Start prepping 2 weeks out.

Plan your nutrition waaaay ahead. You can buy gels at the expo if necessary, but get bagels/oatmeal/bananas and whatever you need for race day the day before as there will not be a lot of delis open at 4, 5, or 6 am. Some may be, but not a lot.

If you need any last minute thing, you can buy most stuff at the expo/bib pickup (don’t forget to bring a printed copy of your reg form –download it from your NYRR profile they will be ready early March, and photo identification) or here is an organized list with all the running stores by area.

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we all look like weirdos anyway, wear old stuff you have to discard to the start of the race!

Prep some cheap or throwaway clothes to the start. Find a mylar blanket from your last half or marathon (and don’t throw away the one you’ll get at the finish here!). You will need them until the last minute in the corral (I wear one as pants with tape and one as a cape). I wear my throwaway cardigan or a sweater (cut in the front for easy peeling, kept it in p

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what throwaway-knee-high socks as arm-warmers look like when you forget to take them off (2015 NYC Half)

lace with a safety pin!) during the first mile too! Go to the dollar store and get knee-high socks, cut the foot and you’ll have throwaway arm warmers! I keep half of it on until I warm up, it can be windy and cold at the start!

Gear/What to wear… the weather can be anything from 50s to 20s so prepare (aka, train in) a few options and decide the day before. Or that morning. Be smart, and make sure you can peel off layers comfortably. If you don’t want to carry your phone, at least carry a $20 bill, a metrocard, and an ID with you, just in case. My rule is if it’s over 40 degrees, I do just singlet and shorts (pics from last year). Last year it was 34 degrees, 35% humidity, and 14 mph wind (2015 was 42 degrees, 2014 was 31 degrees, 2013 was 30 degrees), but assume it’ll feel 10 degrees under that. So, depending on the wind/humidity/lack of sleep/whatever, you can add hat, arm sleeves, leg warmers, etc. Always add things you can get rid of easily and won’t miss. If you’re not sure about a layer, keep in mind that once you leave the park and get to the West Side Highway, it can get a little windy there. Check the wind direction in the morning!

Best tool to have at any race: your name on your shirt, do not even question this!! If you don’t want your name, write something funny you’ll want people to scream to you all over the course. This is a big race and there will be a lot of spectators along the course and having them scream your name will make your race 100 times better. If you don’t want to ruin your gear, and are not super crafty or into going to Michael’s, cut the letters out of duct tape (like I do!) and voila, they’ll peel right off!

Headphones or not? If you are used to racing with headphones, bring them. I sometimes leave them on my ears (with the music off), and turn them on only when necessary. Central Park will be CROWDED, seriously crowded, so it’s smart to keep the music off, or very low so you can hear people around you. Once you are in the West Side Highway, and if it gets a little monotonous for you, go for it. You’ll have a lot of people cheering and you don’t want to miss it, but if you do have the music on later on, still make sure you can still hear what is happening around you!!!! Okay?

Place your spectators in spots where you’ll need encouragement (quite probably along the West Side Highway). If they are not the adventurous kind, they could see you anywhere in the park, always on your right, and then head over to the finish. Otherwise, there is an insane amount of combination of spots they can see you at. Study the map with them and calculate how much time they’ll have to get from one spot to the other based on your speed. For example, the 1st location would usually be in Central Park, east side, around 85 st, on your left (they need to be on the inside part of the park), that would be your mile 1. After they see you, they walk across the park (it won’t be more than a 10 minute walk) around the Great Lawn to West 86th, where they can see you again at mile 4.5! They have to be on the runner’s right (the outside of the park lane). Elite runners will be there in 20 minutes, and you can tell them how long it’d take you to do 4.5 miles! So, they have to hurry and cross over the quarter mile in less than 20 minutes or they’ll be trapped  inside the park. Once they see you go, they exit the park and the B and C trains are right there at 86 and CPW. They could also do this in the 102 transverse (instead of 86) and the trains are at 103 when they exit the park on the west side, but the time to cross over from east to west is a lot less, but totally doable if they zippityzip. C trains go downtown, so they can head over to 14th st, though there is a bit of a walk from 8th ave to 11th avenue, so if the C train shows up fast, I’d say yes, otherwise, just keep going to Chambers and head over to the West Side Highway to cheer. A cab would be messy as traffic will not be open in many streets so the trains are better! Once they see you in Chambers, the can head over to meet you at the Finish (find a corner to meet up ahead of time, it’ll be CROWDED!) or at some brunch spot! Call ahead to see if they are open at 9 or 10 am so they can wait there and be warm! // When they’re cheering, it’s important to know exactly on what side of the street they’ll be so YOU can spot them (they won’t be able to spot you!). Send them with something big: a flag, a sign, balloons, huge funny hat, etc. Tell them to get comfy shoes, really warm clothes and bring food. It will be an early and long morning for them too!  //  If you need an extra push, ask for help!! FORCE all your friends to come watch you. Ask them “where are you going to be?”. Then tell them a time you’ll go through there, give or take 10 minutes, and decide if they’ll be runner’s Left or Right. Then make a little-tiny list you can carry in your pocket (Example: 102nd st, John, left / 86st st, Mike, right, etc.) in order or appearance, put clear tape all over it so it won’t get sweaty and basically go from John, to Mike, to etc… Let them pull you along the course and that’ll break the course in parts, instead of think “AH, I gotta go all the way to the end of the island, ugh” you’ll think: “I am just going to 102nd st, to see John, then we’ll see!

Oh, and have them download the NYC Half mobile app (will probably be ready to download a week or two before the race) where they can track you and a few more runners at a time.

Get yourself the custom pace bracelet I created for this race based on the race strategy below.

If you need a short run before the race, go to Central Park. You’ll see many of your race-buddies and get to enjoy the best place in the world as a runner.

Find a mantra, or two, you might really need them. I write them in my hand where I am sure I will see it.

RACE LOGISTICS

Memorize your Start Schedule (or write in your hand like I do)

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Getting to the start/Baggage Check. The easiest way to get there is always a cab or running there of course, but if you have to take the train, take anything to 57th or 59th streets or any of the trains that leave you close to Central Park South/59th st. You will have to enter the park through Sixth or Fifth Avenue. Check the Start Map carefully.  Before entering, check your (nyrr provided plastic) bag outside of the park (on 59th Street, between Fifth and Seventh Avenues). Give yourself ample time (as this is weekend schedule) and check  MTA for weekend alerts, or try any subway app: make sure your train is running! Also, if you are not sure, I am 100% confident that if you just head over to the closest train stop, you’ll see someone you could follow to the Start 😉 // Kiss your loved ones buh-bye, they won’t be allowed anywhere close to the Start!

During the race, the course WILL be crowded, so PLEASE, if you need to stop for a walk or move sideways for water, please please please signal with your arms, and look around behind you before you make any moves, DO NOT just stop or go sideways. Be considerate of your fellow runners who could trip! The good side of having all these people around you that you’ll always have someone to run with, pace off, or follow when you’re tired. Pick them up when you feel strong, encourage them when they need it, and keep your eyes peeled for anyone who might need help!!

There will be Water/Gatorade around every mile or so, so if you miss one, don’t stress. Don’t go for the first table as everyone will do that. There’s many tables: go to the last one. You’ll find the portapottties where the water is, so keep an eye out and don’t dart sideways! There will be Gels at mile 7.5, on 42nd street between 10th and 11th avenues, on your right.

Think about joining an official pacer from the NYRR Pace Team, they’ll be wearing their signature white and blue striped singlets,  and will run even splits through all 13.1 miles of the United Airlines NYC Half. Pacers will lead runners to finish times at every five-minute interval from 1:20 to 2:15, and will also offer a 2:30 pace group. You can visit the Running Lab at the United Airlines NYC Half Experience Presented by New Balance to meet the pacers and learn where to find them on race day (I will be there Saturday morning, so come find me and say Hi!).

RACE STRATEGY

Here is the official course map: NYRR New York City Half Marathon course map

Custom pace bracelet, if you can’t remember any of the info below

nyc half course elevation

Elevation profile from my 2014 race, same as all the last ones of course. elevation is the red line.

This is an easy race to figure out. Basically, you have two parts: the undulating Central Park (first half) and the straight and flat run to the finish (the second half). Which makes it a perfect course to NEGATIVE PR!!!!

Break the race in parts, device a plan, and stick to it no matter what. Plan for negative splits: keep it strong and conservative throughout the park and ram it home once you leave the park. It’s super simple. I am an average runner and have negative split in this race every time. Basically: you have to believe in yourself and wait for the time of your life.

This is how I like to break this race down. In 4 parts.

Part 1 – Mile 1: HOLD YOUR FREAKING HORSES!!!!

There are 2.5 hills in this race: Cat Hill as soon as you start, Harlem Hill(s) (THREE blips) at 3.5, and a last small one going up the Battery Park Underpass at the end (this one counts as just half a hill). Cat Hill and the Tunnel are short and tiny but annoying because of their locations right at the start and right at the end…! People get excited at the start, and take off like maniacs… if this is going to work, we have to hold it in, climb the hill carefully and let everyone (and their grandmother) pass. You’ll see. Tell yourself: Yes, go ahead and go. I’ll catch you later when your quads are screaming, buh-bye

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Cat Hill is 0.25 long (in miles), or 400 meters long; but it has a 49′ rise (average grade of 3.7%)

Part 2 – Mile 2 to 6: EASY, LIGHT, SMOOTH

The park is a string of undulating hills, but after Cat Hill you have the longest flat stretch, almost a half mile (heaven…!) so, use that to get on a rhythm, find your legs and a pacer. It’ll be crowded so I doubt you’ll be able to utilize the tangents well but at least avoid tripping, did I mention it’s gonna be a bit CROWDED?

Your goal for the first half of the race is to exit the park in one piece, feeling strong, to let it all unfold in the second part of the race. Exercise all your patience here and keep yourself in good checks to not let yourself go. If you are running “hard-comfortable”, you are doing it right.

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Blip 1 in the course profile is 0.36 of a mile and a rise of ’33. You exit the park for two blocks, go around the Frederick Douglass Circle and come right back downhill. Then you -re-enter the park, make a right, and start the climb for Blip 2: Harlem Hill!!! HH is 0.32 long but it has a 84′ rise (average grade of 4.4%). Fun times. As soon as you finish the downhill on the back end of HH, there’s another climb, Blip 3 is 0.60 of a mile and has a rise of ’58. Blip 1 is short and mild, blip 3 is longer but mild as it’s stretched out, but watch up for Harlem Hill, short and UPWARDS!

Part 3 – Mile 7 to 10: IT’S ON!

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This is where I like to stretch out my legs: the race starts HERE. From now on it’s flat and steady. When you exit the park you’ll have a lot of space, cheering and excitement to carry you on, and as soon as you turn right on 42nd, you’ll be rolling down. Hit the gas.

Note: Something about Times Square can make you or your gps go crazy. Ooops. No, you’re not running a 3:20 mile. I set my gps watch to manual and I lap it myself when I see the mile markers. Way safer!

Part 4 –  Mile 11 or 12 to 13.1: YOLO

ALL. HELL. BREAKS. LOOSE.

That is all. Go Crazy. Bring it in. Drop the Hammer.

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As you can see in the map, I obv didn’t have gps on the tunnel, and you won’t either. But it won’t matter, when you get to mile 10, or 11 or 12 and you know you’re ready to start your KICK, you go. Keep in mind there’s a little climb out of the tunnel, short but steep, and then there’s not a lot left to go. Hopefully you’ll see the 800 meters sign if you’re focused but who is at my that point? It’ll seem like forever but once you’re out of the tunnel the finish line is RIGHT THERE.

… then… 

Walk, get your medal, take pictures, get your stuff, find your friends/family, go get brunch (there are many good places downtown), enjoy, stretch, ice bath, rest, eat more, sleeeeeep! Tell everyone about your race, plan your next race, have a congratulatory donut. Or at least that’s what I am planning to do!!!

I’d suggest checking the Finish Map also (mostly if you want to meet up with people afterwards).

Also, post race, if you’re a NYRR Member:  Join NYRR at the NYRR RUNCENTER featuring the New Balance Run Hub after the 2017 United Airlines NYC Half for complimentary finisher medal engraving!

Sunday, March 19: 11:00 a.m.—5:00 p.m.
Monday, March 20: 11:00 a.m.—6:00 p.m.

Bring your NYRR Member Number. Can’t make it Sunday or Monday? Send a proxy to have your medal engraved; they’ll just need your NYRR Member Number.

Questions?? Anything to add? Anything you want to go over? Lmk in the comments below!

Photos race reports, go here for all of them, or here for the 2015 NYC Half2014 NYC Half  or 2013 NYC Half.

Get the custom pace bracelet maker, so you can plan your splits and stick to them!

NYRR United NYC Half Marathon course map

The official United New York City Half Marathon website.

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2015 New York City Marathon EXPO pictures

Juan and I went to the expo yesterday, Thursday, to avoid the masses. I always go on Thursdays, it’s less crazy this is post is mostly pictures to give you a break from all the reading!

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After that, we raced home. I had had a looooooong day at the office, preparing for this weekend’s marathon. Friday I am hosting and MCing my team’s dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square and I have all these other commitments for race weekend. Busy busy. TIRED. See you on the other side? how was YOUR expo trip?

Oh, and this one from the pavillion!!

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Race Report: Run as One, 4Miler. Getting CLOSE.

Another 4 miler yesterday. The last one, two weeks ago exactly, had gone great and I did 28:12. This one, the Run as One, was the exact same course but I decided to switch up my shoes. I decided to pick up my racing Saucony type A5 which is one my lightest pairs… They’re just 5 ounces and about 4mm offset. I wasn’t sure I was ready for it, but it turns out, it made a huge difference. You have to think of everything when you’re just trying to save a few seconds!

As usual, Juan and I walked/jogged the 1.5 miles to the start. I only had like 4 ounces of coffee and a gel. It’s better if I don’t eat before these races… I usually end up dry-heaving at the finish line, sooo: less is more. The walk was gorgeous!!! Last week when we did the More Half and this week… it’s been great, all the trees are blooming and it smells DELICIOUS!

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Gorgeous, right??? Amazing. April and October are just the best in the park!

So, we got to the start, undressed, and headed for the corrals. I found so many friends in my corral! I asked everyone who was going for about 7:02 pace and got not takers. Soon, it was go time. This time, I had my watch and music again. After three races with neither, I decided to add those up to the equation again. Still tinkering with this a bit! Still, I didn’t look at my splits the whole race, I guess I’ve gotten used to running naked…  The race happened fast, nothing to report, other than in the last mile I picked up a LOT of people (that probably went out too fast) and ended dry-heaving again for 20 seconds at the finish.

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28:06!!! that’s… 6 seconds faster than 2 weeks ago!! Wohooooo!!! And 6 seconds away from my TWO YEAR OLD PR!!!!! it’s gonna happen people!!! SOOON!!!!!!!!!! OR else.

Now, notice how I run ALL the tangents…

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Why are you friends not doing tangents??? yes, it’s very crowded, but sometimes, usually after mile 2, there’s space to do this! SO many people out there running on the wrong side of the road… !!!!

Now check out my laps (disregard the one I lapped over, as I hadn’t heard the click). I love looking at my splits after…

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I obsess over this stuff. I care so much more about pacing properly than the finish time. I think this one went great. If the average pace was 7:02, a 7:18 start (up Cat Hill no less) is quite conservative and great. Mile 2 is always the fastest and the only one with no hills, so it’s bound to be fast. Mile 3 is usually when I start to slow down a LOT, but somehow I was able to hold it here, I don’t remember hurting that much either. And Mile 4 HAS to be the fastest, which yes!!! Very happy with how this went. Though I didn’t have a clue what pace I was doing where. Running by effort is SO MUCH EASIER!!!

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I saw Juan soon and my team mates. We hung out for a bit! I was HUNGRY.

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Stats Time:

Finish time: 28:06 Average Pace: 7:02

Previous PR: 28:00 From: April, 2013

Age Grading: 70.74% 

Overall Place: 664 of 8,098

Gender Place: 63 of 3,910

Age Place: 6 of 445

This is very good-looking. I like the over 70% percent there, given that is usually my goal and 6th in my Age Group is not so bad either in one of these races. I was quite pleased with myself for having cut off another 6 seconds in two weeks… If I can get rid of an extra 7 seconds for the next 4 miler in two weeks, that’d be a PR!!!! I am SOOO CLOSE I can smell it!!!

Pacing the #morefitnesshalf. Such an interesting task…

hey friends! So, I run a half this past weekend but I wasn’t racing. Or or just Running. I was an Official Pacer. Such a cool task you say, right? Man, I hadn’t stressed about a race in… forever? Probably since my first half ever, the NYC Half, in 2006!!!

Anyway, I offered to do the 1:50 group, as I had raced the NYC Half mid March in 1:39 so 1:50 sounded like I could do it without stress… that pace was already taken and as I am doing a marathon this year for the first time in… ever… I don’t want to run for 2 hours! So I stepped up and took the 1:45. Ouch, It was going to be tight, but, hey, it’s Central Park, I can do it!

Anyway, I got myself super stressed out about it. About everything! I was supposed to do even pacing… WHO RUNS EVEN PACE??? I have NEVER! You start slow, then you go fast, then you get tired, then you go mental in the last 3 or 4 if you did it right. Well, I was told to come in under 1:45 (which is 8 pace) and to shoot for 1:44:30, so 7:58 pace it is!!! I made a pace bracelet, I fussed with my watch, then tried Juan’s Garmin 920XT as it has (fast and slow) pace alerts but decided to go with mine, I know it well and don’t want to stress with anything new! I was so scared I’d forget to charge the watch, I was having nightmares, I really drove myself crazy (and prob everybody else). It’s so easy to mess up your race and live with it, but when other people depend on me, I get super stressed. I don’t know why it’s so stressful when people depend on me, obviously (why I never wanted to get married or have kids, or plants even!!!!). Then I stressed about the stick, you know, the one with the pace group time on it. I wasn’t getting the stick until race morning, as well as the singlet, so I’d have to figure that out later.

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Ready to go!

See what I did? Instead of carrying it in my hand, like every pacer does, I covered it in duct tape, then I put it inside an arm warmer, then I stuck it inside my bra, and added a second bra for extra pressure. Gosh was I HOT!! But it worked, and NO chafing!

I got to the corral, walked around to make sure everyone saw me there, the question of the day was “what pace are you doing?” #7:58 was trending! I had a big group around me. I was right at the start line in the blue corral and probably 1 yard behind Deena Kastor, quite insane!

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See the blue sign right on top of Deena’s head? c’est moi!

 

We got moving and soon enough we became one big happy group. Juan was lapping around us, sprinting, and taking approximately 50 million pictures. cutting them down to 15 was HARD. That mile was a bit slow because it was quite crowded.

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Mile .5

Don’t we look so happy? Check out Chelsea on my right; she somehow stuck by me the whole race and got a 14 minute PR, that’s INSANE guys!!!!!

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Mile 1 as you can see…

The stick was still not moving, which was great. Pacing was averaging 8, we’d go slower on the hills, faster on the downhills and catch up when we needed. I’d signal when I’d go get water and try to give out as many course advice as I could, as well as pointing out fluids, mile splits, or when to speed up or take it easy (hello Harlem hill!). Other times,  I just read the signs and laughed. My favorite was a guy on our way up to Harlem Hill with a “I hear fast women” so I pointed him out to whoever was single in the group. Someone had to do the talking, you know?

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It’s funny that I remember most of this people around me

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West side, lap 1 still

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How amazing does the park look?

I have to say, this was one of the most amazing weekends to be out there race. Every single tree in the park was blooming. I would have been really distracted if I had been racing, I am not gonna lie about it.  I was ogling and smelling and wishing I could stop for pictures!

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Juan did 9.5 miles, can you tell?

After we had crested Harlem Hill, the second time (which: UGH), it actually got a little crowded as we were lapping runners in the first lap, so there was a lot of of weaving.  And also, since mile 2, I was SO SO SO HOT. I kept pouring water on my shirt and bras, ugh, I have no idea how people had long sleeves, or pants. On another day, I would have ripped the singlet off (hard to do with the stick there) and run in a bra!!! Why do I get SO hot???

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just one more!

The last mile we brought it in hard. As soon as we got to the Mile 12 marker I told everybody to GO or to hold on to my back for their lives. My last mile was a 7:14… eek, but you know, the sub 1:45 was guaranteed at the point, I wanted to see how hard I could push them all. 😉

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Juan was waiting by the finish of course!

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My thumbs means… I didn’t mess up the pace!!!

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And… done!

I am not gonna lie. I was really worried that I’d go too slow or too fast. It’s hard to do even pacing in a course as undulating as Central Park, and I always run by effort and not pace. But was I SO happy to have done this.

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I went to the side and waited with my stick. Every other person would thank me, even people I had no idea were pacing with me!! It was really sweet and I was so happy to have helped so many people. As I had never used a pacer, I had no idea how many people would follow me…. seems like I was able to help!!!!

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should I have kept my eyes open???

 

Check out this awesome shot from the race page!

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And that’s Chelsea, see? Besides the volunteers, I think I high fived 500 people in those 10 minutes there!!!!

I saw Juan, had my apple, got my Gatorade and mylar blanket and went to wait for Flor who was a bit behind. We then waited for the awards ceremony, hey hey, TWO masters in the top 3, which… Deena Kastor… I love her…

Oh Natalie Morales run the race too (and Ivanka Trump, but she was behind and I didn’t see her)

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Natalie Morales run a 1:38 (or so she told me, I didn’t fact check!)

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There’s Mary Wittenberg, Deena Kastor, and the rest of the top 3 and the rest of the today show team and the More peeps. 

So then we went to EJ’s for brunch and of course, I was freezing. I am always either boiling hot or freezing. WTF? So, there’s one more cool experience to add to the book! (no, there’s no book, that’s what the blog is for!)

Run for the Parks, 4 miler. YES.

So, yesterday I was doing another 4 miler… What a random distance right? Well, 4 milers are a very common distance in the Central Park racing scene, just cause we’re different like that (or because it’s a very convenient loop!)

I’m signed up for every single race in Central Park for the next few weeks, so my constant diet is speed on Tuesdays (800s or 400s with the Breakfast Club), then easy Wednesday (easy like 9:30 or 10, ok!) then easy Thursday and then I race. It’s quite limited what you can do when you’re racing every weekend because you gotta recover and then mini-taper, and I do super two-days tapers, even for a 4 miler! So, less quantity and more QUALITY for a few weeks #bestdiet

Plus, it seems like Juan and I are in a super crazy food roller coaster. Before the races, we clean our act super well, but the two days after the race we make up for it. Yesterday, after the 4 miler, we went straight to Shake Shack, then by  2 pm we had a whole bucket of Ben and Jerry’s, plus a bag of bark thins, plus milanesas for dinner. But we right back on the horse, don’t worry!  Anyway, the RACE! almost forgot!

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the day before we volunteered handing out shirts for 5 hours at NYRR. 5 hours standing… my back was hurting!!! SO BAD. Is that a thing or is it because I am 40 now? WTF! I felt so old when I woke up Sunday morning to go to the race… eeeeek. oh well. nothing will mess up my race #noexcuses people!

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so, we’ve figured out our race day game so tightly by now. We leave home 1 hour before the race start, we walk or jog to the start to warm up, leave our warmup clothes and head to the start corral 15 minutes before so we don’t freeze… but yesterday was in the 40s, SO NICE AND WARM!  man, we were happy puppies! Spring Puppies. We did see a puppy I liked after, that kind I like, whatever they are called, but it was tiny, soo tiny, I could have put it in a sandwich and nom nom!!!!!

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So, waited for a while… like 30 minutes. I don’t know if it was the Spring in the Air or what (sounds so unbelievable right?? haha) but the race was bopping and people seems really happy. Or maybe it was my husband’s outfit making people smile…?

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Btw that was my first year wedding anniversary gift, how cool a wife am I?? (he got me diamonds so he wins, fine!). I had done the 10K in 7:20 pace the week before, so… I assumed 7:15 was a safe bet for a pace, right? Who cares? Well, I wasn’t wearing a gps so it wouldn’t matter as I’d go by effort as I usually do. I just wanted to have a finish time expectation (right at 29 minutes?!?!) as usual. I did decide to bring my gps, which detaches from the bracelet and attaches to a clip, so I’d clip it in the back and not watch it during the race 😉 Smart!!!!

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Race On! I get to the red corral (Juan goes ahead to blue) and find Ellen, who is going for 6:40, and Jon who said he’d do 7:20. Ok, I figured I’ll tuck behind Jon for a while. First mile has Cat Hill so I tried to go out easy and relaxed. Jon left me easily fast, so I figured I was going at 7:30s or whatever. oh well. EFFORT, not pace! SO I just trucked and tried my best to not get bored (I still do miss the music!).

Mile 1, because I looked at the race clock, seemed to be 7:05 so… ouch. Or, oh oh. Well, mile 2 is fast so I pushed the pedal a bit. By the 102 transverse I was passing a lot of people that went out too hard. Once you turn into the West side things get painful, so I tried my best to not despair or slow down. By the reservoir, I see Ellen up ahead… she seems WAY too relaxed, WTF? So I run up and ask her what’s going on, something about her leg and how she’s phoning it in. I told her to focus on my ass, fun conversation ensues, we start running together taking turns to push ourselves all the way to finish! So happy I found her, or I would not have pushed that hard. Or may I would have, I have no idea now! It is always SO much easier with race with someone else! I sprint like a maniac once we turn and… DONE!

I saw Juan right there, he’d done great and I was sure I was under 29.. but who knows. When I started the watch, I clipped it in the back and apparently I also stopped it. UGH. that’s 3 races in a row I can’t get this crap figured out!!!!!

nyrr run for the parks pictures results (9)We hung out with a few friends and team mates right by the race watching everyone finish and share race stories. There was a LOT of people (7,751 to be exact) and SUCH a lovely day. Hopefully from now on they’re all like this where I am not racing to get home in the warm shower. We stayed for the lottery (which, bummer, we didn’t win!) and then walked through the park, to make time before we get home, because Shake Shack opens at 11 😉 we’re disgusting and we know it. As you can see, I enjoyed the sun. Then the results came out by 10:20 am.

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Uh, was I excited!

Stats Time:

Finish time: 28:12 Average Pace: 7:03

Previous PR: 28:00 From: April, 2013

Age Grading: 70.51% 

Overall Place: 671 of 7751

Gender Place: 60 of  3733

Age Place: 5 of 449

This is very good-looking. 7:03 pace?!?! Well, that’s not so far from my 7:00 pr in this distance. I like the 70% percent there, given that is usually my goal and 5th in my Age Group is not so bad either in one of these races.

I was quite pleased with myself. Still not a PR but SO close, SOOO CLOSE! The Dashing Whippets women’s team came second overall also! yey yey team work!

Then, you know… heaven to make it all more amazing

nyrr run for the parks pictures results (22)Ah, life is so amazing sometimes!

Now, back to stressing about this weekend’s Women’s More Half. I’ll be in the Corral 1 pacing the 1:45 group. I am so nervous about this… I have to make sure I do even pacing through the race… interesting! I am used to racing by effort and not pace and to negative split halfs so I start slow and then drop the hammer. Even pacing seems SO weird and nonsense. But I am taking it as a long tempo, even effort, and taking each mile as a 7:58 goal. We’ll see. Wish me Luck!

New York City Half Marathon Tips, Course Strategy and Logistics!

You know the “don’t wear anything new on race day” and all the basics… now, let’s do the United NYC Half Marathon as well as we can. I have done this race 7 times so far -from 2:06 in its first year, 2006, to 1:37 in 2013, and the last two, and I keep running into people who haven’t raced it and have lots of questions (post in the comments section below if you have any questions not covered here!).

And in case you want to see photos and read my race reports, go here for all of them, or, here is the 2015 NYC Half report, here is 2014 NYC Half and 2013 NYC Half. Also, download the custom pace bracelet, I created for this race based on the race strategy below.

PRE RACE LOGISTICS

Make a marathon list of what you’ll need a week or two before and sort it all by stages, here is a Marathon Packing List to start with. Whether, you’re travelling or not, get everything in the list ready as soon as possible. Start prepping 2 weeks out.

Plan your nutrition waaaay ahead. You can buy gels at the expo if necessary, but get bagels/oatmeal/bananas and whatever you need for race day the day before as there will not be a lot of delis open at 4, 5, or 6 am. Some may be, but not a lot.

If you need any last minute thing, you can buy most stuff at the expo/bib pickup (don’t forget to bring a printed copy of your reg form –download it from your NYRR profile they will be ready early March, and photo identification) or here is an organized list with all the running stores by area.

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we all look like weirdos anyway, wear old stuff you have to discard to the start of the race!

Prep some cheap or throwaway clothes to the start. Find a mylar blanket from your last half or marathon (and don’t throw away the one you’ll get at the finish here!). You will need them until the last minute in the corral (I wear one as pants with tape and one as a cape). I wear my throwaway cardigan or a sweater (cut in the front for easy peeling, kept it in p

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what throwaway knee-high socks as leg warmers look like when you forget to take them off (2015 NYC Half)

lace with a safety pin!) during the first mile too! Go to the dollar store and get knee-high socks, cut the foot and you’ll have throwaway arm warmers! I keep half of it on until I warm up, it can be windy and cold at the start!

Gear/What to wear… the weather can be anything from 50s to 20s so prepare (aka, train in) a few options and decide the day before. Or that morning. Be smart, and make sure you can peel off layers comfortably. If you don’t want to carry your phone, at least carry a $20 bill, a metrocard, and an ID with you, just in case. My rule is if it’s over 40 degrees, I do singlet and shorts (pics from last year). Last year it was 42 degrees, 60% humidity, wind 10-18 mph (2014 was 31 degrees, 2013 was 30 degrees). But depending on the wind/humidity/lack of sleep/whatever, you can add hat, arm sleeves, leg warmers, etc. Always add things you can get rid of easily and won’t miss. If you’re not sure about a layer, keep in mind that once you leave the park and get to the West Side Highway, it can get a little windy there. Check the wind direction in the morning!

Best tool to have at any race: your name on your shirt, do not even question this!! If you don’t want your name, write something funny you’ll want people to scream to you all over the course. This is a big race and there will be a lot of spectators along the course and having them scream your name will make your race 100 times better. If you don’t want to ruin your gear, cut the letters our of duct tape (like I do!) and voila, they’ll peel right off!

Headphones or not? If you are used to racing with headphones, bring them. I sometimes leave them on (with the music off), and turn them on only when necessary. Central Park will be CROWDED, seriously crowded, so it’s smart to keep the music off, or very low so you can hear people around you. Once you are in the West Side Highway, and it gets a little monotonous, go for it. You’ll have a lot of people cheering and you don’t want to miss it, but if you do have the music on later on, still make sure you can still hear what is happening around you!!!!

Place your spectators in spots where you’ll need encouragement (quite probably on the long stretch along the West Side Highway).  If they are not the adventurous kind, they could see you anywhere in the park, always on your right, and then head over to the finish. Otherwise, there is an insane amount of combination of spots they can see you at. Study the map with them and calculate how much time they’ll have to get from one spot to the other based on your speed. For example, the 1st location would usually be in Central Park, east side, around 85 st, on your left (they need to be on the inside part of the park), that would be your mile 1. After they see you, they walk across the park (it won’t be more than a 10 minute walk) around the Great Lawn to West 86th, where they can see you again at mile 4.5! They have to be on the runner’s right (the outside of the park lane). Elite runners will be there in 20 minutes, and you can tell them how long it’d take you to do 4.5 miles! So, they have to hurry and cross over the quarter mile in less than 20 minutes or they’ll be trapped  inside the park. Once they see you go, they exit the park and the B and C trains are right there at 86 and CPW. They could also do this in the 102 transverse (instead of 86) and the trains are at 103 when they exit the park on the west side, but the time to cross over from east to west is a lot less, but totally doable if they zippityzip. C trains go downtown, so they can head over to 14th st, though there is a bit of a walk from 8th ave to 11th avenue, so if the C train shows up fast, I’d say yes, otherwise, just keep going to Chambers and head over to the West Side Highway to cheer. A cab would be messy as traffic will not be open in many streets so the trains are better! Once they see you in Chambers, the can head over to meet you at the Finish (find a corner to meet up ahead of time, it’ll be CROWDED!) or at some brunch spot! Call ahead to see if they are open at 9 or 10 am so they can wait there and be warm! // When they’re cheering, it’s important to know exactly on what side of the street they’ll be so YOU can spot them (they won’t be able to spot you!). Send them with something big: a flag, a sign, balloons, huge funny hat, etc. Tell them to get comfy shoes, really warm clothes and bring food. It will be an early and long morning for them too!  //  If you need an extra push, ask for help!! FORCE all your friends to come watch you. Ask them “where are you going to be?”. Then tell them a time you’ll go through there, give or take 10 minutes, and decide if they’ll be runner’s Left or Right. Then make a little-tiny list you can carry in your pocket (Example: 102nd st, John, left / 86st st, Mike, right, etc.) in order or appearance, put clear tape all over it so it won’t get sweaty and basically go from John, to Mike, to etc… Let them pull you along the course and that’ll break the course in parts, instead of think “AH, I gotta go all the way to the end of the island, ugh” you’ll think: “I am just going to 102nd st, to see John, then we’ll see!

Oh, and have them download the 2016 NYC Half mobile app (will probably be ready to download a week or two before the race) where they can track you and a few more runners at a time.

Get yourself the custom pace bracelet, I created for this race based on the race strategy below.

If you need a short run before the race, go to Central Park. You’ll see many of your race-buddies and get to enjoy the best place in the world as a runner.

Find a mantra, or two, you might really need them. I write them in my hand where I am sure I will see it.

RACE LOGISTICS

There will be many starts! Last year there were waves starting from 7:30 to 8:30 (this will be updated soon) and in early march you will get a registration card with your bib/wave number and start time.

Getting to the start/Baggage Check. The easiest way to get there is always a cab or running there of course, but if you have to take the train, take anything to 57th or 59th streets or any of the trains that leave you close to Central Park South/59th st. You will have to enter the park through Sixth or Fifth Avenue. Before entering, check your (nyrr provided plastic) bag outside of the park (on 59th Street, between Fifth and Seventh Avenues). Give yourself ample time (as this is weekend schedule) and check  MTA for weekend alerts, or try hopstop: make sure your train is running! Also, if you are not sure, I am 100% confident that if you just head over to the closest train stop, you’ll see someone you could follow to the Start 😉 // Kiss your loved ones buh-bye, they won’t be allowed anywhere close to the Start!

The race WILL be crowded, so PLEASE, if you need to stop for a walk or move sideways for water, please please please signal with your arms, and look around behind you before you make any moves, DO NOT just stop or go sideways. Be considerate of your fellow runners who could trip! The good side of this is that you’ll always have someone to run with, pace of, or follow when you’re tired. Pick them up when you feel strong, encourage them when they need it, and keep your eyes peeled for anyone who might need help!!

There will be Water/Gatorade around every mile or so, so if you miss one, don’t stress. Don’t go for the first table as everyone will do that. There’s many tables: go to the last one. You’ll find the portapottties where the water is, so keep an eye out and don’t dart sideways! There will be Gels at mile 7.5, on 42nd street between 10th and 11th avenues, on your right.

RACE STRATEGY

Here is the official course map: NYRR New York City Half Marathon course map

Custom pace bracelet, if you can’t remember any of the info below

nyc half course elevation

Elevation profile from my 2014 race, same as all the last ones of course. elevation is the red line.

This is an easy race to figure out. Basically, you have two parts: the undulating Central Park (first half) and the straight and flat run to the finish (the second half). Which makes it a perfect course to NEGATIVE PR!!!!

Break the race in parts, device a plan, and stick to it no matter what. Plan for negative splits: keep it strong and conservative throughout the park and ram it home once you leave the park. It’s super simple. I am an average runner and have negative split in this race every time. Basically: you have to believe in yourself and wait for the time of your life.

This is how I like to break this race down. In 4 parts.

Part 1 – Mile 1: HOLD YOUR FREAKING HORSES!!!!

There are 2.5 hills in this race: Cat Hill as soon as you start, Harlem Hill at 3.5, and going up the Battery Park Underpass at the end (this one counts as just half a hill). Cat Hill and the Tunnel are short and tiny but annoying because of their locations right at the start and right at the end…! People get excited at the start, and take off like maniacs; if this is going to work, we have to hold it in, climb the hill carefully and let everyone (and their grandmother) pass. You’ll see. Tell yourself: Yes, go ahead and go. I’ll catch you later when your quads are screaming, buh-bye

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Cat Hill is 0.25 long (in miles), or 800 meters long; but it has a 49′ rise (average grade of 3.7%)

Part 2 – Mile 2 to 6: EASY, LIGHT, SMOOTH

The park is a string of undulating hills, but after Cat Hill you have the longest flat stretch, almost a half mile (heaven…!) so, use that to get on a rhythm, find your legs and a pacer. It’ll be crowded so I doubt you’ll be able to utilize the tangents well but at least avoid tripping, did I mention it’s gonna be a bit CROWDED?

Your goal for the first half of the race is to exit the park in one piece, feeling strong, to let it all unfold in the second part of the race. Exercise all your patience here and keep yourself in good checks to not let yourself go. If you are running “hard-comfortable”, you are doing it right.

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Blip 1 in the course profile is 0.36 of a mile and a rise of ’33. You exit the park for two blocks, go around the Frederick Douglass Circle and come right back downhill. Then you enter the park, make a left, and start the climb for Blip 2: Harlem Hill!!! HH is 0.32 long but it has a 84′ rise (average grade of 4.4%). Fun times. As soon as you finish the downhill on the back end of HH, there’s another climb, Blip 3 is 0.60 of a mile and has a rise of ’58. Blip 1 is short and mild, blip 3 is longer but mild as it’s stretched out, but watch up for Harlem Hill, short and UPWARDS!

Part 3 – Mile 7 to 10: IT’S ON!

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This is where I like to stretch out my legs: the race starts HERE. From now on it’s flat and steady. When you exit the park you’ll have a lot of space, cheering and excitement to carry you on, and as soon as you turn right on 42nd, you’ll be rolling down. Hit the gas.

Note: Something about Times Square can make you or your gps go crazy. Ooops. No, you’re not running a 3:20 mile. I set my gps watch to manual and I lap it myself when I see the mile markers. Way better!

Part 4 –  Mile 11 or 12 to 13.1: YOLO

ALL. HELL. BREAKS. LOOSE.

That is all. Go Crazy. Bring it in. Drop the Hammer.

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As you can see in the map, I obv didn’t have gps on the tunnel, and you won’t either. But it won’t matter, when you get to mile 10, or 11 or 12 and you know you’re ready to start your KICK, you go. Keep in mind there’s a little climb out of the tunnel, short but steep, and then there’s about 0.66 of a mile to go. You’ll see the 800 meters sign if you’re focused but who is at that point? It’ll seem like forever but eventually you make a left, then another left and the finish line is RIGHT THERE. So don’t wait to see it to sprint and wait a few seconds!

… then… 

Walk, get your medal, take pictures, get your stuff, find your friends/family, go get brunch (there are many good places downtown), enjoy, stretch, ice bath, rest, eat more, sleeeeeep! Tell everyone about your race, plan your next race, have a congratulatory donut. Or at least that’s what I am planning to do, even if this might be my slowest half!!

Questions?? Anything to add? Anything you want to go over? Lmk in the comments below!

Photos race reports, go here for all of them, or here for the 2015 NYC Half2014 NYC Half  or 2013 NYC Half.

Get the custom pace bracelet maker, so you can plan your splits and stick to them!

NYRR United NYC Half Marathon course map

The official United New York City Half Marathon website.

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2014 New York City Marathon EXPO Insanity (Mutai, KSwitzer, MiniMe, etc.) and the Under Armour Party with Nick Arciniaga and Chris McCormack

Juan and I went to the expo yesterday, Thursday, to avoid the masses. this is post is mostly pictures to give you a break from all the reading!

Who shrinked my expo? What happened? It is SMALL. In a way, I left happier, because it could be a bit overwhelming and exhausting, but I was done in 30 minutes… what? So strange. Am I the only one?

Anyway the fun pictures.

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Juan told me to meet by the Javits statue. The what? I had been there a million times and I had never seen the Jacob Javits statue. that’s crazy right?

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This is the first time that they had bib entry open to the public. It was so strange and AMAZING! didn’t have to separate from my hubs who just wanted to shop around, which you had to do before (and then meet somewhere outside on the OTHER side) Loved that!

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Just because he reminded me of my husband, ok??

 

 

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OMG!!!! Geoffrey Mutai, we chatted for a bit, about Berlin mostly, sweeeeet sweeeeet man! AND SO FAST. IS THAT CONTAGIOUS PLEASE?

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Marathon woman! I love seeing Kathryn! I guess we’re going to Mallorca to do the 261!

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Go mini me!!! well, it was cool but first there was some attempts to get it, where you sign up on an Ipad with your facebook account, and UGH, I don’t know my password!!!! So it blocked me off of facebook. much hilarity ensued and eventually I got it. So, as soon as I took it out, ugh, I got creeped out, it looked like me! CREEPY. then, I liked it. I want to bit it a bit, but I don’t think it’s in my marathon week diet.

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don’t you think it looks like a blond Kara Goucher????

I saw many friends, chatted a bit and I knew there was a second floor. DON’T FORGET TO GO TO THE SECOND FLOOR!!! When you exit the main hall you take the stairs on your left. You’ll see it. I hope.

They had these big Start and Finish and a medal for each boro, which were cool. I’d love to have those in my apartment. I do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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sorry I sat in Staten Island, but I guess that’s what I do most of the time I spend on Staten Island for the mary!

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I loved this photo!!!! I have never broken the tape and this is quite SURELY the closest I am every going to get!

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the second floor was EMPTY

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Then, we headed out, got some dosas for dinner at the Hampton Chutney, YUM and headed to the Under Armour Party as Nick Arciniaga and Chris McCormack would be there (and Macca is my husbands hero, and had never met him!). It was quite amazing! We were at the Under Armour Brand House on Broadway and Houston, Soho. Which, so lame of me, didn’t even know it existed!!! Well, it’s not like I go and walk around Broadway in Soho ever. Really, 2nd worst after Times Square for a local. the store was impressive!!! We pretty much wanted everything! (and did liiiiiiitle shopping)

They were releasing the speedform gemini. And I got a sample pair, we shall see soon!

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Juan had an ENLIGHTENING 2-minute convo with his IDOL. We talked about it for hours. Wow.

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wow the kid was EXCITED. note the osom sweatshirt? oh yes? yes, i got it for him! And Macca is TALL!

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so funny that the two athletes looks this way and the brand people looked THAT way?

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Nick and I had a cool convo. He is after Meb! eh, so easy, just stick to his back, Meb knows what his doing… Top American maybe? At least 2nd? Go Nick!

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these shoes feel SO different, quite bounce and like they slide forward somehow. I got all the info and specs and havent read ANYTHING yet obvs, but I am quite curious. I dont do well or believe even in cushiony or bouncy shoes, but these felt different. Ill definitely put some miles in them after the marathon!

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After that, we raced home. I had had a looooooong day at the office, preparing for this weekend’s marathon. Friday I am hosting and MCing my team’s dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square and I have all these other commitments for race weekend. Busy busy. TIRED. See you on the other side? how was YOUR expo trip?