Tag Archive | runner

NYRR Al Gordon 4 Miler, first race of the year!

 

Saturday was my first race of the year!  And you know, at some point, they’ll start happening every weekend until you’re pulling your hair out and yelling why doesn’t this woman stop with the blog posts every week about one more race!?!??! but this one is special, it’s the first one!!!!

HA.

Actually, this was my 125th race. EVER. I had to look that up for course. But it’s a cool roundish number that I could push as “special” and semi “anniversary”. you can tell had coffee this morning, right? b

WHO IS AL GORDON YOU ASK?

Well, I asked myself that. How come I don’t know who that is?? Given that the race is in Brooklyn, maybe he’s famous just in Brooklyn. Well, NO, I am just clueless. So here it is, in case you’re as clueless as I was, I will declueless you!

“My favorite story about the spartan Al Gordon was his gift to St. Bernard’s School in New York while he was chairman of the board. Al made two conditions on his gift, I was told. First, there was to be no elevator, so that the students would have to walk up and down several flights of stairs. And secondly, Al wanted to make sure that the school would not close on snow days. A rigorous philanthropist he was, but keep in mind that Al was such a fanatic fitness person, he would often walk or run into Manhattan after landing at LaGuardia Airport. He was also a leading benefactor and board member since the early days of the New York Road Runners club..” from this Forbes article which is quite interesting. There is also this article in the NY Times, if you have time. He died at 107 so he must have been doing something right. WINK WINK.

Back a few months, Juan went into a race-signup rampage and signed up for this race among 10 more, without realizing it was in BROOKLYN. Yes, no biggie, but on a weekend, early, when you leave on the Upper East Side, getting to Brooklyn is quite the nightmare. A real pain. You know how much I love the MTA? ZERO. Anyway, what am i going to do, just get up at 5 am and travel to the end of the universe to cheer for 2 minutes? NO,  I signed up too. I was in.

Disclaimer, travelling wasn’t so bad. We met up with Ivy in the corner at 6 am, and got to the start by 7:20, ready to freeze our a$$es for 40 minutes. It was 40s, but cold 40s. I think it’s just colder in BK that in the city. We met up a lot of people at the start and Juan started fading. He had had this flu for the last 3 weeks, you see? He hadn’t run in weeks but he had been feeling better for the last 4 days and we assumed he was ok to run. Emmmm.

We undress down to our short tights and singlet/shirt and get to the corral. HELLO SUN!

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we were FREEZING

Soon enough we go. Juan passes me, as usual and I just commit to taking the hill as easy-hard as I can. You know what that means right? Uh. It’s not steep but it goes on and on and ooooooon. I see a team mate, Ian, as he passes me on the uphill, we wave and say hello and I decide to let him pull me Keep Him in Sight I kept telling myself. He ended up sitting about 10 yards away from me and it was perfect for me to just chase him.

Mile 1: 7:16

By Mile 1.74, yes, I remember exactly, I saw him coming back to me (though I knew it was me pushing the pace) and I saw a little hill come up, I told myself to not pass him until after the hill. Oh. As soon as I noticed I had passed him and I was running like a furious crazy person. I knew the last half mile was uphillish so I had save time now, until 3.5ish. Mile 2: 7:01

I kept pushing up and down the little bumps on road. Running tangents in Prospect Park is so hard!!! There’s more than in Central Park and I am NOT familiar with them! Mile 3: 6:36 So, If i can run a 6:36 in a 4 miler, I wonder if I could break my 6:05 Mile PR… interesting!! Then I see Juan on the side of the road looking for me, all spent the poor thing. I yell at him and he gets back on the race, right ahead of me, tells me something about how he’s done and he’ll just run with me and take few pictures.

Ooooops. Then I passed him. You know he’s SICK if I can pass him!!!! But, these pictures:

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by then, I was ON FIRE. If you’ve run with me on the last mile of a race you know how I get. FURIOUS. my breathing is loud… I really take out all of my oxygen out. Juan now has video to prove it but as you can imagine. it’s too scary to share. So, no.

I crossed the finish line ready to puke, as usual.

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And… guess what

Yeah, NO PR! DAMN

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Stats Time:

Finish time: 28:03 Average Pace: 7:01

Previous PR: 28:00 From: April, 2013

Age Grading: 70.21% 

Overall Place: 414 of 4477

Gender Place: 40 of 2126

Age Place: 2 of 249

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NO PR!!!!! but 3 seconds away is ok. We are just starting the season. UGHHHH

Take a look at the hill on mile 1, fun times

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oh well. 2nd in my age group is fun though. I am getting one more of those plastic squares with the placing for the window!!!! Wohooo!

We caught up with the team, a lot of friends and then we just walked like to miles to have brunch with Flor at Miriam, which was amazing. Plus it was also a block away from R&A Cycle which is probably where Juan would spend all his money if he was a millionaire.

who needs a 20K dollars bike? THIS GUY

who needs a 20K dollars bike? THIS GUY

see how happy and not miserable he looks when he’s close to a bike? OY

PS: I went for a little 7 mile run in Central Park on Sunday and felt ok… which is weird. I am usually destroyed after a race. I wonder if all this crosstraining is helping…!

Two pictures from Sunday morning! It was FIFTY DEGREES. THIS IS THE AWESOMEST WINTER EVER!

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what did you race this weekend? how did it go???

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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)

nyc half start times

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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Summer Streets in NYC

What is Summer Streets, you say?

On three consecutive Saturdays in the summer, nearly seven miles of New York City’s streets are opened up for everyone to play, run, walk and bike.

I love Summer Streets! You get Park Avenue on the Upper East Side all the way downtown to the Brooklyn Bridge for yourself, and then some. There are events, water stations all over, and you really feel like you own the streets. I love Summer Streets, did I tell you already?

The first one was last Saturday, and I missed because I was racing the Team Championships… no way I’d miss this one!!!

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In case you are the type that could get lost following the crowds: a map

Blaise, Patricia, Juan, Kyra, Jessica, Shawn, Gerry and I met by the Brooklyn Bridge at 7:30 and we got moving, they were all doing a long run (16 to 20), and Juan and I were shooting for 12, all about 8 or 8:20 pace.

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We might be the only south americans that are always too early to everything. And what happens? we do stooopid things like these pictures!

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thanks lady runner for this shot. ALL ready to go!!!!! Let’s do this!

We decided to take on the Brooklyn Bridge first. Well Patricia decided and we all usually do whatever anyone suggests!summer streets 2015 pictures nyc run elizabeth maiuolo running (3)

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THIS. only. way. and. time. to. be. there. seriously, right?

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Now on the Manhattan Bridge, back towards the city

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Elizabeth, take a picture of that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ha, I did!

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Back in the city and on Summer Streets!

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very sweaty and thirsty gang!

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I love these things. Yes, I love water, I love free water, and I love water that is everywhere. These things are EVERYWHERE. So I love them. Can I be more repetitive and obvious?

Towards Grand Central now…

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And now on Park Avenue, north of Grand Central, my favorite stretch!!!

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Then we headed into Central Park, because, it’s there, you know?

This is the route we ended up with, Brooklyn Bridge to, duh, Brooklyn, back in the city through the Manhattan Bridge, then back to Summer streets up north to 72, north in the park for a Harlem Hill Climb and … that was 12 for Juan and I, the rest kept going

summer streets 2015 pictures nyc run elizabeth maiuolo running (1) If you haven’t gone, DO IT. SO SO SO worth it.

1- go early, 7 am, it gets very crowded (and almost not worth it) after 9ish.

2- there’s those water stops, so no need to carry fuel belts.

3- take pictures. it’s amazing. I can never get over it.

4- plan a post-run brunch along the course, so you can watch everyone go after you finished your run!

Promise me you’re going next week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NYRR Retro, 4 Miler: 2 years, 1 month, and 2 days without a PR, and then….

Really, I am about to throw my hands up in the air and shout “who the eff ever knows????” Remember how I was telling you mid-week I had been sick since last Sunday? How I had lost 6 pounds (hey, that’s a 5% of me!!!) and was dizzy and weak and barely coherent? Well, I somehow managed to do all my workouts without fainting (though it was close) last week but I wasn’t sure I should even show up to the race. Then add just 4 hours of sleep the night before. I was really doubting what was I doing up Sunday morning… I tried to gulp some Gatorade (forget the pre-race coffee routine!!!) and it was making me sick. So I headed out with just two mouth rinses of Gatorade, which is NOTHING.

Luckily the weather was perfect, 56, low humidity, lovely. We had a nice slow jog to the start, got there early. Saw all the usual suspects and before the corral I even run into my bestie Patricia who was ready to KILL it.  My husband had less sleep than me so he had no idea what he’d do. Me? meh, I figured I’d try to stay under 7:30s or just jog to the finish. I had such little expectations that I got in there with my fitness belt, phone, and all, like I really wasn’t racing. Because, you know, I was sick and weak!

This race was a RIOT!!!!!!!!!! I am not gonna lie, the theme can soon become my most favorite thing ALL YEAR. Everyone was dressed up in old gear, it was so fun. Given, I only started running about 12 years ago, I never seen things like these other than in magazines, photos or Pre movies!!! It was SO exciting and fun!! So many mustaches and knee-high socks that I felt like I’d run into Pre any minute!!! OMG OMG OMG. OMG.

Check out the lead car. INSANITY:

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The start looks all OLD SCHOOL, so simple and old-timey!!!! OMG.

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That’s us, right by the start, before we go let it happen, whatever that might be.

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and OMG priceless!! Peter Ciaccia, dressed up. I can’t get enough of this outfit! the stopwatch, the clothes, those glasses: too GOOD!

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We see a lot of team mates, friends, we just we get into the corral and I decide this is a whatever. I am thirsty already. Soon enough, the start. We go.

I felt a bit empty going up the hill but I knew I had hold back. After 3 minutes, before I even get off Cat Hill I get a thirst attack. How am i going to finish this thing? I am already super thirsty and not even sweating… ugh, SO dehydrated…!!! I REALLY considered stopping for water. Can you imagine? Stopping for water in a 4 miler? I told myself I’d have to slap myself if I did. Of course I wouldn’t. Really, I rather pass out than have to stop for water. Eff NO. Now I just hope I don’t pass out. Mile 1: 7:14 Okay, that’s not awful. I didn’t have my music (I am so brave now,  I know!) but I’ve done 3 of these exact same 4 milers in the last 2 months and I could definitely get myself on autopilot. I need to focus if I want this to keep going well. I told myself the same thing I always repeat in my head in every race when I just want to give up “Don’t give up  in your head, or your body will give up“. I got into on a relaxed form and just kept plodding. Mile 2: 6:52. Oh, okay, not bad, but this is when the wheels come off and things fall apart. I told myself to keep it together on Mile 3, always the hardest part, but don’t push just yet. Mile 3: 7:08, quite probably my fastest Mile 3 in history. My third mile is never faster than my first… hummmm. Interesting. I waited, waited, such a patience game racing is… waited and when I felt ready, I just went for it, probably with 800s to go. I passed a team-mate who was so scared by my breathing, yes, that’s how it works. I get into the 6th gear and I sound like I am drowning!!! Before the turn, about 500 meters from the finish,  I look at my watch and I couldn’t believe the time, I was in the 26 minutes range… I’d have to go sub 28 to PR, I was sooo close…. With 50 meters to go, Steven, a course marshal on the bike started shouting at me and cycling right by me, it pushed me a bit more. Mile 4: 6:35. Done. I  started dry-heaving on the side. If I had something on me, even water, I would have thrown up. I did hit the stop on my watch before that. It read 27:59. My PR is 28:00. I decided to forget about it and wait for the official results. Walk it off. Somehow being sick and losing weight, even if you feel weak and dehydrated, works? I am probably giving you all really bad ideas here!

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Then the official results came out… it was a flat 28. A PR TIE.

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Stats Time:

Finish time: 28:00 Average Pace: 7:00

Previous PR: 28:00 From: April, 2013

Age Grading: 71.01% 

Overall Place: 615 of 5,101

Gender Place: 39 of 2,249

Age Place: 7 of 692

So, it’s a tie PR!!! 2 years, 1 month and 2 days waiting for something like this to happen, minus a second. If I had known I had a chance, who knows? I almost didn’t even show up for this!!!! and it ended up being the best race of the year. I guess weight is really THAT important, even if it’s just 6 pounds, which yeah, 5% extra is definitely a lot in me! My previous 28:00 PR (here is the full report), was also an unsure type of race: “ I signed up at the last possible minute and until 2 hours before the race, I wasn’t sure if I’d race it..” It seems common in my history to do well in the worst set-up situations, somehow. And to do crappy races when I am primed and ready to go. Obviously this is all mental.

I am excited that I am in PR shape, or that there could be a PR around the corner… this has been a LONG LONG wait… I remember my days when I’d PR in every single race. I REALLY miss those days!

As soon as I finished, I regrouped with Juan, Patricia, Christine, and lots of friends and team mates. I had seen Kettia cheering on the west and east sides and Tracey was running. We walked over to the west side to find my team mates who were doing awesome at cheering: RETRO style

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Isn’t this amazing???????? I know it gave me such a boost in the last 600 meters…. It was awesome. this team rocks. There wasn’t another team cheering, and definitely not like this. AMAZINGNESS X 100000!

2015-06-07 09.08.07So we hung out there for a while, cheered, chit chatted and all the other weird things we runners do after a race. Everyone had done amazing. Juan PRed!!!! Whaaat? He had also not PRed in a few months. Patricia and I did this weird shot… she obviously PRed, usual!!
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I don’t look good this skinny. Oh well. We then run up to Harlem hill and back to the east side home, 9 miles total (on 4 hours of sleep!!!!!!). We showered, went to an open house, and Juan did some majorly amazing rooftop asado (the argentinian barbecue) because you know we both earned it 😉 It was that or passing out at 1 pm until the next day!

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YUM!

how was your race? do you find you do better in awful situations? Do you think weight is SO important and do you make sure you’re on race weight for every race?? any ideas on how to stay skinny now that I got there? 😉

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!)

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.

nyc half marathon course strategy part (2)

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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