Tag Archive | runners

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 9 times so far -since 2006, its first year, to last year, 2019, 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!). If you just want to see RACE STRATEGY scroll through to the section in green.

And in case you want to see photos and read my race reports, here is the 2019 race report, the 2019 race video, the 2017 race report, the 2016 race report, 2015 NYC Half report, here is 2014 NYC Half and 2013 NYC Half.

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 traveling 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 things, you can buy most stuff at the expo/bib pickup (don’t forget to bring your reg form –download it from or bring 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.

I promise you this look is totally normal at the start!!!!

Prep some cheap or throwaway clothes for 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 place 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 30s 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.

This is what the weather looked like the last few years:

  • 2019: 34 DEGREES, 46% HUMIDITY, WIND 6 MPH. (what I wore)
  • 2018: 28 DEGREES, 31% HUMIDITY, WIND 9 MPH NW
  • 2017: 34 DEGREES, 70% HUMIDITY, WIND 18 MPH (what I wore)
  • 2016: 34 DEGREES, 35% HUMIDITY, WIND 14 MPH (what I wore)
  • 2015: 42 DEGREES, 60% HUMIDITY, WIND 10-18 MPH (what I wore)
  • 2014: 31 DEGREES, 40% HUMIDITY, WIND 18 MPH (what I wore)
  • 2013: 30 DEGREES, 64% HUMIDITY, WIND W 7 MPH (what I wore)
  • 2012: 47 DEGREES, 90% HUMIDITY, WIND 3 MPH.
  • 2011: 37 DEGREES, 41% HUMIDITY, SUNNY
  • 2010: 53 DEGREES, 55% HUMIDITY, SUNNY

The temperature has been pretty consistent… but, you should assume it’ll feel 10 degrees under that temperature (hey wind!). So, depending on the wind/humidity/lack of sleep/whatever, you can add a 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 Manhattan Bridge or de FDR, it can get a little windy there. Also, check the wind direction in the morning!

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.

Have your spectators 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 and see you on the course.

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).

Getting to the start/Baggage Check. The easiest way to get there is to take the train, but make sure you check the website because your train or stop will depend on your wave. Also, check the Start Map carefully. 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! NO RACE BEFORE THE RACE. Also, if you are not sure where to go, I am 100% confident that if you just head over to the closest train stop, you’ll see someone you could follow to the race start.

During the race, please please be careful, stay alert and keep the music down. 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 is that 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 are many tables: go to the last one. You’ll find the portapotties where the water is, so keep an eye out and don’t dart sideways!

Think about joining an official pacer from the NYRR Pace Team, they’ll be wearing a green and white biofreeze sponsored singlet, and will run even splits through all 13.1 miles of the United Airlines NYC Half.

RACE STRATEGY

Here is the official 2020 course map

The easiest way to tackle this race is to divide it three parts:

  1. start comfy and relaxed -the first 2.5 miles are a roller coaster of a warm-up.

  2. at mile 5.3 pick the shit up

  3. at 53rd st, hit the gas and light the torch

Because this is not your typical half, where you can actually pick it up and finish fast, you have to pick your battles and do the best you can. I would race part 1 at 70% effort (or heart rate), part 2 at 85%, and part 3 at 95% and up. Obviously, adjust as you please.

Here is the overall course elevation:

PART 1

You start in the middle road of Prospect Park: it will be SUPER crowded and downhill so please be careful. Also, ppl won’t be ready and still looking for GPS signal and discarding layers, a recipe for disaster, look out and keep your ears attuned. Stay to the left and once you turn, HELLO BATTLE PASS HILL. Yeah, that is the Prospect Park hill.. the one and only. You’ll be done before mile one so please don’t overtake it too quickly. Mile two is mostly downhill and flat so it’ll be fast. Don’t be scared. This is a great out and back where you can see your friends!!

Those out and backs always get me super psyched. Keep yourself in a hard check. A nice turn around Grand Army Plaza and there we have a straightaway on Flatbush for a couple of miles towards the bridge.

Mile three is also up and then down, so it will be another average mile but now you’re out of Prospect Park, finally, and heading towards the Manhattan bridge thru Flatbush, which is, quite, and literally, FLAT.

Mile four will go SOOOO quickly with the excitement of the bridge coming towards you, that you won’t even notice the climb. It’s uphill for about a mile, 4.3 to 5.3, pretty brutal but so amazing and worth it. I can’t even tell you how insanely scenic Mile five is. 

WOOOOOOOW THAT WAS SUCH A RUSH!!!!!! VIEWS ON BOTH SIDES!!! SO EXHILARATING… HELP.

WOOOOOOOW THAT WAS SUCH A RUSH!!!!!! VIEWS ON BOTH SIDES!!! SO EXHILARATING… HELP.

The top of the bridge actually happens at about 5.3, and you start dropping quickly. Into Manhattan. That’s when we come face-first into the second part of our plan.

PART 2

Let’s

GO

This is when we pick things up. HARD. Mile five, the downhill from on the bridge, is going to feel like SO amazing, ride it hard. There is going to be a very hard right turn off the bridge at Mile 6, brace yourself, but also, take it and keep your eye out for gels, they’re right there, along with some AMAZING views of the bridge and Chinatown you don’t want to miss out.

Beautiful, right? But FOCUS.

This is when you can bang out some really fast miles on the FDR. Miles 7 and 8 all the way to 9 and a half are flat, use them up, you’re going to miss them later.

You might get bored. Find someone 20 meters (yards?) ahead and chase them down.

Focus on the United Nations Building ahead, because that is where we turn left. That is where we start climbing again, at mile 9.5. This is when things will start getting tough. Hold the pace. Stay right there, same effort. Mile 10 at 42nd will start feeling hard, but enjoy the views and the crowds. It’s quite special.

Also, it might feel windy here, a tunnel from the east river to the Hudson so tuck between people if you can and stay in your rhythm.

At 7th Avenue, we turn onto… TIMES SQUARE. A few blocks over, it’s Mile 11, and now you’re just really close.

and what happens now…?

PART 3

At 53rd, we MOVE. Why 53rd? Well… it’s a combo of reasons, there’s a downhill and we are close enough to take into account the bumps along the road and the amount of time we have left. This will obviously depend on how much gas you have left in you. But if you paced yourself properly, this is the moment you waited for, so go for it. Last year, I had my friend Whitney waiting there to signal the start of the end: 

We turn onto Central Park South and there’s Mile 12. 

Another left onto the park, more rolling hills all the way to the 72nd transverse and IF YOU TRAIN IN CENTRAL PARK, I’D RECCOMEND YOU RAN THIS BIT ONCE OR TWICE BEFORE THE RACE. I promise it will make a huge difference to know exactly how it will feel. The transverse is also an uphill, it will be hard and I want you to be mentally prepared for it. 

If you see this man at the finish line, that is Jim Heim, the Race Director. He is awesome. Give him a High Five.

Get your medal obviously.

and walk to get your bag if you left one

Here is a map of the finish area. Then brunch, shower, ice bath, rest, eat more, sleeeeeep, all the stuff, you know!

For more, definitely check out the 2019 race report, and the 2019 race video.

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

—-Comment happily: you won’t be asked to create an account!

NYRR Hope And Possibility 4 miler – best race ever

Well, I’ve written about this race SO many times, I am sure you’re sick of it. It’s AWESOME. Take my word. Or go see the NYRR photo galleries here

From their website: more than 5,600 runners, walkers, handcyclists, and wheelchair athletes arrived in Central Park to take part in one of the most powerful events on the New York Road Runners race calendar. Many participants in today’s race were part of Achilles’ Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans, a program that provides athletic training and specialized adaptive devices, like hand-crank wheelchairs, to wounded members of the U.S. military. The long-term goal for these athletes is to complete a marathon; along the way, they hit smaller milestones, like today’s Hope & Possibility four-miler.”

anyway,you get a great idea of what race looks like in those pictures right?

My race was quite uneventful. I run there with Carolina, IT WAS SO HOT. I was ready to run back home after 1 mile… Race also starts at 9 am. I wish it started at 6! which was also hot but at least I would be back home in the shower earlier…!

NYRR Achilles hope and possibility 4 mile race Central Park (4)

gosh we were so hot, we stopped at the boathouse to throw water on ourselves!

I saw Dan and Phillip on the corral and they were going out faster than me, and I, at the point, was still so hot I was wondering if I should even “bother”. You know? Can I dial it down a bit and just take it easy? UGH. I started conservatively and decide I didn’t want to die at the end. Mile 1: 7:13. it’s funny because I NOT even once looked at my watch during the race. I just totally forgot about it. Weird, right? Christine found me going up Cat Hill and then Dan and her took off. I felt so lonely! Then luckily I saw Juan on the course!

NYRR Achilles hope and possibility 4 mile race Central Park (5) NYRR Achilles hope and possibility 4 mile race Central Park (1)

He had finished his run and was just cheering me on. So happy he was there! Mile 2: 7:01. Mile 2 is always the fastest. If I had looked at my watch I would have known there how slow I was going. Glad I didn’t look. I just tried to keep going. I felt thirsty since I started but at the water stations I just threw water in my head. It really helped. Back on the west side, and there was Juan again!

NYRR Achilles hope and possibility 4 mile race Central Park (7) NYRR Achilles hope and possibility 4 mile race Central Park (6)

He was right by Mile 3: 7:19. that’s not so bad… Mile 3 is when things go down to hell. Then I just wait a bit and by the last 800s I start to push out whatever I got left.

Mile 4: 7:03. Last few meters: 6:44 pace

well, it wasn’t a PR by a LOT. final time was 28:43 but I finished in one piece without feeling like i’d throw up. That’s a LOT in that weather!

 

NYRR Achilles hope and possibility 4 mile race Central Park (2)

Sweaty Elizabeth, Christine, and Carolina at the finish

Then Juan showed up, we had some water and walked back home. We re-did last years shot just because we totally coordinated our bras, yes on purpose.

NYRR Achilles hope and possibility 4 mile race Central Park (3)

I had given my abs an ultimatum to show up after this picture last year. They didn’t hear me AT ALL. Losers! Not like I did much about it… eeeeek!

NYRR Achilles hope and possibility 4 mile race Central Park (1)

 

Stats Time:

Finish time: 28:43 Average Pace: 7:11

Previous PR: 28:00 From: April, 2013 (UGH!!!!)

Age Grading: 69.00%

Overall Place: 372 of 5,629

Gender Place: 35 of 2,781

Age Place: 7 of 336

I was hot. Period. PS: Carolina was 3rd woman! Wow!! 

Also, let me share a few pictures from Saturday’s race, cheering at the Front Runners Pride Run 5 miler with the Dashing Whippets. Cause they’re fun.

cheering Front Runners Pride Run NYrr (2)

That misting station on the back looks amazing!

cheering Front Runners Pride Run NYrr (4) cheering Front Runners Pride Run NYrr (1)

 

 

Airbnb Brooklyn Half – Custom Pace Bracelet

I adjusted this based on my Race Strategy here. I know, you love me. I love you too. Make sure you do read that race strategy info, or adjust this pace bracelet as you please. Or don’t wear it. I won’t know.

you can download the excel sheet here: Brooklyn Half Marathon Pace Sheet

all you have to do is enter the desired finish time on the yellow cell on top and watch the magic happen. Then you can adjust the splits if you feel like it. I won’t be offended!

for more info on how to tackle the race, check the Airbnb Brooklyn Half Race Strategy and Tips post. Comments? Questions? there’s a box below!!

NYRR Run for the Parks 4 miler – and the #IronStrength workout that almost killed me

This past Sunday I run another race. Yes, another race. I know, you’re sick of me telling you about another race I did, but this one I am quite perplexed about. I’ll get to it fast.

Basically it didn’t go well and I have no clue why. Other than my legs being dead from the week. But really?

The Start. It’s April. It shouldn’t be 30 degrees at the start! It was though. Luckily, I had the biggest luxury anyone can have at a race start: a gorgeous husband waiting by the corral to take my jacket at the last minute so I don’t freeze not even for a second!

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Found Courtney in the corral, a team mate I hat just met at the start corral in the NYC Half. See? I have full on jacket and stuff. it was cold. Picture Credit: my awesome husband Juan!

We tried to get our shit together about pace. And given I just had a MASSIVE PR at the NYC Half, I was almost sure I’d PR. HEY, how could I not????

run for the parks nyrr elizabeth maiuolo central park nyc marathon (2)

1 minute to go, I unrobe. It was COLD. but singlet was ok, 30 FREAKING DEGREES in April!

Given that most of my 4 milers are around 28:00 flat (last one was in February in 28:03 and my PR is 28:00) I just have to stay around 7:00 pace and go under it on the last mile.

I get moving and I try to not take off too fast. Mile 1 has a huge climb so you have to be careful. Mile 1 was 7:10. This was amazing, so fast. HM, do I smell a PR?

run for the parks nyrr elizabeth maiuolo central park nyc marathon (3)

Courtney and I, cruising. Picture Credit: my awesome husband Juan!

run for the parks nyrr elizabeth maiuolo central park nyc marathon (4)

Yes, that IS a cookie monster hat. plus some cool new tights from sweatstyle, and new arm warmers that I got as a gift from the Runners Clinic. Picture Credit: my awesome husband Juan!

I keep at it, not letting it go for 1 second. Mile 2: 6:59. WHAT. wow. Great. For some reason, this didn’t scare me as it would have any other day. I then saw Carolina and Christine cheering, yey, at the top of the reservoir!

run for the parks nyrr elizabeth maiuolo central park nyc marathon (5)

Why so green? Because its the Run For The Parks!!!! Duh Picture Credit: Carolina

Mile 3 is when things always fall apart and I end up with a 7:40 mile or something ridiculous. I told myself to take this like a 5K and not let go. Bring it in, not one second of slow, don’t even think about it. I don’t think I’ve ever pushed so hard at a small race (and WHY?). Mile 3 was 7:17, which is quite ok, given what I usually do here. But really, that’s all I had. And I get to see Juan on the road!

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he practiced this shot with that background. Can you tell? Picture Credit: my awesome husband Juan!

run for the parks nyrr elizabeth maiuolo central park nyc marathon (7)

PAIN PAIN PAIN!

I did my best to hold on the last Mile. But, there was no kick. nothing. My legs were lead. Mile 4: 6:46. A disappointing 28:13, which is the slowest I’ve run the 4 miler in a few years. Annoying. And WHY?

WHY?????

well, let me back up because this is ALL I could think about. 4 days before, Wednesday, I did something stooopid. Cross training. Yes, me, don’t judge me.

obama-upset

we all make mistakes, “APPARENTLY”

So, yes, I admit it. I cross-trained!

There was this “IronStrength” workout in the park, quite convenient for me, at 6:30 am which is also perfect. I had heard about this workout, and Dr Jordan Metzl has a DVD and book with these workouts… so I figure there’be no harm in checking it out.

OMG

WHAT A MISTAKE

Workout was SO SO SO SO SO SO SO HARD. I must have done about 60% of it and I was barely able to walk that same day. The next day, I looked like in 2008, when I did my first marathon: going down the stairs backwards, yelling when sitting at the toilet, all that CRAZY stuff. OUCHIE.

Saturday, I remember I was coaching and I could barely move (STILL) to show the running drills.

So, maybe it was that?

This is a picture of the workout I took from Dr Metzler’s Instagram… It looks normal but if I told you what he made us do, you’d just cry.

2016-04-06 16.31.40

complete torture. EVIL. Going back next week. If you want to suffer, show up next week or get the DVD. I DARE YOU.

anyway, I almost forgot to wrap up the race…

Stats Time:

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

Previous PR: 28:00 From: April, 2013 (UGH!!!!)

Age Grading: 70.27% 

Overall Place: 535 of 6922

Gender Place: 39 of 3426

Age Place: 4 of 433

oh well, we can’t win them all. Still a race that gets me over 70% AG works ok…

 

 

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

United NYC Half Marathon – Custom Pace Bracelet

I adjusted this based on my Race Strategy here. I know, you love me. I love you too.

you can download the excel sheet here: NYC Half Splits

all you have to do is enter the desired finish time on the yellow cell on top and watch the magic happen. And you can adjust the splits if you feel like it. I won’t be offended!

for more info on how to tackle the race, check the New York City Half Marathon Tips, Course Strategy and Logistics post. Comments? Questions? there’s a box below!!

 

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!

nyrr al gordon brooklyn pictures results (1)

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:

nyrr al gordon brooklyn pictures results (6)

nyrr al gordon brooklyn pictures results (4)

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.

nyrr al gordon brooklyn pictures results (5) nyrr al gordon brooklyn pictures results (7)

And… guess what

Yeah, NO PR! DAMN

nyrr al gordon brooklyn pictures results (1) laps

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

nyrr al gordon brooklyn pictures results (1)

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

nyrr al gordon brooklyn pictures results (1) course


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!

2016-02-21 07.37.48 2016-02-21 07.46.43

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

New York City Half Marathon Tips, Course Strategy and Logistics

2020 update, this course is now also updated… so… let me put together a newer race course strategy… go to http://www.runningandthecity.com for newer stuff.
2017 Update: even though this post is awesome and contains a lot of information you can still use, it talks about the OLD course that was discontinued after the 2018 race. Read the tips below, and then head over here for the new course info. I am going to mark green the text below that doesn’t apply anymore.

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 traveling 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.

new york city marathon 2014 pictures start (2)

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).

This is what the weather looked like the last few years:

  • 2018: 28 DEGREES, 31% HUMIDITY, WIND 9 MPH NW
  • 2017: 34 DEGREES, 70% HUMIDITY, WIND 18 MPH
  • 2016: 34 DEGREES, 35% HUMIDITY, WIND 14 MPH
  • 2015: 42 DEGREES, 60% HUMIDITY, WIND 10-18 MPH
  • 2014: 31 DEGREES, 40% HUMIDITY, WIND 18 MPH
  • 2013: 30 DEGREES, 64% HUMIDITY, WIND W 7 MPH
  • 2012: 47 DEGREES, 90% HUMIDITY, WIND 3 MPH.
  • 2011: 37 DEGREES, 41% HUMIDITY, SUNNY
  • 2010: 53 DEGREES, 55% HUMIDITY, SUNNY

Temperature has been pretty consistent… but, you should assume it’ll feel 10 degrees under that temperature (hey wind!). 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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The day I won a race – Alive and Running Contact We Care 5k

This post is hard to do because I think I am still exhausted -mentally exhausted- from the race. I’ll back up a bit and hope I make it there! If you find this long, I promise you it’s worth the read (I hope!!!).

Every year, on this weekend, I go to see my family in New Jersey, it’s my second-cousin’s birthday and I never miss it. He’s now 15. Check these pictures out, times flies, YOLO! I used to have him up all day long, now HE PICKS ME  UP. Shameful.

2015-06-15 10.41.39The last EIGHT years, I did the Mini 10K and then rushed over to New Jersey to make it to the celebrations. This year I decided to skip the Mini (WTF right?!?!?!) and just have cake. But then… you know… what’s a weekend without a race?? Really, what is it? I need to know!! So I found ourselves (because you know I’d bring force the husband to race too!) a race close enough to my family’s home (is 10 miles close?! who knows! the Upper West Side is far to me!) to not disrupt the weekend celebrations, and have ourselves a little speed-fest! The weather was supposed to be AWFUL (HOT and HUMID!) so I wanted to wait until race day and decide. I didn’t. I jumped the shark and was all signed up by Friday. I am weak, can’t help myself.

The race was a 5K in Nomahegan Park, Cranford, NJ to benefit a Suicide Hotline called Contact We Care, called Alive and Running 5K. It seemed like a fun small local race, so I emailed the contact listed to check if there was a place to leave our bags (aka, a shirt to wear on the train ride back and forth) and Lucinda replied that she’ll take care of it all. Great!

Race Morning… I hadn’t sleep well. Again. I have trouble sleeping on not-my-bed (and sometimes in my own bed for no reason too). My stomach was fuzzy so I skipped the coffee, and just had some water and a few spoons of honey. The weather was… unbreathable. That’s probably the best description. It was in the 90s with high humidity, but unbreathable sounds more like it. I really really regretted signing up, but still decided to go, I was up at 6 anyway. We were at the race start by 7:30 and the race would start at 9:30, so it was just Lucinda, Juan and I. We offered to help so we put the tents up and tried to help without getting in her hair until a massive amount of volunteers arrived and all was taken care of super quickly. Juan and I kept drinking water, taking pictures, and running around for a bit.

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but first, let me take a selfie

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But first, let me jump in this lake to cool off

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the Ironman himself!

Everything had gotten set up really fast and lots of people starting showing up (closer to 9:30 am than we did: SMART).

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So, the fun part: exactly at 9:20 am the sun decides to start blasting. I freaked out. REALLY??? NOW???? What about those thunderstorms you had promised? It was unbreathable before, now it was UNTHINKABLE. The weather channel should stop using numbers when the temps feel like that and just put my picture grunting and cursing.

We line up. The amazing race organizers describe the course: “there are 23920329 loops, 293029 small loops, 20932 big loops, then the other types of loops and a few loops in the middle of the loops“. Seriously that’s what I heard. Maybe I was already overheating, or it was just really confusing. I thought, I should have emailed Lucinda to send me a map of all these loops, but soon enough I realized there’d always be someone ahead of me I could chase, so let’s hope they don’t get lost or confused!

He tells us 30 seconds to go, my heart gets up to 200 bits, CRAP. It is too damn hot, why am I even attempting this? I was quite upset with myself. Juan and I kiss, we hear the gun, everybody runs. I saw five women ahead of me and tried to remember the color of their shirt, but 1 second later I wasn’t even sure it it was five or fifty or what numbers or life on earth meant. We all had gone out too fast, which is something that usually happens in every single one of these small races and I am always careful to avoid, but the heat had just burned my brain and I reacted without thinking. I was so upset with myself. 1 minute in and I was already panting, with a 180 heart race and fearing for my life. Stooopid stoooopid little silly girl.

To add to the loopy course, and ugh the heat, was the worst part of this: strategy. I am used to racing in the big NYRR races with 5,000 other people where there’s no need to position or strategize (at least at my level!). I just find my pace, ride that, then hit the gas. I know the course… there’s no stress. I can do that with my eyes closed, figuratively. In these smaller races, it’s ALL about strategy, unless you’re just going for a PR. This was definitely NO day to PR, so I was focusing on picking up these 5 women ahead and that would take a lot more than just running fast. How far back to stay? For how long? When do I surge? Do I pick it up now? Or should I hold it? How long should I hold it for? If I pass someone now, will she pass me back because I went too early? Are they all suffering so badly? Why do I feel like dying? Am I going too fast? Are we all going to burn out? Should I surge now? Can I please pick it up now? Could she please slow down a bit? Should I even bother at all? Should I keep waiting? Do I go now?? Does she know I am here? What am I doing here? I don’t even belong on the podium. I am good closer though. If play it right, I can get closer to the top 3, Can I go now? Wait a bit. Pace it out. Just don’t give up in your head because then your body gives up. Can I go now? It was 3.1 miles of THAT. I am not even joking for one second. Relentless crazy chatter. Well, for a few seconds I would stop those questions and would think something along the lines of I am going to die here today. One or the other. It was pure hell of mental anguish and torture.

Why. Do. We. Do. This. ?

I knew I had gone out too fast. By the half mile, I had passed 2 of the 5 women. Mile 1, I knew would be the fastest and the rest would be hell. I just hoped everyone else had been stooopider than me. I picked two more up. There’s all 4 behind me right by Mile 1, which clocked at 6:52. Oh oh, when I saw that I knew I was in trouble. I just had black tights girl ahead of me (the only woman left ahead) and hoped no other woman would surge. PLEASE. Ahead of her was TNT redhead guy. I kept tabs on them to make sure I didn’t get lost and could just follow one of them. Black tights girl had about 30 seconds on me. Another loop, one more loop, a loopy loop, and Mile 2: 7:21. Shit.

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this is no random lipcolor. There is no blood in my head and that’s why I look like that. I remember seeing the guy and deciding to smile and assuming I’d still look awful. I was probably a ghost then. Photo Credit: Bill Burrows

I knew I was falling apart and seriously considered dropping out. Only I had no clue where I was… Don’t give up in your head because then your body gives up. I kept trucking in steady mode. But obviously still freaking out in my head. It was too early to make any moves or decisions. Plus, I had nothing left to surge with. But… black tights was coming back to me. She was about 10 seconds close. Then five… I just have to wait here patiently until it’s time to make the move. But when? I had no idea when this would end… My GPS was all messed up so I had no idea if I had a half mile to go, or 400m or what. Soon enough, we get to the parking lot where registration was, the finish line arch was RIGHT THERE. Black tights is about 3 seconds ahead of me, 5 meters ahead there is a bifurcation with two marshals: 20 meters to the left was the finish, to the right there was another loop of some distance to the finish. I had no idea which way we’d go. But the finish arch was right there and I knew that if I waited I wouldn’t have space to pass her… so I decided to GO. I passed her, got the the bifurcation and they pointed to the right… FCK! I have to keep going!!! This was NOT the finish. I was done. I was toast. All I had left, I had spent it sprinting to pass her. For no reason. Of course 5 seconds later, she passed me again. Good for you, black tights! Oh well, I took my chance and it didn’t work. We kept going. She had now 3 seconds, AGAIN, on me. We get to a turn an the marshalls tell me to take her, that I had her, she was close enough. I shake my head no. I was done. Don’t give up in your head because then your body gives up. I tried… but I was dying. Another bifurcation, a right and a left. To the left, we had about 150 meters to the finish, to the right, about 400 more to go, at least. Black tights went left, and hit the gas. The marshals started shouting THAT’S THE WRONG WAY, COME BACK, WRONG WAY. So I assumed I had to go right but they were not even looking at me and I couldn’t see TNT redhead guy anywhere. UGH. Am I going in the right direction? Did she heard that and is coming behind me?  I didn’t have enough energy to turn around or look at my watch, so I had no clue wtf was happening but decided to turn off my brain and just push. Just push. Just push. Assume black tights is coming for you and push. I am gonna die. There’s the finish. Just push. Get through it. 

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I was done. I wasn’t even sure I had won when I crossed or if I could stay up. Juan was already there so I hung to him because I couldn’t breathe. My watch said 21:36 but the official time was 21:50. Denise, aka black tights, was there. She assumed I was the one that went the wrong way so she didn’t turn back and hadn’t even noticed she was DNF. UGH. Race Timing people knew but I hated to be the one she had to hear it from. She had fought a great great race too. Damn loops.

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SO happy we’re DONE

Juan ended up 4th overall, FIRST in his Age Group and OMG, he PRed!!! HOW?!?!? what a beast. I checked with the timing people and yes, I had won. So weird. So SO SO weird. Really? I guess it takes being sick for a week, losing about 5 pounds, and then not dying in the hottest day: there’s the reward!

Check out the loops in the course:

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Okay, you can’t really see it, but it was messy. Well, only messy if you didn’t know what you were doing or where you were like me! Or if the heat just gets your brain.

In the next graph you can see EXACTLY when I sprinted to pass Denise, when I thought the finish was 30 meters ahead. Pace went up, heart rate spiked, cadence blew up to 200 from an avg of 180, and my vertical oscillation jumped (I went from running to sprinting position), and ground contact dropped. Then it all went back to “normal”. I really like that the red heart rate line is so steady going up…

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A bit more data in case you’re interested.

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And this is from the race results website:

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I’ll take it. It wasn’t easy. I had no idea what would have happened if Denise didn’t take that left and DNF, or if she turned around and chased me. I want to think I would have had enough to take her again, but who knows.

Awards Ceremony!!!

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Juan and his First in AG! Photo Credit: Bill Burrows

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Somebody please ask him how he PRs in that weather!! Oh wait, that’s my job!

Lance, the guy in green, was so super nice, and super involved in the race, he’s with a team called Run Anyway, check them out if you’re in the area!!! Thanks Lance for all you do!!!!

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Color is coming back to my face. Or maybe its because I was called the First Woman WHICH IS CRAZY. Photo Credit: Bill Burrows

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Everybody there was SO NICE!!!!! Photo Credit: Bill Burrows

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something…??

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And we were done. And I mean: literally. All I remember doing all day was searching for words, I was SO MENTALLY DRAINED… I just figured if I kept saying Happy Birthday Alex I would be okay but I kept falling asleep everywhere. Wow: my brain is not used to all that much activity apparently. So happy this happened. I’d love to go back next year and race this again. What are the odds the weather will be AS BAD? At least I’ll know the course!!!!! 😉 Thanks Lucinda and Lance and Run Anyway and Denise and everyone involved in this event!!!!

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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!)

2015 NYC Half Marathon: ALL the pictures

Just because, sometimes, when you’re having CRAZY FUN, it shows. And, instantly, I see myself shell $70 to pay for all the pics. I didn’t buy anything at the expo (cause I need nothing, maybe an extra room to store running stuff!!!) so let’s say I am even.

Also, who would have thought that running faster makes you look better?!??!?! Anyway, I have no idea what I am doing in some of these, like pointing…? who knows. I have to say, I had more than 70 photos from this event and it was hard to shrink the selection down to 25. Here’s my faves!

(the whole race report, for once really worth reading, is here)

Race Report: NYC Half 2015 – running naked

Well, the NYC Half happened. Again. For the 7th time for me. And I am VERY happy about it. Such a huge learning opportunity!!!I love that every race is something completely different from what I expect… (sometimes!)

Where I Was: I wasn’t sure it was great, but I did a 5K two weeks before in 7:18 pace, and a 4 Miler in early February in 7:35 pace. My last halves were in October, there were 2 (1:43 and 1:44), plus add the winter training, I figured I’d be around 1:45 or 1:43 if ALL went well. 1:45 is 8 pace, and given I had done 7:35 in the 4 miler, that seemed like a stretch…

my  #unitednychalf nails. crazy ready.

nyc half nails. logo and all, crazy ready

The Expo: I almost forgot to tell you all about the expo and skipped all over this: it was in a new location (in a part a of town I usually ignore, yuk) and it was big! I am so so sick of the tight tiny expos, I loved that there was space to walk and breathe, and many exhibitors and activities. The only complain I have is that the lighting was so bad it gave me a headache. So weird.

Juan, me and Flor getting our bibs with a giant medal

Juan, me and Flor getting our bibs with a giant medal. Click if you want to make any of this a LOT bigger

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35 degres is bikini weather after the winter we had here, puh-lease!

Race Morning: Juan and I were in wave one (7:30 am start) so we got there around 6:30 to get to baggage, last minute potty trip, and get to the corral before the 7:10 close time.I was the first person in corral 3. Seriously, so early, but I rather sit there, knowing all is done than stress myself stooopid. I can’t handle rushing right before a race anymore. At my age, I can’t be bothered with rushing or stressing so I woke up EXTRA early.

murtaugh too old for that shit

we actually run into him a couple of weeks ago so he must live in the UES, York Ave. I guess, I have no idea.  Juan almost had a heart attack.

In the Corral: That’s when I decided to turn on the watch, get gps signal and some music. Ummm [email protected]@#@#[email protected]%_)[email protected]_#)@_)[email protected])!_! to say the least. My watch (and also mp3 player, I use the same device for both) was NOT CHARGED. I freaked out a bit like a maniac. How on earth am I going to know if I am going too fast??? I don’t think I’ve ever run a race naked (no watch!!!) or since… EVER!!! Ugh. Crap. Kept freaking out.  First, I won’t have any pace information, second, I’d have to race with no music?!?!?! Third, I don’t want to be carrying this watch around 13.1 miles for no reason. I am not gonna lie, I threw a little fit.

My problem is, unlike everyone else, I tend to start super slow and go crazy later. I need to know if I am going too fast (to slow myself down!) in the first miles!!!! I know, I am not normal.

I put the headphones in my back pocket, decided not to go back to baggage to leave it, and, for some very strange reason, I knew this would be a good thing. I would miss the music, but I knew it’d be a great challenge for me. I know how to pace, now just do it.

A few minutes before the gun, my friend Patricia shows up and Juan goes up to his first corral. I wasn’t running with Patricia, as she’s way faster than me (she’d end up doing 1:35). Bye hon, I’ll be back here by myself, with no pace info or music. Pffff. Great.

Race ON: This post, for the first time ever, will not have any mile splits (can we even handle this??), or any of that. I made sure I looked at the clock when I started and it read 1:40 (I think), so I thought I could subtract from the next mile markers. That did NOT work out. When I got to mile 1 the clock said 19:20 and I had NO IDEA what that mean. I gave up instantly forever and just kept running.

Mile 1, past Cathill, I know was fast. I could tell I was going fast, but hey, who knows??? Sometimes a 10 minute mile seems fast!!!! Mile 2 was uneventful, and on mile 3, one of my favorite things: an out and back!!! Is there anything more fun in a race than seeing the people who are running ahead and behind you??>? The only right answer is NO, people! SO much fun. I saw my husband and yelled at SO many people, I am sure I was ruining a lot of people’s jams around me with my constant yelling! Mile 3 back into the park to the lovely hellish Harlem Hill. That’s when something hit me. Right ahead of me was the 1:40 pace group. I knew the pacer for that group, Anthony, and he had told me he was in wave 1 corral 5, so he had started after me and had already passed me, so I guessed I was about 1:43 or 1:42 here, just a dumb guess. I was SO tempted to sneak behind him and chase him, the pace didn’t seem so scary, but I mentally screamed at myself and virtually slapped myself. NO. LET HIM GO. I made sure I stayed back, bye Anthony, byyyyyyye!

On Mile 4 I looked for a few friends who I figured would be watching here (so I could toss my watch!!!!) but I didn’t see anyone. I was running mostly by myself and without the music so it was hard to settle on a rhythm and relax. I haven’t learned how to do that. I was breathing hard and it’s quite loud and annoying, even to me (sorry everyone!). I really wanted to relax, but I just couldn’t.

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Soon I am leaving the park and I have no idea HOW IT ALL WENT SO FAST! Not pace wise, because I had no idea how fast or slow I was running, but the first 5 miles are usually super hard controlling my speed and my willingness to start going a bit faster. I was out of the park in a jiffy and I couldn’t believe it. This is probably the fastest race I ever had (nooo, it would not be a PR!).

Times Square was amazing. Seriously. I was having way too much fun!!! I saw everyone there. Oh how much I enjoyed it… DON’T BELIEVE ME, JUST WATCH!!!

Marathonfoto: just take all my money and shut up!

Anyway, this is when I would start pushing the pace. Thing is, I felt like I had been pushing the pace all along. Had I started too fast and would soon die off, or did I go the tiny bit harder that I could handle if I didn’t know how fast I was going??? So complicated. And who knew, really? A few times I felt like asking people around how fast we were going, but, you know, whatever!

42nd street is always SO MUCH FUN. I saw Ben taking pictures, Annette cheering, people who I didn’t know yelling my name. The whole race was like that.  I know this is isn’t true (maybe, not really) but I felt like all NYC was out there to cheer on me. I did. I took that to heart too. And I pushed the pace.

Soon is the turnaround to hell. That’s what I call it when you have to hit the gas and not look back.  We’re getting close to the West Side Highway and I see Anthony again with the 1:40 stick. Ummmm. How did this happen??? They can’t be falling back? I must be pushing too hard. Maybe? I decided to stay behind them. Then, soon, when I was right on their heels, I decided I’d just sit behind them, and let them figure out the pacing. I was sure now I was ready to hold whatever 1:40 pace was. Theeeeeeeen, I said hello to Anthony, and I just FREAKING KEPT GOING…

what?

I even thought of asking him what pace was 1:40. I didn’t. I went too fast to talk much to him. I just kept going.

WHAT??!?!?!

So that, I kept going. I told him I’d blow up soon and he’d pass me in a mile or two. I hit the gas.

I just focused on getting to Mile 11 where the next Whippets cheering section was (I had already seen Scott and some Whippets on Times Square and more Whippets at the gel station). I knew Michelle, Tessa, Atsede would be there. I just had to get there. Soon enough, there they were, all yelling and cheering!!!!

Mile 11, Mile 12, I felt like I was flying. At least my hair was!

The Finish: then the tunnel. AY: I was done. I had a side stitch, I was dry-heaving and I felt like I was going to either throw up or pass out. I felt nauseous. WHAT?!??! Just relax and keep going. I started telling myself to just hang on. Hang on. Hang on.

I remembered from last year, after the tunnel we had just 3-4 blocks. This year I knew, after the tunnel, we had two blocks left, and two blocks left again. BUT OMG I had no idea there was still half mile to go after we exited the tunnel before we turned. I remember there was a hard  left off the tunnel last year. Not this year. I kept looking forward and I couldn’t see where on earth we were turning left…!!! That was the LONGEST part of the race. That half a mile, to me, was longer than the other 12.6 (or whatever the math is!). I didn’t have much to sprint with but I tried. Someone yelled my name. I smiled. I looked up. I crossed the finish line. I didn’t have a watch to stop but I had a nose to wipe, that thing was a fossett during the whole race!!!! YUCK. And there was Mary Wittenberg and I have to say hello with this sweaty-nose stuff? Ay dios!

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Well, the clock said 1:41 something, but who knows what my time is. I saw Juan right away, then Richie, then Daphne, then Caitlin, then Cara… like 3000 of my friends and team mates!!!!!!

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Richie is so special to me!!!! Not only is he an overall amazing and cool guy, he photographed our proposal and wedding!! Like how cool is to have a team mate like that?!?!?!?!??! HUH??????

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there’s Anthony, the 1:40 pacer and major Ironman superstar.

Juan and I grabbed our bags, went to the side to fully change (yes, I took off my sweaty bra and all) into clean/dry clothes and all of a sudden I realized I had no idea what my time was. I had a twinge of an idea I had been around 1:40 or 1:42 or 1:44 but really, I had no idea. Juan got to it first and told me: 1:39:26.

WOW.

That’s quite different from 1:45. Or from the 1:50 I got last year… Or the 1:43 and 1:44 I did in October.

It is still not a PR, which is 1:37 from this same race in 2013, but I was soooooooooooooo happy, I think I cried a little. Quite in disbelief, I got a little teary. We’re coming back. Slowly. It’s happening. Finally!

Stats Time:

Finish time: 1:39:26 Average Pace: 7:36

Previous PR: 1:37:35 From: March, 2013

Age Grading: 68.03% 

Overall Place: 2063 of 19,455

Gender Place: 447 of 10,150

Age Place: 60 of 1639

This is very good-looking. I like the 68% percent there, given I am changing age groups in ONE week. I’ll be 40 next week, so, being 60th out of 1639, when I am at the bottom of my AG is not so shabby!

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We then went to the Whippets Party, stayed there until around 11 am then headed uptown to Bareburger, Juan’s favorite place that we never go to, home, shower, and OMG I was so tired the rest of the day, Juan had to carry me from the couch to the bed and all that. I was destroyed. But happy.

Then I saw that the results had 5K splits!!! Wohooooooooooooooo!! some data!

My first 5K was an average 7:44 pace. Remember, overall pace was 7:36, so seems like I started a bit slower, so, GREAT. the second 5K, where most of the hills are, was slower: average pace of 7:52. So far, so good. The third 5K was 7:21 and the 4th 5K was 7:20. So, seems like a negative split and run well without a friiiiging clue. Pinch me.

More and more pictures of the race, here

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 – Looking back and forward

And there goes another year. It was quite full of experiences. There were a lot of great things, lots of love, friends, big family visits, all exciting, but not all sunny and happy, of course. I think it was one of those years when you’re supposed to grow a lot. Running-wise, it was probably my worst year; I lost motivation and failed miserably (but with dignity!) in most races. I don’t see that as a particularly bad thing, it’s a learning process and we can’t always win them all. And off-the-track, it was amazing. We just can’t have it all, can we? 2013 had been a big year. BIG BIG and busy. I met Juan in January, he moved and we got married by September, I changed jobs, PRed at the Half and got a few AG Wins. Then I got an ulcer and it all went downhill, including my 5th NYCM in a row (a blah 3:49). 2014 started weak…

January

You can imagine how weak it started that I didn’t even had resolutions or goals. I wrote tips to run in the winter because I was having issues with it myself! I was signed up for the NYC Half and the Boston Marathon and barely run. The cold just got to me and I lost a lot of will. Then, I fell again for the 3rd time in 5 weeks. A mess. I started to fear running. COLD and SCARY: little running. Total Miles: 77

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February

Juan and I showed up in the Runners World feature: Valentine’s Day “Romance Found on the Run“, and I was Women’s Running Blogger on the Run. But, we moved out of my studio into the penthouse.  I felt like I spent all winter hiding from the cold. I trained little. Very little. Total Miles: 87

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March

I had a slooow NYC Half but it was quite photogenic, fun, and really well run, progressive-splits run all the way! I was still struggling with motivation and goals. I also had a fun trip to SoulcycleTotal Miles: 105

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April

I had an ok Scotland 10K, though I had no interest in racing. Soon enough, we shipped to do the Boston Marathon, here are the Saturday pictures, which are awesome, and the Sunday pics, also awesome. And then there was the race (race report here), slow (3:48) and painful but oh so inspiring and uplifting. Glad I was there for the race (not for my legs or ego!). Total Miles: 80

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May

By now things were looking awful, I hadn’t PRed in a YEAR. A YEAR. So depressing. And I kept struggling with motivation. I decided to stop running completely. I still showed up to the Brooklyn Half Marathon, not knowing if I’ll even run it, and ended up having a great (and slow) time, seems like it’s all about the context for me! Total Miles: 41

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June

This month was also quite running-free and my parents came to visit so I was pretty entertained and didn’t even notice. Still, I did my 100th race, the Mini 10K, as they wanted to see me race in Central Park. This was literally painfully slow. I did run it with 2 friends but it was so slow, I didn’t even run that slow years ago when I started running! And, a fun picture. I took my parents to Bear Mountain and Connecticut and run a bit there, and a bit in the Fort Lauderdale heat, so cute. Stuff gets bad fast when you don’t run, how do non-runners live like that? Total Miles: 30

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July

In July, I saw Daphne, an old friend, running, and basically latched onto her. For Dear Life. I started training again. Good, because I was signed up for a few halfs and the NYC Marathon. Total Miles: 111

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August

Did some wonderful running in the always great Summer Streets, worked and cheered at the NYC Triathlon, then Juan had an awful bike crash in Central Park, which messed up our lives for a couple of months, poor thing. I barely left his side, only to train or work. The running was going fantastic though, fast long runs… who would have thought? Total Miles: 152

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September

I cheered at the 5th avenue mile and took lots of pictures, here and the pros here. The running was going great until we left for our delayed honeymoon in St Croix, there was no running there (but lots of snorkeling!) Total Miles: 116

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October

and we came back straight to racing! First, the, Grete’s Great Gallop, in 1:44. Still, slooow, but getting here. The week after, I did the Staten Island Half, in 1:43 (it’s a bit flatter). Consistency and good predictors for the marathon in 3 weeks. Then the week before the marathon, I did a 5 mile race in Central Park, the Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff, in 37:17, average pace of 7:28. Far from a PR. Still. By then it was a year and a half. But feeling GOOD. Total Miles: 132

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November

November was BUSY. I started it at the NYC Marathon Expo, which was all loads of crazy (even if smaller compared to previous years) and an Under Armour Party. Worked all week and then did the marathon, here is the race report of the #marathornado. I struggled to stay focused (in 3:49) so I just chilled, slowed down and tried to enjoy it. oh, whatever!!!! I ended up in the Asics  homepage, I tried one of those treadmill studios, I kept Juan company at the Rocky Balboa run and got many pictures, and I bought a million of really-cold weather running gear. And I raced some more!! I did the Race to Deliver 4 miler in Central Park, which I enjoyed, and then a 5K on Thanksgiving, where both Juan and I came first on our AG. Winning! November was rock solid! Total Miles: 88

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December

Seems like the year just picked up at the end! December was great too. I spent .0005 minutes detoxing from Thanksgiving and 2 weeks eating my way through Buenos Aires. Even though I was a bit overweight and slow, I did ok (21:04) in a hot 5K, where my 67 year old mom joined. What a thrill! As soon as I got back to NYC and got a reminder of what last year’s winter tasted like, I got a bit depressed. Somehow, I’ve been running quite a bit in December, even capping the year of with a holiday pictures themed run, and watching the year close with fireworks at the NYRR Midgnight RunTotal Miles: 87

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And there you have it. Though the running was QUITE blah, the rest was wonderful, so I’d say it’s a win! What awaits in 2015? I have no idea, not signed up for anything, thinking about not signing up for NYC Marathon this year, and maybe focusing on the half marathon. I am turning 40 in a few weeks and I am just trying not to push anything. Whatever will happen, WILL happen. Right?

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?

New York City Marathon Tips, Course Strategy and Info!

You know the “don’t wear anything new on race day” and all the basics… now, let’s do the New York City Marathon as right as we can. I’ve done this race every year since 2008 (minus 2012 of course…!!) and I can see how logistically heavy it is for someone from out of town or doing it as their first marathon. So, here we go! Let me know if you have any specific questions in the comments section below. I promise I will answer. Also, at the end, you’ll find a list of free race week events to attend (updated everyday)nyc marathon medal

PRE RACE LOGISTICS

Make a marathon packing list (even if you’re not traveling) and sort it all by stages, here is my Marathon Packing List to start with. Get everything in the list ready as soon as possible. I’d start one month out with this.

The expo is big (probably the biggest one in the US after Boston!), so please bring some patience, credit cards/cash (there WILL be a few things you’ll want), and comfortable shoes. Don’t forget to bring your confirmation form and photo identification. Don’t wear the marathon-shirt before the race (come on!!!). Note: running stores all over the city have amazing gear and discounts too (organized list HERE), and if you can wait, a lot of the official gear will be half off in the nyrr’s website by January! Also, if you have time for fun, here is a list of all the Free Events to do on race week (this will be updated on the minute for 2017, bookmark it).

Set your clock back on Saturday night, the night before the race. If you use a smart phone like 99% of the population, you’ll be fine. If you set your Garmin, it will update automatically too. Sleep! Also, no worries if you don’t sleep Saturday night (no one does) but make it a point to go to bed early all week, mostly Thursday and Friday.

As you know, in NYC races, in some parts of the city, the GPS can go haywire and then you’ll think you’re doing 4 minute miles, or 17mm!!! GPS can be sporadic in some spots (like in the Verrazano, if you’re in the green corral, or the Queensboro, or crowded areas like First/Fifth Ave, or Central Park). So I set my GPS to manual lapping. Basically, I lap a mile every time every time I see the Mile Marker, and I know exactly how long that last mile took. You don’t have to do this, but at least keep in mind that some miles might be “shorter/longer” than others (actually, if you set your Garmin to lap a mile at 1.01 that matches the mile markers quite well, when the GPS is accurate).

The night (or week) before, watch Run For Your Life, for inspiration. Best movie about the NYC marathon. I weep like a baby every time. Hail to the Fred!!!

Bring a lot of cheap or throwaway clothes to the start, you WILL need them. Find a mylar blanket from your last marathon (and don’t throw away the blanket or poncho you’ll get at the finish here!). You will cherish 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 while running, kept it in place with a safety pin!) during the first mile too! Go to the dollar store and get knee-high socks, cut the toes part and you’ll have throwaway arm warmers! I keep half of it on until Mile 3, it can be windy on the bridge, mostly if you are on top (blue or orange waves). Don’t worry about looking like a weirdo, everyone will look like that!!! Or they’ll wish they did. Really: pile it up!!!

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Gear/What to wearusually, the marathon is in the 40s or 50s (the average temp historically is 54). If you’re not checking a bag, layer with things you’ll be happy throwing away. My rule is if it’s over 40, I do short sleeve/singlet and shorts. But depending on the wind/humidity/lack of sleep/whatever you can add a hat, arm sleeves, etc. Always wear things you can get rid of easily and won’t miss. Be smart, and make sure you can peel off layers comfortably. Even in 2014, with the marathornado, I didn’t need extra. I had leg warmers and hated them, I was so hot. Make sure you can peel the layers easily and throw them out if you are not sure and bring too much, ok? If you don’t carry your phone, at least carry a $20 bill, a metrocard, a credit card, and an ID with you, just in case. Better ready than sorry.

Ferry/Bus Transportation, NYRR will assign you a specific transportation or you might have picked one when you claimed your spot. There is a reason why you have to get on your bus/ferry a bunch of hours early, I promise it makes sense.Your transportation would usually be 3 or 4 hours before your wave start. This leaves ample time to get everything done, even a long line at the portapotty. This is the breakdown of what would occasionally happen on race morning if you chose the ferry, for example:

7:00 am ferry, takes 25 minutes to get to Staten Island. Get some pictures of the Green Lady, you’ll love the ferry ride.

7:30 am. You are in Staten Island!! When I land on the Staten Island side, I usually like to go to the bathrooms IN the terminal, they’re WARM, then just follow the crowds out of the ferry, you’ll do a right and a left, walk outside, do a block or two, and board the buses to the Athlete’s village, it can be 10 or 20 minutes, let’s assume 30 for traffic so you don’t stress.

8:00 am. You get to the village. Go straight to the UPS truck to leave your bag if you have one, trucks “close” about an hour before your corral closes so get there first. This timing is different for all so check your timeline. Walk to your corral (green/blue/orange).

8:30 Find a portapottie line in your corral, you’ll need at least 30 mins to pee. Lines can be long. if you want to grab a banana, tea, coffee, etc., pick that up before the line and eat in line.

9:00 get to your corral, sometimes they are hard to find so don’t wait until the last minute. They close 40 minutes before your start. In there you can finish your nutrition, rearrange your gear, all that.

Athlete’s Village. It’s HUGE. If you’re planning to meet up with people there, you’ll need a plan. Tell them to wait right off the entrance or maybe at a particular UPS truck, or have a cell phone with you. Did I mention it’s huge? There’s not much cover from the elements but you’ll find food and drinks (bagels and coffee and Gatorade and bananas and tea and stuff!). Head up to your village and camp close to your corral, and pay attention to the instructions. You do not want to be looking for your corral or getting to it as the wave deadline is done. I’ve been locked out of my corral TWO times just because I was socializing and not paying attention, even though I got there early… If you checked the marathon packing list, you are dressed warmly, have food, water, toilet paper, etc, so set up next to your corral. If you are going with a friend, and you are in different starts (colors), you might have to separate here.; unless you decide to run together. If that is the case, you can both start in the corral of the highest bib number.

What the Athlete’s Village looks like: it’s big -and hard to meet up with someone. And we all look like weirdos!

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Write your name on your shirt. If you don’t want your name, write something funny you’ll want people to scream to you all over the course (Speedy? SuperMan?). It will make your race 100 times better. If you don’t want to ruin your gear, cut the letters out of duct tape (like I do!) and voila, they’ll peel right off before you wash your shirt.

Headphones? If you are used to racing with headphones, no need to stress about this. I like to keep them around, and turn them on only when necessary. Sometimes I need a distraction, and though the crowds will carry you through everything, you might need an extra oomph, like on the quiet Queensboro bridge, though I’ve learned to crave that moment alone in the bridge. If you’re in pain or need to recalibrate your pace and need quiet time, you can move to the middle of the street where you won’t be engaging with people. Big disclaimer: the spectators ARE the marathon, and if you use your music you will miss out on a lot. A lot, a lot. A LOT. They can push you so much more than your music could, so use that energy up. You’ll have tons more fun than you expected if you get lost in the crowds cheering. And no one will let you slow down or walk here! Disclaimer 2: if the music is on, make sure you can still hear what is happening around you, people might need to pass you or stuff like that. There are athletes with disabilities on the course, or any kind of stuff happening so you have to keep all your senses peeled. Be alert, cautious, and really really really careful!!!! Be in the moment, don’t miss out or space out.

Place your spectators in spots where you’ll need them. I usually set 4 spots. One in Brooklyn around mile 5 or 9, and then really high on First Avenue, past 118 where the crowds thin out, so then they can cross over to 5th avenue, the third spot, and see you again and then zip over to the finish line (4th spot!)! 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. Here is a great tool that estimates where/when they can see you and all the train stops close by! Tell them to get comfy shoes, really warm clothes and to bring food. It will be a long day for them too!

You will need/love the extra push, so ask for help!! FORCE all your friends to come watch you. Send an email a week before and ask them “where are you going to be?” or/and use the tool above to see where is easier for them to get to. 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: 74th st, John, left / 32nd st, Mike, right, etc.) in order of 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 26.2, ugh” you’ll think: “I am just going to 74th, to see John!Use the sheet, so your fans can find you easily.

Get yourself a course specific pace bracelet, this one is the BEST! It’ll adjust your pace per mile, given the uphills and downhills. And it has way more information than you could ever need. Hill info, spectator info, Plus, you can set it for your particular racing style: negative vs positive splits, big or small fade, etc.

Plan your nutrition way ahead. For the race: try to practice in training with what they’ll have at the race: water, yellow Gatorade and Powerbar Gels (water and G at every Mile and Gels at Mile 18). You can buy gels at the expo if necessary. But for race morning, get bagels/oatmeal and whatever you need the day before as there will not be a lot of delis open at 4/6 am.

If you need to move around the days 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. There’s a 5K early on Saturday, go watch/cheer if you can. The parade of Nations and fireworks Friday night are fun too to get in the marathon weekend spirit.

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

The race course WILL be crowded, so PLEASE, if you need to stop for a walk or move over to another lane for water, please please please signal with your arms, and look around behind you before you make any moves. Also put your hand up when you are slowing down if you have someone slowing down ahead of you. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, DO NOT just stop or go sideways. Be considerate of your fellow runners who trained hard and could trip and lose their dream race! On the other hand, 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!!!!

If you are in the GREEN corral and you’re scared you’ll be peed on…  don’t! That is just a myth. IF (BIG IF) there is someone peeing on top of the bridge, you’d only feel it if you’re in the outside of the crowd, and if the wind is going in your direction. I’ve been green twice before and saw/felt nothing. I’ve also been on top a few times and didn’t see people peeing. The odds that you get peed on are about 0.0003. Okay? If you’re scared, just stay in the middle, with the bridge right over you. Ok?

RACE STRATEGY

I am gonna break the race in parts, so you will know how to tackle each segment. Device a plan and stick to it no matter what. A smart plan is to aim for even effort. Still, I always go for negative splits, as hard as that seems in this course that has many uphills/bridges in the second half. If you keep it strong and conservative throughout the race, it is possible. I am an average runner and have negative split in all my NYCMs but my first. Ask Bart Yasso and he’ll tell you: “NYC for sure is a 100 % negative split course. Hold back in those early miles and it will pay off later in the race.”

If you are still not sure, check a few of my NYCMs. Again, I am just an average runner! Check how the faster I went through the 13.1 mark, the slower my marathon was! This is quite telling… Check 2009 and 2010 where I only PRed by 3 minutes. Check how in 2010, I started a LOT slower… my first 5K was 1:30 slower! By 13.1 I was FOUR minutes behind… and I still ended up PRing by 3 minutes… Unbelievable, right? It happens! (you can also see how this starting-slow works at the end of this post)

2013 New York City Marathon Negative Splits

Basically: You have to believe in yourself.

Onto the race parts then!

2013 New York City Marathon Elevation Profile

Mile 1-2. The Verrazano: what goes up, must come down

Tricky tricky part if we have to pick just one… the anxiety, fun ahead, the cold, the thousands of runners around you, it’s almost impossible to not let yourself get swept away in this wave of excitement and start too fast!! Well: STOP IT! Force yourself to go slow with everything you have. You will be tempted to match everyone around you, resist with all you can. Let people GO. I promise you: sooner or later, they will come back to you. They will. LET. THEM. GO. Enjoy the excitement of the first 2 miles, and relax. If it feels annoyingly slow, you are doing it right. If it’s crowded, DO NOT WEAVE. They’re doing you a favor by keeping you tied up, relax. The biggest mistake most people make is going too fast on mile one and as soon as they get off the Verrazano, they’re done. Toast. Don’t be one of them! Mile 2, you will be forced to speed down the bridge, you will feel tempted to roll with it (and everyone around you), and pass people. Remember: hold your horses a bit. If you start too fast, your race is ruined. The first two miles should feel easy, on the hard uphill (3% grade for 8/10 of a mile) and easy on the downhill (3.4% grade for a whole mile).

Mile 1 should be about 1:30 over your avg pace, and Mile 2 will be your fastest, 20 seconds under pace.

Just remember this: Bank = Bonk! Mile 3 is when the race starts. The main goal is to get to Mile 17 feeling as if you hadn’t started the race yet.

And one more thing that applies to the whole course. It will be crowded and you’ll notice the stream of runners going around obstacles (curbs, signs, markers) in the middle of the road. You’ll really have to pay attention, look ahead, at least for the whole Brooklyn section (with the curb in the middle of 4th avenue) and First Avenue, or you can easily hit something and go down. When you run on the sides to be close to the crowds, you are more likely to have gutter/drain cover/footing issues. It’s not lethal but be aware that there’s a trade-off if you want to see the crowds.

Miles 3-15. Brooklyn: the 4th Avenue Party

Your goal for the first half of the race is to get to the Queensboro in one piece, feeling strong to climb over the bridge and to get yourself in the city in fighting shape. Exercise all your patience here and keep yourself in good check to not let yourself go. If you are running comfortable, you are doing it right.

Miles 3 to 8 will be easy and flat, this is when you save your energy, you are definitely going to need it later. There is a little hill at 8.5 and the Pulaski Bridge right at the halfway mark which might seem like a mountain if this is your first time. The climb is a 4.3% grade for about a quarter mile. Slow down and go for even effort and not even pace on the bridges for now. It’s not the time to break out your sword.

There will be water/Gatorade in every single mile, so if you miss one, don’t stress. Don’t go for the first table as everyone will do that. There are many tables, go to the last one. Portapotties are also at every mile so keep an eye out and don’t dart sideways!

Mile 3 to 15, should be at your avg goal pace or maybe 5 to 10 seconds faster than avg goal pace. Remember bank =  bonk

Mile 16. THE Almighty Queensboro/Ed Koch Bridge: this part is for YOU

The Queensboro is quiet. Savor this you-time while doing a whole body systems check. Focus on the sound of the footsteps or take out the music if you prefer. This will be the quietest time of the whole race and it’s a long bridge… I like to embrace the solitude of this mile, savor it and prepare for what’s ahead. Back down on the pace a bit so you can get to the top of the bridge with enough strength to take on the downhill! The climb (3.4% grade for a mile) is way longer than the downhill, which is steeper (half a mile at 4.3% grade). Rolling down the 59th st bridge onto First Avenue is surely the most exciting moment in the whole race (well, at least to a lot of us), and maybe, in all marathoning. Get ready.

Mile 16: around 20 seconds over avg goal pace

Mile 17 to 19. First Avenue: Hello New York City

First Avenue is where a win is made or lost. Many elite runners broke their strategy here and paid hard for it. Don’t get taken by the really loud crowds. Keep in mind there are still a few bridges and long uphills ahead of you. The marathon will start taking its toll on you at mile 20 and we are not there yet. AT ALL!!

Plan to set on a steady pace here so you can start making up some time. Do not force a lot of speed, and if the crowds are getting you too excited, make sure you hold back. Move to the sides if you need cheering or to the middle of the road if you have to focus. Cautiously break out your fourth gear and start focusing on the goal. If you have followed a smart strategy up to here, you should be right on goal pace by Mile 20, or maybe 30 seconds behind (which is always a LOT better than 2 minutes fast!). Gels will be around Mile 18, so start checking if you need one for the last miles, and think what color/flavor you like so you’ll be ready to grab it!

Mile 17 will be about 30 seconds under avg goal pace, M18 will be a bit slower, about 10 seconds over avg goal pace and by M19 you should be back on avg goal pace

Mile 20 to 23. The Bronx/Harlem Experience: there is NO Wall (without graffiti!)

This is when you will use up your training and start working hard… and it will get REAL HARD fast. Not only you’re hitting twenty, but there will be a few bridges and in some areas, the crowds will be thin. Dig deep and stay focused on your pace, ease up on the uphills and bridges but make sure you don’t get too distracted or discouraged. This is a really nice stretch to start pushing the pace when you can. Just focus on getting back into the city in one piece to face mile 24. Once on Fifth Avenue, focus on getting to 110th st, where Central Park starts! If you see trees ahead, keep in mind the Marcus Garvey Memorial Park will intersect the course on 125th, and then you’ll be back on 5th ave.

Mile 20 to 23 should be right on avg goal pace or maybe about 5 seconds under

Mile 24. Fifth Avenue, the ninja hill.

Fifth Avenue will provide you a long straight stretch, so rare in this race… It is going to hurt, there’s a long uphill of 0.90 of a mile at about 2.5% grade (you won’t even see it coming!), and you’ll be tired. Use your mantra here. There will be enough spectators to help but this is when you have to start digging deep and see how many gears you have left. Keep in mind you might not notice the uphill at first so don’t go all out crazy just yet but keep focusing on the finish line pulling you. Don’t let it win!

Once you have the park on your right, at 110th st, focus on getting to the entrance to the park, just one mile away at 90th st. Fred Lebow won’t be there to salute you as always, so all you can do is catch up to ALL those people who went out too fast at mile one and two, you’ll spot them easily. Sad but sure. Pick a bright target 20 feet ahead and don’t let them go. One at a time!

Mile 24 will be slow: about 20/30 seconds slower than average goal pace

Mile 25 to 26.2 Central Park

Once you make that right into the park, you just have just about 2.3 miles to go, all undulating with steep/short ups and downs.

If you did things right, you will pick up a LOT of people in this stretch. A LOT. A LOT LOT. Undulating hills all the way to the uphill finish, you’ll be able to change biomechanics so often that you won’t be too set on one form, which is great. Find your fifth gear and ram it home. Enjoy those last two miles, they go by fast and you’ll be stopping soon so USE ALL YOU HAVE LEFT!

There is a looong 3-avenue stretch up Central Park South (5th ave to 8th ave with 3.3% uphill grade) that seems to last forever though it’s  just a half mile…. focus on the Columbus Circle towers at the far end. Make sure your bib is visible, very important here. The hill at the finish is the steepest of the whole race (very short, but almost 5.5% grade!) so just ride it as hard you can, as long as you can still finish with a smile!

Mile 25 should be a few seconds under average goal pace and M26 maybe 5 seconds over average goal pace. The last point2 will be slower, about 20/30 seconds slower than average goal pace.

Pose for the finish picture!!! Smile, arms up, you got this. DO NOT HAVE A FINISH LINE PICTURE OF YOU PAUSING A WATCH, I warn you!!!!! We have official results, ok? Stop your watch a few seconds befor or after the finish, just not there.

That’s it, you’re home. The most famous finish line in the world. Cry if you want (I always do!). You can stop now. Just make sure you don’t stop right at the clock, or there’ll be a human pile on top of you 😉

Plan on it taking a LONG time between finishing and exiting to find your friends/family – 30-60 minutes. It’s crowded, there might a line at your truck, and you will be moving slowly even if your body is capable of moving more quickly.

then…

Walk, get your medal, take pictures, get your stuff or your poncho, meet your friends, get drinks and clothes on, eat, enjoy, celebrate, stretch, ice bath, rest, eat more, sleeeeeep! Go to the finish line store early Monday morning at the Pavillion, tell everyone about your race, eat some more, walk around, get your medal engraved, buy get some finisher’s gear,  wear the medal on Monday if you are a tourist or if this is your first mary, go downstairs backwards, have a congratulatory donut, look for your name in the NY Times on Monday, tell people you won’t act crazy anymore and won’t be doing another one of these ever. Sign up for another marathon right away and celebrate some more. Celebrate the whole week if you want. You earned it. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done this race, or any, finishing NYCM is always amazing. I dare you to not cry once. This marathon is our victory lap through the city, after all our training. ENJOY YOURSELF.

tcs new york city marathon expo medal pictures course mutai under armour arciniaga macca switzer (31)

Questions?? Anything to add? Anything you want to go over? Comment below (it’s a lot faster than me replying to an email, trust me!)

2017 TCS New York City Marathon: race week events! 

My Race Reports with tons of pictures and more info:

2014 TCS New York City Marathon: #marathornado

2014 EXPO pictures here

My 2013 New York City Marathon Race, PART 1

NYCM2011: Get Ready, Set, GO! (at the start)

NYCM RR 2010: Running Free

Apparently, I didn’t bother writing one in 2008 and 2009!

The official New York City Marathon Course Map.  More info on their course page, including a video of the course.

Love this: Toby’s Essential Last Minute Tips for NYCM

HAVE THE BEST RACE!!!!!

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Race Report: NYRR Oakley Mini 10K – my 100th RACE!

As you might have read, I lost most of my running mojo some time back and I have been quite off. But, I had signed up for the mini… and my parents were in town and wanted to see me race. Also, the mini is like THE quintessential race… I have done it every single year since I started running, in 2007, so that’s EIGHT in a row. I love this race.

Okay, why you say? There’s not cute boys to look at, you say! Yes, no boys, but can I just tell you a secret?? This is, shhhh, OUR race… We just race with our girl, we bond, we all support each other, we do it for us. Yes, it’s sexist to have our own race and to keep the race going shows that we’re still not equal to men, or exagerates that we need special treatment, but you know, let’s take it while we have it! Plus, this race smells better in general. And… we all know it, we women pace BETTER. Yes, it’s true, men are just too emotional to pace off. I know I can just click behind another girl with my pace and sleep to this finish here. That doesn’t happen in the other races…  You KNOW what I am talking about… you know.

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Love that I always get a 500 something number for this race

As my parents were visiting, Saturday morning we all woke up around 6:30 and walked to the start. It was hot and humid already and got this sight:

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NO EXCUSES. oh oh.

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yes, I am wearing the tutu

The day before my friend Florencia had called me to see if I was around NYRR as I live super close. I had forgotten she was running!!!!! We decided we’d run together. Made me SO happy to know I could run with her!!!!! We’re besties, and what else could a mojo-ed out runner than a friend to chill with at a race? EH> well, maybe frozen pops all the way but Flor would be good enough! I then heard from Sole: “I want to have a fun race too!!” yeah then!! The three argentinians would be pacing and lolling up and down the park at a festive pace. Plans UP!

Headed to my corral, blue, and the great thing is that the stage is right there… many pics were taken!

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Martina and I

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Patricia and I

Then the NYRR photographer snapped a picture of a few of us there for the site, link here.

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Soon enough the speeches start!

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Mary Wittenberg

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Kathryn Switzer

Deena Kastor at the NYRR Oakley Mini 10K

Deena Kastor

josh cox at the NYRR Oakley Mini 10K

Spotted: Josh Cox!!!

Desire Linden at the NYRR Oakley Mini 10K

Desiree Linden (nee Davila!)

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Nina Kuscick

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Spotted: Greg Welch (If you don’t know who he is, my iron-husband would yell: Ironman World Champion, etc etc!!)

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Boston Strong!

Soon it was 8 am, muggy as hell, and Peter Ciaccia was giving us clearance on the roads. We were just a few minutes late, 3 or 4, which is unusual for NYRR races but I was getting hypernervous. Why? Oh WHY? My heart was pumping scared.

Em, I hadn’t run in over a month and I was towards the front of a crazy fast 10K full of olympians. Of course I moved back like 4 corrals; I moved towards the back of the stage and let everyone go while I waited for Sole and flor, I was NOT about to get trampled at one of the fastest women road races!! but… wow, my heart was ready to jump out!

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Peter Cha-Cha we love you!!!!!

Two-three-4minutes later or something, Flor, Sole and I get moving, while we chatted. I knew Juan and my parents would be on 72nd, on the west and then the east sides. So my first goal was to run 5 blocks to see them.

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that was easy. Mom having a super emotional (and patriotic) moment. Juan snaps away.

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I snap back. We all hit each other!!! (I swear it was hot!)

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My dad, already overheating too!!!!

 

 

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Jeremy and his Jeremy-baby!

Sooo, I love that stretch we run in Central Park West. We NEVER run outside the park and it’s so nice and historic and amazing and museumy, ah, love it. But that’s when I usually go out too fast (because, hey, no men means I get places up high in the first corral with the ultra fast women, SHIZZZZ ensuing pace!) and then it’s sooo painful going into the park at 90th to climb that stooopid Harlem hill. This time, it was breeze. Only, there was no breeze, so I was overheating (also probably because I have no muscle and I am made of nutella and wafers and cookies these days. It was like I couldn’t breathe, doing a 10 minute mile pace. KindaRIDIC. Still: FUN.

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So, I caught up with Meghan, from my previous job at TNT and we run and chatted for like half a mile. That’s what I miss about running the most, not that it shapes me into a perfect 10 (hahahhaha!!!!) but the social aspect of it. I get to see all my friends (plus all the other people I know) in the funnest environment. I don’t drink so I am not the bar type and you really can’t eat with everyone (not the way I eat!) or have time to hang out with everyone, but you CAN see eveyrone, at the same place, doing something fun: RUN A RACE. Heck, I miss THAT. A LOT.

When I tell people I hate racing they don’t understand why I do it so much. Because THAT.

See?

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Even Flor (on my right) looks happy and we were both looking for a frozen pool by then!

Miles went by easily, mostly chatting in Spanish (the three of us are Argentinians, go figure!), laboring up the hills a bit with the humidity (note: when you’re out of shape, you feel it a LOT MORE! thousands of kudos to the people who are just starting to run, it’s HARD work!! Please do stick with it, it gets a LOT LOT easier) –I need to get back to “easier” please!).

We had two cups of water at miles 3 and 4, we were melting. Then, back at 72nd, now on the east side, we saw the Dashing Whippets, plus Juan and my parents. Spot the flag!

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with one mile to go, they cheer you into 5 minute mile pace and then you realize you need to calm the EFFFF down!

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easy way to get everyone’s heart rate spiking to the final sprint! Loved the 9+1 reference Fred!!!!!!! From left: Ned, Fred, David, Tom and a Whippet I haven’t met yet! (click on pictures for full res, you know you want to!)

 

HIGH something

HIGH something. What is up with my face?

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Took a shot of my partners in (slow and fun) crime. 

We finished, so hot and ready to be in a cold shower, and went straight to drink 4 cups of water. YUM.

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i think we all HATE carnations. YUCK. a towel or a wipe would have been better.

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my parents right at the finish and us. And guess what we did with the carnations!?!?!

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ah, boys are SO ok after the race! OR an IronMan.

We had to ship out of town soon so we didn’t hang out for too long at the post race, which is my favorite to hang-out at! We headed straight to brunch at EJ’s which by then was pretty empty, yey for a fast table!!!! but first we scored a few pictures of the winners/record breakers!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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NOT US

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Juan too excited, with Greg Welch, if you, again, don’t know who that is (it’s ok, I didn’t either!!!), here

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Mandatory visitors’ shot

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Hand is visible!!

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Because Tom.

Now… this was my SLOWEST 10K EVER at 1:03. Even in my slowest times when I was starting up I never even went over the hour… Pace was even slower than the Brooklyn Half a month ago (which was my last run!). Nothing surprising how things are turning here.

My 10ks:

prs

Look at the last 3 for this year, emmmm. No excuses, as the Mini bibs read:

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I need that bib. I live that bib.

There is no excuses. It is what it is and I am who I want to be. Pace usually represents something. Sometimes your body can’t cope with the brains demands for speed and gives up. I am in a period where my brain has given up and the body has no reason to push at all. Could my body have gone a bit faster? Possibly. But my brain is not in it.

Now I have no other races up ahead in the close future, like I had Scotland, Brooklyn and the Mini to force myself to go do. I didn’t run in between them. This was my SLOWEST RACE EVER with a 49% age grading. A 10K. Insanity… We shall see now. But I did go out for a slow-short 3 mile run last night… Who knows.

Race Report: 2014 NYRR Brooklyn Half Marathon

As I had declared last week, I am done with running for now, I needed a mental break after 10 years and I wasn’t going to run anymore. But… I was signed up for the Brooklyn Half and the Mini 10K (in 3 weeks)… what to do? Well, I’m gonna pick the bib and tshirt and decide later. Maybe I would feel like running by Saturday…?

Pre-Race Party/ Bib Pick Up  Bib Pick Up is more like a party, hence the renaming… It’s a nice place, by the water, with a GREAT view of the city, many food and drink options, a lot of space to hang out and see your friends, and the truth is we were running into people we knew every inch we walked. It was bit crowded, there was music, things to shop for, fun atmosphere. Too bad the weather didn’t help much but we got there, got our bibs, took some pictures, looked at the new balance stuff (nice!), went outside, got some food (there was a truck with melted cheese deliciousnesses) and stayed on the “lawn” to hear the band, then it started raining so we left soon. The trek from the Upper East Side where we live took about 1 hour each way, mostly because the 4/5 leaves you like almost a mile away. It’s a super nice walk though, and that street Lululemon or something off the Borough Hall stop is so super super nice!! I am planning to go back to the area.. on a nicer day. It’s a really nice park and you can’t top the views (says the Manhattan girl: if there is no view of the city, there’s no reason to leave the city!!!).  Now, if you want to get in and out fast like this was midtown, won’t happen! I liked this place, though I liked the place they had last year too

Walking to the expo on the Promenade or whatever that's called

Walking to the expo on the Promenade or whatever that’s called

We have been bibbed!

We have been bibbed!

Something I like about leaving the city, the perspective when you look at the city...

Something I like about leaving the city, the perspective when you look at the city…

Friday: D (decision) day  So, come Friday I hadn’t made a decision yet (Title should be more like INdecision day). Should I eat some carbs? Should I prep running clothes or should I just find something to do? If this was just a race in Central Park, it’d be easy to decide to skip it. But… the Brooklyn Half is more like an event… or a trip out of town with hot dogs and beach… AY, I couldn’t make up my mind, and by 4 pm I was stressing a bit. Juan was going to race it, so I’d be up at 3:30 am no matter what. If I could stay and sleep it’d be a different thing. BUT, if I had to get up and get out anyway (I am not just not going to not go cheer or meet him at the finish, can’t just stay home, what type of wife would Ii be??) then I might as well put some running clothes on…? So, staying in bed and sleep through it was not an option. I determined I’d go, try to run and enjoy it and if I didn’t, I’d just take the train… I had two exit strategies, my friend Tessa at mile 1.5 and my friend Flor at the 5 mile water stop. I’d just go with them to the finish and whatever! Flor even had a shirt for me. Then… I had the idea to wear the tutu to amuse myself: tutu power ON! You know my tutu, right? The BIG ONE!!!!

tutu

Then… I had the idea to ask on Facebook… because it seemed everyone I knew would be running Brooklyn to see if anyone would want company at my slow chatty pace! I wanted to make sure I had fun, and I was not going to do it alone for sure! I was looking for someone to chat through 13.1 in around 1:50 to 2 hours… I got offers to pace people but, pacing wouldn’t work, the other person would be working hard and who was I was going to have fun with?? Still a few people offered and we planned to meet in the corral! If all else failed and I got bored, I had my metrocard with me and would hop on the train to the finish! I had no issues giving up fast if I am not having fun. No guilt!

RACE MORNING!!! It was cruel how early we got up, and we went to sleep late because we got sucked into watching the Barbara Walters special…beeeeep beeeeep beeeeep 3:40 am alarm!!!! We figured we’d leave by 4:20 to get to the start by 5:40. It’s a long way from the Upper East side and I didn’t want to stress being late. I was going to be miserably sleepy and tired anyway! Luckily, it had just stopped raining, wohooo. We got ready, bundled up and got on the 4 to switch to the 2 in Fulton with another 10 thousand other runners. It was quite simple but I am always scared some train might not be running, we got there quite early. And sleepy. As it would turn out, we were quite right to get there early…

Look AWAKE!!

Look AWAKE!!

Bagagge and Start As soon as we got out of the 2 in Franklin Avenue, wow,  there were high fences all over the place and only one way to go. Note: always check the NYRR website and use the train exit they tell you to use (if you go with the one you think is closest you might end up walking miles because of the fences!). That way then security and metal detectors then security again and IN! We then walked towards the corrals (starting from the back), where we saw the portapotties inside!! Wohooo, we rushed into those, as they were all empty, took care of business, then kept walking to drop our bags and back to the corrals. It must have been like a half mile walk, we got to the trucks and deadline was 6:20 am, we had 10 minutes! We had to rush and change as they were NOT waiting one second!!!! We dropped our stuff quickly (it seemed like a liiiitle bit chaotic) and headed back to the corral. Yey, portapotties in the corral again!! For a change, the first wave started late, this is never the case in NYRR races. I was a 4 corrals back so I am not sure what was going on in the front, but the first runners were 7 or 8 minutes late to start. Wave 2 seems to have started on time.

Race Atmosphere This race was huge, you could tell right away. I wasn’t sure how many people would be there… 20,000? 30,000? It seemed super ultra mega organized: like they were expecting Obama… there was a LOT of people, but still I never felt more crowded than usual. I saw so many people… many from out of town (sometimes you can tell by their t-shirts!). It really felt like something big was about to happen. By the afternoon, it’d be confirmed that this was to be the biggest half marathon in the US with over 25K finishers… craziness.

Weather. It was coldish waiting at the start, glad I had brought an old turtleneck I wanted to get rid of. It was 58 at the start, but with the little clothes and wind, we were freezing! Of course as soon as it started, it was perfect (and I was wearing as little as I could!) but then the sun hits you on Ocean Parkway, and oh uh, hottish! It was totally fine though.

The Corrals I was corral 3, Juan was 4, so we had told everyone to meet us at 4. We got there early and met up with Patricia, a lot of my team mates, Elyssa, Lara, and so many more people. Apparently Blaise was right there too and I missed him. It gets crowded quickly so if you’re going to meet someone in the corral, always pick a corner!

nyrr 2014 Brooklyn Half PreRace (1) Elyssa, from this Bridges Runner blog, orange shirt, had volunteered the day before to run with me. I shyly asked “I like to talk when I run, is that ok? do you like to chat when you run?” I know some people hate it but as I said, I needed to have fun, and I needed help! But also, I don’t want to ruin anyone’s day! She said YES. I was so happy. Now let’s see if we’re both comfortable and happy at the same speed…! The Course is…GREAT! There are a couple of little hills in the first 10K, and then flat or downhill past mile 6. You REALLY have to negative split here or you did something wrong. Good course to PR in, though for some reason, I never seemed to PR here… There is the one hill in prospect park, which is not that steep but seems to last foreeeever (elevation profile is here) because it bends so much you have no idea where it ends. There can be way too much sun after you leave the park, but luckily there’s a few trees. MY RACE Well, I really I had no idea what to expect. Having felt so slow and tired lately and with my crappy attitude… we started slow, we chatted… we cheered, we screamed, we talked about how we both didn’t feel like running but we were still running because, by talking, it didn’t feel like running. We stayed on the side and made sure we didn’t bother anyone, mostly in the first couple of minutes when it seemed like all 20 corrals were passing us. Soon, everybody’s speed matched our non-speed and we were seriously cheering people around us. I am sure we bothered some people, as the people who talk sometimes bother ME when I am racing hard and unable to focus, sorry. We tried to not be obnoxious but most people were happy to have us cheer for them. We checked on each other and made sure we were going slow enough to not push ourselves, to make sure we were relaxed and having fun. We somehow managed to have a lot of fun the whole way!

Picture by Ben Ko- thanks BEN!! Still had my start turtleneck as a scarf on the first half mile, just because even if it doesn't match, i need to make a fashion statement!!!!!

Picture by Ben Ko – thanks BEN!!
Still had my start turtleneck as a scarf on the first half mile, just because even if it doesn’t match, I need to make a fashion statement!!!!!

I got hot soon, even though I wasn’t racing and I was wearing less clothes than EVERYONE around me. The tutu was great though… it got SO many cheers and shoutouts that all I was doing sometimes was say thank-yous nonstop!! I love my tutu! The park was bit more crowded than the rest of the race but it really wasn’t so bad. We were having fluids every 2 miles, and one gel as we left the park. I saw so many people cheering, at the water stations, passing me in the race, really you felt like everyone was there! Pace-wise, I have to admit, I barely looked at my watch once or twice… I had no idea. Elyssa shouted mile splits sometimes, just because our only thing was to check not to go over 2 hours, but as I can’t do any math, I figured I’d look at mile 10… I like to hit the pedal when I leave the park but Elyssa had an irish soccer game -or something- to play that afternoon and wanted to save some energy, and I was comfortably having a good time that I was not chancing it by taking off! By mile 9 we decided we’d finish together and we did just that! Easy peasy, half done! nyrr 2014 Brooklyn Half Race (3) nyrr 2014 Brooklyn Half Race (2) We got to Coney Island, we put our hands together and crossed the finish line. 1:57 and something.

nyrr 2014 Brooklyn Half Finish (2)

Done, we had fun, and now we have some more fun. In Coney Island!!!

The Finish Line The best part! You have around 300 meters to run on the boardwalk and it gets loud and crowded, even before 9 am! They had medals, bagels, powerbars (chocolate and mint, yuk!!!) and gatorade+water. It is just such a happy place and by 9 am you are free to just go do whatever you want!!! I had told Juan to wait there for me so I caught him as soon as I got my medal! There were a few blocks walk until we got to baggage but it was super organized and easy. Really nice meda