Tag Archive | track and field

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!!

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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!!

 

New York City Half Marathon Tips, Course Strategy and Logistics

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

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

PRE RACE LOGISTICS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RACE LOGISTICS

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

nyc half start times

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

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

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

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

RACE STRATEGY

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

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

nyc half course elevation

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

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

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

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

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

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

nyc half marathon course strategy part (1)

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!

nyc half marathon course strategy part (3)

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.

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

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!!!!

Comments below and MORE COMMENTS IN THE RUNNER’S WORLD POST

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

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

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

PRE RACE LOGISTICS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RACE LOGISTICS

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

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

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

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

RACE STRATEGY

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

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

nyc half course elevation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 3 – Mile 7 to 10: IT’S ON!

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

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

Part 4 –  Mile 11 or 12 to 13.1: YOLO

ALL. HELL. BREAKS. LOOSE.

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

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

… then… 

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

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

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

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

NYRR United NYC Half Marathon course map

The official United New York City Half Marathon website.

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

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

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

Anyway the fun pictures.

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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the second floor was EMPTY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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