Monday, March 24, 2014

The 2014 NYC Half Marathon

Thanks to volunteering at the finish line last year, I got non-complimentary automatic entry this year's NYC Half Marathon. Even though I'm not where I'd like to be speed-wise, it is the 3rd anniversary of my first half marathon. I'm really glad I got to run the course again. I've decided having a local half marathon is a blessing and a curse. It's great not having to travel and having a home court advantage, but it also makes you lazy about preparing. 

After New York Road Runners opened a second lottery (making it the race's largest to date with over 20,000 runners!) I wasn't sure how this 3 different wave starts were going to work out. The only major snafu I noticed was baggage- they had the baggage trucks lined up numerically. Which would've been fine, but having wave 2's trucks by the wave 1/3 entrance and having wave 3's trucks past the wave 2 entrance on the other end of the park, caused for a lot of unnecessary traffic and congestion on Central Park South. Luckily, I was there super early for my wave start, but I could only imagine the frustration it caused for wave 1 and 2. 

I was so glad I got to meet up with one of my Princess partners in crime, Emily before the race- it was a long wait. Wave 1 hadn't even gone yet, which meant we couldn't get into the corrals. But it went by quick- it always helps to have a friend to chat with! 

It was COLD. Can you tell?

Something new this year was a metal detector before entering the corrals. I get that there needs to be safety, but letting the runners know beforehand might've been nice. And letting them know they didn't have to take off their running watches, etc. (even though we were being barked orders to put everything in the plastic bin) would've been nice as well, so I didn't have to take everything off in the freezing cold and try to figure out how to put it back on. Also, having bathrooms after security would've been nice- if you had to use the portapotty, you would've had to go through security again. 

Once the race started, we decided to take it easy, but Emily was too quick for me. So, we said our good-byes and I set out to figure out how I was going to finish the race. I just started taking new medication that had my muscles tense. Do you know how hard it is to function as a normal human, much less run a half marathon, when your muscles won't let you do anything? Yea. It was an interesting race to say the least. 

Just in case you didn't know, Central Park is hilly- making the first half of this race a beast. You climb Cat Hill within the first mile and then you hit Harlem around the 5k- 2 of the biggest hills in the park, not to mention the 3 sisters bitches and a couple of others scattered. It's pretty brutal. They changed up the course this year, so you actually exit the park right before Harlem Hill. There is an out and back on, which adds another hill to the mix. Awesome. BUT I will say it was a really cool addition; getting to see all the runners going so many different directions was fun. 

Times Square. Finally!

Once I got out the park (thank goodness!), the fact that I was running down 7th ave. hit me and I just tried to soak it all in. That feeling never gets old. It was a really great moment and I slowed down a bit to enjoy it. I realized how lucky I was to get to run this race for the 3rd time and for it to be in my own backyard. How often do you get to be in the middle of Times Square car- free? The only other time is New Years Eve and being the New Yorker that I am, I'd never be caught there.

Character stops in front of M&M World!

Construction on the Marquis.

There was even karaoke. No kidding.

Then it was time for the 42nd St. wind tunnel. I still had not taken off my throwaways- and thank goodness! That wind was insane. If that was going to continue, I was not looking forward to the rest of the race down the Westside Highway, even if it was the flat part of the course. Luckily, that wasn't the case. It is a little daunting to just keep going in a straight line for what looks like forever. I just keep focusing on the Freedom Tower and it getting bigger as I got closer.

It was great seeing friends on the course as well- running and cheering! I got to say hello to all my old TNT coaches, my new running friends at a water stop and then running friends as we passed each other on the course. All of those were definitely great factors and made the race even more enjoyable for me. Another plus to a local race.

After mile 8, I was stopping to stretch every mile or so. My left ITB/Hip was starting to act up. That seams to be the pattern- whichever leg doesn't bother me during training, will inevitably hurt on race day. I did the calculations and didn't think I had a chance to come in sub-3hours, so I just continued to enjoy myself.

If it was 2011, this would be the finish line.

I don't know what happened to me in the tunnel, but I just started running FAST. Once we got to the other side, there was .6 left and I was really close to the 3 hour mark. I tried my best to go as fast as I could and ended up with 3:01:29. What?! That's crazy talk. Who knew I had that in me? And who knew I am apparently really bad at math? (well, we should all know that already, haha) Even with all the stops through Times Square and the stretching.

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I ran into this lady!

When I read about the Recovery Zone, I was excited that it was indoors. I really needed to get out of my wet clothes and get warm. Sadly, it was only mats and foam rollers. As cool as that was, I wish they would've had an area for changing. But no worries, I found a corner and stealthily changed shirts for the long subway ride home. And speaking of the subway, I liked that the finish line was right by The Staten Island Ferry Subway stop- it was easy to hop on the train back to Brooklyn. The last time I ran the race, the finish line was closer to the South street seaport, which is super cool, but for someone who doesn't go that far downtown often, finding a subway station was kind of a pain.

I totally love that this is my anniversary race. This race holds my second fastest half and since I know I'm no where near that time, I'm really happy just being able to enjoy the course and coming close to a sub-3 finish. With all the stops and lollygagging during the race, I know that I could easily accomplish a sub-3 next time.

Since I ran The Manhattan Half and this one, I just need 2 more borough series races (which I'm already signed up for the Brooklyn Half and the Queens 10k) and I'll qualify for the 2015 NYC Half! Fingers crossed I'll be able to run this race for many years to come.

What's was your 1st half marathon race?


  1. Congratulations!!! I didn't even notice the character stops in Times Square - cool!

    1. I don't think it was a "character stop"- he was out cheering on the runners so I decided to stop. haha!

      Congrats to you as well!

  2. Congratulations! I would love to run a race in NYC one day.

    1. Thanks, Hildy! I hope you get a chance to one day as well- it's pretty cool!

  3. Congratulations! I would love to do the NYC half but I think I'm still traumatized by the hills of doom from the Women's Fitness last year. But we'll see...maybe next year :)

    Congratulations again! :)

    1. Thanks, Kellie!

      I completely understand, haha! BUT the good news is this course is SOOOOO much better than the Women's Half and definitely worth it.

  4. Congrats! Sounds like a good day. =)

  5. Love this recap! I totally want to run this race, looks like an amazing time! It's so awesome that you keep returning to run this race; it's exactly how I feel about the Princess Half. :)

  6. Congrats! Sounds like such an awesome race! I've never been to NYC but I think I'd like to see it for the first time during a race…one day.

  7. Man, I'm totes jelly. That race looks amazeballs. Which did you find more awesome: NYC Half or NYCM?

  8. Oh, I don't know if I could compare! They're both AMAZING- I feel like The NYCHalf picks up where the NYCM left off. You don't really run in Central Park (or Manhattan really) for the marathon the way you do for the half.

  9. You are a rockstar!!! Thanks for calming me down at the beginning! I forgot about the port-o-potty situation at security. Hopefully they'll change that for next time. I really loved the course. I so need to do this race again.