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