Yesterday I ran the New York City Half Marathon for the third year in a row. This race was my first half marathon ever in March 2014. I was so happy and proud (and freezing in the 15 degree weather!) afterwards, and the moment I crossed the finish line, just a year after I first ran three miles without stopping, was the same moment I began to dream of running the marathon one day. My second time around last March was a little warmer and a little less momentous – still fun, of course! This year felt like the third time’s the charm. Not only did I set a personal record, it marked my first longer distance race of 2016, putting me on the path to the Marathon come November.
The race start in Central Park felt very familiar, with Wave 2 lining up in corrals stretching across 72nd Street. The security lines were longer than usual, so by the time I got to Corral 17, there wasn’t long to wait. I crossed the starting line just before 8am and began the climb up Cat Hill, the first three miles flying by on my usual path around the park for a 5K pace of 9:55/mile. Like the last two years, I took a walk break for a tenth of a mile up Harlem Hill, but my pace decreased slightly as I hit the 10K mark going at a pace of 9:54/mile.
Right after Mile 6, we left the park and headed down 7th Avenue to 42nd Street. I was feeling good and thought I was going a little faster than usual, but I didn’t wear my watch for this race and the mile marker times were off – not just in accuracy, a few of them were literally turned off. As we headed to the West Side Highway, my pace decreased to 9:31/mile with the change in terrain from the rolling hills of Central Park to the flat, ever-so-slightly downhill stretch of Miles 8 and 9. After the 15K mark, I sped up even more, reaching the 20K point in the Battery Park tunnel at 9:16/mile. I don’t particularly like running in the tunnel since it’s dark and I feel a little claustrophobic, but I was outside again before I knew it, kicking in gear to the finish at 9:12/mile with a big smile.
I knew none of this about times and paces until well after I crossed the finish line. My first priority was getting the bag with water and an apple in it, because I only stopped once for water just after Mile 8 and my head was beginning to pound. I then had to climb up on a block so my boyfriend and my friend Abby could find me on the corner of Whitehall and Water Streets after getting out of the runners’ exit chute. Luckily, after handing over a jacket and scarf and the bag with my snacks, my boyfriend informed me that I had set a PR of 2:06:04 with an overall pace of 9:37/mile. I was shocked and happy (although a lot of the happy was due to the snacks) since my first stab at this race was also my current PR, and I hadn’t run a half marathon any faster since then. It also made me hopeful that maybe I can actually do this marathon thing 🙂
Afterwards, we hopped on the subway, where I continued snacking by literally spooning peanut butter out of a Justin’s jar on the 5 train back uptown. Then it was time for brunch at EJ’s Luncheonette, where I had an omelet stuffed with ham and veggies, some turkey bacon, and a heaping helping of sweet potato fries. The perfect post race meal. I was pretty hungry all day Saturday, needing snacks between brunch at Sarabeth’s and dinner at Bareburger, so I was not surprised when I continued snacking after brunch on Sunday. We picked up some free macarons at Francois Payard since it was Macaron Day in NYC so those were sweet celebratory treats. Really, I was tired and happy and ready to snack and relax, and it was a wonderful way to while away the afternoon. Next up, the MORE Women’s Half on April 17th!
Have you run the same race a few years in a row?
Do you prefer running or racing short or long distances?
Favorite half marathon?
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