NYC Half Marathon 2015 – These Streets Will Make You Feel Brand New

Oh. My. God.

It was like a dream.

That’s really all I have to say about the NYC Half Marathon that I ran on Sunday, March 15. 

But that’s not really what you want to read, so I’ll give you a little more info 🙂

After a 4 hour bus ride from Boston to New York City, and a 33 block walk from the bus stop to Central Park area, I was ready to start the NYC Half weekend with my friend Sydney.

 After she finished up for work, we headed over to the expo, which was super well organized (great work United – I loved the “airport” style theme you gave it!) and fun. I’m a fan of a good expo, and there were plenty of photo ops to take advantage of, great snacks to try out and an awesome amount of apparel your credit line can handle. I wish I had picked up this awesome looking hat from one of the unofficial vendors – it was right by the NYRR merch, and it had the logo of the race, along with the course on it.

We then headed back to Brooklyn and had a little bit of dinner and turned in for an early night.

The next day, the skies decided to open up on NYC and it rained all day. That didn’t stop us though – I was taken on a little walking tour of Brooklyn, which included a stop at Brooklyn Running Co (loved it) and ended at New York Distilling Company (yes, I went on a booze tour… don’t judge me). We headed back for some delicious ramen dinner and proceeded to slightly freak out and pack our clear bags for a bright and early start the next morning.

My alarm went off promptly at 4:45 am, and I started to get ready. Mentally, I was prepared just to have fun at this run. I didn’t get that many outdoor miles this winter, due to this winter from hell in New England. I was going to rely mostly on my cross training, and focus on the fact that I was going to get a running tour of NYC.

We got into a car at 6:00am, hoping to get there by 6:30am, in order to drop our bags off. Wrapped up in the leftover space blanket from the Marine Corps Marathon, I tried to keep warm, and was doing an ok job at it. Sydney went off to meet up with the rest of the Team For Kids team, so I wandered through Central Park before heading to the corrals. 

It was SO crazy to see Central Park full of runners, and also super exciting.

Finally our corrals started opening and I made my way in. I met some awesome local New York runners, who told me all about Central Park running and validated my plan that I was going to go pretty easy until I finished Harlem Hill, and then try to pick up the pace and enjoy. One of them made a comment on how crazy I must be to run in shorts. I basically told them that my warmest run was in 20F, so the 48F that it was at the start line was pretty balmy for this New Englander! 

And then… we were OFF! 

The first mile was a steady uphill, but it was barely noticeable with all the people and cheering going on. The next couple miles were some really nice rolling hills, which were pretty fun. Me? Say hills are fun? Yes… especially after doing hill sprints on a 7% incline on a treadmill, you forget the fun part about hill training – the downhill.

Mile 4 came and there was Harlem Hill. It snaked it’s way around this hill, but just as my legs started burning… it was over.

Nothing to worry about.

After a few more rolling hills to shake the legs out, we headed full speed into mile 7 – 8… aka TIMES SQUARE!

This was the first time EVER that I took my phone out and snapped some photos. I made sure to pull over and that I wasn’t in anyones way. There are only two times a year that Times Square is closed to traffic: New Years Eve and NYC Half Marathon Day! I also took the time to high five some kids who were lining up for the first ever Kids Run through Times Square. The energy was palpable and that Jay Z Alicia Keys song rang true:

“These streets will make you feel brand new. These lights will inspire you. Let’s hear it for New York”

I took time to mentally check in with my body… I was feeling pretty strong and wasn’t nearly as fatigued as I thought I was going to be. I tried to keep that thought out of my mind though, in fear that I would feel good one moment, and the crash the next.

We made some turns and then found ourselves on the West Side Highway… with the Freedom Tower on the horizon. Here is where I just started ticking off the miles. Mile 8, I felt awesome. Mile 9 even better. I told myself I would really pick up the pace at mile 10, when I would have a 5K left.

And book it I did.

It wasn’t until I hit mile 12 that I realized I would PR… and that I was feeling better than ever. I had no soreness, was still breathing steadily and was waving and hi-fiving people everywhere I could. I barreled down the tunnel and came up with a little bit of fire in my legs. I saw the “800m to go” and started pushing a little bit more. Then “400m to go”. I was a little annoyed at all the turns at the end – especially since we had just run 4 miles in a straight line, but I kept pushing.

Then, I crossed and checked out my Garmin – a shiny new PR by 2 min. 

Plus, I negatively split:

Here were my splits:

Mile 1: 10:50

Mile 2: 10:45

Mile 3: 10:38

Mile 4 (Harlem Hill): 10:45 -> this was the only mile that was not negative

Mile 5: 10:35

Mile 6: 10:20

Mile 7: 10:15

Mile 8: 10:00

Mile 9:  9:55

Mile 10: 9:50

Mile 11: 9:30

Mile 12: 9:15

Mile 13.1: 8:55

SAY WHAT??!

So needless to say, I had a freaking fantastic time… and I hope to get to do this one again. Plus, it never hurts when the photographers get some awesome shots of you. I feel like I never get good pictures… feel like that? Read this blog post I wrote a bit ago on race pictures! 

Have you started your race season yet? How did it start? What are your goals for 2015?

10 Favorite Signs from the B.A.A. Half Marathon 2013

10. “Run faster, we’re cold.”

9. “WTF: Where’s The Finish(line)?”
8. “Run faster I just farted.”
7. “Run like you just stole beer.”
6. “Worst parade ever.”
5. “My grandma runs faster than you. No, really – she finished in 2:01.”
4. “Smile if you’re not wearing underwear.”
3. “I hope you don’t have to poop.”
2. “I’m sure it seemed like a great idea 6 months ago.”

And my personal favorite:

1. “You’re all crazy.”

It has been TOO LONG & BAA Half Marathon Recap

Wow, I can’t believe that it’s been so long since I’ve been on here.

Let’s back up a little bit

a) I’m now more settled in my new job

b) I’m now settled in my new apartment

and c) I JUST FINISHED MY FIRST HALF MARATHON!

So, obviously a lot has happened in the past couple of months, and while I’m sorry to have left you all for a little, I just wanted to let you all know that I’m back!

Now, onto the good stuff – I finally completed my first half marathon… the B.A.A. Half Marathon yesterday. I had trained, I was prepared, and I was ready to go. I was ready to hit that 2ish hour time.

Until Saturday threw a curve ball. 

I had horrible abdomen pain, and I hauled myself to the clinic when I was sure that the pain wasn’t going to go away on it’s own.  Turns out, I had developed a bladder infection. Whoop De Do. Mind you, this is now less than 24 hours before I was supposed to run the half. Let the freakout ensue.

After basically a whole day of pounding antibiotics, cranberry juice, water and trying to feed myself, I laid my clothes out and started mentally preparing for how the race was going to go the next morning. My boyfriend had just come home from a week away, and just seeing him made my mind feel a little bit more at ease. Just having him back reassured me that I could do it. My time goal went out the window… I just wanted to finish.

So, early Sunday morning, I put my running gear on, plus some sweats and headed to Franklin Park Zoo. After an agonizing wait in a portapoty line, I started having the fear that I wouldn’t be able to run a couple miles without visiting  bathroom. That fear was swiftly put out, when I realized that I didnt bring a bottle of water to drink something before the race started. Because I didn’t have any water, I had to wait until mile 2 to eat my 30 EnergyBits (they were a life saver).

We made our way to the field, and I quickly took my sweats off and headed into the corral. I was running late, and there was not really any time to slow down and think. Before I knew it, the corral I was in (wave three, closer to the 9:59min/mile) started moving. 

The course was beautiful. The first two miles warmed my legs up, and I had to fight the urge to just fly down the downhill. I knew I was going to be facing an uphill battle for most of the course, so I tried as hard as I could to start off slow. I really had no idea how fast I was going (my Nike+ app wouldnt start without crashing), but I figured I would settle into a nice pace.

Mile 8 is where the head games started. My calf started cramping – even with the compression sleeve, and I just started getting fatigued. I ate EnergyBits at mile 6, and had planned on finishing them at mile 10, so I grabbed a cup of Gatorade, and hoped that it would help replace some of the salt that I had lost. It did the trick, and I got a new wind. 

Mile 10, I could have punched someone for making a little strip that runs out and back… before you get into the zoo. This was the biggest mind game, you are seeing people coming back at you, but I couldnt see the turn around. I swear, mile 10 to 11 was the longest mile of the whole course.

Going through the zoo… I think I hyped it up more in my head. It smelled like animal poop, it was dusty, and there was a small stretch where it was single file. I only saw sleeping camels, and I had to dodge actual patrons at the zoo.

I saw my boyfriend as I was coming out of the zoo – and even though I might not have looked like I was smiling, seeing him gave me the last oomph I needed to go that last ¾ of a mile. 

The finish was in White Stadium, and when I crossed the finish line, I had the biggest smile on my face and felt like if I had more water in me – I would have been crying. It didn’t matter to me at that point how fast I ran, but I crossed the finish line – and that is what mattered most.

Turns out, I ran the race in 2:21. It was slower than I was hoping for, but based on all the given circumstances, I am happy with it. I earned it – literally with blood, sweat and tears.

Also, since the BAA Half was the last of the BAA Distance Medley that I was a part of, I got two medals. I was so happy. I was hobbling, and at one point, I’m pretty sure I used my boyfriend as a crutch while walking back to the car, but I did it – and no one can take it away from me.

If you were to tell me two years ago that I would have completed a half marathon, I would have just laughed. But I did it. And I’m still in awe that I did it. 

Woo hoo!

I promise I’ll be on here more often now – thanks for still sticking around!