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?

My First Marathon

I thought I would be writing a very different race recap.

I had trained hard, put the miles and the cross training in, and it broke my heart and body to see my body rebel against me when I really wanted it to work it’s best.

Friday night was my first marathon… and it was awful.

I had prepared myself for running at night, by sleeping in a little and by taking an afternoon nap. I made sure to eat normally, but not to eat 3 hours before I started running. 

We got to the start line about 8pm, an hour before the race started. I got my number, started warming up, and tried to shake off a whole bunch of nerves. When the siren went off at 9 to send us on our way, I was pumped and ready to show everyone what I was capable of.

Lap 1 – 3, felt fantastic. I was on pace, I had finally found my groove, and I had made myself comfortable with the large construction project that was happening on Main Street (half of the side walk and road was closed, so it made that stretch a little like an obstacle course. I saw a few people step on some damp concrete.). 

Lap 4, I felt like I had a giant fire ball in my chest. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and when I tried to burp, I automatically felt like I was going to throw up. So I made the decision to stop and walk it off. It was here I met my first set of angels – a group of two guys who were doing the 24 hour ultra. They walked with me, and one of them offered me a few TUMS to try to settle my stomach. They told me that “it doesn’t matter how long it takes, you just need to finish your first one.” This was the first lap that I threw up on. 

Lap 5, I felt a little better after the TUMS so I decided to try to run a little. It was more like a waddle, especially when the fast marathon runners flew by me. Not going to lie, that totally broke my spirit a little bit, especially when I knew I had 3 more to go. I got sick about half way through this lap again, and walked the last lap.

Lap 6, Vomit. vomit everywhere. I just wanted to go to bed. By this time, it was 1:30am – which was when I really wanted to finish by. Seeing that time on the clock, and knowing I had not met my time goal really demolished me. Plus, I felt awful. I walked most of this lap, but tried to run the last mile in.

Lap 7 & 8.  These two are a blur for me. These were the laps that I met my second angel on, an ultra marathoner from Montreal, that had already run 33 miles. I felt awful, I was walking and he walked with me for a little. He asked if I wanted him to pace me, and I told him that I didn’t wnat to be the reason why he didn’t make his 100 miles or what ever his goal was. I told him about my stomach issues, and that all i wanted to do now was just go home and sleep.

He basically was like “you’ve run 20 miles, and you now want to go and sleep? you got this next 6.2 in the bag. Let’s do this.” About 2 miles into the last 6, I vomited again and told him to just keep going. He didn’t. He told me to keep walking, and that stopping was the WORST thing I could do. I kept apologizing (because I hate vomiting, and vomiting in front of someone is literally the worst thing), and he told me about all his horror stories of vomiting, kidney failure, how he had brain surgery last year and I guess it really put it into perspective for me. Everyone has awful thing happen, you just cant let it stop you.

By the time I was about to finish my last lap, I felt like I was running half awake. My stomach churned, I was shivering and hot at the same time, and all I wanted to do was collapse. I got about half way around the lake when I had to puke again. This time, I basically threw myself on the guard rail and puke over it… and I heard my timing chip snap. 

Sweet.

I just wanted to get it done. Ultra runner pacer was talking about something that I don’t even remember, but I remember when we circled the corner on Quanapowitt Parkway and he said “here is your time to shine. Leave it all out here, and go home and sleep.”

And I took off – I saw Blake, and reach out and hugged him before barreling down the timing chute. I looked at my chip and saw that it had snapped in half, and showed it to the guy who was handing out medals. 

“Does this mean my last lap won’t get logged?”

“Most likely”

“I did 8 laps though…”

“I know… congrats on your marathon.”

He handed me a medal – and I just kinda looked at it.

Part of me was happy that I finally accomplished it. Part of me didn’t even want to look at it, because I was so defeated. I didn’t feel like I deserved it. It felt like my training was a waste, because I couldn’t even run like I had planned to.

I finished in 6 hours and 45 minutes – even though officially it only looks like I ran 7 laps in 6 hours and 1 minute.

I’ll be taking a week off for rest – since my stomach still fully hasn’t settled. Then, I’ll be back out hitting the pavement, training for the Marine Corps Marathon… or what I would like to call “my redemption”.