I am still smiling from the 2013 NYC Half. I don’t think I have EVER run such a steady, smart, even-paced race in my life.
It was a frigid morning. Temps were hovering around 30 at race start, but with the windchill, it felt like about 20 degrees. I wasn’t concerned with anything except my hands. My body warms up within 5 minutes of running but my hands never seem to warm up. On long runs, I often opt for mittens but I wanted to have better use of my hands for water and fueling.
Like I said yesterday, I didn’t get a chance to do the warm-up I wanted and was worried that the 1/4 mile I jogged from the interview location to the start corral would not be enough of a warm-up for me. I was also concerned with how long I (we) would have to wait in the corrals not moving (about 30 minutes).
This post is pretty long…I tried to cut it down but there was just too much going on in my head during those 13.32 miles.
*The splits below are based on my Garmin. I ran a bit longer than the 13.1 miles so my pace is faster than my finish time suggests (more on this later!)
The gun went off just before 7:30. I was in the back of the 1,000-1,999 corral and crossed the start line about 1:30 after it started. My pace for the first minute or so was hovering around 8:45. It was frustrating. I wanted to minimize the weaving, but there was no way around it if I wanted to concentrate on sticking to my race strategy. I weaved A LOT to get my pace to where I wanted it. Mile 1: 7:06.
After Mile 1, I was better able to settle into my planned pace of 7:00. It felt easy this early in the race. In previous races, I would have sped up thinking I was going too slow or thinking I would miraculously be able to run substantially faster than I had trained for – but I ran smarter on Sunday. I knew a 7:00 pace should feel easy for me at this point in the race. I’ve done enough 6-10 mile runs at that pace to be ready for that pace. So I focused on holding myself back to ensure I had enough to get me through the hills and later miles.
Cat hill came. Cat hill passed. I flew up it and my pace barely dropped (went to about 7:05). Huge confidence booster. I ran by a water point and grabbed a cup of water. Took a sip and literally choked on the ice in the cup. Made a note to be careful at future water points (*The volunteers were doing an amazing job at keeping those water points salted and as dry as possible). Mile 2: 6:58.
I knew I’d have a bit of a break until Harlem Hill so I decided to loosen up the hold on the 7:00 pace. My pace dropped as we ran down the hills at the northern point of the park. Mile 3: 646
I knew this upcoming section would be the test. These miles would make or break me. Got to the bottom of Harlem Hill, took one last big breath, put my head down and started the uphill climb. It was not as bad as I was anticipating. My pace dropped to 7:15 (and I let it) but my heart rate and breathing were well under control within a minute or so of cresting the hill. I was happy with how fast I recovered and focused on getting the pace as close to goal pace as I could without overdoing it. Mile 4: 6:59
Surprisingly, I found the hills after Harlem Hill to be tougher. Maybe it’s because HH is one hill whereas the numerous climbs in the 90s on the west side never seem to end. But, knowing that they ended at W86th street was an advantage for me. I knew I’d have a downhill portion until the incline at 72nd street so I didn’t force the pace and stress about it going above 7:00. Mile 5: 7:03
This is the first point during the race where I was concerned about maintaining the 7:00 pace I set out for. My legs felt a bit tired after those hills and although my breathing was under control, the 7:00 pace wasn’t quite as easy as before. I also fumbled around trying to get my first gel out of my sports bra. My hands were really cold and I exerted WAY more energy than I wanted trying to get the gel out and open it up. Thankfully, my mind was occupied because I started looking for my husband, son, and sister. I saw them just before I hit the 6 mile mark. Seeing their smiling, cheering faces gave me a HUGE boost of energy. Mile 6: 6:58
My eyes are always closed in pictures:
Got out of the park at the 10k mark. The first mile out of the park was NOT as easy as I had planned. First, we were in a wind tunnel on 7th avenue. The wind kicked my butt. Second, I was freezing from the cold wind. My face and legs suddenly felt ice cold. My eyes were tearing. Definitely one of the hardest – mentally and physically – miles of the race for me. Mile 7: 7:01
My Garmin started acting wonky just before I hit mile 7. It was showing my pace much slower than I was running. I knew something was up because I felt like I was running the same pace but it was now showing a 7:30 pace. I tried not to let that distract me too much but I know I started running a bit faster than I had planned at this point. I decided to just say screw it and run with what felt comfortable. I’d rather go down trying than be too cautious. Turned onto 42nd street and despite the headwind (the wind was coming from the NW), I felt like I was flying. This section was downhill and my pace definitely shows it. Mile 8: 6:25
I was starting to feel a bit tired at this point. But I focused on ONE MILE at a time. The thought of running that pace for 5 more miles was disheartening. I kept telling myself to just get through one more mile. Got to the West Side Highway and was happy to see the wind to our backs. Mile 9: 6:56
The next three miles were tough. I concentrated on just putting one foot in front of the other and not obsessing over the time on the watch. I knew going sub-1:32 would be a longshot because of how much extra I had been running (by this point it was over .2 extra) so I just focused on what I could control – my current pace. While this stretch was definitely boring, I enjoyed it because it was totally flat. There was nothing to get in the way of me running the pace I wanted. I hit the 10 mile mark (on the race clock) at 1:10:3x (my watch was 1:09:xx)- a new PR for me for 10 miles!!! Miles 10-12: 6:58, 6:56, 6:59
I realized I still had a chance to go sub-1:32 at this point. The last 1.1 would have to be around a 6:40 pace. Got to the 1/3 mile-long tunnel just after mile 12. Told myself there was no wind, no resistance. Just like my treadmill running. Run hard for 1 mile. Push for 1 mile. 7 minutes of hard running. My garmin went out right after I got to the tunnel so I had NO idea how fast I was going. I gave it all I had.
We came out of the tunnel and BOOM. There’s this silly little hill. It’s SO little. So insignificant compared to the ones in Central Park. But it sucked the life out of me. I ran up that hill and felt like I got punched in the legs. I couldn’t get that same pace back. For what seemed like an eternity, I shuffled and worked to regain my breath and legs. After about a minute, my legs felt strong and my heart rate back in control and I tried to push again.
I saw the sign for 800m until the finish. 1:29:00. I quickly did the math. 1/2 mile. 3 minutes. 6 min pace. I tried. I dug as deep as I could and pushed with every ounce I had left in me but just couldn’t do it. Ran that last 1/2 mile in 6:46 (3:23).
- Mile 1: 7:06
- Mile 2: 6:58
- Mile 3: 646
- Mile 4: 6:59
- Mile 5: 7:03
- Mile 6: 6:58
- Mile 7: 7:01
- Mile 8: 6:25
- Mile 9: 6:56
- Mile 10: 6:58
- Mile 11: 6:56
- Mile 12: 6:59
- Mile 13: 7:05
- Mile 13.32: 2:10 (6:46 pace)
Finish time: 1:32:23
Garmin Average pace (13.32 miles): 6:56
Official Pace: 7:04
Overall Place: 846 out of 14, 518
Gender Place: 148 out of 6,918
Age Group: 38 out of 1,680
– Although I missed my goal time of sub-1:32, in my heart, I know I nailed it. Sure, the official time says 1:32:23 (and that is my new PR time), but I know that if I had run the tangents perfectly and didn’t have to deal with weaving or the crowds at various points, I would have run a 1:30:51!!! But, there is NO part of me that is disappointed or upset with how things turned out. The NYC Half is a big race – you know that when you sign up for it. So I can’t sit here and complain about the side effects of running such a big, popular half marathon.
– For the first time in my life, I ran a perfectly executed and paced race. The FIRST mile was my slowest. With the exception of mile 8 which was downhill, all of the miles were within 20 seconds of each other and 10 seconds of the average.
– Ran a negative split race (First 7 miles: 6:59 pace; Last 6.32 miles: 6:53 pace )
– Need to find a better way to keep my hands warm on super cold days. I tried to take another gel sometime around mile 10 and couldn’t get my fingers to move enough to pull the gel out of my sports bra. They were frozen. Thankfully that didn’t cause any issues but if I had been running a longer distance, I may have had to stop to get that gel out.
– My training plan is working. The steady state and tempo runs helped me SO much on Sunday. I was ready to keep pushing when I reached that point of being uncomfortable.
– I am SO giddy and excited for the NJ Marathon. I feel myself getting stronger each week. I ran the 10k 7 weeks ago at a 7:00 pace (Garmin) and ran almost double that distance at a faster pace this weekend. I still have 7 weeks until NJ. That’s a LOT of time to continue to work on speed and distance.
– McMillan estimates a 1:30:40 half marathon to equate to a sub-3:11 marathon (while a 1:32:23 would be sub-3:15) – both of which would be HUGE PRs for me.
I was interviewed post-race by WABC and NYRR (for their On the Run segment). This is the 2nd time I’ve gotten to chat with Carrie Tollefson – she is 7 months pregnant with her 2nd and has the tiniest bump ever!!
Here is the clip from NYRR (I am at the 19:30 mark):
Just wanted to say Thank You, again, for all of your support and words of encouragement leading up to this race – it meant SO much to me =)
I would highly recommend trying to run the NYC Half at some point in your running/racing career. There is nothing quite as amazing as literally running through Times Square – having the most famous road in the country (world?) closed off for traffic for YOU to run on. As with all NYRR races, the NYC Half is well organized and executed. Yes, it’s pricey, but in my opinion, totally worth running at least once!