NYC Half Race Recap

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!)

Miles 1-3

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

Miles 4-6

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:

Miles 7-9

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

Miles 10-12

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

Miles 13-13.1

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).

Final stats:

      • 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!

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    70 thoughts on “NYC Half Race Recap

    1. Pingback: Brooklyn Half Marathon Prep | Kara Runs

    2. Hi Michele! Congrats on the PR and running such a well executed race!!! This was my first NYC Half, and even though I am so much slower than you, I had a very similar experience almost mile per mile. Thanks for the great recap – I can read this anytime I want to relive the race! Congrats again!!!

    3. Congrats on your PR. I always hate when things are not quite perfect at the race! My last half was clocked long, by almost everyone on the course..and I started my watch late! I still feel that if it had been measured correctly (Apparently they only used google maps, didn’t actually like go bike the course!) I know I would have been 2 more mins off my time, OH well, such is racing!
      Holly recently posted..Day 45 Marathon training Still Injured.My Profile

      • It’s definitely frustrating when you are running a time and then you aren’t hitting the mile markers when your watch beeps. But I take full responsibility for mine – way too much weaving! But I’d rather have done that then sit back and wait til the crowd thinned out. =)
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Saucony Virrata ReviewMy Profile

    4. Congratulations on the PR AND on your very-well executed race! The evenness of those splits is very impressive (and something I’ve been unable to do in the few half marathons I’ve run). You ran so smart and seem to have improved so much during this training cycle. I’m excited to see what you’re able to do in NJ!
      Lauren recently posted..Learning to Love Hills AgainMy Profile

      • Lauren…if I show you my splits from the 2010 NYC Half you would laugh – my first 5k was almost a min faster than this yr’s and I finished 3 min behind. HA. I’ll probably revert back to my old way’s at the next race. =)
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Saucony Virrata ReviewMy Profile

    5. I was just reading through some of the post race recaps and noticed that I was the person running next to you in your photo. I suspect this picture must of been taken around the 10 km mark and that we likely run allot of the race at the same pace. Anyhow, Great race recap! Funny thing at races you never know who’s right behind you. Hope you had as much fun as I did.

      • Oh gosh! How funny is that?!?! My sister took that picture of us just before the 10k mark – she was at W68 in the park!! SO true…too bad I didn’t hang with you – I would have gotten my sub-1:32 that I wanted!! =) It was an awesome race, awesome course….just wish it was just a tad bit warmer!
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Saucony Virrata ReviewMy Profile

        • Well you can imagine my surprise to see the picture as I’m reading your article from Victoria BC, Canada. I was just out visiting my daughter in NYC and happened to pick up a last minute entry.

          Where did you start from? I was at the front of the 3000 group and had to weave through the crowd for the first 8 km. That was a challenge.
          If I would have known you were right behind me I would have tried encourage you to keep up. As it was you were very close and ran great.

          Good luck with your running!!

    6. Congrats on a great race, Feeling like things are falling into place with training is a great feeling. You ran great splits and did what you trained your body to do. You are setting yourself up for a great marathon time!
      Laura recently posted..Ten Things TuesdayMy Profile

    7. I had the same experience with that hill coming out of the tunnel. I didn’t have a plan for it because I didn’t expect it AT ALL. I was burning through the tunnel because I felt that I was pretty much done, and then that stupid hill appeared and destroyed me and made my final mile so much slower than the rest of my race. I was still happy with it all, but man, that tiny hill was bruuutal.
      Corey Brown recently posted..NYC Half 2013My Profile

      • HA. Glad I am not the only one who thought that silly hill at the end was torture. What was worse was that there were definitely some who had enough gas in their tank to keep moving after we crested it!!!
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Saucony Virrata ReviewMy Profile

    8. Congratulations times a million! I was thinking about you Sunday morning and knew you’d kill it. “But I focused on ONE MILE at a time.” My thoughts exactly every step of the way at Shamrock. I am excited to see where your training takes you for the spring marathon. I know you don’t get much sleep and with picking up the IM training, this is insane. You inspire me to work hard! :) CONGRATS!!!
      Lindsey Hein recently posted..Shamrock Marathon RecapMy Profile

    9. You always do such great recaps. I’m nowhere near your level – just finished my first 5k since I started running again. But it’s great how strategic you are without being obsessive. Makes me think I, too, could own a Garmin and actually push myself harder than I do. Great job! BTW I’m in Florida and all of our races are wall to wall like that too.
      Amy @ Mommy Rodeo recently posted..The day my son got sent home from one year old school…My Profile

      • Thanks, Amy! I’ve learned that (for me) pacing doesn’t always mean running the same pace – that’s actually why I don’t show my current pace – only my lap (mile) pace during runs/races. Otherwise, I totally OBSESS over what the # says. I run more based on effort these days and whatever the time says, it says.
        Jealous that you are in FL with some warm weather. It’s freezing up here lately :/
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Saucony Virrata ReviewMy Profile

    10. Awesome job and great recap! I need to start running smart and focus on my pacing. I’m having the issue where I’ve improved my time so much over the year, but yet when I get to a race I’m still stuck on maintaining my old pace so I don’t burn out. I need to start trusting my training more

    11. Great job! I’m always so amazed how some people remember every single detail of their race. Love it! Soak in all your hard work. Can’t wait to see how you tear it up in NJ!

      My hands and feet are always freezing no matter what the temp and especially while running. It’s from all the blood flow going to my core rather than my extremities.
      Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..If It Makes You Happy: Part 2My Profile

    12. Loved the play-by-play Michele! You ran such a smart race and it paid off for you. So many people think that a slower than goal pace first mile will wreck their race, but you just showed it can be a really smart move. Love how hard you dug to get what you wanted and really related to your last small hill and how hard it felt. That’s when you know you’ve done a good job!

      Congrats–big things ahead in 2013 for you!
      misszippy1 recently posted..Marathons are cranky SOBsMy Profile

    13. INCREDIBLE race! Congratulations! I feel exactly the same about the West side hills and that awful one at the end of the tunnel being worse than Harlem. I think it may be due to mental preparation for me. Also, how accurate do you think the McMillan calculator is? I’m training for NJ as well, and I haven’t decided what I’m going to aim for yet…
      Heather recently posted..Race Recap: NYC HalfMy Profile

    14. I loved this recap Michele!! You did run such a great race and I love that it all came together for you. Not only that, but how strong you are feeling in your training. I’m so excited for you and NJ!!
      Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..TBDMy Profile

    15. Wow – that’s such an awesome job!!!!

      & wait… did you say that reporter is 7 months PG? My stomach after lunch is bigger then that!

    16. So happy for you. You have been working so hard, especially with finishing your training runs. It paid off and you hit your marks and negatives. I’ve been trying to use your focus of imagining the last few miles of a training run as race day with eyes on the finish line. Great job M.
      Pavement Runner recently posted..My Experience on a @StreetStriderMy Profile

    17. you are amazing! I swear your legs are bionic!! I LOVE that you are embracing your amazing time, even if it was not exactly what you wanted, you DID PR, you DID amazing, and you killed that race! You are so in tune with your body and your training, it’s incredible. Kudos to you!
      jobo recently posted..For real this time.My Profile

    18. I love long race recaps, I want all the details! :) What a fantastic pace and smart race, Michele! I’m so inspired and so proud of you. This definitely means good things for your marathon. Fantastic job again!! And I do hope to run the NYC half someday… maybe next year! :)
      Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Blogging, Blending and MovingMy Profile

    19. Amazing job Michele! I love reading your recaps! So detailed. Dressing appropriately for race day is such a hard thing to do! Sometimes I wonder if my core was warmer if my toes and fingers would be warmer. I’m not sure. I did a temp yesterday and it was 10 degrees when I left the house. I wasn’t dressed warm enough, but thought since I was doing temp I’d warm up quick. That didn’t happen. The faster I ran the colder my extremities got. I think it has to do with the blood shunting towards blood and muscles at work. Once I started my “cool down” I warmed up. Wierd.
      Sarah @RunFarGirl recently posted..Hitting Re-set on a Workout and Endorphin Warrior Bracelet WinnerMy Profile

    20. Congrats Michelle! I also had a lot of the same frustrations- got there WAY too early and was freezing waiting around, hills after Harlem Hill were the worst, the wind on 42nd was so miserable! I think my favorite part (hard to pick though- what an awesome race!) was running through the tunnel. The feeling of being surrounded by runners all with the same goal, everyone letting out little screams of joy that the finish was so close- it was something I’ll never forget. That hill coming out WAS tough and I’d forgotten about it until you mentioned it. While I did not get the time I’d hoped, I still did very well considering and I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the whole race and the rest of the day. Seriously huge congrats to you and I can’t wait to do this race again next year!! Good luck in your continued training for the NJ Marathon!

    21. Amazing race Michelle!!! I loved reading this because I went through so much of the same – such a slow 1st mile bobbing people, chocked on ice at the first station, hate the hills after Harlem the most, and cursed that last little one at the end. You’re an inspiration and hope you are basking in the post PR glory this week! :)
      Ashley recently posted..Slow Cooker Beef StewMy Profile

    22. Congratulations!!! Amazing recap – and amazing race! So fantastic when you train so hard and the race just comes together like that – hard work pays off!

      And I try my hardest to run the tangents and it really is frustrating when you wind up running SO much extra. Those little bits add up! I am starting to really enjoy smaller races for that reason.
      Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat recently posted..Taper Week + Injury (?)My Profile

    23. Great race recap, congats on running such a smart, and fast race! I agree with you about the hills, it was the rolling hills in Cental Park that I found hard, and I nearly cried getting up that tiny hill coming out of the tunnel!
      Good luck with your marathon, I can’t wait to read all about it!
      Amy @Honey Badger Runs recently posted..NYC Half RecapMy Profile

    24. Awesome recap and awesome race!!! Negative splits is amazing and sooo hard!!!! I get cold hands too and have a hard time at races because I always overdress at home so when it comes time to race I never know what to wear! My arms would have been freezing if I was you! I like the Saucony gloves that have the mitten part that you can pull over the finger part. I wore those in my race. I had the hardest time putting shorts on when it was 30 degrees with freezing wind! :)
      You do such an amazing job and with 2 little boys too…way to go!

    25. YAY!! What a fun, positive, motivating, inspiring and all around AWESOME race report to read!! You have worked SO HARD these past several months and it ALL paid off Sunday! You ran such a strong, smart race and you DEFINITELY have a sub 1:30 in you and I would say with continued good health and training a sub 1:28 this fall! (if that was a goal. I know you have Iron Man plans!) Keep it up girl! The sky is the limit!!!
      Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom recently posted..Marathon Recovery and Getting Back in the Groove…My Profile

      • AGHHH! Tia! Your comment gave me goosebumps. I need to work on running in the center better. The problem I have is that I don’t know of any “small” half marathons around here. The next one I’m scheduled to run is May and it’ll be close to 10,000 runners probably. Just tough to be in the center when it’s so congested and when you want to pick up the pace – I get really claustrophobic. UGH.
        It’s funny you mentioned 1:28 – another speedy runner whose opinion I trust said the same time goal for me. I guess we’ll see – I’m so excited to be doing the IM this summer but also know I won’t be able to focus on running the way I want until after it’s over.
        Your comment means so much to me – I know you’ve been in my shoes and seeing your times drop so drastically is SUCH a motivating force for me!!
        nycrunningmama recently posted..NYC Half Race RecapMy Profile

        • One thing I’m sure you know but I will mention anyway- as your times lower in the HM and full marathon you will be able to get seeded better in big races. This isn’t a big deal for small races but the closer you can be to that start- the better. You won’t have nearly the amount of runners to weave in and out of and you can save some of your energy. I always try to get seeded in the best corral possible. Once I broke 3:20 (this seems to be a standard corral placement for A around where I live) I was able to get closer to the front.

          Anyway, good luck with the one in May!! :-)
          Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom recently posted..Marathon Recovery and Getting Back in the Groove…My Profile

    26. Amazing, amazing job Michele! I am so happy for you. Loved reading your mile by miles. Your training is kicking butt. Can’t wait to hear about NJ.

    27. Wow great job! Thanks for such an in depth recap I loved it! I need to work on my pacing-I am so bad at that! This post really gave me some insight on race pacing! Congrats on the PR!!!

    28. Congrats on the amazing race!! I think the fact that you ran a PR so soon after having your son is a sign that great things are coming!!

      I was also going to suggest hand warmers – like the kind for skiing – inside your mitts. I have hot hands, but have other running friends who use them and really like them.
      Terry recently posted..Strength Training on vacationMy Profile

      • Thanks, Terry! I am totally kicking myself – I actually HAD hand warmers in my gloves before the race started – used them for the hour+ I was outside before the race started. When I took off my sweats at 7:25, I took them out too. I was worried that they would be too cumbersome in the gloves. I’ve never run with them before and was concerned with trying it for the first time during half. UGH. =)
        nycrunningmama recently posted..NYC Half Race RecapMy Profile

    29. Congrats Michele! You are amazing. I ran a half marathon in DC this weekend. Ive only been running for a year so my goal was to get under 2hrs. Like you I totally bonked on running the tangents and ended up running 13.4 — while my official time was 2:01:51, I was actually really running at a pace that would have put me at 1:58 something!!! I still PR’d so Im trying not to wallow :)

      • It stinks when your Garmin beeps a mile at a pace and you haven’t hit that mile marker yet. So disheartening. The key is to run in the center of the road. I just get so claustrophobic running in the middle of all the people that I prefer running on the outside. UGH!
        Congrats on an amazing half time – especially given you’ve only been running a year! That’s really incredible! Hope you are recovering well. What’s up next for you?
        nycrunningmama recently posted..NYC Half Race RecapMy Profile

      • Rene’ – thank you so much. Honestly, that was the FIRST time I’ve ever had consistent splits. The last time I ran the NYC Half in 2010, I had the same 5k split and ended up running a 1:35:30-something. I usually start entirely too fast and bonk so more than anything else, I’m happy with not starting too fast! =)
        nycrunningmama recently posted..NYC Half Race RecapMy Profile

      • Thank you ! It’s SO SO SO awesome to be racing again and to feel like I have control over my body! =) GOOD LUCK next month – pls let me know how you do!