2014 Staten Island Half Marathon Race Recap

Happy Monday! I keep forgetting that today is a holiday. My oldest is off from school but my husband has work – so it doesn’t feel like an actual holiday!

Yesterday was the Staten Island Half Marathon. It was the 4th time I ran this race. Other than the first year, I can’t say that I’ve had a good experience with the race. Here’s a quick run-down:

– 2010: 2:00:15 – 6 months pregnant. Ran it with my husband and good friend from college. Had a blast!

si half
– 2011: 1:38:57 – Ran it as a tuneup 3 weeks before the NYC Marathon. Was shooting for sub-1:35 but started way too fast and had a rough 2nd half.

si half2
– 2013: DNF – Ran it as a tuneup before the Philly Marathon 5 weeks later. Started fast and started feeling hamstring pain around mile 8 so stopped at mile 9.

si half3

I really was focused on a strong race and effort, regardless of the finish time – but I also was looking to get a big course PR and try to get an overall PR.

For some reason this course is considered a fast course – but I really don’t know many runners who will agree with that statement. So who is spreading these rumors about it being fast? In my opinion, there’s three things that make it a tougher course than it appears:

1. Hills: The course changed last year and instead of 5+ flat miles along the water (2.5 in each direction), it now takes you along Bay Street which has a handful of hills in both directions. They aren’t major hills but it feels like it’s constantly going up or down. There’s a few other significant climbs, including one that begins as you pass the mile 9 marker – that lasts for a while – over 1/2 mile. My garmin showed over 600 ft of gain and mapmyrun shows almost 500. Quite a bit for a half marathon.

2. Wind: even if it’s a calm day on the rest of Staten Island, there is always a headwind in one direction when you are running along the water. It wasn’t terrible yesterday (10-12 mph) but it was enough where you could feel it and have it affect your pace.

3. My Garmin is always off by at least .3-.4 when I run this course. It’s strange because there aren’t a lot of turns – it’s almost a straight out and back course. But starting from mile 1, my garmin beeps about 5-10 seconds early and continues in that fashion through the end – and it’s done this every year I’ve run it.  I’m not saying the course is long – it’s certified – so obviously it’s not. Whatever the reason, I knew that to run a PR (sub-1:31:57) would mean running ~5 seconds faster per mile than it looks on paper.

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I wasn’t feeling great beginning Saturday afternoon. My boys and I went over my sister’s and I was so cold that I needed two jackets on in the house (while everyone else had on t-shirts). For the rest of the day, I felt feverish and had a pounding headache. I decided at 8pm to take some Nyquil – not the best idea with an early wakeup for the race, but I was worried about getting sleep and wanted a peaceful 7-8 hours.

I woke up at 5am and felt better – sluggish from the Nyquil – but no fever and the chill was gone. It was time to race.

I left at 6:30am to pick up my sister, Nicole, and head to the start. We were parked and heading to get our packets by 7:30am. Easy peasy. I ran a 1.5 mile warmup (felt awful) and was in my corral sitting and stretching by 8:05.

Up until the gun going off, I was contemplating going to my sister’s corral and running with her. I was making excuses as to why it wasn’t a good day to race – not feeling 100%, the Nyquil, my sister giving her first half marathon another shot. But in the end, I knew they were just that – excuses. The fear of pain, the fear of trying and coming up short, the fear of failure always go through my head in the hours leading up to a race.

I think that is why racing is so important. It not only teaches you to push your body physically, but also mentally. Teaches you to get those voices out of your head when things get tough or when you are scared. And after you have a couple of successful races, you hopefully begin to quiet those voices down before they even begin.

Pre-race Nutrition consisted of 1/2 slice bread with peanut butter (I couldn’t stomach the rest of it) + 1.5 servings of Generation uCan. I felt like I should eat more but I had no appetite. I typically take a gel right before the race starts but didn’t feel like I needed it. I also usually take one halfway through the course – and planned on it – but never felt like I needed it.

Race

I am pretty pleased with how things went for the first 7 miles. I was running hard but it felt comfortably hard and manageable and I continually pulled my pace back so that I wouldn’t start too fast. My splits were all pretty consistent during these miles.  6:57, 6:51, 6:54, 6:56, 6:53, 6:55, 6:56

Just past mile 7, we turned around and were now running into the wind. I really didn’t want to race anymore at this point. There’s always that part of me that wants to just stop when things get hard. I hate that I start having thoughts of quitting and giving up. Does this happen to anyone else? What made it harder was that my family was at mile 6.5 and 8.0 and so it would have been really easy to just walk off the course. I even considered staying with them until my sister ran by and finishing the race with her.

In the end, I pushed on which I’m thrilled about. Mile 8 and 9 were still on track with goal pace despite the wind – 7:02, 7:03.

And then mile 10 happened. The hill (mapmyrun shows it as .7 miles long) sucked the life out of my legs. I knew my pace would slow down but when I reached the top of the hill and saw an 8:45 pace, my heart sunk. I got it down to 8:09 for that mile, but the chance of a PR was left on that hill.

The last three miles were closer to goal pace – not sub-7 – but close. I was in pain but the miles kept ticking by and the thought of sweet relief and finishing kept me moving forward. Miles 11-13: 7:04, 7:08, 7:02.

Last .36 miles: 6:59 pace – it’s a steep downhill towards the finish and then straight into the ballpark. The coolest part is that the finish line is home plate in the Staten Island Yankees Ballpark

Stats:
1:33:55 (official time) – 7:11 pace
13.36 miles (7:01.7 pace per garmin)
46th female out of 4,466
594 overall out of 9,518
5:02 course PR =)

photo (42)

I’m bummed that I didn’t run closer to my PR (I was 2 minutes off) or even PR (which was my A goal, but I know not every race is going to be perfect. I pushed hard for 13+ miles yesterday and in the end, that will only help me come marathon day in 5 weeks (AGH!).

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The real highlight of the day was what followed after I crossed the finish line. I put my medal in my baggage and grabbed my phone and ran back onto the course to find my sister, Nicole, who was finishing!

I met up with her around mile 11 and got to run the last two miles with her!photo 2 (14)

It was amazing to be next to her in those final moments before she became a half marathoner! She tackled the hills, wind and had a great race!

photo 1 (16)

 

photo (43) photo (44)So overall a really great, amazing day! As much as I am not a fan of the course, it’s always hard to pass up the SI Half – it’s my hometown half. It’s so much fun to see familiar faces on the course running and cheering. And I’m thrilled I got to see a ton of friends this year – Nicole, Pamela, Tommy, Mark, Tommy, Joe, Patricia – to name a few!

Have you raced the SI Half? 

Did you race this weekend? How did you do?

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I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

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    27 thoughts on “2014 Staten Island Half Marathon Race Recap

    1. Congrats Michele on your PR and to your sister!!! That’s so so awesome. You’re definitely not alone in wanting to quit when it starts to get rough during a race (or a run for me too!) and it’s really hard not to listen to those thoughts sometimes. But you didn’t. I thought about running the SI half because they said it was fast but now I know that they are lying haha!

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    3. You have such a good attitude Michele! And as you have done this race many times, I would say a 5 minute course PR is definitely something to be proud of. We can be so hard on ourselves about these races, and I am struggling right now, especially with running a 3+ minute PR at Chicago, but because it was not even close to the Trials Qualifier, it really bothers me. You are a great person to follow during this time, as you always know what to say, and our races seem to sync up often. Good things are coming, we just need to be patient!
      Tina Muir recently posted..Meatless Monday- Homemade Whole Wheat BreadMy Profile

    4. Yesterday I read this post. I teach 3rd grade and we are working on daily writing, capturing the small moments,and trying to write from a deeper, more meaningful perspective. I loved your post and these words you wrote, “There’s always that part of me that wants to just stop when things get hard. I hate that I start having thoughts of quitting and giving up. Does this happen to anyone else?”, really captured my attention as a writing teacher. I shared your post and these words with my students. Many of my students could relate and were inspired to write yesterday. Thank you!
      Kara A. Forrest recently posted..Maine Marathon: Full Race RecapMy Profile

    5. Nice job on your race. With over 500 feet of elevation it is hard to get a personal PR, but you did great getting a course PR. Hilly half marathons are tough and I ran my toughest one in June in Asheville, NC. Thank goodness I did not study the course map ahead of time….it would have scared me with 917 feet of elevation and starting at over 2000 feet above sea level. I called my daughter after the race and told her there was no way I could run Boston. (I train at sea level in NC where it is very flat as well) But after talking with the 5th overall woman, she assured me I would be fine next April! You will get a big PR once you get back on a flat course!
      Pam recently posted..Win Detergent Review and GiveawayMy Profile

    6. Isn’t it funny how we have these “personal” relationships with different race courses? I totally get that and I have a nemesis in the New Haven 20K, yet I go back and race it every year! Great job finishing strong!!!…even when you want to give up. Yes, I’ve been there and it’s awful. Absolutely love that you had your sister to run in. Great photos and just so great cheering someone else in.
      Allie recently posted..Goals Are Like Dreams – Everybody’s Got One!My Profile

    7. I totally agree that the course change last year to bay st vs along the water added lots of “annoying” rolling hills. I was having some knee issues and all of the ups and downs made it hurt more. Mile 9’s climb kills me every year and I almost always walk it (i’ve been running this race 8 years straight) now but this year the 2:15 pace group was catching up to me and I listened to the pacer’s coaching advice. He reminded everyone proper form for hills, use the arms and work like you’re giving uppercut punches etc. It really helped me and I didn’t walk the hill this year! I was gasping for air at the top though =) I set a course PR but still 10 minutes slower than my overall pr. I honestly don’t know how anyone can say this is a fast course. Maybe miles 6-9 are fast. Heck that first hill before mile 1 can be tough. Congrats on a strong race and more importantly for getting to create a great memory you and your sis will share forever. Congrats to her! She’s well on her way to her first full.
      I’ll always run this race each year just because it’s my hometown.
      sally @ sweat out the small stuff recently posted..3 days straight of fun and I’m not complaining one bitMy Profile

      • Ohhh! So glad to hear that there are other runners who are in agreement about the course! I heard a bunch of people chatting ahead of me as it was getting ready to start talking about how much they loved the course!
        Congrats on getting to the top of that monster without walking!!
        And thank you!! =)
        nycrunningmama recently posted..2014 Staten Island Half Marathon Race RecapMy Profile

    8. That is SO awesome that you did that with your sister :)…it is such a great memory that you share!!!! In my opinion, that is what running is all about and is way more special than any PR :)!!!
      Ugh, I am the same exact way…I tend to give up when it gets rough or when it is not going my way…the thing is, I seem to be that way WAY more in races than training! I really am not sure why…this last half that I ran I tried REALLY hard not to be that way. I kept telling myself that I don’t give up in training runs and I should not give up in races. I went into my last 1/2 trying to pretend it was a training run and tried not to psych myself out…I really think it helped!
      Jen@milesandblessings recently posted..Training Week, Fall Favorites and A Giveaway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!My Profile

    9. You did a great job and it was so awesome for you to go back out and run in with your sister to support her in her first half, especially for the last 2 miles where it can get really difficult! It stinks that you didn’t PR, but at least it was a course record for you, you finished and didn’t give up on that hard hill, and you ran a strong race. I hate running when groggy from a medicine or something too, that always makes it harder and a half is already pretty difficult.

      I raced this weekend and like you, course was harder than it looked and mile markers were slightly off. No PR for me either but it’s done. Good luck with your marathon!
      Amy Lauren recently posted..October 6-12 Recap: Birthday WeekMy Profile

    10. “The fear of pain, the fear of trying and coming up short, the fear of failure always go through my head in the hours leading up to a race. I think that is why racing is so important. It not only teaches you to push your body physically, but also mentally. Teaches you to get those voices out of your head when things get tough or when you are scared.” This really resonated with me; I feel like those words could have come from my own mouth. And also like you said, sometimes I think “I could just stop. No one’s making me do this. The world won’t end if I just slow down or stop.” But I don’t. And you don’t. And that, in and of itself, is something to be proud of. Congrats on a terrific race! And yay for your sister!!!