Thursday, March 20, 2014

The NYC Half: A Personal Record Story

I had been hoping to run the NYC Half for the past three years, but had not managed to be chosen in the lottery until this year.  Even this year, I only got in via a secondary lottery.  But I got in.  I knew I wanted to make the most of this race, but had a limited training window due to Super Bowl.  I trained consistently and intensely for six weeks...and it showed on race day!

The expo was great.  I went in the evening after work, but it wasn't too crowded.  I liked looking around at the booths.  And taking some photos, too.  They had a neat area set up where runners could write why they run.  It was fun to look at all the reasons listed there.

I hadn't been feeling super great the week prior to the race.  I'm blaming it on the yo-yo weather.  This had me a bit concerned leading up to the race, but I just layered up and headed out there.  It was about 31 degrees for the entire time I was out on the course, but I started with earmuffs and my new Nike gloves. 

I ate a banana and tried to load up on water while I was getting ready.  I left my apartment with plenty of time to get to Central Park on time, but had a bit of a debacle with the cab driver and a short stop at the port-o-potty that put me at the back of the wave two corral. I was determined to keep a 12 minute mile pace.  And I was pretty much on target through all of hilly Central Park.  My 5k time was 36:28.  I was feeling great and starting to warm up.  The earmuffs came off around this time.  The next three miles includes the difficult hills on the west side of the park.  I decided to speed walk up them and make up the time on the down hill and flat stretches in between to conserve some energy for the second half of the race.  It worked for me because my 10k time was 1:14:49 - just a tad off my starting pace.  I was pleased...and headed into the flat portion of the course.

Out of the park, we ran through Times Square, an area particularly familiar to me since I live just 1/2 a block east.  This part was a lot of fun for me.  Usually Times Square is jam packed full of people and cars.  Not a great atmosphere.  At all.  But on this day, it was perfect.  Another reason I loved it is because Christopher was set to meet me there.  He was able to get a couple of great pics of me, too!  I gave him my earmuffs and gloves because I *thought* the coldest part was over.  He also handed off my chews.  I didn't stop long, but it was good to see him.  I had run the first 10k hard and this pit stop gave me the encouragement I needed to keep pushing through.

The turn at 42nd street to make our way to the final stretch on the west side highway was brutal.  The wind was coming full blast into us.  I wished I still had my gloves and earmuffs.  I think I lost some ground here because of both the wind and my exhaustion.  I devoured my chews and kept pushing along.  Once we made it to the west side highway, the winds subsided, but I was still struggling.  My 15k time was 1:54:12.  I was roughly 6 minutes off my pace.  In other words, I had a 1/2 mile to make up if I wanted to finish in line with my goal.  I was

I was determined to finish strong so I turned those last 4 miles into a game.  I picked a point and ran as fast as I possibly could toward it.  Then, I rewarded myself with a brief walk break after each successful completion.  I played that game until we hit the Battery Tunnel.  It was dark in there so I just tried to stick with a steady pace and prayed for daylight.  The strategy seemed to work for me as I was able to make up a little time on these miles recording a 20k time of 2:33:59.  This put me roughly 10 minutes off my pace with just under a mile left to go.  I knew that I would not be able to make up that time, but I wanted to run that last 800km strong.  I gave it every last bit that I had.

And I could not have been more thrilled to sprint to the finish with a final time of 2:42:05 - a personal record by 5 minutes!  That is huge for me!! I mantained a 12:23 per mile pace. I was pumped and completely exhausted all at the same time.  I got my medal, goodie bag, and heat sheet before my phone died.  I was close to a melt down after the unneccesarily long finish chute that was the required exit of all runners.  I ended up having to loop back walking another mile at least until I was in the area I planned to meet Christopher.  I was completely done at that point.  This finish area is by far the worst aspect of the race.  NYRR definitely needs an early exit for runners without baggage to claim.  Or something.  It's terrible!

After I calmed down, we rushed home for me to get ready for brunch with my friends and fellow finishers - Amanda and Reba.  Alice's Tea Cup was the perfect spot for us after 13.1 miles through NYC!

Andrea :)


  1. I loved reading this, Andrea! Found your blog through The Lady Okie. Good on you!

  2. This is awesome, congrats to you!!