That Time I: Ran NYC – United NYC Half Marathon Recap

IMAG2851I know I know, I’m almost a month post race and FINALLY writing my recap….SORRY!  Life has gotten the best of me the past few weeks with stress taking away any and all motivation was sucked out of me.

But slowly I am finding my way back to life.  Just in time also, the More/Fitness Half Marathon is in less then two week!!!  No pressure there.

Anyway, finally posting about the United NYC Half Marathon on March 15, 2015. This was quite an experience.

IMAG2861I was scheduled to be in Wave 3 which didn’t have to be in till about 7:45-8:00am, but as I was running with American Cancer Society DetermiNation team, we were scheduled to be at our meeting spot for group pictured and information by 6:30am.  It was fun to see everyone up so early, dressed for the race, wearing our Green DetermiNation shirts, ready to run the streets of NYC!

We went outside, took our picture then I ventured over with some new friends I had met at the dinner the night before.  This was my first experience walking through some metal detectors to get to a start line, but I guess this is the race day precaution we will see at these important USTAF events throughout the country post Boston bombing. It’s really a sad state that now these sports events have to be monitored in such a way.

As we walked down to our corral section, we made the mandatory porta-potty stop. IMAG2877 There were a fair amount and the lines were manageable – probably because Wave 1 runners were in their corrals and most Wave 2 runners were almost to their corrals as well.

Then came more waiting.  This has been, by far, the largest race I have ran to date. My 4th Half Marathon with just over 20,000 runners! So the waiting around was of course going to be longer then I have been used to. Also not helping was the weather – it was quite overcast, the sky filled with clouds. I was grateful for my Old Navy Active Running Jacket keeping me warm!

Away we go – for a lovely 13.1 mile tour of NYC starting with nearly 6 miles of Central Park running.  I was told there would be hills, but my goodness, if you have never run in Central Park and have rarely trained hills, it would appear that Central Park is filled with mountains instead!  I was feeling it by the 5k, all those little rolling hills, up, down, up, down for 3 miles. Even the short run out on 110th Street was a small hill.  I felt ok during this time, I was pretty much still within my predicted pace of 12:30 per mile.

Back around the 2.5 mile mark my Garmin decided to save the run, as if I was anywhere close to be finished.  So as any good runner would do, I simply restarted it. This race would have two files for it.

However, we rounded the corner back in to the Park and SURPRISE! There was my mountain.  This was not a rolling hill, this was a nice long uphill battle.  I walked most almost all of that uphill. My body was extremely unhappy – guess not running for 2 weeks prior can have that affect! (I was rear ended on a bad snowy day two weeks before race day, suffered a moderately severe muscle sprain in my neck/shoulder/back area – ug, timing).  But I pushed through. I cursed a lot, I sent some angry texts, I fought.

Within the first 5k I also found a bit of marketing magic on behalf of United Airlines – they posted mileage signs for distances to far off places from where we were along the route.  These signs were scattered throughout the 13.1 mile tour.  I enjoyed seeing them, seeing how far I was from some interesting places.  Even more so as a traveler, it made me want to run away to some of those locations (especially as I was cursing CP Hills!).
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IMAG2889Eventually I got to the top of that mountain. I was thrilled, it had to be mostly downhill from here. Now to just find the park exit on to 7th Avenue.  Knowing from there I was about to see my mother (a much needed support boost) and we were halfway done by about then!

As I excited the park I got a tiny rush. I could see Times Square off in the distance. ItIMAG2894 was 10  blocks away! My mother was 6 blocks away.

I could do this, the rest is pretty flat, home free. Right until my ITB started bugging out, my lungs were unhappy, my body was revolting. I knew I was keeping my running jacket on so at my mom’s pit stop I put my GU packets, the photo of my dad I was running with (as this race all started as an honor to him), and a few various other items in to the pockets of the jacket, I then handed my hydration belt off to my mom and IMAG2901with one last quick hug and kiss I was off to finish 6.5 more miles.

I am not going to lie, the marketing push for running the NYC Half Marathon tells the truth – running through TIMES SQUARE really was a rush. As a New Yorker, there really was nothing like running down the middle of 7th Avenue right through the heart of the busiest intersection in the world!

After Times Square we headed west along 42nd street down to West End Highway.  We ran north for about 2 blocks before swinging back south for the next four miles.

We turned south at the intrepid, quite a big ship when you are standing under it!

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Not going to lie – this was also a tough stretch for me.  Personally, this was the hardest half I have run yet….both physically and mentally.  Yes, somewhere along this 4 mile stretch I almost quit the race, I cried, I asked my dad for some support because I didn’t want to let him down, I walked – A LOT! I questioned why I started running, I questioned my abilities, my training, my strength.

During the course I took a couple seconds out to take a quick pic of some of the cute or funny signs I saw while running!
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Remember back when my watch stopped and I restarted – well, I couldn’t remember what the time was when I restarted the Garmin. However, somewhere around mile 11 I realized I was off by about 20 minutes in my guesstimation calculations. I wasn’t within my overall potential goal finish time, but I was within my goal of a time faster then my last half a year ago.  That helped, somewhat, with re-igniting my motivation for this race.

Around mile 12 I realized that I was almost finished.  That in about 13-15 minutes I’d be finished with this awful race experience.  So, I did what any good runner does – I ran!  Well, ok, so I fumbled because my ITB just wasn’t having much running anymore. But I pushed through and I finished the damn race!

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I finished the damn race with a new PR!  My splits were a bit horrendous – Central Park just killed me. Although it looks like everything was off by only 4-6 minutes per 5K marker from what I have run in the past.  But I was proud of myself for pushing through, for not giving up or giving in, for letting my will overpower my doubts. Mostly I was proud for accomplishing a goal I truly worked hard for over the past 4 months, and for finishing it with a group I truly support (American Cancer Society).

Of course, I was scarred after this race. Central Park, those mountainous hills, the doubts, the questions, all of it scarred.  However, like any good runner, I took a week to mull over the race, then I signed up for the More/Fitness Women’s Half Marathon a month later (or I guess at this point a week away).  Yes, I am heading back in to the place that left me wounded to overcome it.  NYC put up a hell of a good fight – I shall call this race a draw.  But at least in the end, I still took home the prize: IMG_20150315_140639

Afterwards, I hobbled my way down the subway stairs, on to the 2 train, over to the 1 train, up the stairs at 50th and Broadway and back to our hotel.  I sat down, I showered, I put my sneakers back on (my foot would not dare to enter any other shoe) and went off to a celebratory brunch at Rue 57 with my mother!  Now that the race was over, I was excited about what I accomplished. I acknowledged where I doubted myself, but was thrilled to realize I still possess a certain strength. I proudly wore my medal to brunch, to the Penn, on the LIRR, only taking it off when I got home and wanted to nap.
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