Friday, March 28, 2014

The NYC half - race recap from a beginner runner

By Janine:

I wasn't prepared for this race. I signed up for the race lotto thinking I wouldn't get picked, and when I was, I started training but was not consistent due to the Polar Vortex, short days, and me being a wuss.

On race day, the temperature was freezing with high winds. Brian and I wore our Under Armor, hats, gloves, and balaclava’s, and were still freezing. Quitting occurred to me before the race even started, but I had come all the way there and was determined to finish.

Our wave start time was 8:10. ( Brian was scheduled for the faster 7:45 wave but started in the 8:10 to avoid waiting around at the end.) He moved to the front of the line while the rest of us (myself, our friend, and her friend) started in corral 27.

The course started in Central Park for 6 very hilly miles, then went down 7th avenue through Times Square, turned onto the West Side Highway for a few miles, and ended on Water and Wall street.

NYC half 2014 course map
NYC half 2014 course map

Mile one- I cross the starting line and the adrenaline gets the best of me. I take off way faster than I should, realize this after about 3 minutes, slow down, and stick with our friends. 

Mile two - A runner announces we just made it up the first big hill. That was a hill??? Wow, maybe I do have this after all, i’m feeling great.

Mile three - We get into a bottleneck of sorts where the course zig zags. It forces our pace a little slower, and I’m ok with that as I know there is a long way to go.

Mile 4 - The three of us are still together and going up another hill. I am still feeling good and make it up the hill with ease.

Mile 5 - Another hill. Ok this is starting to get old. This one seems steeper than the others. I decide to grab a gatorade at the water station, and lose our friends. My face has finally thawed out and I take off my balaclava, but my hands are still frozen so gloves stay on.

Mile 6- starting to go downhill, and it’s the last mile in Central Park. I can’t wait to get out of the park, i’m over it. My legs are still feeling ok, and my Map My Run app announces that my shitty time isn’t as shitty as it usually is. I start to believe I might actually finish well.

Mile 7 - Times square. My adrenaline rush comes back. I see photographers and get excited. I grab a water at the water station and rush back onto the course. Map My Run announces I ran this mile in 9 minutes and change, and I think maybe I went too fast, so I slow a bit.

Mile 8 - I see the gatorade (or whatever brand they were) GU packs, after the water station. I grab one, struggle to open it. I am starting to get tired. I am in desperate need of water to wash down the GU.. Fail on my part. The app announces I ran 8 miles but I don’t see the 8 mile marker anywhere on the course. Oh crap, the app is wrong!

The real mile 8 - I turn onto the West Side Highway and am hit with a wall of wind that is probably capable of blowing me over. I start to freeze all over again. Almost a full half mile after my app announced 8 miles, I see the 8 mile marker on the course. Shit, my times are all off now. I have no idea how slow I am actually going, and I’m cold and tired. I might not make it...

Mile 9 - I see a water station in the distance. My hip is starting to tighten up, and my nose has now been running for 9 miles straight from the cold and is starting to get raw. I tell myself it’s ok to start walking through the water stations. I get a gatorade and a water, and take my time finishing it. Just keep going....

Mile 10 - The 2:30 minute mile pacer group passes me. It is a low point in the run. I feel like I can’t go any further, but I put one foot in front of the other at a painfully slow pace and keep moving. I start to wonder how far back I am and if I will even make the 3 hour cutoff, since my app is now completely useless.

Mile 11 - I take an extra long walk with my water after the water station. People that look out of shape start blowing by me. My morale is low, and I keep telling myself I just better finish under the cutoff and get that damn medal after all this.

Mile 12 - Ok, almost there, 1.1 more mile. You came this far, you can do this. Every step is painful. I am so tired I just want to walk the rest of the way, but convince myself to keep going some how. My pace is so slow it’s almost a walk anyway...

Mile 13 - ok, on the last mile! Who cares how much it hurts, you are almost finished! I pick up the pace slightly, then enter the tunnel. My app starts going crazy saying I went 15 miles. That really pisses me off. It’s dark in the tunnel and my attention temporarily goes from being tired to trying not to fall or run into anyone. The signs start changing to meters. 800, 400, 200.... Almost there.

Last .1 mile - OK, keep running, pick up the pace and finish strong. This is being recorded after all. I got this... Anyone can run .1 mile! 

I crossed the finish line! Phew. I turn off my useless app, and start looking for my medal, which is nowhere in sight. The time clock was started on the first wave, and I’m too tired to do the math to see if I made it on time. Then I see the medal station and feel a huge sigh of relief. I get my medal and a heat sheet, then see Brian. He tracked my time on the NYC half app and tells me my time is 2:29. Under 2:30!!! yay!!! I know this is still a terrible time but am happy for the extremely small victory of finishing under 2:30. I decide I’m not taking the medal off for the rest of the day. Brian tells me he finished in 2:01 , and I’m so proud of him.

NYC half 2014 finisher medal
NYC half 2014 finisher medal

We enter the recovery zone, and by this point I am so cold I can’t feel any fingers and am shaking uncontrollably. We use the foam roller for a while and get a call from our friend who is by the Staten Island Ferry terminal. We go inside and try to warm up, which isn’t working too well. We get our obligatory picture wearing our medals, then find a place to eat and have celebratory beers.

NYC Half
Frozen but proud to be finished

This race was definitely one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. But, it was a learning experience. I now know how I should approach my training differently, and will wait until I am fully trained and at a much faster pace before signing up for my second half.

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