At this point in my Marathon training it’s pretty cool to say that I wasn’t nervous about running a half-marathon this time! I have run 2 others, in a race setting – 2012 Maryland Half-Marathon and 2013 Marseille Half-Marathon. The first was the longest distance I had ever run and I trained pretty well for it … that didn’t change that 13.1 miles is super far and difficult! Since then I have lost nearly 20 lbs and upped my mileage big time. The second, in Marseille last year I did not put in the training necessary, my heart wasn’t in it really. I was doing it since my friend encouraged me and it was her first race, ever! My experiences were so different in the two. At the end of my first I was exhausted but so happy and proud! I finished in 2 Hours and 34 Mins. Not fast by any means but I was still super proud! The Marseille half brought beautiful scenery but it rained the entire time and I was miserable. I was tired already by mile 7 and knew the rest would be rough. I powered through but it took me 2 hours and 25 mins, an improvement but not huge. I was exhausted and depleted after that race and I remember thinking, when crossing the finish, ” holy crap, what if this was only halfway. I could NEVER do a marathon!”.
Never say never.
So it was nice to find this Ladies only half marathon in NYC that fit perfectly into my training plan! I was technically supposed to do a long run of 12 miles this weekend to recover from last weeks 18. 13.1 with a medal and cheering at the end is much more enjoyable! 😀
I arrived in NYC via MegaBus Friday afternoon and picked up my race packet at the Expo. I also bought another race belt (without water bottles) that had much less bounce, that I could carry my GU gels and cell phone while I ran. It’s called Fitletic Running Belt. I really like it. The pouch is Neoprene for waterproofing your goodies and it comes with removable race number holder toggles. I recommend it! Got my number and shirt and headed to my friend’s house to unload my hiking backpack and go enjoy NYC food!
Since my friends stay in the Upper West Side of NYC that’s where our restaurant are. Here are the places they took me, all amazin’: Cascabel Taqueria for Friday dinner, 16 Handles (frozen yogurt, nothin super special but still. mmm), PeaceFood on Saturday afternoon and it makes you feel pretty good. Lots of vegan/veggie options and it’s all delish! Fred’s on Sunday for brunch after my race. Super fantastic and tons of options. Service is super friendly too!
Saturday was fun. We enjoyed riverside park and did some slow running/jogging to keep my legs fresh. Then that night, I went down to Broadway to enter a few show lotteries. If you don’t know what these are, check it out! If you go about 2 hours before most shows begin they hold lotteries where you enter your name and if they draw it you can buy tickets for super cheap and super close to the stage. I entered Kinky Boots and If/Then (more on this later) since the timing worked out and they were close to each other.
There is no limit to how many times you can enter and you’ll have better chances if you can go during the week. You can enter once per person per evening, per show but you can buy up to 2 tickets if your name is drawn.
Unluckily, I wasn’t chosen for either of the shows. But luckily, at the If/Then show they offered a limited number of $50 partial view tickets to the lottery losers (me!). The cheapest ticket otherwise was $79 (and also partial view). Partial view for If/Then means that you can’t see some of the characters when the walk on this above stage catwalk thingy but otherwise it’s perfect! You hear everything and see nearly everything and I do not regret my choice to be in the partial view seats.
So about if/then … it only opened on March 30th, 2014. I didn’t realize that I was seeing one of the first weeks of their shows, which is pretty cool! The biggest draw to this show? Idina Menzel plays the main character (Frozen, Wicked, Rent, Glee … ring a bell?!!!). Other characters were big names too, such as Anthony Rapp (played Mark in the original cast of Rent). The show was amazing! The second half left me with goosebumps, tears and smiles. See this show peeps, you will not regret it! The songs lyrics and parts were written well and the acting and singing is so wonderful.
I feel so privileged, I got a special treat (along with the rest of the audience) after the standing ovation died down… Once a year they raise money for AIDS research and Awareness and they said they’d collect money in the hallways. But they said that they would do something more, for the highest bidder in the audience, they could come on stage and they would sing (Idina and Anthony, and the rest of the cast) Seasons of Love (from RENT) to them (with them!)!!! WHAT!!! The bidding quickly rose into several thousands of dollars and though there was no way I could pay that, they got TWO separate people to pledge $4,000 .. that’s $8,000 to go onto stage with these stars and hear this song. BUT, I also got to hear it … kinda for FREE. hehe. It was AMAZING! I mean, goosebumps, smiles and tears amazing! I felt so so so lucky to be there for that! Some of the best $50 I have ever spent! 😀
I guess it is about time I began talking about the actual reason I was in NYC – the More/Fitness Women’s Half Marathon! What an amazing race this was. There were 8,000 women running this race with me. It was a little over 2 laps around central park on an absolutely beautiful day! I was up at 6am so that I could attempt eating a bagel with peanut butter and some juice. My body didn’t like that so much, so I took it to go. I walked from my friend’s apartment at 86th and Broadway down to the starting line (near 65th street, west side). I ate my bagel and walked briskly to warm up a bit. It was overcast, but still the temperature was fine to wear running capris and Tshirt, which was so nice!
I was equipped with my Garmin Forerunner 220 (which I LOVE) + HR Monitor, ipod shuffle and Bose headphones, my new running belt with attached number (chip included for race timing) and 4 GU gels (one with high caffeine for 15 minutes prior to race and three for during). When I arrived close to the start I was amazed at how many people were there (women!). My number and expected finish time put me in the corral with numbers in the 3,000’s, there was a corral with numbers 11,000+. WOW! I made my way to the corral about 15 mins prior to the race and ate my caffeine GU while I waited and listen to announcements. Hoda KotB was our start announcer, which was cool AND Deena Kastor (American Olympic bronze medalist in the Marathon distance a few years back) was running the race (she was in the front, duh, so I didn’t see her). She finished this year in a track record time of 1 hour 11 mins … that’s a 5 min 29 second mile…for 13 miles. AMAZING!
I felt good and was ahead of pace (oops) for the first 7 miles and then I started to get a little tired. Dang it 7 miles. What is up. Granted, I was running average miles at/around 9 mins. Way faster than I usually run, especially long runs. I decided to back off a bit (closer to 9 min 30s miles) and then at mile 8 my friends surprised me ! They said they would probably be around mile 11. It is sooooo helpful to have people cheering especially for you. 😀 So that gave me a little pick up. I ate my gels at 4.5, 8 and 11.2 or so. I think they helped but I believe each time I waited a little to long to eat them. I’ll work on that.
The course itself was fine. There was really only one main hill that would cause trouble for runners, and it wasn’t that hard until the second lap. It’s at the North end of the park, from past reviews people call it Harlem Hill … I could be making that up. It’s really not that bad but it’s something, especially when you’re already a little tired. Just bare down and get through it! There was a guy yelling “Come on ladies, it’s just a hill … GET OVER IT!” I smiled at this. He was right. Just get over it and it’s done! The race organizers did well with water stop placement and availability. runners were courteous in these places and generally kept moving.
TIP: if you don’t do races a lot, know this, you don’t have to stop at the first set of cups/water bottles you see. Generally, and especially in big races, there are lines and lines of tables. Keep running/jogging until you see the tables about to end, then turn in and grab you some cups/bottles. It helps everyone if at least half of the people do this. If not, there are traffic jams. And that can be frustrating.
My most proud moment, being able to sprint at the finish. For this race the hardest part was that you had to do 2 full laps around the park and the 1.1 miles extra. So you start a third loop and then turn into the park for the finish. When I finally did this turn into the park (that I thought would never come) I picked up the pace and the closer I got the faster I ran. It was nice to have some juice left for this. In my last 10 mile race in February, I had nothing left. I jogged across the line, for this one it was a sprint. 😀
My official finish time: 2 hours 8 mins ! A personal record (in races and training)! So Proud.
Afterwards I got my medal, my mylar heat blanket and found my friends. We celebrated with Brunch (with mimosas!), a nice long hot shower and then I took my megabus back to State College. All in all, it was such a wonderful weekend! I am so glad I did this and I can’t wait until the next one. I love the half marathon distance and I think I will stick to it after my marathon and shoot for a time under 2 hours for the next one … we’ll see. 😀
Thanks for reading ! You guys are troopers!