I don’t know why I decided this year would be the year I would run the NYC Half. I think deep down I thought the strict time limit would motivate me to get faster. That was before I began the January (and February) from, well we won’t say where it was from, but you get the picture.
Adding yet another wrinkle was I ended up going to NJ (for work) for about 2 weeks prior to the race. Which meant I was packing for work plus a race with not much warning. Fortunately I remembered everything except freezing cold weather clothing. Good thing they have stores and expos!
After finishing work on Friday, we dropped the rental car off at the airport, and made our way to our hotel. Since I had decided this was the year for NYC, I wasn’t taking any chances with the lottery. I had gotten the travel package with the guaranteed entry. Plus it meant I didn’t have to try to find a hotel! The hotel (Millennium Hilton) ended up being across the street from the World Trade Center.
Saturday morning we made our way to the expo. It was on the small and crowded side. But that didn’t stop me from spending money, including picking up a pair of bright pink gloves. I didn’t anticipate needing the gloves the entire race, but, spoiler alert, I did. And that is how I ended up wearing bright pink gloves, while rest of me was in green and black.
I’ll save the rest of our day in NYC for another post and skip right to Sunday morning.
Ready for the morning
While not as early as a Disney race morning, it was still early because I wanted to take the shuttle bus from the hotel. In hindsight, I should have taken the metro and slept in. And stayed warm longer.
Overnight the temperatures had dropped significantly. Back down to freezing and even colder when you factored in the windchill. I was not really prepared for this weather. I wandered around trying to keep warm until it was time to line up in the corrals.
I found Abby and we chatted waiting for the start. She also clued me in to the ups and downs of Central Park, literally. The elevation map had scared me a little but then I convinced myself it couldn’t be that bad. Oh but it was.
Waiting for the start
Hillariffic!! Running through Central Park is hillariffic. But running through Central Park is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It was a little hard to believe I was actually doing it! Around the park we went. It took the first mile for feeling to come back into my fingers and two miles before my feet lost that numb feeling. Have I mentioned it was chilly brrr cold?!
The overriding theme throughout my race was don’t get swept. I was seriously worried about the time limit. Each mile I clocked under 13:45 I told myself I was banking for later (in hopes that I wouldn’t need it). The first sweep point (I believe) was exiting Central Park. As I left the park and headed down 7th, I felt a little bit of the pressure release.
Running down 7th towards Times Square was phenomenal! (Side note: I didn’t stop for any pictures because I was that nervous about time.) Times Square! I kept looking around in amazement. Honestly, one of the best ways to experience a city is to run through it. The spectators were fantastic and there was so much energy (which I gratefully sucked up).
The wind met us as we turned onto 42nd street. Hello, wind tunnel. At times it felt like running into a wall of wind.
Amazingly, by the time we turned onto the West Side Highway, 8 miles had gone by. As per usual, I had gone out fast and it was starting to catch up to me. I found it easier to extend my walk intervals, while trying to talk myself out of it.
Soon the Freedom Tower came into sight. Seeing the building rise up in the distance filled me with all sorts of emotions.
And then it was time for one of my favorite on-course entertainment – as I came on them, they were playing Backstreet Boys and as I ran past, *NSync came on. Nineties boy bands? Yes please!
While I was getting so close to the end, I was also losing the mental battle. Going into this race I kept visualizing 2:55 as my time. Partly because that’s about what I had been running before winter really set in, and partly because that would ensure I wouldn’t get swept. However, as much I gritted my teeth, I could not seem to find any type of speed and instead kept plodding along.
It wasn’t until I got to the tunnel that I really believed that I wouldn’t get swept.
Out of the tunnel, across the 20K mat, a few more turns and finally the finish line came into sight!! And that’s when I found that burst of speed that had been eluding me. Done! My time? 3:00.17 – so not under 3 hours, but not over by much.
Almost there (see the pink gloves?)
And then I heard my name. It was Abby!!! We found each other at the start line so it was only fitting we found each other at the finish line!
Yay!! We finished!
All in all, this was a fantastic race. Weather aside, which is always a wild card, I loved the course – Central Park, Times Square, and Freedom Tower. I would love to do it again, hopefully when I’ve actually gotten faster, rather just thought about getting faster.
Knock New York off my “Race the States” list!
This picture cracks me up – and shows how windy it is!!