Alternate title for this post: How to not train and blow your previous time out of the water
Projected finish time I signed up for : 1:50 – I actually laughed at this the night before the race
Projected finish time the morning of: 2:00
Actual finish time: 1:48
I’d just like to start by saying, I have no idea how I pulled this one off. A week and a half later I still haven’t figured it out. My only explanation: Never give up on the ability to surprise yourself.
Also, sorry this recap took so long. Jonathan took some great pictures of the weekend, but he of course lost the camera cord…so for now, no pictures. You’re going to have to settle for the really lovely pictures taken for the race, which are not so great. Basically twelve pictures of me looking completely miserable. Sorry, folks.
On to the recap…
I woke up at 5 am, ready and rearing to go. This might be the first and only race that I wasn’t a ball of nerves. I ate my standard breakfast, drank my coffee, stretched, taped my knee and was out the door by 5:45.
We headed over to Jason and Nic’s place to meet them there and walk over to the corrals together. We also had Suzanne in tow -she came from Boston just to cheer us on!
I was in a different corral than Jason in Nicole but figured I wouldn’t be too far a head of them. Wrong. We had to walk about 6 blocks to get to my corral. I underestimated the sheer size of this race. 15,000 people is a lot. I finally found my corral, said my good-bye’s to Jonathan and Suzanne and waited around in the freezing cold for another 45 minutes.
The National Anthem finally came and went and we were allowed to start moving. I was so excited to start this race just to start moving and get warm. My body was literally shaking from being so cold. It only took about 10 minutes to get past the start line and we made our way around central park. The first few miles were typical – spent weaving around slower runners and trying to find a groove. I was initially concerned with how many people I was passing – I was either going out too fast or there were way too many people in corrals too fast for them. I crossed the one mile mark and saw 8:45 on my watch. Perfect, but that meant there were too many slow people in my corral.
A word to those of you who want to start racing. Do everyone a favor and be honest about your projected finish time. It’s incredibly annoying to have to dodge and dance around people that are much slower than you.
Ok, end rant.
At this point I honestly thought I would keep around an 8:45 pace. I didn’t have much of a plan except for make it to the finish line. My legs felt fast and I felt comfortable so I just continued to go by feel. There were a few miles were I know I clocked under 8 minutes, I just kept telling myself it was because there were so many hills and I must have caught some speed on the down hills. I still did not think I would be running this at the pace I was staying at.
I saw the family around mile 6 and then it was finally time to head out of the Park. I was getting tired of the hills(especially the big one I seriously underestimated) and the paths were way too small to hold 15,000 runners and I spent most of it weaving in and out of people. Once we left Central Park, we turned on to a major street running right through Times Square. I have to say, this was one of my favorite running/racing moments I have experienced thus far. The path opened up into a huge three lane street with tons of cheering fans on either side with the view of Times Square in the distance. Compared to the cramped paths of Central Park, it really felt like you were running practically by your self down the streets of Manhattan. It was really, really cool and I will never forget it. At this point I was till feeling great – fast and comfortable. I held onto the quick pace I was running and tried to take in my surroundings.
Then came mile 8. Oy, mile 8. I don’t know what it is about mile 8 in a half marathon, but it is always my least favorite. We turned out of the crowd-heavy, awesomeness of Times Square onto the crap that is the West Side Highway. The roads were terrible so it was hell on your feet and there was basically nothing to look at. Oh, except for the random stage with Polka dancers. Yes, you read that correctly. It was weird.
My biggest fear going into this had basically reared it’s ugly head midway through mile 8. It was if I ran full speed into a wall. I went from fast and comfortable to feeling like I had slowed to a crawl. I was also not anywhere near comfortable and very obviously undertained. I did all I could to keep going at a pace I could realistically hold for 5 more miles and just focused on getting to mile 9. I basically contuned this until I got to mile 10- unhappy and slow. I passed the ten mile mark and looked at my watch, expecting to have lost a lot of time. Surprisingly, I was still holding good pace so I decided I needed to snap out of it. My awful attitude needed to change. I knew I could still run a good race if I didn’t give up so I turned my music up and ignored any feeling of fatigue or doubt running though my head.
Mile 11 and 12 were much better for me and I could finally see an end in sight. I kept pushing forward and entered a tunnel at the end of mile 12. This was another one of my favorite parts. It was crowded and hot, but everyone was cheering a yelling as we ran though the tunnel and as you came out into the harbor you got zapped with a cold wind and views of the bridges as you ran under them. I also knew the race was finally coming to an end.
I ran past the the ‘800 meters to go’ sign and picked it up. I ran as fast as I could without puking until I finally saw the flags and crossed the finish line. I looked down at my watch and was completely shocked to see 1:48.
1:48. Holy Crap.
And as slow as I felt at the end of this race, my spilts were inpressively even.
5k: 25:58 – 8:18 pace
10k: 51:39 – 8:18 pace
15k: 1:17:11 – 8:16 pace
20k: 1:43:22 – 8:19 pace
13.1: 1:48:49 – 8:18 pace
So when I though I had lost minutes on my pace at miles 8-1o, I had actually only lost 3 seconds. Just goes to show things aren’t always as bad as they seem.
The only thing I can really take from this is 1. Never underestimate the ability to surprise yourself and 2. Never give up. Even when things feel impossible.
I am so happy I did this race, even though I dragged myself through the training. It was a great race and an overall great experience – if I block out mile 8.But I am also so happy to retire my cap from distance running for while. I will obviously still continue to run, just with no pressure. This last year has given me a love for running I never had before, a deeper respect for my body and what it is capable of and an even bigger understanding of the phrase mind over matter. I look forward to getting back into it once I’m ready but for now I need to give myself a break. I know more than anything my body, and mind, needs it.
I’d like to give a big shout out to Jason and Nicole. This was ther first half marathon and they did awesome! They had a much better time than I did. Mostly because they actually trained for this – go figure!
Also, Jason was running and raising money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Fund. He managed to raise a whopping $20, 000 dollars! Seriously impressive. This is a cause very close to the Feig family and if you would like to make a donation, please visit:
Until next time.