NYC Half Marathon 2009 – Race report!

No internet (okay, there’s internet, it’s just not free) and some free time before my flight boards means that Jenn is going to try her hand at another race report. After all, I’m sitting here in my medal so it seems like a good time to reflect and pretend that folks aren’t staring strangely at me.

I went into the weekend with some apprehension. While I was really ready for Ottawa when my sinus infection stood in the way of a 100% performance on my part, I’d been taking the summer kinda easy. I can point to any number of things – travelling, a crazy hectic work schedule, whatever. But they’re all just excuses. Bottom line – I wasn’t fully trained.
That said, having run two halves in the past year I know that my body can cope, and that it’s mostly a mind game. And the fact NYC in August is hot and humid (which I find really tough) made me want to enjoy the run – not race it. Which is exactly what I did. My mom is funny – she kept telling me I shouldn’t run because it was too hot. Or that I shouldn’t be scared to drop out during the race. I rolled my eyes (which she couldn’t see since most of this was over text) and told her this wasn’t negotiable and I’d be just fine. I sometimes think that her nerves helped me be less nervous!

The race started in central park this morning at 7. We were to be in our corrals no later than 6:35. I woke up at 5:15 after a night of vivid dreams – each of which had me missing the race for a different reason. I dressed in Ruthie’s kitchen – I didn’t want to turn on a light in the apartment and disturb her (it’s a large studio). I was out of the apartment by 5:55 and hailed a cab on 6th Ave in the West Village. I made sure to tell the cabbie to cut across to the East side before going up to the park because of the road closures. Arrived way faster than I expected – grabbed a cup of water and was in my corral by about 6:15. (For what it’s worth, they let people into the corrals way beyond the 6:35 cut off.) It was already at least 22 or 23 degrees (high 70ies I think — I don’t have internet to look it up, sorry).

In the corral I sat down next to a man against one of the barricades. Passed the time chatting with him. Things seemed really well organized. There were lots of staff around and plenty of porta potties — a cluster for each corral! I took a quick potty break and continued to sit and wait. Watched interesting people – including a girl in what looked like a silver bikini with boy short bottoms. Too bad my parents had my camera! I was also thrilled because Genki the Garmin got satellite reception without any issue at all (don’t get me started about how my car GPS unit I had set to pedestrian mode let me down when I was looking for my friend’s place! Standing with my suitcase at 10:15 at night and NO SATELLITE RECEPTION! )

Okay, deep breath and back to my story. At about 6:50 they introduced the elite athletes — I ran with Deena and Paula (I used to be buddies with Paula when she would say kind and encouraging words to me on my Nike+!) and Catherine the great (who I hadn’t ever heard of, but still!). Each of them said some words to us – Catherine told us to run like eagles which I didn’t really get since, you know, eagles can, um, FLY! But I was pretty pumped.

Around that time they also had us start moving forward as they removed the barricades separating the corrals. A broadway singer did the National anthem and we were off. I crossed the start line about 6 minutes after the start and was on my way. I couldn’t stop smiling for the first few miles – boy is the park beautiful! I haven’t ever run there before but I like to think it would be my “beltline” if I lived in NYC. Sure, it’s hilly, but there’s so much to look at. And the shade made it even better. The paths weren’t super wide, but they never seemed that crowded. I never felt like I was going to be trampled, and passing folks wasn’t much of a problem.
I knew that trying for a PB was not a responsible thing to do given the lack of training and heat, but Genki told me that I was doing a sub 6 minute KM. At which point I decided to make my goal to have a negative split. And that I would try and keep a 6:30km pace as that was probably 20 seconds faster than my long run speed last weekend so I slowed myself down. I had a fun time trying to get myself to hit those goals. When there was a water station, I would have to slow down to drink, and then run quick to get my pace back to a 6:30. For the first half, though, I felt like I was holding myself back. Not a bad thing when you have a lot more to go – and it’s just getting hotter. I also texted a bit, which helped me to slow myself. My favourite moment in the park was when I finished the first part of my playlist (a podcast) and the song Walk in the Park by Oh No! Oh My! came on. I was just so happy.

Leaving the park was great – I knew I was more than halfway done (I believe that we left the park sometime between 7 and 8) and that next up was Times Square where the parental units awaited my arrival. There was something so awesome about running down 7th with the big tall buildings on either side and no cars at all. And then we arrived in Times Square – my Mom and Dad had texted where they were standing, so I knew when to start looking. Of course, I was on the wrong side of the street, but ran right over to them for some kisses and cheers. I told them I was having so much fun, and continued. There was a giant sing-a-long as had been promised in the information I had read about the race – they were singing Love Shack when I passed by.

Running along 42nd to the West Side Hwy was fine. Between times square and the highway I don’t think there was very much, but I didn’t mind.

The rest of the run took us south along the Highway to battery park. I missed central park. Even though this was flat, it was SO HOT and there was no shade. It was really really bad. I kept pushing myself, and watching the street numbers go down, hoping to see the finish line.

Instead I ran into my roomie from university Reshma, and her boyfriend who were running together. Resh is a real trooper and was running her first half marathon despite being diagnosed with Bronchitis a few days before. I chatted with them for a few minutes, and with about 1.5 miles left decided to push ahead.

The last few km were REALLY rough. It was all I could do from slowing to a walk. I kept telling myself that the faster I ran, the quicker it would be over. I was singing the song from Finding Nemo – “just keep swimming! just keep swimming!” – and dying.

Then all of a sudden the sign said 200m to go. There weren’t many metric signs, and I got REALLY excited to see a distance I could understand. I started to pick up my pace and managed to “sprint” the last 100m. I heard my parents cheering as I was running as fast as I could.

I was going hard when I crossed the finish line. I could not have lasted much longer. It was SO FREAKING HOT OUT! On a side note, I ran in long sleeves (I hate getting sun) and did not see a single other person in long sleeves. My parents said they saw one other person.
I nearly cried tears of joy when they handed me a cold towel. I could have kissed the people handing out the Gatorade and water. I was the happiest kid ever not to be running anymore.

I met up with my super amazing parents who had shlepped the go jenn sign all the way to NY with them (pics are coming, don’t worry). We saw Resh and Mike, and then wandered around Battery Park. I’ve been to NYC countless times, but it was my first time seeing the Statue of Liberty! Funny.

When my parents pointed out there was no line at the medical tent, indulged in a quick and free calf massage. Then we headed back uptown – my parents and I parting ways.

I wore my medal all day long. To brunch in the West Village, then shopping and walking along the Upper West Side. And finally on my Porter flight home.

Another first – I got searched by customs. But don’t worry, the agents got what was coming to them when they opened my suitcase to find running gear, smelly shoes and disgusting laundry. After pulling out my water belt, my travel stick (which I had to explain to them) and my STINKY laundry bag, I guess he realized I really *was* in NY for a race (yes, I was still wearing the medal at that point). He stopped digging and let me go. Hurray!
One more thing – RIP Lululemon Water Bottle. I have been loving my Lululemon running belt – it has three bottles (unlike my other belt that only has 2) and a great sized pouch (I can fit my phone and 2 gels!). One bottle managed to fall out sometime before Time Square, though. Sigh. I wonder if they sell just the bottles? Maybe I can call and ask them for a replacement!

So there you have it, the NYC Half Marathon. Running in the city was just fantastic – and I hope to do it again. Hopefully in cooler weather (hm… November is a cooler month… marathon maybe?) but we’ll see what the future holds.

Note: Finished the post Monday night. And now it’s so totally bed time!

5 Responses to “NYC Half Marathon 2009 – Race report!”

  1. jeff Says:

    awesome! great work!
    surprised i didnt see you at porter – i was on the flight from chicago that night. don’t they come in around the same time?

    hopefully see you in the BLDG soon 🙂

  2. Marlene Says:

    Congrats Jenn! Great race report! I totally felt like I was there. I would sooo love to run in NYC, through the Park and Times Square. Sounds like you really got to enjoy it… despite a super hot day. Great job!!

    (Yes, November sounds better!)

  3. Nehal Says:

    Thanks for writing that!

    The report is really in depth and I would have to agree with Marlene, it felt like I was there 🙂

  4. Lisa Says:

    Great report Jenn! Sounds like you had an awesome time – heat and all!

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