When your best friend is signed up for a half marathon in NYC and it’s your first chance to see her in 8 months, you sign up too.
Even if your knee hurts.
Even if you haven’t run in two weeks.
Even if the furthest you’ve run in the past 6 months is 5 miles. (And that was just a couple days ago.)
In short, that was how I found myself signing up for the NYRR/More Magazine Women’s Half Marathon just 5 days before the race.
On Saturday, I took a morning Yo! Bus up to NYC. After having a couple drinks on Friday evening, I decided it would be best to just pack in the morning. My troubles began about 15 minutes into the bus ride, when I discovered that I had outdone myself with the worst packing job a single person has ever done for a 30 hour trip.
Things I forgot: Headphones. My arm band for running. Real pants. Pajamas. Underwear.
Things I packed: 3 running outfits (you never know). 3 pairs of socks. 2 sweatshirts. 2 baseball caps. My running shoes (though I almost forgot those too).
A quick trip to Best Buy in NYC resolved the two biggest packing oversights, and I met up with Rachel and her sister at the packet pick up. Rachel! It was so good to be reunited. We had a nice, relaxing afternoon and evening, and went to bed early in preparation for the race on Sunday morning.
After getting into an altercation with a couple women in the port-a-potty line (New Yorkers are serious about their lines and they’ll let you know if you’re not being pushy enough), the race was off at 8am.
The course was two full 6 mile laps of Central Park’s main Park Road followed by the first 1.1 miles of a third lap. It was a clear day, and the race started in the high 50s and ended in the high 60s. It was truly perfect racing conditions.
Running the race was Rachel, Rachel’s sister Megan, Rachel’s sister’s friend Laura, and me. We stuck together for the first three miles, around 10:45 pace, and then Laura and I decided to pick up the pace and split off.
I had forgotten how much I love running hills, which really picked up in miles 3-6 and then again in miles 9-12. Laura and I picked up the pace just after the 5K mark and finished the first lap around 8:45/9:00 pace. Around mile 4 we passed the 2:10 pacer, but I somehow ended up back behind her around mile 7. I split off from Laura determined to match or improve my split for the first lap, which was just shy of one hour.
A word to the wise: don’t pick up the pace at mile 3 if the furthest you’ve run in 6 months is 5 miles and that 5 miles was one week before the half. I was able to hold the pace and stay far ahead of the 2:10 pacer for the remainder of the race, but I hit the wall somewhere around mile 9.5.
Philadelphia isn’t know for its varied terrain. The hills in the second lap felt like I was scaling Mount Everest.
I forced myself to keep running until the water station in the 10th mile, when I allowed myself to step to the side and catch my breath for 30 seconds. I then shuffled through to mile 12, when I started intervals of two minutes running followed by 30 seconds walking. My legs were absolute jelly.
But! I made it. I passed through the finish line at 2:08:25. I beat my goal of finishing under 2:10, and I now truly appreciate the value of training for distance races. My goal is to break the two hour mark by next year, which actually feels like it’s possible.
Laura finished around the 2:10 mark, Megan around 2:25, and Rachel at 2:29. We celebrated the race with pancakes and bacon, then hobbled to the bus to ride back up to Washington Heights. I felt like Barney from How I Met Your Mother (which apparently there are no videos online of the scene where he gets stuck on the subway after the New York Marathon because his legs won’t support him.)
Next month, I’ll be running the Minneapolis Half Marathon with my sister Julie. Our goal is to run the whole thing, together. We won’t be setting any records, but I’m already looking forward to a great run. My goal is to run 2 more half marathons this year as I work to become more purposeful in my training.
Race: NYRR More Magazine Women’s Half Marathon
Location: Central Park, New York City
Date: Sunday, April 13 at 8:00am
Finish goal/time: 2:10:00 / 2:08:25