Monday, March 26, 2012

NYC Half Marathon ~ March 18, 2012

Training for the NYC Half Marathon was fun and surprisingly easier than previous races. My "Type A" personality (and many other factors!) allows me to adhere to a very strict training schedule to which I never deviate...although I did run 3 extra miles during the last week of February because running 100 miles versus 97 for the month sounds way more fun :)

I ran every M, T, TH & F with my long runs every Friday. On Wednesday's I did a 45-60 minute spin class followed by a 2 mile run. I ran 25-30 miles per week with 12 miles as my longest run. Injuries have been limited, but it’s also ultra convenient to have my office adjacent to an athletic training room. The trainers always knew to expect me as I helped myself to bags of ice.

Steve and I departed for New York on the morning of March 17th...St. Patrick's Day!!! We had two United Club passes that were due to expire so we had Rich pick us up extra early (best car service ever!) and headed there for breakfast and a few cocktails. We were not alone. You'd be surprised (or not??) at how many people ask for green beer at 7 am on St. Patrick's Day :)

We had arranged for a car to pick us up at LaGuardia Airport and were at our Midtown hotel by 11 am. We hurried over to the Runner's Expo so I could pick up my race number and goodie bag.

Then we walked to Eataly, a Mario Batali owned indoor Italian market. It was a really neat place with 1000's of pastries, meats, cheeses & pastas.

Next we headed to Dewey's Flatiron to enjoy a pint (after all it was St. Patrick's Day!) and watch some NCAA basketball. 

By 5 pm, it was time for our evening happy hour. I choose the Eventi hotel due to its proximity to the runner's expo, starting line, Penn Station, and more importantly, it's free wine happy hour :) The Kimpton brand of hotels are considered more boutique-y with really comfortable beds! We stayed in one while visiting Chicago and loved it. When I saw they had four options in New York, it was an easy choice.

After a couple glasses of chardonnay, we walked to The Breslin to indulge in their famous Lamb Burger.

Prior to our trip, we watched countess hours of the Food Network as a way to research restaurant options. On one particular episode of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" we watched as Frank Bruni indulged in a perfectly cooked lamb burger, topped simply with a slice of feta cheese and red onions. When I saw it was located just around the corner from our hotel, we knew we had to try it.

Despite its high price tag, Steve and I ordered one for each of us (Steve was not open to sharing) in addition to a scotch egg. All were delicious, but the burger was phenomenal. Cooked perfectly medium rare and super juicy. We half-jokingly discussed a second visit the following night.

We returned to the hotel and were in bed by 10:30. My clothes were laid out, the alarm was set and I was ready for my race.

When I awoke at 5 am, I was tired and nervous. Despite all of my planning, I worried about whether we'd be able to get a cab, how long would it take, how cold was it, should I wear my long-sleeves or jacket, how long would I have to stand in the cold before the race, how many port-o-potty's would there be at the start, how long would the line me, you run enough races and you know your biggest concerns. At 5 o'clock on this particular morning, I was not worried about running 13.1 miles.

By 6 am, we were out the front door. We met another couple headed to the same starting corral and shared the $7.50 cab ride. We arrived on the east side of Central Park within 10 minutes and began walking toward my corral (19,000-19,999) with 15,335 other runners.

The race was to start at 7:30 and when we stepped into the line for one of many port-o-potty's, we knew it would be awhile...ONE HOUR later (yes, Steve waited with me...haha) we were through and I was at the corral by 7:15. Steve continued to wait with me until we started to "move" which was about 7:40. As we walked toward the start, we actually watched the elite runners pass their 6 mile marker. It's hard to believe they were running at a 4:34 pace. I didn't actually cross the start until 8:04 am. Weather at the start was 47 degrees, 90% humidity, wind 3 mph...truly ideal for running.

The race itself was great. Due to the number of former and current Olympian runners, it was named the most competitive half marathon in the world. Although that may not apply to me, I do value a respected and well organized race along with a supportive community. I was admitted through a lottery with 26,797 applicants of which less than 13,000 were selected (others were either invited or automatically qualified through charities.) Of the 15,336 finishers, there were 1,638 international finishers, 11,332 from the tri-state area and 2,366 from other areas of the U.S. (that’s me!!) I was truly honored to run.

The first 6 miles were through Central Park, followed by Times Square, the West Side Highway, then finished at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan’s Financial District. Steve saw me at miles 1 and 7 and the finish. He navigated his way on foot and via public transit, all while trying to capture the moment.

I researched the course and talked to a few others who have run Central Park. I trained for hills, but without running the course itself, nothing can really prepare you for Central Park. The hills...rolling hills, and most importantly, the infamous Harlem Hill. It was a challenge. With every new hill, I'd say "you have GOT to be kidding me" but the Harlam Hill (mile 5) was one of those points in a race where everyone cheers and high-fives one another when they've reached the top. I guess you can call it a nauseating adrenaline rush.

Running through Times Square was priceless. So many runners stopped to take pictures of themselves with the spectacular scenery around them. There were musicians and performers as well as a plethora a fans throughout.

 Through mile 9, I had maintained a fairly steady 10:30 pace. Miles 9-12 had me closer to 11:00, but then I increased my speed for the final push and finished in 2:18:58 (10:37 pace). The winner finished in an amazing 59:39 (4:34 pace).

The race finished at The South Street Seaport. Runners had snack bags waiting as well as a live band and other entertainment. Although it took some time to get through the finishers corral, Steve and I were able to meet at our predetermined meeting spot and take a few pictures.

Following the race, we hopped on the train and headed back to the hotel. I showered, resisted a nap, then walked to our brunch destination of choice. I had found several places in NYC that offered bottomless mimosas for brunch, but PS450 received rave reviews and was only a couple of blocks from the hotel. Most importantly, their mimosas were very plentiful and food quite good.  

Following brunch we walked about a mile towards Times Square where we stopped at Bar 10 for a cheese plate and martini. It was neat to walk around the area where I had run just a few hours before...

By 8 pm, we were totally exhausted and decided we would have to pass on another lamb burger or alternate sit-down establishment. Instead we stopped at Waldy's wood-fired pizza and picked up a broccoli rabe, pepperoni & tomato pizza to eat back at our hotel. We simply couldn't risk either of us falling asleep during dinner!

They even had a self-serve fresh herb and oil station. 

The next morning we were up early and wandered around to find a quick breakfast. We didn't have to walk far before we had our breakfast sandwich in hand and returned to our room to pack up the rest of our bags. We walked the block and a half to Penn Station where we boarded our 11 am Amtrak train to New London, CT. It was a nice 2.5 hour ride and our brother-in-law Scott was waiting for us when we arrived.

If you think these two days in New York City were a whirlwind...then the next three days in CT and MA were more like a tornado :)

P.S. My next race is the Cleveland Half Marathon on May 20th!

1 comment:

Lib said...

I will seee you at the Cleveland Marathon!