We Try Other Sports: NYC Half Marathon Race Day
My alarm went off at 5am, but I already lay awake, after 11 weeks of preparation and many cold solo miles, the big day was here.
I had picked up my bib the day before and was allocated Wave 1, corral A and a start time of. 7:30am. I jumped out of bed and immediately ate a tub of pasta, had a coffee (p.s. still waiting on that sponsorship) and started hydrating with a mixture of water and Gatorade. I wasn’t sure if this is what runners usually do, I was following my usual cyclocross preparation of eating my last big meal 2.5-3 hours out from race start.
I left the house wearing my race kit (shorts and my Hunter Athletics singlet) underneath two t-shirts, tracksuit pants and a jumper (a sweater in American) and headed to Hoyt Schemerhorn station. I arrived at the subway and was greeted by a number of other nervous faces waiting for the G to head to Prospect Park. I nervously watched the minutes tick away on-board NYC’s slowest G train and finally arrived at 15th Street - Prospect Park at 6:45am to queues of runners trying to get out of the station. All week people had told me to arrive with more time than I thought I needed but it appeared I wasn’t great at listening to this advice.
Half running and half walking, I joined the swarm of other runners marching from Bartel-Pritchard Square to the start line positioned at the Prospect Park cut through near the lake. Thankful that I didn’t bring a bag to check, I skipped the bag check line to join a different line to go through security screening. Finally I was through all the queuing and I made it to my coral with just minutes to spare. I stood in the coral, nervously shifting from foot-to-foot with thousands of other runners; some talking to their friends but most were silent.
7:25: US National Anthem plays
7:27: Tracksuit pants, t-shirt, jumper discarded into Goodwill bins
7:28: Check watch has GPS and HR monitors signals
7:30: Go time.
We took off along Center Drive and hit the Prospect Park Hill and as the road headed up I reminded myself to keep the effort consistent and not let adrenaline get the better of me (helpful advice numerous people reached out to me with during the week). I was surprised at how fresh I felt, especially after the doubts from Saturday’s shakeout run. A real highlight was heading down one side of Flatbush Avenue and seeing the elite men on the other, the pace was incredible to witness. I was spotted Corey on my return up Flatbush who started in a couple of corals behind me!
Brooklyn came and went and it was time to hit the Manhattan bridge. We ran on the top deck and whilst the climb was hard, the views were absolutely breathtaking and took my mind off the effort.
All of my training had been based on kilometres and minutes/km pacing, there were kilometre markers but they were spaced every 5km. My watch ticked over the 10km mark slightly before the 10km sign but it didn’t cause me to worry too much because I was ahead of schedule, or so I thought.
I hit 42nd and Times Square at 4:11 pace (according to my watch) and this is when the GPS gremlins of the tall buildings really started to take their toll (I also didn’t see the 15km marker). I thought my watch was accurate but in reality the pace/kilometers were about 1km ahead of my actual schedule. Some of the distance would have been me not taking the most efficient route but the majority was GPS issues. Regardless of this with 4km to go, I started to ramp up my pace.
I saw Megan and Matt along 7th avenue who both snapped pictures of me and shouted support which gave me a great boost.
I hit central park and the 20km sign just as my watch ticked over 21.1km. My brain was a bit scattered and I thought I was still going to finish ahead of my time comfortably despite learning I still had 1.1km to go.
I crossed the line in a time of 1:30:06 which was 7 seconds over my goal, but by no means do I consider this to be a failure. I planned and I executed my half marathon almost to perfection. All of the solo and cold winter training miles were worth it in the end. Thanks for reading and following my journey into trying other sports!