Thursday, March 24, 2011

Race Report - NYC Half marathon

By Eric Lambi

I decided to race the NYC half this year largely because I am a wimp who cannot handle the hills and wind at the New Bedford Half. I made this race the focus of my winter training with the goal of setting a new half marathon PR (previous PR 1:22:50). So with that in mind, my wife and I left our only child in the hands of a complete stranger on Saturday morning, did the long drive to NYC, hit the expo to pick up my number (expo was lame), ate dinner at Carmine's in the theatre district (didn't like, don't recommend), went to the Lion King (very good, do recommend) and hit the sack about 6 hours before my 5AM wakeup call.

Sunday morning I left the hotel a little before 6 (race start time 7:30) fearing that I would not be able to find a cab and would be forced to take the subway. As luck would have it I got a cab almost immediately. Apparently, my cab driver was training to join the Nascar circuit because we drove around the perimeter of Central Park at interstate speeds, weaving in and out of the other taxis driving the other racers to the starting area. The ride raised my heart rate and adrenaline levels, which surely improved my race time.

The NYC Half race course is point-to-point and starts in Central Park. It loops around the park for 8 miles then heads south out of the park through Times Square, over to the West Side highway, and south to the finish near Battery Park. The Central Park section is rolling and twisty, requiring a lot of focus on your tangents. The last 5 miles outside of the park are flat and fast, and we had a tailwind, which really helped on the finishing straight. My plan was to run between 6 and 6:10 miles for the first ~5k and evaluate how I felt from there. Showing how committed I was to this plan, I ran each of the first 5 miles all 6 minutes, but was still feeling good at this point and knew I was going to have a great race. The sixth mile at the north end of Central Park was mostly uphill and I took it relatively easy, clocking a 6:15 (slowest mile of the race) and then gradually sped up on the downhill section to the park exit near mile 8.

Running into Time Square was absolutely the highlight of this race. The announcer mentioned at the start line that this is one of only two annual events for which Time Square gets shut down (the other being the New Year's Eve party), and this section of the course really makes the race unique. Inside of Times Square I lost my GPS signal, so I was focused on staying with the racers around me. I crossed the 10 mile mark at 1:00:2? and knew that I would be able to break 1:20, a faster time than my pre-race expectations, relatively easily. I considered the possibility of going into the hurt locker and trying to break 1:19, but I have a marathon this coming Saturday and thought I would be better off keeping something in reserve for that race. As a result, I spent the last 5k staring at my Garmin making sure I wasn't running too slow and watching others pass me and fade into the distance. I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:19:40, which I was thrilled with. This is a good result for me and gives me a lot of confidence heading into next weekend's marathon (The National Marathon in Washington D.C.). I'm now doing my best to recover and prepare for that race.

Post-race we went to my favorite restaurant in the entire world: Norma's at Le Parker Meridien (  I highly recommend this place to anyone who likes to eat.

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