This was the second time running the NYC Half Marathon. I grew up in CT so NYC is my adoptive ‘home’. I absolutely love racing there! This particular race held more weight for me than any other in recent years as it was the last time I could reasonably expect to qualify for the NYC Marathon with a half marathon finish of 1:37 or better. (They are changing the standard to 1:30 in 2013. Um, yeah, not gonna happen) 2011 was a year of many ‘close but no cigar’ races for me. I was, and am, determined not to have any heartbreaking performances in 2012!
The race began at Tavern on the Green on the west side with a counter clockwise loop around Central Park before running down Broadway through the middle of Times Square to 42nd street, and then shooting down the West Side Highway to finish near the South Street Seaport on the east side. The first half of the race has some hills in the Park, whereas the second half is flat to mostly downhill.
My game plan was to hold a 7:25 pace for the first ten miles and then pick it up slightly to a 7:20 pace for the last 5k. I felt pretty good during the loop of the Park partially because I saw part of my cheering section (aka my sister) at miles 1.5 and 5.5. Because of the hills my splits were all over the board. I was about a minute ahead of pace through the first half and feeling pretty good as I exited the Park toward Times Square.
Running through Times Square was total sensory overload and gave me a much needed surge of energy. Everything is lit up (the race was projected on the enormous screen), and the crowds were loud. I gave a quick wave to my parents, aunt, and other sister around mile 7 before turning west on 42nd Street and out onto the West Side Highway.
The West Side Highway is flat to slightly downhill, although it didn’t seem that way during the race. In addition, the crowds are pretty sparse. I hit the 10 mile mark with 23 minutes to hit my goal. I was starting to cramp on the right side, and realized that I probably took those hills in the Park a bit too hard. I finally hit the “800 meters to go” sign and gave what little I had left to cross the line in 1:36:31. Hallelujah! See ya in November, NYC!
I would highly recommend this race to anyone (despite its hefty price tag). It is extremely well organized, the volunteers are great, and the NYC crowds (even on a Sunday morning after St Pat’s Day) are unmatched. You can count on me to be there again next year as this race also qualifies me to run in 2013.