Sometime between finishing the NYC Marathon in early November and running the Disney Marathon in January, I realized that it wasn’t reasonable to run 2 full marathons for time goals in a 9 week period. I made the decision to run the Disney Marathon for fun (which was a GREAT decision) and to put off speed work and time goals until my spring half marathon. I’ve long felt frustrated that I’m not a faster runner and was hoping that some speed training would help me improve in time for the More Magazine Women’s Half on April 13th.

The winter of 2014 will certainly be remembered as a bad one and there’s no doubt that this impacted my training. Instead of doing track work I had to rely on the treadmill as our local track was buried in snow for months. I wasn’t sure how my treadmill dependent-training would translate to the very hilly course in Central Park. And then, of course, the weather predictions for the race included a high temperature in the 70’s. 

Race day morning was sunny and just a touch chilly. I wore a running skirt with compression socks and then my Super Girl tech shirt with arm warmers. I had brought a mylar heat wrap for pre-race warmth but decided to leave it in the car. I found a parking spot on Broadway and 69th Street (which made me giggle like a 14 year old because, why not?) and then walked a few blocks over to the starting area. I had enough time to wait in a gigantic line for the only toilets with indoor plumbing in the area and luckily convinced my friend Kim to come wait with me. Another “virtual” friend (who is now a “real” friend), Christine,  stopped by to say good luck as she headed to the start area. We had a funny moment in the bathroom line when a woman asked to please be allowed to cut the line because she was singing the National Anthem and was needed on the stage immediately. (For the record I thought she did an amazing job singing!)

Kim and I headed to the “poo brown” starting corral. The last corral in these larger NYRR races is always brown and another running friend, Beth, always calls it “poo brown.” I’ve adopted it. Kim and I weren’t there particularly early so we started mid to late in the brown corral. I think in the future I would make more of an effort to get to the corral earlier because I spent the first 2 miles weaving around walkers (I do run/walk so I honestly don’t mean that in a judgmental way). NYRR has the opposite problem as runDisney. Disney used to lump anyone with a sub-2 hour half marathon into Corral A which was frustrating for the 1:30 half marathoners who are quite a bit faster than the 1:59 half marathoners. NYRR lumps all of the 11+ min/mile people together. This race had a 4 hour time limit which meant that I finished more than 1:30 faster than many of my corral-mates. 

My arm sleeves came off by mile 1. The crowding at the start definitely impacted my race as my 1st two miles were my slowest two and they weren’t particularly hilly. After mile 2 the crowds opened up a bit but then you have the Harlem Hills to counteract that.  With the except of the BIG hill, my pace per mile pretty much got faster as the race went on. Mile 13th was the fastest mile of the race with a 10:30 min/mile pace. And I definitely felt like I put everything I had into the last few miles. One of the fun things about doing 2+ loops around the park is that the elite runners lap you during the race. It was amazing to see Deena Kastor – a 41 year old mother – with an impressive lead as she set a course record. What an amazing athlete! I also ran into (figuratively, not literally!) several other runDisney friends on the race course which was so much fun.

My previous half marathon PR had been at the 2013 More Magazine Half Marathon one year ago. I finished in 2:25:31. As I was approaching the finish line I knew that my time was pretty close to last year’s but I wasn’t sure in which direction. For some reason as I approached the finish line I had convinced myself that last year’s PR was 2:24:41 ( I have no idea where that came from – runner’s math?) and that I was going to finish within seconds of that time. Perhaps prophetically that was my exact finish time and also a new PR. I still haven’t achieved a half marathon pace per mile below 11 min/mile which was my A goal. A new PR is still a new PR and I have shiny new medal to add to the collection.

I was able to watch my friend Kim finish the race is an amazing new PR for her. Super excited and proud of her! It was great fun to hang out with her and Christine for a while after the race. This is one of the many reasons that I pay to run 2+ loops of Central Park every year. Good friends. Good vibes. Fun race. It’s definitely more expensive than some other local half marathons but I love what it has to offer.