I was honored to run the United NYC Half as a charity runner for Hope for the Warriors. My team raised $60,000 for the charity, and I was the #3 fundraiser! Hope for the Warriors provides care to post-9/11 service members, their famailes, and the famies of the fallen. Almost 20,000 runners took part in the race - 2,000 of whom were charity runners, raising an estimated $4 million for 140 different charities.
20,000 sets of eyes were on the weather all week. They were predicting possible snow the morning of the race, but luckily the snow missed us and it was a great weather for a half marathon.
This race has an early start - 7:30 a.m., but this was no problem for me. I had been in London the past week, and had just flew back Saturday. So the 4 hour jet lag made getting to bed early and waking up early so easy! Unfortunately, I had some dodgy plane food that was giving me trouble on Saturday. So my pre-race feuling Saturday was not ideal.
Also not ideal was my training cycle for this race. I trained pretty hard in November, December, and especially January. By the February, my body had enough. My tibia started flaring up a little (stress reaction in the same spot two years ago). So I took most of February and March off of running. Swimming became my main workout.
Still, I played it smart and made it to the start line. Better to be undertrained than overtrained! I knew I wasn't going to have a break out race, but I figured I could land somewhere around 1:35-1:37 depending on conditions. I hit my target with a 1:35:30 finish.
The United NYC Half is an amazing race. I was so impressed with the organization, the course, the finish, the volunteers. Everything was perfect! The race starts in Central Park and spends about the first 6 miles in the park. Then you run down 7th Avenue into Times Square. Other than NYE, this is the only time Time Square is shut down to traffic. At 42nd Street, the course goes due west towards the Hudson River where you run down the West Side Highway from about mile 8 to the finish. The West Side Highway is completely flat, which is welcome after some hill climbing in the park.
I used manual splits, but they are still somewhat unreliable... GPS no good among the buildings on 7th Ave., 42nd St., and downtown. Or maybe the mile markers were off - don't know if that is possible!
1. 7:21 - Race starts with a climb of Cat Hill. A short but steap hill. I barely felt it today.
2. 7:06 - Lots of downhill an flat this mile on the east side of the park.
3. 7:37 - This is actually a pretty flat mile. But I was feeling terrible. I thought the dodgy plane food was going to haunt me. But it passed, and I felt fine again to start climbing Harlem Hill
Official 5k split. 22:48 (7:21)
4. 7:20 - The biggest and longest hill of the race - Harlem Hill - as in this mile. Still 20 seconds faster than flat mile 3.
5. 7:27 - Rolling with the three sister hills on the west side of the park.
6. 7:20 - Exited the park this mile and was running down 7th Ave. toward Time Square. Lots of bands and spectators. This was so cool!
Official 10K split. 45:38 (7:22)
7. 6:58 - A little excited still as I ran down 7th Ave. but then hit a wall of wind on the turn onto 42nd St.
8. 7:16 - The only time I felt the wind was here along 42nd St.
9. 7:25 - Finally on the Westside Highway. This is where the race gets easy - because its just flat and straight on this part of the course. But also hard. I usually start feeling a little discomfort at this point in a half.
Official 15k split. 1:08:14 (7:17)
10. 7:17 - I ran passed my apartment during this mile! Trying to speed up a little to get splits around 7:15.
11. 7:16 - I felt I sped up a little here, but my splits don't show it.
12. 7:39 (but a 1.18 lenghth "mile" at average pace of 6:29) - I made a big effort to speed up here. My splits don't show it, but I was definitely moving faster.
Official 20k split. 1:30:38 (7:13)
13. 6:38 (but 0.89 length "mile" at average pace of 7:29) - The course goes through a tunnel and then up an evil hill. Short but just very poorly placed at the end of mile 13!
The rest. 0:25 at average pace of 5:14 - Just ran for it here to make sure I finished with a time starting 1:35!