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2016 NYC Half Marathon Recap

Half marathon #6 is in the books! The NYC Half Marathon was held on March 20th, 2016 in Manhattan. This was my second time participating in the race, but it was my first time actually running it. Flashback to last year…I was super injured but decided to walk all 13.1 miles. Yup, that happened. Luckily, I was healthy enough to actually run this year!

Despite being the first day of Spring, the winter weather refused to let up and left us freezing. I was up at 5AM after a horrific 3-hour sleep session, but race mornings always get me pumped. I stretched, foam rolled, chugged coffee with a side of pb + banana toast, and spent way too long trying to decide what to wear given the wintery temps.

I wore my favorite Lululemon long-sleeve zip-up (mainly because it had hand covers so I wouldn’t have to bring gloves), running tights, and a light jacket. And then I set out for Central Park!

NYC Half Marathon

(still dark out…only the crazies and runners are out…one and the same?)

I live super close to Central Park, but the race required all runners to enter through the southern end of the park. Super annoying! I had quite a stroll and was welcomed with a massive crowd of people waiting to enter.

NYC Half Marathon

It took over 20 minutes to get past security, leaving me with 10 mins to hit up the port-a-potties and line up for the Wave 2 start at 7:45AM. But I made it! And then I froze to death waiting to start.

Miles 1-3
I was SO COLD and antsy to begin, and it took me two full miles to finally warm up enough to feel my fingers and toes. I run in Central Park multiple times a week but still struggle up the endless hills. We ran up to the upper end of the park, made a short out-and-back in Harlem, and then reentered the park right at the end of mile 3. It was time for Harlem Hill.

NYC Half Marathon

Miles 4-6
I avoided Harlem Hill the entire training cycle and was dreading it from the moment I crossed the start line. But it wasn’t that bad! I even passed a few people on my way up. But then…my legs felt totally shot! Well, not totally shot but slightly worn from the hills. I personally find the west side hills more challenging, and my legs definitely let me know they were working overtime. At least I knew each and every climb by heart (hello marathon training) and always knew what was coming. The miles rushed by regardless, and we found ourselves exiting Central Park right at the start of the 6th mile. I popped half a shot block for energy hoping to get back some of the energy I lost with every hill. The distinctive lights of Times Square were immediately visible in the distance. The crowds grew as we neared the center and the high energy was incredible! This was my favorite part of the race. How often is the busiest part of Manhattan completely cleared out to run through??

NYC Half Marathon

Miles 7-10
The adventure through Times Square ended right as my Garmin beeped at mile 7. We turned the corner on 42nd street and ran towards the West Side Highway. I ran miles 6-7 faster than intended and started feeling the exertion around mile 8, when things got a bit rough. The west side route was fairly flat and uneventful, but I started losing steam again and slowed down a bit. A friend suddenly found me at one point and ran next to me for a bit, which totally cheered me up! I took another half Shot Blok at mile 10 and rejoiced upon hitting double digits. I love double digits…you know you’re gonna finish the race one way or another!

NYC Half Marathon

Miles 11-13.1
I only trained up to 11 miles, so I knew the true battle would start near the end. I essentially ignored my pace the entire race, but I started doing mental math for the first time around mile 11, wondering if I could sneak under 2 hours. It was possible…but unlikely. I rarely race for time but tend to create goals for myself near the ends of races, and this was no exception. I decided that I wanted to get as close to 2 hours as possible! So, despite feeling the exhaustion coming on, I pushed myself onward. We passed the beautiful Freedom Tower near mile 11.5 and then entered a long tunnel at mile 12. Ugh this tunnel was the worst! It was dark and gloomy and made me feel claustrophobic and sick. I wanted OUT. We got out 0.25 miles later…but not before climbing up a small hill that killed me a little. I started sprinting, knowing that I was so.close to sneaking under 2 hours. But it wasn’t enough…I felt sick and had to calm down.

NYC Half Marathon

I crossed the finish line in 2:00:23, juuuust barely over 2 hours, but hey I’ll take it! I was done done done with my 6th half marathon, all without walking too! All I could think was how grateful I was for being healthy and capable of running the race after last year’s torturous injury.

NYC Half Marathon

My legs felt surprisingly great and I was rocking the ultimate runner’s high. What a great race!

NYC Half Marathon

Final Time: 2:00:23 (9:11 min/mile pace)
Place: 9,126 / 20,168
Age Division (F, 25-29): 874 / 2,300

NYC Half Marathon

Pros:
• Race course – It’s the perfect preview of Manhattan’s most iconic areas…Central Park, Times Square, Hudson River, and Wall Street. Unbeatable.
• Water stops – Plenty! I believe they were positioned every other mile or so.
• Race tech tee – I adore quality race tees, and this one was no exception! Baby blue, short-sleeved, moisture-wicking…what’s not to love?
• Post-race goodie bag – We actually received food, water, and Gatorade in reusable plastic drawstring backpacks, something I’ve never seen before.
• Not crowded – Despite being a race with 20,000 participants, the race never felt crowded.
• Medal – I adore the medals given for the Five Borough Series races! They are truly beautiful, quality pieces…elegant and simplistic.

Cons:
• Pre-race logistics – The entire process of actually getting into Central Park is a bit of a mess. It’s expected with thousands of people and only two security screening entrances, but it’s still frustrating.
• Cost – I paid a hefty $122 as an NYRR member, and non-members pay almost $10 more. It’s one of the more expensive half marathons, but it’s worth running at least once.
• Race lotto – As expected given the popularity! The race lotto opens in the fall and runs until December when the drawing occurs.

NYC Half Marathon

I really enjoy this race and would recommend it to anyone looking to truly experience Manhattan by foot.

Irina

Hi There, Remember Me?

Hey, remember when I actually blogged semi-successfully? And shared all the boring happenings of my life? And actively participated in the blogging community? Yea me too…oops

So for those wondering, I’m still alive. Really! So much has happened since I last blogged – running, travel (Denver & India!), school (SO MUCH SCHOOL), the arrival of my niece ♥ – the list goes on. The reality is that I’ve been busy, so so so busy, and it’s all because of school. Truth be told, I never expected to be this busy with school. Coming from an engineering background, I was accustomed to long study hours and incredibly challenging material. Yet somehow Columbia managed to make even the most straightforward courses difficult. Much to my surprise, the premedical curriculum at Columbia University has been the hardest educational challenge yet for me. I study more than I ever did in my undergrad years, the struggle is real but I love it.

organic chemistry

Anyway, the purpose of this post is not to complain about school but to provide a quick update on LIFE. I survived my semester, which ended psychotically late…December 22nd! And then I promptly headed to the bar at noon after my last final and downed a drink (or two) with friends in celebration of the completion of the semester from hell. My parents had flown in the night before to see me off to India and then hang around NYC for the Christmas holiday. I left to India the following morning and proceeded to have the most incredible life-changing experience. But that’s worthy of another post or two that I’ll hopefully write soon before disappearing again in school mode.

Taj Mahal

I’ve also run a few races that I failed to blog about – the Staten Island Half Marathon and a short 5 mile race. Now I officially have guaranteed entry into this year’s NYC Marathon!!! I’m PUMPED to finally run the race, assuming the random new injuries I’ve been dealing with (umm wtf achilles tendinitis) will cooperate.

Staten Island Half Marathon

Perhaps the best news is that my sister gave birth to the prettiest little girl I’ve ever laid eyes on! Welcome to this world, Gisela, you are so so so loved already. I can’t wait to meet you in a few days!

baby

And finally, I wanted to send a huge thank you to all those who have not only stuck around this part of the internet, but have also become blogger friends. 2015 was a great year, but 2016 will be even better!

♥ Irina

2015 Bronx 10 Mile Run Recap

The Bronx 10 Mile was held on Sunday, September 27th, 2015 in the Bronx. This race is part of the Five-Borough Series and counted towards my 9+1 Program requirement!

I woke up around 5:30AM, foam rolled while sipping on coffee and chowing down peanut butter + banana toast, and set out towards the Bronx. The train ride only took about 20 minutes and was packed to the brim with runners!

Bronx 10 Mile

I can’t continue this recap without mentioning the nice fall weather we were blessed with that morning – it was chilly yet sunny, and the humidity wasn’t too horrific although it was a bit high. Fall, I’ve missed you deeply.

The race started without any delays and, despite the 9,000+ runners, it took us only 5 minutes to cross the start line and begin running.

Miles 1 – 5
I always start conservatively and this race was no exception, although I knew it would be a good race from the moment I started running. My legs felt strong…no lead-leg syndrome! The most annoying aspect of the race was the deceiving nature of the turnaround point. I’m at fault for not studying the race course but I kept thinking that the turnaround was approaching by the looks of all the people already running back towards us. But nope! 5 miles in and we were still not quite there. I started having minor knee aches about 4 miles in, which totally set me into a minor frenzy with all sorts of negative thoughts. My knees and shins have been bothering me lately and this was basically my biggest fear that morning. Luckily, we approached a DJ blasting awesome techno-ish music along the race course at mile 5, and I instantly felt a pep in my step.

Miles 6 – 10
The phantom pains in my knees and shins continued into mile 6 and then seemingly dissipated a mile or so later. All weird aches aside, I was feeling really good and knew I could start pushing my pace a bit. I had already started my mental math game near the 7 mile mark and only then decided to aim for a sub 1:30 hour finish. It would be possible, but I would need to maintain a fairly fast (for me) pace. Challenge accepted! The last two miles were gold. I felt strong and energized, and continued pushing my pace until it hovered in the low 8’s.

Bronx 10 Mile

Those spits though! Seriously, I have no idea how but I’ve managed to master the art of negative splitting in races but I’m not hating it. Mile 7 though…why you gotta be 1 second slower than mile 6?!? Cue the OCD.

Bronx 10 Mile

Final Time1:28:31 (8:52 min/mile pace)
Place: 3869 / 9357
Age Division (F, 25-29): 297 / 1030

Bronx 10 Mile

Pros:
• Race course – I love exploring new areas through running, and this race gave me the opportunity to see a part of the city I otherwise probably wouldn’t visit.
• Race photos – Always fun, even when I’m mostly covered by people in front of me.
• Cost – I paid only $35 as a NYRR member, but non-members pay $50 for the early-bird price (which increases with time).
• Water stops – My memory is the worst but I think there were water stops at every other mile or so, which I really appreciated!
• Race tech tee – Love the material and bright lime-green color!

Cons:
• Race course – Ok so I added this as a con as well, only because the entire first half of the race fools you into thinking the turnaround point is near when in reality it’s only around the 6 mile mark!

Bronx 10 Mile

Even though it was fun running through a part of the city I normally wouldn’t run in, I don’t see myself particularly drawn towards running this race again next year. Who knows though, those pretty medals might have quite an appeal!

♥ Irina

2015 5th Avenue Mile Run Recap

The famous 5th Avenue Mile (1 mile) race was held on Sunday, September 13th, 2015 along 5th Avenue from 80th to 60th street in the Upper East Side of Manhattan (side note: 20 blocks = 1 mile). I’ve wanted to run this race since learning about it last year and even registered for it, but then Aruba came along and my registration was promptly forgotten in place of a beachy vacation. This was finally my year.

I was honestly super nervous about running this. I’m a long-distance junkie and severely dislike the sick-to-your-stomach feeling that accompanies racing a short distance. As much as I really wanted to see how fast I could run one mile, I was nervous about completely crashing or being the slowest one (lolz horrible to say I know, but I felt like everyone was faster than me!).

5th Avenue Mile

The race was split into male / female age categories, with each “wave” setting off about 15 minutes after the preceding one. Females, ages 18-29, were all chunked into one category, making us the largest group. Needless to say, it was crowded.

5th Avenue Mile

Mile 1
Having never raced a one miler before, I had no idea what pace to aim for. I got caught in a brief roadblock at the start but continued to maintain a 7:05 / 7:10 pace at the very beginning before deciding that I was ok to push it a bit. At that halfway point, I sped up and allowed my pace to hover around/below a 7:00 min/mile, which actually felt reasonable and challenging enough without inducing nausea quite yet. The entire race completely flew by! Next thing I knew, I was speeding up and racing towards the finish line with a 6:55 min/mile pace in the final quarter mile. At one point we climbed a small hill and I got stuck behind a walker…super frustrating considering that every second counts in such a short race! It took all I had to sprint to the finish line and then BAM I was done in the blink of an eye.

5th Avenue Mile

Final Time: 7:04 (7:04 min/mile pace)
Place: 3411 / 6331
Age Division (F, 25-29): 261 / 608

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my final time. I’m glad to have a gauge for the 1-mile distance and I know what I’m capable of in the future. A sub-7 minute mile is easily within my reach, and that’s what I’m going for next!

Pros:
• Race course – It was so much fun racing down the middle of 5th Avenue! The course itself was fairly flat with the exception of one small hill around the halfway point.
• Race photos – Always appreciated, and surprising given the short race!
• Unique – How many times do you come across a one-mile race, especially one in the middle of Manhattan?

Cons:
• Race tech tee – For such a high cost (for a 1 mile race), they could’ve had better shirts that were not cotton!
• Cost – I paid only $25 as a NYRR member, but non-members pay $40 for the early-bird price, which (in my opinion) is steep for such a short race.
• Crowded – The 18-29 female category was completely sold out, which made for a crowded race course. I wish they would separate out the age groups into two distinct categories to solve this issue!

My initial reaction was that I didn’t want to ever run this race again, but eventually I realized that it would be a fun way to test my 1-mile sprinting abilities each year. So basically, I can most definitely see myself running it next year!

♥ Irina