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!
(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.
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.
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.
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??
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!
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.
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.
My legs felt surprisingly great and I was rocking the ultimate runner’s high. What a great race!
Final Time: 2:00:23 (9:11 min/mile pace)
Place: 9,126 / 20,168
Age Division (F, 25-29): 874 / 2,300
• 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.
• 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.
I really enjoy this race and would recommend it to anyone looking to truly experience Manhattan by foot.