NYCRUNS Running Festival of Lights Chanukah Chalf Marathon
The sole reason why I did this race is because I fell in love with the name. I mean, come on — a Chanukah Chalf? How could I not do a race with such a name?!
Now, Shore Road Park is the same course where I ran my 10K PR back in August… it’s nice and flat. However, if I want to race the PPTC Turkey Trot this year (and I do), I knew I couldn’t race a half three days prior. So this was never going to be anything more than an easy run — I was aiming to finish in 1:55 or so, which is the faster end of my prescribed easy pace.
Come race weekend, I was mighty glad that this wasn’t supposed to be a PR attempt, because that never would have happened. It was 25°, felt like 5° when I left the house, wind gusts up to 30 MPH… you know, just the sort of conditions that make fast running no big deal, right?
I arrived early, of course. About an hour early. Nothing more fun than standing around freezing your butt off and watching a 250-pound porta potty repeatedly attempt to fly away. I was wearing a 2nd Skin base layer, a RRS base layer, an Under Armour Coldgear mock, and a long-sleeved PPTC shirt over all that. I kind of felt like the Michelin Man. Do I need to mention the glove liners + gloves and the balaclava?! And it was sunny, so I had on sunglasses, which left not a single inch of skin exposed, until I had to pull down the balaclava under my nose since my glasses kept fogging up.
After a very scary trip to the porta potty (how do I know the thing won’t blow away with me inside?!), I found Dahlia, who had just finished the 10K. I asked her how bad it was, and she was supposed to lie and tell me it was fine, but instead she said that the way out was okay, but the way back was pretty nasty, and that she didn’t envy me at all. Thanks a lot! Please refer to the below map to understand how dreadful an experience this creates:
A 1:55 half marathon is an 8:45 pace. I was willing to give myself leeway up to 8:30, but I really didn’t want to run much faster than that. This was the most hysterical starting line ever — all of us were bouncing up and down on our toes in a futile attempt to keep warm. When we finally started to run, everyone immediately veered to the left of the road to avoid the waterline, because the wind was strong enough to whip up waves that splashed up onto the road. Fun.
Miles 1-3: 8:35, 8:34, 8:53. The first couple of miles felt really easy… tailwind! I didn’t stop for water at the first water station since there was just one volunteer holding out one cup of water, the table was empty, and the runner ahead of me grabbed the aforementioned cup. We turned around after about 2.5 miles, and then I met the headwind. So I walked the same water station we had just passed and grabbed a cup. Nice. Ice chips. Which spilled all over my glove. I was legitimately concerned that the fingers on my right hand were frostbitten.
Miles 4-5: 9:19, 8:47. Yeah, so that headwind kind of sucked, but we turned around not long before the 5 mile mark (though there were no actual mile markers, since they would have blown away), and the next few miles were easy. It was fun, at mile 5, to learn that my gels had frozen. Just what I want — ice pops!
Miles 6-9: 8:19, 8:15, 8:14, 8:24. All faster than I’d planned to run, but thanks to the tailwind, I didn’t feel like I was working too hard at all. Around mile 6, I actually began to feel hot and considered taking off my gloves. Half a mile later, I passed the water station I’d skipped the first time around… and I skipped it again, for the same reason. At mile 8, I got really hot, and off came both pairs of gloves; I was glad I had worn a balaclava instead of a beanie, because at least I didn’t have to carry that, I could just pull the hood back.
Miles 10-13: 9:25, 9:30, 10:50, 9:22. Words cannot even begin to describe how much these four miles sucked. I might have had a nice tailwind going out, but it picked up speed and I swear the gusts were twice as strong when they were blowing into my face. The gloves went back on, and the balaclava hood went back up. Things began to hurt — my right hip flexor always seems to tighten up around mile 9. And my knee hurt, but not the ITBS, I don’t think; the past couple of weeks, something weird has been happening where my kneecap feels bruised after I run. It looks fine and it goes away after a while, but it usually waits until I’m done running. Today it didn’t wait. I definitely walked the water stations on the way back (and while I attempted to defrost my second gel), and since I was fairly certain I’d finish in under two hours, I strolled along a bit too… as much as you can stroll in the face of an oncoming wind. Especially during mile 12. That one really hurt. I kept pulling up behind people and I’d draft off them for a few seconds, but then they’d be moving too slowly for my liking (well, duh, they’re running into the wind that they’re blocking for me), so I’d go around them and get a gust of my own. My eyeballs even felt frozen. And the last mile, don’t even get me started on that — the ocean spray was reaching all across the road. The face of my Garmin looked like I’d been running in the rain, and the salt from the water was crystallizing on the lenses of my sunglasses so that I could hardly see where I was going. Where is this finish line?! It’s got to be somewhere around here! For the last mile, I just kept telling myself to keep running. It didn’t matter how slowly I was plodding, I just had to keep moving.
Mile .2: 1:35 (7:52 pace). Yeah, okay, technically it was .1, but I’ve been using my Garmin paces all along, so whatever! I think that was probably the longest two-tenths of a mile I’ve ever run in my life — it just didn’t seem to end!!
Final Garmin time was 13.2 miles in 1:58:06, average pace of 8:57. So overall, well within my easy range, but I worked much harder for the slower miles than I did for the faster ones!
Official results: 1:58:04, 9:01/mi. (Seriously, couldn’t we just do with 8:59? Sounds better. Hmph.) I placed 74/251 overall, 27/147 females, and 14/64 F20-29 AG, all of which are just fine with me since I had only three goals: don’t run too fast, don’t get hurt, don’t die of hypothermia.
I didn’t run too fast (though with these conditions, it would have been okay to run even slower) — in fact, this was almost seven minutes slower than the Jerusalem half, which was my longest run to date. I’m hoping I didn’t get hurt — these things aren’t always immediately evident, and my knee always feels cranky after a long run, but I think I can walk down stairs normally by now… and I shortly have a date with my Rumble Roller. As for dying of hypothermia… I guess that didn’t happen. Even though I am a complete nutcase and once I was 85% thawed out, I took an ice bath. Which was actually warmer than Shore Road Park.
Why do I do this to myself, again?!