Initially, I registered for this race just because I needed an October half marathon. I didn’t really intend to race it. But I changed my mind after the Bronx 10 Mile, when I came so tantalizingly close to that A bib I’ve been chasing for years. Except that this would mean I needed to run a sub-1:30 half. I didn’t think that was so impossible per se; I just didn’t think I could do it in Staten Island, because it isn’t a great course. But then I remembered that I did run my fastest half of 2018 there, despite the fact that the year was basically a wash. Since the first half of the course is faster anyway, I decided to give it a shot and hope that I didn’t fall apart to the extent that I lost my sub-1:34. (I already had two of those to use as a NYCM qualifier for 2020, but it just seems like it would simplify things if I ran a sub-1:34 in an NYRR race so that it wouldn’t be subject to verification.)
And then, because this always seems to happen a couple of weeks before a marathon, I got sick. It’s a good thing I didn’t feel as shitty on Sunday morning as I did on Saturday morning, because there was no way I could even consider racing that way, but I still felt plenty awful. So much so that I decided to save my pace band for another day.
But just in case, I scribbled the splits on my wrist.
And I wore my magic shoes.
While feeling like I was wasting precious miles on them because I really, really felt crappy. Usually, I race with a nasal strip because I feel like even if it doesn’t help, it can’t hurt; this time, I needed it because I could. not. breathe.
Because I am a chronically early person, I caught the first ferry at 6 AM. This meant that I spent over an hour freezing my ass off in the terminal on Staten Island, which I was under the impression would be heated. If it was, it sure didn’t feel like it.
This, to me, is torture. Fine while I’m running, but not beforehand. Especially when I don’t feel well. But hey, at least I had plenty of time for multiple bathroom trips, even one at the porta potties after I checked my bag. The line for that one was super long, so I didn’t have much time to wait in the corral before the start, all while shivering in my heat sheet. I don’t know what I would do without those things; they are the best throwaways.
I think it is always beneficial to have run a course previously. So while I might not be crazy about this route, at least I was familiar with it from having run it before! I guess because it’s not such a great course, this race isn’t as popular as the Bronx, which means it was slightly less congested at the start. But only slightly.
I ran wrapped in my heat sheet for the first half mile or so, until my teeth stopped chattering. Then I bunched it up in my hand and carried it until we reached the first mile aid station, because I’d rather dispose of it in (or at least near) a trash can instead of just randomly tossing it on the street. Littering drives me crazy.
The first couple of miles were pretty much right on pace, which is actually a bit slower than they should have been, considering that the first half of the course is faster than the second. But I just did not feel great, and the pace felt more laborious than I thought would be sustainable if I pushed much more than that, so I didn’t even try.
Somewhere between mile 3 and 4, Kevin was hanging out on the median with a camera. Which means lovely photos flying down the descent, and deathly photos climbing the monster hill in mile 8! Between those two points, it’s really pretty flat and was relatively uneventful (minus a random anxiety attack around the 10K mark, because why the hell not?).
The hill in mile 8 is not the one I remember from last year, even though it is actually the worse of the two faced in quick succession. It’s longer and steeper, but you can see it coming. The hill in mile 9, on the other hand, is a bit of a surprise because one second you’re rolling merrily along, and then the next second there’s the bridge spanning a climb that seems to appear from out of nowhere. If I didn’t already know it was coming, I would have been very unhappy indeed. Not that I was super thrilled anyway.
(Toting an empty gel packet, waiting for a trash can.)
I had purposely created splits for 1:29:30 instead of 1:29:59 so that I would have a bit of wiggle room, but I felt like I was starting to lose too much of it. I remember slowing down last year in the last 5K — even though those miles are basically flat, except for a very cruel uphill finish — so I was paying a lot of attention to not doing that this time. It was a huge mental battle, because I could almost feel the sub-1:30 slipping through my fingers like sand, and it was hard to fight the part of me that said it didn’t matter because I would still have run a huge PR even if I missed it.
When I turned onto the finishing stretch and caught sight of the clock, it read 1:30:31. I knew that my watch was about a minute behind the official course clock, which meant I had roughly thirty seconds to make it in under 1:30, and the distance wasn’t that far, so I might not have booked it as much as I could have since I knew I had it.
And I did.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had the number 1:29:48 as the finish time required for an A bib, but I don’t know where that came from. I obviously didn’t manage that, anyway.
But I did run my first sub-1:30. On a course I thought made it all but impossible, and while sick. To say that I was stunned is a bit of an understatement.
Garmin recorded 13.23 miles in 1:29:56, 6:48/mi.
Officially, 1:29:52, 6:52/mi. 493/9975 OA, 41/4430 F, and 5/667 F35-39. A course PR by 6:14, and a HM PR by 3:17.
This should help me choose a marathon goal, right??
1mi — 5:35.5
5K — 19:25 (6:15/mi)
4mi — 25:14 (6:18/mi)
5mi — 32:11 (6:26/mi)
10K — 40:19 (6:29/mi)
15K — 1:02:27(6:42/mi)
10mi — 1:07:23 (6:44/mi)
30K — 2:11:18 (7:03/mi)
FM — 3:09:08 (7:13/mi)
This is all hilarious and everything, except that NYRR apparently uses a different algorithm than McMillan, and instead of this finish time being equivalent to a 6:29 10K pace (the cutoff for corral A), this happened.
It’s like the universe is trying to send me a subliminal message that no matter what I do, I will never, ever be good enough. Which is really unnecessary, because I know that I’m a worthless shit. The odds that finally earning an A bib will flip me from thinking I’m a total waste of oxygen to thinking I’m the greatest thing to ever grace this planet are nonexistent. I will never be the type of person who thinks I’m superior because I happen to be able to run faster than some other people; the ability to run fast doesn’t make someone a better human. So I don’t really need to be constantly slapped in the face with the you’re not good enough message. Believe me, I am already more than aware of that.