After Jerusalem, I realized that I had run at least one half marathon a month this year so far. As I had already previously registered for the Long Island Half in May, I decided to see whether I could keep this trend going all year, and set about looking for an April race.
I found several of them. All of which were quite expensive. So much so, in fact, the least expensive of all was the SHAPE Half Marathon, especially when you factor in that I wouldn’t have to pay tolls or for gas to do this one. I have actually run it once before — in 2016 — but I didn’t pay full price for it then. Because paying $75 to run in circles in Central Park is ridiculous. I paid it anyway.
Only after that did I discover that during the summer months, if I want to run a half marathon, I have the option of City Tri races… or City Tri races. Those are stupid expensive. If paying $75 to run in circles in Central Park is ridiculous, paying $105 to run down the Coney Island Boardwalk is even more ridiculous. I’m not so sure I want to do that. Too bad I didn’t realize this until after I had shelled out the money for this race! But since I already had, I needed to get something out of it. I ran a surprise PR here last time, but I didn’t even dream that could happen again. I had so little faith that it could, I didn’t dare bring out the magic shoes.
These have been pretty magical in their own right, but every single half marathon PR I have ever run has been in the magic shoes. Ever. (Excluding my first one, but that four-hour broken-pelvis hobble obviously doesn’t count.)
I arrived way, way, way too early. Preferable to arriving way, way, way too late, I guess. Which is what would have happened if I had turned around to go back home for the nasal strip I realized I had forgotten… when I was nearly at the subway station.
Often, I will say that I don’t have a particular goal for a race even when I sort of do. This is not because I’m sandbagging; it’s because I don’t decide whether I’m going to go after those goals until a race has actually begun. If I feel like utter shit or the conditions are just awful, they’re all out the window anyway.
But I did have those goals, because I needed to get something for the $75. So I settled on 1:33:59 as my A goal (it would qualify me for NYCM 2020, which I don’t even want to run because I hope to be retired from marathons by then, but whatever); a PR (1:34:55 or faster) as my B goal; and a course PR (under 1:37:25) as my C goal.
I couldn’t decide whether to wear long sleeves or short sleeves; I ended up going with the latter, and was glad for it, because it wound up being much warmer than I expected. Given the weather (not just the warmth, but it was also stupidly humid), and that I knew I’d be lapping people from later corrals during the second loop, I mentally prepared for a big positive split, because it just made sense to try and run a little faster before it got too hot. This strategy can work, it just doesn’t feel that great.
I was on TV! I was glad to find this on NY1 because it helps to illustrate just how hilarious the corralling was. When I ran this in 2016, I started in C, and I could see how sparsely populated the first couple of corrals were. Now I’m in B, where I will probably stay for the rest of my life, but that usually means I’m still a ways back from the start line, because in most NYRR races, the corrals are of relatively equal size. Look how tiny AA, A and B are here. There were maybe four dozen people in all of them combined.
And there was no logjam at the start! Totally didn’t feel like an NYRR race at all without the bobbing and weaving and crowding. Not that I’m saying I missed it, because I absolutely did not. It was lovely to have so much space.
The PPTC cheer squad was positioned so that I passed them in the first, seventh, and final miles. See how delightfully empty the course is during the first mile? And how I don’t yet look like I want to die?
Central Park is hilly. Everyone knows this. I don’t actually mind Cat Hill — it’s just a blip. Harlem Hill sucks a little more, because it’s longer and steeper, but at least once you get to the top, you know it’s done. The West Side hills, though? They always kill me. Always. There are supposedly three of them, but I counted my way over them, I had already climbed three, and yet here I am, still going uphill! That portion took way more out of me than Harlem Hill did.
At the 10K mark, I was cutting it close to 1:33:59. It was starting to get really hot (how can a park filled with trees have so little shade?!), and my ITB was not so happy with me, so I was resigned to dropping down to my B goal if things didn’t improve.
As is obvious from the way I look here during mile seven, they weren’t exactly improving. (I’m super proud of my arm carriage, though — I’ve been working really hard on moving my hands down to hip height instead of having them up near my chest. Halfway there! And then once I’ve got that mastered, I can learn to keep my elbows tucked in more.)
This is around the time when I started lapping people from the back corrals. Which wouldn’t be such a big deal if they weren’t five or six abreast. I’m not rude enough to go crashing through them, and for some reason the volunteers were directing everyone to the left (is it just me, or is the left supposed to be the passing lane??), so I had to do a lot more weaving than I would have liked to get around people. I had to skip the last few water stations (not the greatest idea in such weather) because there were just too many people congregating and I like to grab on the go. There were a few women from the earlier corrals still near me, but I think they were falling for the same “you’re running faster than the people around you” thing that I did last time, so I had to pay more attention to my watch than is ideal. And yet… the hills kept coming. And I wanted to run faster, but it was just too hard to do that on incessant climbs when the temperature and humidity kept climbing too. I was close to letting my B goal go, even though I hated to do it.
And then I decided that if I missed by a second or two, I’d be furious with myself, so I was going to do my damnedest to make it happen. Especially once I passed the 20K point, and I saw that my elapsed time was 1:29:xx — because I know that a kilometer in five minutes is roughly 8:00 pace, and I could do that. (Turns out that 1.1K in five minutes is actually 7:18 pace, but it’s a good thing I did not know that then.)
I thought that with one kilometer to go, it made sense to move over to the left to make the final turn to the finish. Except that there were still crowds of people there; they weren’t directed to the right until basically just before the turnoff. That was a bit irritating. But okay.
The turnoff was before mile 13. I looked at my watch when I passed that marker, and I remember thinking that I had a PR in the bag because it was just another tenth of a mile, and I had enough time to make it. But that tenth of a mile? It seemed to go on forever. It was like I had slowed down (I hadn’t) and the clock had sped up (it hadn’t), because I could see the numbers ticking down toward 1:34:55, and it was excruciating. I even forgot about my poor abraded big toes. (Seriously, what was that all about?!)
I have never in my life been more grateful that I have a decent finishing kick. Because otherwise, this could not have happened.
It’s a tiny one, but…
I ran a HM PR. For the first time since 2016. Without the magic shoes. In icky weather. And on a course that I find rather brutal. To say that I am astonished would be an understatement.
I mean, I missed my A goal, but given how I didn’t wear the magic shoes, I don’t think I really believed I could hit either that or my B goal.
As predicted, I positive split like a champ. I actually negative split this race the last time I did it, but the weather was better then, so that probably helped. And if it’s a positive split that got me a PR this year, well… I don’t much care how it happened.
Garmin recorded 13.25 miles in 1:34:42, 7:09/mi.
Officially, 13.1 miles in 1:34:40, 7:14/mi; 30/6139 OA, 8/970 F30-34. I just realized that my last HM PR was also at a women’s race. Maybe I should just stick to those!
A PR is a PR. But no need to look at McMillan predictions, since I’m “supposed” to be able to run a faster half than this! Which I maybe will. One day.