On Sunday (10/9) I completed my 3rd half marathon. As I type this, I can remember almost a year ago when I sat at my desk contemplating registering for my first and now I’ve already run 3 🙂
Given all of the knee issues I have been experiencing, I went into this race with the full intentions of just getting it done and seeing how I would handle the distance. It was the longest distance that I had run in roughly 7 weeks and it’s not like I was running all that often in those 7 weeks. Let’s see….MAYBE 10 times? So I set EXTREMELY low expectations for myself and even made an agreement (with myself) that if I had any sort of pain that I would stop immediately and put a big fat DNF on the record. Thankfully it didn’t come to that point!
Not only did I use this race as a “can I really still run” benchmark, I also figured it would be a great race to practice my fueling/hydration strategy for the marathon as well as practicing running in a larger crowd (still 10 times smaller than the marathon crowd – HOWEVER – much bigger than any race I’ve run in the past year. I also apologize for the lack of pics — I had no spectators/support and the official pics have not posted yet.
SO – I woke up at 5:15 a.m. — freaking out because my alarm never went off — thankfully it was only 15 min. past my scheduled wake up time. I laid everything out the night before and packed my bag and breakfast so all I needed to do was throw my clothes on and head out the door. I stopped for a cup of coffee and was on my way to Staten Island at around 5:40 a.m. I wanted to make sure I left plenty of time to get to the start as they were closing the roads 90 minutes before gun time. I made it to the ferry terminal/ball park around 7 a.m., parked my car and headed over to pick up my bib and shirt (5 min walk). Luckily for me, I got there before the first ferry arrived with all the NYC runners so I was able to jump right into a clean/unused porta potty and pick up everything without even waiting in a line. As I walked back to my car I was greeted with a mass exodus of runners from the ferry — perfect timing 🙂
Since I still had about 80 min before gun time, I got myself together at my car (attached bib, packed spibelt, put on knee brace, etc) I also did a couple walking laps around the area to warm up and used the potty about million times (I pee ALOT). The time really flew by and before I knew it I was in my corral and waiting to move forward. It was 5 min. before start time and all of a sudden the 3rd and final ferry dropped off the rest of the NYC runners — not NYRR’s fault, but I would’ve been freaking out if I had to literally run to the start, drop my bags and go! Within a couple minutes of the start horn blowing, we are across the line and off on our 13.1 mile journey.
I made sure to take this run VERY slowly and within a quarter mile we were greeted with our first incline. Nothing too horrible but I was glad that I kept my pace slow and steady; the last thing I wanted to have happen was go out way too fast and be greeted with knee pain 3 miles in. I kept reminding myself that time wasn’t a factor and I was simply out there enjoying a 13.1 mile training run with 5300 of my closest friends 😉 First mile clocked at a little over 11 min — okay, maybe I started out too slow LOL! Totally fine, I picked up the pace and happily jogged along at a 10:30ish pace (I forgot to upload my Garmin splits) and was able to maintain a full conversation without gasping for air. The first 4 miles zipped by and I made sure to slow down at each water station and drink a full cup of water (kind of power walked through them) and had my first Gu. Instead of running with a water bottle, I plan on using the water stations for the marathon and this was my first attempt at ever using them during a longer distance run (I always had my waist pack before). I have to say — I was MUCH more enjoyable not running with that bulky thing on me! I had no problems grabbing the water, getting enough down and starting back up again.
Somewhere during mile 5 we ran under an overpass and I lost my Garmin signal…therefore it was not giving me accurate splits from that point on…I was basically running with a glorified stopwatch at that point. But I kept telling myself to remain comfortable, slow and steady. A bulk of the course was through this long dirty industrial complex (probably where hookers and drug dealers hang out at night) and there wasn’t much to look at. Plus it was starting to get HOT. The only thing that kept me going was the site of the Verrazano Bridge and hearing lots of people around me say that in just 4 short weeks we’d be running over that bridge — it gave me the chills.
I reached the turn around at around 1:07 and was still happily trucking along. My knee would give out twinges of “uncomfortableness” but it was nothing that was keeping me down. I was feeling good and holding a very comfortable pace — in fact, I kind of felt like I was just happily bouncing along (which was exactly how I wanted to run). I had to pee for a couple miles at this point but I didn’t want to wait in a line. Finally as we were passing under the Verrazano, I saw an open potty and quickly ducked in. Probably took about 2 min. Mile 8.5ish we were greeted with a HUGE incline — funny how when I was running down it I forgot that we’d have to run back up it! I decided to power walk up the entire thing….I was happy about this decision as I didn’t want to jack up my knee trying to prove I could run up it AND I didn’t want to waste all my energy with 4.5 miles left to go. To be honest, my power walking was actually faster than some of the people attempting to run up it.
After I crested the hill, I took another Gu with some water and continued on my merry way. The temperature was steadily increasing and it was starting to get rough out there. Back through the sketchy industrial park….I knew we only had about 3 miles left and I was really feeling good (all things considered). I’m not going to lie, there was some additional power walking towards the end (not much – but still a few walk breaks) and I told myself that I would be happy with anything under 2:30. I crossed the finish line happy and not hurting with a time of 2:24:01. Factor in the pee stop and the practically non-existent running these past 7 weeks – I was super happy with the outcome. To only come in 14 minutes slower than my last half time and feel completely comfortable doing it really upped my confidence for the marathon. Is it going to be super tough? YES! but if I remain calm and not pretend I’m Kara Goucher – I think I can actually do this!
By the time I finished it had to be close to 80 degrees and the sun was really strong (my face actually got a little burned!). I grabbed some more water and an apple and sat under a tree near the waterway. I had the perfect view of NYC and it was a great way to wind down after the run. After consuming my apple and stretching for a bit, I headed to my car and got ready to go meet up with my friends for some lunch 🙂 The only downside to parking in the ferry lot was that they didn’t re-open the streets at 11:30 like the race website said … so I wound up sitting in my car for a good 40 minutes until we got moving. In hindsight, I should’ve just got ice for my knee right after the race since I didn’t realize it would be close to 90 minutes afterwards that I would meet my friends and ice it then. The knee was definitely tight and sore for the rest of the day but the next day I was feeling pretty good 🙂 I have been diligent with icing it 3 times a day for about 20 min. each time.
Keep the “good knee” vibes coming my way … I really think they’re working!!!! NYC is so close!!!!