On Sunday I ran in the NYC Half Marathon. This is a huge event with almost 20,000 finishers. Registration is done by lottery and I was lucky enough to get picked. The race features a point to point course that starts in Central Park and finishes near Wall Street. (sorry no course video) The race has several tough hills during the first 5 miles in Central Park but the remainder of the race is almost completely flat. If you are looking for a spring half marathon I would highly recommend this race. A few highlights of the course include Central Park, Times Square, Freedom Tower, and the Battery Park Tunnel.
Due to the terrible New England winter I had only ran outside 3x this year prior to running in this half marathon. That has to be a record for me. I have been putting in some decent mileage on the treadmill this season but it is hard to tell how your body will react to running outside after such a long period indoors.
After a rainy Saturday I woke on Sunday to a nice 42 degrees and dry weather. Perfect for long sleeve T and shorts for me. Since this race is such a large event runners are assigned corrals where runners are staged by projected pace before the start. This whole process was well organized and I had no issues at all getting to my corral and the start.
The race starts uphill and the first few miles have rolling terrain. Central Park is hilly and the first 6 miles are in the park. I knew hills would be an issue (haven’t seen one in months) but I paced myself properly and survived Central Park intact. I will mention that right after the 5k mark there is a really tough uphill. This one hurt a bit. The key to this race is to really stay comfortable the first 6 miles and then hopefully pick up the pace the 2nd half of the race.
After you leave the park you have a great view of Times Square as you run down Seventh Avenue. It is incredible to run right down the middle of 7th Avenue thru Times Square with no traffic. This put a smile on my face. I turned to a runner beside me and said “It doesn’t get any better than this!”
After turning on 42nd Street I was still running strong with a nice slight downhill on the way to the West Side Highway. The remainder of the race is almost entirely on the West Side Highway. This section is completely flat. If you are having a great day this could be a part of the race where you can really make up time or hold your pace. Unfortunately the wheels started to come off for me around mile 9. My pace dropped about 30 seconds a mile and I couldn’t get it back. I didn’t completely blow up and was at least able to manage 8 minute miles on the way in.
One really cool part of the course is running thru the Battery Park Tunnel. This comes just after mile 12. The tunnel is slightly downhill so I tried one last effort to throw in a speed burst and capitalize on the downhill. My strategy worked but ***Runner Beware*** As you exit the tunnel there is a short but tough uphill. After trying to run hard thru the tunnel this was an unwelcome surprise and my legs blew up. There is only a little more than a half mile remaining in the race after this hill but my legs were toast. I struggled to the finish and ended my day in 1:40:34.
Was this a good time for me? Based on this past winter I would say this a fine place to start my season. Too many times runners complain and make excuses after every event. You can’t run a PR every time you race. I ran a great race and had a great time. I think this is a great event and I will try to get in again next year.