A Bite of the Big Apple
|Kids growing up on Detroit Circle|
Russ' NYC Half Marathon Recap
Ultimately, going to the race this morning I was feeling better, lighter, stronger, faster than I have felt recently but still very unsure if I would be able to push to the pace needed to qualify. I needed to finish (13.1 miles) in sub 1:30, meaning my pace would need to average sub 6:50's/m - a pace I have not been able to maintain, even for 1 mile or 2, for the last 2 months. By comparison I ran a Marathon last November that was good enough to qualify for Boston at 7:40/m - nearly a minute slower than what I needed today. So showing up this morning confidence was low.
I decided that today I would simply try to be around 7/m miles and see how it goes (focusing on next month's race). At the start I just decided to take it easy through about half the race and see how I felt. We did the park in a counterclockwise path which in my mind left us shorter, steeper climbs and longer down hill finishes - any time lost on climbing was more than made up on the back end as we stretched it out and took pressure off our lungs. Felt good all the way around and sure enuf as we left the park and started toward Times Square I was both on pace (slightly better than 7mm) and feeling good.
Decided to push a bit for the next few miles as it looked to me like we were going down hill on 7th ave. Every race there is always some point where I feel good and want to push my pace, the question is always, where to let it go? Fearing a move too early only to run out of gas just when I needed it most, and now at only mile 7 here was too early to start. But it sure felt like downhill and so I gave in a bit to the feeling. Down thru the square - past the cheerleaders 'cheering' to LMFAO (those cheerleaders had beards!), past the 2 man band of Stand Up Bass player and drummer in a giant pink gorilla suit.
Arriving on the west side highway and mile 8- I was still feeling good - but knew for me this was simply the start of the race. This is where you separate the wheat from the chaff. The last 5 miles are pretty desolate, you've left the park and the square behind you and now you're in the wind, on the flat west side highway, with little/nothing to look at and a long way to go. It was here I was supposed to push. Moved my pace up to 6:30ish and started moving past people I had been running with. One guy was dressed like Montezuma (I think) in full outfit w/feathered headdress that must of stuck up - mohawk style - 3 feet off his head - no really. I don't know how he ran so fast with that on but he got tons of love from the crowd.
Went thru a few more guys - some competitive, that didn't appreciate the pass and tried to stay with me. Sometimes I would just blow by them, sometimes their pace would throw me and I would lose my technique for a few minutes. Trying to do the math in my head I wasn't sure what pace I needed after doing at least half of the race around 7m/m and not sure how many miles (if any) i had been under that pace - but I figured it needed to be close to 6:30's.
|Russ doing the math on how fast to run the rest of the race|
The last mile or mile and half were pure agony, pain in my legs and hips was stupid bad, and I really had lost all sense of where I was on the course or how I was doing. As we went into the Battery park tunnel (tip of Manhattan) I lost all GPS info. Inside there was a race clock that said running time was 1:25 (I've got five minutes to qualify) but it also said we were at the 15k mark. This info thru me into a spin as I thought the race was roughly 20k - leaving me another 5k (3.1miles!) to go and only 5 minutes. Completely deflated it was clear I would not qualify today. Coming out of the tunnel I decided to keep pushing the best I could just to see how well I could do and as we climbed out and leveled off another race sign appeared - but this one said 400 yards! I turned the corner elated and could actually see the finish. A race clock to my right showed the time to be 1:29:08 - I had just under 1 minute. I took off like a sprinter moving as fast as I could hoping my legs wouldn't give out in the next 30 seconds.
My heart was racing and my lungs began to burn just as I heard Laurie and the kids shouting me on. I gave a passing wave and finished 1:29:25 - slipping in under the qualifying time by just 35 seconds! Next year the 'qualifying' time for my age group goes to a brutally difficult 1:20 so getting in this year may be the only real chance I ever had. It was a nice surprise to get in.
(SBM Footnote: Thanks for Russ and his Mom sharing this story. Odd how we had so much in common in our youth and years later, we share the same passion for running. Like Russ, I want to try and qualify for NY in August. I will be seeking my fourth BQ in six weeks on my home court in Ft. Collins at the Colorado Marathon. Given the recap above, we not only share running in common, but apparently writing as well. Congrats Russ!)