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2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon Race Report

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2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon Race Report

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Fri Mar 25, 2016 11:52 am

Last year, I ventured back to NYC to run my first United Airlines NYC Half Marathon and it was more of a success than I could have imagined.  I had a good fall of racing (in 2014) but I really over did it a bit and by the beginning of February, I was tired and suffering from a sinus infection.  I took a few days off and figured that I'd enjoy myself in NYC in March and have fun running with Mary Pat and Nick at Boston.  I ended up going out conservatively and surprised myself with a 1:41:51.  I ran the race smartly going out slow in the park and picking it up when I entered Times Square.  The race was electric and I decided that I wanted to go back.


Fast forward to last weekend.  I convinced my friend, Chris, to go to NYC with me since she loves the city as much as I do.  We had run the last two NYC marathons and will be running Boston this year.  Chris is an awesome person and friend who supports me in my crazy endeavors.  She is also a bit older than me, looks younger, and makes me strive to stay in shape and be everything I can be.  Chris is a great runner and even better cyclist, so I will be calling on her a lot this coming summer when I begin to train for that crazy Half IM I signed up for.  Chris and I went to the "experience" on Saturday to pick up our bibs and gear and then to the Ground Zero Memorial. 
 Wow does that take your breathe away. I am fortunate enough not to have known anyone who was killed that fateful day, but that doesn't make the impact any less.  We spent most of the rest of Saturday debating what to wear the next morning since the weather forecast was all over the place from the threat of snow and 20s to low 40s.

Race Morning


Lucky for us, we were staying in midtown very close to the park, so we didn't have to get up at a ridiculous hour like for many races.  Chris kindly got up earlier than I and went downstairs in the hotel to get us some coffee (there she actually met up with one of the elite women runners, but we still have not figured out which one).  We drank coffee and I had a banana and we still debated what to wear.  The snow was not going to materialize until Sunday evening, but it was still cold with a temperature of 32F.  I decided on tights, a short sleeve shirt with arm warmers and my typical ball cap.  Of course, I threw on a throw away shirt over that short sleeve one and a clear garbage bag that Chris had brought.  


We left the hotel at 6:15 and walked quickly to the park where we dropped off our gear bags.  We were in different corrals, so it is here where we hugged and wished each other a good race and went our separate ways into the park.  It was chilly, well, actually cold, but the garbage bag kept me quite warm.  After going through security, which was fast moving probably because runners are so cooperative especially after Boston, and I walked/jogged up to the corral area.  I did make a pit stop on the way and I must commend the NYRR organization when it comes to start areas (and this applies to the NYC marathon as well) - HOW DO YOU KNOW JUST HOW MANY PORT-O-POTTIES TO HAVE SO THERE ARE NO LINES!!!!!  Around 6:50 am, I did a short shakeout run just to warm up those muscles and I hit the potty once again. I then entered my corral and spent the next few minutes chatting with others around me, clapping for the wheelchair start and waiting until it was our time to go.


RACE


I was in corral 5 this year (8 last year), and I felt like I was with runners too fast for me.  I really had no idea how fast I could run especially since I had a bit of a set back with a twisted ankle two weeks prior.  The ankle seemed ok that morning, so I just tried to forget about it.  I stayed in the back of the corral especially since the 1:35 pacer was at the front of my corral and the 1:40 pacer at the back.  I had not broken 1:40 since January, 2012 in Houston and that was 4 yrs ago (right after I turned 50) and on a flat course.  I hoped to break the 1:41:51 timed that I had run in 2015 and my goal was to get under that time.  I knew I was in decent shape, but you never know.  I decided to try to keep the 1:40 pacer in my sights if I could. After running this race last year, I knew that I had to be smart in the park and I broke the race down into two different parts: Central Park and the rest of the course.  The park is "hilly" with a good climb just past 5k.  And the rollers do not stop after that.  The first mile has a gradual uphill, the second has a nice downhill, and the course finally flattens out when you enter Times Square. What is referred to as "cat hill" is immediately at the start.  I knew from last year to just stay comfortable here and not jack rabbit out of the start.  I just wanted to find a good steady rhythm. Nothing too fast or hard. Mile 1: 8:04


Mile two is mostly flat to start with some big downhills towards the end. When I saw my Garmin beep with a 7:24, I panicked a bit. I was annoyed with myself for speeding up as it didn't feel that way and I  worried a bit that this mile could cost me in the end. Mile 2: 7:24


Mile three is odd in that you exit the park and make a cover a little out and back section around a traffic circle.  Last year, my friend Sara Jane was volunteering along this mile so I thought about her smiling face (she is back in MN) and it carried me along.  It is along this portion that you can see the runners in front and in back of you and where the first water stop is located.  I actually grabbed a quick cup of water here as it is easier than at other parts of the course.  It was pretty crowded along this stretch, but I also knew that the "hill" was coming so I tried to stay in control.  was a new mile for me. Mile 3: 7:36.


Once you re-enter the park, it is time to tackle Harlem Hill. It’s one long gradual climb – I think it’s about .5 miles in length with a double clutch at the top. I tried to keep the effort constant but was definitely huffing and puffing by the time we reached the top. I knew my pace would drop here but my goal was to stay comfortable.  Lots of runners slowed down here (even in the beginning corrals and I was already noticing that most of the runners around me started in corrals ahead of me.  I panicked just a bit, but then I caught a glimpse of the 1:40 pacer and I settled down. Mile 4: 7:49.


Knowing that the toughest two hills were done, but also knowing that they were still a few more climbs before exiting the park, I just tried to keep my rhythm and comfortable breathing while climbing and looking intently for Tavern on the Green.  I felt better here and was looking forward to exiting the park. Mile 5-6: 7:33, 7:22.


Exiting the park is awesome as you head towards Times Square.  I had forgotten that it is a bit uphill as you exit the park, but I got energized as we passed the Kids race on the side of 7th Avenue.  It seemed more crowded with runners along this portion than last year and this golf cart with a "blogger" talking about her race experience went by us causing runners to move over a bit.  (I found it odd that she had a number on - did she jump back into the race?).  I also noticed that I was still passing quite a few runners and many who were already walking  - what??? If you are walking, why are you in a corral a head of me?  But I digress.  I felt good, I felt comfortable, and I thought here that I would break that 1:41:51 time. We exited Times Square and turned onto 42nd St and the wind picked up a bit.  It seemed to swirl around us and I reminded myself that this happened last year too.  I grabbed a quick Gatorade along this stretch and looked forward to the West Side Highway.  I could still see the 1:40 pacer and I realized that I was not losing anytime in following him.  I also realized that it felt comfortable and FUN. Miles 7-8: 7:24,7:19.


I hit the West Side highway just before mile 8 and knew I still had a long way to go before I could celebrate, but also was pumped for the challenge that was ahead of me.  I started to focus on each mile trying to keep my breathing under control, maintain a comfortable stride and rhythm. I kept repeating, "push, push,push" to myself as I used this flat stretch to get to lower Manhattan. The wind swirled  a bit as we approached the tunnel with it being sometimes behind us, but mostly it seemed to come from the east and was at our side.  At one point, I remember a spectator yelling that we were catching the 1:40 pacer and I wanted to believe.  With each mile, I knew that I was gaining ground on the sub-1:41, and maybe even approaching 1:40. I wasn't sure, but it still felt good even though I knew that I had lost a little ground with pace. I lost pace around the same point last year.  I didn't feel any different, I was just at mile 9, 10, 11 of a half marathon and I was racing.  Miles 9-11: 7:21, 7:27, 7:27


I entered the tunnel knowing that I wanted to keep a steady pace since there was that hill at the exit.  I also knew that the wind was most likely in our faces when we exited the tunnel especially since it seemed to pick up before we entered the tunnel and it is usually strong between those buildings near Wall St (and it had been strong the day before at Ground Zero).   Entering the tunnel was brutal because of a headwind but once we were in, it was calm. I was cautious to push too hard here because I knew that one final hill awaited. I kept steady and hoped to get some back on the hill, but once again, that hill sucked the life out of me and I felt like I was going backwards. But I pushed on looking towards the Brooklyn Bridge and the first turn to the finish area. Mile 12: 7:28


Made the left, then the right and could see the 400m sign. I didn't look at my watch and just tried to keep my head down and push forward (I also thought I'd lose my cap -lol).  I reminded myself that I could fight the wind as I did it everyday along Lake Erie.  As I approached the clock, I saw that it said 1:44 and I knew I was off maybe 4-5 min from the start clock.  I just tried to enjoy this last stretch before the finish knowing that I might actually be sub 1:41.  When I crossed the line and hit my watch, I looked down to see 1:39:54 and I burst into tears.  I had done it - not only had I beat last year's time, but I had broken 1:40 - something I didn't think I could do (yet - it was supposed to be my fall goal), and I was ecstatic.  I also quickly took a mental inventory, and nothing hurt - not my ankle, not my hamstring, not anything - wow! Miles 13-13.1: 7:28, 7:30


Stats: 
Official Overall Finish Time: 1:39:49
15th AG F50-54/641
501th female / 10,556
2367th overall / 20,149



Official Splits:5k: 24:14– 7:49
10k: 47:52 (23:38) – 7:37
15k: 1:10:51 (22:59) – 7:24
20k: 1:34:19 (23:28) – 7:34
Overall Average Pace per Mile: 7:37



Post Race


I crossed the line and got my heat sheet and gear bag.  I then went to the United Airlines Mileage Plus VIP area which was awesome and picked up my medal and got it engraved.  I waited for Chris who ran a 1:55!! We changed and ate breakfast (thanks to United and to my hubby who flies too much). 


Thanks to all the volunteers on the course, the NYRR Club, the NYC crowds and the NYC Police for the secure entry areas.  Sunday was a good day with an unexpected (time) result but it definitely gave me the confidence I need to get to Boston and through Boston in great shape.  I plan to come back - hopefully next year as I once again have a guaranteed time.


I highly recommend this race especially if you love NYC as much as I do.  
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Re: 2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon Race Report

Post  Tim C on Sat Mar 26, 2016 12:43 pm

Michele,

Congrats!  Nice report and isn't it nice when you surprise yourself with a result like that?
Your running / racing is an inspiration - keep up the good work.
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Re: 2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon Race Report

Post  Mike MacLellan on Sat Mar 26, 2016 2:03 pm

Mom, you're really fast.
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Re: 2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon Race Report

Post  nkrichards on Sat Mar 26, 2016 2:26 pm

Awesome race report...thanks for sharing your thoughts/strategy along the way.

And even more awesome race!!!!!!  You put in the work and it shows.
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Re: 2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon Race Report

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Sat Mar 26, 2016 2:45 pm

@Tim C wrote:Michele,

Congrats!  Nice report and isn't it nice when you surprise yourself with a result like that?
Your running / racing is an inspiration - keep up the good work.
Thanks, Tim.  Yes it is nice.  Now I can rest in the fall after my Half IM.

@Mike MacLellan wrote:Mom, you're really fast.
Awe thanks. But only 16th in my AG?  Wow (I would have placed if I was already 55)
@nkrichards wrote:Awesome race report...thanks for sharing your thoughts/strategy along the way.

And even more awesome race!!!!!!  You put in the work and it shows.
Thanks, Nancy.
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Re: 2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon Race Report

Post  Tim C on Sat Mar 26, 2016 9:01 pm

Michele \"1L" Keane wrote:
@Tim C wrote:Michele,

Congrats!  Nice report and isn't it nice when you surprise yourself with a result like that?
Your running / racing is an inspiration - keep up the good work.
Thanks, Tim.  Yes it is nice.  Now I can rest in the fall after my Half IM.

Michele,

I'm curious, have you always been a swimmer?  I had a real bug to do a Half IM a couple of years back as I've run numerous halfs and several 50-100 mile bike rides.  (Although I have to admit, I've never jumped off the bike after 50 miles and then run 13 miles...).  But the swim seems so daunting.  Although I'm very comfortable in the water, swimming 1.2 miles seems so out of reach.  I can run 10 miles without breathing hard but swim one lap in a 50 meter pool and I'm totally gassed.  I have a couple of friends who swim well and they say it's just a matter of learning the technique and it becomes easy, but I feel like it would take me an awfully long time to learn how to do swim that far.
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Re: 2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon Race Report

Post  nkrichards on Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:11 pm

@Tim C wrote:
Michele \"1L" Keane wrote:
@Tim C wrote:Michele,

Congrats!  Nice report and isn't it nice when you surprise yourself with a result like that?
Your running / racing is an inspiration - keep up the good work.
Thanks, Tim.  Yes it is nice.  Now I can rest in the fall after my Half IM.

Michele,

I'm curious, have you always been a swimmer?  I had a real bug to do a Half IM a couple of years back as I've run numerous halfs and several 50-100 mile bike rides.  (Although I have to admit, I've never jumped off the bike after 50 miles and then run 13 miles...).  But the swim seems so daunting.  Although I'm very comfortable in the water, swimming 1.2 miles seems so out of reach.  I can run 10 miles without breathing hard but swim one lap in a 50 meter pool and I'm totally gassed.  I have a couple of friends who swim well and they say it's just a matter of learning the technique and it becomes easy, but I feel like it would take me an awfully long time to learn how to do swim that far.

Tim,
I hope you don't mind if I butt in on this conversation.  They started doing a sprint triathlon in our area in 2008.  We only swim 500 yds in the pool.  The first year I couldn't complete the distance with a freestyle stroke so I rested with a breast stroke every couple lengths.  A couple years later a friend and I took a couple lessons and started swimming together on a regular basis.  We made a lot of progress...lowering our time from about 12:00 to 10:30...but we were still pretty slow.  Recently they hired a new instructor at the pool who was willing to start a masters swim group.  We swim for an hour 3 days a week.  He puts workouts on the board for us and provides both tips and encouragement.  He has us doing all sorts of intervals and various distances.  I've seen my time drop to 9:45 in just a few weeks and we're swimming longer and longer distances.  A short day is now 2000 yds and we often swim 2500 yds or more.  I will admit that I haven't tackled an open water swim yet and I've been told that's much different.  But if you do decide to take the plunge and work on your swimming I would definitely recommend that you look around for a masters group that you could join.  The coaching and the friendships are well worth the scheduling inconvenience.  And it would be great cross training while giving your knee a rest.

I wish there was a coached running group in our area!!
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Re: 2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon Race Report

Post  KBFitz on Sun Mar 27, 2016 9:49 am

Your race report reminds me that there's nothing like the NYC Half. Made me feel like I was right there with you. That's a really impressive performance you put in there 1l. Looks like 2016 could be a banner year for you. Keep it up!
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Re: 2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon Race Report

Post  fostever on Tue Mar 29, 2016 12:41 pm

A guy I've been giving PT sessions to ran it and was stuck in his corral way too long. Good run and a good sign for Boston! Congrats
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Re: 2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon Race Report

Post  Mark B on Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:26 pm

Congrats! That was a terrific race for you. All this work you've been doing is really paying off.

Great report, too. It was like being there with you, without that pesky need for supplemental oxygen to keep up. Very Happy

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Re: 2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon Race Report

Post  ounce on Mon Apr 04, 2016 12:43 pm

Gratz, Miche1e!  Having run through a tunnel and between buildings, I guess you use the course's mile markers to mark your splits, instead of relying on the satellite?

Did you and are you trying to maintain keto adaption?
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