Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Race Report: New York Half Marathon

I feel like I got away with something. Or stole something.

If you follow me on DailyMile, you know I've been going through a bout of IT Band-itis for the past month-and-a-half or so and that up until a week before this past Sunday's race, my ability to run this race was in serious question. That all changed in a matter of 5 days and on Sunday I was able to not only start the race, but run almost the entire thing and finish in a time I would never have thought possible considering how little I had trained.

The morning of the race was literally PERFECT. 48 degrees, 80% humidity, cloudy and little to no wind. Cool but not too dry, and cloudy...I don't think you could arrange more perfect conditions. We dropped off our stuff at the bag drops just outside of Central Park and headed to our corrals. Because I hadn't been able to properly train for the race, I knew I wasn't going to be able to keep up with my originally scheduled corral so I decided to start with my wife Leslie who was also running her first half marathon. After hitting up the bathrooms, we stood around and waited for the start...and then the gun went off.

And we waited.

And we waited.

And then we started walking towards the start line. It took us a full 28+ minutes to get to the start line and then we were off. The cool part about waiting so long to start was that the race leaders were emerging from Central Park just as we were starting so we actually got the see the leaders run by. I've never seen an elite runner in real life...I guess I would describe them as "gazelles". Effortless running.

Anyway, the first few miles were easy and breezy. I ran the first one with Leslie and then took off on my own, constantly dodging other runners. I figured that eventually the crowd would thin and I would be able to run, more or less, in straight lines, but that never happened. Miles 1 through 4 were pretty uneventful aside from one thing that will be burned into the eyes of my mind for as long as I live.

In between miles 3 and 4 I was innocently running along when I started to hear people yelling around me. I looked up from the pavement to see what was going on and I saw a guy climb the hill, turn so that his backside was facing the runners, pull down his pants and take a shit. Everyone was yelling "that's sick" or "duuude". I'm not gonna lie, I saw poop coming out of his butt. I can't un-see it. I had to kind of chuckle because I doubt if I will ever see something like that again. Couldn't you at least face your butt away from the crowd?

"The pain" started in between miles 4 and 5. It was that familiar IT Band pain that I'd been having for the past 6 weeks. It wasn't really pain as much as it was discomfort, but I immediately started trying to think of ways to alleviate it. I started by walking the downhills in Central Park, but it really wasn't getting any better. It also wasn't really get any worse either so during mile 5 I made a decision. I thought to myself, "I haven't trained for 6 weeks and I have no idea how this thing is going to hold up. I also know that it's going to be a major bitch to run/walk the final 8 miles." So I went for it. I just started running at a faster pace and figured that I would just keep it up for as long as I could. Miles 6, 7, and 8 went by and before I knew it, I was through Times Square and onto the Westside Highway. I made it to mile 9 and was petering out a bit. I walked a short stretch and for some reason, I kept thinking, "come on, you've only got 3 miles left." That, of course, was wrong.

Mile 10 of my race was dedicated to Keith Faxel, the husband of my wife's boss, who is an avid runner and has been sidelined by sinus issues for the last several months. He's also had a run of bad luck in his personal life and so I told him before I left that I would run mile 10 for him. After mile 10, the rest of the race is kind of a blur. I remember thinking after mile 12 that "hey, this is the longest I've ever run in my life." I must have been really motivated at the very end of the race because I finished the last .1 miles at a 6:24 pace. After I crossed the finish line, I got really emotional because I was so thankful to have gotten to that point. A week before I had been telling my mom that I thought it would be a miracle if I was able to run the race.

My splits for the race are below. I think it's pretty obvious where I walked. I was telling my wife that the race result is bittersweet. I'm beyond thankful that I was able to run and complete the race. The part that gets me down is the question of what it could have been had I been able to train for it. 1:30? 1:25? I know there will be future half marathons, but this was my first and more than feeling like I accomplished anything, I feel like I got away with something. I'm really looking forward to getting back into training and my next big thing is the Chicago Marathon in October which I will begin training for soon.

Mile 1: 8:53     Mile 8: 6:56
Mile 2: 7:59     Mile 9: 7:36
Mile 3: 7:30     Mile 10: 8:07
Mile 4: 8:07     Mile 11: 7:34
Mile 5: 9:32     Mile 12: 7:32
Mile 6: 7:27     Mile 13: 9:18
Mile 7: 6:54     Total Time: 1:45:02

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