The NYC half-marathon is one my favorite races of the year. Not only is the half-marathon my favorite distance, but this is my PR course from 2014! It’s relatively flat, draws a really decent crowd, and if you haven’t run straight through the middle of Time’s Square while traffic is completely blocked off, you haven’t lived! It is definitely at the top of my list for best NYC experiences. For both the 2014 and 2015 races, I entered the lottery to gain entrance. The entry fee is pretty steep as far as half-marathons go, but the tee-shirts are among the coolest I’ve received, and there is an insane amount of race-day support (water stops, PowerBar endurance gel, Gatorade, etc). Plus it’s NYC. These streets will make you feel brand new.
I headed up to the expo on the Friday before the race around 5pm. It was a quick in-and-out, and the lines weren’t bad at all. Since United Airlines was the sponsor this year, they had some really cool installations at the expo. If I wasn’t trying to get a train home for the weekend, I might have browsed the booths a bit longer, too. Lots of good stuff!
Sunday morning I headed in on the 5:45am train from Manhasset. I got into the city and found a Starbucks just off of Columbus Circle to hang out in while I hydrated and had a banana. I was checking a bag (which I rarely do, but I wanted to have some dry clothes so I could grab a beer/food after the race) so I had to make sure I got to the trucks by 7am. I met my friend Meghan just at the bottom end of the park, and we walked through security together and into the corrals. The line to get INTO the park was long. Leave plenty of time to get through, because they definitely have hyped up security.
While I love this race so much, I can totally understand why people don’t love big-city races. The starting corrals are insane, even though they are well-organized. There is a lot of standing around before you start shuffling towards the starting line, so definitely wear some throw-away clothes (and gloves, if you’re me).
Mile 1-6 are through Central Park, running counter-clockwise. Unlike last year when I went out way too fast, I kept my pace controlled for the first 6, including those hills on the UWS, so that I could come out of the bottom of the park and through Time’s Square and really pick it up. There is this adreneline rush that just happens when you get to 6th Avenue, and it is one of the main reasons I love this race. I took the right onto 42nd St, and headed to the West Side Highway still feeling pretty good. The wind definitely picks up on the WSH, and I think my paced slowed a little between 9-12 miles. At mile 12, we head under the tunnel, which spits you back out on the FDR. I remembered from last year that the tunnel slopes up at the end, so definitely don’t go all-out until you crest that hill. From there, its a few quick turns before you hit the finish line, and the crowd was really loud!
I was pleasanlty surprised to cross the finish line in 2:04.18, without training very much. The snow and the cold really held me back, so knowing I could knock out an almost-2-hour half makes me feel confident in my base so I can turn things up training-wise for the AirBNB Brooklyn Half on May 16.
Meghan and I celebrated our 13.1 finishes over some beers and pretzels!