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My excessive energy, extreme narcissism, and intense love of neon-colored spandex is both managed and fueled by my addiction to fitness. I push myself to extremes and I push other people's buttons. Obviously I needed my own blog.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Professor Runs the NYC Half

While I was enjoying my last morning in Florida, the Professor took on the NYC Half Marathon. Please enjoy In Shape Out of Mind's very first guest post.

This Sunday I ran the NYC Half Marathon and I shattered my PR. I ran a 1:51:23, which is 8:00 minutes and change faster than my previous half marathon PR. Woot. Maybe it was worth not going out on St. Patrick's Day. Although seeing through sober eyes those Long Island and New Jersey animals stumble around Manhattan during this day is enough to make me question the holliday altogether, and I use that term loosely.

This year I am trying to only run Saturday races because Sunday races kill your weekend. But I hadn’t ever run the NYC half so I made an exception when I was lucky enough to make the lottery.

I woke from anxious dreams at about 6:15 am. I already had my outfit laid out because I am a sick tool.  I wore my Dylan Murphy's shirt (my standard racing shirt and favorite bar in NYC – ISOOM would agree) on top of a teck shirt from last December's Jingle Bell jog that I did not run in because I stayed out the night before. It's a bit of a sacrilege to wear a race shirt from a race you slept through but I am not going to turn down a teck shirt and especially one that is cool and white. So whatever.

I live only a couple of blocks from where most NYRR races start, so I can’t complain. This race was no exception. My neighbor just happened to be running this race as well, so we bumped into each in the hallway. This is the only situation where bumping into my neighbor at 6:30 am would be a positive thing.
The corrals were awful and it was cold. This is a huge race with tons of people, which just makes everything more annoying. And there is soemthing about running that makes people dress like Europeans. Don’t get me wrong, many of the girls on the North Brooklyn running team wear really hot outfits. But there are also many runners – especially male – who fail to meet basic wardrobe standards. Tights shall not replace shorts, unless you are rowing or biking.  Long tshirts are for girls.  Shaving your legs is for girls.  Being a premadonna at 6:30 am while everyone else is waking up is not acceptable.

I am the creepshow lurking in the back with sunglasses on. Maybe the sun will come out later. 
Before I continue I should note that the race photos in this post are taken stolen from Brightroom. Before I continue my story, here is the easiest way to steal these photos and keep them high-ish quality:
1. Take a screeen shot of the Brightroom dashboard that shows your photos
2. Paste into PPT
3. Crop around your photo and expand
4. Right click and save as JPEG

To continue, they tell you that they close down the corrals at 7:00 am but they are liars. You could definitely show up at 7:30 and walk right in. There was a lot of waiting around, and I did not cross the start line until 7:50 even though I had a half-way decent corral.

Can you tell which green bump is Harlem Hill?
The first 6+ miles was the standard central park loop. This is my home field so I was really able to attack it.  I know all the hills and bumps that feel like hills when you start to get tired. I also knew that this was the only part of the race with any hills so I might as well leave it all in the park.

Crossing the 10k mark right before 7th ave. Still not sunny out. 
After the park I slowed down. The course shoots you out onto 7th avenue and you run through Times Square.  I was underwhelmed. When you are on the street in New York you are typically in a cab zooming, and so to pass the street signs at a running pace is a bit deflating. Plus I was at the half-way mark and that is when I start to get inside my head and convince myself I won’t finish or will finish with a bad time. For me those middle miles are the hardest.

On 42nd we turned right and headed for the West River Drive. I know this terrain extremely well, as I work in the West Village and frequently run home up the West River. We were on the actual drive though so it wasn't nearly as sexy as when you run through the actual park and over all the weird foot bridges. ISOOM has a past post on this. I am featured so it’s probably one of her better ones.

I realize I am about to complain again but whatever. They stationed a bunch of bands along the course and they were all awful – with TWO exceptions. The first was a Beasty Boys cover band who was awesome and entertaining. They dressed like they did from Paul's Boutique. That said, I was running with headphones on because none of my friends wanted to do this one, so the added music of the live bands just created an annoying discord.

The second though was a cheer…I want to say squad? from some local high school. Of course I assume they are from some impoverished district and worked real hard to get to where they are and overcame adversity and stuff, but who am I kidding I bet they were probably a bunch of Chapin Spence girls.  Regardless of my charmingly patrician stereotyping, they were cool and gave everyone a nice boost as we crossed 14th street with 3.1 miles to go.

At this point I knew that if I even ran 10:00 miles I would beat my PR, and that was the best feeling I had in the race. I could dial it in. I didn’t though and kept up a fastish pace.

Until the Battery Park tunnel. That you run through. On mile 12. People were hooting and hollering like 12 year olds do when you pass under bridges on boats, which was cute. But the air quality was horrible and the lingering exhaust stung my eyes and shortened my breath. Lame. There was also a slight hill at the end. But then we veered left and right onto Water Street to meet extremely encouraging cheers and applause. That was cool.

After crossing the finish they gave you a medal and foodstuffs. I believe medals should only be given for full marathons, so I told myself I wouldn’t wear it unless I did something great. A time of 1:51 far exceeded my expectations though so I threw it on. The care package contained Gatorade Replenish. DO NOT DRINK THIS. It's crab juice. It tastes like chalky cough syrup.

The finishers shoot looped you more than THREE BLOCKS before you could leave. And they forced you in to the Poland Spring expo which I thought was a cheap move. At that point I was cold and wanted to go home.

ISOOM asked me what my favorite part of the race was and I don’t have one other than the accomplishment itself.  I hear a lot of people talk about the joys of running and I have to believe that most people who say that are idiots or liars or both. Running is hard work. It is painful. Long distance running is hard, painful work stretched out over several hours.

I shattered my PR. I was very unsure I could do that. I trained hard to give myself the opportunity to do so, and it paid off. That is something awesome.

Calling in the PR. Still cloudy.
Also see the bandit in the background getting stopped. 

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