United Airlines NYC Half

United Airlines NYC Half, March 2019

This was my first time running the United Airlines NYC Half. If you’re a runner, this is a great race to compete in. The NYRR event is top notch and the course is exciting and fun.

THE COURSE:

The course starts in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and heads down the streets of Brooklyn towards Manhattan. Then it crosses into Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge and heads up FDR Drive until 42nd Street. At that point, it cuts across town toward the West side until Times Square. I’m pretty sure this is the only race where you run directly through Times Square! After Times Square, it continues up through Central Park for the last mile and a half and ends a few blocks short of Columbus Circle on the West Side.

MY RACE:

My goal for this race was to pace below 8 minute miles. Unfortunately, I just missed and clocked 1:44:52 for an 8:00 average pace. I was also only 2 seconds away from a new half marathon PR! I was so close, but still missed.

Overall, I’m happy with the grit I showed on the course considering the circumstances. My wife and I moved to a different apartment the day before and spent 8+ hours packing, lifting, cleaning and unpacking items. Honestly, it drained me more than I was expecting and my whole body ached afterwards. I didn’t plan to move and race on the same weekend, but when you’re apartment hunting in NYC and find a spot, you have to move quick. I was concerned this was going to affect my race performance and it definitely did.

With that being said, I was exhausted before the race started and knew I didn’t hydrate well enough. I’d like to think I handled it like a champ. I hydrated a lot on the course and still did everything I could to PR and go under 8 minute miles. In hindsight, I started off too fast and ended up getting tired at mile 7 – hey, it happens! I really had to push and grind out the last 6.1 miles. This was one of the tougher half marathons I’ve had recently as I was not ready emotionally or physically.

My Takeaways:

  • Don’t move and race on the same weekend – it’s just too much (I didn’t plan it that way)
  • Pace yourself and don’t start off too fast
  • Make sure you incorporate hill/incline training into your workouts. The Manhattan Bridge got me and there were some other hilly pockets that slowed me down

Overall, it was a good race. Tough races are a good thing as you become more prepared for the next one. Although the weather was considerably better than the Fred Lebow Half in January, this was by far more challenging mentally and physically.

I put up some additional United Airlines NYC Half photos on my Instagram – Run.with.Rankin.

Fred Lebow Half Marathon

The Fred Lebow Half Marathon, January 2019

One of my goals is always to start the new year strong – running a half marathon in January is a great way to kick things off. As I gear up for my Spring races, it’s important that training starts in January and racing incentivizes me to stay on target. The Fred Lebow Half Marathon is my first half marathon since October’s Brooklyn Half.

Living in NYC, the weather in January is often a mixed bag. It’s pretty risky running a half in January. You never know if you’re going to be running on ice, in puddles or frigid temperatures. For this race, it was puddles and cold rain.

My Goals:

My goal for this race was very simple: Use it as a training run. It was not designed to be a PR race. I wanted to ensure my training started in January and this was a great way to do that. I ran a sub 2 hour half marathon (5-6 minutes off my PR time). No complaints from me as it was just a training a run and I wasn’t that prepared for it.

The weather made it challenging — I got drenched. When I got home, I was literally wringing out my clothes – everything was soaked! All in all, it was a much needed training run, but a gritty run. As much as I hate running in tough weather conditions, I know that it’s helpful in the longterm. The more experiences I have in tough weather, the better prepared I am to successfully tackle it the next time around. I always try to find a positive spin for every race (especially the tough ones)!

A huge thank you to the NYRR staff and volunteers – they are often overlooked and are a huge part of every race. The only thing worse than running in the cold rain is standing in it for hours. I really appreciate the team and volunteers.

Brooklyn Half Marathon

The NYCRUNS Brooklyn Half (October 2018)

I’m 2 weekends from the NYC marathon and I want one more race under my belt before tapering. I chose the Brooklyn Half Marathon because A.) I’m very comfortable with the course as I’ve ran it several times and B.) NYCRUNS is a good running organization and they always have great medals (all about the medals!).

I actually wasn’t feeling that great heading into this race. It was wet, rainy, and cold. I was also wrapping up a stressful work week with limited sleep. But once I got out there, my body locked in and I felt great. I averaged 8:12/per mile for all 13.1 miles. No stops – felt great. Too bad this race wasn’t the marathon.

The 18 Mile Training Series Race

18 Miles in the Summer Sun (September 2018)

First, 18 miles is a long way. Whenever I need a push and an incentive to run long distance, I sign up for a race. This will be my longest training run as I gear up for the marathon. For my first marathon, my longest run was only 16.3 miles – definitely not long enough. Although 18 is an improvement, it’s still not where I need to be.

I attempted a new strategy for this race – run slower to conserve energy for the last few miles. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to work too well. I got tired around mile 15 (seems to be a weak spot of mine). I ended up doing a run/walk combo the last 3 miles. As disappointed as I was to do that, I needed to and my body just wasn’t ready. As much as I love the Central Park loop, the Harlem Hills get to me after I while. After looping the last lap and completing the hill workouts, that’s when I decided to run/walk.

I’ll admit, I didn’t feel that great in this race. But I finished and I’m a better runner for it.

Popular Brooklyn Half

The Popular Brooklyn NYRR Half Marathon: Dripping in the Rain (May 2018)

The IT Band is not healed yet. But it’s heading in the right direction and was decent enough to participate in the largest half marathon in the country. Initially I had very ambitious goals to crush my PR in this race, but of course an injury will very quickly kill that dream.

I woke up grumpy as I hate running in the rain and it was a 100% chance of rain during the race. However, these type of runs build character. Every race is its own story with unique challenges and obstacles to overcome. Just like life, the more you run, the more you experience and the more adaptable and better you become.

I learned a very valuable lesson before the race started. Invest in a running poncho!!! Even though I knew it was going to rain, I was convinced it would all sort itself out and be fine. This was false. I was dripping wet and soggy from head to toe before I even started. After 45 minutes of waiting in my corral, I started shivering because I was that wet and cold.

The race finally started and I was eager to be done. The waiting in the rain was the worst part. I did experience a little pain with my IT Band, but it was manageable pain and I didn’t try to break any records. I finished in 1:51:09.

This was one of those races where you earned your post run meal and got an amazing story in the process. Although I don’t want to run in those conditions again, I know I probably will and I’ll be better prepared to adapt and handle it. Each run and race brings new obstacles to overcome. That’s one of my favorite parts about running – no run is ever quite identical.

My time wasn’t a PR and this race was not fun, but that’s ok. Some runs are glamorous and others are pure grit.

NYCRUNS Frozen Penguin Half Marathon

My First Race After the Marathon (March 2018)

After the Marathon in January, I took a solid amount of time off to truly recover and heal. I ran a little bit starting 1-2 weeks after the marathon, but kept the mileage to 1-5 miles per run. By March, I thought I would be ready to jump back to it. In hindsight, I wasn’t quite ready to knock out a half.

First, the pros:

This was an amazing race. It was right off the river in Brooklyn and displayed views of the Verrazano Bridge one way and views of the World Trade Center the other. It was very cold – about 32 degrees and windy since it was right off the water.

Starting the race was a little bumpy for me. I jumped in the restroom line about 45 minutes before the race started. However, the line was super long. The race actually started while I was heading into the outhouse to pee quick. After I peed, I rushed to my wife because I still had my sweatpants over my shorts (it was freezing). I hustled and started in the last wave. I was adjusting my music for the first half mile or so since I didn’t have a chance to do that earlier. It was stressful and not how I like to start races, but oh well! You live and you learn. Facts of life over here!

The course was great because it was a completely flat course (my first) and it was so windy that it almost felt like you were flying going one way. I felt like I ran a strong, fast race. And I actually PR’d! My average pace was exactly 8:00 minute miles and I finished in 1:44:51. I destroyed my previous PR by 11+ minutes.

The t-shirt and medal were also amazing.

Second, the cons:

The last 2 miles, I noticed some strong discomfort in my right outer knee. However, being close to finishing, I plowed through as that’s my mentality. Shortly after the race as I was going down stairs to the subway, the pain was way worse. This was my 6th half marathon so I had a good idea of how I should feel afterwards and this certainly did not fit that criteria.

I honestly figured it was due to running a much faster, competitive race and my body just wasn’t use to it. In a couple days, I figured I’d be back to normal. That didn’t happen.

Long story short, I self-diagnosed myself with IT Band on my right knee and a slight case of it on my left. That’s for a different post though. Although I PR’d and was so proud of this race, it was bittersweet as it came with a price and pushed back other goals for 2018.

Queens Half Marathon: Early Morning, Cold & a PR

The NYCRUNS Queens Half Marathon: Early Morning, Cold & a PR (November 2017)

The alarm went off around 4:00 am. It was race day. I often think about how much earlier I get up for runs on my days off than what I do for work. My wife is amazing and usually comes with me for support, to be my photographer and to spend time together.

Even though we live in Queens, it was still a disaster getting to the start of this race. If you live in NYC, then you know that 1) The trains don’t come as frequently at 4:30am in the morning and 2) A lot of trains have different weekend schedules or aren’t working due to construction and maintenance. Today fell into bucket 2 – no service for the 7 train. At least we knew ahead of time since we always check the day before a race. We ended up walking to a bus station and catching the bus to a different train station. From there, we took a train to the start of the race. It about doubled our commute, but races are always worth it!

Today was a very crisp, cold autumn morning. I was huddled in my winter jacket prior to the race starting. My goal for this race was simple – to PR and run my first sub 2-hour half marathon.

When it was time to get into my corral, my wife and I swapped. I gave her my winter jacket and she gave me her white and navy blue beanie (definitely more of a women’s beanie). However, I didn’t have my own and my ears and head were freezing. The thing I love about runners is that no one cares what you wear – it’s all about whatever it takes to finish the race. If it’s hot and your running in practically your boxers, no one really cares. If you’re bundled up and look like you’re ready to climb Everest, that’s fine too. It’s whatever works for you and will propel you to that finish line.

In the first 1-2 miles, I was extremely frustrated with how the race was going. First, they didn’t stagger the start of the race. This was annoying as It created a stampede like affect. There’s always runners ahead of you that want to run slower than you and runners behind that want to go faster. I was hoping to have a couple fast miles right out the gate, but there were so many people since it wasn’t staggered that I couldn’t get by them until it thinned out at about 1.5 miles into the race. Additionally, I got a strange shooting pain in my knee that lasted for 5-10 minutes. I think my knee was rebelling against running in the cold weather. Once I got warmed up, it dissipated and I locked into a rhythm.

I felt pretty solid and strong up until mile 8-9. I grabbed a gel off the station at mile 8, which helped with fatigue and provided some energy. However, I struggled with miles 10-13. My body was tired and I wanted to stop to walk. I kept thinking about my goal of hitting a sub 2-hour half and that fueled me to the finish line. And guess what?! I hit that sub 2-hour goal. I paced 8:53 avg. per mile for an all-time best of 1:56:29.

Afterwards, I fueled back up with an NYC bagel & cream cheese, water, and Gatorade. I also got a free beanie in my finishers bag, which was perfect. I gave my wife her beanie back (which she didn’t want any more since it was soaked in sweat) and proudly put on my finisher’s beanie. I would have preferred them pass them out before hand, but I guess it was a reward for finishing. After that, we hustled home and I jumped in a hot shower!

Rock N Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon

Rock N Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon: Redemption (October 2017)

I was actually really nervous for this race and had a lot to prove to myself. My first marathon is in January of 2018 in Disney World and I only started seriously training late August/early September. My second half marathon ever was in September and frankly, it was a disaster. It was a very rude start to my training and I had no business running in that race. I ran it without training for it. I had taken a break off training in the summer, so coming back and running the half marathon in September was extremely difficult. I paced awfully and was one of the last to finish.

With that recent memory in my head from last month’s poor half performance, I was ready to give the half another shot. Although this time, I had trained more vigorously over the last 5 weeks and whipped myself into better (not perfect) shape. My two main goals for this race were 1.) Not to walk during the race and 2.) To get a sub 2-hour PR.

First off, if you haven’t run a Rock N Roll race, you totally should! They are very well done, professional, and fun races with amazing staff, freebies and medals.

Second, this was a very challenging race for me as I was determined not to walk and to push through. We started by the Brooklyn Art Museum (a standard place that most Brooklyn halves start at), ran through the streets of Brooklyn and then did a loop in Prospect Park to finish the race. There’s a gradual incline in Prospect Park that I absolutely hate. Even though it’s not even that bad, it can be a mental barrier.

By the time I finished, I was exhausted. So many people were there, it was hard to find my wife. I think there were about 8,000 runners at this one + all the families, friends and spectators. I didn’t stay for the post-race festivities and I didn’t grab my free beer either (although I’m not a beer guy and who wants beer after a race anyways?!). Water please.

I was 1 for 2 on my goals. I didn’t walk at all – which proved to me that I was progressing. However, I missed my goal of a sub 2-hour finish. I wasn’t quite there yet in my training. I paced 9:27 avg. per mile with an overall finish time of 2:03:58. Although it wasn’t my goal, I was content as it was a new PR and a lot of grit and audacity went into crossing that finish line.

It was good to get this race under my belt and have a totally different outcome than September. It was more of a redemption race for me.

The Coney Island Half Marathon

The Disaster Half Marathon I’d Like to Pretend Never Happened (September 2017)

This was by far the worst race I’ve completed (with the exception being the first CUCB 10 Miler). This was only my second half marathon and kicked off my launch into marathon training. However, I had taken the summer off training, so this was a very rude race awakening.

The course sounded so delightful: “Run the boardwalk of Coney Island.” It sounded iconic. It sounded amazing. The whole course was on the boardwalk – about 3.5 loops. First, the idea of running the boardwalk is totally different than actually running it. I found that the wood creaked a lot, was uneven, and that I was constantly watching my footing for boards that were slightly elevated so not to trip. Further, some areas had puddles which created a slippery surface. Being newer to running, these things were not ideal and created a harder challenge for me.

I’m not a huge fan of the running organization that hosted this event. They are a newer running organization so maybe that’s why, but there were a lot of small mishaps. They did not have the boardwalk blocked off for the race, so as the morning progressed, more and more tourists would walk into the race path as it wasn’t blocked off. We were constantly dodging people and strollers. No fault of the tourists as there was no way of them knowing a race was going on.

I don’t bring up these challenges to provide excuses for my poor performance. I’m simply sharing a transparent, realistic playback of my day and the challenges that I faced. I’m sure there were others who were in shape that had a completely different experience. For me, these things contributed to a challenging half marathon.

However, I truly was not in shape or prepared. I walked a TON of this course. I was gassed. If you don’t train, you can’t expect to perform at a high level. After completing the race, I left frustrated at myself. It took 2:19:49 to finish this one – way worse than my first half. I was stiff immediately, sore and dragged myself to Totonno’s Pizza to forget about the whole race experience.

This was definitely a learning experience and needed to happen in order for me to take things more seriously – from both a mental and physical perspective. Especially since I’m running a full marathon in January. This was a wake up call for me.