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!