4:30am came a little too early…
I didn’t do my usual routine of jumping right out of bed and getting ready…I wanted to stay in the perfect comfy bed until the absolute last-minute! Alas, we got up, ate bagels and peanut butter and started getting ready for the race.
By 5:30 we were in the car and heading downtown to the parking garage we selected the day before. It was easy to get to, we parked on the first level, and sat in the car until about 6:30 when we decided to get out and stretch our legs…all the way to the Starbucks down the sidewalk so T could get his morning coffee fix. It was actually kind of nice because it was inside the Marriott, so it was a place to stay warm until about 7-ish when we headed to the start line. It was cold.
We watched the 8k runners take off and before I knew it was our turn to take off! The race was so well-organized and on time, our corral actually took off at the scheduled 7:36! Another good thing? People were actually honest/accurate about their predicted finish times, making the start go very smooth–no weaving in and out of walkers in the first .25 mile (it happens, a lot–mega pet peeve).
The first two miles were cold. It was hard to warm up because there was no sun shining down on us, just shade from the buildings and trees….then mile 3 came along and brought the sun and all its warmth to us….T and I kept the pace between 9-9:30 for most of the first half . There were many times T started going faster and I looked at my Garmin and saw a pace below 9 min/mile, I called him back. Yes, looking back we probably could’ve gone faster, but I really wanted T to feel good going into miles 10-13 and not completely feel like death.
The race course was perfect. Nice small rolling hills, beautiful homes with colorful tree-lined streets, and Bryant Park. Oh I loved this park–I remember telling T at the 10k mile marker (inside the park) I think I found us a new running place-he was sarcastically excited haha! It had nice hills, and it seemed like a pedestrian-friendly area–I’m anticipating a few runs there this winter. There were spectators along the entire race route, and they were so great! The bibs had our names on them so every once and awhile you would here “GO STACEY!!!” and it felt so good to have support from a complete stranger. This really is (as advertised) America’s Friendliest Marathon!
Once we got out of the park–mile 7 I think–the course was fast and flat. We started to pick up the pace a bit here because this is where our negative splits started. From mile 7 to mile 11 it was kind of a blur, we were going faster than we usually run (splits below) and the scenery was about the same.
When we hit mile 11, I looked at my Garmin and did some (very) quick math and realized “holy crap we’re going to go sub-2 hours!!!” I guess I got a little excited–I’m not sure what happened–but I couldn’t exhale or take a deep breath in without left lower lung/diaphragm pain. The whole episode lasted less than 30 seconds, but it was a little scary. Once I recomposed myself and we hit mile 12 (at this point I hadn’t told T our time) I asked him “Are you ready to finish your first half marathon in under TWO hours?????” He looked excited but just kept running.
The last half mile was all downhill, which is great, however the last 0.2 mile was REALLY downhill and that hurt just a little. I swear if I leaned forward just a hair I would’ve somersaulted over the finish line (I was running a 5:08 pace)! T finished in 1 hour, 55 minutes, 45 seconds and I was a second behind with a finish time of 1 hour, 55 minutes, 46 seconds. I was (and still am) so freakin’ proud of T!!!!! This is the first of many distance runs together, and I’m so happy to have been a part of his first half and to have paced (which I do take credit for) him for such an awesome time!
Would I do this race again? The short answer: in a heartbeat! It was quite literally the perfect race–the weather (sunny and 50-60 degrees), the course, the city, the spectators, and the other runners–everything was perfect. I don’t plan on doing the 2013, because I have other races planned, but I will always remember and recommend this as a first or 100th half marathon to any runner I know.