Tuesday, February 2, 2010
It's half-marathon season! Okay, well not quite, but many of us in the NYC area just finished the Manhattan Half-Marathon in Central Park or are already training for the NYC Half-Marathon that runs through Times Square. With that said, after ten Half-Marathons, I'm finally beginning to understand what it's all about. There are many things I've learned along the way and clearly many more that I still need to learn but here's what I've learned from each of my halfs to date:
1st: Brooklyn Half 2:25 The most important night of sleep is actually two nights before! Not the night before. Who knew? I surely didn't. The race was on a Saturday, and that Thursday night, I got a call from my friend, Pete. "Hey I got tickets to this great open bar event at Marquee. It's been rented out for the night..." My answer was, undoubtedly: "I"m absolutely in!" Not a big drinker in general, I managed to get myself completely sloshed. Probably the worst/greatest night ever. Friday was spent recovering with a huge jug of Gatorade. Saturday I felt the pain from mile 1 to mile 13.1 but I finished and officially became a half-marathoner!
2nd Norwegian Festival: How fast can you hop back into a half-marathon? I had taken off about six months due to a stress fracture and then decided to jump right back in it. I was aiming to run a full marathon with only two and a half months of training (didn't quite happen). After four weeks of training, I stepped out there and ran this half, and to my surprise, despite having to stop and walk part of that 12th mile, I finished almost ten minutes faster than my first.
3 Staten Island: It was one weekend after the Norwegian Festival and I was on a roll! I went out there and yet again set another PR. I ran this race without stopping and finally broke 2:10! Lesson learned that if you can push yourself, you can succeed.
4 Manhattan: I was trained! I was ready to go and I was not planning on racing this event. It was absolutely freezing out. I ran the first six miles at a comfortable pace and then just took off, once again a new PR! Little did I know that this PR was going to be the one that took me years to break.
5 Bronx: Two weeks after the Manhattan half, I decided I was so close to the two-hour half that I had to do it, I had to run two hours. I prepped myself, I tapered, I was ready. I just wasn't quite ready to be a two-hour marathoner! I went out too fast for the first time, and pulled a muscle. Off to the side of the course, I saw everyone passing by me. I finally got back in there after stretching and jogged it to the finish. It was awful, and of course still cold.
6 Jersey: Still determined to run in two hours, I brought myself out to Jersey to run a flat "easy" half. I had a friend who agreed that he'd try to pace me...new lesson: do not run with someone you have not run with before at a race! He pushed me too hard and I ended up finding myself once again walking through parts of the race. Needless to say, I did not meet that two-hour mark.
7 NYC Half: And I'm still trying! Two-hours, here I come I kept saying to myself. I went out in the blistering heat to a course, about which everyone insisted, "You can't PR in August." They were right. You can't PR in tremendous heat if you're not one to like the heat. I was right on track for my first loop of central park, however by the time the race hit the West Side Highway at mile 10 - I felt the blistering sun, there was no shade, it must have been 80° and I fell apart. I kept running but at much much slower pace and once again missed that two-hour point!
8 NYC Half: I ran it for a friend. I learned my lesson the prior year about trying to PR in the heat. I wasn't ready to break two hours and was ready to help someone run their first half marathon. I ran from the start to the finish with her, running ahead to get her water, supporting her, and telling her how great she was doing till we finally reached that triumphant finish. I realized then, for the first time, how far I had come. This was the slowest race I ever ran (and hopefully always will be) but one of the most impacting.
9 Queens: I was getting ready for the NYC marathon but was really on cruise control. I had started thinking that I wanted to run for speed but wasn't ready to actually start at that point. I was aiming for an easy run, and long and behold, I felt it, I was having a great day. I just went for it, and finally, there in Queens, I broke two hours!
10 Staten Island: About three weeks later I beat my Queens time by two minutes!
And finally last week's half marathon: Manhattan Half. I trained, I put everything into it. I took coaching, I took speed classes, and then I got a cold! I ran it sick, despite the sniffles, I was determined. Three months of serious training rewarded me with an almost twelve-minute PR!
To 2010 and all the new half-marathons it will hold. You get what you put in, and I have finally realized that!