April 29, 2010

My first Half Marathon: 2010 More/Fitness Half Marathon in Central Park NYC

My first half marathon was this past Sunday. I ran the More/Fitness Half Marathon in Central Park, NY.


I have to admit that I wasn't too nervous because I had already run a 15K which is only about 4 miles short of a half, but I was definitely excited. It was also my opportunity to get a feel for how I will do at the marathon and what my strategy should be.


On Friday, I went to the expo held at the Roseland Ballroom in the city. I received my race day number, timer, shirt, and goody bag...and then going into the, running heaven. I think I made my way around about 3 times. Aside from having many running goodies to look through, there were numerous give aways and speakers. It really was a great expo...but then again, it's my first so there is nothing to compare it against. Initially, I didn't want to spend any money at the expo, but it was almost impossible not to buy something. I wound up buying some bling for my sneakers that reads "NYC Half Marathon 13.1", a spi belt, and a "Irunlikeagirl" running shirt. Towards the end of the expo they were taking pictures and would format it to look like a magazine cover...that's a great suvenier.


Saturday started out as a busy day, but I definitely wanted to carbo load and hydrate for the race. I spend most of the day anticipating the race. We went out with a few friends for lunch at my favorite restaurant. They start you off with some bread, butter, and olives. I think I wound up eating at least 5 rolls. It's great being able to eat and not worry about the calories. After the rolls came my lunch. I had garlic shrimp with rice, homemade fries, and veggies. I at like this was my last meal. Then to finish off I had some creme brulee. It was a great meal. The rest of day I just drank gatorade and ate bread.


Saturday night, I took some time to prepare. Once I got to the race and during the race I realized that the time I took to prepare was essential to my success. So, here is a list of what I did to prepare for the race.

  • Studied the running course: baggage area, start line, water stops, porta potties, medical tents, etc.
  • Studied the train routes and schedules
  • I picked out my clothes and laid them out, including socks and underwear (TMI??)
  • Spi belt prep: ID, debit card, phone, 3 chocolate GU's. I packed everything in a small plastic bag (Sandwich bag) and then put it in my spi belt. I didn't have a waterproof belt, so I placed everything in the bag to ensure it did not get wet.
  • Backpack: I packed clothes to change into after (sweat pants and shirt, under garments, socks, and shoes), a towel, my bib and timing chip, safety pins, 2 garbage bags (one for my bag, one for me), and a book to read during my commute. Once I had all of the items laid out, I placed them in a plastic bag and then put them into the backpack. That was my guarantee that my clothes would not get wet from the rain.
  • Determined transportation. Driving was not an option for me because I HATE DRIVING IN NYC, so mass transit was the way to go. I definitely didn't expect Fil to leave the house with the girls at 5am in the rain, so I had 2 options. Park at the PATH or take a taxi. I went with calling a taxi, so I got the taxi's number and saved it on my phone.

On Sunday, I woke up at 4:55am. Since I had laid out all I needed, I called the taxi first and waited for them as I got ready. Once I got dressed, brushed my teeth, fixed my hair, and grabbed my bag I was ready. I gave the hubby and the girls a kiss and out the door I went. Since a Dunkin Donuts is right next to the station, I asked they drop me there. Coffee and a bagel is a pre race ritual. Once I had my fuel I headed to the station. Remember I mentioned that I studied the train schedules, so at no point did I have to wait more than 5 minutes for a train.

I had a hard time eating my bagel and drinking the coffee. It was so early in the morning that I didn't have an appetite, but I knew it was crucial to ensure success, so I forced myself to eat. Once I arrived at central park I walked my way to baggage which was close to the finish. When I got to baggage I stripped down to my running clothes and took out the garbage bags. One bag I kept with me and the other I used to wrap my backpack in (it was pouring rain). I was so happy because when I looked around I seemed to have been the only person who thought about leaving my bag in the rain: I was prepared.

Off I went to the start line with an hour left. It was pouring rain and cold. Everyone was walking around trying to figure out what to do for a whole hour in the rain. Near my start area I could see Tavern on the Green and there was a canopy. I could see a few runners just waiting under there and I decided to join them. I waited there until the start and shortly before the start "Charlotte" from Sex in the City was standing right in front of me. I believe they were going to do a photo shoot under the canopy, but must have felt bad kicking us runners out.

15 minutes before the race start I took my first GU and 10 minutes before started heading to the starting line. I put my phone away, met a few fellow runners around me, and cheered as the speakers came on. About 3-4 minutes after the start I felt great. It was hard to forget about the rain, but I definitely wasn't cold anymore. I was running faster than I had anticipated and didn't feel like I was pushing too hard at all. Central Park was full of hills and all I could think was "this is great training for the marathon". I passed loads of people and kept my pace between 9:45 and 10:15 for most of the race. There was one hill that we hit twice that was a killer, but once you hit the top it was exhilarating.

The last 3 miles were a little tough. I was running fast than anticipated so I think it started catching up to me. The last 2 miles we started seeing more folks cheering and it was a definite motivator. Once I reached the last mile, I walked for about 30 seconds and then ran with all I had left to the finish. The spectators were cheering us along and just knowing that the finish was so close really had my adrenaline going. Crossing the finish line was a great feeling...a feeling of accomplishment. I DID IT. I ran a half marathon in 2 hours and 10 minutes. Amazing. I wanted to cry, but had no one's shoulder, so I just whipped out my phone and called my hubby and shared it with him. With my medal around my neck and a bagel in my hand I headed to my dry backpack and headed to a bathroom to change. Talk about nasty, but I wasn't about to get on a train in wet clothes and shoes.

I changed into my dry clothes and kept my medal around my neck...I figured I was allowed to wear it all day. I commuted home and people kept on staring to figure out why this crazy girl with a hooded sweatshirt had a medal around her was great! I got home, took a shower, and ate like a queen.

Now I can say I am ready for my marathon. I'm ready for it all. 26.2 miles is definitely a great challenge, but one that I am excited and proud to say I am taking on. I'm sure that what I felt this past Sunday at the finish line is nothing compared to what I will feel crossing the marathon finish line...and the best part is that my family will be there with me.

Yes, this entry is a novel and I'm not going to apologize for it because I wanted to share the full details of my experience in running a half marathon. It's something that you may have never experienced, but I'm telling you that the hard work is definitely worth it. If you are thinking about it...STOP thinking and JUST DO IT.


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