At the tail end of my two week holiday in New York (you can read about that here and here), I ran the Long Island Half Marathon. It was a wonderful experience, but to my future self, it’s probably not the best idea to tag on a 13 mile run at the end of a vacation.
Oddly, I did the same thing back in October where I vacationed for a week before a half (even went to a rowdy tailgate and game in Pittsburg just before), but that race was different. It was with two of my closest friends, we were having fun (chatting and taking pictures throughout the race), and as a result we ran a lot slower. This race though I wanted to run for time, no stopping for pictures this time! Even though I knew it wouldn’t be my absolute best, although technically to date is it my personal best, I wanted to challenge myself a bit, maintain a good pace, and walk away with a pretty good time. I was able to continue my training during my vacation, but as I said I probably would have felt a little better during the race, perhaps run just a wee bit faster, and finished with a time of just under two hours. Oh well, so goes life! I’m happy I had as much fun leading up to the race with family and friends as I did, so for that I wouldn’t change a thing.
Just look at her smile, so worth it…
So on to the weekend and the race. For those looking for a quick summary, scroll down to the Q&A section for a brief rundown, but for those wanting the full story…read on!
My parents drove up from DC on Friday for the weekend to watch the race. So while the hubby was at work, the three of us took Gwyneth to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan for the day. Of course, she had a blast!
Then since Sunday was my birthday AND race day (yay, me!), my husband and I organized a celebratory dinner Friday night at the Stanton Social with a few friends and family. What a fantastic place! It really is quite ‘social!’ Nearly every table had at least 5 to 6 people at it, and many had more. It’s quite the place for large groups. My lovely parents offered to watch Gwyneth so we could go out. Don’t have to ask me twice!!! Needless to say, we had a really good stayed-out-til-1am kinda night!
Saturday I woke up with a bad cold, a lost voice, and just overall exhausted. So we all headed out to Long Island to check-in to the Garden City Hotel and rest before the big day. That night I had a simple dinner of chicken, veg, and rice at the Grand Lux Cafe and drank tons and tons and tons of water.
Now, if you’re squeamish, move on to the next paragraph. Just before bed I decided to trim my toe nails, and guess what? One fell off. For all you runners out there, this is not that uncommon. I have two others that I had expected might, but they are hanging on. I’ll spare you all the graphic details (and, no, I won’t trouble you with a picture), but it was surprisingly not painful at all. So I left it alone, taped it the next morning, and hoped for the best.
I was in bed by 9:45pm and up at 5:45am. When I woke up I felt great, still with no voice, but great. And then the unthinkable happened. My brother, husband and I were all dressed and ready to go (they were running the race as well) when my brother said, “Is this what I’m supposed to wear for my number?” This was his first race, what he was holding was not his number, and so I thought he was just confused. Unfortunately though, after much searching we did not find his race day bib. I thought I was going to have a heart attack since there was no race day bib pick-up, and I knew in the pit of my stomach he would not be able to run.
So frazzled, desperate and, well, FRAZZLED we rushed off to the race to see what we could do. When we arrived it was busy, we had no idea where to go, and so we headed toward the starting line. Somehow through the hundreds of people heading in the same direction we found two women sitting down on a corner with a box between them. No t-shirts, no signage, nothing to indicate they were race day organizers, but we took a chance. “Are you with the race?” we asked. “Yes,” and we explained our situation and said he never received his number. Then they started looking through that little box! Can you believe it? Two random women sitting on the ground with what looked like still tons of bib numbers and we just happened to stumble upon them? Well, that was easy I thought. And then it wasn’t…they didn’t find his number. We asked if there were extra numbers or perhaps a blank bib so we could write his in (we had his registration form with his number on it), and they said, “No,” and that he couldn’t run. It was terrible!
After months of training for the race, he was not allowed to run. Even with his registration form in hand, even with the backpack showing the bib was no where to be found, they told him, “no.” We have no idea what happened. They wanted to blame us, we wanted to blame them. Somewhere out there there is a little bib that fell out of it’s bag, lost it’s owner, and the poor thing is running the race all by its lonesome. You know we actually tracked the bib after we completed the race? No such luck. Hey, it was worth a shot!
Anyway, my incredibly generous husband gave my brother his number and said, “Have fun, I’ll be sleeping in the car.” After the two of them went back and forth several times, saying “No, I don’t have to run,” (honestly I think they were both looking for an excuse – lol!), it was my brother who ran and he was unbelievably grateful.
So we headed over to the starting line with my sister-in-law and her roommate (who were running the 10K), we finagled our way to the 9:00 mile pace section, and within two minutes of the start we were off!
The first mile was a little tough for me, but once I found my pace, it only took another mile to really get warmed-up. Can I just say how much I love my Garmin Forerunner 210 watch? It gives me a current running pace, instead of an average mile pace (which many other watches give and which isn’t really calculated until after the first mile). It helped me so much during this run. Because I was running for time, I knew I wanted to stay under 10-mph and as close to 9:30 as possible. Every couple minutes I would just glance down to make sure I was still keeping my pace. Those Garmin makers – pure genius!
My brother and I stayed together until about mile 5, I was thrilled to see I was at 1:00 hour at about the half, so I pushed myself the second half of the race. Around mile 7 and 8 though I was really getting tired, and so I slowed down just a bit. I told myself that once I reached mile 10 I was really going to drive it home. Well, somehow I missed the 10 mile marker! UGH! And didn’t realize, of course, until I got to mile 11. So once I realized I was a mile further than expected (which in most cases I’d be thrilled about), I took off. I ran well under 9-mph and in the last mile ran at 8-mph. My final time was 2:02:22, which I’m super excited about.
I will say, however, I was a little bummed at first that I didn’t get under two hours. Blasted 10 mile marker, where were you? LOL! Funny enough though, I did exactly what I set out to do. When friends asked me what my goal was, I said I wanted to run at around 9:30 and I wanted a time of about 2 to 2:10. My overall pace was exactly 9:30 and I finished in 2:02. So now that I know I can complete a half in two hours, next time watch out!!! 1:55 here I come!
After, it was time to celebrate. And celebrate we did! Because the traffic out of the park was so bad (see question #7 below to find out why), it was freezing, and a few were too tired to walk (like my 4 year old), the family hopped into the car while my husband and I ran off to find the closest celebratory establishment. We found Buffalo Wild Wings Bar and Grill within 20 minutes (can you really go wrong with wings???)! We knew the family would be awhile, so we started without them;)
Once everyone caught up we had the most wonderful chicken wings.
And then we headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up before finishing off the trip with dinner and birthday cake at my husband’s family’s home. My sister-in-law’s birthday is a few days before mine, so it was a double celebration!
And, yes, that is a Carvel ice cream cake below. G-L-O-R-I-O-U-S! I grew up with an ice cream cake for my birthday every single year, and then we moved to the Caribbean where there is no longer any Carvel. It’s amazing I’ve been able to survive for so long without;) This cake absolutely hit the spot and was the perfect ending to an amazing (and kinda crazy) weekend.
We sadly said our goodbyes and are now back in Barbados. After two weeks and three weekends, we’re slowly settling back into normal life. My maintenance running, as I like to call it, begins this week. I’m taking two months to rest and so my running will be at most 45 minutes three days a week. Then it’s back to training starting July 1st for the NYC Marathon. I’m really looking forward to my relaxing runs these next couple months=)
Half Marathon at a Glance
1. What was unexpected?
The cold. I knew, obviously, that it would be colder than Barbados, but I didn’t realize I’d still need long sleeves and pants during my run. I completed a two hour 75%/25% run/walk in Central Park several days before and wore gloves, a running vest, and a headband for my ears. Because I was running the Long Island Marathon at a faster pace, I didn’t need quite as much (stay tuned for Wednesday’s race day gear post), but I was still clearly the Caribbean girl with my long sleeves and running tights. Everyone else? In shorts and t-shirts!!!
2. What was the weirdest thing you saw/that happened?
This one is tough, because there really wasn’t anything weird that happened. It was a pretty low-key kind of race, even though we had a bit of drama beforehand. There was one guy in a clown costume running, but is it weird that I didn’t actually think that was weird?
3. What was my time?
2:02:22 net time.
4. What was the best part?
Crossing the finish line. I know several things played a role in how I felt during the race (like drinking/eating for two weeks prior, losing my voice and getting sick, losing a toe nail, the bib number fiasco, running faster), but this run was harder for me than the half in October. It wasn’t terribly painful, but I was uncomfortable, or challenged is probably a better word, for most of the race. So for me, coming to the end was the best part!
5. What would I change?
I will from now on and forever check my race day bag to make sure I have everything, especially the bib number, before I leave the registration. Lesson learned!
6. What did the organizers do really well?
Although I didn’t actually attend because we were all freezing, I loved that there was a big festival after the race at the finish line. They had a band, vendors, play areas for the kids, and beer! I walked through briefly while trying to find my parents and it was pretty cool. It’s a great way to end the race.
7. What needed some work?
The one thing that absolutely needed some work was the parking and the exiting routes for after the race. For racers, parking was a non-issue, it was great. But once the park (where the race started and finished) was closed, there was no where to park for the spectators planning to watch the finish line and attend the festival. It would have been helpful if there were either designated areas outside the park for spectators, or if the facilitators knew where and could direct everyone to parking areas nearby. My parents nearly missed my brother and I crossing the finish because they spent 45 minutes trying to find parking.
And then for the exiting routes, although the park is rather big, there are only a couple entrances/exits to the park. One of them they closed off so everyone had to go through one exit at the end of the race. That means that the several hundred cars had to exit from one street. How does that make sense? It took a really, really long time to get out of the park=(
8. What training program did I use?
9. What do I need to improve?
Before I turn 40, I’d like to complete a half marathon in under two hours. So that means, no heavy partying two nights before the race, even if it is my birthday, and no getting sick;) In all seriousness though, I think if I give myself a few more weeks of training, I’ll be able to hit sub-2:00 hours with no problem.
10. Would I run this race again?
I don’t think I’d make a special trip for the race, but if I ever move back to New York I would absolutely run it again. It’s a fantastic race with so much participation, which really makes it special.
Any races coming up for you? Ever lost your bib number? What are your summer plans?