Good pre long preparation is not a 12.00 a clock bedtime & 3 hours sleep after 3 glasses of fizz and a small side salad. But it was partly my own fault (partly the noisy radiators in the Air B & B keeping us up all night) so I had to roll with the punches, suck it up and get my long run done regardless.
The timing for my trip to New York was perfect, combining my friend Zoe’s bridal shower, Joe’s 30th birthday and the New York City half marathon (huge thanks to New Balance for sorting me out a bib).
I had 19 miles on my plan for the Sunday, with the idea of running from our apartment in the East Village, across Brooklyn Bridge and to the start line of the NYC Half in Prospect Park. They’ve changed the race route and course for this year, meaning it starts in Brooklyn and finishes in Central Park (the reverse of previous years).
I headed out, wrapped up, into the cold dark morning and ran towards the Brooklyn Bridge, trying to keep to the main, well lit roads. I was pleased there were so many Police out, not sure whether they were out from the night patrol still or on early morning.
Despite the fact that I’ve been to NYC a number of times, I’ve never walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, so having the whole thing to myself at sunrise was a pretty spectacular moment. I wrote recently on my instagram about the magical moments that running has brought me, and this is up there with the best.
After crossing into Brooklyn, it was pretty much a straight shot down towards Prospect Park. They had closed off the roads in anticipation of the race coming through and the streets were fairly deserted. I knew I’d spent a few too many minutes taking pics on the Brooklyn Bridge so was running late, and was nervous that I wouldn’t make it into the corrals before the cut off. What I hadn’t anticipated was the mile + that it would take me to the start through the park. I made it just before they shut the corrals, without any time to go to the loo.
It was COLD once I stopped running, and I sheltered within the other runners in the corral. We didn’t cross the start line for nearly 30 mins, which luckily gave me time to nip to the loo before I crossed the start line…
Just after 8am, and having run close to 6 miles already, I started the New York City Half Marathon.
New York Road Runners use your last NYRR race to set your predicted pace, so they had me right at the back of the first wave based on my New York Marathon pace, so I spent the first mile trying to settle into a good pace and find some space to run.
It was too fast to start, I’ll admit. I think I ran a sub 8 min mile, then I started running uphill over the first bridge. It was freezing, and the water had frozen into chunks of ice in the cups, and I had to chew through them. Not sure if that was actually refreshing or not, but I kept taking cups throughout the race to try to stay hydrated. I also had a pack of Clif Shot Bloks while running to fuel.
The course was stunning, hilly and cold but beautiful. New York even in the winter is sunny, crisp and sparkly (unlike London grey rain). You are lead from Prospect Park over the Manhattan Bridge and into Lower manhattan. You run along the East River, through Times Square (which is incredible with so many people cheering, the bright lights and the kids races going on alongside you). Then it’s into Central Park and the rolling hills. I’m not sure I’ll ever get bored of running in Central Park, although the hills did feel relentless!
By the time we hit Central Park and I was nearing 16 miles for the day, I could feel my legs tiring and my body draining. I’ve become a bit too relaxed with pre-long run rest and fuelling over the years, and I felt how unprepared I was during these final few miles.
The end was a relief, both in terms of the end of the hill but the end of the long run and what would be my longest run between Tokyo and Paris.
The medals were epic, the goody bags packed with snacks that I quickly devoured but the walk out of the park from the finish line was LONG! And I was freezing. I wish I had done a bag drop and put in some layers to wear after finishing. (This seems to have been my mistake in Tokyo too).
You can watch my short video from the race here;
Personally, I think the NYC Half is a great option for those of you who want to run in New York, through closed streets of Manhattan and have the epic Central Park finish…without running the New York City marathon!
The only issue… getting a bib.
It’s a ballot system for entry into the New York City Half, with entries usually opening in November and the drawing occurring at the start of December. (I haven’t gotten in through the ballot any of the three times I’ve entered!)
You can also earn entry by running with a charity or by running four of the following six NYRR events the year before; Fred Lebow Manhattan Half, Brooklyn Half, Queens 10K, Bronx 10 Mile, Staten Island Half and the NYC Half (and be a NYRR member).
For us Brits, we can also enter using a tour company, like 2.09 events.