We may not have woken up in the city that doesn’t sleep, but we sure ran through it on little sleep…does that count? Last Sunday, Connor and I ran our first non-Disney half marathon: the United NYC Half. We see our fair share of NYC given that we live in Jersey and Connor works in the city, but with this race we got to explore parts of Central Park that we hadn’t seen before and travel right past One World Trade Center. Here are some highlights!
With our time from the Disneyland half last fall, we found ourselves in Wave 3 which gave us a start time of 8:10am. Temperatures were below freezing when we left Jersey (on the very first NJ Transit train) and warmed up to about 38 degrees by race time with the sun rising over the buildings. Not too bad to run in actually, but we were very happy we grabbed some cheap sweats at Target the day before that we could shed to be donated.
We started the race around 72nd street and headed to the north end of the park. It was a little hilly, but we lucked out when some of our walk breaks were perfectly timed. After doing some zig-zagging on the streets above Central Park, we headed back into the park and made our way south (and holy cow was there a big hill here!). We went from 110th Street all the way down to 59th – it was so cool! The rolling hills here were quite manageable and we started to get some more spectators as the morning went on. Shout out to all the cheer leaders along the route – you guys were awesome!
We came out of the park on 7th Avenue and it was a straight shot to Times Square. It really made me want to just take off and go, but I knew that I needed to conserve some energy for the rest of the race and from the park to Times Square…it’s a longer distance than it looks. This was one of our favorite parts of the race! The rocking music, awesome spectators, wide open road (not to mention the most elbow room we’ll EVER have in Times Square)…so cool! Naturally, we had to stop for a photo.
Between all the excitement of running through Times Square and seeing Connor’s family on 42nd street, both our watches somehow managed to get about .3 miles ahead of the actual distance and our paces became really wonky (trust me, there’s no way we had a 7-minute mile). Eventually, the pace evened itself out, but we had to disregard the distance and rely on the mile markers.
We made our way down 42nd Street and then onto the West Side Highway. It was here where we noticed our training peak. Between schedules and being sick, we were only able to get one double-digit training run in before the race. Much of our training focused on miles 7-9, which was our trouble spot in the other two halfs we ran. So those miles felt great! It was a big strugglebus from miles 9 until the finish. But thank goodness for the flat West Side Highway, some “Go Pack!” cheers from spectators, and having an amazing partner to run and experience everything side-by-side with.
If I’m going to be totally honest here, those last few miles hurt. Our spirits were high and we weren’t mentally fatigued, but our calves started to get tight and were a little painful. Knowing that we were capable of getting a PR, we kept going with our run/walk segments of 8min running by 2min walking (we did 7×3 for the first 4 miles, the did 8×2 the rest of the way), but walked up the ramp of a tunnel we went through in the final mile.
The “400m to the finish” sign was so nice to see. One lap around the track, my brain told itself, just one lap. When the finish line was in view, we grabbed hands (calves still tight and painful) and ran in as strong as we could with smiles on our faces. We ran right through the very heart of it, New York, New York, and got a 12-minute half marathon PR. Now how sweet is that?!