2011 Manhattan Half Marathon Race Report

Overall Time: 1:28:35
Pace: 6:45
Place: 173 of 4369
AG%: 66.8%

Weather: 14 Degrees, 56% Humidity, wind 7mph
Start time: 7:00

Splits: …absolutely no idea. For once I decided to run this one without worry about time.

First, a note on the weather: it was mind-numbingly cold. The windchill brought temperatures downy to the single-digits, and everyone was fighting to stay warm. There were icicles hanging off peoples’ beards, mustaches, hair, eyebrows — it was insane, and it really slowed everyone down. I don’t know if it was more mental or physical, but very few people I knew had a good race.

After having been out of running hard or racing for almost 5 months, the Manhattan Half Marathon marked my return to the NYRR scene. Afraid of re-injury, I decided against racing it full-on. Instead, I would run with some friends (Mikey B, Matt) who were going to treat it as a fast-ish run (but not all-out). For a number of reasons, that didn’t end up happening, probably for the best — had I ended up running with them, I think I would have run slower than I had wanted.

At the beginning of the race, my Front Runner friends we were all running a little late getting to the corral, and couldn’t find each other so well. We more or less started together, but if I had any hopes of running some easy miles with friends that was quickly dashed as the horn went off and all 4000+ runners tried to jockey for position at the beginning of the race. Due to the snow and small streets in the south end of the park, the course really narrows down quite a bit. It left very little room to maneuver, and it bottlenecked pretty badly at the beginning. I immediately found myself behind my friends (who smartly let right ahead of everyone at the beginning of the race), and had to fight the next 3 miles just to find any of them.

Approaching the 102nd Street Transverse in the park around Mile 3, I saw my friend Matt. I caught up, and asked, “Where’s Mikey B?”

“Mikey? He’s way behind!”

“Well, where’s Sanderson?” I replied, referring to my training and racing partner.

“Ahead. Go catch him!”

And so I left Matt. I had passed Mikey B much earlier not knowing it, and trying to find him now would be impossible at this point. My mission was to find Sanderson, and that meant speeding up.

So speed up I did. One loop of the park (~10K) later, I saw the orange FRNY logo on Sanderson’s back. He was within striking distance, although I’d have to catch him up Harlem Hill (lately, hills are not my strong suit). If he had been on pace to PR, there’s no way I would have been able to make up the ground to catch him, but he was struggling in the cold and not having a good race. By the time I caught up with him, he looked like death. I’d later see that his splits according to his Garmin were hovering around 7:00 at that point, only to be taken down to 6:30 when I showed up.

We ran the last 3 or so miles together, and crossed the finish line at the same time. I was happy to have run what felt like the easiest 1:28 in my life, and Sanderson was just happy to have the whole damn thing finished.

It was a big confidence booster that I could run a 1:28 without really racing 100%. I ran fast, but not all-out and it’s nice to think of what I might be capable of when I do decide to race a future half marathon. At the beginning of the race, I was nervous that I had lost all my speed and aerobic base — I’d be humiliated if the people who I used to beat were now beating me. But that wasn’t the case. I hadn’t lost much fitness, and in fact cross-training on the bike may have actually helped.

This isn’t to say I’m going to start PR’ing all over the place, or that the rest of the year will be easy. I have a lot of work if I want to hit a 1:23 half marathon and a 2:59 marathon. But at least at this point I know it’s not as far as my worst fears.

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