I guess you could call 2017 the friendly half marathon year, as in I knew someone in every single half marathon I ran this year. And the number of friends running increased with every half! I do not foresee a repeat in 2018, though.
Mr. Judy had been complaining for quite some time that we live in NY and yet I hadn’t “done” NY yet. Now I can cross that off the list. Hold onto your hats cause it’s a long one!
This race came very close to a DNS, though. My Dad was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday with what turned out to be a partial bowel obstruction. They weren’t sure if he was going to need surgery. So there I was, trying to finish up packing, not even sure I was going. Thankfully he didn’t need surgery, and in fact they released him from the hospital on Friday, the day I left.
I went through something very similar in 2012 when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor literally the day before I left for RnR Montreal. That time he did need surgery, but turned out they wouldn’t operate for another 6 weeks. My Dad is tough (he’s 91, was 86 back then).
Packet pickup was relatively organized, although it was in with the expo so super crowded. I’d read that the expo was small and not memorable, and I was pleasantly surprised to see while it was small, there were a fair number of vendors — although the only thing I bought was my standard: a new pair of sunglasses.
The swag bag was nothing to write home about, but you do get a small stemless wineglass — I actually like that since I don’t drink, and I use it for my tart cherry juice at night. You also get a small bottle of chamgagne. Now Wineglass happens to be in the middle of the NY finger lakes wine region, so why it isn’t local wine I don’t know, but I don’t drink anyway so it didn’t matter to me.
The quarter zips are to die for. I’d read that the shirts in the past ran way small, but this fit perfectly. A beautiful soft material and thumbholes for the win! They’re too nice to run in!
So funny story: it also happened to be Yom Kippur. Now, I consider myself to be somewhat religious but more spiritual and I was pretty sure that God would forgive me for sharing this weekend with my friends. We never fast the full 24 hours anyway, and the plan was just to break it even earlier, so basically just skipping breakfast.
I brought my bagel and lox with me because we’d be going out to lunch after the expo. So I walked around with a huge bagel and lox in my pocket! But that’s not really the funny part.
As I’m finishing up the expo I came across the Wegman’s booth, and without even thinking about it popped the samples right in because you know how much I love to try stuff! Oopsie.
And then . . . I hadn’t told Coach Rachel about the mini fast. I knew she wouldn’t be pleased by that. But I mentioned it on an IG post (follow me here) and was busted, completely forgetting that she follows me, of course!
The weather & dressing
This was not my coldest half marathon, but it’s in the top three. Race day dawned foggy (it would never lift during the race) and in the 30s. Tee, tank, tee, tank . . . I went with the tee and that was the perfect choice for me.
I also had a throwaway sweatshirt, my Skirtsports Bolero, and some throwaway sweatpants I’d bought for $6 at Walmarts the night before. Petite, no less! What I didn’t have and I totally regretted? Throaway gloves. The race started at 35 and only went up to 45 — thankfully no wind — but the fog never lifted. My hands were freezing those first three miles! And of course I’d shared my race checklist which included throwaway gloves, but I really didn’t think my hands would get that cold.
My Race Plan
Rachel @ Runningonhappy asked me if I wanted a race plan, or if I wanted to run by feel. As if. This is the race we’ve been targeting all year long as my goal race — but since I had already technically PR’d every half (if you count my slowest half, aka my first trail half, which you can read about here), I also was okay if that didn’t happen. Of course I still wanted to PR, but the speedwork didn’t necessarily lead me to believe in myself, and then there was all the stress that last week. To say I was tired, stressed, and not feeling well would have been an understatement.
I ran this race “naked”. Yes, I wore clothes and yes, I wore my Garmin and it worked. But I purposely did not have it show elapsed time. It was a calculated risk. I find I run better by pace than by elapsed time, but without Rachel’s plan and keeping an eye on my paces, I could easily have missed my goal — which was simply to get below 2:30.
I’m going to put in my actual lap times with the race plan times below (so it will be 11:30 AP, which stands for average pace/11:20 RP – which stands for race plan). It’s actually kind of funny that I always want a race plan, because I seem incapable of following one!
So how’d that work for me?
- Mile 1: 11:24 AP/11:37 RP. I have started out a couple of my halfs too slow — I know, no runner says that, right? Well, this one does. So I made sure to keep my eye on my pace.
- Mile 2: 11:27 AP/11:27 RP. This was a crowded course and I really never found my own running space. Still, close enough to the plan. There was a slight hill in this mile.
- Mile 3: 11:01 AP/11:27 RP. I took my bolero off this mile but apparently it didn’t effect my pace. Was I running too fast here?
- Mile 4: 11:17 AP/11:17 RP.
- Mile 5: 11:01 AP/11:17 RP. Oddly enough you cross train tracks twice in this mile — so small hills. Although it doesn’t really show up on the elevation chart, I remember them!
- Mile 6: 11:22 AP/11:17 RP. The elevation shows a long, slight hill here — in my mind, I remember that at mile 9, but apparently not.
- Mile 7: 11:07 AP/11:17 RP. Seriously, I just ping ponged the whole race. Fast, slow, fast, slow. I always get sort of annoyed when I slow down for no reason, which helps me to run faster. What I’d like to run is consistent!
- Mile 8: 11:35 AP/11:17 RP. I boarded the struggle bus this mile. I just felt like I ran out of gas. I mean, it usually gets to me around this time but it just seemed worse.
- Mile 9: 11:02 AP/11:17 RP. Small, rolling hills with some flats interspersed until the end of the race.
- Mile 10: 11:22 AP/11:17 RP. Ping pong.
- Mile 11: 11:17 AP/11:07 RP. Ping pong.
- Mile 12: 11:39 AP/10:57 RP. Ping pong. I knew the plan called for me to go under an 11 mm — I also knew around mile 9 that that was never going to happen. Did I pysch myself out?
- Mile 13: 11:17 AP/10:47 RP. Ping pong. Passed the bank clock that said it was only 45F . . .
- Last .19: 10:39 AP/All out sprint RP. Well, I did have enough gas left to sprint a little, but I’m usually faster at the end. I really didn’t know if it was a PR or not at that point.
2:28:50 — Official Time
11:18 Average Pace
Was the race well run?
We have some varying opinions on that. The start was really a mess, and I don’t think anyone argues that. Instead of coming in from the back and working your way forward, you come from the start line and try to work your way backwards. Which didn’t work so well. I ended up with the 2:20 pacer, knowing that wasn’t even close to my projected finish time, because I simply couldn’t muscle my way back to the appropriate place without having to walk into the wet corn fields. I’m not sure how this can be fixed, but it needs to be.
The buses were great, the prerace dinner was great. Parking the morning of was difficult for out-of-towners like us and I still felt that there could have been volunteers helping more with that – there were volunteers at the parking garage we ended up at, which had plenty of room, but we had to drive around passing lot after lot that was already full and were getting a bit anxious.
I also found the finisher’s chute confusing. I was looking for the place to check your finish time — I knew they had one, but I couldn’t find it, and asked two separate volunteers and neither knew where it was (although I did finally find it). I also never saw, although I heard, the PR bell. Maybe it’s just me . . . except I know it wasn’t as I was walking up and down with running buddy J trying to find the finish times.
The course itself is relatively flat and fast — although a lot of turns in the beginning and the end, and a few little uphills. It was hard for us to tell if it was really scenic or not; it was just too foggy.
- Awesome pre-race dinner.
- Buses to the start very organized.
- Plenty of portapotties.
- A warm school to hang out in.
- A mostly flat course.
- Photos aren’t free, but they were up in just a couple of days.
- I’m not a bling-whore, but it is a really nice medal.
- Sharing this weekend with 9 runner friends.
Of course no race is perfect. The downsides:
- Not enough information/direction for parking (just a small map in the race program)
- Completely disorganized start.
- I felt very crowded the entire race.
- Poor runner etiquette (too many across, not bothering to see who’s behind you when stopping) — I guess it’s just a given these days.
- Completely disorganized finisher’s chute.
What I learned
Aside from I should definitely have throwaway gloves if it’s in the 30s, I’m not sure I learned a whole lot from this race. It’s better with friends, of course, but that’s a given.
Back in the day I probably would have worn capris for those temperatures, but I knew from both the Mud & Chocolate Half and my Green Mountain Half (read about that here) that I’d be good in a skirt with compression socks — it’s almost like wearing capris! But that heat blanket afterwards was totally awesome.
Do I have a faster half marathon in me? I know I didn’t this day. I didn’t puke or pass out, of course, but I really feel I left it all out on the course. I also know that cold can slow you down just like heat can — although I would take the cold over heat any day.
And 6 halfs (AZ, FL, LA, WA, UT, & NY) in 12 consecutive monts, Oct 2016-Oct 2017 will wear you down. Not that I regret any of them. But it’s definitely time for some rest. Or at least shorter races!