RACE REPORT: 2018 United Airlines NYC Half

This past Sunday, March 18th 2018, I ran the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon. The last double-digit race that I ran was the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon, so it’s been some time since my legs have felt the way that they do right now. In all honesty, I was kind of dreading it at first.

I entered the lottery to run this race back in the Fall and had almost completely forgotten about it. When it came down to when they were going to draw the lottery, my initial intentions were to revoke my entry last minute. However, fate had a different plan and I didn’t take my name out of the drawing. Ultimately, my name was chosen.

When I first signed up for this race, I knew that I was in need of getting back out there and running again. Marine Corps Marathon ended up being a huge disappoint for me and I was devastated, as any marathon runner would be, after the months of long, hard training that I had put it. Often times, I wonder why I even put myself through it, but after every race, I remember why. It’s because these races humble you.

My experience at the NYC Half was pretty incredible, which I’m very relieved to say. I began “officially” training in mid-December which gave me about three months until the race. Like all my other races, I [loosely] used the Hal Higdon Intermediate 1 training program, because it always fits my schedule the best.

In terms of my longest distance run, I had only gotten up to 10 miles, which was just 2 miles shy of what I should have really done. And what ended up happening was that I crammed miles into the last few weeks I had left, then just let my body do the work once it was officially race time. I ended up paying for it at the end.

I hadn’t done any formal hill training, speed work, or strength training at all. I didn’t a gym membership either, which is a first for me. As one would suspect, this essentially ended up being my downfall.

I had hoped for a PR (personal record), but I knew in my head (and my heart) that this was not going to happen. As they say, you reap what you sow and I knew that I hadn’t sewn much during my training.

The course was 100% brand new from previous years, which I was a little upset about, but I ended up absolutely loving it. It started near Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, went over the Manhattan bridge, through Lower Manhattan, up into Midtown, through Times Square, and finishing right in Central Park. The weather was below freezing at a temperature of 28 degrees fahrenheit. Luckily, the sun was shining throughout, with zero precipitation.

Typically, I loathe running in the cold. In the Winter time, I get extremely lazy, have no motivation for running or working out in general, and basically hibernate until Spring. But I knew that I needed to break this cycle, which is why I chose this race in the first place.

I finished in a time of 1:50:33, which is an average of 8:26 per mile. Overall, I was quite satisfied with my time, especially with having the most minimalistic training. The New York City views were beautiful and I had both my boyfriend and sister cheering for me at mile 8, right in the heart of Times Square.

Though my legs are definitely on the sore side, it was completely worth it. It restored my runner’s high and left me wanting more — A feeling that I had really missed.

I would recommend this race without hesitation.

Advertisements

5 factors to consider when signing up for a marathon

As a former employee of Runner’s World Magazine, I had the privilege of running my very first marathon through the Runner’s World VIP Program (formerly known as “Runner’s World Challenge”). I was able to gain first-hand experience and extensive knowledge on how to properly train for a marathon with the help of my colleagues along with our robust amount of published content within the magazine.

Being that it was my first marathon, I took it very seriously. I made sure to allow myself the proper amount of time for training as well as dedicating myself to following a specific marathon training program (In this case, it was Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 Marathon Training Program)

Although I had no expectation for a specific goal time, I did want to ensure that I gave it my all and was as prepared as I could be.

I finished in a time of 4 hours and 7 seconds, with a decent amount of energy left over afterwards. In hindsight, now knowing that I was well-prepared enough, I wish I had aimed for a time of under 4 hours, but that’s besides the point.

After running Big Sur Marathon, I had never felt more accomplished in my life. I had assumed that since I had one marathon in the bag, every marathon following this one would be a piece of cake. Little did I know, that’s completely untrue.

Just because you ran one doesn’t mean it will get easier or that it will be a similar experience for your next. Just like any job or any relationship, you never have the same experience twice. There are many factors that go into running a great race. One thing is for sure – Never lessen your efforts or level of integrity.

Here are some of the major factors that can make or break your marathon experience:

  1. The Course. Some people don’t like to research the course beforehand. I personally think that’s ridiculous. Knowing the course can play a huge role in how you train. Knowing whether or not it’s hilly and knowing where the hills are located can help you both physically and mentally. Being prepared for running up or downhill will affect performance and fatigue in the long run (no pun intended) based on your training. Other factors in the course include altitude, scenery, and terrain.
    • Altitude falls under the “hilly or not” bucket. Running a race in Colorado versus New York are two completely different experiences because of the altitude levels, which ultimately affects your breathing.
    • Scenery can psychologically affect your performance. Visually stimulating courses may or may not improve your running pace, depending on how affected you are by your surroundings. If you want to see more trees, sign up for a race in a more remote location. If you want to see more buildings, sign up for a race in a larger city.
    • Terrain is in reference to pavement versus dirt. Depending on where you primarily train, your legs, and more specifically your knees, can be severely impacted by the texture of the course. Pavement tends to put more strain on your joints as opposed to dirt trails.
  2. The Crowd. Similar to the way people are affected by running with music, running a marathon that has great crowds can aid performance. One of the things that I loved most about running the New York City Marathon was amount of support you received from the local communities as you are running through the different boroughs and neighborhoods.
  3. The Training Plan. Not all training plan works for everyone. When it comes to running, everyone has different levels of expertise and physical fitness. Some training programs cater specifically to elite runners, while others cater to beginners. In addition, people also have such varying schedules throughout the week that not every program fits their daily routine. However, when it comes to marathon training, you do have to be flexible as well as dedicated. Skipping out on long runs or refraining from speed workouts can really hinder performance.
  4. The Season. In the United States, primary marathon season takes place in the Fall. Most of the major big-city marathons occur between September and November (and they fill up fast, so make sure you sign up early!). Fall in the United States can be wildly unpredictable. Temperatures tend to fluctuate and so do the chances of precipitation, high-wind factor, and humidity. If you are running a race in the Fall, be cognizant of the fact that a majority of your training takes place in the Summer, so the temperatures will not be nearly the same. You also must consider the chances of rain, high winds, and high humidity. Be properly dressed and well-hydrated.
  5. Size of the race. The size of a marathon can widely vary from a range of a couple hundred to thousands among thousands. I’ve run three marathons thus far, which include the Big Sur Marathon, New York City Marathon, and Marine Corps Marathon. Of the three, New York City and Marine Corps were very large races that took place in larger cities, with participants upwards of 30,000+ runners. The Big Sur Marathon, on the other hand, only had approximately 6,000+ runners. The size of the race can affect your performance depending on your preference of running alongside more people or fewer people.

From my personal experience, the best marathon I have run still remains the Big Sur Marathon, my first one. And this is because of the fact that I was so adamant about training.

So my advice is this – You get what you give.

The amount of preparation you set aside will not be in vain. Give it everything you have and it will come through in the end.