[This is a day-later review which supplements my 30-minutes-later video review.] After getting nervous about where I would be starting, on Saturday I headed down to 19th Street to pick up my race number and it was a blue number, meaning I started in the first corral. On Sunday I had plenty of time to drop off my bag, use the port-a-san, and get into the corral. John Nelson eventually appeared, having arrived to the corral after it closed so that he had to squirm his way all the way from the back to the front.
The race started, and it was a bit hectic where I was. Instead of running on the inside lane, the course was laid out on the outer two lanes (except briefly at the bottom of the Park). There was some jostling and I was perturbed by those who were not running the tangents and were preventing me from doing so. I saw Robert at about 4 and Stephane at 6. It was pretty stright-forward in the Park.
Things were more interesting leaving. Suddenly we were on a wide Seventh Avenue and it was cool to have people on both sides cheering. (Much of the cheering was by charity groups, but they were liberal with their encouragement.) You leave the Park at 59th and it is slightly uphill to 58th and then gradually down to 42nd. Watching the NYRR video, there was much emphasis on the sights of Times Square, but I didn’t notice any of it. My objective was to find a line that had me between the painted-strips of the crosswalks. The road surface itself was pretty goo until about 45th when it got a bit dicey.
Turn on 42nd heading west, with New Jersey in the distance. We passed 9 on this stretch and by now I was running near a few people, but we were pretty spread out. Things really thinned coming down Seventh, where I passed a number of folks. Right on West Street (referred to on the broadcast as the West Side Highway, which is long gone) to 44th, into a headwind, and then south. I was warned in the corral that this 3-mile stretch would be brutal because of the concrete, but although it hurt a bit afterward, I was fine on it, and it did facilitate just plowing along. I was passed by one guy, maybe two, on the whole stretch. The dynamics of a finish like that — a long, flat final stretch — are unusual. You keep waiting for it to appear. You count down the streets and then they no longer have numbers to count. Looking for the large, blue mile markers. 12. The 20K timing pad. That’s 12.4; .7 to go. 800 meters to go. 400. 13 miles. The line. Push it because whatever your time is is your time forever.
(TK had a fine race.)
My review of the race.
Would I do this again? It’s a bit pricey. When this race first appeared, as the Nike NYC Half, it was in August. Not only was it expensive and hot, but it came when one’s between seasons. In March, it’s still early season, but the weather is likely to be better. Weather was great yesterday, and it can be cold or unseasonably warm (although the early start time — 7:30 — means it would get going before any real heat hit town). In August you’re pretty well assured of a hot run, which would be brutal over the final 5K.
It’s a good course, mixing Central Park with nice flat streets. The crowds were pretty good throughout, albeit with some gaps, and that is in part the result of NYRR making this an event with lots of charity-support. You don’t get a lot of people holding signs at your normal NYRR race in the Park. For me, this somewhat falls into the background as I’m focusing on my race. It’s nice being in the background though, especially over the final mile or so, when the crowds were at their thickest and most vocal.
Loads of support by the race itself. Frequent water stops, every mile I think once we left the Park and plenty in the Park too, and Gatorade as well. (Helpful hint: If you grab a Gatorade cup it’ll likely contain Gatorade. I made that mistake (I didn’t drink it) at mile 1.5 when I just wanted to take care of my dry mouth.) I only took water twice, but it’s good to know it’s there. Plus there was one gel station.
I was worried that the logistics of the start would be a problem, but there were plenty of port-a-sans, it was easy to leave (and retrieve) bags, and the 20-minute cut-off for entry into the corral was tolerable, and typical of NYRR races. The course is somewhat downhill, although you do hit the two Harlem Hills. I think it’s a fast course. Cool medal — like a large subway token — and a high-tech blanket (which I didn’t think I’d need and did as it got chilly very quickly among the buildings of Battery Park City).
On the whole, a good experience. I may do it next year. I may not. I recommend it to everyone at least once. It’s a bit of NYC Marathon-lite.