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[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.

When you’re running a half-marathon, it is wonderful to have people you know suddenly appear and cheer. Today I came upon Robert twice and Stéphane once.

Home Stretch (NYRR photo)

Stéphane ran next to me on lap 2 of CP just past the 6 mile mark, camera in hand — he took photos (including the one below (the one to the left is from NYRR); he commented on my heel striking) and there’s a video on Facebook — telling me I looked like the running was too easy. Robert caught me on the West Side a bit past the 3 mile mark and then again on West Street as I headed to the finish. A “Warren Street” now and then, and my sister Pat and her husband Stuart were outside their apartment on 42nd Street.

I really appreciate it.

Ah, the race itself. The numbers: 1:21:34, 199 o/a, 2d AG, 84.25 age-graded. I’m pleased with the time, although work needs to be done, and very pleased to have gotten an age-group award.

As to the race report itself, I recorded something about 40 minutes after the finish. I begin by saying “little bit farther north” because I did a shorter thing alread, but here it is:

Splits: 6:12, 6:10, 6:11, 6:18, 6:13, 6:15 (stopped the watch too early), 6:31 (stopped too early for mile 6), 6:17, 6:09, 12:24 (missed 10 mile mark), 6:08, 6:03, 37.

[Edited to add: I’m watching the replay on Universal. Paul Thompson is getting decent face-time near Deena. But I just wish they wouldn’t say a male running near the lead woman is do it for “face-time.” Paul, e.g., caught Kastor at 8 and next we saw  him he was well in front. As someone who has run near the lead woman in a televised race, I can say that I never cared about the TV. Anyone running at that pace is going to be running his (I use the masculine because in this context I’m speaking of men) own race. Perhaps they’ll run near the lead woman to use her as a good pacer. But I don’t know about this “face-time” observation that Larry Rawson seems to make at every race.

[Also, notwithstanding what is said on the broadcast, you really can’t see the finish line until you’re pretty close. There are 800, 400, and 200 to go signs, but I only picked up the finish when I was nearly there.]

A couple of prerace videos, to give a sense of things.

OK. I’ve gotten my number for the NYC Half. 151081. What’s the deal with that? The race site says numbers go to 15999. I speculated to teammate John Nelson that I’d be starting in the Bronx. He reassured me. No. I’d start at the Rockies. Hell, it may be the ones in Colorado.

So I sent a note to NYRR asking what was happening. I received a terse, all-caps reply, “THAT IS YOUR ENTRY NUMBER.” OK. Make me feel like a dick for asking. One of, as Hans Gruber would put it, the benefits of a classical education is the ability to, well, read, and as I noted in response, NYRR said it’s my “race number.” NYRR might want to be a tad clearer in the future. And work on its people skills. Maybe I should try to join its board.

Yes, I’m starting to get nervous about the race. My left Achilles tendon has been bothering me off and on, but it seems OK when I run, so we’ll see. Having blown up at the Manhattan Half, I was hoping to be ready for this one. I’ve gotten in some good tempo runs and some decent long runs, so I’m optimistic. To a point. Why did I enter this stupid thing?

Don’t Cry For Me

TK posted the “League of Their Own” clip of Tom Hanks repeating the truism, “there’s no crying in baseball.” I’m not so sure about whether that’s true in running, speaking for me. I was on the edge of tears when I stopped just north of 90th Street in NYC 2006 (and TK notes Kara Goucher’s tears at Boston). Racing a marathon is such an internally big-deal.

The crying meme is a hook for a couple of entries I came upon in the last day, one of someone whose every entry I read and another of someone I read now and then. The first, Building a Faster Me, told her horror story that has destroyed her chances of racing well at Boston. Her response? Not much I can do about it, I’ll have my chance again, and I’ll do it for the fun of it. (I’m not going to mention the hole-in-my-foot woes of someone else training for a spring marathon.) (Both of these blogs are worth regular visits.)

The other was one of those do-I-really-want-to-do-this posts, which brought to mind not only my recent soliloquy on the subject but also the race/run distinction I’ve been applying since this time last year, i.e., if you don’t want to do the requisite work for a marathon, you ain’t gonna be racing it, even if you put up a crappy (for you) time that others find mighty impressive even if you know it’s a joke notwithstanding that it qualifies for a race held on Patriots Day. More important, though, it was somewhat silly, bordering on self-indulgent crap (a reason the blog’s not on my must-read list). If you’ve been running for a while, you may have doubts at the margins, you sometimes have to back-off and re-align priorities. What you don’t have is doubt about the core belief system, i.e., I run because I’m a runner. Up. Down. Sideways. What do I want? Why do I want it? How much do I want it?

Come to think of it, it’s bullshit that there’s none of in racing.

Videos

Enough of that. Here are the videos. Couple of things from OK Go.

There’s a set of how-we-made-it shorts. And its classic, better way to use a treadmill:

And now for something completely different.

And here’s the Hanks clip (via TK*):

Note

* which I learned means not-quite-done (“to come“) in publishing lingo (return)

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