I deferred last year’s race entry to this year because of the problems I was having, so this was my last chance to do this race (at least with a guaranteed place). When the race opened for entries I still had no idea if I would be able to run that far.
In October I was barely running at all, and avoided it for much of November too. In December I was fairly comfortably running up to about 3 miles at a time. It was only when I started to increase my mileage that I began to get more optimistic about my chances. I took a fairly aggressive approach as things were going well, and with 4 weeks to go before the race I did my first 10 mile run, and maxed out at 12 miles 2 weeks before the race.
I always knew that my speed was not going to be near my pre-injury times, but during training I had managed to push the pace for the odd mile or so more than I expected. This left me wondering if I could actually record a halfway decent time.
In the week before the race I was off sick on Monday and Tuesday, and didn’t feel great the rest of the week. By Sunday though it wasn’t bad, but because I had neglected running, and therefore stretching (I need to separate those so I stretch when I don’t run too!), I noticed my hamstring was feeling tight again.
On race morning I walked from the hotel to the start area early – maybe a little too early as it was so cold. I was in wave 1, corral C which had a 1:35 pacer at the front. I knew there was no way for me to be that fast so started towards the back of the corral.
The wait for the start was terrible in that cold but I had a little help from a fellow club member giving me a heat sheet to protect me a little more.
I worried about going out too fast at the start but settled into a comfortable pace early on and stayed with it. I soon discovered that even in Brooklyn my GPS watch wasn’t going to be very reliable. The second mile came up way too early so from then on I didn’t use my watch other than to compare to the clocks on the course (I’d crossed the line about 5 and a half minutes after the official start).
I’d like to say that I enjoyed the run, but at the time I had so much going on in my head that I can’t say it with certainty. It took a couple of miles before my legs felt like they were no longer frozen. I did make sure I took in the sights when I could – looking out from the Manhattan Bridge, looking around at the buildings and so on.
By around halfway I was a bit concerned about my hamstring. I did some mental calculations around mile 8 and thought I could finish in around 1:41 or 1:42 if I maintained my pace. If I kept that going until the park and lost a little time later perhaps I could still manage 1:45.
Of course, by the time I got to the park I was desperate to hang in, and pushed through the pain and the hills. In the last mile or two I wanted to stop and walk, but my brain wouldn’t let me.
I crossed the line in 1:41:36 – definitely faster than I expected, but I felt frustrated with my hamstring. It wasn’t until I was walking back down towards Times Square that the emotions kicked in. I started crying. I think this was because of the realization that I had come back to run a relatively fast half marathon given my training, and that I felt I was officially “running again”.
As I had no meaningful data from my watch (which told me that I had managed my fastest 5k ever during the race because of the GPS problems) I turned to the splits on the tracker.
What amazed me most about my times was the consistent pace – looking at the 10k and 20k split I had covered the first 10k in 48:15 and the second 10k in 48:17.
I know I’m not entirely back to running – this race took a lot out of my legs and my recovery this week is slow. I have more aches and pains from it than I remember ever having before, even from the marathons I ran. I am pretty confident now though, that with the right training, I can get even more of my speed back and I can’t wait.