When I received a congratulatory letter from the New York Roadrunners a few months ago informing me that I had a guaranteed entry to the NYC Half I jumped at the chance to run it. I qualified last May with my 1:32:13 finish at the Brooklyn Half Marathon, which was my second best half marathon of 2014. I knew going into this one that I was going to be slower, and my finishing time today was even slower than I imagined it would be at 1:42:59. I’ve since rationalized it and am content to know that I finished in the top 15% of all runners and, hey, I’m 63 years old so I should probably get used to the fact that I’m slowing down. Still, it was a fun race and despite not being elated with my time there were some unforgettable highlights such as being cheered on by my two Brooklyn granddaughters and the run through Times Square, which is closed to traffic only twice a year — for the New Years celebration and for this race.
Fortunately for me, my daughter Nicole has been living in Brooklyn for the past 15 years and knows her way around the city, so she drove me to the south entrance of Central Park in plenty of time to drop off my bag and get through the tight security. It turns out I had plenty of time and when I reached the porta potties they were virtually empty. There were no lines and dozens of potties so I ducked into one that was nice and clean and proceeded to just take it easy for the next 20 minutes or so, hoping the sun would come out and warm me up. Of course it never got warm enough for me, but I finally ventured out so I could be sure and make it to my corral before it closed
Since the corrals closed quite a while before the race began, I was relieved when the race finally started so I could warm up. I had decided in advance to take the first mile nice and easy just to get my muscles warmed up without breaking anything, and there were quite a few hills in the early miles so it was easy for me not to get carried away with running too fast. The first 6 miles were all in Central Park and throughout the race there were a lot of cheering spectators to keep you motivated. No doubt though, the highlight of the race was the area around Times Square. For several blocks the crowd was excited and so were the runners, and I kept telling myself to be sure and appreciate the moment, since times like this are few and far between in races.
After the excitement of Times Square was over we hung a right and the course ran down the historic West Side Highway along the Hudson River. We ran past the new World Trade Center and through the Battery Park Underpass, which was a surprise to me and the only time I’ve run through a tunnel in a race. Kinda played havoc with the Garmin GPS.
I was relieved to finally see the finish line on Wall Street. I didn’t pay much attention to the clock. It had taken me a minute and 45 seconds to reach the starting line when the race started and it seemed like it was an additional few minutes off of that time (possibly because of an earlier starting time for elites). I did notice throughout the race that the mile markers became increasingly “off” according to my Garmin, but that was because it was nearly impossible to run tangents. When you’re on a road that’s 100 feet wide it makes a difference which side you’re on when the road curves, and with 20,000 people in the race and me back in the pack I was stuck wherever I happened to be at the time. The result was that the distance I ran was considerably longer than the standard 13.1 miles. That was true for everybody else in the race as well, so I can’t use it for a great excuse as to my placement in the race.
Oh, by the way, Molly Huddle became the first American female winner in the 10-year history of this race, with a time of 1:08:31, and the men’s winner was Kenyan (now living in the USA) Leonard Korir, who beat his training partner Stephen Sambu by a mere 1 second with a time of 1:01:06. For 1st place overall both Huddle and Korir received $20,000, and there was a total of $100,000 in prize money for the race.
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Time: 1:42:59 (chip time)
Pace: 7:52 (Garmin measured it at 7:47 with extra mileage)
Age Group: 23 of 221 (10.4%)
Overall: 2,830 of 19,434 (14.6%)
Average Heart Rate: (forgot my heart rate strap!)
Age Graded Equivalent Time: 1:20:58 (73.14%)
* RACE RATING *
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 – Water Stops: (0)none (2)normal (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking: (0)bad (1)good
5 – Course Scenery: (0-5) 1=bad and 5=fantastic
2 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none (1)normal (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers: (0)too few (2)good
9 – Finish line: (0-9) 0=bad and 9=spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no
0 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
0 – Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes
2 – Posted promptly online: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website: (0)no (1)yes
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
0 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (2)top 3 or better
0 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (3)yes
0- Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no (5)yes
5 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent ($100,000 total purse)
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no (2)yes (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals
3 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
9 – Entertainment: (0)no (1-9)yes
2 – Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (2)yes (Online only)
2 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
0 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
2 – Design: (0)not good (1)not bad (2)nice (5)beautiful!
2 – Material: (0)cotton (2)technical fabric
0 – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
0 – Prices: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
2 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (2)yes (5)lots of free pics!
0 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no
0 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
0 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no
0 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no
0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no (2)yes, some (5)excellent
2 – Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (2)yes
2 – Kids Fun Run: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)