This will have been my 4th time running the fabled New York City Half Marathon. I love this course as half of it is in my backyard and the other have runs through the streets of the city. It is also a very fast course if played right.
Abbe and I headed down to pick our bibs up the day before the race. It was still remarkably crowded, but the process was smooth and seamless as usual. We grabbed lunch at Peter McManus Pub on the corner after. Please stop in to this family owned establishment. It is one of a few remaining old NYC bars with true character and a friendly staff.
Danika came over to spend the night, so the three of us played some Monopoly and stayed off our feet. Abbe cooked up a delicious pasta for dinner.
Abbe and Danika woke up at 5:30am and I tried my best to get another 30 minutes of shut eye.
Everyone had been freaking out about the weather for the week leading up to the race. I think because at one point the forecast said 45-50 degrees and people got super excited only to be let down. It was 35 degrees out which is, and would turn out to be, great racing conditions. After slamming a banana and some coffee we all left for the start. It was 6:30 and we either had a 2 mile run to the start or a 5 minute cab ride. We opted for the cab.
I checked my bag and then cruised through the security checkpoint. I hung with Abbe and Danika at their corral for a little while before heading up to mine. I was in ‘AA’ which I was confused about. Why was there an ‘AA’? Just keep everyone up front in an ‘A’.
I was next to a guy who would become internet famous for wearing a full suit for the race. I was jealous of his warm clothes, but not of his heavy cotton fabric. I was wondering if he would be chaffed everywhere after this stunt. As it turns out the guy ran a sick time for having a suit on. I think he was in the 1:10-1:15 finish range.
The gun went off and we began our ascent of Cat Hill at a rather quick pace. I tried to not get carried away with all the excitement.
About half a mile in this guy to my right says, “Hey Chris, what’s up!” It was my friend Sebastien! He was a pacer for the 1:25 pace group. He and I met in 2009 while running the Knickerbocker 60K. We chatted for a bit before I explained that I was going to ‘Blast ahead’ to try and get close to a PR. This would not be the last time I would see Seb or the 1:25 pace group… foreshadowing!
Miles 1-3 were 6:30, 6:12, 6:21 so I was all over the place. I tackled Harlem Hill and set my sights on getting through the West Side Rollers.
On the West Side I saw a number of friends who yelled out “Go Baker!” One friend said “Good morning Mr. Baker.” It was right around this time I noticed my legs feeling unusually heavy and fatigued for this early in the race. This was also the moment I saw my friend Seb again and we both laughed. I was clearly having an off race.
Miles 4-6 were 6:35, 6:36 and 6:25.
I excited the Park and barreled my way down through the canyon of Times Square in a hazy fog. My mind was all over the place wondering if I was even going to finish this damn thing. ‘Just hang on’ I told myself. I even convinced myself that my legs would feel better later on in the race.
I saw Susan and Jocelyn cheering at mile 8 and delivered a high five. The wind coming up off the river was fierce and everyone was struggling. Luckily, as soon as we hit the west side it was behind us.Miles 7-9 were 6:16, 6:28, 6:43 or, a reverse progression run. A digression run?
I saw my pal Ali cheering with the November project crew. She gave me an awesome “Goooooo Baaaaakeeeeer!” I also saw Kate and the GCR squad which helped motivate me. I was visibly slowing down as other runners were now passing me. I felt as though I was walking but my splits for 10-12 were 6:41, 6:43, 6:35 so I was still progressing forward.
I finally made it to the tunnel and knew I was going to finish. Just one more mile, I can do that.
As we exited the tunnel the north wind that had been ‘pushing’ us was now in our face. My final mile was a 6:46 and my finish time a 1:26:22. I was disappointed with my time, but after analyzing my data I found that it was 6th best out of 19 Half Marathons.
Walking over to get my medal I decided to take the left row as it was less crowded. I heard a “Chris!” My old friend from college Shayna (who is now also a runner) was volunteering and handing out medals! She gave me a huge hug and then my friend actually put the medal over my head! How cool is that! It made all the suffering worth it.
Seb found me too. I explained why I could not keep it together and we laughed.
The next order of business was the after party at Irish American! I grabbed my stuff and made my way in that direction.
As I could have predicted, the only one sitting at the bar when I walked in was my friend Frazer, who ran a 1:15. We ordered up some Guinness and gave our own play-by-play of each others respective races.
Next, Anders rolled in and informed us that he had just PR’d!
It was a short matter of time before Abbe, Bojana, Brian, Aunt Margie, Charla, my cousins and various other friends and Battalion teammates arrived to celebrate.
It was a fantastic way to end the race.
What did we learn here today boys and girls? If you don’t train for a race, you’re gonna have a bad time.