So even though I mentioned the possiblity of racing the Staten Island Half previously, I was sorta quiet about it since I wasn’t sure what my strategy was gonna be. I had signed up just to have the opportunity to use it as a long run, or marathon-pace run if need be, as it falls on the weekend between my two 20-milers. But after missing my goal in Philly, Coach T and I talked about the possiblity of racing this one, and he did give me the blessing to go for it. I ran this race only once before-5 years ago, but just as a training run. I distinctly remembered 1 hill in the beginning, and a biggie at mile 8, but was described by many as a PR course. The weather forecast was a bit warmer than ideal, but considering I ran great races in the summer heat, I didn’t let that psych me out one bit.
So that Sunday (4 weeks out from the big day, to be exact), I did the routine that most likely would happen on marathon day too. Woke up way too early. Breakfast and coffee (Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice coffee FTW! Perfect since I ran out of Peppermint and almost out of Gingerbread and those won’t be back in the stores for while.) Put the race outfit on…went with the Adioses again for the shoes, and actually tried out a different racing outfit-Flyers singlet (I usually wear the fitted top) and my Lululemon Speed shorts (instead of my short fitted Nike shorts.) As the shorts have gel pockets, I wouldn’t need a pocket in my top…so I wanted to try out racing in this combo. (is it me, or do I use this half to try out new shorts? Last time it was the infamous “naked shorts”…)
And I left my place around 5:30ish, and barely caught the 1 train at Times Square. Yep, even though NYRR suggested we take the 7:30 ferry at the latest, I felt that would be cutting it too close. I took the ferry to a Staten island Yankee game this past summer, and it was almost a half hour late. If the 7:30 was that late, I’d be missing the start. So I decided to take the 6:30 ferry…I’d rather get to Staten Island early and zone out rather than be in the terminal on the Manhattan side and stress out. And given that the ferry terminal had plenty of runners, I wasn’t alone in that assessment (of course, some may have been frontloading with a few extra miles.) I strategically positioned myself near the ferry entrance, and when the doors opened, was able to get a seat near where the exit would be on the SI side and a window seat too. I think this ferry left maybe 5 minutes late…not too bad, I just listened to my race morning playlist and enjoyed the views during the trip. And even after getting to SI, the time seemed to go by quickly…found a place to sit and chill out (beautiful morning to sit outside by the water!)…chatted with Flyer and non-Flyer friends, before I knew it, was time to head to the corrals.
just out of the starting gate-i'm to the right of purple chick
So I don’t know who was on announcing duty today, but I actually missed Mary Wittenberg. This guy was going on and on about the weather and how it was so hot…oh yeah and the comment about how the ChampionChip is “as useful as a rotary phone” (if thats the case, can I get my $35 back that I paid for it way back when?) I even heard the guy was making fun of people who were late because they were delayed by the ferry…yeah there was some drama there. Not only was the 7:30 ferry late, but it couldn’t hold everyone waiting. There was an additional one added around 8-ish, I believe? But still there were definitely a lot of people who were going to miss the start. (wow-am I glad I decided to go on the early ferry!) Even though they did say they were going to delay the start, Mr. Garmin said I started at 8:32 (original start time was 8:30) so they couldn’t have waited that long…
So we headed out of the stadium and onto the streets…mile 1 was uphill but I felt in control. When I saw my first mile was 7:23 I was pleased…but there was the possibility I may have gone out too fast. Oh yeah, we were running on unshaded roads on a warm and sunny day, and remember that supposed “flat and fast” course?
Um yeah. I remembered there was gonna be a hill at mile 8, but I definitely did not remember some of the others!
I just kept going…at around mile 3 I saw Lam speed past me…apparently he got caught on one of the late ferries and had to weave his way through the field (but no worries, since he still PR’ed! yay!) I said to him to “go get it.” As for me, it’s possible my fast start worked against me, as the next 3 miles were 7:34, 7:44, 7:42. Uh oh…could I be in trouble? Somewhere in mile 4 I heard someone cheering for me…I looked quickly and saw AP, our Master Blaster…since he’s our resident Staten Islander, I figured he’d either be running or spectating. 🙂
Mile 5 dropped to 7:55…yeah that was up another hill. But still. I could have very easily thrown in the towel but just make the rest of the race a marathon-pace run but I chose to fight. Being that this was an out-and-back, what goes up must come down, right? And we were nearing the part of the course that I really liked, as the turnaround as around a mile away I saw people coming back on the other side…then it was my turn to hit the turnaround…I heard people cheering for me and if I couldn’t acknowledge you, I’m sorry-was too focused on the task at hand but know it was appreciated!
just passed my teammate with a mile or 2 to go...
Then mile 8 brought the hill. The one that 5 years ago I said was “a bigger bitch than I am.” Seemed like it lasted almost the entire mile! “Come on, Flyer!” said a guy wearing a NYC Triathlon top who was trying to encourage me to stick with him. Relief when we hit the top. At 8:04, this was by far the slowest mile of the race, and my only mile over 8 minutes. Even the downhill right afterwards…didn’t feel like a reward right then and there, took about 100-200 meters to recover from the hill. Mile 9 went through Fort Wadsworth…boy it’s gonna look quite different in 4 weeks, just crawling with runners 🙂 Come to think of it-I’m sure there was a view of the Verrazano Bridge somewhere in these last coupla miles but I didn’t even notice! Exited the Fort and went back into town…saw AP again with his son, and he was taking pictures…I’m sure I didn’t look too happy at that point though 😛
So up til mile 10 or 11, was just trying to maintain pace. By this point there were people to pace off of…NYC Tri guy, and a couple of Dashing Whippets (I just hoped I wasn’t being too annoying, my breathing was getting loud by that point…working hard!) In the beginning, everyone who had started late and weaving their way through the field…didn’t know who was running what pace! By now everyone had pretty much settled in. Memories from the backstretch…me saying “Shut up!” to those saying “Almost there!” and having other runners say “thank you!”…the very welcome sprinklers at the water stations and elsewhere…the DJ playing “Rain Over Me” and me thinking “ooh rain would be nice right now”
After the bridge at the beginning of mile 12, I thought the hills were over…ugh I guess I forgot about one more! But then I really think it’s downhill from here? And passing by the mile 12 marker, I could hear the announcer for the finishers but I forced myself to not look in that direction, just crank it for the last mile. Headed down the ramp into the stadium with about a half-mile to go and I knew it was just a straight shot to the finish. And the clock was saying 1:40:xx…which was just alright by me!! 🙂
Final time-1:40:27, 7:40 pace. My 3rd fastest half ever (only 2 faster were in Philly) and a soft “hilly course” PR, i guess 🙂
As you can see, the elevation changes tell the story of the splits!
And I was 12th in my new age group…my highest age-group placing ever in a NYRR race!! Maybe there is something to this whole 35-39 age group 🙂 The Flyer women took 3rd and I was the 3rd Flyer female so I got one of these:
And yeah, I know the high placing and finishing 3rd among the Flyer women was only because a lot of the fasties did Grete’s the previous weekend…so a little bittersweet. I’ll take it though! Hadn’t gotten one of those team medals in a long time (few years?)…we have so many fast women on the team now, the times I finish top 5 are few and far between!
So even though I would have loved to have run 1:38-1:39…or better if that was where the day took me, I’m still happy with this race. I could have easily thrown in the towel and “tempoed” it but I fought to the finish. Unlike Brooklyn, I wasn’t roadkill in the last 5 miles 🙂 And besides, I do remember that it was only a few years ago when I was frustrated at being stuck at a 1:47-1:48 plateau for the half, I was trying to break 1:45 but coming up short…now I can knock on the door of 1:40 in non-ideal conditions on a hilly course? And of course, eye on the prize and I like that this race predicts a 3:31 marathon…
Next? Now it’s time to get in that last big week and the last 20 miler, then taper down and stay uninjured before the big day in 4 weeks!