Fantastic Group Of Runners This Past Sunday Who Ran The Course!
This past Sunday I had the opportunity to tackle the United NYC Half Course with members of my We Are NYC Running Club and members of the United NYC Half Facebook Group! It was a beautiful Sunday morning for the run. A little chilly but we waited around for everyone in a nice section of Prospect Park that had lots of sun shining on us. In seeing this course again this past Sunday and in running it the last few years, I thought I would share a review of the course.
Some of you may know that the United NYC Half Marathon course has changed from previous years. In 2019, the course started inside of Prospect Park Brooklyn for the first time. This past Sunday, we pretty much excluded the first two miles which take place inside the park. As far as those two miles are concerned, based on my running the race last year, you will encounter an uphill in the first mile. It comes in the second half of the first mile and it’s a net climb of about 80 feet. Just around the time that you finish that first mile you will exit the park and encounter crowds for the first time. You will be on Flatbush Avenue and you will head out on a 1 ½ mile out and back on Flatbush Ave adjacent to the park. The first half of this 1.5 miles is a steady downhill. Be careful though because you will have to come back up that same stretch but this time do it uphill.
Once you are done with this out and back, you will be at around the 2.5 mile mark and you will be passing Grand Army Plaza and leaving the park completely. Here you should encounter a good amount of spectators. When you reach this portion, do your best to put your adrenalin in check because the next mile or so is a steady downhill! Strava measured this mile to be a decrease in elevation of about 96 feet. I have to admit, this is also a nice wide road with lots of local shops. Assuming it is a decent weather day, I am 99% positive that this stretch of the course is going to be filled with spectators on race day. With that said, these spectators, along with the steady downhill will you give you the temptation to unleash a fast mile. I will say to just be careful here, because you have a long way to go and some challenges ahead.
Having Fun On The Manhattan Bridge This Past Sunday (photo credit Bon R.)
As you reach the mile 4 mark, you will start your climb onto the Manhattan Bridge. This is where your work and challenges will start. From the 4 mile mark, its a long steady climb onto the bridge until you get to the middle of the bridge. Your total climb will be around 90 feet. As you get to the summit of the bridge take a nice exhale for two reasons. First, the views are amazing here so enjoy them! Second, the next mile and change is a nice and steady downhill. I strongly suggest you enjoy this stretch. Let your muscles recoup. Think about taking a gel or some type of energy supplement at this point because you will need it for the second half of the race . Think about how you feel. Keep your emotions in check and remember, you are here to have fun!
Once you get off of the Manhattan Bridge you will enter Chinatown where the crowds are always amazing! Soak in the crowds because you are headed for the FDR Drive soon. The FDR drive is a popular NYC highway that closes one direction just for you on this day. On the surface, New Yorkers may think that it is pretty cool to be running on the FDR Drive, but I find that these approximately three miles can be pretty boring miles on the course. Yes, there are nice views of the east river but the crowds are also very small on this stretch. As I mentioned, your time on the FDR is close to three miles as if boring miles are not enough, you will also gradually be climbing throughout these three miles. I did say that the second half of the race would be challenging right? (lol)
Its a long stretch of close to 3 miles on the FDR Drive!
You will finally exit the FDR Drive at 42nd St as you pass the United Nations, another very nice scenic view during this race. As you start to head west on 42nd street, you will be passing the 10 mile marker and you will continue to climb in elevation for about 40 feet until you get past 5th avenue. Here you will begin a small gradual run downhill that will take you into a very cool portion of the race, none other than Times Square. I mean other than New Years, eve, Times Square never closes for anyone but on this day, it closes for you! Take this stretch in because once you turn onto 7thavenue at around mile 11 and approach 45th street you will begin an approximate one mile climb up that will take you up another 40 feet in elevation and will leave you right at the entrance to Central Park. As you run thru Times Square, take a look for the Youth Run that shold be taking place on the right side of 7thavenue. I think its pretty cool that they are running their own race, while we run ours!
Back to our race though, as you finish your uphill climb on 7thavenue, you will enter Central Park and soon approach the 12 mile marker. Once you enter the park, a series of small uphills and downhills will await. Nothing too drastic. Keep it all together here and focus on your stride as you’re still about a mile from the finish. The park has always given me adrenalin. There is some rich running history here as it’s where the NYC Marathon finishes every year. Use this adrenalin to push you that last mile. During this last mile in the park, you will make a left turn at 72ndstreet. Save some juice for this last quarter mile because there is one more sneaky hill in the last quarter mile as you turn left again onto Central Park West Drive. Give it all you have on this hill because just beyond it, is your finish line!
I can’t rel you how much I love this course. The views, the towns that you go thru, Times Square and Central Park all make it amazing! A personal record is not impossible on this course, but it is also not easy. How you attack this course will be key. Go out too hard during the downhills in the first half and you will may pay the price on the hills that await you on the 2ndhalf of the course. For me take advantage of that last mile in the park. It’s a great mile to finish a great half marathon!
I hope you have enjoyed this review of the United NYC Half Course! As always you can follow me on Strava under my name Cesar Trelles or on Instagram @catrunsnyc_2018 ! Leave me some comments after the race on either of these on what you thought of the race course! Good luck to all of those that are running the 2020 United NYC Half Marathon!
So you are running the United NYC Half Marathon? Congratulations are in order because this race is not easy to get into! Now that you have gotten into the race, running and completing the race is not the only thing that you may have to worry about. Preparing for this race physically, mentally, emotionally and logistically can be a huge task. The version of this course was run in 2018 for the first time, so even if you have run a lot of races in New York City, this race may still be relatively new to you!
At this current time, I am hosting a United NYC Half Marathon Facebook group and as we did last year, each day we are discussing so many topics about this race. From training, to travel accommodations, to diets, to race prep, to holding local group runs and even hiring a few coach buses to take some of us to the start line of the race! We’ve been covering so much in this group and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it! (side note, we have similar groups open now for the Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon and the New York City Marathon!)
So I thought I would put this article together for everyone to benefit from the discussions that I had last year in the group. As time goes on I will be updating this post with new developments or changes to the race.
This post is heard towards out of towners running the race but there is definitely info in here for native New Yorkers as well. It’s a long read but I think there is something for everyone in here!
Getting Your Race Day Bib and the Expo
Whether you are traveling in from out of town or whether you live here in New York City, you will have to make your way to the Half Marathon Expo. For those that live in the New York City area who are accustomed to picking up their race day bibs at the NYRR Run Center, that will not be an option this time around. Further, you will not be able to pick your bibs up on the morning of the race either! That makes it super important that you plan some time either on the Thursday (11:00am – 9:00pm), Friday (11:00am – 9:00pm) or Saturday (9:00am – 6:00pm) before the race to make it down to the Expo. The Expo is located at 125 west 18th street, New York, NY 10011 (between 6th and 7th avenues).
* Note the times listed above for the expo were the times that the Expo was open in 2018. The hours of the expo have not been listed yet but will likely be listed a couple of weeks before the race. It is likely they will be similar but check back here closer to race day for the exact operating times of the Expo!
When heading to the Expo, give yourself some time to be there. Getting your bib and race shirt should be quick, but there is usually a lot of fun little things for you to see or do there. A race pacer booth will be set up so that you can speak with race pacers to talk about strategy to meet your desired goal time. I was able to confirm with NYRR that you will be able to pick up a “race pace” bracelet at the expo to help you keep pace with your desired goal time. These are several different bracelets each with a different goal time. The bracelet then tells you the mile splits you will need to hit in order to run that bracelet’s goal target time. Among other things to do at the expo is look for your name on the wall of runners, take some pictures or do some shopping from the racks of merchandise they are sure to have! The official race day gear sponsor New Balance will be on hand and sometimes you can score some free giveaways! Whatever it is, just give yourself some time at the Expo! You won’t regret it!
If you can’t fit some time in to get to Expo yourself, there is an option to send someone as your proxy to get your bib. That involves having your proxy bring a copy of your photo ID, with your name matching the name attached to the bib. Your proxy should also have a copy of your race day confirmation form. Your race day confirmation form can be found by logging into your NYRR account. This will be available a couple of weeks before the race so don’t panic about having that yet! While this is an option, you will miss all of the fun at the expo!
Know Your Transportation To The Start Line!
This is the first year that the course will start in Brooklyn and end in Manhattan. As such you will have to plan out your traveling plans in order to get to the starting line on time! The race is on a Sunday morning which means New York City subways will be operating with less trains than they usually do during the week. Further, the NYC MTA has a tendency of doing a lot of track work on weekends. This means give yourself lots of commuting time if you will be riding the subways to the race that morning. Last year, New York Road Runners Club released a detailed diagram of Prospect Park and where runners will need to go to enter the starting corrals. Based on that diagram below, it looks like the Q, 4 & 5 trains are the preferred subways to take the start of the race. One important thing to note, even though it is advertised that the race will start in Grand Army Plaza, runners will have to enter the corrals on the other side of the park over by Flatbush Avenue & Empire Blvd. Make note of that and make sure you travel to the right location! Traveling to the Grand Army Plaza station will only make you walk all the way around to the start of the corrals.
Diagram of the starting line for the United NYC half!
One thing that I STRONGLY urge you to do is check out the service advisory section of the MTA website. They are notorious for scheduling track work or other maintenance that can severely affect train service on the weekend. The last thing you want to do is be on your way to the race, only to find out that morning that the train you planned on taking that morning was not working! Plan ahead! To assist with that, the MTA actually has a “Trip Planner” available. This trip planner takes into consideration any service advisories that may be in play that day. I tested this a couple of weeks back when I did my trial run of the course (click here to read my review of the course!). The day I used the Trip Planner, there were service advisories for the subway lines I used that day. The trip planner told me about them and factored them into my traveling time. I got to the starting line to meet my group for the trial run on time with no issues just as the trip planner had planned it out for me! For reference the name of the subway stops you can travel to are in the graphic above. Enter those subway station names into the trip planner along with the station you are traveling from. It works – use it!
Aside from subways, NYC taxi cabs, Uber & Lyft are an option. Just keep in mind, traffic to that area will be heavy. Further street closures in Brooklyn leading up to the park may snarl traffic. Give yourself some time if you plan on taking some form of car service to the start! As for driving yourself, I strongly suggest against it. 25,000 people will be heading to the start area. I tried to park at Prospect Park a few weeks ago for a race that only had 5,000 participants and it was chaos on that day! Imagine having 5 times the number of runners and trying to look for parking! Leave your car at home!
Planning Your Day Before The Race
Many folks will be traveling into New York City specifically for the race. If you are like many of these folks, you might be getting to New York on Thursday, Friday or even Saturday. If you are lucky enough to get in Thursday or Friday, do your moving around the city those days. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held on Saturday March 16th because St Patricks Day falls on a Sunday this year. The Catholic Church will not allow the parade to occur on a Sunday so the parade will be on Saturday instead! With that said, Manhattan is full of parade goers and party goers looking to seek a celebration or two in honor of the famous Irishman! The festivities always seem to end up in an abundance of alcohol being consumed so if you had your heart set on going to a restaurant or bar in Manhattan on this Saturday, just know that it may full of festive party goers enjoying St. Patricks’s Day. Further, getting around town may be tough on the day before the race as the parade route goes right up 5th avenue, smack dab in the middle of Manhattan. As I mentioned, plan your day on Saturday accordingly to work around the St. Patrick’s Day congestion.
There is no question that the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the most popular parade in New York City and one to enjoy if you are ok with having a couple of drinks. But for the person who has trained for weeks in preparation for 13 miles on Sunday, you might want to skip the festivities this year. If you need to unwind with some beverages, seek out hotel bars or lounges who will likely not allow St Patrick’s Day revelers into their establishments. Better yet, by a bottle of wine or a 6 pack and sip comfortably and responsibly in your hotel room if you absolutely must, although personally, I recommend you save it for AFTER the race!
Dressing For The Race & Bag Check
What to wear come race day morning?
Weather in New York City in the month of March is extremely unpredictable. There have been 70 degree days in March and there have been insane snow storms in the month of March. In 2017, the race was run on the heels of a pretty strong snow storm during the week leading up to the race. The temperature at the start of the race was 30 degrees. In 2018 while there was no snow on the ground, the wind chills had the temperature feeling like 20 degrees. While the temperature could be cold at the beginning, it could warm up rather quickly as the race progresses as well. So how does one dress??
I suggest to wear some layers to the race that you will be comfortable parting with. There are close to 25,000 runners competing in the United NYC Half Marathon. This means that the bag check won’t be close to the starting line. In fact if you look at the graphic of the starting area above, the bag check is before you even enter the secure zone. Think hard about what you want to check in and what you will be able to bring with you thru security and to the starting corral. Keep in mind that you can only check in a clear bag. NYRR wants to see the contents contained in your bag. Also, I have confirmed with NYRR that your bag will be transported via courier to the finish line at Central Park so don’t worry about having to come back to Brooklyn to get your stuff! Check your bag in with confidence!
In terms of other items allowed past security, water bottles in excess of one liter will not be allowed. Camelpacks are also not allowed either. To be honest, those likely aren’t even needed. The race course will have a water station just about every mile along with some water stands that will include Gatorade. There is even a “Powebar Gel” station along the Half marathon route!
The security check point will include a metal detector and you will pass thru it like you do at an airport. Your cell phone, keys, money, etc., will go in a dish and then they will wand you and you will go thru a metal detector. All of this means that if you’re checking items into the bag check, you will have to do it early to give yourself enough time to get thru security. This could cause your wait in the corral to be anywhere from 30-60 minutes.
Going back to how you should dress, you will want to stay warm in the corrals for this period of time. This is where the extra layers come into play. Remember, it will be anywhere between 7am – 8am when runners start since there are two waves. Once your wave starts, you can peel a layer or two off and part with them by placing them in one of the several donation bins that will be lining the starting line area. That’s right, you won’t be seeing those items again, so plan accordingly!
Going back to checking in your items at the bag check, one thing to consider when packing your check-in bag, is that it may be cold or rainy this day. Consider packing a dry or warm change of clothes in your check in bag for after the race. The last thing you want to have happen is to be standing around after the race in cold or wet clothes. You can easily duck into a portable john to get out of those wet clothes if you choose after you retrieve your checked in bag. If you despise portable bathrooms like some folks do, you can head over to the New York Road Runners Run Center (320 West 57th street b/w 8th & 9th avenues) which is not too far from the finish line to use some of their changing rooms there.
As of the editing of this article, we are still three plus months away from race day. Its impossible to know the weather but I will update this post a week before the race with the 7 day outlook weather wise and what I would wear to the start that day!
Get To Know The Course
Finally, the course itself! As mentioned earlier, last year New York Road Runners Club decided to change the course route that had been in effect for several years. The race last year started at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and finished in Central Park. The reason for the change is because the race is getting bigger each year and they are looking for a wider course and one that has a larger finish line and finish area. Logistically also, finishing in Central Park allows them to keep the finish area open longer so that runners don’t have to worry about having to finish their race under a certain time.
The course map is just above. If you have run this race before you will notice that this course has a lot more hills than the previous version of it. What make it worse is that a lot of the hills are towards the end of the race. If you look at the elevation chart at the bottom of the below graphic, miles 8 thru the end of the race are a series of climbs most of them which will be in Central Park. Just before that there is a stretch of 7th avenue from 42nd street up until the entrance of Central Park which is all up hill. If this stretch may look familiar to those who have run this race before thats because the race used to run the opposite way down 7th avenue after you exited the park. This year, you are running a slow steady climb for 15 blocks before you get into Central Park! If you haven’t thrown in hill work into your training, now may be the time! For a more comprehensive review of the course, you can read the review I wrote up after I did an actual trial run of the course last year. You can find that article here! I will be doing another trial run of the course now in January and February along with members of We Are NYC Running Club. Check back on this site for more details on when that will be happening!
The Finish Line.
You made it 13.1 miles to the finish in Central Park – CONGRATULATIONS! You’re not done yet! Once you are done with the race, you will still have about a half mile walk. During that walk, family will not be allowed in this half mile are as it is considered a “runners only” area. Family can watch you finish the race during the last mile. See the graphic above and note that they can enter the park on the west side the park via two entrances. They will not be able to meet you however on there other side of the finish line.
Once you have crossed the finish line, you have approximately a half mile walk that will lead you to the southern exit of the park close to Columbus Circle. I highly suggest, that you meet with family away from the park after the race. The area around Columbus Circle will be pure chaos. During your half mile walk you will get your recovery bag, water, and of course, your well deserved medal! There will also be stations set up to take post race pictures with your medals or your friends. Medical tents and bathrooms will be available during this half mile walk as well. It may be a half mile, but trust me, it will pass by really quickly!
Speaking of medals, make sure to get your medals ENGRAVED after the race! I confirmed with NYRR that medal engraving will be available immediately after the race at the NYRR Run Center on Sunday from 10am – 5pm. If you are not in the mood to stand on line to get your medal engraved after the race, medal engraving will also be available at the run center on Monday 3/18 from 12pm – 7pm and on Tuesday 3/19 from 4pm – 7pm. Unfortunately medal engraving is only for NYRR members. However there is nothing stopping you from becoming a NYRR member before the race to not only take advantage of free engraving but to also take part in their future races. Of course as an alternative to all of this, you can also get your medal engraved else where.
I am a stickler for logistics. I put this together because so many of you worked hard to prepare for this race and I don’t want to see you throw it away because you thought you could pick up your bib on race day morning or you took the wrong train to the start or your dressed incorrectly. You deserve better than that! Now go out there are crush this NYC Half Marathon!
If you found this information helpful, then I am glad I could help. As I mentioned earlier, if you happen to be running either the Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon or TCS New York City Marathon, I have similar group discussions going on now. Here is the one for the Brooklyn Half and here is the one for TCS NYC Marathon Why not join these groups and get in on all of the information being exchanged there!
Hi everyone! Hope everyone is having a fantastic start to the spring! Even though the calendar says its spring, it hasn’t felt too warm in New York City. At the time of the writing of this post, New York City is in the midst of yet another Nor’easter!
Thankfully, sub 30 degree temperatures did not stop the almost 22,000 participants that ran the United NYC Half Marathon this past Sunday! For those who have followed my blog, you know that I am a huge fan of this race and I was very skeptical of the new course lay out. I did a trial run of the course about a month ago (read about that here) and thought that the course was a lot more challenging than the previous one. However now that I have actually run the race here’s what I actually thought of the course, along with my personal feelings during that day!
Runners near the start of the race by Grand Army Plaza (photo credit New York Road Runners Club)
The course aimed to be more inclusive of other parts of New York City, so they decided to start the race in Brooklyn, Grand Army Plaza in Central Park to be exact. Let’s stop right there.
In the past, the start of the race was in Central Park with the finish being near downtown, Wall Street. This year’s course required more planning ahead. For those coming in from out of town, the big question became ‘Do I stay close to the start or close to the finish’? To make life easier for some of the followers of this blog as well as my United NYC Half Marathon Facebook group, we actually hired two coach buses to meet us in midtown Manhattan and take us to the start line. While that was a quick fix for about 110 people, there were several others who had to navigate the subway system enroute to the start line, very early on a Sunday morning. For the most part it seems that folks that left early, got to the start line on time. There seemed to be a crowding problem on the train for those that boarded trains close to the start line in Brooklyn. You would think the MTA would put more trains on the lines given 22,000 extra people heading to Brooklyn at this time!
The crowds on the subways enroute to the United NYC Half – Photo Credit Peter Ehler
Once you arrived at the course, the race organizer, New York Road Runners, was on the ball in terms of getting everyone lined up for the race. Prior to the race, they instructed everyone to specifically go to the start of the corrals which was on the opposite side of the park from the actual start line. I think the entry point was perfect. It was convenient from subway stations and close to a major intersection which made it easy for taxi and Uber/Lyft dropoffs to allow passengers to get off quickly and be close to the corral entries. Once there, an abundance of security awaited runners as they would pass a full set of security measures such as metal detectors, clear bags only and the restriction of liquids greater than 1 liter. This year, NYRR put portable bathrooms right in the corrals to make it easy for someone “to go” right before the start of the race. As a matter of fact, with the staggered starts, there were people going to the bathroom even though the race had started because they knew they had time before the stagger reached them! Good move on the part of NYRR to do this!
Portable bathrooms right in the corrals! – Photo Credit: Ericka Gee
One the race stated, racing down Flatbush Avenue was chilly but exhilarating, mostly due to the fact that the first two miles were down hill. The crowds weren’t what I expected but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that it was 7:30am when we were flying down Flatbush Avenue and it was under 30 degrees. Downtown Brooklyn gets a pass for the thin crowds on this one. For the most part, all you could see were the thousands of runners that were taking off with you! I told myself going into this race to take these first two miles easily. Clearly I didn’t listen as I clocked a 7:23 and a 7:27 respectively for the first two miles – so much for that game plan!
The approach to the Manhattan Bridge – Photo Credit: Gail Miranda
As expected, once on the Manhattan Bridge there were no spectators in sight due to security reasons. Going over the bridge was actually very peaceful. After getting over the adrenalin of the start and the first two miles being mostly downhill, this is where the race really started for me. With the rising sun hitting runners from the east, it was a chance to take in the views of the east river and settle in for another 10 miles. For me it was a time to make a decision on how I would run the remainder of race. I wanted to PR, which meant go under 1:50. 1:45 would have been a great day. As I crossed the Manhattan Bridge, the pace group for the 1:40 goal time passed me. I saw them and thought to myself, ‘maybe I could keep up with them?’. To do so would require a pace much faster than than what I was shooting for. As we approached the end of the Manhattan Bridge, they settled in 10 yards in front of me. Keeping them in sight, I was distracted for some time by what I saw as I was coming off the Manhattan Bridge. The bridge left us in the heart of Chinatown. The crowds coming off of the bridge were terrific. I have to be honest, before the race, I didn’t think there would be many spectators in Chinatown but boy was I wrong. The crowds there along with the first Huma gel of the day that I popped provided a nice boost for the next mile as we headed towards the FDR Drive!
Views Of The Manhattan Bridge Portion – Photo By Rose Ormilo
One of the stretches of the race that I was looking forward to was the stretch along the FDR Drive. When I ran a trial run of the course a few weeks back, I was obviously not allowed to go on the FDR drive as there was no way onto it with moving traffic. During my trial run, I noticed that there was some significant elevations on the FDR drive and I wondered how that would feel on race day considering we would be 5 miles into the race by the time we reached the elevations of the FDR Drive. In looking back at the race, the FDR drive was just the beginning of several climbs that we would have to endure from that point on until the end of the race. Also looking back on the race, I enjoyed the scenery of running on the FDR Drive and actually being in the middle of it. It felt almost surreal as you knew that no one actually ever walks or runs on the FDR drive itself.
Running on the FDR Drive – Photo Credit: Lourdes Lawrence
Depending on your pace, most runners would exit the FDR Drive at 42nd street exit ramp just as a car would that was exiting the FDR. The FDR drive however was a topic of debate for runners who started at the back of wave 2. According to some runner’s accounts, some of the late starters were not even allowed on the FDR Drive because they had to re-open it to vehicular traffic. Instead they were asked to run along the promenade that runs parallel to the FDR Drive. For the most part this works as a good alternative however there weren’t race officials to tell runners were to get off of the promenade. The promenade comes to a dead end at some point north of 34th street and never makes it all the way to 42nd street. Runners were under the impression that they could go all the way up to 42nd street on the promenade and then continue east along the remainder of the race course. Unfortunately, this was not the case and frustrated runners encountered the dead end and had to reverse back to 34th street to exit the promenade and make their way to 42nd street to pick up the official race course. This was a major miscue on the part of NYRR! Hopefully something they will learn for future races that run this course!
Running Thru Times Square – Photo Credit: Rose Ormillo
Regardless of how you made it to 42nd street, the race continued west along the wide stretch which included an uphill until you ran past Fifth Avenue. Much to my dismay, there weren’t as many spectators on 42nd street. Most of them seemed to be tourists who were uninterested in the runners passing by them. One thing that I noticed on 42nd. street was the way that NYRR handled the power gel distribution. Just after mile 7, NYRR decided to distribute Power Bar gels to all of the runners. In my opinion the way they were distributed was horrible. They simply placed the gel packets on the table for runners to grab. Runners however seemed to have been grabbing one and knocking one off of the table as well because by the time I got to the table, there were several gel packets already on the floor, most of them which had been stepped on and exploded making the path to the gel table a dicey and treacherous one. If NYRR wants to give out gel packets, bravo! But how about you drop one in the bag along with the race shirt when you distribute them at the expo? The way it was done on Sunday was a mess and I am sure that several runners in the back of the pack may not have been able to get one. While I did grab one, I tossed it just after I got to Central Park. The packet weighed a ton compared to the Huma ones I had. I regret even grabbing it off of the table on 42nd street.
Speaking of 42nd street, the race turned north once we approached 7th avenue. The crowds were vibrant and loud when we got to this part of the race. As I was running along 42nd street, I could see the 1:40 pace group turning north on 7th avenue. Trying to keep them in sight, I was motivated and sped up when I myself reached 7th avenue despite the fact that the stretch on 7th avenue was another uphill until we reached Central Park. My mile split for this mile was the fastest of the race – 7:00 and that 1:40 pace group was still in sight! As we approached Central Park I spotted Tana, one of our We Run NYC Running Club members who didn’t get to run the race. She was holding up a cheer sign for us! God Bless her because 7th avenue was a wind tunnel and yet she remained out there supporting us! The motivation worked because I entered Central Park feeling strong and ready to conquer the hills that awaited.
Tana Supporting We Run NYC Running Club! Photo Credit: Maritza Santos
Even though I have trained in Central Park, it still had its way with me. With 4 miles left to go as we entered Central Park, I went in strong and positive but that quickly wore off as we approached Cat Hill. This tells me that I was purely running off of adrenalin on 7th avenue. I’ve run Cat Hill hill before and never had issues with it but on this day, I think I might have expended too much energy in the parts leading up to here as I was chasing the 1:40 pace group. Approaching the end of mile 11 just before the 102nd street traverse, I finally lost the 1:40 pace group and never saw them the rest of the race. I was tired and I knew I still had 2 more miles to go. At this point I was just thinking to myself, ‘You ran 8 miles over your head with the 1:40 pace group at roughly 7:37 per mile, just hold it together and get thru these last two miles!’.
Making the turn onto the 102nd street traverse we came upon a water stop. I took one last shot of Gatorade at this water station in hopes that it would get me to the finish strong. Next came the turn off of the 102nd street traverse and onto Central Park west. We were met with a long uphill right away. I was familiar with this uphill and knew that it was a long one. Mentally I was shot. I felt my legs buckle as I tried to push forward. Other than early on in the 3rd mile where we climbed the Manhattan Bridge, mile 12 would be my slowest mile at 8:13. I thought to myself, you ran too fast this whole race to give it all back now. Knowing the worst was behind me hill wise, except for maybe one more small hill, the 13th mile was all guts and glory. If I could personally thank all of the spectators that lined that last mile I would because they got me thru that last mile. From running an 8:13 mile in mile 12 to finishing with a 7:21 mile in mile 13, it’s been a while since I was so happy to see a finish line! I saw the 800m marker and forgot about the fatigue and just went for it. Final time 1:41:41. That’s a full 10 minutes knocked off of my previous personal record. Finishing in Central Park was tough, but I liked it. Actually in looking back, the whole race from the FDR drive til the end was tough , but it was a good scenic and challenging course and I can’t wait to do it again.
My official results from NYRR!
Overall, I enjoyed this course more than the previous version. I came across a lot of people that ran personal records on this course and all of them thought it would be a harder course. Is it actually an easier course? I can tell you there are a lot of hills. Did the scenery make tit all go by faster? Was it the cold?
If you ran the race, what do you think? How was your United NYC Half experience – share in the comments below!
United NYC Half Complete – New course gets a thumbs up!
March and the United NYC Half Will Be Here Before You Know It!
The calendar says that it is only November but I already have the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon on my mind. I ran the 2017 version of the race earlier this year and while I know I have not run the full New York City Marathon, I can tell you that the United NYC Half was a lot of fun and I was very impressed with the organization and promoting done for the race.
This year, they have decided to change the course up and make this a true New York City Half Marathon. In previous years, the race was run exclusively in Manhattan. This year, the race is starting in Brooklyn, and going over the Manhattan Bridge and into Manhattan up the east side, thru Times Square and ultimately ending in Central Park. Many people have expressed their excitement over the new course as it gives the race a mini feel of the New York City Marathon.
New Course Starts The Race In Brooklyn & Ends It in Manhattan!
One thing that I do remember about the 2017 NYC Half was the vibe that I felt days before the race at the expo, before the race on race day and of course during the race itself. I realized running this race, that there is a strong running community out there. When you come across another runner, you can usually engage in lots of conversation. Soon you find that some of your concerns, your excitements and other feelings that you thought were unique to you, are actually shared by other people.
So in the spirit of the running community, I decided to start a Facebook group that is dedicated to the 2018 version of the United NYC Half. The group is closed but just request to join the group and you will be allowed in. You can find that group here – 2018 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon. I started this because I remember getting ready for the race and not knowing what to expect, not knowing where to go, not knowing what to wear and so many other things. Now as a returning runner, I still have questions running thru my head about this race. Clearly this group can serve as a benefit to any runner so hopefully I will see you in the group if you are indeed running the race.
The group belongs to all those running the race, its not just my group. If you have a question or comment – fire away! Hope to see and meet some new faces running the 2018 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon!