Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2014 NYC Half Marathon

I still am in complete disbelief that I ran the 2014 NYC Half Marathon. The race was truly my dream come true. My new favourite race distance in my all time favourite city!

We picked up our race gear (bibs, chips, free shirt, guide and Chapstick) at the expo late Friday night. I also purchased a training top and long sleeve "finishers" tshirt since they weren't going to be selling anything at the finish line. I also found a medal hanger for the wall in my gym and a fun sparkly head band. 

The night before the race Katie, Tawnya, Courtney and I went carb loading. Court's Auntie had recommended an Italian place in Little Italy. We walked in and heard loud talking, laughter and accents. We knew we'd found a gem 

The atmosphere wasn't the only thing that was amazing; the food, was incredible! I had a lot (5ish) pieces pf fresh bread and butter and a huge plate of spaghetti! The other girls had wine but I skipped it as I always do the week of a race. They even left the bottle on our table so they could fill up if they wanted and top them off, at the end of the meal, for free. Court and Tawnya also had "the most delicious" dessert ever! We even got serenaded "New York, New York" by their in-house performer!

We left with full bellies and hearts!

We arrived home from supper late and nervously talked about the race. I finally fell asleep around 11 after laying out all my stuff for the next morning.

The alarms went off at 4:30am. We had arranged for a wake up call and Katie and I had both set the alarms on our phone just in case. I popped out of bed very excited and still a little nervous. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to crack 2 hours!

After getting dressed, Katie and I are some bread and peanut butter (race day staple!) said goodbye to Court and Tawnya and headed downstairs around 5:15am

We spent the next hour and 15 minutes waiting around, nervously chatting and using the bathroom multiple times!

I had to be in my corral by 7:30 so our plan was to start walking to Central Park around 6:30. We had to enter at separate entrances to the park so Katie and I hugged goodbye (I teared up of course) and headed our separate ways.

The lineup to go through security was long but only took about 15 minutes.

Same with the bathrooms! A volunteer kept walking down the line pounding on doors telling people to hurry up haha!

I made it to my corral with 10 minutes to spare before it closed at 7:30. I spent the next 15 minutes FREEZING! It was cold! (-1) but felt worse because of the wind. I had a throw away sweater (thanks Jarod!) but was only wearing a tank top and run sleeves underneath. They wheeled by the goodwill donation bin at 7:40 and I thought that meant I had to throw my sweater in then so I spent the next 13 minutes before I crossed the starting line freezing!

In fact, the first three miles were tough. My whole body was cold and I was miserable. My frozen feet made it feel like I wasn't running properly! It took me 3 miles to feel somewhat warm again.

Cat Hill, which I was dreading in mile 1, turned out to be fairly easy which made me happy and the only real pain was the congestion and then the turn around in mile 3. I stuck mostly to the outside and dodged people when I could. 

I ran behind a girl wearing a cancer shirt for her dad. That made me cry. I also cried two other times because I felt so lucky and grateful to be there.

Mile 4 I was feeling warmer and ready for the dreaded Harlem Hill. It was a little tough but not bad! 

Mile 5 I remembered I should probably be looking around and enjoying the view so I pulled out my camera and tried to take a photo (which I apparently deleted?!) then I saw a huge group of people holding signs for someone's mom and cried again. My only regret is not looking around at the sights and scenery in the park enough! The spectators along the way were awesome though! I loved all the signs and the encouragement. It made me run faster, smile and forget about how hard I was pushing myself!! Mile 3-5 definitely felt like they flew by!

Mile 6 I prepared to leave the park. I was ready to hit Times Square and finally see Tawnya and Court who I knew were waiting for me!

The best part of the race for me was leaving the park and turning on to 7th (Times Square!) I didn't realize how quiet it was in the park until I left and heard the roar of the crowd. I started tearing up again as I was completely overcome with emotion. I only had to go 5 blocks before I saw Court and Tawnya! Seeing them there was so special! I blew them kisses and waved as I ran by. It meant so much to have them there watching!!! 
Mile 7-8 was my fastest mile of the race because of their encouragement and the absolute THRILL of running down Times Square!!

After Times Square, we headed down the West Side highway. It was along the water and quite cold and windy. Thankfully, it was also flat. There were quite a few people along the way and then a few cheering sections with bands and large crowds at certain points. The course after the Park was nice and wide so I never felt squished. I was able to run my race. I stayed along the edge and avoided water stations as they were congested and littered with cups.

Mile 11.5 things got congested again as we headed towards the underpass. I tried to sprint to pass people when I could but had to slow down a few times.

We hit the tunnel at Mile 12 and as we entered everyone started hooting and hollering! It was so cool! We knew we were almost finished. It was very dark in there so in glad I took my glasses off.

When the tunnel ended, we ran up a slight hill (to more cheering) and then I saw the 800m sign and started to get really excited. There were mile markers with time clocks but it was hard to know what my time was going to be because I had started approximately 20 minutes after the clock had (because I was in the second Wave and 15th Corral!) I knew I was going to be in under 2 hours but thought I may break my "secret" goal of 1:55!

When I saw the 400 meter sign I started running faster than I ever have. I felt like I was bionic woman! I was moving so fast! I looked around but couldn't see Tawnya or Court so I just sprinted! I passed the finished line and threw my hands up in the air! I was so proud and so happy! I was tired but not exhausted!

The first things I did was chug water and then I checked my NYC Half app. I had subscribed to "track" myself so I wanted to see my finish time. When I saw it I was in disbelief and so unbelievably happy!

1:54:14!!! A PR!!! 

All those months of hard work, long runs, pushing myself, going to bed early, eating well and sacrificing time with my family had paid off! I had crushed my goal!!! My first half I did in 2:09:20 so I had taken 15 minutes off my time in 6 months!

Runners had to walk down a really long chute before we could be reunited with family and friends. I grabbed my medal, posed for a few pics, picked up my runners cape and started following the crowds towards the exit.

Court and Tawnya hadn't been able to make it to the finish area in time to see me finish (which was fine because it was so packed anyway!) so I quickly made my way into the recovery centre and spent 10 minutes stretching while I waited for them.

While I was stretching I checked my tracker on Katie. She was killing it and I couldn't wait for her to finish so I could give her a big hug!

I also received so many calls and texts from people who had woken up early to track me! It meant so much to hear how much support I have and how proud people are. I have the best family and friends!

I was reunited with Court and Tawnya and we headed inside the Staten Island Terminal to wait for Katie. She finished in 2:25:58!!

The NYC half was, hands down, my best race and I would absolutely love to do it again! I will never forget the race and my experience! 

1 comment:

  1. Aw geez. This made me tear up to read. So awesome you got to do your dream race and crush an amazing PR too. So cool!