Ah, the 13.1 New York. I have such a love-hate relationship with this race.
Honestly, I hate it. The course sucks. The on course support is only ok. And the weather seems to be iffy every year.
But, three years in a row I’ve run this race. And 3 years in a row I’ve gotten a new PR. (I think it’s largely due to how much the course sucks and just wanting the darn race to be over with – faster I run, the faster I’m done!)
The two nice things about this race are 1) it’s local, so no crazy early morning wake up call and 2) I’ve been able to meet up with friends running the race every year. In 2012 I met up with my friend Alex, last year I ran the race with Daniel and Pat and this year Kellie and I met up before the start of the race!
I have to admit that going into this race I wasn’t expecting or planning to try to run for a PR time. So before you hate me for being one of those people who “didn’t mean to PR” let me explain exactly what my plan was (because believe it or not, there was a plan).
After being inspired by my friend Christine’s amazing half marathon PR and watching all her hard work following a training plan pay off, I decided I was going to spend a few weeks following a plan, doing speed work and working towards a goal race for a PR attempt.
I’m basing my plan off the Run Less, Run Faster book. Basically you choose your realistic goal time and training plan off a race prediction table based on a recent 5k or 10k race time. Well since I’ve never actually run a 5k or 10k for time (Disney races aside since those definitely weren’t an accurate race time reflection) I decided I’d go out fast for this half and just see how long I could hold a hard (for me) pace. I figured from there I’d get an accurate idea of what pace I could use for a 5k or 10k time on the race predictor chart.
Yes, I realized this is an incredibly stupid plan. Yes, I realize the rest of my race could completely suck if I was totally spent after just 10k. No, this is not a plan recommended by anyone who knows anything about running. No, you probably should not follow this race day plan.
So, there we were at the starting line, me and my not-so-smart race day strategy…
…the National Anthem played and as we crossed the staring line I wished Kellie a good race and we parted ways.
Did I mention the part of the plan where I decided I would run on feel and only look at my Garmin as I passed each mile marker?
So I took off at a comfortably hard pace. I had no idea what that pace was until I got to mile 1…8:29. Oops. That was definitely faster than I had in mind. My previous half PR pace was 9:05 min/mile so I was thinking more around 9 min/mile for my “run hard” part of the race.
I tried to rein in the pace a little, but kept running fairly hard. I was surprised to see the miles ticking away all under 9 min/mile and I got to the 10k split with a 8:45 min/mile average.
Now that I had my 10k pace to plug into my training plan I gave myself permission to slow down at any time.
But I had kind of been pacing myself off this guy in front of me in a bright red shirt and I think I had sort of locked into autopilot following the red shirt and I just kept going…
By the way, did I mention this course sucks?
We basically ran this crappy winding loopy mess (below) twice.
We ran up and over a small (but brutal) overpass and then back up and over going back. And then did it again on the second loop. That damn overpass sucks.
We ran through a gross muddy area where the lake had flooded (twice) and then had to jump up this big curb to avoid another flooded area (again, twice).
All the while I kept the red shirt in my view. I tried to avoid doing any mental math figuring out my time if I kept up this pace, I really wanted to be ok with backing off if it felt like too much at any point since I really hadn’t trained for this.
I kept running hard. The miles ticked by. I cursed the damn overpass. I splashed through the mud. And the red shirt was still there.
At the mile 12 marker I finally did the math and realized that even if I slowed to a walk for this last mile I’d most likely still end up with a PR.
I think I was giggling to myself the last half mile since the whole thing was kind of ridiculous. As I turned down the home stretch I could see the clock counting towards 1:55 and figured, what the heck, may as well go for it.
With a final kick I crossed the finish line in 1:54:42.
An 8:45 min/mile pace and 4 minute 23 second PR.
Well that was unexpected.
I learned a lot during this race though. I plan on writing a separate post about it, but basically I realized that sometimes I need to push myself out of my comfort zone. When I do I often surprise myself with what I’m capable of…like running 13.1 miles, ALL of them under 9 minute miles. Who knew!?
Oh, and I found the guy in the red shirt after the race and thanked him for his unofficial pacing services!