2011 Manhattan Half Race Report

So an a total aside that I briefly mentioned in my last post, I ran the Manhattan Half Marathon on Saturday.  I signed up for it on a whim a few weeks ago when the website said that it was nearly capacity and to SIGN UP NOW.  I guess they took a hint from Boston and decided to post that to get people into a frenzy to register…wait, bad plan.  Moving on.

I ran a half marathon on Saturday.  Despite my fairly established marathoning career (I suppose six marathons means I know a thing or two, not sure beyond that), my half marathoning career is limited to a single half marathon ran just after my freshman year of college.  My high school cross country friend (hi Katie!) and I decided to run a half marathon, and when the time came, neither of us had really been training for it…oops?  We showed up and ran the whole thing together and finished in about 2:02.  It was fun and her sprinter legs beat me by a few seconds! 

Needless to say, much is to be learned about the half marathon.  Or shorter races in general.  I have a tendency to only run in marathons sooo I had no idea what to expect out of a half marathon.  My main goal was to see how running 7:16s for an extended time would feel, as my new goal marathon time is 3:10.  I’m admittedly becoming more and more nervous about announcing that to the world, as that’s fast!  I would have preferred dropping to 7:00 for a little more confidence, but who knows.  Certainly not me.  So goal pace was 7:00-7:10 in 14 degrees weather. 

Oh yeah, did I mention it was cold?  Because it was.  Friday night was spent fending off thoughts of “we’re going to freeze to death!” on twitter, with people debating how many layers to wear.  Being from Chicago, the cold doesn’t totally freak me out, so I went with a pair of tights on the bottom and two long sleeve shirts and a tshirt on top.  I’ve run in sub-zero, 14 degrees has nothing on me.

I got my butt out of bed on Saturday morning and told myself I was nuts before heading on over to Central Park.  Since I only live about a mile away, I slogged (slogged = slow jog) over, in part to warm up the legs and in part to keep myself warm.  Being my first NYRR race longer than a mile (I did the First Ave Mile in the fall), I wasn’t totally sure what to expect, but I found bag check without a problem and unwillingly took off my sweatshirt and second pair of pants.  Found the bathroom, then headed over to the corrals.

I saw the sign for the red bibs (second corral woo woo) and jumped in to find my favorite NYC packer fan who greeted me with “Bears suck!” while wearing a Hawaiian shirt.  Love it.  I realized a little too late that I had jumped in the back of the red corral, but my attempts to move up failed sooo I just held my place.  After a quick Star Spangled Banner (thank you for not drawing that out, I love the country, but it was cold!), we were off!  What had I gotten myself into??

Loop 1:  Miles 1-6
Mile Splits:  7:08, 6:59, 6:42, 7:00, 6:59, 6:43

I was attempting to go fast from the start, especially since the race started with a little downhill, but I ended up weaving a bit and going around a lot of people, so it wasn’t the smartest start ever.  However, I finally got into a spot of my own and could hold pace for a little bit.  It was hard to tell how fast I was running since people were all around, but I didn’t feel like I was moving too fast and for lack of any poetic wording, it felt good.  I’ve run in Central Park plenty of times (understatement of the year), so I knew the course and knew where the hills and downhills are, so I tried to use that to my advantage.  (I’m sure everyone else was just as familiar…)  Miles four and five were back in the hills in Harlem, which I knew would be tough, but I powered through them on the first loop just telling myself to keep pace with the other runners.  Not too shabby.  I knew Erica and Baker would be by 72nd St during mile six, so that was a bit motivator.  My face was a bit frozen by the time I got to them, and I can only imagine what it sounded like when I screamed and waved at them.  Yay for crazy friends who come out in freezing weather!  Erica snapped this lovely butt shot:

Totally chicking that guy.

As I came back through the starting area, the announcer said something like, “And these runners are coming through at about 7:00 pace!”  Why not.  Onto lap two!

Lap 2, Part A:  Miles 7-9
Mile Splits:  7:02, 7:01, 6:48

Onto lap two, where I’d seen everything before and settling and keeping pace was the same of the game.  I still didn’t feel like I was pushing and I knew that I just need to keep a move on.  Garmin got a bit wacky on me so I couldn’t tell my pace all the time (I really need to learn to run by feel, gah), so I just moved on my way and apparently was doing fine with pace.  I had friend cheering just before mile 7 (non-runner, you’re crazy!), which was on the uphill on the lower east part of the park, so a good spot for motivation.  Also a good spot for this picture:

IMG_1837 Awesome running form.

Let’s zoom in on that beauty.

image I don’t look like death, so I’m assuming I was having a good time.

Back to my actual running.  I conquered Cat Hill (woo woo!) and the rest of the east side.  No worries, moving along.  Feeling fine.  Annnnnd then we hit Loop 2, Part B:

Loop 2, Part B:  Miles 10-11
Mile Splits:  7:15, 8:04

I’ll make this quick because the running part certainly wasn’t.  The hills in Harlem got me this time.  I was at the bottom of it and was having trouble motivating myself to get up it with any sort of speed.  That being said, many others were following suit so it wasn’t too terrible, but ohhhhhh that was not fun.  I suppose I know what I need to work on.  I ran into Megan, a runner friend who I helped pace during a 60k in November, at the bottom of the hill and just couldn’t keep up.  She was also about ten-fifteen seconds ahead of me for about five miles earlier in the race, but I couldn’t get up there.  Next time I need to find her at the start!

Loop 2, Part C:  Miles 12-13.1
Mile Splits:  7:15, 7:09, 1:39 (6:49 pace, assuming this part was 0.24 miles…go garmin)

I finally got back into gear on a downhill after I realized that I only had two miles left to go!  Hurry up, Susan!  I spotted Erica and Baker again at 72nd St for a nice pick-me-up and hurried on my way.  I always enter the park at 72nd St (on the east side), so finishing off with the lower loop was mentally easier because it’s always how my loops end.  Plus, there’s a nice downhill portion on the west side sooo you can’t beat that.  I gave up on looking at my garmin and just kept pushing myself to get to the finish…those earlier miles were catching up to me and I could feel it in my legs.  Somewhere on the east side some guy ran by me and said, “Let’s go!”  So we did.  Passed crazy non-runner buddy around mile 12.7-ish who snapped this photo of concentration:

IMG_1841 To the finish!

image I never said I’m an attractive runner.  Here we go!

Made the turn onto the 72nd St Transverse and into the finish!  My garmin read 1:33:55, which was about as close as you can get to my later posted official time of 1:33:54.  Well, that’s a bit of a PR over my last half marathon.  :)

Official Results

13.1 miles in 1:33:54, avg pace of 7:10
Overall Place:  361/4359  (Top 8.2%)
Female Place:  31/1688  (Top 1.8%)
Age Group Place:  17/522  (Top 3.2%)


Yikes!  I can run fast!  I never felt like this pace was too fast (okay, minus the hills on my 8:04 mile where I just dragged long), but I was happy with my ability to come back and run a good pace at the end.  I certainly didn’t have another 13.1 miles at the pace in me, but perhaps if I drop the sub-seven miles I’d be able to be better at pacing throughout a longer race.  This definitely gave me a lot more confidence in my ability to run faster over a longer period of time, especially with no tapering or race specific training.  I’ll take it.

Random thought #1:  SO COLD.  We’re all insane.

Random thought #2:  I know two people who ran times similar enough to me that we should have run together.  Megan, as I mentioned above, and Eissa.  Next time I need some better plan to run with these ladies!

Random thought #3:  Just because someone looks like Josh doesn’t mean it is Josh.  I yelled, “Josh!” three times to the same guy…who apparently wasn’t Josh.  But he was nice enough to wave back at me.

Random thought #4:  Perhaps I should do more shorter races, who knows how fast I can run?

Random thought #5:  MARATHON IN TWO MONTHS AHHH.

Post Run Brunch

After the half, a bunch of us crazy enough to run headed to brunch at Elsewhere, organized by Erika.  It’s pretty new and quite delicious!  The atmosphere was delightful as we sat in a room with a real tree that actually dropped leaves on us throughout our meal.  My quiche was super tasty, as were the potatoes, although I will mention that hot coffee hit the spot after such a chilly race.  I had a great time catching up with runners and discussing snot rockets while refueling.  If you’re looking for a brunch spot, you should definitely check it out!

Look at those sweaty, well-fueled runners!

Post Manhattan Half Brunch

  Mushroom, leek, and fontina cheese quiche, for the win!

Ah brunch, you are glorious.

That’s a half marathon wrap!  Thanks for reading, and double thanks to those wackos who ran and cheered!

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  1. says

    Excellent recap Susan! You looked incredible out there… made it look easy! Happy to have gotten a butt shot of you. Would’ve preferred your face but you were too freakin fast 😉

  2. says

    Nice report! Your stride is super long and very impressive to this tall girl. Glad you enjoyed brunch and talk of snot rockets. lol

  3. says

    Wish I’d spotted you (I was running the opposite way of everyone during the race) but fabulous job!! I think CP is a good test of pace b/c it may be familiar but it’s not flat & the ups/downs simulate a variety of course conditions. Is Boston your next full?

  4. says

    DANG WOMAN!!! You are one speed demon!! I am so happy for you!! 30 minutes off of your last 1/2 marathon!! You are amazing and you look so so good in your pictures!! You will totally get that 3:10 marathon….I am guessing a 3 hour marathon for you! GREAT JOB!

  5. says

    So if you’re trying to get rid of those sub-7 miles, I’ll take them! I’m in the market for some speed…

  6. says

    Awesome race Susan! You’re surely speedy, and take awesome pictures during races! I especially like the 1st one, I’ll have to try that on my next race.

  7. says

    Niiiice work, Susan! That is a very speedy half-marathon, and you got some great photos as evidence. 😀

  8. says

    Wicked fast! I love the halfs because of that. The perfect distance. It looks freezing. I would have been crying from coldness. haha.
    Great job girl!

  9. says

    What a great recap! It sounds like you had a great time running your second half! You are such a fast mama!!!!!!!!!

  10. says

    Now that? Is probably the biggest PR of your life. Savor it, ha! But seriously, you ran a darn fast race on a coooooooold day. Those Harlem Hills beat down almost everyone (and make the half a slowish race), so I bet you could easily go sub-1:30 in a flatter, less Siberian race.

  11. says

    Nice recap! And love your post on “chicking.” I recently covered this topic as well. I have a shirt that says “I Run Like a Girl” on the back. :)

  12. says

    You are AMAZING! Congratulations on such a great race! And a huge PR! :) I can’t believe you did that on such a cold day, too. You’re definitely going to rock this marathon.

    It’s funny reading your thoughts during the half because I’ve actually only ever done one half marathon in my life and it was a very similar experience. I had no idea how fast I could go so I just RAN…and when my last few miles were faster than my first few, I realized I maybe should’ve gone faster. After I finished I realized I had had such a fun time that I declared I was never ever going to run a marathon again. Clearly that declaration didn’t last long (haha). But it does make me want to do more speedy races.

    Congrats again. I loved reading this recap and seeing those pictures. Priceless. :)

  13. says

    wooooo! love that you were flying and feelin’ great doing it!! i haven’t done a race in 2011 yet… man, everyone is killing me with their ’11 recaps.. i need to sign up for one pronto!

  14. says

    Wow Susan congrats on an awesome race! You really kicked some serious booty. And I love your pictures. Seriously they crack me up!

  15. says

    I 100% agree with you: you should run more shorter races. I want to see what sort of insane times you can run! Congrats on an awesome half. :)

  16. says

    You are SO speedy….great racing!! I do think that you could get a faster 1/2 time on a flatter course + more even pacing :> Thanks for the race report and pix.

  17. Katie says

    Hi Susan!!!!! And when the time came??? We decided a week before hand to run the half hahaha. And we beat the St Charles Track girls so that is all that matters :)

  18. Lillian says

    Great post! I’ve been looking for the effective gear to improve my runs and stumbled upon militarygradenutritionals.com/blog/. A lot of their articles are dedicated to military and the ways of supporting your body under the extreme conditions. The things they write about nutrition could be useful for everyone who goes to the gym. I am following their advices and my results are improving.

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