After my 2 fall half marathons, I was on a runner’s high when the idea of a spring half marathon in New York came up. It would be a chance to run Manhattan and to visit with Andrea and Will. I entered the lottery for the New York Road Runner’s March half marathon, assuming I wouldn’t get in. But I did!
So the training began in January. This was a tough winter to train for a March half. The cold doesn’t bother me, I’ll run in any temperature we get in DC. But the snow and the continued cold, made finding clear trails to run distances was a challenge. As was my 12 mile run a couple of weeks ago. 11 degrees at 5 am, I set out with water in a Camelbak backpack. I got a little water at 2 miles, but the water froze solid in the tube, no more to drink.
I might have missed one or two runs all winter, but I got in all my distance runs and, despite being a little slower in the cold, was happy with my training.
So March 15, we were off to New York. We decided to drive to make it easier to get up and back without being on a schedule. So we pointed the Prius north and drove to New York Saturday morning.
We were staying in one of the race hotels, the Millenium Hotel in the financial district. We checked in and were amazed at our view of the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 memorial.
After checking in, we took off walking towards the race expo to pick up my race packet. We loved all the people, shops, restaurants and residences along the way. We needed to eat, so we stopped at the Washington Square Diner for a quick lunch. Loved the New York-y feel, the clientele made me feel like we were in a Woody Allen movie.
We walked up to 18th Street and the race expo. It was well organized, but small with not all that much of interest. Back to walking, we passed a Greenwich Village fire station with a shrine to their lost 9/11 firefighters.
We had tickets for the 9/11 memorial. While we were long gone from New York in 2001, Ellen had worked at 140 Broadway and I worked at the American Express Tower for years, so we knew the area quite well, in fact commuting via Path in and out of the Trade Center for years. Andrea and Will joined us. We now have visited 9/11 memorials in New York, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville.
The memorials in the footprint of the towers had the names of those lost around the outside, and water falling along the perimeter, which led to a square in the center where the water disappeared into the center. I was overwhelmed with a sense of falling, of the towers themselves and the jumpers.
A brief return trip to the hotel (and Ellen got a visit in to her favorite department store, Century 21), and then we we walked to Little Italy for dinner. Andrea had chosen the restaurant, Da Nico Restorante, and it did not disappoint.
We all had various pastas, with a white pizza as an appetizer. And on the house, a zeppole plate! Andrea and Will headed back to Columbia, we walked back to the hotel. Early to bed, with the race in the morning!
I got up at 5, ate and showered. Staying in a race headquarters hotel, busses were provided up to Central Park. That was the good news. The bad news was they left at 5:45, which got us up the race start at 6. My wave started at 8:10. It was 30 degrees with 20-30mph wind. There was no where to go and nothing to do. I should have taken the subway up myself later, it was difficult to just stand in the cold for 2 hours. But eventually the time passed and it was time to get in my corral. Race really well organized, so you got in by race number, so even within waves there was seeding by time.
Finally, it was 8:10 and we were off! The race started at 72nd Street on the east side in Central Park. We headed north to 110th, and then came down on the west side of the park. I was aiming for a 2:15-2:20 time, but was running by myself and not really paying attention to pacing. Ellen, Andrea and Will had arranged to meet me around 69th on the west side, about 5.5 miles into the race. They were just where I expected, Andrea with her tradional “Let’s go, Popsy!” sign. I handed off my gloves, and got half of an Absolute Bagel in return. A good swap!
We ran to the southern end of the park, then exited at 7th Avenue. Immediately, you had a view of the electronic signs in Times Square. It was exciting to run there, we were told that Times Square closes only twice a year: for New Year’s Eve and this race.
For the only time during the race, I took out my phone to take a picture and a video. It was definitely the highlight of the race. Here’s a link to the video I shot.
We turned west down 42nd Street, and ran into a solid headwind coming from the west and off the Hudson. I was glad I had trained during the windy days, I was ready for it. We got to the West Side Highway and headed south. The wind was either from the side or behind the rest of the way.
Nothing to do but run south. My support team was aiming to meet me again at 12th Street. That became the focus of my running, if only I could keep going, I would see them. I knew they were dependent on the subway to get there. I learned later it was a frantic effort, but Andrea and Will were there, Ellen had encouraged them to run ahead. Meant so much to me to see them, I greatly appreciated it.
I kept going, fixating on the Freedom Tower ahead. It took awhile to get there, given how far away you could see it. I enjoyed running past American Express, the WTC memorial again. We were at 11 miles, not too much further to go. I thought about all the training runs I had done, running in cold, wind, getting up early. I leaned on that to finish. We entered the Battery Park tunnel and exited at 20K (12.4 miles). Soon a sign said 800 meters to go. Ran awhile, then it was 400M. We turned on Water Street, and the finish line was in sight. I finished at 2:16:22, a time I was fine with given the conditions and my “speed” this winter running in the cold. Got the medal, a heat blanket and a bag of food. We had to walk about half a mile to exit, in the shade, strong wind coming off the water. My hands were freezing. It was the wrong direction too, we had to walk all the way to the South Street Ferry entrance before we exited and could turn back towards the hotel.
I slogged along, never so happy to eventually make it to the hotel and warmth. Showered, packed and we got the car to head home.
The weekend was wonderful, we loved being back in New York, walking, being urban, seeing the kids, eating well and the race went well. Think we’ll try to do it again next year.