Let me preface this entry by admitting, the training for this year’s half is not recommended for all. I would agree with what some of you might say right away after reading, the likelihood of injury may be higher vs. a proper running regimen in front of a 13.1 mile run. But alas, I survived to live another day and my tale of a personal best of 1.54 will live on for generations to come! Or until my next half in June.
I ran my first half and only half marathon three years ago at the urging of my sister. She lives in Colorado and thought it would be a great bonding experience for us. I agreed and trained for 6 months on the treadmill and outside as the months warmed. I dreaded every second of it but being a man that refuses to quit at anything once my mind is set, I powered through. I ran 2.00.18. It felt like an eternity and I vowed that would be my last long run. Ever.
Two years have gone by. I quit working out in the gym as I was introduced to the fitness boutique scene. For those that follow my where-abouts, I can be found any day of the week Cross-Training at SoulCycle, Barry’s Bootcamp, Chaise23 and SLT with some others in the mix, Revolve, Refine and Remorca as of late. My weeks vary but for the most part I’m working out nine, maybe 10 times a week and that’s with an off-day. I love my Sunday triples like none-other.
It was some time back I ran into my good friend Mariella-Dawn at Barry’s Bootcamp who was leaning towards running this year’s half. She was a bit hesitant so doing what I do best, I vowed that if she agreed to run, I would too. That’s all it took apparently! Here’s where it gets interesting as for the training portion of this write-up. My running preparation, the treadmill or outside portion, none-existent. I ran outside once which I will touch on in a minute. My addictive personality just didn’t allow me to miss a class at one of my beloved boutiques across the city. I knew what I was doing was running blasphemy but I couldn’t help myself. Missing Joey, Noah or Rebecca at Barry’s to run on a treadmill for an hour? Not a chance. Missing a Charlee Partee, LB Survivors or Sydney on Sunday’s to hit the pavement wasn’t even an option. But I was going to run this race. And run I did!
THE WEEK PRIOR TO
Monday I finally decided to test the waters. Now as I previously mentioned, I work-out anywhere from seven or eight to eleven, maybe even twelve times a week. But alas, if I was going to run outside on pavement for 13 miles I needed to see what I could handle. So run I went. My goal was seven miles. I live in Battery Park City so the running path was the last leg of the half anyway. I ran up to 40th street and back. About seven miles. And I survived with absolutely no aches or pains as a result. Mentally this is exactly what the Dr. ordered. To say I was a bit pensive about running Sunday’s half would be under-statement of the year. I don’t get nervous. An unfortunate character flaw but I’m no idiot and knew there was risk. Tuesday I took my first Refine Method class with Brynn Jinnett to get in a full body workout, stretch the quads, work the core. Friday I took Abigail Effron’s SoulCycle Community Ride and I ended the week Saturday with an appearance at Remorca Fitness Studio with the lovely Nedra Lopez. The normal person would say that’s quite a week of workouts. Not to those that know me. This was my quiet week, my tune-up into the run!
Saturday evening I kept myself busy by agreeing to DJ Barry’s Bootcamp St. Patricks Dance Party with their Harlem Shuffle Finale. If you have not seen the video, it’s a must Watch. Hello Natalie! Not exactly the relaxing evening prior to I had hoped but DJing it medicinal for me, it relaxes the mind. I got home at around 8:30 pm and downed a massive bowl of pasta and hydrated as if water was going to be non-existent for the rest of my life. And to sleep I went with a wake-up set for 5am.
The day was here. No backing out now! The alarm went off at 5am. I hopped out of bed, showered and walked the pups. My breakfast consisted of a blueberry Chobani at 5:15am, a Cliff Bar at 6:15 am and two bottles of water both enhanced with a Hammer Nutrition Fizz Electrolyte tablet. I was able to get a feel for the temperature while walking the pups. And it was cold! The dress for today’s race would be Under Armour shorts along with one of their long sleeve running tops, tank underneath. My running sneakers of choice for this race were New Balance 890 V2s. I had recently switched over to these sneakers from Asics at the suggestion of my All Systems Go preventative treatments guru, Troy Stallman. I decision I made a couple months back.
I cabbed it up to Central Park with a 6:45am arrival thinking I had to be inside at my #’s location by 7 am. As has been noted by many other write-ups for this race, it was really cold out! Standing around basically doing nothing for a cool 45 minutes was not on my mental check-list. The smart thing would have been to bring with me throw-away sweats and a sweater. Next time! I chalk it up to a learn as you go sort of process. I don’t get nervous but as I started to loose feeling in my toes, a sense of “WTF are you doing GB” crept into my walnut sized brain. I would have felt nervous if it wasn’t for the fact everyone around me had the same exact look on their face. But finally, 7:30 am arrived and with the national anthem finishing it up, it was go time!
On Your Marks, Get Set, Go
And we’re off. As all runners are well aware, the first half a mile was like a herd of cows running to their slaughter. I don’t know what my pace was but it had to be a 11 minute mile due to the pure numbers of people to my left, right, up ahead and behind me. I remember this from three years ago and was convinced then as I am now it was the sole reason for my above 2 hour race time. But finally it started to open up a bit and I was able to re-focus and really start my run. The only issue? I could hardly feel my toes! Stupid expensive running socks. Three miles. It took three miles until I had normal feeling in my entire body. I don’t think anyone around me was actually focusing on the run those first three miles. They were looking for the sun like we were all lost sailors at sea trying to find our direction. Now that I had full feeling in my body I re-engaged and my sole purpose was to run the rest of the race in under two hours. 1.56 was my actual goal but I just picked that number out of a hat. Three years ago while running with my sister, I stopped at every water station. EVERY ONE OF THEM! I was a thirsty rookie. Didn’t know any better. Saw a Gatorade cup, Drank a Gatorade cup! Not this time. I don’t think I stopped for a cup until almost out of Central Park, I was in the zone. I was going to own this race.
Some of the more memorable moments of this run were the freezing temperatures, running a mile with Superman, Superman going up to a newscaster, posing unnoticed behind her to the roar of the crowd and then kissing her on the cheek and all those angry drivers on 42nd Street. I hope every runner took notice of all those angry faces! I hated passing Famous Ray’s pizza and McDonalds. Not that I eat at either of those “restaurants” but the smell, the smell of food halfway through a race is the equivalent of a kick to the gut. I powered through. My favorite part of the half marathon isn’t the finish btw. It’s exiting Central Park to a crowd lining the avenue. I loved it three years ago. Loved it Sunday and when run future races it will always be my favorite.
But back to the race. I was in a zone for the remainder of the race. I didn’t exactly push myself knowing I didn’t exactly properly train but I wasn’t tired one bit. For the whole duration. Looking back I’m almost sort of annoyed I didn’t with the time I posted but I now know for next time. The remainder of the run was great as we were essentially running along the Hudson with not a car in sight. I saw some funny people standing on the sides of the highway with signs. Some of which I won’t mention for fear of what I find funny, some may take a bit more serious. What really gave me a push was seeing one of my partners in crime, Sara Winsor, at a cheering station in the West Village. Very random find for me but extremely appreciated! “GO GB GO!!!” Sara and I joke that we inspire each other to do certain things outside our normal boundaries. Her cheering the runners on led me to do something at the end of the race I definitely did not think I would be doing after a 13 mile run. We’ll get to that in a moment. Back to the race. Amazingly enough I was still not tired. My knees felt great. Feet were fine. The wind picked up again off the water but manageable. I didn’t wear a watch so really had no clue with regards to my time ex the digital clocks on the side of the roads, which are basically meaning less given we all have different start times.
I won’t lie. As I passed my apartment in Battery Park City the thought did cross my mind to turn right and head directly to bed. Just for a second. I powered through. I did like it better years back when the race did in fact end at Chambers Street. But then again, I had never run through a mini tunnel before. If you are scared of the dark, even with the finish of the race in clear sight, this portion is not for you unless you happen to be wearing a miners helmet. Is it some rite of passage that all runners have to make ghost noises in tunnels? I’ll never admit publically it spooked my juuuuuuust a little bit. I kicked it into high gear though as I knew the finish was fast approaching. Through the tunnel I ran and with sunlight above my head once again I ran. I ran as if I was being chased by Forrest Gump himself. I had no clue what my pace was but if there was any chance of breaking two hours, nothing was going to stop me. Across the finish line I went and not a second later whipped out my phone to check the NYRR app for my official time.
Having run outside only once for 7 miles at a 9 minute pace the Monday prior to. I was shocked. Not only had I just ran a sub 2 but I beat my goal of 1.56 and my body felt great doing so! A feeling of jubilation ran through my body. A sense of massive accomplishment. I took a second to relish in my personal glory but just a second. As I do best, not to any fault of my own of course, two seconds later my mind was already focused on new goals. I had never ever wanted to run more than one or two half marathons a year let alone a full marathon. But the thought was not there. I had caught to worst disease possible, the Runner’s Itch! I think age and injury are the only cures for this lovely disease. So I am told anyway. I made my way home from Fulton Street smiling every step. Congratulate other runners as I passed them in the streets all the way through Fidi, through Tribeca to my home in BPC. But then I stopped. Sara came out to cheer the runners on so I would do the same. I stopped on the corner of Warren Street and the West Side Highway and for the next hour, medal draped across my chest. I cheered. I cheered, I clapped, I hollered! I was tired, a bit sweaty and extremely hungry. That free bag of pretzels did not in any way quench my want for food. But there were more important things to tend to for the time being. And that was in any way possible motivating those who would listen to give it a last push through that tunnel to the finish line.
After about an hour outside I made my way home. Took a 45 minute hot shower and didn’t leave the couch for the remainder of the day. Caught up on Game of Thrones and more importantly, started planning my workouts for the week. But now there was a new want making its way through my veins. THE RUN. I had decided to partake in many more half marathons this year. I am looking forward to the weather warming so I may run outside with some of my new friends. I thank all those that helped with the training. While unconventional to say the least, it still was training and without it I would have been done in at mile one and never come close to breaking two hours.
5k 00:27:38 10K 00:55:31 15K 01:23:09 20K 01:48:55 FINISH 01:54:31