This past Saturday was the Queens Half Marathon - the third half marathon in NYRR's Half Marathon Series. It was also my second qualifier for the NYC Half Marathon and my fifth qualifier for the NYC Marathon for 2012. But despite all of that, I was a bit less-than-enthusiastic about this particular race after being sick for two weeks beforehand . I ran a short shakeout run of some sorts on Friday beforehand at what should have been a very easy pace, but instead felt like a tremendous effort...which only confirmed the obvious: my body was not quite yet ready. But ready or not, race day was here...
I ended up crashing at my friend Dahlia's place in the city, since I didn't really feel like driving into Queens at 5 am and dealing with the parking situation. We grabbed a cab at the wonderful hour at 5:40 in the morning to pick up our friend Wallis, who lived around the corner and was also running. We of course got the only cab driver who didn't seem to his way around the city...but we eventually made it to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the site of the race.
The Unisphere, presented to the 1964 World's Fair by the US, and the "landmark" for the park
The park was actually home to site of the 1964 World's Fair, which is actually pretty cool. The race included two full loops of the park with lots of twists and turns to squeeze out the 13.1 mile course - not so cool.
The race didn't start until 7 am (and ended up starting closer to 7:15 thanks to some unknown delays) which is very early to get to Queens, but actually kind of late for me to start a long run. It was also a very bright, sunny day - and barely an ounce of shade on the course. But lucky for me I at least had some company - Wallis was also planning on taking this as a regular training run for the marathon, so we decided to stick together since we have similar paces.
The first few miles went by easy enough - there were actually a few times when I looked down at my watch and realized we were going at a sub 10 min/mile, which is a bit too fast for us for a training run.
But around mile 3, things started to really heat up for me. When we passed the water station, I suggested that we should walk through the aid stations - something I normally don't do, but considering the conditions, I thought it would be for the best.
By mile 5, I was really starting to hurt. By mile 7, I thought I was dying. So hot. No shade. Congested. Hard to breath. Sick of running in circles. No idea where I was. But must. keep. going.
There were a few times I thought about canning it - or at least stop running completely and just walk the rest of the way...but I every time we passed an aid station and it was time to start running again, I just dug a little deeper....and somehow, it was miles 8, 9, 10....and then slowly but surely, we hit mile 12. Only one more to go!
And then finally....ahh, the finish.
We ended up finishing in 2:26, which was a full 23 minutes off my PR. But my Garmin says we averaged a 10:57 mile/pace (accounting for a bit over 13.1 since the course was full of turns), which is right smack in the middle of what McMillan says should be a long training run pace for me (about 10:30-11:30) And I didn't die, which you know, is always a plus.
After the race we met up back up with Dahlia, who finished in amazing 2:05, and our friend Amy, who finished a few minutes behind us (and we actually ran into her a few times on course). We hung out for a bit to catch our breathes a bit...and then started our long journey home on the subway (three changes thanks to MTA construction work, and almost a 1.5 hour journey!)
Me, Wallis and Dahlia post-race
But the journey back to Manhattan was way worth it, for the post-run reward at the Little Brown Bakery!
mmm, frozen hot chocolate!
All and all, I'm just glad this run was over with. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? But it's upward and onward - I have a full schedule this week, including my first 13+ mile run, AND volunteering at the NYC Triathlon expo on Saturday to secure my slot for next year's race!