Sunday, January 27, 2013

Manhattan Half Marathon

Today was the Manhattan Half Marathon, my 67th New York Road Runners race and 78th overall. My official net was 2:35:26 and my highlight was an unexpected negative second half split. We started in 12 degree wind chill, and I am very happy with these two laps around Central Park. Know what I liked best?

All the things I thought of while I was running.

Is there a way to verbal-blog while you run? I know, end-of-the-world if I ever get ahold of that capability. But serious, that is when I do my best thinking. I want to keep my thoughts. If anyone knows of a functionality let me know. I run with my iPhone, usually on marathon playlist or Pandora. I don't want to carry another device ie tape recorder, either, although that might be worth considering.

The Manhattan Half is an opportunity to be lapped by elite runners, and I say "opportunity" whereas others may not love this. I always have embraced this as an opportunity, because it gives me a chance to study and do my own research on the eventual race winners, admiring their form and trying to emulate.

Lean forward at one degree while you run, just enough tilt without getting your upper body in front of your feet. Piston-pump your arms straight through and back, relaxing them often during the course of anything over a half-marathon. They power-lift their quads, driving their legs from their buttocks. They are like deer. Their head is solid on top without bobbing, looking straight ahead. They are locked in.

Hills are a big degree of difficulty at Central Park. We ran counter-clockwise starting from the old Tavern on the Green, so we go up Cat Hill on the East Drive and also the steeper North Woods hill. I ran solid up both of them, and we also have the three or four rolling hills on the West Drive near the reservoir. I have a technique going up hills that I learned from our Team for Kids coach before the 2007 NYC Marathon. I never look ahead at the horizon. I look down, just enough ahead to not clip anyone, and I count backwards from 100. If I'm not there yet I repeat. Soon enough the hill is over. It works for me.

"POSITIVE thought, NEGATIVE split." I thought of that while I was running the second half of the race. At the Boat House, I was at the halfway mark and my time was 1:20. I was calculating in my head, thinking 2:40, maybe 2:45 finish. I decided to push myself in areas where I started to slow in the first lap. The result eventually was a negative second half split. I am still far from my 2:18 PR for a half, set at this event five years earlier, but I am focusing on the positive and still capable of surprising myself.

I thought of a photographer along the way. Marathon Foto is awesome compared to the old bunch. They email you beforehand to tell you where they will be positioned. I noticed there was one guy on the big North Woods hill. Right there in the middle of miseryville. But I found myself wanting to regain my best running form in that moment, powering through that hill, because dammit the camera was on. And you know what? Suddenly that photog had me running up the hardest hill. WHATEVER WORKS!

I always forget about the pain after a half or full is done. I always have that WHY AM I DOING THIS moment, then it goes away.

You know when you come upon a sign like mile 3, and it has a 9 sign just behind it for the following lap? I remember running past the 3 sign on the north end, and just staring at that 9 sign and thinking how cool it was going to feel when I passed that one an hour or so later. Little things like that keep me going. An hour or so later, I was on the north end again and I just looked at the mile 9 sign and I felt a sense of accomplishment as a runner that matters to me. I am not a front-of-the-packer, I am more toward the back. But I am proud of my times, and proud of my little milestones like that one. They teach me to drive and reach and pursue.

Next Sunday is the Gridiron Classic 4 miler at Central Park, the morning of the Super Bowl. Once I run that, I will be a third of my way to the NYRR 9+1 requirement for automatic entry into the 2014 NYCM. I am in this year's NYCM so that will be 4. I am well on my way. This feels good, keeps you driving, too.

Congrats to everyone who ran today, and especially to those hardy souls I ran with on a brutally cold day at Central Park. A year ago at this time I was running the Miami Marathon, a much different scene indeed!

1 comment:

Yum Runner said...

I really, really like the counting down from 100 idea. I'm gonna try that!