NEW YORK, March 25, 2012—The 2012 NYC Half Marathon on Sunday, March 18 featured a new course and the largest field in the race’s history with 15,336 finishers. I was among them, trying to accomplish a personal feat: tackle two half-marathons in three weeks and three half-marathons in three months without getting injured.
To accomplish this task, I turned to a new gadget to help me train: the new MOTOACTV GPS and MP3 all in one. I served as a MOTOACTV NYC Half Marathon Ambassador, training and running the race with the device.
The NYC Half Marathon gave runners a challenging, but scenic tour of Manhattan. Even as a New Yorker who knows the course well, I thoroughly enjoyed running from Central Park through Times Square and down to the historic South Street Seaport.
The first six miles comprised one full loop of Central Park with its grueling rolling hills. Runners exited the park just after the 10K mark, racing down Seventh Avenue through the heart of Times Square before turning right onto 42nd Street for the next two miles. Miles 8 through 12 carried runners along the West Side Highway into New York’s Chelsea, West Village and Tribeca neighborhoods before rounding the southern tip of Manhattan into the Seaport for the finish.
Sure, miles 8 to 12 were a tad humdrum along the West Side Highway, but who cares about humdrum when those workhorse miles were flat and fast? I certainly didn’t. I’d take that stretch of racecourse any day.
Despite all my careful preparation, I had an off day. The cold that laid me out after Disney’s Princess Half Marathon returned with a vengeance the day before the NYC Half. I sniffled my way through the race with a full-blown cold. So I ran easy and didn’t push to net another personal record. Instead, I took in the course and the excitement of the runners, simply enjoying myself.
The weather was close to ideal for running: 47 degrees at the start with a misty 90 percent humidity and 3 mph winds. It felt a bit windier at some points on the course, and the humidity died down as the race wore on. But I managed to stay comfortable the entire time.
The entertainment and crowds along the way were energizing. New York Road Runners, the race organizer, lined the course with live bands, DJs, cheering squads and the volunteers—including my own running team, the New York Harriers, who manned the water stop near Mile 8.
Team for Kids, NYRR’s charity arm that raises money for youth fitness programs, deserves a special shout-out. In their neon green shirts and hats, they were among the most vocal spectators throughout the race. Whenever I’d hear a surge of cheers from the sidelines, I’d see adults and kids decked out in Team for Kids garb, screaming themselves hoarse. The entire course was lined with spectators, especially through Times Square and the final miles.
In the last mile, the course tracked through a tunnel at the tip of Manhattan. The surge of energy among the runners around me was amazing. Runners whooped and cheered that the finish was near, their voices echoing off the tunnel walls. It was like a wave of jubilance washed over the entire field. Getting swept up in the excitement was easy, especially as we saw the “800M to go” sign that greeted us as we emerged from the darkness just half a mile to the finish.
Running with MOTOACTV helped me get the job done. I’d set a half-marathon personal record at Disney’s Princess Half Marathon just three weeks before, but when I finished the race and looked at my mile splits, they were all over the place. Running with a simple stopwatch, I ran everything from an 8:47 mile split to 10:23. That’s not exactly what you call even pacing.
With MOTOACTV’s GPS I was able to check my pace any time I wanted, not just at the mile-markers. It really helped me keep a more even tempo than at Disney’s Princess. I ran the first three miles within 10 seconds of each other, until I made the conscious effort to slow it down. Then, I kept the next 6 miles within 15 seconds of each other and the last four miles within 20 seconds. It helped that the watch was super-accurate. It hit every single mile marker within .03 of the distance, so I felt confident that my pacing was right. After the half, I was able to analyze all my race data and then some—including pace versus elevation and other metrics that were really enlightening—on Motoactv.com.
In the end, I didn’t run anything close to a personal best time; with a cold I didn’t expect to. But I managed to have fun, even as I sniffled and shuffled along. It took careful planning and training, but I managed to run two half-marathons three weeks apart and three half-marathons in three months unscathed and injury free. Best of all, the three races I ran—Disney’s Tinker Bell Half Marathon, Disney’s Princess Half Marathon and the NYC Half—were hallmark events filled with entertainment, spectators and energy to spare.
My energy spent, it’s time to kick up my legs and enjoy the rest that comes after racing season. Ah, it feels good.
Karla Bruning is a veteran journalist and running nerd. She has completed four marathons, trains with the New York Harriers and is a member of New York Road Runners. Follow Karla’s “Notes From a Running Nerd” at RunKarlaRun.com, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning.
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