Sunday, March 23, 2014

New York City Half Marathon Weekend

New York City Half Marathon. March 16, 2014.
Although I've technically raced twice this year (3,000 m on the track and the 8 mile Re-Fridgee-Eighter, both in February), I feel like New York City Half was my 2014 season opener.
After a long, cold and very snowy winter (which is still lingering), like many I was looking forward to spring racing. I flew from Billy Bishop in Toronto to NYC and had a great weekend. David Monti and his NYRR pro athlete crew were amazing. Like Alan Brookes and his CRS crew, they were attentive to every detail, in a very professional and personal manner. The food, communication, race details, and friendliness was exceptional. I had been told the team was great, by Mary Davies (who just wrote an amazing post on running and pregnancy, here) and many others, and they did not disappoint.
My travel Friday was a bit long but that is to be expected in big cities. So once I finally checked into my room, I headed out for an easy 5 km in Central Park, which was conveniently 500 m from the hotel. Runners galore are in that park as well as horse n' buggy rides for tourists who want to pay $4 USD per minute! Being among some of the world's best made for some entertaining scenes. More than once I saw people stop in their tracks and drop their jaws after spotting people like Olympic medalists, Meb Keflezighi and Mo Farah.
After briefly meeting my roommate, I headed out to get some dinner and take in a bit of the city. I knew I'd have time to check things out Sunday, after the 7:30 am race, so I just wandered. It was really neat to come across so many big NYC sites like Time Square and Broadway. Our hotel was located in the heart of the action, that's for sure.There was a buzz in the air!
Saturday was low key with breakfast, an easy 8 km in Central Park, massage, lunch, rest, technical meeting, and dinner with my friendly roommate, Laken from Total Sports Management . It was nice to get to know her, an athlete and mom herself. She was there to represent Sally Kipyego who later won and broke the course record in her half marathon debut! Sally may be a super fast Olympic and World Silver medalist in the 10,000 m but I was the expert in teaching her about toenail losses! She had to wear flip flops Sunday because of the pain in her big toe! Clip first. Then run.
Sunday was "cool" as forecasted but I knew that wouldn't bother this Canadian! Warm up of a 20 min jog and gentle stretching while staying warm and relaxed with cheery US runner, Lauren W. from the Asics Mammoth club (Andrew and Deena Kastor) went well and shortly after the American Anthem, we were off. It was a very deep field in which I was seeded at about 11th or 12th with my 70:52 from Scotiabank Vancouver 2013. US 5km record holder and fellow Saucony athlete Molly Huddle was also debuting. And Des Linden was there after her 6 week training block with Lanni in Kenya, preparing for Boston. I knew the girls would be fast and well ahead of me but was hoping to tuck nicely into a chase pack. This didn't happen. The rest of us were sprinkled throughout and ran mostly solo. I did have one guy with me for about 5 km or so, which was helpful. The NYC half and full marathon courses aren't easy. Starting with several km of rolling hills in Central Park really threw me off. It seemed to take forever to get out before reaching a flat section. I didn't find the hills that difficult but the start was slow and I simply lost time, early in the race. I'm used to pushing hard in the end, maintaining pace regardless of the hills. So it was no surprise, and an increase in my confidence as my season opener, that I had such a big negative split. The last, long stretch of the race (7 km or so?) felt like I was flying (and it was somewhat downhill, not sure how much). My finish was 72:26, which is technically a PB for a certified, record eligible course. My placing was 12th, good for the last bit of prize money!
Splits were 34:58 and 33:42:
 5K - 17:23 (3:28.6/K)
10K - 34:58 (17:35, 3:31/K)
15K - 51:59 (17:01, 3:24.2/K)
20K - 1:08:40 (16:41, 3:20.2/K)
last 1.1K - 3:46 (3:25.4/K)
My fastest km was 3:12 and slowest 3:36. What a difference.
Upon completion, I tossed on my warm gear and headed out for a cool down to total 32 km for the day.
I went for another massage, which is where I met Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi. We chatted a bit, talking about the ages of our kids, injuries and future plans. What a kind, down to earth man. Here's 2 quotes from his website: "Like the marathon, life can sometimes be difficult, challenging and present obstacles, however if you believe in your dreams and never ever give up, things will turn out for the best.” - Meb. And "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me!" - Phil 4:13. What a great guy!
In the afternoon we had a wonderful after race dinner at an amazing Italian restaurant. Laken and I sat with some athletes and coaches from Germany and Japan. It was great to get to know them.
After the dinner I set out to take in the city. After 3 hours of walking, I stopped to get souvenirs at the massive M & M store, enjoyed something to eat at a diner across the street and packed my things. I wanted to get in an easy run and breakfast before our 9 am departure so was in bed by 11 pm.
Up next is the Around the Bay 30 km road race. Rachel Hannah is running and that girl is fit so I must stay sharp. I'll be racing more this spring than ever so recovery will be key to stay healthy and injury free.
Enjoy the pictures.

It was such an honour to meet fellow Canadian, Diane Roy who won the first ever wheelchair title at the NYC Half Marathon. Canadians John Mason, Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis also raced.

A little promo picture for our September Harvest Half Marathon with proceeds going to the Kenyan Kids Foundation. Wesley Korir (2012 Boston Marathon Champ) will be running the Ottawa Marathon in May and his wife, Tarah will be returning to Ontario to run some races in April and May. Read about it here.

After race dinner party with Meb and Wesley.

Was great to get to know Team Japan. These guys are huge celebrities at home where running is equivalent to Canada's hockey.

Winners, Sally Kipyego and Geoffrey Mutai with NYRR CEO, Mary Wittenberg.

Taking in the big city.

Lots of Irish gear this weekend.

Rockefeller. Should have packed my skates! Our kids would love this with the lego store nearby.

The Plaza. After confirming it was indeed the hotel from Home Alone - Lost in New York, I snapped a picture as this kind man replied, "Yes, but I'm not the man from the movie and Kevin is much older now.".

Central Park.

Post race treat. Couldn't resist sprinkling my pancakes with some dark chocolate, peanut M & M's. The variety was endless! And while there I got the kids and Jonathan some personalized ones in our Team DuChene favourite colours of green, pink, orange, purple and blue.
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Sunday, March 16 was also Jonathan's birthday. We had his cake last week and the kids and his sister took good care of him while I was away racing. Thanks, Jonathan!

Trip home NYC to Brantford, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm:
taxi to train to air train to airplane to ferry to shuttle to gotrain to van!

Sites seen in NYC:
Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Centre, Radio City Music Hall, Broadway, Plaza Hotel (Home Alone!), Time Square, David Letterman Building, NBS News, CNN, Trump Tower, Central Park and hundreds of yellow taxis.

Krista DuChene,
Marathon Mom