Race: United Airlines NYC Half Marathon
Place: New York, NY
Date: March 20, 2022
If I hadn’t made it clear in years past…I LOVE NEW YORK CITY!! And I hadn’t been back to the Big Apple since I raced the NYC Half Marathon back in 2018. That is way too long…but you know…global pandemic.
Here’s what I can say about going into race day this time around. I made A TON of bad decisions leading into race day. I landed in NYC on Friday…REALLY early. My roommate and I caught an early ass flight out of Louisville to New York, direct flight. Love that story. Maybe not the early ass part, but I mean…it meant more time in the city. We landed, grabbed my luggage, and went to meet our car service to get the lift from LaGuardia Airport to the Chelsea Flower District, to our hotel, The Cambria. The problem was, a truck was blocking the road, so our driver let us out at a corner and told us which way to walk to get to the hotel. Since it was the Flower District…we had to dodge, not just people, but also plants. So. Many. Plants. On. The. Sidewalk. But…somehow I maneuvered my bag (which is as big as me, I swear) to the hotel and we got checked in. Our room wasn’t ready, so we checked our luggage and went out to get coffee and head to the expo.
Let’s start with my first mistake…ALL THE WALKING. Granted, the race was 2 days away, but I spent pretty much all of Friday walking the streets of NYC. After not finding an ideal coffee spot, we ended up getting Starbucks…and continued on our way to the race expo. I should have checked the info, because we went to where it had been in the past. Guess what…it had moved. WHOOPS. That will teach me to read all the information they send in those emails. HA!
So, we turned around and started to make our way to the actual expo, which was held this year at Center415. We had to show our Proof of Vaccination and our photo IDs to enter, and that went smoothly. Then it was off to the races…figuratively…because it’s packet pickup. The expo was smaller than I expected, but the process of getting a bib was as easy as showing a QR Code and getting your corral letter stuck onto a bib. Seamless. Went from there to take a couple of pictures and then continued on into the merchandise area. If I liked New Balance shoes, I would have been tempted to buy the special ones they had…but I don’t like New Balance shoes. Instead, my roomie gifted me with a cute running jacket and a t-shirt. I thought about getting one of the winter hats, but they weren’t overly special…so I didn’t. We headed out…and went to wander around Manhattan…with a stop at Tiffany’s (I didn’t buy anything…don’t be shocked). We grabbed a quick lunch of soup at Fresh & Co (because I suddenly realized I was starving). Then we went to Rockefeller Center to watch some people ice skate and to grab chocolate from our favorite chocolate shop.
We then made the trek back to the hotel to see if we could check in yet. We could not. Booo. So, we went to sit outside in the sunlight for a little while. I don’t like just sitting, but I did it and checked out the menu for where we were going to grab dinner, The Little Beet. After many attempts at getting our room, we were finally given keys and went up to room 1205, which was just off the elevator and in the corner on the left. The rooms were nice. We placed our dinner order and waited for it to be delivered. It was SO GOOD that we ordered from The Little Beet two more times while in the city.
After eating, we got dressed up because we had tickets (my birthday gift to my roommate) to see Come From Away on Broadway (which, let me say right now…one of THE BEST Broadway shows I have seen). I was going to wear heels with my pretty dress, but my roomie talked me out of it. I didn’t have sneakers that matched the dress, but she said no one would care. My coach, Kim, later thanked her for doing that, HA! We made the long walk to the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, located between Broadway & 8th Avenue. It was a pretty long walk, so not wearing the heels was actually smart. The show was SO amazing. Like I said, one of the best shows I have seen TO DATE!! Highly recommend. After the show, we made the long walk back to the hotel to shower and get some sleep.
Woke up on Saturday morning and headed down to Central Park to do a shakeout run. We finally bought our MetroPass so we could ride the subway. That helped. Way less hiking. I got to Central Park way earlier than expected so went on my 30 minute shakeout…somehow managing to get myself a little lost after turning around and heading right back to where I started. I have the worst sense of direction. THE WORST! But I made it back. And then met one of my favorite Peloton instructors, Mister Power Zone himself – Matt Wilpers. That was really cool. He’s very genuine and just how he is on the screen of the Peloton tread or bike. Took a photo with him and had to get back to the hotel to change and head out because today was “being a tourist day.” Which meant, I was taking my roommate to the Statue of Liberty, because with as many times as we have traveled to NYC…she had never gone to the statue.
Enter my next mistake on this trip. Can you guess what it is? We went down to catch the ferry, which was fine and easy and quick. You did have to go through airport level security, but that wasn’t too bad. We didn’t get a spot to sit down on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. It was chilly on the water, and the wind was really insane. But…we docked and got off the ferry and made our way to the statue. She was just as I remembered her. The crown still isn’t open, but we were allowed to go up to the Pedestal. This is where I made the error of climbing the stairs up to the Pedestal. Sorry, Kim. I wasn’t thinking. It was 215 stairs, or about 10 stories. But, the views were amazing. I did a lot of the infamous “tourist pose”. And after we made the circuit, we went to head back down. More stairs. Good times. After that, the ferry stopped off at Ellis Island. We grabbed a snack after a little wandering about…an orange and some chips. And water. I was terrible at hydrating too. Whoops. When we got back on the ferry, we returned and made our way back to the hotel. Yes…that pretty much took the extent of all day. WORTH IT. The race was the following day, and while we had intended to go get some sushi at a nearby establishment, we opted to order in The Little Beet again. I got more grains this time with my bowl, and added beets (because those are supposed to help with running performance). After that, I foam rolled and stretched and got ready for bed…because the following morning…was RACE DAY!
When we were here in 2018, we took the subway to Brooklyn and ended up packed like sardines in the train car. With Covid-19 still being a thing, we opted to skip the subway ride to Prospect Park, and instead hired a car to take us there. It was an easy drive in, and we went across the Brooklyn Bridge, which was really cool. They dropped us off across the street and we went to sit down on a bench for a little bit, since we were still a little early. I brought my pre-race fuel to eat on the walk to the start, but Cathy went ahead and had her breakfast while we waited and chatted and watched some warmers do some strides or get some easy miles in ahead of the race. After a little while, I needed to head into the park and to the corrals…so Cathy went to catch the subway to the Manhattan Bridge and I went to go find some friends inside the park.
The first sound I heard was the voice of Ali Feller (of the Ali on the Run podcast), which felt so calming, honestly. I ate my overnight oats while I walked the path past the port-a-potties and to the corrals. I was in Corral D, and was hoping to meet up with my friend Andrew and see my friend Shana (she was volunteering at the start). And guess what? I met up with both of them. Shana was at my corral entrance, and we snapped a quick photo together. And Andrew and I got quite a few photos, some with me in my throwaway clothes (which were not human highlighter equivalent), and some of me in my race clothes (way more colorful). It was SO NICE to have someone to chat with while we waited in the corral. He’s just as fun in person as he is on Instagram. We went to run our own races at the start, but we stayed together as we jogged across the line.
This was a different route from the one in 2018. There was much more Prospect Park in this version, including a very annoying hill in the first mile. The start was pretty crowded, so I just tried to stay in the flow and not go out too fast. I succeeded in doing that and even picked up the pace a little as we headed out of the park in the first mile and onto Flatbush Avenue. This was fine…except for the 180 turn before Mile 2. After that…it was just a matter of getting to the Manhattan Bridge. The miles felt fast here, but I knew that Mile 5 was the climb onto the bridge. It was also where I fueled with Maurten. The bridge was a slog to get up, but there were so many people heading up the incline that it didn’t feel too hard. I also knew that somewhere on the opposite side would be my roommate. And boy…was she ever there…screaming her fool head off at me. I gave her a wave and a smile and rounded the corner to head toward FDR Drive…where you can legit SEE the city. I fueled again at Mile 10.
I could tell my legs were getting tired way earlier than wanted them too. That climb on the bridge took a lot of speed out of them, especially after spending so much time on my feet in the two days leading up to race day. As I said, many, many mistakes were made. But it was fine, I could do this run, even if I did slow down. I was slowing down. But, I still felt good. So that’s all that mattered.
At Mile 11, as we headed through Times Square, my roomie caught me on the course again. I could hear her over the roar of the crowd, but I never could find her. I gave a wave and smile and focused on now heading up the long and slow climb of 59th Street. We turned a corner and I knew I had about a mile left and we were heading into Central Park. This was the other big difference from 2018…way less time in Central Park. But it was an uphill finish, which is pure evil, but, I had run it in my shakeout run, so I knew that was the case. I tried to pick up my pace, but my legs were toast. I crossed the finish line, and for the first time in a long time, felt wiped. I was DONE.
I made sure to pick up my medal and get the little snack bag and a Mylar wrap on my way out of the park. That was a fun little hike, and we were let out at Columbus Circle, which was where I was meeting my roommate. We went to go sit down and my official time popped up. It was a course PR (because new course, LOL), but it wasn’t the time I was hoping to get in the buildup. I was okay with it…kind of. BUT…I did the best I could on that day. That I did know.
After sitting around for a few minutes, we went to hop on the subway to go back to the hotel so I could shower and get changed. I texted my coach and we made plans to meet at her hotel before she left. So, we headed back toward Central Park, and saw the Stranger Things Experience…so we got tickets to do that and then had to duck back into the subway station to get across the street and walk towards Kim’s hotel. I met her in the little hotel restaurant area. And I was so happy to meet her in person for the first time, after having worked with her since December. She is wonderful. And as mad as I wanted to be at myself for my finish time, she kept reminding me that it was a difficult course and I was in the midst of marathon training. I couldn’t be mad. We hung out and talked until it was time to head back and do the Stranger Things Experience. It was free admission, but you end up buying ALL THE THINGS because the show is amazing and it made me want to do a rewatch leading into the new season which comes out next month.
That night, we got dressed up once again (and this time I did wear heels) and took the subway into Harlem to meet up with our friends Marisa and Jim for dinner. It was so fun to catch up with them (we hadn’t seen them since their wedding) and eat a great dinner. The food is always delicious and the entertainment…amazing. Gotta love a live jazz band. It was loud, but it felt normal. And I’ve been searching for that for years now. Oh, in case you were wondering, I got the Spicy Charred Glazed Cauliflower – roasted tomatoes, bean puree, cilantro-yogurt sauce. It was heaven on a plate!! And I got a celebratory pint of Angry Orchard cider…because it was a celebration! Did I get dessert too? Yes. The pineapple sorbet…which tasted like dole whip. I was so happy.
But I digress…
So…the official results of the 2022 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon was that I finished with an official time of 1:43:41. I was 3605/22,355 finishers this year. I was 823/11,458 female finishers. And I was 87/1640 finishers in my age division. It may not have been the race that I knew I was capable of, but it was the best I could do that day…and I made it to that finish line. I do love running races in NYC…and this is my third time running the NYC Half Marathon (all three times on a different course). I can’t wait to go back to run another race there sooner rather than later this time!