Race Review: NYC Half Marathon
March 16, 2014
I have not been talking about my training for the NYC half because… well I have not really focused on training for it very long. After my last half marathon in January, vacation got in the way. I did do some nice long runs the last few weekends and some speed work, that should count for something I guess!
Since this was my second time running the race I pretty much knew what to expect. Plus it is in my backyard (central park and the west side highway) so I know just about every step of the way. The course was a bit different this year but I liked the changes, no one had to elbow for more room and the wave start was fantastic. Here goes my review!
The expo: I was surprised at the array of vendors at the expo. It was good to see some old faces like Sparkly Soul (#LOVE) and some new faces. I went during my lunch time on Friday and it was not crowded at all. I imagine it would have been a different story after work hours. Since the race draws a local crowd be cautious of that!
The start: First of all this was the first time I have ever went through a metal detector for a race. The instruction packet didn’t give us runners any heads up so no one arrived with enough time to spare for the extra security measures. While I’m glad they kept us safe I wish I would have known before hand so I could have arrived earlier. I just barely made it into my coral in time. Then there were the wave starts. What a fantastic idea for a crowded course. Since they added an extra 5K runners they needed to change up the game plan and what they did worked out fantastically. you either started at 7:30, 7:45 or 8:00.
Miles 1-6: The race starts out on the east side of Central Park heading north. It is really nice to get the two most challenging hills out of the way in the first three miles. After tackling Cat Hill you head up to Central Park North and make a brief exit out of the park for an out and back loop, this part was a bit boring but I’d rather have that relatively flat mile instead of an extra mile of hills in the park! Heading back into the park next is Harlem Hill. By this point your legs are warmed up and it should feel pretty good. I recommend not pushing yourself too hard. There is plenty of downhill and flat course ahead of you! As you follow the loop in central park fans line the path. I was surprised how many people were out and about. Once you make it to the south end of the park you are finally ready to exit at Central Park South and 7th avenue.
Miles 7-8: These are the miles that NYRR really will try to sell you on. Running straight down 7th avenue through Times Square. I guess this moment would be cool for an out of towner but I really don’t care for Times Square much. Too many people! During the race that is a good thing though! At 42nd street you hang a right and head west to the West Side HWY.
Miles 9-11: While some may find these next few miles a bit boring compared to Central Park and Times Square, I think these miles are where the magic happens. Its flat and fast. Either your legs have it or they don’t. If your lucky enough to have a good tail wind (a 50/50 chance) these miles could be your favorite too! I loved the live bands and music, plus lots of fans to cheer you on. There may be alcohol involved (it is the Sunday before St. Patty’s Day).
Miles 12-13.1:When you turn to head around to the South Street Seaport you head right into a long dark tunnel. Easily my least favorite part of the run. The tunnel disoriented me. I hate not being able to see where I’m stepping. I plan on letting NYRR know about this issue. Hopefully they will fix it. If you’re using a GPS watch you will lose satellite.
As with most NYRR races the finish shoots are long. I find it annoying that you have to walk through all of the baggage claims to get to the exit. Be prepared for a difficult meet up with friends or family. Other than that you get a bag with snacks, water and Gatorade. Plenty of volunteers can help you get medical assistance if needed.
Pros: Great course, pacers, plenty of water, lively crowds lining the streets, NYRR is always well organized, plus you can’t beat running in NYC!
Cons: Crowded path to get to the starting line, the first couple of miles are full if challenging hills.
Overall I wouldn’t come from out of town to do the race BUT its an excellent race for locals.