this was my third nyc half marathon in it's brief four year history! i don't remember why i missed the second year (2007), but it's quietly become one of my favorite half marathons (probably second, behind the brooklyn half). the full loop+ of central park, the run down seventh avenue to 42nd street, then across to the west side and straight south to the finish line at battery park is a fast course. as in prior years, it would be a hot, steamy morning to run a race - but, thankfully, no rain for this edition.
for the second year i was part of the world lung foundation running team. last summer the team raised more than $45,000, which all went to fight childhood asthma in kenya. the funds we raised this year will also be used to help children who suffer from asthma. in addition to our returning members, the team included some first-time half marathoners. for a couple them, this wasn't just their first half marathon, but it was their very first race!
the day began with a 4:45 wake-up; then don and emmy got to my house at 5:30 for the half hour drive down to central park. we had planned to meet up with the wlf team in front of the guggenheim museum at 6. but some bright city planner decided that it would smart idea to shut down two lanes of southbound fdr traffic on the day 10,000+ runners and their families would descend upon central park.
we were late enough that everyone had dispersed for the corrals by the time we arrived. the upshot (or downside?) of the missed pre-race meeting was that i didn't have a wlf team singlet to wear for the race. my taconic singlet would have to do. but once we got to the corral, emmy insisted that i wear her singlet (which, to my utter astonishment, fit)! last year i lined up with my camera. this time around the pictures would have to be post-race.
my only time goal was to finish in 1:50 or better. emmy, who was using the race as a training run, had a similar plan in mind, so we ran the first 10 miles together. for the very crowed first 7 miles, the full loop+ of the park, we ran a 56:20 (just over an 8 minute pace). as we exited the park, yvette and some of the wlf team was cheering on the runners! without breaking stride, we ran over to yvette who gave my singlet to emmy; which she then wore for the rest of the race!
we were now on my favorite stretch of the course - seventh avenue and 42nd street. i've run so many miles in central park (training and racing) that the first half was merely the long intro to the fun, "touristy" miles of the race. as we exited the park (sadly, sans the sounds of ac/dc's "welcome to the jungle" - my favorite memory from past nyc half marathons), i said to emmy, "we're halfway there!" to which she corrected me - "we're way past [at 7.5 miles] the half way mark!" that was the first of two "math" slips for me!
i was impressed with the number of music acts along this stretch of the course! seemed as if there was a band every few blocks at one point! in years past, i only remembered the music at the turn south off 42nd street. running across 42nd street, with the music, crowds, lights, traffic free west bound lane, was fantastic! the only downer, the jumbo t.v. screen at 42nd didn't stream video of the runners coming down seventh avenue as in years past.
at the 9 mile mark, a couple of blocks before the turn south, i said to emmy, "wow! just a 5k left to go! woo hoo!" the heat must have gotten to me because she said, half amused - half concerned, "we have 4.1 miles left to go!" oops! as it turned out, the final 4 miles were the toughest - mainly because of the heat. at that point the sun was out and it had probably climbed 10 degrees from the 70 something degrees at the start.
with three miles left to go in the race, emmy dropped back a block or so. i was in my "let's get this thing over with" state of mind by now. in the last mile i passed a runner in distress - with one of his teammates and police officer trying to decide the best plan of action to help him. after the race i heard that many runners had succumbed to the heat on that stretch of the course (one of whom was a wlf teammate of mine).
during the entire race (except for yvette) i saw none of my friends on the course! after i crossed the finish (1:46:58), i said hi to mary wittenburg (who cheered on the finishers) and my friend bob. we waited for emmy to meet up with us, and then we proceeded to the baggage claim. in that short span of time i saw george (fellow trrc teammate) and, after baggage, mark (former wtc teammate). then we met up with the wlf team at the family reunion area.
it took a while for us to reunite with don (shades of the problem we had the first year), but then we took the 4 train back uptown to 86th street. the car was a few blocks from the station. with the exception of one wlf team member who didn't finish (heat problems), it was a great day. we'll definitely be back for the 2010 edition (which may be scheduled for the spring, according to pre-race speculation).
here are my race photos.
here are my 2008 race photos and my 2008 race report.