Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Race Report: The Verrazano Half Marathon

I wouldn’t exactly say I was disappointed with this weekend’s performance at the NYCRUNS Verrazano Half Marathon, but I also wasn’t quite pleased with it. One way or the other, though, I view it as a very exciting step.

Let’s start with the race itself. It was waaaay down in Brooklyn. In Bay Ridge, to be exact. The scenery was gorgeous. Kudos to NYCRUNS for having the gumption to take advantage of such a simple, beautiful course despite its distance from Manhattan. I would imagine other race organizers might have shied away from something so far away (or maybe I’m wrong and just a snobby Manhattanite). But from what I can see, the race was a staggering success. It was a nice, small field, the course was fast and the field was competitive.


I was, however, less than charmed with the fact that there were no mile markers. Or if there were mile markers, I didn’t see them. (Edit: there were, in fact markers on the ground that runners were advised of. Apologies for the oversight and special thanks to race director Steve Lastoe for clarification) The course consisted of two out-and-backs. The first went out about 4 miles and came back to the start, which started a second 2.5ish mile out-and-back to the end of the race. Normally I try to minimize the information to which I have access by not wearing a watch. Instead, I’ll check the time clocks at each mile marker so that I have at least a good idea of my pace. This race had only one time clock and no mile markers so I found my normal race calculations to be pretty impossible. Even timing it would have been little help. The only piece of information I have about anything before the end of the race is that the time clock said 1:09 something once I’d done the first loop. So, 8ish miles? 8:30ish pace? I guess? I didn’t even really know what to do with that once I headed out for the final, smaller loop.

Recently, I've begun to recognize that I'm now capable of racing people. I know, this sounds silly but it's true. Previously if I was passed by another runner, I'd almost cede my position to them and make no attempt whatsoever at keeping or catching up. But I've somehow gained the wherewithal to strategize. To know when to stay five steps behind or right on their heels or even when to just blow past. It's all very psychological, and I'm starting to truly understand that.

I PRd at this race (1:51:11), not because I was smart about it, but because I raced hard. If the NYC Half Marathon was all about finesse and smart running, this one was about brute force. I don't think I was even a mile in before I started trying to pick people off. It went decently, but I got myself into some trouble as I found myself dueling with someone around mile 4. It was too soon to be racing that hard, and I sensed that, even if it was too late to do much about it.

The brilliant thing was that, even after I lost that battle and she'd raced on ahead of me, I kept racing. Even though I was a little spent, I kept up the pace and out-raced a few more runners. For years, races have been a battle between my body ("Really Brain! We can do this! Let me speed up. Please?") and my brain ("Shut up and keep running. There's a waffle in it for us at the end..."). But on Sunday they were united ("All systems go. Next target: the girl in the aqua tank top. Increase speed to 7.0 mph.").

It was absolutely a good feeling and I'm proud that I pushed my limits and didn't give up. HOWEVER, I did end up sacrificing what very well could have been a sub-1:50 run if I had done it properly. It happens. Too bad it happened on a course as flat as this one, where a near-2 minute improvement was possible if not likely. Still, though, I'll take that PR and be proud of a hard-fought race.

More scenery!


  1. Good job! I don't think I'd ever be able to get a sub 1:50.

  2. Awesome! Sounds like a good race! I can't wait to be fast enough where I can actually feel like I'm "racing" instead of just "running with a registration fee."

  3. Hi - Thanks for the kind words.

    Just to clarify -the emails sent out before the race and the announcements I made at the start very clearly stated that the mile markers would be painted on the ground to the runners right and the reason why: stand-ups get blown away because they are too light. Its one thing that is less than ideal about that course. That's one where you will always need a watch I'm afraid.

    1. Fair enough! I'm not the best at paying attention to instructions so I'm not surprised I missed it. Thanks for addressing it, though!

  4. Great race report! I am looking for a half marathon in the area. I've run the LI Half a couple of times, but the scenery couldn't be more boring. I planned on running the MCM 17.75k in March, but it sold out in an hour. This race looks fun. I just started a running blog. Not as sophisticated as yours (not even close), but check it out if you're bored. I'm in NY too.


  5. Hey, cool! Lots of good stuff there. You're speedy!