Monday, February 4, 2013

Manhattan Half Marathon - Race Report

As I've mentioned a couple times, this begins my fifth year of being an active member of the running community here in NYC. As a result, I can say things like "oh, [insert number between 1 and 4] years ago when I did this race, blah blah blah." It sounds weird when I say it.

I mention it because this is my fifth time doing the Manhattan Half. While better than in some years (read: in 2009 and 2011 when the temperature hit 13 degrees or last year when it was held during a blizzard), conditions were not ideal for me. The sunshine was beautiful, but at 18 degrees it was still much colder than is my preference.

The race started at 8 and I had to pick my bib up. Unlike in past years, I actually allotted myself a sufficient amount of time to wake up, get dressed, walk Phoebe, get to NYRR, pick up my bib and then run back to the start line on 65th and the west side of Central Park. In fact, I arrived with 30 whole minutes to spare. What I can further improve upon is waiting until race morning to pick up my race stuff. Recently, all they have left at that point in terms of t-shirts are XLs and XXLs. I only need so many gigantic pajama shirts.

Jeremy and Amortya were also running the race, although none of us ran it together. My goal was to run it in 1:45, which I felt was ambitious but not unreasonable. Normally, I don't keep my own time unless it's just setting my phone timer and not looking at it until the finish line is upon me. The basis for this decision is that there is such a thing as too much information. I have a fragile psyche when it comes to racing and, frankly, I don't want to know how quickly I've run each mile as it happens. At least not at this point in my running career.

I implemented an overly complicated way of tracking my time that gave me only a vague knowledge of my mile splits. I set my watch right as the race started and then looked at the time for my first mile, which was 8:20 and based the rest of my race on that. This worked in my favor because it gave me a goal I was almost certain to beat, which is usually just the sort of goal I need to motivate me to do better. It's strange...and not entirely intuitive but last year I raced much better when I told myself things like "just run better than a 1:55" (ran a 1:47 and change) than when I thought "run a PR" (I managed a PR, but only by seconds and because the course was insanely flat) or "run 1:47." I work better toward vague, easily achievable goals, for better or worse.

Anyway, with each mile, I'd add another 8:20 to my time to determine my next target, with the understanding that if I steadily increased the delta between my actual time and my projected 8:20 minute/mile pace time, I'd be in good shape. It sort of worked. I did PR by 1:15 but did not hit 1:45. I attribtue this less to my time tracking and more to the fact that I was simply not as prepared as I should have been to run the hills in Central Park.

You watch out, 1:45!

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