Monday, June 16, 2014

Race Report: Midnight Half 2014

I'm pretty sure I didn't write a race report for last year's half marathon, but I should have. It's a race well worth a report. To be fair, though, there are many races worth reports that I don't get around to writing about.

Last year was the first time I did the Midnight Half marathon. The only reason I even knew it was happening was that someone posted in the Facebook group for the Hudson Dusters. When I signed up, I was one of the last registrants. I think they had about 120 participants and I was either 120 or 121. There was one other Duster also doing the race, Corrina.

She's the reason I was able to sign up on time this year. Although she unfortunately was unable to race due to a stress fracture (ugh), she sent me a message letting me know that registration was opening. I signed up right away in anticipation of a great race.

It took place on Saturday and began at 11pm as opposed to starting at midnight on Friday night like it did last year. On Saturday morning, Amortya and I still met for a long run but limited it to 10 miles, since I knew I'd have the race later in the evening. I picked up my bib around 10pm, which gave me plenty of time to run back home, change, use my own facilities and walk Phoebe. One major thing I like about this race is that headquarters has been only a couple blocks from home in both 2013 and 2014.

The night was much cooler this year than it was last year and that was a good thing. The route was slightly different, but still consisted of 5 or 6 checkpoints and a couple of out-and-backs. A little before 11pm, everyone gathered at race headquarters began heading down to the start, which took place right on the water just under the Manhattan Bridge. After about 10 minutes of milling around and waiting for stragglers, the race began.

One interesting part of this race is that participants can take liberties with the route. As long as runners reach all the checkpoints, it doesn't really matter how they get there. As a result, the group almost immediately thinned out, as different packs of runners separated to catch the route they thought would be the most expedient. At the end of the day, though, I'm not convinced there's much time to be saved in the distance between the start and the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge.

Once on the Manhattan Bridge, I was situated snugly within a pack of runners that probably numbered about 10. Toward the Brooklyn side of the bridge, a couple of runners in the group made a move and I followed. The danger with going out too fast in this race is that it's easy to get lost if you don't know the route and I don't know it well at all. My goal was to keep runners pretty well ahead of and behind me to decrease the chance that I'd get lost.

But I didn't do a very good job. Soon enough, I found myself trying to keep pace with a couple of people who were running together and doing so successfully at a rapid clip. I kept up with those guys (actually one guy and one woman) until we reached the Navy Yard but started dropping behind at that point. Fortunately, there were a couple of guys from the Front Runners who were also in front of me but whom I managed to keep within my sights. They would be my hares for the rest of the race.

On my way out to the second to last checkpoint, I realized I was doing decently in terms of placement. As I made my way to the checkpoint, I made a point to count all the women I saw who were running in the opposite direction. I counted that there couldn't have been many more than 10 women ahead of me in the race and I was encouraged to keep up the pace.

Finally, I finished the second out-and-back and made it back to the last checkpoint. I had reached the home stretch, and the only things standing between me and the end were the Manhattan Bridge and a little of the Lower East Side, which I know like the back of my hand. Once I returned to race HQ, I joined the after party, which is only so enjoyable when you don't really know anyone and aren't good at mingling. I stayed for a bit but went home after 15 or 20 minutes.

When all was said and done, I ran it in just over 1:50, which was almost the same time I had for the Brooklyn Half. I was 9th woman overall (according to the unofficial results)! I'm already looking forward to next year.

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