Forgive the all-caps, I’m just still very excited about this. Since I started running half marathons in 2013, my most consistent goal has been to finish one in under 2 hours. AND I FINALLY DID IT! A COUPLE DAYS AGO!! DURING MY SIXTH HALF MARATHON!!! ON STATEN ISLAND!!!!! My half marathon PR, prior to this, was 2:04.11 for my second-ever half marathon. I’m so happy I finally did it. Sixth time’s a charm.
So let me talk about the race! This was the Staten Island Half, and the final installment of the NYRR Five-Borough Series before the New York City Marathon (which I can’t wait to watch in a couple weeks). The Five-Borough Series is a super cool program that I just found out about this year. The New York Road Runners holds an official race in each borough throughout the year. It kicks off with a half in Manhattan in March, a half in Brooklyn in May, then the Queens 10K (June), the Bronx 10-Mile (September), and this Staten Island half (October). I unwittingly participated in the latter half of this series, but next year I aim to do all five races.
I was wary about this race because of what happened in the immediate aftermath of my Bronx 10-Mile two weeks before. I didn’t go super into it in that recap, but I was having lots of weird bodily functions and just generally felt awful the rest of that day following the race. Then I did a long run the week before this half marathon, and similar uncomfortable bodily functions/stomach stuff happened again. I realized the common factor was a Nature Valley granola bar before both long runs, so I didn’t eat anything before this half and hoped for the best. That was a good decision.
I did this one with my brother, and we boarded the 7:30am ferry together. I’ve found that I really love doing races with David, because he’s good at pushing himself, and I’m good at being really competitive with him 🙂 classic younger sister. He’s faster than me, but it’s helpful for me to stay with him for as long as I can, or if he gets ahead, to set small arbitrary goals like “catch up to David before you reach mile 10.” It helps me push myself, but also keeps me realistic about my pace and goal.
The half marathon course itself was crazy hilly. In hindsight, that makes it even more satisfying that I was able to break two hours, but I wasn’t necessarily feeling that satisfaction mid-run. I was dying. This route was insane. I felt like I was running around San Francisco. I’m being dramatic, but there were a lot of inconveniently placed hills, including a long, steep one right at the start of mile 8. This was a terrible spot for a hill, because I was really starting to feel it at that point, but wasn’t quite close enough to the finish line to feel like I was in the home stretch, or like it would be over soon.
And as if that wasn’t enough, there were a few more brutal, steep (but luckily much shorter) hills sprinkled throughout the last few miles, and another right at the start of mile 13! We couldn’t catch a break with the hills. At that point, they just felt rude. I’ll include the elevation chart below, so you can kind of get a sense of what we were dealing with in the latter half of this route. Based on the below image, I know that mile 9 looks like it was all downhill, but please note the little spikes of uphill over the course of that steep “downhill” section. Like I said, the hills were rude.
In terms of my personal run, I started this one really strong and felt surprisingly good. I finished my 5K in 27:16, and my 10K in 53:31, which was an average pace of 8:28/mile. That’s fast for me. I know I slowed down at the start of mile six because my left knee flared up with this weird intense pain. I’m not sure what that was, but it did go away shortly after it started. Other than that, I felt pretty consistently good during the rest of this race. I obviously slowed down during the monster hill at eight miles, but I’m proud of myself because I didn’t stop to walk at all.
I also didn’t stop for water, which in this case worked for me. I’m trying to be better about being more open to listening to my body during races, instead of following hard and fast rules, and it seems to be working well. In this case, the weather was nice and cool, I wasn’t sweating too much, and I drank a decent amount of water that morning. I was thirsty by the end of the race, but I think not stopping was the right call.
Aaaand that’s pretty much it! My knees were definitely sore after race, and I was stiff yesterday, but today I’m feeling good. I’m going to the gym today for a treadmill run, so we’ll see how that goes. I want to stay in good running shape even though I don’t have an upcoming race to train for. I think if I can maintain the level of mileage I’m currently putting in per week, I’ll be in a really good place to start more intense training schedules for whatever races I sign up for in 2019.
My official finishing time for the Staten Island Half was 1:57.01 (!!!!) with an average pace of 8:56/mile pace. And if you’re interested in my nerdy, deep-cut stats: I finished in 4,574 place overall, out of 11,465; I finished 1,133 out of 4,985 women; and I placed 301 out of 1,066 in my age group.
I had so much fun during this race, despite the hills and the weird knee flare-up. I feel like I’ve really hit my stride (pun fully intended) with running lately, and will be back in 2019 with new hopes, dreams, and running goals that hopefully won’t take me another 5 years to meet. Until then! ◊