NYC Half and Fourteen Peaks

Although Spring is here, it seems that Summer is here as well with the numerous 70F+ days thus far. Warmer weather and more hours of daylight brings more reasons to enjoy the outdoors. After 2 years of not making the lottery to enter this race, I finally got in. This is a “Big” race with 20K+ runners. The route was slightly altered since last year, but in a good way in my opinion. The winter didn’t allow for much outdoor running but I managed to run a few half marathon distances as preparation for this one. 6 miles in Central Park in freezing weather with 18mph winds isn’t much to look forward to but hey, it’s the NYC Half! Besides, when do you get to run down 7th Ave from 59th street to Times Square with the mob?

OFF TO THE RACES:
NYC Half @ Manhattan, NYC
March 16th, 2014. 8:00AM and 31 degrees. 20,750 finishers.
Results: 8:28 pace, 5795th place, ~72% percentile, (C)

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Central Park: What do you get when you have 20,000 cold runners eager to get to the start line but only after passing through customs (security check with only 3 booths)? Madness! Good thing I arrived 45 minutes early, only to have a minute or two left to find my corral and start the race. Bang, it’s go time! Oh, by the way, I raced with a goal time of 1:50. I immediately spot the 1:45:00 pacer and just tried to stick to him as long as I could. It was only a matter of time before the hills would kill my sub-8 min/mile speed. And behold, at mile 3, the route took us up Harlem hill, Twice! It was another 3 uneventful miles until we escaped the park and headed into the concrete jungle.

Times Square (Mile 7): Immediately, the crowds are everywhere, like it was the NYC marathon. Sometimes I think that many of these people are just waiting to cross the street, hehe. This is considered to be the highlight of the race for most of us. For me, it was the mile which had the most space to run. I spotted the camera man blocks away and devised a strategy to break from the mob and get my picture without someone blocking me. Victory!

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The West Side Highway: After the brief party, it was time to run 6 more miles down the West Side Highway with the Freedom Tower in the background, all the way down to the Staten Island Ferry. Although the route was flat, it was windy and I was feeling burnt out. Mile 8,9,10, ugh, I walked for a minute to catch my breath at the water station. Mile 11, 12, nooo, the 1:50:00 pacer just passed me. Crap, now I had to chase her to the finish line if I was going to PR or even get close to my goal time. Before the last kilometer, we entered the Battery Park underpass. Wow, a tunnel without the cars. This may have been my favorite part. After almost a mile in the darkness, you see the “light at the end of the tunnel”. With less than a mile left, everybody makes their final sprint, including yours truly. So I finished in 1:50:49. Almost a Half Marathon PR, I missed it by seconds. But hey, that just leaves something to aim for in the Brooklyn Half in May!

HIKE 6: Fourteen Peaks

I have a double life. Yes, half runner and half hiker. A wolf-goat hybrid; a Woat or something. Spring is here which means that the trails are free of snow and ice (I’m not into snow-shoeing). The “path to the marathon” may have ended but there are other challenges to take on; other peaks to summit… Speaking of peaks, I embarked on a 12 mile journey through Harriman State Park last weekend which covered 14 peaks and 4,100 total elevation. With only 5 months left until my 3-day Mt Rainier summit trip, I have to step my game up. The goal is to be able to survive day 1, to have the strength and endurance to ascend 1,000 ft per hour with 40 pounds on my back for 5 hours straight. Right now, I’m not even close.

For this challenging 12 mile hike, I packed a ten pound weight, some food, and 2 liters of water in my back pack. This was really tough. Some uphill trekking segments seemed to last forever. I can’t imagine the struggle carrying 30 pounds more. The views were mostly repetitive and not as scenic as one would expect. Below are a few snapshots. I discovered the last remaining snow/ice. Also, if you focus on the last photo, although we were an hour away, you can still see the New York skyline in the background.

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Random Thoughts

Running just hasn’t been the same after the Winter. My drive isn’t there and neither is my enjoyment lately. It’s most likely just a phase. But that’s ok, I have more than 6 months until the NYC marathon. And I just found out, I actually have 5 months until the next marathon…

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That’s right, I was accepted into the Chicago Marathon! The path to a new marathon begins!