Race Report: 2017 United Airlines NYC Half

OK… not going to bury the lede on this one. Despite being undertrained, some serious quad pain, and cold weather, I achieved my goal of PR’ing at yesterday’s United Airlines NYC Half Marathon!

Race Prep:

I was definitely undertrained for this race and hadn’t done much running since returning from Mexico. I can make excuses all day long about the weather etc. but really I just wasn’t feeling it. This time of year it’s tough but I love this race and was determined to finish it anyway. 

The weather was up-in-the-air pretty much up until the night before. Everything from snow to freezing rain to sunshine to high winds had been predicted, which made putting together my race outfit quite the challenge. I ended up settling for a long sleeve quarter zip, windbreaker, TFK singlet, lined tights with calf sleeves underneath, warm gloves, ear warmers, and a gaiter. This outfit was perfect for about two-thirds of the race, but I was sweaty by the end… the weather gods smiled upon us and for once the wind coming off the water down the West Side Highway wasn’t terrible. 

Race Day:

I met up with many of my TFK teammates in the corrals before the race. It’s nice to pass the time with friendly faces and it was a great distraction from the cold. With 20K+ runners, it was CROWDED but luckily we were all able to find each other. The gun went off at 8:10 but we had another 20 minutes to go before our corral would cross the start line so there was plenty of time for funny photos and words of encouragement. 

Central Park:

The first 10k of the race is in Central Park which means that the first 10k of the race is ALL HILLS. I ran with my friends Dorothy and Morgan and we decided to take a run/walk approach to the race; running 3 minutes, and walking for 1.

Cat Hill is literally the first segment of the race, and I was glad to have that out of the way. We made our way to the north of the park where there were 2 short out-and-back sections of the course. I really enjoyed seeing many of my friends on those out-and-backs and we shouted and waved “hello” to each other. That was a nice little boost before getting to the dreaded Harlem Hill where luckily, we had a cheering section waiting for us at the top. 

The rest of the park was easy after that and we were making really great time. Our splits from this section were:

  • Mile 1: 12:16
  • Mile 2: 12:06
  • Mile 3: 11:51
  • Mile 4: 12:29
  • Mile 5: 13:03
  • Mile 6: 12:06

Times Square:

Times Square is easily the highlight of this race, and it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement (as evidenced by the splits below). It’s one of just two days a year that this area is shut down and the only time I look forward to being there. All the lights, the people, and the music make this an experience unlike anything else. We saw SO MANY friendly faces in the TFK cheer section here, and even stopping for photos, high-fives and hugs couldn’t slow us down. At the mile 9 water station, we slowed down, ate some shot bloks, and geared up for the last long stretch of the race. 

  • Mile 7: 11:38
  • Mile 8: 11:44
  • Mile 9: 12:57

West Side Highway:

This section of the race is tough. The crowds are sparse, there’s not much to look at, and my right quad was starting to scream at me. This is where having friends to motivate me kept me going. We stopped for a stretch/restroom break and then continued to plod along the highway. I tried to keep myself from reading the street signs because I knew we weren’t that far south yet and I had to get out of my head if I wanted to finish this race. Finally, we saw the battery tunnel and made our way down the last downhill, through the tunnel, and up the final, painful incline to the sight mile marker 13. At this point, I was able to see Nick who was waiting for me and I knew that the finish line was literally just around the corner. We sprinted(ish) over the finish line for an official time of 02:42:02; 40 seconds off my time from last year and a new PR for me. 

Our splits for the last few miles were a bit slow, and the tunnel made my GPS go all kinds of wonky:

  • Mile 10: 1258
  • Mile 11: 13:41
  • Mile 12: 15:18
  • Mile 13: 13:43
  • Mile 14: 8:14

The Finish and Post-Race

After crossing the finish line, we were able to get our medals from our friend Shayna who was volunteering, and I have to say that it was so much nicer getting race bling from a friend. After snapping some finisher photos and getting our heat sheets, we finally made it out of the finishers area and trekked over to a Dunkin' Donuts where we met up with Nick and headed back to Queens where I quickly showered so I could take a well-deserved nap!

Brooklyn is 9 weeks away, I have a 10K in the meantime, and lots of training to do; but I am feeling very confident that I can once again beat my best time in Coney Island. Bring it on!