I recently decided to sign for three winter half marathon races, one per month. The reason behind this nonsense is to establish a good training pattern and see improvements in endurance events. I’m hoping to make 2019 the year of my comeback to proper exercising and racing in long distance events and this sounded like a “great” way to start. Also there are 3 half marathons in NYC and specifically in Central Park. All of them with the same course. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
Earlier this month I ran the first of them, NYRuns’ Big Apple Half Marathon. The course is two and half loops to the northern part of Central Park, including the dreaded Harlem Hill. The preparation for the race wasn’t specific, as I’m trying to focus more in triathlon than running, but the previous week I ran 15 miles in Prospect Park to try to replicate as much as I could the conditions in Central Park.
The morning started with some stomach issues but nothing to worry about. I had prepared all the clothes the night before, already thinking in a cold race. After an hour and a half commute, left the bag with my extra clothes and header promptly to the corrals. They were separated by pace (7’/mile, 8’/mile and so on). I placed myself in the back of the 7 minutes one. Hoping to start on an easier pace.
My goal for this race was 1h35’, basically 4’30”/km or 7’15”/mile. That’s 3 minutes over my personal best and, what I thought could be, feasible. Also, the idea was to start slower, at a 4’40” pace and then see how the body would feel. This time though, probably because of the cold (30F/-1C), or not having raced in a while. I got in a group of people racing comfortably at 4’25”/km and me with them. As soon as the first Harlem Hill showed up it took it’s toll and pushed me back to a 4’40” pace. From that moment it was an exercise of pace survival. I was able to keep that pace until the last 5 km where I was able to increase it a bit. Finishing in an official time of 1:38’57”.
From the data, there’s a thing that puzzles me and it’s the “low” heart rate I held most of the race. The average was 166 were I was able to hold 173 in several other races. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t ready to make a PR (1:32 at the moment) but the cold definitely affected my performance, considering that we were 20F under the ideal running conditions. At the same time, this will be a perfect way to measure running improvements, as next 2 half marathons will be done in the same course and probably similar weather conditions, if not worse.
Check this race in Training Peaks or Strava or Garmin widgets: