4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Staten Island Half Marathon Race Report

with 5 comments

Let me start by saying that I love the Staten Island Half Marathon.  Of the Grand Prix events, I enjoy this 2nd most, just behind Brooklyn.  The course is not particular difficult, has great water vistas and great views of the Verrazano Bridge.  It also has a wonderful staging area in the parking lot of the Richmond County Bank Ballpark, and top it off with the wonderful opportunity to take the Staten Island Ferry in the early morning.

This was my seventh running.  I ran 4 times in the 90’s, on the old course that ended in Fort Wadsworth.  This is the third year in a row I’ve run the newer course, as part of my final preparation for the New York City Marathon.  Considering the marathon is in 3 weeks, I decided I wouldn’t run this as a race, but rather as a strong tempo run.

This year the race had an 8:30 start, an hour earlier than in prior years.  I felt the 7:30 ferry was cutting it too close, so decided to go for the 6:30 ferry.  That necessitated a 5am alarm, and getting out of the house by 5:30.  The early morning ferry ride, starting in the darkness and ending with the rising sun, was so peaceful.  Sat on the Brooklyn side, views are just stunning with the sunrise on a nice morning.  Was quite cold though.

Once at the staging area, got my number, used the ‘facilities’, and then sat on the waterfront and read my book (The Mists of Avalon) for 15 minutes.  Then used the facilities again, changed my clothes, dropped off my bag, and made it to my corral with 10 mins to spare.  All in all, a perfect pre-race strategy.  No stress, no waiting on lines, etc.

My goal was to finish under 2:05, and if things went really well, perhaps push it down to 2:01 or so, which is similar to what I did last year.  So, the early strategy was to do about 9:30 per mile and then slowly push the pace faster in the second half.  My shin has been acting up lately, and it was starting to bother me in the first 2 miles.  Luckily it was not so bad and I was able to push through it to the third mile, where my shin started to loosen up.  Uphills are good for the shin, and there were enough uphill spots in the early miles to keep it under control.

  • Mile 1 – 9:26
  • Mile 2 – 9:27
  • Mile 3 – 9:23
  • Mile 4 – 9:13

The other nice thing about this course is that the streets used are very wide, and have lots of straightaways.  This is especially true when you get to mile 5 and the out and back on Father Capodanno Blvd.  It starts with a nice long downhill into the straightaways.  Was still feeling really good here so did start to push a little.  The out portion to mile 6.5 was slightly into the wind, so required a little more push to maintain the pace.  I knew that I could coast a little with the wind on the way back to prepare for the big hill as you approach mile 8.  Mile 7.5 to 8 is a pretty steep uphill coming off the Blvd and into Fort Wadsworth.  It is the toughest part of the course, and I knew that it was mostly downhill after that part, so I pushed it hard as well, and finished that mile with a very strong 9:28.

  • Mile 5 – 9:36
  • Mile 6 – 9:16
  • Mile 7 – 9:24
  • Mile 8 – 9:28

With the hardest part behind, and only 5 miles to go, now was the time to start pushing, especially on the downhills.  Significant downhills in mile 9 and 10.  Was still feeling super strong here and was able to maintain a nice hard 9:00-9:15 pace, and then really pushed it all out on the last mile, and finished with a very hard sprint into the finish.

  • Mile 9 – 9:12
  • Mile 10 – 9:02
  • Mile 11 – 9:23
  • Mile 12 – 9:07
  • Mile 13 – 8:23
  • Mile 13.1 – :45

My official time was 2:01:14, which I was very happy with.  Overall, was very similar to the race I ran last year.  Virtually the same pacing, with a similar hard finish.  My time last year was about a minute faster, at 2:00:19.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still really happy with my time, and my race strategy, but since the strategy and conditions were almost identical to last year, and last year was 1 minute faster, it unfortunately tells me that I have not gotten any faster in the last year, with all the running and biking I’ve done.

Feeling great going into the last weeks of New York City Marathon training.  Planning for a 20-21 miler next weekend, and then a 2 week taper into the race!

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5 Responses

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  1. Too bad I didn’t realize you would be at this race:( I too arrived at the race around 7:30, and tho it was cold, the day could not have been better for the half marathon, now my 2nd favorite race (the Great Cow Harbor 10K, in Northport, Long Island, is my favorite: it’s 5 minutes from my house:)!

    You had a very strong race my friend, and will do great on Nov. 1st:)!!

    Joanne

    October 13, 2009 at 9:57 am

    • Thanks! I’m interested in getting out there and trying other courses around the area. Maybe will try Cow Harbor some time!

      SCL

      October 13, 2009 at 10:28 am

  2. Hi,
    I’ve just noticed your blog and wanted to say well done on your time! Some races go better than others, and sometimes you can’t figure out the reason. I ran the Great North Run in England 2 years in a row, thought I ran faster on the second one, and ended up with a time only 5 seconds faster!

    But good luck with your training for the big race!

    rsksports

    October 14, 2009 at 7:51 am

    • I hear you. That is the worst. Feeling like you finished a run pretty fast, then looking at the clock, and realizing it was not as fast as you thought!

      SCL

      October 14, 2009 at 8:18 am

      • I know, I ran the London marathon twice, but 5 years inbetween, and was only about 7 mins difference. It is frustrating to say the least.
        I’ve always dreamed of coming across to America for the first time and run a marathon while I was there, either the Boston, or the New York one. I know its difficult to get accepted as an overseas runner, but I won’t give up!

        I have to say your blog is brilliant, and for someone starting out, its a good place to look to see what can be done.

        Ray

        rsksports

        October 16, 2009 at 2:43 pm


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