4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Manhattan Half Marathon Race Report

with 6 comments

Yesterday was the Manhattan Half Marathon, 2 loops of Central Park, and the kick off of the five borough NYRR grand prix of half marathons in NYC.  Half marathons in Central Park are very tough, 2 full loops of the park, but this was my 8th (3 Grete’s, 5 Manhattan halves) so I knew exactly what I was in for.  As predicted earlier in the week, I did not see a PR in this race, and was predicting a finish between 1:59 and 2:00.  A month ago, I would not have thought sub 2-hours was possible, but I’ve been working really hard, putting in lots of miles (for me), and had a great start to speedwork in Jan, and so I felt I was ready for sub 2-hours.

Last year I ran the race, but didn’t ‘race’ it, (race report here) as I was planning to add on miles afterwards.  Turns out I didn’t because it was freezing cold that day.  But 2 years ago, I did race it, and surprised myself by running under 2 hours.  I felt like I’m as well, or better, trained now than I was 2 years ago, so my real goal was to beat that time from 2 years ago, which turned out (I found out afterwards) to be 1:59:05.  It requires a very smart effort.  It is very easy, on this course, to lose it in the 2nd half, so my goal was to keep within a comfortable, but strong pace, the first loop, and then push as I felt possible in the second loop.  2 hours is 9:09 pace, so at each mile marker, I’d be able to gauge where I was.

Was really a great day for racing.  37 degrees, although humid and overcast, and very little wind.  At the last minute, I decided on lightweight long-sleeve shirt, and no gloves or winter hat, just regular cap.  I was very comfortable, although started getting a little cold in the 2nd half when there was no sun, and the temps did not rise at all.  Was at the park around 7:15, and had just enough time to use the bathrooms, change, go through my preparations, check my bag, and get to the corral with 10 mins to spare.

At 8am, we were off!  I did get caught up in the race excitement to start and found that mile 1 was 8:55, too fast.  Was hoping that my comfortable pace would be around 9:10, with gas in the tank to push the last miles to ensure sub 2-hours.  Fast early miles would not help.  Slowed a little for mile 2 (although that mile has cat hill) and then evened out in mile 3.  Mile 4 has the Harlem Hill upswing, and a crowded water stop with Gatorade.  Combined, those caused the slowest mile yet at 9:31.  However, made that time up on the long downhill on the West side into mile 6, and completed the first loop in 55:04, which was ever so slightly over my goal, but very close, and I was feeling good.

  • Mile 1 – 8:55
  • Mile 2 – 9:18
  • Mile 3 – 9:11
  • Mile 4 – 9:31
  • Mile 5 – 9:10
  • Mile 6 – 8:56

In loop 2, tried to keep the same consistent pace, but push a little in spots where it felt right.  First 3 miles of the loop were very consistent, but right at my goal pace, didn’t make up any ground here.  Then, mile 10, which has the same Harlem Hill and important water stop as mile 4, was done again in 9:31 (hows that for consistency!).  I panicked a little at that point.  At mile 10, I figured I was about 30 seconds BEHIND my 2:00 goal, and thus 90 seconds behind 1:59, and thought it was time to start pushing hard.  In mile 11, you have the rolling hills of the west side, and I pushed up each of the hills, finishing the mile in 8:47.  Mile 12 is mostly downhill, and as I was able to maintain the same pace as mile 11, but with less effort, using the hill to save something for the last mile.  Mile 12 was 8:37.  At that point, I knew 2-hours was in the bag, but, I really wanted to beat my 2008 time, and would be awesome to finish under 1:59.  Mile 13 was very tough.  There are uphill and downhill sections, and I tried to use every one to my advantage.  Last quarter mile is on a downhill and found the last bit of gas to push it hard.  Mile 13 was 8:37!

  • Mile 7 – 9:07
  • Mile 8 – 9:10
  • Mile 9 – 9:09
  • Mile 10 – 9:31
  • Mile 11 – 8:47
  • Mile 12 – 8:37
  • Mile 13 – 8:37
  • Mile 13.1 – :46

Crossed the finish with an official time of 1:58:54!  6 seconds faster than my predicted 1:59, and 11 seconds faster than my course PR, set 2 years ago.

I was very happy with the effort in this race, executed exactly as planned, and I am excited about the prospects of setting a half marathon PR later in the year.  In 2008, when I ran 1:59:05 in Manhattan, I then beat 1:57 both in Bronx and Brooklyn in the upcoming months.

In a final summary, this was a strong negative split.  Last 6 miles were finished in 53:43, more than a minute faster than the first 6 miles!  Also, this was my 4th fastest half marathon ever, out of 31!


Written by SCL

January 25, 2010 at 6:48 am

Posted in Race Report, running

6 Responses

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  1. Congrats on the PR! You ran a great race on a tough course. Great seeing you after the race.


    January 25, 2010 at 7:23 am

  2. S ~ Wow I so totally enjoyed reading this. I could feel the excitement in your words. And a perfectly executed race. Well done my friend and congrats on hitting your goal!!!


    January 25, 2010 at 10:05 am

  3. Congrats on the course PR! This is definitely a challenging course but good on ya for gutting it out and running a well executed race! Excellent way to start off your 2010 racing.


    January 25, 2010 at 4:09 pm

  4. A strong start to what looks to be a big year for you!

    Run to the beat

    January 26, 2010 at 12:03 am

  5. awesome! congrats on the PR!!! I love when races go exactly as planned!


    January 26, 2010 at 1:49 pm

  6. Sweeeeet !!! I feel like I was there to see the whole excitement. Congrats on getting the job done.


    January 27, 2010 at 6:04 pm

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