4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Posts Tagged ‘half marathon

Grand Prix finisher

with 2 comments

With a successful Staten Island Half Marathon today, I completed the NYRR Grand Prix circuit for the first time ever!  Last year I only missed Manhattan, so I’ve completed 9 GP events in a row.


  • Manhattan – 1:59:05
  • Bronx – 1:56:54 (PR)
  • Brooklyn – 1:56:41 (PR)
  • Queens – 2:17:01
  • Staten Island – 2:00:20

My first half marathon in 1996 was Staten Island, so it feels fitting to reach this milestone on the same race.  Now that I’ve completed them all in one year, I won’t feel the same desire to do it again.   Seems like this is the right time to celebrate my history of the distance.  See below for the number of halves per year – this includes things like the Grete’s Great Gallop and New York City Half Marathon.  27 in the last 13 years:

  • 1996 – 1
  • 1997 – 3
  • 1998 – 3
  • 1999 – 2
  • 2000 – 4
  • 2001 – 1
  • 2002 – 0
  • 2003 – 0
  • 2004 – 1
  • 2005 – 1
  • 2006 – 0
  • 2007 – 5
  • 2008 – 6

What I love about the half marathon distance is that it is the gateway to the marathon.  My goal is to always be in half marathon shape.  From there, it is not a big reach to prepare for a marathon, or an olympic distance triathlon, which is in my goals for 2009.


Written by SCL

October 12, 2008 at 3:03 pm

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Staten Island Half Marathon

with 4 comments

In short, had a pretty spectacular race.  Finished in 2:00:20.

The day started out with an early morning ferry ride to SI.  I took the 6:30 ferry so I could chill out and enjoy a bit of serenity before the masses arrived on the 7:30 ferry.  It was a perfect ride.  Still dark when we left, the sky brightened during the trip.  2 giant cruise ships passed us the other way into New York, and in the distance, I could see a cruise ship heading out to sea.  Maybe Sunday morning is a busy time in the cruise ship timetable?  The ferry was virtually empty and very calm.  The start area was also very quiet and peaceful in the early hours.  Was able to catch up on some reading – currently reading Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson – and listen to some tunes on my Creative Zen (by the way, the perfect MP3 player on the other side of the ipod).

Pre-race management was perfect.  Even though it was a bit chilly early on, I had a light jacket and long pants to stay warm.  Also got just the right amount of food at the right time.  Timed the port-o-potty  visits just right, had my bag checked in, and got to the corral about 15 minutes before race time.   I even managed to apply some sunscreen on my face, anticipating a lot of time in the direct sunlight.  The only remote problem was that I noticed late last night that I was out of Gu.  It would have been nice to have one, but I’d have to do this race without.  Not possible, as far as I know, to buy it late Sat night or early Sun morning.  I’ll definitely pick some up at Paragon or Jack Rabbit this week.  I really don’t like PowerGel.  That also wasn’t an option anyway because I picked up my race number this morning (NYRR gives out PowerGel for the half marathons, but only if you pick your race number up before Sunday)

Onto the race itself.  After very poor showings in my last 3 races, I had decided it was OK to take it a bit easy today and treat it as a training run for the New York City Marathon.  Playing a part in that decision was the sun, which was very bright today – the weather was forcasted to go up to 70 degrees, on the warm side for me for a long race.  I figured I would keep it slow for the first half, which was into the sun, and then maybe I’d pick it up in the 2nd half.

As much as I tried to hold back back in the first 3 miles, I finished them all in the 9:05-9:15 range.  Then made a conscious effort to hold back in the next few miles.  Next few miles were in the 9:30 range, which I think will be my marathon pace.  In those miles, the sun was still directly in front of us and I was really afraid of it negatively affecting me.  I wasn’t thinking 2 hour finish at all.  I know you need to average under 9:06 per mile to finish in 2 hours.  While not far off that pace, I’d thought I had quite a bit to make up in the 2nd half.

I was feeling great as we hit the turnaround at about 6.5 miles.  Hit the ‘big hill’ hard and passed several people on the way up.   After the ‘big hill’, and passing Fort Wadsworth, I was still feeling great.  The sun was behind us, and there was a little bit of a cooling breeze.  The competitive juices started flowing and I decided to push hard the rest of the way.  I was expecting to finish in the 2:03 to 2:04 range – I thought I had too much time to make up to get to 2 hours.  Kept a nice steady pace through miles 9, 10 and 11 as I knew mile 12 had a lot of uphill in it.  Mile 12 was hard, but with only 2 miles to go, I had the energy to push through it.  Continued to pass a lot of people on the uphills.  I skipped the last water stop with a mile left in the race.  It was on the downhill and I didn’t want to lose momentum so close to the end.  Gave the last mile everything I had.  I finished mile 12 in 8:48 and mile 13 in an amazing 8:15, which looks to be my fastest mile in any half marathon race, and finished in 2:00:20.  If I knew I had a real shot at under 2 hours, I’d have pushed it a little bit harder in the middle miles.  Can’t really complain though – I’m quite satisfied.  No pain at all during the run and no soreness so far afterwards.

Was then able to book it back to the ferry to catch the 12:00 back to Manhattan.  Home by 1:10.


  • mile 1 – 9:12.7
  • mile 2 – 9:04.3
  • mile 3 – 9:08.6
  • mile 4 – 9:25.6
  • mile 5 – 9:40.6
  • mile 6 – 9:17.0
  • mile 7 – 9:28.1
  • mile 8 – 9:24.5
  • mile 9 – 9:14.4
  • mile 10 – 9:13.3
  • mile 11 – 9:13.9
  • mile 12 – 8:48.7
  • mile 13 – 8:15.7
  • mile 13.1 – 0:51.3
  • Total – 2:00:20

Looking ahead to my last long run next week, I’m probably going to run an out and back over the Manhattan Bridge and then down 4th Ave in Brooklyn to 95th St.  This is a nostalgic run for me and I usually get this one in at some point in my marathon training.

Written by SCL

October 12, 2008 at 2:41 pm