4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Posts Tagged ‘staten island half marathon

Staten Island Half Marathon Race Report

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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!


Staten Island Half Marathon

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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