Sometimes the best way to go into a race is when your mind is free of stress. Going into the 13.1 Queens event, I had very little expectations – running mileage had been low and many scheduled workouts were pushed back due to unsafe running conditions (snow & ice). And just the day before the race, mother nature dumped about 3-5 inches of fresh powder all over the race course, making it nice and slippery on race morning.
THE RACE – March 21, 2015
Being that the race was held in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, I had the luxury of sleeping in till 7am before getting up for the race routine. By 7:45am, I had picked up my race number #76, pinned it onto my singlet and went on a warmup jog. The course was saturated with puddles and lines of slush – it was going to be a dirty race.
The race directors modified the start time, delaying it by 15 minutes to 9:15am, a relatively late start. There were two hand cyclists that made their way a few minutes before 9:15am.
The gun went off and it was a mad dash! The first 400 meters of the race was incredibly fast. The top guys had sorted themselves early on, and after hitting the first mile in 5:55 I knew that I had to dial it down or else I would pay for it later on. I was probably in 10th position around mile 1.
After mile 2, there was a right handed U-turn that showed all the guys in front of me. None of them were terribly far ahead yet.
Luckily, I was able to pace with two other runners for the remainder of the race. The 3 of us created a single file race pace line and every few minutes or so, one of us would take the lead and help push the pace…otherwise, running solo would have been miserable!
At the halfway point, we were 7th to 9th position. By mile 8, we had caught up to some runners that had started fading. Miles 8-11 were a blur and all I remember was focusing on my pacing and breathing. We had passed a couple more runners who clearly went out a tad too fast!
By the time we hit the final short climb (overpass over the I-495), I made a quick move to force a little separation. Mile 12 was right on the other side of the overpass, followed by a water station. By then, I knew that the two other guys weren’t too far behind.
I tried my best to elongate my stride and when I hit the mile 13 marker, I pumped my arms as hard as I could move my legs.
I finished with a time of 1:19:26, good for 4th overall.
After looking at the finish line video, the two guys behind me were only 2 and 3 seconds apart, respectively. If it weren’t for the late kick, I could have easily dropped to 5th or 6th position.
This was an unexpected personal best half marathon result. Hopefully the rest of my season is just as perfect!