The morning started well. I was already kind of awake when my alarm went off, so no grogginess or disorientation to start the day.
I got up, got dressed, had my typical pre-race meal of two pieces of toast with peanut butter with sliced up banana on top. It’s so good that I can get it down easily, even though I’m generally not very hungry so soon after waking up.
After checking my bag, with about 30 minutes until the start, I took a Salt Stick. I had never taken one before a race before, but I decided I would give it a try. Then it was time for a quick warm up of about a mile with some strides thrown in.
I stopped by the bathroom before heading to my corral, and while I was in the porta-potty, someone took my water bottle! I thought that was pretty rude. That meant I didn’t have anything to wash down the half pack of Shot Bloks I had in the corral.
While waiting for the start, I saw something new: a man just standing around waiting for the start like everyone else…and reading The Wall Street Journal.
The first two miles were a little fast, but consistent, with both clocking in at 6:39. I wasn’t worried, because I knew there was an uphill mile coming, and I figured I just banked 25 seconds or so for that mile. And I was right: the third mile ended up clocking in at 7:01…but I noticed my watch was also falling of the mile markers. It wasn’t that bad, but I was probably 10-15 yards past the mile mark when my watch buzzed.
5K: 21:01 (Official)
I went through the 5K mark a little fast, but not too fast, so I was happy there. My focus then was holding on for the next 5K. I figured that I banked about 15 seconds in the first 5K, and that if I could get my cushion up to 30 seconds, I should be good through the finish on my 1:30 goal.
Unfortunately, my watch wasn’t behaving in this section, and it was falling further and further off the mark. This was the first time I’ve ever had a problem with my watch clicking off the miles after the markers. Usually, the problem is with it clicking off before, which translates into the current pace reading faster than expected.
I knew the “current pace” was reading slower than it should, but it still got to me, so I found myself pushing to keep it at my goal pace, even though that meant I was actually coming through the mile markers ahead of pace. I was really glad I had a pace bracelet on to help me keep track of things as the watch got further off the mark.
Talk about even splits. That made me happy as we turned around and went up onto the boardwalk shortly after the 10K. I finished off the rest of my Shot Bloks.
The boardwalk was great. The wood was a great change from the asphalt and felt good. I really hit my grove and felt strong in my pace and passed quite a few people. My watch was still off, but I had some 6:3X-ish miles in there.
And then I hit the hill.
I looked at the elevation chart going into the race, and I wasn’t really phased, but I guess I didn’t really appreciate how steep this hill would be. My mantra became, “The faster you run up this, the sooner you’re done!”
Coming down from that hill was almost worse, but I was intent on making up for some of the lost time on that hill. At the 15K, I had something like 55-60 seconds in the bank…so that had me thinking if I could just hold on, I could get a 1:28:XX at the finish.
So I powered down that hill and into by far the hardest part of the race. A little after the 11 mile mark, we turned onto this pretty industrial street by the water. Pro: you had a great view of the skyline. Con: It was a desolate wasteland that felt like it would never end.
And then it did end, and I wish it hadn’t, because it ended at an overpass over the Long Island Railway tracks, which meant another hill. This one was short but steep, and had me questioning whether I had it in me to power through the finish.
Luckily, at this point I heard someone shouting at me from behind, telling me not to let go. It was one of my teammates. She said she first saw me at mile 8, and struggled to gain on me from that point on. The fact that she couldn’t for so long makes me feel good about my effort in those miles.
She spurred me on up a final hill and around a corner to the 13 mile mark, where she finally caught me, and when I just wanted to breeze into the finish, because I was tired, and I didn’t think I had a kick in me, she told me I had to go, and I had to stick with her across the line, and so I did, killing that final 1.1 km in 4:23, or a 6:24 min/mile pace.
Final: 1:28:17, 13th Female Overall
All in, it was a challenging race, but I think I really put it all out there and I’m really proud of my time.
When I first came back from injury in the spring, I decided to train for a 1:32 half—the time I would need for time entry into the New York City Marathon. As training progressed, I decided to aim for 1:30.
But all my half-marathon paced workouts were hard, and I often struggled to hit the right pace, and I was questioning that 1:30 goal all week leading into the half. If you dig deeper, I was also doubting whether I could pull off 6:XX miles for 13.1 miles. Two years ago, I never would have dreamed that was possible, so that insecurity was there.
Now, I’m going to dream big in the future, and see how much further I can go. In the near term, I’m feeling much better about my time for the Philadelphia Marathon in a little over five weeks, and I can’t wait to put it all on the line there.