What a weekend!  The NYC Half-Marathon was everything I expected it to be and more.  I truly love New York City and, of course, I truly love running, and when two loves come together like that, what can go wrong?  Plenty.  Nothing went really “wrong” per say but I worried a lot  that it might.

One of my running heroes - Meb Keflezighi - with our game faces on!

One of my running heroes – Meb Keflezighi – with our game faces on! Yes, that’s my serious face.

I’m a very anxious person.  From when I used to compete in gymnastics as a kid, right up until now, I am especially anxious about competition.  Signing up for a race with 20,000 other people in a city that is home to more then 8 million seemed like a good idea at the time.  Besides Boston, this was the biggest race I’ve been a part of and it was kind of scary thinking about how I was going to get to the start line.  Yes, that was my biggest concern going into the half-marathon – getting to the start.

Having fun at the expo the day before the race!

Having fun at the expo the day before the race!

I stayed at the recommend hotel near the finish line in the financial district, which was approximately 13.1 miles from the start.  My start time?  Oh just 7:30am.  No biggie.  There was also tons of security (we had to go through medal detectors), the choice of cab or subway and how, when and where I was going to eat breakfast.  I ended up eating in my hotel bathroom (gross!!!!) so I didn’t wake-up my husband.  New York may be the city that never sleeps but it sure the hell isn’t awake on a Sunday at 5am.

Amazingly enough, I made it to Central Park via cab by 6:30am and, apparently the city wakes up around that time, so I was able to sit at a toasty Starbucks and have a nice cup of coffee, with several other runners until it was time to get to the start corrals.

Did I mention it was freezing?  Well, it was.  Mostly because of the howling wind and lack of sun until about mid-way through the race.  And, when the sun came out, the wind only intensified.  More on that later…

I was dressed perfectly for mile 4-13.  I was wearing sunglasses when it was basically still dark so it’s a miracle I didn’t trip over someone or something during the first three miles.  I also couldn’t feel my toes or hands (despite wearing gloves and having hand warmers!) for the first 3 miles.  Just small details really.

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Here are the highlights:

I loved running though Central Park (even the hills!) and I was really trying to take it all in.  I felt good from the start on this one so I knew it was going to be a good day.

Times Square was amazing!  Truly.  I cannot really express how I felt running down that famous strip, which was completely shut down for the race and lined with screaming fans, bands and some people just staring at us like the insane group we are.  I was smiling the entire time and it’s a moment I won’t ever forget.  Or, it could have been the sugar and carb rush of my first GU Chomps kicking in.  Either way.

The West Side Highway smacked me in the face entire body with huge gusts of wind!  I had to laugh because I felt like I was slowed to a crawl for a minute.  Luckily, we turned around to head all the way back toward Wall Street and had the wind at our backs – which was really fitting for St. Patrick’s Day weekend since that Irish blessing goes something like “may the wind be always at your back!”  I’ll drink run to that!

The Tunnel was a cute little trick.  You know the issue with running into a tunnel when you’re Garmin is using satellite reception to track your distance, pace and mileage?  It loses the connection.  At mile 12ish we descended into a tunnel and I heard a hundred beeps from GPS watches all around me as they all gave us the same message: satellite reception lost!  Cute, really cute NYRR.  I tried not to think about it and just pressed on.  I knew I was about a minute off the start clock since it took me a full minute to reach the start line…plus, I was truly almost there and having a great race so who cared?

The Finish was awesome.  I felt great, I came in at 1:29 to tie my PR from October and I couldn’t have been happier.  Later, I also found out I placed 15th in my age group.  Normally, that would make me cry.  However, there were 1,790 women in my age group so I feel amazing about placing 15th.  The age-group winner, for the record, finished in 1:12!  That’s a 5:32 pace and she’s 37.  WOW!

Could I be smiling any bigger?

Could I be smiling any bigger?

Then I got lost.  At the finish, they made us walk about a half-mile to the end of the corrals.  Along the way we were given mylar blankets to warm us, a medal and, what felt like a 25 pound bag with a huge water, gigantic Gatorade and two apples.  I mean really.  I know it was all for security measures but what runner thought it would be a good idea to make the finishers walk down a wind tunnel, toward the water, for a half-mile and give them a weight to carry as they do?  If I had one issue with the race, this was it.

I also ended up on the opposite side from where my family was, because I went left instead of right, and had NO way to get to the other side, once I realized my mistake.  The running route was completely barricaded and I was stuck.  And freezing.  And carrying 20 pounds of liquid and fiber.  This is what happened next:

1.  I asked a NYC cop where Wall St. was, because I had gotten so turned around after meandering around from the long finishers chute and back up.  He took out his phone and started looking it up on a map.  A map!?  WALL STREET in NYC and you’re a NYC cop!!  Is this a dream?  Surely I’m hallucinating.  I just walked away.

2.  I asked two security/race people and was told I had to walk all the way around.  It’s now been 15 minutes since I crossed the finish line, I’m starting to get really cold and, for some reason, I’m still holding this huge bag of weights.

3.  I ask yet another cop because I cannot fathom walking the mile or more it will take me to get to the other side.  He looks at the barricade and says “Yeah, go ahead and just cross right there.”  Really?  The S.W.A.T. team isn’t going to tackle me to the ground if I start messing with fences?  Ok then.

4.  Luckily, my family and I picked out a meeting spot the day before, for just this scenario.  I was never so happy to see them and had to duck into a bank to warm-up and re-wrap my mylar blankets.  Mercifully, my husband took my weighted bag from me.  Love that guy.

I also love these guys who were staying with my Aunt and sent me this about an hour after the finish!  Best.thing.ever.

I also love these guys who were staying with my Aunt and sent me this about an hour after the finish! Best.thing.ever.

And, I love all of you…well, I’m sure most of you reading this anyway.  I cannot thank you enough for all the text messages, tweets, Instagram and FB shout-outs – you have no idea how much it means to me.  All your support and love and luck get me through each and every race and I truly thank you for it!

In the end, I achieved two out of my three goals #1 Have fun – oh hell yes I did.  #2 Finish in under 1:30 – oh hell yes I did.  #3 Meet up with as many bloggers as possible – not even one.  So sad, but just too many logistics and not enough time.  Of course now I have an excuse to go back to NYC and I can’t wait.

Luckily, Nellie at Brooklyn Active Mama just gave me a great reason to go back on May 10th!  She’s co-hotsing what’s sure to be a fantastic blog event – A Healthy U Conference!  Click HERE to find out more.


Have you ever gotten lost at the end of a race?  What’s the biggest race you’ve been a part of?

Thoughts on NYC?  Love it or hate it?