Sunday, October 16, 2011

Staten Island Half Marathon

Sunrise over Manhattan

This was the view at the start. Something faraway you could see only if you squinted through the fog. Like my PR.

I'd been training for what I knew was an ambitious PR - I was looking to knock twenty minutes off my half-marathon time. Between my first and my second half marathons I chewed up thirteen minutes and spit them out nonchalantly by the side of the road. I figured if I worked hard enough I could get close to a two-hour half. I'd worked hard and gotten faster; the weekend before the Staten Island Half I ran a 5k and bested my time by two minutes.

As I walked into the corral last Sunday I was listening to the muppets playing Mahna Mahna and was excited to run my best half to date. I was missing my training partner Lindsay who had gotten hurt and Samantha who had a ferry difficult time making it to Staten Island but when the corrals collapsed and we started to move, I was ready to roll.

Pacing is not my strong suit and I have a tendency to get carried away so I was trying to focus on not going faster than a 9:14min/mi pace, but also no slower than 9:30min/mi. I managed to sort of stick to that and was having a great time until about mile 8 when my stomach decided the race was over.

With a high sun on course with no shade, temperatures creeping up near 80 and my stomach being squeezed from the inside out, I decided to slow down for a couple of miles. I thought if I rested from miles 8-10 by going down to my easy pace I'd cool down, recover, then race the last 5k of the course and still get about a 2:05 for a fifteen minute PR.

Slowing down didn't do the trick. I felt my body was either going to explode or I was going to pass out if I kept running. So I started run/walking hoping I'd start feeling better and be able to go back to running. At around mile 10 Samantha passed me and urged me to join her, I waved her on and wished her luck (she went on to an amazing breakthrough PR). Later, a fellow PPTC member from my speed group joined me. I tried to keep up with her but after a few yards I knew that would not be possible.

Please let me get out of here before I puke.
For the first eight miles I'd managed to stay on target for the PR I wanted and had even managed be about a minute and half under. As I shuffled along I kept re-calculating and trying to make deals with myself. I was done racing, but if I could stick to my easy pace I could still finish with a decent time. C'mon! You can still shave 10min! You can do five! But doing the old lady shuffle was all I could handle without turning into sludge and even then I had to take walk breaks. By the time I approached the finish line and heard Jenn, another PPTC member, cheering for me I was starting to feel disoriented enough not to understand why she was calling me.

It took me two days to recover from the wicked race hangover I got from this.

My final time was 2:19:09 for a not too glorious 51second personal record.

It's a bittersweet new personal record. It's not the one I wanted but getting so sick in a race feels like a sort of accomplishment. Maybe it's a rite of passage, or maybe it's the knowledge that I gave it everything I could give it that day.

It also means I still have a huge record ahead of me.  I'm looking forward to my next half-marathon and I plan to get to the starting line with the same Mahna Mahna energy.


  1. Definitely a bittersweet day, but we will have to plan another race to go sub 2 together :)

  2. It's on! I need to pick one soon. I'm considering Manhattan if I don't find one I like sooner.

  3. Majo - Tara from book club (have you met her yet?) and I are driving up to Rhinebeck to do a half next weekend, if you're interested (

    But more importantly, cute skirt! Who makes it?

  4. Thanks, Tracy! The skirt is by - only skirt that fits me! Love it. Can't wait for them to start making them in other colors.

    Had noticed and considered inviting myself, but I'm all booked for next weekend. Got a fun half planned in late Nov/early Dec? I'd be all over that.