Things about been kind of quiet over here at Amelia HQ. I’ve been dealing with a bout of runner’s knee for the last couple of months and a little bit of depression. The good news is going back to physical therapy has helped the knee a lot. It’s not 100%, but it’s getting closer and handling jumping my mileage back up for the last few weeks before Boston.
Anyway, some of the half marathons I had hoped to be able to run in February and March were taken off of the table because of the knee. Still, I managed to make it out for the NYCRUNS Ladies First Half Marathon in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. It’s a nice small half marathon with just a little over 300 runners and a focus on the women, obviously.
Last year, when I ran Ladies First, I placed 9th overall, won my age group, and PRed. Not bad! I didn’t expect any sort of repeat this year thanks to the knee. I’m just not in the same kind of shape I was in last year. My goal this time was to do a four-mile warmup and then run the race at a nice moderate pace.
I left the house with enough time to drive from Jersey City to Brooklyn, find parking, get my bib, check my bag, and knock out my pre-race miles. Finding parking was surprisingly not too hard. I found a spot about a half-mile walk from the start of the race which was a nice way to warm my legs before starting to run on them.
The weather was chilly, hovering in the mid-30s. I knew once the sun came out, the temperature would be climbing into the lower 40s before I’d finish the race. And, of course, just like last year, there was a pretty solid breeze. Maybe 15mph? It was blowing in the same direction as last year, as well—at your back on the way out and in your face on the way back. Damn the Hudson!
The course was altered due to some snow-related stuff after nor’easter #417 this month. Usually, it’s a smaller out-and-back followed by a bigger out-and-back. Three 180º turns. This year, it was about two miles out and then 1.8 back, with four loops of that 1.8 mile stretch before finishing where the race starts. So, eight 180º turns. Rough. Though, because I wasn’t planning on racing, I wasn’t too upset about the course change.
My warmup miles ended up being a quick out-and-back to the course’s turnaround point. Nice and easy, but my legs felt like garbage. I had something like 18 minutes to kill between my warmup and the race start so I just walked up and down the pier at the start while trying to stay in the sun. My knee was feeling like it could be a problem, but I was staying hopeful that once I started running the race it’d feel a little better.
When it was time to line up, I got pushed right to the front of the corral. I didn’t want to be right up front, but there I was. Luckily, I was able to keep things controlled at the start and did my best to make myself as easy to pass as possible. Once settled in, I kept things steady on the way out with the wind at my back.
Coming around the second half of the first loop, I found myself pretty locked into my effort level and position in the field. I counted down the miles and laps without thinking too much about anything. Each stretch going out, I’d start to overheat and wish I was wearing less clothing. Then coming back, with the wind in my face, I’d feel just right.
Once I made the second-to-last 180º to start my final loop, my pace started picking up a little. I didn’t even realize I was running slightly faster it until my watch beeped at the 10th mile marker. I went from 8:06-8:15 pace to a 7:51. I made sure to just focus on keeping my effort steady. I didn’t make a conscious push or try to pass anyone.
As I saw the pier where the finish was come into view, I was excited to be done. I crossed the finish 42nd overall with a 1:46:34. Relatively where I wanted to be.
I like this race a lot. The course is repetitive, but it offers a beautiful view of the Verrazano Bridge, Bayonne, Jersey City, Lower Manhattan, and the Hudson. The small field size makes it feel personal and the medal is always cute as heck. I definitely recommend this race and other NYCRUNS races. They do a few half marathons on this same course so you should be able to catch one pretty easily if you’re in the area.
Oh, and they give out a pretty sweet finisher’s medal. It’s right up my alley, too. Small, but unique and cute. A+