October 9, 2011

Staten Island Half-Marathon Race Recap

I wish I could have come out of this race like Danielle came out of her marathon last week saying that the list of good things far outweighed the bad...and she had a tough marathon. Instead, I walked  out calling it the worst race ever.

When my alarm went off at 5:00 this morning, the first thing that came to my head was "I don't want to run this race." I didn't. I never did. I'm not trying to be a marathon maniac, I didn't want to run 13.1 two weeks in a row so why was I waking up at 5am on a Sunday morning to trek all the way out to Staten Island and run another half?

9+1. FML.

I decided to have a large breakfast since the race didn't start until 8:30am. Oatmeal, toast with almond butter and a banana and orange juice would do the trick for me. I ate, got dressed and headed to the subway to try and catch the 6:30 ferry. I made it there with plenty of time and spent about 20 minutes reading at Runners' Village Whitehall Terminal.

Compression socks everywhere at the Staten Island ferry
We got to Staten Island shortly after 7 and after dropping off my bags and taking off my outer layers, I was on the road for some easy miles before the race started. My legs were pretty dead and I thought it would be good to get some miles on and wake them up. As soon as I took off, I thought, "This course sucks." The supposedly stunning views of Manhattan would have been great if they weren't hidden behind a giant run down warehouse with a rusted barbed wire fence and an overgrown-with-weeds parking lot. Maybe it'll get better after Mile 4. I made my way back to the Start while volunteers were screaming "You're late! You missed the start"...even though I had 15 minutes to get to the start...but when people start yelling like that, you naturally pick up the pace so I did my last few pre-race miles a little faster than I expected. I got to the start just as the back corrals were going through which was perfect because I was able to just keep going.

By Mile 2, I felt like I was in trouble. I was starving. My 5am breakfast 2 1/2 hours before I started running followed by 8 miles wasn't a good thing. I took a Gu and it helped a little bit but my legs were still tired and I didn't want to be running along that same damn boring loop again. I needed energy fast. When I saw the water station at Mile 3, I walked through it to get some Gatorade. And then I kept walking. For about half a mile.

I haven't walked during a race since my first half-marathon. Right there, I lost it. I was so disappointed in myself. Why was I walking??? 11 miles is supposed to be nothing this late in marathon training.

As I crossed over Mile 4, the winner was coming through Mile 10. What?! Last week, I hit Mile 7 as the winner was finishing. That was even more discouraging. We were climbing a hill and I wanted to walk but I stuck with my mentality of last week...if I make it to the top of the hill and I still need to walk, I will. Well, last week that kept me from walking and landed me a huge PR. This time, it resulted in 6 walking breaks. At Mile 2, 4, 6.5, 9, 11 and 12. The course was basically one huge out and back loop. The only time I've run an out and back was for the 6 or so miles toward the end of Philly and it wasn't bad because the spectators were great. From Mile 5, the out and back just started to get to me. I saw that everyone in my corral was on the other side and knew that time-wise, this would be my worst race yet. I was still hungry and my stomach was turning over so I was afraid to take anymore Gus. I stuck with the Gatorade along the course and didn't Gu again until Mile 9. Mile 8 was one long, slow, steep incline that went all the way up to Mile 9. This was the only part of the course that was pretty as we ran right under the Verrazano Bridge. But once we got under the bridge, it was those dreaded 4 miles again.

I started to get my legs going (finally) around Mile 9 but by Mile 11, I was done. And then my iPod died. When I needed music the most, I lost it. I stopped and started walking. I couldn't not do it. I hit a wall. (I'm not sure if it was the wall but I was just completely checked out of this race.) When I saw the mile marker for Mile 12, I told myself, "You are not going to walk the last mile of this race. The faster you run, the sooner it will all be over." By 12.5, I was walking. We hit the long stretch going back to the Finish Line and I said I would run the whole thing and I started running for what felt like forever. Mind you, I was on Mile 20.5 at this point. We went around a little bend and when I didn't see the Mile 13 sign. I just stopped. So did everyone around me. "Jesus Christ!" "Are you f*cking kidding me?" "Where the hell is the damn finish line?" were some of the things being shouted around me. I picked it up and started running and I started feeling like I was going to pass out. It was hot. It felt like July and everything around me got blurry. I started getting really dizzy but damn it, I was so close, if I stopped again, I wasn't finishing. When I finally saw the Mile 13 sign, my mom was standing right underneath it. She came out to surprise me. I was so dead at this point that I couldn't even respond to her. I really thought I was going to collapse on the finish line.

This course was dead. There so few spectators, it was sad. The volunteers didn't cheer and I just felt like there were crickets. Even in the last mile and a half stretch, it was silent, no loud cheers from the Finish Line, no spectators lining that last mile. Nothing. It was so depressing to be running such a hard race and having no one cheering along the course.

When I finally crossed, the medical tent was right there. I tried to go through it and they wouldn't let me. I needed to go through the bagel line first. ARE YOU F*CKING SERIOUS? I grabbed a volunteer and said, "If I don't sit down right now, I'm going to faint. I can't see clearly, I can't see anything in front of me and I need to sit down." So they took me in, laid me down on a cot, wrapped my legs in ice, gave me some Gatorade and after going through spins the likes of some of your first drunken nights at college, I finally started to feel a little better and made my way back to find my mom.

I crossed the finish line in 2:13:54. A personal worst by more than 5 minutes. I totaled 21 miles today. My longest training run ever. I didn't have my Garmin (more on that later) and since my iPod with my Nike+ died, I'm not sure how long it took me to get in those first 8 miles. I was also using my Nike+ which was so off, it wasn't even funny. When I hit Mile 4, it told me I was at Mile 5. It also said I was averaging an 8:24 mile and since my legs felt so dead, I assumed I was and kept trying to slow down. When I started actually running the race, I realized how off I was and through any time goals out the window.

This race was bittersweet. On the one hand, it's a huge accomplishment to hit 21 miles and log my longest training distance. On the other hand, 3 weeks out from the marathon, it's a little frightening to be having such a hard run. I attribute it to not wanting to run this race. Plain and simple. Last week, I had just as hard of a race (if not harder, since the course itself was more challenging) but I was excited about it. I wanted to be there. This time around, I mentally wasn't there. So it made the course that much harder. And to deal with the frustrations of having your technology so off when you have a pacing plan made it worse.

So that's it 21 miles. I'm technically tapering now but I might turn next week's scheduled 15 into a 20 just to make myself feel better about tackling the marathon distance for the second time.

This was a tough race. And a tough recap to write (sorry it's so long) but I'm proud of myself for running 21 miles and I'm proud of myself for finishing my 5th half marathon. I'm going to toe the line in DC in 3 weeks and I'm going to have a great run because I know that I don't ever want to have a run like today ever again.


  1. Christy!! I am so sorry that this was a tough run day for you. I promise that runs like this are par for the course. I had a similar run right before the NYCM in 2009 and I PR'ed by over 15 minutes. Don't stress, you have had great runs before this and your training will not fail you!

  2. Sounds like a tough race. I have never ran that much in my life, but my goal is to be able to do so soon.

  3. 21 miles is an accomplishment no matter how you slice it. Also, what my college roommate is musical theater used to tell me: bad dress rehearsal, good opening night!

    Also, I doubt the summer resurgence helped at all.

  4. Chrisy, girl, you DID IT!!! Your longest training run EVER!!! Focus on that. Breathe it in. YOU. FREAKING. DID. IT. No matter if you walked. or the race course sucked...... you did it. Cheers to you!

  5. It's so hard to run well if you're not there mentally AND there's no crowd to pump you up! I'm sorry it was a tough race for you. :(

    Your mind is set on the marathon - not this specific performance. You got a long run out of it, even if it was difficult. But this isn't the end! You still have the marathon and you will be ready by then!

  6. Tap into this during the marathon- the hardest races are usually the ones that build you up the most! You got this!!

  7. Poor fueling can lead to a negative mindset. And so does a shitty route. You'll be fine during the marathon, I know it.

  8. I like what Jill said above, just file this one away for when the marathon gets tough. Can I also suggest not running another 20 miler next week? You're going to run the risk of overtraining and burn out and you don't want to head in to race week exhausted. You have laid such a solid foundation behind you and even if this particular run sucked you still accomplished it and are still alive to tell about it. As far as I'm concerned, you rocked the hell out of this run! Rest up my dear and focus on gearing up for the race. T-minus two and a half weeks!

  9. :( :( Sorry that it was a sucky race for you! If it was for 9+1, why didn't you just choose another Manhattan race? Or are you trying to get into the NYC Half, too?

  10. Sorry that was a tough run. Still good to have the miles on your legs. That is what is really important. Try to focus on the good long runs that you have had. I would suggest not doing another 20. Maybe..maybe..another 16/17 if you want to up your confidence. We all have tough days but you will be psyched up for the marathon!! Don't let this hurt your confidence!

  11. 21 is a long run! I wish this had built up your confidence. You ran a long distance and the race will be so doable now. Don't worry about the tough parts of this race. Not similar to the real race in 3 weeks.

  12. Ugh, friend. Everything that was going through your head sounds like what was going through mine this weekend (p.s. - I PW'd my 13.1 time by over 15 minutes this weekend). so hugs to you, hugs to us, and launch yourself head first into taper. you're ready for the marathon, I promise.

  13. oh man, i am so sorry to hear this! but seriously you hung in there as best you could! it's so tough when it's not your legs, but your head, that's just not in the game. you've been working so hard - don't let this one race get you down!


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