Race Recap – Empire State Half Marathon

So Sunday. Empire State Half Marathon. Whewwww. 

It was good. We opted to stay home Saturday night and drive to Syracuse the morning of. It meant getting up earlier than if we had stayed at my parents, but it also meant a much better nights sleep. And I’m telling you this because it leads me to letting you know I broke a cardinal sin on race day; I broke routine. You know that old adage never, ever, ever do anything different on race day? I did not follow this rule. 

Anyone who knows me knows I can put away coffee like a champion. And I drink it black, so don’t think I water my goods down with cream and sugar. I also know coffee makes me crampy if I drink it before a workout, so I try to avoid it pre-workout as often as possible. But with an hour drive into Syracuse in the wee hours of the morning, I opted to make a small cup for the ride. I sipped it slowly and didn’t even finish. But it was the only change in my pre-race routine, so I’m going to finger point my tummy troubles at you coffee. 

We had to go drop Griswold of my parent’s house first, then we scampered over to the minor league baseball stadium where the start and finish were. We wandered into the Amtrack station to use nice, non porta potties. And this is where my tummy troubles, or lack there of I should say, started. 

Our friend Andy had been kind enough to grab our race packets for us the day before, so we had to hunt him down and grab our bibs and packets. We also bumped into our friend Teri and her husband Kevin who were both running as well. We got a summer camp represent picture just for good measure, since we all met there.

Teri, who is an amazing inspiration, me, Andy (don’t let those long legs fool you, he coaches cross country), and Rob 

The full marathon kicked off right at 7:30 and us half runners went out right at 8am. I will say I was happy that this race did individual start and finish times, not mass start-individual finish, because that crap makes me cranky. The gun went off and we weren’t right up front, but we weren’t too far back in the pack either. 

The race started at the Chiefs stadium, ran out past the Amtrack station, then out onto Onondaga Lake Parkway, which was closed for the race. The parkway closes for three hours every Sunday during the summer for people to run, bike, rollerblade, whatever on, so locals weren’t terribly put off by this. In fact, there were a lot of people sans race bibs clearly out taking advantage of the road closure. 

Rob, Andy, and I stuck together for about the first five miles. We were making good time at consistent 9 minute miles. I will say though, that I struggled a bit the first four miles. I was having a hard time finding my rhythm and even though I had covered my perma-hot spot, I could feel it rubbing like crazy by mile 2. This caused me to run on the outer edge of my foot and kept making my whole left foot fall asleep. I took advantage to walk through the water station at mile 4 and shake my leg to regain some feeling. And that must have been enough, because after that I managed to settle and coast along great the rest of the race. 

I also stayed steady with my nutrition plan. First shotblock down at mile four, then I chewed through one every two miles after that. By the turn around point at the dog park I was feeling really good. I had some gatorade mix in my fuel belt bottles too, but I was hanging onto those and just getting water every now and then from aid stations. They had one every two miles, so there was more than enough. This being said though, my tummy never quite settled. I tried to potty a few times before the race and my body was completely against it. And one or twice along the course I got a wave of trots that I managed to fight off. Although at one point I did say to Rob in the last mile or so “If we stop I might shit my pants”. Lesson learned, nothing new on race day. But I will say with confidence that I did not poop my pants. You’re welcome. 

Around mile 8 I was feeling good, but Rob’s tendinitis had started bothering him and our pace was beginning to slow. And I should mention that Rob and I have been together for over five years now, and in those years we’ve run many races together. And when I say together, I mean we stuck together from start to finish, no matter what. He got me through my first horrid excuse of a 5k race and I got him through the swim on his first triathlon where we crossed the finish line hand in hand. However, we had discussed prior to this race that if one of us felt so inclined, we would split up and finish separately. Right at mile 10 I was feeling great and ready to pick up my pace and crank out the last 5k at sub-30 and finish the whole race sub-2, I could still manage it and felt good enough to push it. I was just about to tell Rob I was going take off when he sort of grabbed my arm and asked me to please stay with him. I love my husband. His drive and tenacity always amaze me, and in that moment I looked up at him and saw that he wasn’t feeling good. I glanced down at my watch, conceded to knowing I would end up over 2 hours on the race, and told him that I would of course stick with him. 

Those last three miles were a doozey. We passed out of the state park and back onto the parkway with the sun coming down on us. We stopped three times I think. And we walked a few times. When we were running I seemed to always be a few steps ahead, trying to encourage Rob to just keep moving because we were close. We stopped at one point and I gave Rob both my water bottles of Gatorade to pound, hoping the quick shot of electrolytes might help. We did manage to pick up steam and run through the last half mile strong. 

My overall place was out of 1385, so pretty middle of the pack. But that pace time makes me twitchy. So slow, bleck. 

So my final finish time ended up being 2:10:28. Not quite what I was hoping for, but honestly still not bad for my first half marathon. And now I’m hellbent on running it again next year and annihilating it. Sub-2 or bust!

My splits. You can see where we really started to slow down and stopped a few times. My watch time and my finish time are about two minutes off thanks to autopause. I manually adjust the time and distance since my watch was a smidge off, but this give you an idea. 

Overall, I liked the race. I was familiar with the course since it’s somewhere I’ve run many times before. It was flat and fast with ample aid stations. I got see Rob’s mom cheering us on twice and Emily at three different spots along the course (and I got to pet her and Andy’s adorable new puppy, swoon!)

The other thing too is that we were chugging along through our training really well up until about two months ago when Rob originally started having his leg problems. Then when I started having hip problems I cut back too. I could feel my hip swelling after about 8 miles and I had hot spots over every inch of my feet it felt like by those last two miles. But what’s amazing was that if I kept moving and kept staying positive, I was able to push aside all the pain I was in and focus on carrying myself strong. It’s pretty amazing what the human body is capable of if you’re willing to commit and preserver. There’s a bunch of articles out right now about a study recently done that tested triathletes pain tolerance against that of casual athletes and they find that triathletes have a higher tolerance for pain. I don’t know if that maybe factors in, I doubt it since I’m a giant pansy when it comes to pain. But it’s really quite inspiring how much you can push yourself to accomplish something if you just really stay positive and fight for it. And it makes me very hopeful for IMCuse in June. 

Love the medals! Also, that Pearl Izumi Elite race jacket is pretty much my love affair. 

So that’s that. My first half marathon is in the books and my race season is officially over. My next registered race at this point is IMCuse on June 22 and my training for that will be starting in November!

What’s the longest race you’ve ever participated in?
Did you learn anything from a particularly good or bad race? 

12 Replies to “Race Recap – Empire State Half Marathon”

  1. Congrats on your first HM! I have my first in December too and am terrified. A great way to build up your running base before your IM training kicks in though. Question – will you be using a coach for IMCuse or attacking it on your own?

    1. Solo attack! I’m much too broke for a coach. But I am going to join my local tri club sometime in the next few weeks and they currently have a NYS Hall of Fame Master Swimmer running swim sessions every other week, so I really want to partake in those.

  2. I just went through something similar with a friend at the Columbus Marathon on Sunday, Good for you for sticking with your hubs. There will be other races. 🙂
    Congrats on your first half!!!

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