I enjoy running the New York Road Runners' 5-borough half marathon series. I'd already run the Manhattan and Brooklyn races this year, and looking at the schedule, I'd be able to run all five for the first time in a single year. I thought about running Queens, which this year was moved from September in College Point to July in Flushing Meadows, but with my feet feeling as bad as they did after Badwater, I gave up the idea. But then... I'd done a few short runs the past week since getting back from Vermont, and my feet were feeling better, and my legs were never feeling too bad at all. By Friday, I decided to register to run the race Saturday morning.
With a 7 am start and two subway rides, I was up at 4 and out the door at 4:30. I saw some of my friends there, Ruth, Eliot, Ilana, Mike A. (less than a week after his incredible Vermont 100 mile run) and Kevin S-S from Van Cortlandt TC, Cristian and Elmustafa from West Side. The course description and map on NYRR's web site looked quite complicated, but mostly took place in the park, with a 4-mile or so out-and-back on College Point Boulevard. By the first half mile I was rethinking the wisdom of the race. My legs were already screaming, and the heat, even that early, combined with the high humidity made it difficult to get a good breath. But on we went.
The early stretch on College Point Boulevard was not fun. It was out in the sun, and it took us past an asphalt plant that nearly choked the life out of me. It was about here that I met Chris Solarz, and we chatted for a short time before he went on ahead of me. After about 6 miles I passed Mike A., who might have needed a little more rest after Vermont. I soon saw his Vermont crew member and fellow Van Cortlandt runner, Mike O., pass me.
Approaching the 7-mile point near CitiField I could feel the blisters on my left foot heating up again. I was really questioning the wisdom of this race. Still, I was hoping to finish under 1:30, and although slowing, it was still looking good. But the next adventure was a trip around the Meadow Lake. I have bad memories of this from the super-hot Unisphere 50K/50 mile in the summer of 2008. The loop for that race was around the lake, and I couldn't even finish the 50 miles then, and here I was running another race around the lake. But at least this was only once around. And hitting the 10 mile mark, you know it's only a 5k left, and the end is near, even if you can't see it. After some detours on park roads I'd never been on before, we were back near the start area, but had to turn back for another lap around the Unisphere before reaching the finish line. I made it in 1:28 and change, very happy to get under 1:30. I've never run a harder half marathon in my life! My feet were definitely not happy with me.
I thought my hobbling was done after Badwater, but here I was, hobbling again on my way back to the subway. But as I came across the tent with the age-group awards, I was pleasantly surprised to learn I was second in the 40-44 age group! So I got to take home a nice piece of lucite! But I was sure hurting when I got home.
Pic: Ilana and I looking fresh before the race, pic by Eliot