I’d been looking forward to this half-marathon for months, and my training since the beginning of June had been tailored to it. I knew I wouldn’t PR, simply because I wouldn’t have the necessary base, but I thought I could definitely run under 2 hours on five days a week of training (which would include race pace workouts, and a handful of overmileage long runs). I wasn’t too concerned about racing in the summer since two years ago I set a strong PR on the old Queens course on an in hospitable day (73 degrees, 87% humidity). I felt confident I could acclimate to heat by the end of July
Yeah well, a few weeks ago my body said, Screw you TK, ain’t no way I’m acclimatizing to this! After weeks of 90+-degree days and crazy humidity, I had resigned myself to the fact that every workout would be run about a minute-thirty slower than what I would expect to do in more humane temperatures. It’s not a big deal, since I am willing to use my summer running to maintain fitness, and bide my time for Fall’s snappy, cooler weather when I will be able to lay down a little speed again. To keep things in line with my attitude adjustment, my Queens Half-Marathon goal went from “a good race effort” to “run smart to avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration.” Temps at the start of the race yesterday? 86 degrees with 63% humidity. It was a scorcher.
Luckily, a few days earlier I had arranged to run with a few friends from Twitter– @runamyrun and @mdwstrnNYer. They are faster than I am so I knew they would keep me moving forward through the heat for 13 miles. The other motivating factor for me was the new course. I was one of the few people who never minded the out-of-the-way location or the twisty and hilly route the old half took; nevertheless I was excited about running past a lot of Queens’ landmarks, including Citifield and the highly recognizable Worlds Fair Globe. And it goes without saying that any opportunity to race through my borough is one I hate to pass up.
There’s really not much to report except for the odd exceptions to my usual racing M.O.:
- Husband and Matilda the dog were on-site to cheer. I spotted them three times along the way, and Matilda’s expressions and sudden attentiveness when I called her name as I ran by provided amusement for me, AC and MP
- Three (count ’em, three!) hair ties snapped on me during the race. Always the left pigtail, too. So I had to cross the finish line with a ponytail. You all know how much I hate that.
- I drank at every water station, and walked through them, too! Usually I will have a few sips of water every other station on cooler days, or have Gatorade whenever it’s offered on hotter days. But this time I was drinking full cups of each at nearly every fluid stop. We were sweating so much that I didn’t even get a sloshy stomach despite having drank nearly a gallon of fluid along the course. I didn’t gt annoyed at the folks walking thru the water stations, and in fact I was grateful for the chance to walk a few steps every mile.
- I didn’t eat my energy gels. I carried them, but the thought of ingesting hot gooey banana-flavored energy gels made me nauseous.
The course wasn’t as great as I had hoped. We didn’t really get into a neighborhood (I love residential races), and the miles run out of the park were through industrial parts of Queens that frankly (and literally) stunk. The back streets and byways of Flushing stink like rotting fish, like stagnant water, like garbage, like bird shit. I hate to say anything bad about my borough which I support so fervently, but I have to say the old course showed us off better. I enjoyed running with AC and MP, they took my mind of my stresses, kept my feet moving and my smile turned on (even if you couldn’t see it, I was smiling on the inside).
All told, my official time for the race was 2:04:09. Average pace 9:29; fastest split 8:58; slowest split 9:47. I came in 41st out of 221 in my age group, which is consistent with how I usually place (which means everybody really slowed it down out there).