This weekend saw the 13th annual More Shape Women’s Half Marathon in Central Park, and my first half marathon of 4 planned in 2016 as part of my NYC Marathon training. I was so excited to run this race, I’ve only completed one half marathon in the past and I walked over a third of it – so really, this was my first real attempt at a half marathon.
Beautiful skies and injured legs
The race took place entirely in Central Park, with 7000 women completing just over two loops of beautiful Central Park. It was a gorgeous day for running, too – not a cloud in the sky and high 40F / 10C temperatures. Perfect!
In the days leading up to the race, I was debating whether to even run it or not. I had pain in my left hamstring, at the bottom of the muscle behind my knee. I visited a physio who advised me NOT to run the race as I could make the pain a lot worse and take longer to recover.
Needless to say, I was very worried! I decided to run the race with caution, and listen to what my body said on the day – if I felt like the pain was worsening then I would immediately stop.
And we’re off! More Shape Women’s Half Marathon is go
Race day arrived, and I was up early and feeling nervous. I had a light breakfast (banana, cereal bar), and headed out to drive into NYC. My husband was with me for moral support – so he was on photo taking duty for the race too. I’m very grateful that he’s so supportive of my race ambitions this year, because for him it usually involves a lot of being bored while waiting for me to finish running!
I started a couple of corrals behind my designated one, because I knew I wouldn’t be pushing for any time goals at all. This meant that I was at the back of the pack, but I was OK with that! I could feel a slight twinge in my hamstring but it felt comfortable to run on so I started running the race feeling cautious but optimistic.
Then, the funniest thing happened – after 2 or 3 miles, the pain COMPLETELY DISAPPEARED in my hamstring. Seriously – it was totally gone! I couldn’t believe it, I assume it’s because the muscle was warm while I was running. It was so strange, but I continued to proceed with caution and pay attention to how it felt while running.
When my hamstring felt normal, I was doing great. I was really enjoying the race, and I felt strong. I hit the dreaded Harlem hill just before mile 4 – I’ve talked before about the EVIL that is Harlem hill, and it was no less evil at this race! I ran up most of the hill but did take a few short walking breaks in between to get up the race without over-exerting myself.
Before I knew it, I had reached mile 6 and completed the first loop of Central Park. I couldn’t believe I’d almost reached the half way point, I felt so comfortable! I’d been running for over an hour and I felt GREAT! What on earth was going on? I decided that half marathons are definitely my jam!
I was even enjoying some banter with a few friends on a Whatsapp group, checking in every few miles to send them a play-by-play of the action, and I’d given them the link to live track the race. It was cool to think that people were tracking me as I ran, kind of like I’m famous! Well, if famous means that 3 whole people can see your initials travelling round a map on their phone…
And then it all changes…
So I was feeling smug by 6 miles. I was feeling STRONG. I had this half marathon in the bag.
Then I hit 7 miles, then 8 miles. I was still feeling OK but it wasn’t quite as easy as the first 6. By my 9 mile check in, you can see in my face that it’s not quite the breeze it had been for the first 6!
I also just noticed the back of that runner’s t-shirt. Hehe, love it.
Guess what came after mile 9? Yup, you guessed it. HARLEM HILL AGAIN. The second time round, it was a MONSTER. Not gonna lie, I walked up the majority of it.
What do you mean I’ve still got 3 miles to go?
By 10.5 miles, I was spent. Even with the slower pace to start, I felt done by mile 11. I really didn’t know how to get another 2.1 miles out. This tells me that the “slow pace” I ran at was probably still too fast for me!
At mile 11.5, I saw Jon in the crowd for the first time. That really helped me keep going! He got a few action shots too which I appreciated!
Then I had time for one final push, I mustered up the strength I had left and willed myself to finish strong. Then, there it was in the distance, calling me towards it. THE FINISH LINE!
This moment was amazing. I couldn’t believe I’d done it. I ran a half marathon!
The photo above captures the moment just after I’d crossed the line and been handed my race medal. I was so overwhelmed at that moment, I simply couldn’t process the fact my 12 weeks of training had paid off and I’d finished running my first half marathon. I’d worked so hard for it, and I’d met my first major milestone on the road to the 2016 NYC Marathon. Crossing that finish line was such an amazing feeling, I burst into tears as soon as I was over the line!
It’s OK though, it was happy tears. Overwhelmed tears!
After the race, I sat for a long time on the grass close to the finish line, just drinking in the moment and enjoying the post-race atmosphere. I felt physically and emotionally drained, and those few moments just capturing my surroundings was wonderful. It was great to see everyone round me feeling the same emotions and happiness that I was feeling.
You should DEFINITELY run this race in 2017!
This was the 13th annual More Shape Women’s Half marathon, and I gotta say, I’m so glad it was my first half. It was such an amazing, empowering experience to run it in the middle of NYC with 7000 strong women. I loved it so much, it was the perfect choice of race to start off my half marathon career!
If you get the chance next year, go for it. Maybe I’ll even see you there! I’ll tell you something though, I can’t imagine running twice this distance at the end of the year. I have a lot of work to do.
So what’s next for me? Well, I’m taking a few days off to rest this hamstring and I’ll be restarting my training at the end of the week. Less than 5 weeks until my next half so the work doesn’t stop here! 6 months and 17 days until NYC Marathon!!
Until next time guys,