Monday, May 2, 2011

Race Report: RXR/TIAA-CREF Long Island Half Marathon

There wasn't a separate shirt for the half. Weird, I know. Should I wear the shirt?
 I targeted the Long Island Half Marathon as my final tune-up race before the Vermont City Marathon on May 29. I spoke with Coach Jeff on Friday to formulate a race plan. He said to try and go out at around 7:50 pace and if I feel I felt good at mile 10, I should let it fly for the last 5k. I thought that seemed reasonable. Most of my long tempo run have been right around that pace. A 7:50 pace would get me across the finish line in approximately 1:43 which would be a PR by 2 minutes and on target for a 3:30 finish in Vermont.

Since I live in NJ and don't go out to Long Island that often, I left plenty of time to drive out there. Traffic was light early Sunday morning and I arrived in Eisenhower Park around 6:45. I made sure to use the bathroom adjacent to the parking lot before making my way to the start. I met up with Samantha, whose friend was nice enough to pick up my bib, checked my bag and lined up just in front of the 8:00/mile pace sign. The conditions in East Meadow could not have been better Sunday morning. Temperatures at the 8:00 start were in the upper 50s and sunny. It was supposed to warm up but not til much later in the day.

The horn went off and it was the usual clusterf*&k at the start. There were a fair share of runners that did not line up honestly. Thankfully, the Charles Lindburgh Blvd. was wide enough that I was able to settle into my pace and waste too much energy bobbing and weaving. Right from the get go, I decided to race based on perceived effort rather than focusing on the 7:50 pace. The first 2 miles, I went out too fast but I was able to reign myself in and settle in to a hard but sustainable effort (I've been using that phrase a lot recently). I found the elevation profile of the race deceiving.
I really didn't feel the gradual rise from miles 4 to 8. Aside from a small hilly part on the Wantagh Parkway the rest of the course felt flat. The marathon and half marathon courses split at the 10 mile mark. Marathoners went left further down Wantagh Parkway and half marathoners went right onto Carman Ave. I was feeling good so I picked up the pace. As I made the final turn out of the golf course and back into Eisenhower Park I saw the clock turn to 1:40. I knew I had a PR but pushed a little harder with the hopes of finishing sub-1:40.  I didn't look at my watch until after I grabbed a bottle of water and someone put a finisher's medal around my neck. When I did, guess what I saw??????
I had to a double take. Did I just run a sub-1:40 half? Indeed I did. I called Coach Jeff and he let out one of his trademark "YEE HAWs." My official time was not that far off from my watch time.
The 1:39:29 is PR by 6 minutes. This race was a huge boost to my confidence. I was feeling slightly fatigued right before Passover and honestly, I wasn't sure how I was going to do after only running 4 times over the 10 days I was away. Turns out my body was fresh and I ran a killer race. 

Overall, the Long Island Half was well run race. The course was well marked, the roads were wide and closed to traffic and there was more than handful of spectators on the course. There was also a pretty elaborate post-race festival with a beer garden, band, and some vendors showing off their products. It looked like many families planned on meeting their runners and spending the day in the park.  My only gripe was that there weren't enough aid stations with Gatorade. There were aid stations with water every 1.5 miles or so but Gatorade was only provided at miles 5 and 10.

It's hard to believe that VCM is now less than 4 weeks away. Time really went by quickly. This is my last hard training week before the taper.  I'm ready to rock!


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