The race started very slowly. It’s not much of a surprise considering there were 40,000+ people running all together.
Split 1 – 8:18 min/mi
Split 2 – 7:15
The Verrazano Bridge is probably the highest and longest incline of the entire race, being long 2 miles (~3km) and having an elevation of 300 feet (~100m). But it’s early in the race so one doesn’t notice. To be honest I did notice, but I always notice the first few miles because it takes me some time to properly warm-up, even if I did warm up before the start. From the Verrazano Bridge one can already see the remote pointed skyline of Manhattan like a different otherworldly creature.
Split 3 – 7:33
Split 4 – 7:48
Split 5 – 7:44
Split 6 – 8:17
Split 7 – 7:20
Split 8 – 8:17
Brooklyn. The last three splits are wrong (definitely 7:20 is way too fast and 8:17 way too slow) as I got confused on which mile marker I had to take my split – there are three, one from each wave, and at times I didn’t see mine (blue) and took the split using another one.
Running through Brooklyn is always a pleasure and that’s not because I lived there for 5 years and so I came to love it, but because by running through its entire length one realizes how culturally and ethnically variegated it is. Few blocks vibrating with latino music in Sunset Park lead to very black neighborhoods linked together by the quietness of the Jewish enclave of Williamsburgh.
I enjoyed every bit of it. I was also lucky enough to meet up once again with Will who started from a different wave, we chatted a bit then I had to leave him behind because I didn’t want to have too much space between me and the 3:30 pace leader.
I tried hard(er than in Vermont) to stay with a pace team, but I’m not used to run with others and then I was feeling great … once again, but this time I was able to keep my pace steady and only just slightly faster than 8 minutes per mile.
Split 9 – 7:42
Split 10 – 7:40
Split 11 – 8:11
Split 12 – 7:47
Split 13 – 8:06
The Halfway point. The Half Marathon mark is on the Pulaski Bridge, which connects Brooklyn with Queens. Before it, we got few hills though my splits remain pretty constantly around 7:45 per mile. I knew I was running slightly faster than I planned to (I was aiming to a 3:30 race with pretty even splits of 8 minutes per mile) and I got to the halfway in 1 hour and 43 minutes, something like 2 minutes faster than intended, but I felt good. I mean really good, not like Vermont when I was running out of excitement: here today I was feeling strong.
Split 14 – 8:13
Split 15 – 8:15
Split 16 – 8:04
Split 17 – 7:46
Queensboro Bridge. Here the course becomes pretty hilly, which is surprising because living in New York one would never expect the city to be hilly, but, I guess, there’s a difference between living in a city and running a city.
The Queensboro Bridge is a long and tiring hill and … I loved it. I think that that was, for me, the best part of the race. I’ve always liked running with hills but this isn’t exactly the reason. For the entire race, runners hardly have any moment to space out: the public is great and keeps you motivated but … there are no moments of silence. Maybe it’s because I run by myself, but I love the feeling of running through a silent countryside especially early in the morning when the sun is just starting warming up the cold night. It wasn’t early morning when I got to the Queensboro Bridge, but the silence was beautifully suspended between its arches. For the first time since the Verrazano Bridge I could hear my breath and that of the hundreds of people running around and carrying me on.
Split 18 – 7:49
Split 19 – 8:03
This moment of self-meditation ended when we exited the bridge and ran down towards 1st Ave. I had to keep control of my legs to not let them go both for steep descent from the Bridge and for the thundering cheering coming from the people.
Split 20 – 8:22
Split 21 – 8:17
The Bronx. Two bridges in rapid succession distinguish the small portion of the race in the Bronx. It didn’t have much appeal to me, for one differently from Brooklyn or Manhattan I have no emotional attachments to the Bronx, and cheer was smaller mostly due to the area being full with (what they seem to be) warehouses. And then the fatigue was starting feeling. Up till then I felt strong and was running with ease, I knew it was only a transitory state and soon after mile 20 it would hurt.
As they say: everybody feels pain the last six miles ~ suck it up!
Split 22 – 8:05
Split 23 – 8:12
Split 24 – 8:36
Split 25 – 8:17
Split 26 – 8:06
The final 10k. Will told me. I read about it. The last 10k of NYC is hard and hilly, but still I wasn’t fully aware of it. 5th Ave is — actually because I never noticed before — uphill for at least a mile when heading downtown. It was there where I saw most people giving up: walking for a while or stopping running altogether. The memory of the Vermont Marathon was too fresh and I didn’t want to stop: “if I stop I won’t go anymore” I was keeping telling me. And so I kept going at a much slower pace but still within the limits of my plan.
The 3:30 pace team at this point was already ahead of me. They passed me by somewhere between mile 21 and mile 22. I freaked out a bit. I checked repeatedly my time, my splits … I don’t know what race were they running, but I knew I was on time for a 3:30. And did I finish slower than that, so be it.
After the long uphill stretch of 5th Ave there it comes: Central Park. As everyone who ran in Central Park would know the park is hilly, very hilly. I was visibly tired and slowing down on the uphills, I tried to make up the lost time in the downhills but without much luck.
Exit from the Park to Central Park South. I lived in this city six year and never never did I notice that Central Park South is actually a gentle (uphill) incline towards Columbus Sq. Oh man! That hurt so much.
But there was it: Columbus Sq. I didn’t have a time to even glance at it I was already running into Central Park — the final half a mile stretch.
There is something somebody should know. The finish line is actually uphill! Who had such a brilliant idea? I sucked it up, didn’t stop and there I was crossing the line. Finally I don’t have to run anymore: finish time 3:30:03, average pace 8:01 minutes per mile.
I am very happy, though it took me a couple of minutes after crossing the finish line to realize that I made it, I finish at my goal time!