Thoughts from My First Half Marathon: A NYC Half Marathon Race Recap

I felt like a proud mama last weekend as my friend Jenny crossed the finish line of her first half marathon. She absolutely ROCKED her first half! Go read her kick*ss race recap and congratulate her on a job well done! I’m really so proud of her!

As I sat at brunch, beaming with pride for my friend, celebrating her outstanding accomplishment, I started thinking about my second half marathon, coming up this weekend, and  began reminiscing about MY first half marathon and what an incredible day it was.

I wrote a race recap back in March, WAY before Once in a Mile was born, as a way to always be able to look back and remember that day. I thought, as I sit here waiting to leave for the Newport Half Marathon, I would share my thoughts from that life changing day.

March 18, 2012

NYC Half Marathon

Finish time: 2:23:09

Exactly 6 months to the day of my first 5K race (Race for the Cure-September, 18, 2011)

To quote Annie, “6 months from 5K to Half Marathon? That’s Badass!”

Warm before race, in Central Park before sunrise. After sunrise and before start felt like the AC was put on, got really cold and a little windy. Waiting for start, we moved a little, people cheered and then didn’t move again. Waiting for start, almost there, elite runners finish outer loop of Central Park before we begin race. We were so far back, we didn’t hear the National Anthem or the horn go off to start the race.

About to cross the start line, I say to Annie, oh my goodness, we are really doing this! I can’t believe it. Best of luck my friend. Just think of me during the race and I will think of you. Know that I am going to cross the finish line and you have to too!!!

Right after start, crowds cheering, cowbells and all, felt and sounded like NYC Marathon excitement, was pumped to run this race and this excitement was completely overwhelming.

Mile 1: Warm up quickly, Annie and I throw away sweatshirts, feels freeing to lose outer layer. Happy decided not to wear a real outer layer.

Mile 2: Cat Hill, easy! See Annie’s family and look on her face motivates me to get through park to see my friends and my brother, Gary. Look down at pace…too fast, sub-10 min/mile, can’t keep this pace for entire race, know I need to slow down.

Mile 3.1: Step on 5K mat, get excited, knowing my friend Dara will get a text alert and smile.

Mile3-5: Harlem Hill and rolling hills on the West Side of Central Park. Never felt easier. Floated over hills. Feeling like all the hills were maybe TOO easy?

Mile 6.2/10K: Stepped on mat at 10K and knew Dara would get another text alert and everyone would get ready to see me, leave park and head down 7th avenue. Really exciting. Running through the city now. Think of seeing everyone, get emotional, pace gets slower, pep talk to stop getting emotional, pace gets faster. On my way out of the park. As I was turning the curve from the Central Park loop and heading towards 7th avenue, got high fives from 3 complete strangers and it was AMAZING!!! Incredible how high fives from total strangers can be so motivating. I love high fives!

Mile 6.5: See friends and Gary and face lights up and I feel overwhelmed with excitement and love and scream, “Go downtown, I’m gonna finish!” After seeing them, I knew I would finish. Didn’t want to stop to see them, great pace and really in my stride, didn’t want to slow down. Was feeling really good. Maybe too good?

Mile 6.5-Mile 8: Times Square and 42nd Street, SO COOL! Fuel/gel station along 42nd Street. Street is so sticky getting stuck to road…gross!

Mile 8: Onto West Side Highway, starting to feel legs get a little heavy.

Mile 8-10: Feeling a little slower and had to stop to run/walk a few times.

Mile 10.5: SO EXCITED to see my family and friends again. This time stop for hugs/kisses because I need a little break. Gary jumps in and runs with me for a second and says “How ya feeling?” Me: “I’m hurting, run with me.”

Mile 11-13: Tough. Thought Battery Park Underpass was WAY longer than I remembered and wouldn’t end.  Mile 12: World Trade Center, thought of the morning I was there on 9/11 and listening to Christina Aguillera’s Fighter and thought I HAVE to run as hard as I can and push!

Even though it was long, the underpass was so much fun, people yelling and cheering and echoing. But everyone with a GPS watch lost their signal and I wasn’t expecting that, note to self, have become WAY too dependent on Garmin. Remember the past few years when you never ran with one and had oh so much fun and still managed to build up good mileage and speed, yeah, maybe time to try out some Garmin free running again for a while. So much fun running under there, hurting so much now, but almost done, just keep pushing.

Mile 13-13.1: Totally cliché, but saw the light at the end of the tunnel! Finally on FDR. Saw the “800m to go” sign and had to run up a small hill. Not cool. Once I turned onto Old Slip, thought of Gary and my father and took off and knew I could push it to finish. Turned onto Water Street and could see finish line. Sprinted towards finish line, with every bit of adrenaline the amazingly crowded finish line provided. There were people EVERYWHERE! The screaming and yelling and cheering was AWESOME! Kept telling myself, smile and put your hands in the air, smile and put your hands in the air….started getting emotional, about to finish 1st half marathon, holy crap! Crossed finish line and started crying and heard my friend Sheri’s voice scream “Beth” and we could only see each other through blue netting on a fence. We touched hands and felt such pride and excitement. Couldn’t believe it, I had just finished my 1st half marathon! Then I saw Gary and screamed, “I did it!” He saw me cross finish line on big tv screen but didn’t have camera ready fast enough. I’m sure Brightroom captured me in all my unattractive glory. I didn’t look at my Garmin after crossing the finish line, I didn’t care what it said, I had just finished my 1st half marathon and that was all I cared about in that moment!!!

I had two thoughts after crossing the finish line, 1) What else am I capable of? Maybe I CAN run a marathon? and 2) HOW do people run this distance twice?

Time of finish 10:26 AM on Maiden Lane! B’H (I grew up at 26 Maiden Lane).

Every time I saw Team in Training people cheering, it felt like my mom was cheering me on, EVERY TIME, and I knew she was. I felt her with me the entire race. Thanks Mommy! I love you always and forever.

I am so grateful to G-d for today. I was brave and courageous and let go to him and he got me through, injury and all.

Now it’s 11pm and I’ve been up since 3:30am and I am exhausted and sore and need to go to sleep. What a day! Couldn’t have asked for anything more. Amazing 1st half marathon experience. So happy my brother, Gary, and my closest friends Dara, Lee, Sheri and Tova were there to celebrate with me.

Couldn’t help but wonder if this morning was finally the sign from G-d I was waiting for. Put iTunes on shuffle while getting ready to stay calm and here are the songs that played:

  1. New York State of Mind: Billy Joel
  2. Ain’t Nothing Gonna Break My Stride: Men at Work
  3. Roll On: Alabama (family favorite growing up)
  4. It’s Been a While: Staind


One more piece of interesting information about March 18th. On this is the day in 2008, Gary first solo-ed in a plane. 18=Chai=Life (in Hebrew)! Baruch Hashem (Thank G-d in Hebrew), I would definitely say so!


7 thoughts on “Thoughts from My First Half Marathon: A NYC Half Marathon Race Recap

  1. Hi! I ran my first half marathon around the same time this year! Your thoughts pretty much echoed mine that day. I was sore, in so much pain, my knees were shot and I felt like I couldn’t walk another step. And yet, just like you, I managed to finish!

    Good luck for your next race. I’m looking forward to reading all about it. -Morty

  2. Yay! I ran that race too!!!! So nice to read it from your point of view.

    All the high fives and your fellow New Yorkers energy was amazing, so much better than the race support you get where I live.

    And yes, sticky fuel station on 42nd Street was gross!! 🙂

  3. Pingback: I Ran My First Marathon: 2013 New York City Marathon Recap | Once in a Mile

  4. Pingback: Why I Signed Up to Run the Brooklyn Half Marathon. Again. | Once in a Mile

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