Are you running the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon? If you are, you're in for a stupendous race.
Let's talk about what you can expect as you run this Sunday through Central Park, Time's Square, and down to the Financial District Finish Line. Ready?
The race begins in Central Park and it's going to take about 20-30 minutes to get through security and to the start area. March is always unpredictable but tends to run on the colder side. (In 2014 when I ran the NYC Half, it was FREEZING. So cold that I couldn't feel my feet for the first 2 miles. Yeah, #terrifying.) Remember to wear layers and shed them in your corral before you cross the starting line.
Mile 1 is exciting BECAUSE YOU'RE PACKED IN LIKE A SARDINE! The race starts on Cat Hill so maintain your race pace and take it easy. Be patient.
Getting to mile 2 has a tiny incline and a glorious downhill. Chances are you're going to be running in a crowded pack because Central Park is only so wide. Don't weave and maintain your effort and race pace because Harlem Hill is coming!
Around mile 2.5, there are 4 very exciting turns. Embrace the high fives coming your way from fellow runners. Prepare to grab water or sports drink and get ready to kill Harlem Hill.
Right after you pass Mile 3 you climb Harlem Hill which is the steepest and longest hill you'll climb in the race. Don't fight the hill, let it happen. Once you conquer the hill, you have a get to descend and climb the rolling hills on the West side of Central Park. (MEDICAL AIDE: Right past mile 4 is your first Medical Aide station of the course. If you're chafing or need anything always stop and ask for help.)
Your very last full mile in Central Park is between mile 5 and mile 6. A few more gentle rolling hills and you get to take in the more exciting sights of the park. The hydration stop between miles 5 and 6 is a great place to grab some fluid.
This is the part of the race that gave me goosebumps. I audibly exclaimed, "THIS IS SO COOL!" when I ran in 2014. (Here you will also find your second Medical Aide stop on the course.) Once you exit Central Park, you'll head down 7th Avenue towards Time's Square. (Spectators! Between 57th St and 42nd St is a GREAT place to spectate!) I found my sister on 51st street last year and it was exactly the pick me up I needed halfway through the race I didn't train for. I was hurting for some love.)
Otherwise get your camera's ready because running through Time's Square is SURREAL. The rest of the race is very flat so if you're gunning for a PR, pick up your pace and your effort.
Mile 7 is a right turn onto 42nd St towards the West Coast Highway. Here you'll find another Medical Aide stop, a water stop and a WIND TUNNEL. Expect lots of energy from spectators and some Beyonce wind tunnel photo ops. There's a tiny U-turn which is always disorienting.
Welcome to the West Side Highway! Miles 8-12 are a straight shot and depending on the weather, expect either a crazy headwind, a beautiful tailwind or a very inconvenient side wind. With 5 miles to go, this is a great time to push a tiny bit harder.
Smooth sailing through mile 9 past your next Medical Aide Stop. Mile 9 can be a touch boring so use the crowd support.
Mile 10 is a lot like mile 9 but with the added bonus of a designated spectator zone so smile, wave and feed off of the cow bells.
Mile 11! Get ready to pose for your million dollar Marathon Foto with the Freedom Tower because NOW'S YOUR CHANCE! Wide open streets lead you down your last straight shot of the race towards the Battery Park Underpass.
I love going through tunnel's during races. I think it's spooky and hilarious when people cheer and whoop. As you zero in on your final mile of the race, you head through the Battery Park Underpass. Be prepared should your watch drop GPS signal, it happens. Scream your way through the tunnel and get ready to kick it to the finish line.
Once you exit the tunnel there's a little less than .7 miles left so break this section up in half and then empty the tank. You won't see the finish line until the last moments of the race so don't wait to put the pedal to the metal! Finish strong, cross the finish line like a boss, stop your watch AFTER you've crossed the finish line so you can smile for the cameras, grab your goodie bag, and wrap yourself in your delicious Mylar blanket.
I'll see you all on Sunday! Until then, #RunSelfieRepeat.