A Simple Mile by Mile Look At The NYC Half Marathon

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.

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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.

1 Comment

Kelly Roberts

It all started when a silly joke made headlines back in 2014 when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the New York City Half Marathon. But ironically enough, I haven't always been a runner. As the self-proclaimed former President of the "I f*cking hate running club", I spent most of my life finding ways to avoid physical activity. Growing up, I missed over 70 days of PE my senior year. Working out was something I thought I had to suffer through in order to lose weight. 

Then, in 2009, my younger brother passed away unexpectedly and struggling to manage my grief, I gained more than 75 pounds. With the weight gain came a new fight to regain my sense of self and learn to love the body I saw when I looked in the mirror. Then one Thanksgiving morning, drowning in grief and self doubt, I decided to go for a run. I didn't make it half way down my street before I had to stop to walk but for some reason, struggling forward made more sense than getting back into bed. It turns out that running is a lot like grief, neither ever really get easier, you just get stronger. 

Over time, I realized that while some people are in fact born runners, others are made. I created this blog Run, Selfie, Repeat and my new podcast by the same name with the hopes to inspire others to say yes to themselves while making them laugh hysterically because laughing, in my opinion, is the solution to everything. 

Named by Women's Running as one of twenty women who are changing the sport of running and by Competitor Magazine as one of 12 Influential and inspiring runners under 30, my mission is to inspire others to get embrace a healthy lifestyle and pursue the strongest version of themselves possible.