Sunday, 6 February 2022, was my first race of 2022. I’d been looking forward to the Fred Lebow Half Marathon to both be my first race of 2022 and first half marathon race. Unfortunately, I got really sick with something not-COVID and couldn’t attend. So I was extra excited about getting to this race. Last year’s COVID winter surge and summer Delta wave meant that I didn’t get to any in-person races until the fall when I FINALLY got to do the CUCB Cherry Blossom race. This year it seems, so far, that in-person races are here to stay with various COVID mitigations in place. NYRR is requiring racers to be fully vaccinated and mask wearing until runners leave the corrals. Folks seem to be mostly complying with the latter, although it’s inevitable that some folks slip through the cracks.
The race started at 0800 and it was a one hour train from my in-laws to Lexington and 63rd, the closest station near the start of the race. I got up at 0500 with a goal of leaving at 0530. I got dressed, ate a handful of raisins, and headed out.
Lots and lots of kudos to Tracksmith. I’ve moved 100% to using their clothing for all seasons other than summer. They’re based out of New England and so they are pros at making clothing that works amazingly in cooler weather. (This isn’t to say anything against their warm weather clothes, I’ve just had OK results from pretty much any brand when all you need to do is keep me from getting a sunburn) I was wearing the Brighton base layer, the quarter zip mid-layer, and their $300 jacket for my tops. For my pants, I had their Bislett pants. I also had their gaiter to protect my face and their fuzzy gloves for my hands. Along with my generic socks and NB shoes, I actually kept pretty darned warm as along as I kept moving. That is, for the walk from the subway stop to the park I was warm. During my warmup 10 minute easy run I was warm. By the end of the 10k I was sweating! It was only during the 30 minutes in the corral that I started to get cold. I was shivering when the gun went off, but about 2-3 minutes in, I was already warm again. So their clothes are pretty awesome and worth the premium, in my opinion. (This isn’t a paid sponsorship, even if it sounds like one. I just like how well the clothes work!) Also, when speaking to a runner friend at work, I learned about triathlon belts that hold your bibs. That was way better to use than trying to pierce holds into my new, $300 jacket. I loved it and will never pierce my running clothes again. (Unless I happen to forget the belt)
This was my first in-person NYRR event. Of all the racing organizations I’ve registered with, this one has the most comprehensive and useful site. Most racing event organizers have a good way to find their upcoming events and register. But NYRR has a great ability to keep track of and manage the races you’ve registered for. The only bug I’ve come up against in both Firefox and Vivaldi (which is based on Google Chrome’s code) is when choosing a time to pick up my number and event shirt (or hat or whatever), after I pick one, it doesn’t show what I’ve picked right away. It looks like the system didn’t take my choice. I have to come in the next day for it to show the selection I’ve made. At the event itself, things were incredibly well organized. This tends to be my experience in general with things that happen in NYC. You have to be well organized in a city of 8-9 million people. This was a relatively small race – cheap registration price and no medal – just a shirt and yet there were over 4,000 participants! NYRR had folks throughout the general race area in Central Park to answer questions and direct folks towards the bib pickup, bag check, and toilets. The corrals were well organized and well run. Lots of volunteers were available at the food section at the end to hand out bagels, apples, and water. Overall, it was one of the better run races that I’ve been a part of. It makes me excited to continue to participate in their races this year.
I’m more of a long distance runner (and swimmer as well) and I’m currently training for a 10 mile race. So I wanted to try for a personal record, but I also haven’t been training to run fast. Additionally, I was scared there might be ice or snow on the course. Luckily there was neither ice nor snow even though it had snowed quite a bit the week before and it was perfectly safe. I was able to keep a nice average pace of 7:28 and did indeed get a new personal record, beating my previous 10k time.
I was really happy with how I did. Running in Central Park was incredible. While the original intent for the park was for the poor to observe the rich and learn “how to act”, the modern purpose of the park is to serve as an oasis on Manhattan. The skyscrapers truly did fade into the background as we ran the park’s perimeter. It was also great to hear the pounding of so many feet around me as we all worked towards our goal and putting our training to the test. The reason I race is to give myself a goal to work towards, a reason to train so hard.
I’m looking forward to lots more in-person races this year and can’t wait to share my thoughts with you!