The Bronx Half Marathon is the second of a five-part grand prix series of half-marathon races held annually in each of the boroughs of
Fast forward to this morning.
After a couple more speedwork sessions and a longish tempo run mid-week, I felt somewhat more prepared to have a good race. My objectives for the race were twofold. First, I wanted to improve upon my Manhattan Half time by a minute. This would put me somewhere in line with where I was at the middle of marathon training last season. Second, I wanted to make sure I run well and strong because I was dedicating this race to a friend who was celebrating her 26th birthday. And since I couldn’t celebrate with her since she lives in an island far far away in the middle of nowhere, I told her I’d think of her as I run half her age in miles to commemorate her special day.
We were blessed today with exceptionally good weather as runners from all over the city packed subway cars and migrated like nomads on the annual pilgrimage to the
I started the race thinking I really should use the first few miles as a warmup. There were three good reasons for this: First, this was a brand new course for me. Second, I was told to expect a lot of hills. And third, because my last go-around through
No sooner after having such thoughts did I turn the corner onto the
After mile 7, we made another hairpin turn onto the Grand Concourse. Here, we were greeted not only with more rolling hills, but also a strong headwind blowing directly at us. The two miles leading to the turnaround was downright brutal. I don’t remember anything from that section of the course other than inaudible voices from the deeper recesses of my memory reminding me when my friend use to say “From where I from, we eat hills like these for breakfast!” So I pushed, pushed, and pushed (Mile 8 at ) until I finally passed the Mile 9 marker at the turnaround point at .
At this point, I decided to take the next mile a bit slower for recovery. I was exhausted from the long climb and needed to cruise a bit before the final push toward the finish. Besides, we were heading back now and I wanted to catch as many of my Flyer teammates coming up the other side as possible. It was so great to see so many familiar faces as I ran by. It made this race feel so much more of a communal affair than any of the others that I had participated in recently. And even though I was struggling internally, I waved and smiled at everyone I recognized because I think they absorb as much positive energy from me as I do from them. My respite caused me only a few second as I passed the Mile 10 marker at , but it was all I needed to recharge my batteries for the final stretch.
After 10, I knew that all that stood between me and the finish line was a short 5K. I didn’t know what my average pace was or what my projected finishing time was, nor did I care. Absolute time wasn’t going to be a goal for me today, as I just wanted to keep my time around . I knew I had lost some time in the debacle on the Concourse but told myself that I’d be in the clear if I can keep my last three miles under pace. Conveniently, mile 11 and 12 were net downhills, so I dared myself to open my stride and recover some of the time I had lost in the preceding miles. During these miles, I passed by more than a dozen runners that had so rudely passed me by in the earlier miles. Mile 11 came and went at while Mile 12 lingered for a few seconds longer at . Finally, on the final mile and .1, I thought about how fortunate I feel not to have given up at mile 5, how beautiful this 55 degree day in the middle of February was, how blessed I feel to be able to run this race with so many Flyer teammates, how wonderful my friend will feel after I tell her about my “gift” run and picked up the pace exponentially towards the finish. As I approached the final .1 mile, I didn’t dare look up at the clock as I found myself in a dead sprint with two other guys. I was able to nick both of them just in the last moments as the announcer declared me the winner in the little group. Time for final 1.1 mile was , good for pace.
It wasn’t even until minutes later when I recovered my senses again and checked my Garmin did I find out the awesome truth. My final finishing time for my half marathon was !!! How funny is that? Such perfect symmetry. Needless to say, I was tickled silly.
So there it is. A
Happy Birthday, F.L.!Final Statistics
Finishing Time – 1:26:11
Average Pace – 6:34; Age Graded % - 68.8
Overall Place – 103/3668 (2.8%)
Age Place – 25
Flyers Place – 2