Well, this is it! We are now 3 weeks away from the New York Road Runners 2020 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon. It’s a 13.1 mile run from Prospect Park Brooklyn, through Manhattan, and finishing at Central Park.
My first Half Marathon was last year at the Rock ‘N’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon race, let’s say it was an interesting experience. I had never run a Marathon, Half-Marathon, 10K, or a 5K. So when I signed up for my first Half-Marathon in Las Vegas, I did not know what to expect. As I was training for the race, I had pulled my calf muscle about two months before the run, so my training sessions were mostly focused on keeping it light and recovering from my pulled muscle. I was nowhere near my planned target pace, and my endurance was just not there.
When the race finally came, my cardio strength was in good shape; unfortunately, my ability for my legs to sustain 13.1 miles was just not there. As I was running and I reached mile 11, my legs started to feel like lead and stiffen up. Honestly, I have no idea how I made it. The last few miles were a mental challenge, and the thought of giving up ran through my mind. Being so close to the finish line, I had to cross the finish line; I just could not give up at that point.
With the lessons learned from my first race experience, combined with the lessons and conversations that I have had with others, I now realize the mistakes I made in my first marathon training attempt.
Armed with new knowledge and an actual plan this time, I have focused on training to beat my original Half-Marathon race goal. I also have a stretch goal to try reaching a pace that would give me guaranteed entry into the NYC Full Marathon Race in November 2021. While that pace is fairly aggressive, having a target has helped me to continue to improve. If I can’t reach that pace during this race, based on the improvements I have made so far, I believe I can reach that pace in the future.
With a few more weeks of training left, my focus right now is to ensure that I can sustain running 13.1 miles like it was a routine daily task. In addition, I have been analyzing the course map, trying to determine when I should run a faster pace, taking advantage of the decline in elevation at various points. When I look at the race map, it seems like I should push harder at mile 1.5, 2.5, 5.5, 10, and 11.5; otherwise, I plan to stick to my target pace unless I am feeling solid through the race.
If you want to follow me during the race on March 15th, follow me on Twitter @RobertJGates as I have the NYRR.org event website setup to post my stats throughout the race. My target goal is to complete the race in 1 hour and 45 minutes. No matter what my final race pace is, as long as I finish and race with the many friends I have made along the way is the primary motivation.
As this post is going out, I am currently running outside in 40-degree weather, putting in miles to ensure my legs can handle the distance. Feel free to reach out to me via Instagram @RobertJGates and share with me your experience or any questions you may have.