Break It Up: Preparing for My First Half Marathon

I took two days off from running to do strength training, so my body was happy to run again this morning. I got in a solid hour of running in 24º weather – not unbearably cold, but close to it. I dressed for it, so I was fine.

I stopped only to take this pic – I am a sucker for pink and red sunrise skies, and they only stick around for a few minutes. This was about 7am.


I took Wednesday off from running because I had to leave earlier than normal for a 9am dentist appointment in the city (I HATE having dentist and doctor appointments in the middle of the day), and couldn’t find the strength to get out of bed any earlier than I already was, which was 4:30am. This gave me JUST enough time to do some squats, lunges, and crunches. I really need more time for a run – mostly, these days, to get dressed.

I don’t mind the dentist. Especially if I’m numb, which I had to be for this. I had two small fillings put in and have to go back next week for two more. I take great care of my teeth (brush twice a day, floss every night with no exceptions and I don’t ever run out of floss because I always have at least one backup yes I’m one of those people) but because I am a dum-dum, I went years in my 30s without visiting a dentist. So I got a few cavities.

Young folk, listen up: I do not recommend not going to the dentist. I promise, you will pay for it later.

The entire lower right side of my face was numb for hours after the appointment. I probably looked like a fish grabbing at bait while I was eating my lunch. Here I am later that day at work, smiling as uncrookedly as I could:


I have a big weekend coming up! I am gearing up for my very first half marathon: the NYRR Fred Lebow Manhattan Half. I’m getting in the headspace. Visualizing the course. Strategizing my moves. Reserving a parking garage.

I’m really glad I ran the Ted Corbitt 15K last month, because not only is the half marathon on the same course (with a couple minor tweaks), I know exactly how long it takes to drive into the city early on a Sunday. I know the location of the Starbucks that opens at 6am. I know how long it’ll take to walk from Starbucks to the bag check. I know it all.

The race start is on the west side of the park, but I decided to drive into and park on the upper east side of Manhattan. I’m coming from Long Island (east of the city) so this will mean a shorter drive in and out, even if it means a slightly longer walk to the start (although it will actually be a shorter walk from the finish). Plus, I assume most runners who drive in will want to park on the upper west side to be close to the start. This way, I won’t be in a crowded garage like last time. Here’s hoping.

This is all very tedious information, but it’s taking up so much of my brain space right now, even more than the race itself.

Which bring me to the race itself.

I imagine this might be super boring for those who don’t know the course, and if so, I apologize. You can stop reading if you want. Go do that crossword puzzle you keep telling yourself you’ll finish but somehow never get to! Chances are 42 Across is either ALOE or ANTE.

One thing that pleasantly surprised me about the 15K was that it avoided the uphill on the north-west section of the inner loop, which is this little part:

15K hill circle

This Sunday’s half marathon route, which makes almost three complete loops from 110th to 72nd, goes through this section – twice. It’s the steepest hill of the course, and while it’s not as steep as some of the hills I regularly run in Northport (it’s no James Street), I am still intimidated knowing I have to run up it twice.

But you know what? So does everybody else. Hey, that makes me feel better!

That’s honestly the only part of the race I’m “worried” about, and I put worried in quotes because it’s not a huge worry. There is another steep-ish hill going up the east side, but it’s short. The rest of the course is relatively flat.

I’m trying to plan how to visualize the distance to make it easier on me mentally. For the 15K, I wound up breaking it up in my head into three 5Ks. The half marathon is that, plus another (give or take) 3.8 miles. So I can think of this as:

  • one 15K + 3.8 miles
  • two 10Ks + 0.7 miles
  • four 5Ks + 0.7 miles
  • 10 miles + one 5K
  • 13.1 miles

For some reason “two 10Ks + 0.7 miles” seems the worst.

Do you guys ever do this? Break up courses in your head to make them seem… better? Easier? Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this.

I realize that in the end it doesn’t really matter exactly how I picture the distance in my head, only that I run as best I can. But it’s fun to think about this stuff, okay? Right? Thank you!

I am genuinely excited about this race. I think it’ll be fun. I wonder if there will be bagels. Did I just google “Fred Lebow Manhattan Half snacks” to see what the post-race snacks might be? Of course not. I would never do that. Ever.

It’s my first half, so any finish time of mine will be a PR. So I’m not stressing about that. My official pace for the 15K was 8:45, and I think I ran that pretty conservatively. Even though this is another 3.8 miles, I’d like to think I can beat 8:45. An 8:30 pace would have me finish in 1:51. Let’s see if I can do that.

I’m expecting to finish in two hours or less.

I’d love to finish in 1:51 (8:30 pace).

I’ll shit my pants if I finish in 1:48 (8:15 pace).



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