Holy Heck, I’m Going to Smash My PR: Hamish Alexander’s NYC Half Recap

The start line

GPS on – check. Heart rate monitor on – check. Road clearance given – check. The horn sounded and so did my inner conversation.

First 6 – Warm up. Let the tide go out, coach said

“I can’t believe the race is here. This is so cool.  16 weeks of injury free training. The time is now. You can do this.  Remember what coach said.

Warm up for 6 and let the tide go out. Progression run the next 6, let the race come to me. The tide will come in. Don’t panic. Stick to the plan”

Run the tangents. Run the tangents. Coach Forty was in my head. Don’t run further than you need to. Protect your space. I did and I did. Up and down the hills I ran and out onto Flatbush Ave.

I was not expecting the incline after the out and back. It kinda freaked me out. Everyone was running past me, fast. “Just warm-up. Let the tide go out for the first 6” My internal chatter was very loud

I settled into mile 3 & 4 and ran conservatively. I was really enjoying the race. I was excited to be running in a faster corral after a PR at Washington Heights a couple of weeks ago, and it was cool to see my team mates on the out and back.

“Let the tide go out, let the tide go out. Don’t panic. You’ve got this. Concentrate and relax.” I was at the Whippet drink station… “Go Hamish, Go Whippets!”. This really gave me a smile and a boost. A quick wave and smile and it was on to Manhattan Bridge. As I approached the top I remember thinking how pretty the water and city look, and how lucky was I to be participating. This city is so cool.   

I started to descend down the bridge and let my legs run a bit. “Mile 6 is almost here. It’s almost time to start racing”. Get ready, but not yet. Hold back. Let the tide go out for a bit longer.”

Second 6 – Progression run. Let the tide come in

I took a few deep breaths, recovered and settled myself down. “There’s the mile 6 sign. This is it. Now the race starts. It’s time for the tide to come in.” I stepped up a gear. Being back in Manhattan inspired a new mantra of “my city, my race”. It made a nice change from my normal boring mantra of “1, 2. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8”  

I started to press and the tide started coming in. I concentrated on picking my line and not weaving (there’s Coach Forti in my head again). I felt strong. I took a quick scan: “Body pain? No. Thirsty? No. Hungry? No. OK. This is happening now. Right now.”

Photo: Marathon Photo

Then a BIG freak-out at miles 7 and 8. I’m sure you had one too. As I passed mile 7 my watch said I ran 1 minute behind pace.  “What, what, WHAT? What the heck happened? Did I fall a sleep? My body is numb from the cold. But come on. Surely I’ve not lost touch with reality. By the time I got to Mile 9, the panic had gone… did anybody else summize that mile 7 & 8 were 2.5 miles and mile 9 was only 0.5?

As I entered 42nd I heard the cheer from Whippet Brett Slater. Thanks Brett, you got me up the 42nd St incline.

Photo: Marathon Photo

As I turned onto 7th Ave the noise became really loud. It was so good to see the DWRT banner and hear the massive cheer from my teammates. “Not long to go now. Continue to press. Enjoy the tide coming in. You’ve got this.”

Then I was on my street… Central Park South My home turf. “Don’t let yourself down now” I said. “Time to drop the hammer. Next will be the Central Park lower loop, the home stretch. Get ready for the hill. You know its 2 lots of 80 steps. You’ve practiced this. It will hurt. Let the hurt in. You’ve got this”

“I know every up and down and twist to the finish line.  Let the pain in and go for it.  No cat hill, this is easy”

Photo: Marathon Photo

My legs did not let me down, I raced toward the 72nd St transverse, past the Mall and toward the final hill. I could see the 200m to go sign.

Drop the hammer

When I saw the 200m sign I heard the speaker say “here comes the 1:40 group.” Holy heck. I’m going to do this. I’m going to smash my PR.  I could see the finish line. 1:40 displayed on my watch.

As I approached the finish line the announcer said “here comes a Dashing Whippet, finishing strong” I said to myself “I AM A WHIPPET. WE DO FINISH STRONG. DROP IT!

Photo: Marathon Photo

It felt AH-MAY-ZING to cross the finish line and even better to celebrate the race with my teammates.

Reflection

I dared to dream 6 weeks ago that I could run a sub 1:45.  I ran a 1:40 (14 minute PR).  Now I am looking at the 2019 race calendar and wondering what is possible if I dream further. Can I run myself into a faster coral? Is a BQ possible?  Maybe, maybe not. I’m going to have a good crack at it.

More about Jennie Cohen

Jennie is a member of the Dashing Whippets.

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