Late last year, after two consecutive weeks of reaching a Personal Record (P.R.), one for minutes per mile and one for finish time for a 15K race, I eagerly looked forward to the NYRR Manhattan Half-Marathon. When I ran the race in January 2011, I did not know that its finish time was to be my P.R. for the rest of the year. It was a freezing cold day, in the teen Fahrenheit and at one time even dipped to 9 F, yet I finished with 2:23. With the Brooklyn Half-Marathon in May, I was off by one minute but from then on it got worse, albeit by two or three minutes. I sweat easily and simply do not run well in the summer or warm weather. The year rolled on and Manhattan Half-Marathon 2012 slowly came into view. P.R. or P.K.!!!
I much prefer to show up at races all decked out with bib and D-tag. That way even if I am late to the race I can just jump in. As long as the start mat is still out, I can still participate for my own race does not start until I cross that mat. Even though I had only an hour to get from Downtown Newport, Jersey City to the NYRR Office on 89th Street near Central Park, it was a chance I was willing to take. I started work an hour early so I could leave an hour early, 6 PM, to try to get my bib etc by 7 PM. It was an adventure!
I should have left a tad earlier than 6 but I probably left at 6:05. There was no problem with the PATH train although in hindsight I wish I got out of the PATH at 14th Street instead of at the last stop, 34th Street. Since it was the last stop, there were many people filling the platform and I had to slowly lumber along. There is no direct way to get to the NYRR Office. The plan was to take the N or R from 34th Street to 59th Street then transfer for the 4 or 5. I was so happy when I caught an R at 34th Street but my joy was short-lived as the train was just sitting there waiting for something. After a few harrowing minutes, it finally moved, slowly, and eventually got to 59th Street. I absolutely hate the IRT Line (4/5/6) for its super-crowded cars so I was not surprised to find the 4 that was in the station all packed. I got in the next train but by then it was like 15 minutes to 7. Just how accommodating the NYRR Office is for office workers I do not know. It is the first time I try to pick up bib etc after work. By the time I got out of the 86th Street station it was 6:50!!! That was it, it was just up to my legs, lung, etc, not some subway conditions, to get me to the NYRR Office. With my warm-but-heavy leather jacket, I ran for the Office. It was encouraging to see a few people running in the same direction of the Office, probably office workers in a similar situation. I did get to the NYRR Office with a few minutes to spare. Mission accomplished!
Friday night before going to bed I got things set aside, ready for use the next morning. D-tag on shoelace, 3 packs of Energy Labs GU, GPS watch charged, winter tech gloves, tight pants, official cotton sweat, and bib. Last but not least, my trusty fanny-pack, to be slung across my chest. Even though I now have a water belt, for an NYRR race there is no need to carry water, for me anyway. I heard a story about funny-looking or -smelling water at a recent NYRR event, but I believe that's just a freak accident. I think I have a strong stomach and probably can tolerate it. The fanny-pack carries more stuff than the tiny pouch that comes with the water belt, too.
In the days that led to race day Saturday, a snow-fall was forecasted for the day. There were speculations about the race being cancelled, perhaps indirectly by NYC Parks Department closing Central Park, or being turned into a "fun run" with no official scoring. I went to bed fully expecting nothing will change...
Early Saturday morning I learned that indeed the race would be on but yes, there will be no official timing. That did it for me. Snow was already falling, there may be delay on the subway, and I have some work duty in the afternoon. It was highly unlikely I will run fast enough to P.R. but even if I magically pull that off, the time will not be recorded or published anywhere. It is too much of a hassle to travel to the race for an un-timed race. The work duty in the middle of the day did not help. I am not bitter at all about NYRR's decision, just that it does not work for me. So I bailed out and thought I would do a run later in the day.
Safety first. There will be other races later on. As a matter of fact, I plan to run a half-marathon in the Valentine's Day Run organized by the Holiday Marathons people. It will have no official score but that's the deal with Holiday Marathons.