21 January 2018


I think Fred Lebow's spirit doesn't like me.  Back when there was an NYRR Manhattan Half-Marathon I ran it twice.  It was cold, very cold, but I run better in cold weather so I had a Personal Record with the first Manhattan Half.  There was no medal, maybe even just a shirt.  Not even a tech shirt, I think.  I'm sure I can dig it up.

At some point it became the Fred Lebow Manhattan Half-Marathon.  I signed up one year and it snowed that day so the race was declared a fun run, an unscored event.  I didn't even bother to go fearing it may be slippery.  Some years later I signed up again and again bad weather happened.  That time the entire race was cancelled but if runners wished they could go to the temporary NYRR office to pick up the medals.  It was a win-win situation for everyone - the runners got some mementos and NYRR didn't have to store the medals, or worse, toss them out.  I got the medal but of course it was quite meaningless.  I happened to work not far from the NYRR office so it was no big deal to go get the medal, even though I didn't earn it.

Fast forward to this week.  The cold grip finally let go, even if just temporarily, and the weather was beautiful.  No way there would be a cancellation or any interference from snow.

I have this week-long bout of cough that interrupted my sleep the past few nights.  The night before the race I couldn't sleep, perhaps from unnecessary worry, and the coughing made it worse.  At one point I woke up at 3 AM then went back to sleep.  Next thing I knew I woke up at 7 AM!  Pachelbel's Cannon in D as an alarm tune used to be able to wake me up before but I guess this morning my body just decided to ignore it.  The race was to begin at 8 AM, but the thing with NYRR races is that there are long corrals and staggered start times, so for a slowpoke like me it meant 8:30 or worse.  So I went to the race anyway.  Of course, just my luck, as soon as got out of the house, I saw that a subway train just pulled into my station.  So I spent some time waiting for the next train.  Thanks to a Facebook post, I knew that there would be no train going uptown to the 103rd Street Station, which would put me closest to Race Day Central.  The alternative would be to take the #1 train from Columbus Circle then get off at 103rd Street and Broadway, or something like that, and make the mad dash from there across a few avenues.  I didn't feel like running so soon so I stayed on the D train and went to 125th Street then waited some more for a downtown train.  I discovered today that those countdown clocks that the MTA installed relatively recently don't necessarily tell the truth.  If there's a delay the "3 minutes" until arrival just stay 3 minutes even if you've been waiting anxiously for more than 3 minutes.

At lost last I dropped off my stuff at bag check and ran for the start line.  The course started at 94th Street and West Drive then loop around at 72nd Street, repeated, then repeated again but ended in the 103rd Street Transverse, basically two and a half loops between 72nd Street and 110th Street.  When I entered the park, people were already doing their first loop.  Fearing there was no more start mat, I ran for 94th Street.  Mat was still there, I thought I was all set.  Soon I saw here and there a few clusters of cheer zones with teammates from Prospect Park Track Club (PPTC).  A good word here and there really helped.  As usual there were a few pairs or trios of runners who run-walk and somehow kept playing leap-frog with me.  I went along with the "race" but deep down I know it was really pointless.  I was one whole loop behind them, at some point they would just go left to finish and I would proceed to the right for my last loop.

The time came.  I started to count the number of "competitors" left on the course.  They were mostly walkers.  I was worried that Aid Stations would disappear soon, understandably, so I stopped for water at the foot of Harlem Hill.  And proceeded to walk up it.  There was so much running I could do with the mediocre running program I've been doing.  I had a short chat with an old member of PPTC, Aaron, although I couldn't find him in the team result list later on.  He wore a PPTC shirt with the design from years ago.  I learned that he was a member for some 35 years!  At the top of the hill I resumed running and passed a few more people.  We all run our own races and somebody already won but it's still good to have some targets to pass.  At Cat Hill I again walked it.  Downhill from there and it was already Mile #12.  Just another mile and 0.1 to go! I made sure I would at least run non-stop from that point on.  Finally, I reached the end and as a bonus got medalled by a PPTC team member.  I finally ran the NYRR Fred Lebow Half-Marathon and earned its medal!

Some time later, I found out my time couldn't be located.  They had me as a participant but with no finish time. As if I didn't run it.  Later in the evening, the result database showed that I finished the run in 3:47.  That's probably just gun time, starting from 8 AM.  Strava says I ran 2:47, but even that included the half-mile run from the 103rd Transverse to the start mat at 94th Street.  Strava also showed that I started running on the other side of some pond, straight across the pond to the West Drive.  I actually started running shortly after dropping off my bag on the Transverse.  Chances are my time should be 2:40, still bad compared to the 2:30 I got last year, at other half-marathons.  I guess even though the start mat was still in place, it wasn't set to record anything.  I thought maybe it was there as a checkpoint, since runners were required to pass by that point 3 times.

Just to see how things work, I'm going to write to NYRR to see if my time can somehow be corrected.  If it can be done, great, if not no biggie.

So I was able to run in a race even though I was half an hour or so late.  I normally arrive an hour early just to be safe.  I don't recommend seeing my experience as encouraging people to be tardy.  It is unfair to the organizers if they have to wait around longer than necessary.

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