The announcement of the brand new NYC Half course late last year sparked a bit of controversy. The old race started in Central Park, taking runners up and down all the major hills before exiting the park at around Mile 6. Runners then ran south through Midtown Manhattan, including Times Square, and then made their way onto the West Side Highway for a long but relatively flat stretch before finishing in the Financial District. It’s the course I PR’d on several years ago, back when I was doing more running than cheering.
The new course ends in Central Park, and begins on a downhill stretch of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. Without a doubt, it’s a more difficult course. But it’s also arguably more scenic and interesting. Runners get to make their way through downtown Brooklyn, over the Manhattan Bridge into Chinatown, up the FDR to 42nd street, west into Times Square and north into and around Central Park (minus Harlem Hill). My personal feeling is that the new course, which now has a bridge and spans multiple boroughs, is a more proper 13.1 mile counterpart to the New York City Marathon. But I understand the argument on the other side. What do you think?
I knew the runners would need all the cheers they could get in Central Park. I opted to cheer just north of Mile 11, which wasn’t near any other music/cheer stations. I could take the Q train to 96th Street and walk up the big hill to the park. I’d leave early enough so I could grab some breakfast and coffee and cheer comfortably. Easy peasy, or so I thought.
Well…my plan was to cheer comfortably. But life had other plans! I left at around 6:45 AM, and ended up on the Q train at around 7. Wave 1 was supposed to start at 7:30, and I figured the fastest runners wouldn’t arrive until around 15 minutes past the hour. But I couldn’t find any information on when the handcyclists were supposed to take off. I thought I had plenty of time. Why? I don’t know. Handcyclists always start before everyone else. So I got a notification on my phone that Tatyana McFadden crossed the start line at 7:07 AM. Egads!
Would I be able to catch her at Mile 11? I spent the rest of my train ride tracking her journey up to Central Park, and I exited my train as she was nearing Mile 9. That sprint up the giant hill from 2nd Avenue, while wearing a bookbag with a speaker, my laptop, and a camera, was something else. But I made it in time to catch most of the handcyclists, including Tatyana!
I’ve been pretty uncreative with my playlists lately. I just go on YouTube, type in “running music” and see what pops up. I went with the generically-titled “Running Workout Music #88”. The mix is pretty good though!
I realized when I arrived at my cheer spot that I was right at the boundary between shade and sun. Check out the photo below:
The runners are heading north, and the sun is beaming down from the east. Notice that the middle runner has strong lighting on his right side but shade on his left. It just looks bad, IMO. But the lighting on the CPTC runner in the front is a bit more uniform, as he begins to enter the shady patch. So my strategy was to stay in the shade. Maybe I’d need to increase the lighting when editing the photos and burn out the background, but the runner(s) in the foreground would have more desirable lighting properties and the photo overall would end up looking okay:
Boy was it cold out! My choice to stand in the shade was great for the photos but terrible for my toes. Sure, some folks were wearing race singlets (or no shirt at all!) but there was also a lot of this:
It took about two hours in a nearby Starbucks for my toes to regain sensation, and I ended up catching a cold. But it was totally worth it.
I mentioned in the previous section that some folks were running shirtless. This guy looked really familiar to me, but I couldn’t pin it down at the time.
Then I remembered – I saw him at Boston last year!
You’re a memorable (and very fast) runner Dan!
Want some more cheer in your life?
Next race: NYRR Run to Breathe 4M