If you live and run in NYC you know how daunting running loops in Central Park can be. If you have ever trained for a marathon or 8 while living in NYC, you’ve most likely ran more Central Park loops than you ever thought was humanly possible. Therefore, running said loop for the one millionth time can make it feel as boring as running on a treadmill.
For those of you who don’t live in NYC, it probably sounds ridiculous to hear someone complain about running in Central Park. And you are correct, it is kinda ridiculous, but it is what it is. I like to complain about it, but I do love it deep down.
The main six-mile loop in Central Park is made up of rolling hills. When running counterclockwise, the loop has 5 main hills. There’s Cat Hill, Harlem Hill and the Three Sisters. When a half marathon takes place in Central Park and runs counterclockwise this means running 10 hills. This does not include all the little roller hills.
For half marathons in the park, it also means running the lower loop of the park three times! Like any race (or really any task in life), how we frame what we are about to do can determine the outcome.
I was eager to put my best brain training into action for this race. It was the muscle most trained for this 13.1 mile endeavor. My legs and lungs are a little bit behind at this point as I was only week five of Brooklyn Half training.
My action plan was to make a mental check-list of how many hills I had to run, focus on getting up one at a time then enjoy the sections in-between the main hills. I spent a few minutes the week before the race visualizing running up each hill relaxed and with a positive attitude. I also visualized recovering between hills and not feeling frustrated by the monotony of running what might have been my one-billionth Central Park loop.
And it worked.
I ran each hill as it came and checked it off my mental to-do list. I enjoyed the other sections of the race and had a great time. I don’t look at my watch much while racing, so I was surprised when I saw the ten mile marker so soon.
Of all the times I’ve ran this race, this was by far my favorite experience.
- Mile 1: 8:24
- Mile 2: 7:41 <— I don’t know what happened here!
- Mile 3: 8:28
- Mile 4: 8:33
- Mile 5: 8:29
- Mile 6: 8:25
- Mile 7: 8:21
- Mile 8: 8:35
- Mile 9: 8:27
- Mile 10: 8:25
- Mile 11: 8:00
- Mile 12: 7:54
- Mile 13: 7:51
- Last .4: 7:10 <— Really gotta work on running the tangents!
- Total time: 1:50:28 Average Pace: 8:26
It’s interesting to see where I took water breaks. Those miles are about 10 seconds slower than the others. I plan on drinking and running at the Brooklyn Half instead of stopping completely.
I managed to execute a perfect negative split and pretty consistent splits despite the rolling hills. I am excited to keep working towards running a smart race in Brooklyn next month. Between now and then I need to work on running the tangents in addition to increasing my endurance.
I may not be in PR shape in four more weeks, but I should be able to run a faster pace in Brooklyn than I did last year.