Staten Island Half Marathon Recap 2016

I ran the Staten Island Half Marathon this past Sunday. It felt more like a Tough Mudder thanks to the mud, rain and wind and enormous puddles. LOL!

A decent (and FREE) race photo!

A decent (and FREE) race photo!

It was the 10th consecutive year I’ve run it. It was my very first half marathon back in 2007 and I haven’t missed a year since. Here’s a link to last year’s recap and my 2014 recap and how my day went in 2013 too!

Staten Island Half Marathon

some years were better than others….2011 was the first time I ran 20 miles (did 7 before the race started) and you can see that reflected on my face!

And now, the Staten Island Half Marathon Recap 2016

Sunday’s race was not exactly the smoothest for a bunch of reasons. But there were still so many good things about the day too.

Let’s start with the day before the race: I was dealing with some stomach issues and barely ate. I was in the bathroom more than usual and didn’t really have a full meal until dinner. Not exactly how you want to feel the day before running a half marathon. Mr. Sweat Out the Small Stuff and I went for a hike with the dogs in the early part of the day but I just felt so crappy that I asked if we could cut it short. I felt like I might pass out.

I found myself struggling to keep up...

I found myself struggling to keep up…

Chester getting his muddy paws wiped

Chester getting his muddy paws wiped

Later in the afternoon he was limping. He said he went out for a short “shakeout” run earlier that morning and rolled his foot on the curb and the hike must have exacerbated the issue. So I forced him to ice it on and off for the rest of the day and take ibuprofen. We were feeling better about running the race by nightfall. His foot was feeling better thanks to the ice and ibuprofen (gold star for me!) and my stomach was feeling better. But then we noticed that the the weather forecast changed. On Friday it had been looking good for race day but now it said rain and wind were to be expected along with temps in the high 50s.WTF?!!!

weather

Race day morning: We were up and out the door at 6:30 a.m. The race starts at 8:30am but we needed to pick up our race numbers an hour before. (New for this year they had us get our shirts after the race). We took the train since I live on Staten Island, and were at the start area (The Staten Island Yankees ball stadium) by 7:15 a.m. Normally you’d get a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline but since it was raining and foggy the views weren’t happening. Getting our race numbers was a breeze. The old New York Road Runners system had you stand in line based on your last name and the volunteer would have to go through a bin of bibs to find yours. The new system requires you to present your QR code on your phone or a printout of email the sent a few days before. That gets scanned and assigns you a number and corral on the spot. It worked out to be much faster. Next up was gear check. We checked bags that had a rain coat and dry clothes for after the race.) We had about 30 minutes before it was time to walk to the start and get in the corrals so we just hung out under the ball stadium.

Staten Island Half Marathon recap 2016

keeping dry with ponchos

My friend Lisa texted me that she and two other of our running friends who had traveled in from Brooklyn would be in the corrals in 30 minutes too. So we met up. Lisa and Mike had run the RockNRoll Brooklyn Half the day before. I did that last year with them but this year I just wasn’t up to the whole back-2-back half weekend thing.

Lisa was the only one brave enough to get her phone wet for a pre-race selfie in the corral

Lisa was the only one brave enough to get her phone wet for a pre-race selfie in the corral

The race itself: This race has become fairly large (over 10,000 runners) and they now have a wave start. Mr. SOTSS was a few waves earlier than me and was planning on staying around a 9 minute per mile pace because he didn’t want to push it with his foot. While the course has changed slightly over the years, I know it, and the area well enough so I had a specific plan based on that knowledge. I knew I wasn’t going to race hard but I wanted to push my pace for the first 7-8 miles which are mostly either flat miles or slight rolling hills. With my comfortable running pace around 11 minutes per mile I pushed to stay about a minute faster and was happy that my first 3 miles were almost exactly 10 minute splits. The rain wasn’t really bothering me at first. I wore my poncho (the same one that I wore back in March of 2014 when I PR’ed at the Love Run in the pouring rain) and by mile 3 I tossed it as I started to get warm. Once I reached mile 4, the course is out and back for the next few miles more or less, so I kept myself distracted looking to my left to try and find Mr. SOTSS. Just at the last minute before I would have missed him, he came rounding the corner and I waved him down with both arms like an air traffic controller. I was SO relieved. He was past the halfway point and looking good so I knew his foot would be ok and that he’d finish the race. And I was also happy to get that smile in return. His smile is better than anything. I zipped through those miles also in the 10 minute per mile range. The wind didn’t appear until we were out by the water. And boy did it appear! Along with the big hills that I knew about around mile 8 1/2 to mile 9. This is where the race became my challenge. But a welcome challenge. I was proud of myself for sticking to my plan and now all I wanted to do was get up the 2 hills without walking and I did it. I kept my steps short and pumped my arms and before I knew it I was done with the hills. I did also take my phone out of the plastic baggie it was in so I could snap a couple of pictures at this point.

the second hill

the second hill

Mile 9 and still smiling

Mile 9 and still smiling

The wind for the last 4 miles was crazy (20 mile sustained but much higher gusts) but mile 11 in particular was just absurd. I literally watched as full cups of Gatorade were blown off the table about 10 feet. They were hitting us like water balloons. I’d feel the cup hit my leg and the liquid spill down. I was actually laughing. The cold rain was being whipped in our faces and everyone was holding their hats. (Maybe even some sleet?) As if this all wasn’t wild enough we came to a spot in the course where the puddles had turned into ponds and there was no way to avoid them. We were all slogging through like a Tough Mudder event. And then, at mile 13 you enter the field of the baseball stadium which was a complete mudfest. There were chunks of sod missing and all I wanted to do was slide into the finish line for a fun photo but was afraid i’d injure myself.

47373089_race_0-7788590994823832-displayI ran the New Jersey half marathon this past May and while it wasn’t raining at the start it started raining mid-run and by the time I finished i was crying and felt absolutely horrible. I was successful this time around to keep my chin up and make the best of the conditions. I really kept that smile on my face and felt so proud of myself for not going own the hole….that is until I realized that there were long lines at the gear check to retrieve your checked baggage. Oh my god. It took 30 minutes (standing in the pouring rain after running for 2 hours and 21 minutes) to get my dry clothes. I kept marching in place to prevent hypothermia. But I saw big burly guys with chattering teeth. One guy looked like he was about to cry.

New York Road Runners posted this the day after the race.nyrr-response

Mr. SOTSS finished in 1:57 right at his predicted time. And I finished in 2:21 which is actually better than I had anticipated. My 2nd fastest of the 10 years. (My fastest was in 2014 at 2:15:39 and my slowest was 2008 at 2:54:55)img_6639

After running 35+ half marathons I am always amazed at the profound moments that stick with me. I spent all of mile 11 thinking about some people I know who are battling ALS. Their bodies are failing them. They can’t run. They can’t even walk. I may have been pelted with rain and Gatorade but I was in control of my body. I ran that race….it didn’t run me. And that is my biggest take away from the day. Running teaches me so much.

Eventually Mr. SOTSS and I were able to get our gear bags and change into dry clothes, take the train home, shower and refuel. The rest of the day was spent on the couch…

I just can't nap like they can. Oh well. I killed an hour sipping coffee and Facebooking

I just can’t nap like they can. Oh well. I killed an hour sipping coffee and Facebooking

ok maybe I can nap afterall

ok maybe I can nap afterall

Despite the inclement weather, mud and long wait for dry clothes, I really liked the course changes for this year, the shirt and medal and the fact that I ran a smart race with a nice balance of effort, mental toughness and appreciation for it all. It was awesome to see my friends Lisa, JD and Mike at the start and to see Mr. SOTSS during the race. And because this is the race where my distance running all began I’ll always have a special fondness of it and will most likely make it 11 years running next year. Of course it usually ends up being on the same day as the Chicago Marathon (which it was this year) so if I ever run Chicago I’ll have to break my Staten Island Half streaking. :)

Anyone run Chicago this weekend?
Anyone run anything else?
Have a local race you run each year?

Hi folks,

I ran the Staten Island Half Marathon yesterday. This race is dear to me because back in 2007 it was my very first half marathon. And i have run it every year since!

I finished that first year in 2:36. And since then the fastest I ever finished was 2:24 until yesterday—I finished it in 2:15:39. It wasn’t an overall PR but i’ll take the course PR for sure—especially because I really wasn’t sure how I’d feel with my knee feeling wonky and having only reached 8.7 miles for my longest long run in training for this.

staten island half finisher

pretty medal

photo 2

 

Getting there: I was on the road by 6:45am to make sure I’d get into the one parking lot that was available at the start. I actually arrived about 7:10am but there was a backup getting into the parking lot because people had to stop to pay $7 before entering. By the time I actually parked it was 7:30. I still had plenty of time as the race didn’t start until 8:30am and the race number pickup area was only a few hundred feet away. This race is easily accessible to those in Manhattan by taking the Staten Island Ferry since the race starts right adjacent. But for runners coming from surrounding areas like New Jersey and other parts of Staten Island, driving is really the only option. The crazy thing was that right after I parked I noticed they put cones up at the entrance and stopped allowing cars to park. That’s a whole hour before the start. And there were still plenty of spots!! I’m sure there was a method to the madness but it was sort of a bummer because my boyfriend was coming to see me run and he arrived after the cones were put up and spent a good 20 minutes scouting out a parking spot on the street. Luckily he found one and was able to see me before the start. So if you decide to do this race and need to drive make sure you get there super early!

Statue of Liberty

lovely view of the Statue of Liberty

Long Training Run Opportunity: Many of my running peeps were running too, including Lisa and Mike who had done 10 mile prior to the race in training for the NYC Marathon. This half is a HUGE unofficial long training run opportunity. You’ll see a large group of participants running extra miles either before or after the race. I’ve done 7 pre-race miles the last 3 years I’ve run it so I’d have my 20 miler in before my fall full marathon.

si half running peeps

Running Peeps: JD, Mike, Lisa and moi.

Weather: The weather was perfect for running. It was in the 50s at the start and low 60s at the finish. The sun was out but there was a lovely breeze especially by the miles that run parallel to the ocean (the FLAT miles =).

Race Size: I’ve seen this race grow over the year and I was really surprised that it took a solid 15 minutes for me to even cross the START. If this race gets any larger maybe they should opt for a wave start. I dunno. I think I’m just partial to it being my hometown half and I want to keep it more intimate and I just can’t control control that. LOL.

Course: The course itself was a bit crowded only for the first mile and then it opened up just fine.

si half mile 1

first mile…crowded. Thanks boyfriend for being there to cheer me on and take pics!

The race has a 3 hour time limit so while there were a few speed walkers it was mostly runners. The course is hilly for the most part with just one flat stretch from mile 5.5 to about mile 9.

si half elevation

You get to fly down a hill from mile 5 to 5.5 (although with my knee I actually controlled my speed so as not to have a blowout) And from 9-10 you climb that same hill! The bulk of the race is out and back so it’s always fun to see the elites running in the opposite direction. I think I was about 4 miles in when I saw the leaders of the pack on the other side heading toward mile 11. Cray cray!

 

mile13

Rounding mile 13 and about to enter the ballpark for the finish! © marathon foto (waiting on purchased ones to come)

mile1

early on in the race. I’m FINALLY not heal striking! #winning! © marathon foto (waiting on purchased images to come)

Lisa at mile 13 which is really her mile 23! She's gonna rock the NYC Marathon in 3 weeks. (And I'm going to support her and cheer her on with cowbell and sweet tea!)

Lisa at mile 13 which is really her mile 23! She’s gonna rock the NYC Marathon in 3 weeks. (And I’m going to support her and cheer her on with cowbell and sweet tea!) Photo courtesy of my awesome BF

The course is really most scenic at the start/finish since you get to enjoy the view of the NYC Skyline. The flat miles in the middle run parallel to the ocean and boardwalk but the rest of the course is sort of boring.

Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower. Photo courtesy of my awesome BF

Postcards 9/11 Memorial

Postcards 9/11 Memorial. Photo courtesy of my awesome BF

Aid stops: There were PLENTY of aid stops with water and Gatorade and halfway thru they offered powergels. For once I can happily report that ALL water stops were sufficiently stocked.

The most awesome change to this year’s race is that we actually entered into the ballpark of the minor league Staten Island Yankees to finish directly on home plate

Thanks boyfriend for taking this pic

closing in on the finish! Thanks boyfriend for capturing this!

finish-2014-sihalf

© marathon foto (waiting on purchased images to come)

My final thoughts: With my home turf for the course, the weather being spectacular, the finish at home plate and with friends to see and chat with prior to and after the race I have to say it was a great day and a great race. I’d only suggest that they try and carve out a longer time frame for people to park and if the race gets any larger I’d suggest 2 waves. Knowing that the course change from last year stayed (last year it was due to construction but I guess they’re gonna keep it this way) I’ll have to do some more hill training. LOL!

And if you want to read another recap from another staten island runner, blogger who is WAY speedier than me check at NYC Running Mama’s recap.

Have you ever been to Staten Island? Have you ever been on the Staten Island Ferry? I’ve lived on Staten Island for my entire 40 (almost 41) years!