Empire State of Mind Marathon/Half Marathon/Relay

On Friday, my husband and I decided that it was going to be a definite that we would run in the inaugural Empire State Marathon/Half marathon. We were both on the fence for the weeks leading up to race weekend; but, in the end decided it was a no-brainer to run a half marathon that was starting and finishing so close to our home backyard. Normally, we have to travel at least an hour away from our home turf to run the half marathon distance and beyond.

We registered on Friday at the Burdick Driver’s Village New York State Health and Wellness Expo at Driver’s Village. The converted PenCan Mall to automobile warehouse was a perfect venue for the race sponsors and vendors to spread out and showcase their product and services. Race day registration was fast and efficient. In exchange for a completed short entry form and signed waiver along with $80, I received a Wegman’s recyclable shopping bag (decorated with colorful fruit) filled with my race number and goodies. The New Balance long sleeve technical race tee was also an added bonus, because for once, I can actually wear this fitted tee for what it is intended for- running.

Tim and I recruited a vendor to snap this photo of us in front of the race course diagram that was all too familiar to me. At one time or another, I have run all the parts of the half marathon course in shorter races so I knew it was going to be pancake flat. I anticipated boredom on the out and back course because I generally don’t like backtracking my footsteps. However, I was able to dissect the course into 4 smaller races to make the 13.1 more manageable in my mind. Running can be so mental at times.

It was so nice waking up on race day not feeling rushed to get in the car for a long drive. I had the time to enjoy two cups of java and the Sunday newspaper before getting suited up in running clothes.

It can be so tricky dressing for races this time of year due to fluctuating temperatures by the minute. I ended up wearing a lulu skirt, layering two long sleeve tops with a skull-cap on my head to keep my head warm. I always fear that I will overheat mid way through the race and will regret wearing the extra layers and accessories. I did tell my husband that I also wanted to look cool like the Edge does when he wears a fitted skull-cap. I’m happy to report that there were no regrets regarding my apparel choices. Without any of the extras, I would have froze my butt off due to the cool temps and wind.

The Edge

Normally I do not run with with music in races but decided it might be a nice diversion to keep my mind off the flat out and back course. On Saturday, I created a playlist for my iPod filled with some of my favorite bands. U2, The Smiths, The Cure, Dave Matthews, Ida Maria, Vampire Weekend, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Dire Straits, Lady Gaga, and many more artists were selected to keep me in tune and on pace. I strategically sequenced the songs in the order I wanted to hear them based on the mile marker I thought I would be at. I thought I was good to go when Sunday Bloody Sunday started to play since it was my first track I added to the playlist. Then my iPod decided to have a mind of its own and shuffled the songs in the order it wanted me to listen to them in. Oh well, it’s my own fault for not turning off the shuffle feature. I guess I will know better for next time.

The race itself ended up being one of my favorite half marathon courses of all time despite all the mind games I created beforehand. I’m not sure if it was my mental strategy to dissect the 13.1 into 4 shorter races, but before I knew it, I was passing mile 11 and was not thinking about how bad I felt or like walking.

The race course was well-marked and marshaled so I didn’t have to worry about going off course and running longer than I had intended to. There were plenty of aid stations throughout the course offering sport drinks, water and nutritional supplements to offer hydration and fuel.

I ended up finishing with a time of 1 hour and 49 minutes in 150th place out of 1,139 half marathon finishers. Overall, I was pleased with my performance that landed me 3rd in the 45-49 age group. Not too shabby for an old lady. I was so honored to meet and shake the one and only Kathrine Switzer’s hand before she presented me with my age group award on stage.

Me, Kathrine Switzer, & 2nd place finisher (45-49)

The Hardware

Post race, I met up with my sweetie and some friends and enjoyed the delicious refreshments. Chocolate milk (the real stuff), water, pizza, crisp apples, bananas, muffins were plentiful and a great way to fuel an empty stomach. My favorite snack discovery of the day was the large wooden bucket I found filled with mounds of fun-size Halloween candy. I only wished I had more hands and pockets to carry away more of my favorite sugary treats.

Me & Tim

Double Trouble- me & Linh

Mr. Rogers

All I can say is that I am so happy I decided to participate in this race. I highly recommend this race as it definitely would be a great Boston qualifier course. The race organizers did an excellent job orchestrating everything that matters to runners. Enough well placed port-o-potties and beautifully designed finisher medal.

In all seriousness, the inaugural Empire State Marathon/Half Marathon, Relay was a fabulous race and I will be back running it in 2012. Kudos to the organizers of this race. Well done and I am so happy it’s so close to home!