Races · Running

Falling Leaves Half Marathon race recap

This season of fall running all led up to this one  race – the NYCRuns Falling Leaves Half Marathon in Flushing Meadows Corona Park! Overall, it was an AWESOME time, and I’m super happy with the race!

Day Before

Carbo-loading started early. I bought a huge plate of pasta at Harry’s Italian at work – it was so big I ate it for lunch AND dinner, ha!

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Also that day, Christine accompanied me to pick up my race packet at Jack Rabbit Union Square. I’ve done a TON of NYCRuns races over the past few years and knew the drill. Great dry fit shirts as usual!

Race morning 

The alarm went off at 6:30am – not bad at all compared to other races. I luckily live a 10 minute uber drive from the race start so could sleep in a bit. Ate some plain oatmeal, picked out my outfit, and was out the door!

I accidentally had my driver drop me off 1 mile from the race start, so was hustling to get there and definitely was cutting it close. I made it to the prep area only 20 minutes before the race start, and thought I was not gonna be able to do everything I needed to. But magically, I got my bag checked and used the bathroom (even with lengthy lines), prepped my flip belt/accessories, all with 5 minutes to spare! This is why I love NYCRuns races – they are so well organized and efficient.

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The prep area was a huge lot in the middle of the park – this was my first time at Flushing Meadows Park and it is actually so nice and spacious! I’d never been to a race in NYC with such a large prep area (minus the NYC Marathon…of course :P).

Then, it was time to line up at the start line and get going 🙂

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The race

The actual race could not have gone better. Beforehand, I was thinking about what I wanted to get out of the race, and I decided I really just wanted to: 1) run the whole thing without hitting the wall 2) and have fun! And that’s exactly what happened. I knew I wasn’t in for a PR, but I still wanted to push myself somewhat and most importantly enjoy every mile.

I stayed around a 9:30-9:40 pace throughout the entire race, which was a pleasant surprise. My legs were actually pretty tired from rock climbing a few days before and not really tapering this time around; I got in a few 4-5 milers this past week to build confidence…oops. Regardless, I still felt strong throughout. I kept a steady pace and focused on enjoying the scenery, soaking in every mile and just putting one foot in front of the other.

My mantra throughout the race was: “pain is in inevitable, suffering is optional.” I read that in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running this past week and was inspired. Yes, I knew that this race wasn’t gonna be easy given my spotty training, but I didn’t want to come out of the race having hated every mile! I really made an effort to focus on positive self-talk and making the most of everything.

The course was 2 laps around the park (10K-ers did 1 lap). I’ve grown to like lapped courses; I actually do like seeing the same things again as it mentally makes the race seem more manageable when you know what to expect. Weather was a comfortable mid 40’s.

Lots of great scenery throughout. The race really was true to its name! We’ve been lucky enough to have a very warm fall so far, so there were still tons of leaves on the tress which made for a pretty sight. A great combo of the waterside, paved paths, and a few bridges.

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By far, the most memorable moment was miles 11-13. When I reached this point, I was feeling strong and decided to kick up my pace to almost a full on sprint. I knew I needed some motivation to keep up this pace to the end, so I listed reasons why I run, one by one:

I run because it makes me feel strong 

I run because no matter what happens the rest of today or this week, I crushed a half marathon 

I run to be an example to loved ones 

I run because I love myself enough to challenge myself

I run because why NOT run on this beautiful day

This went on for at least a few dozen more, and I was choking back tears. It was so inspiring to remind myself how much I love running, and I was so grateful to be racing on this beautiful day to celebrate a fun, low-key fall running season.

Final time: 2hr, 7 min, 8 seconds. 9:42 min/mile pace

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I’m so grateful for this lovely race experience and cannot wait for Spring marathon training!!! 🙂

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