2018 NYC Half Course Strategy and Tips
After taking runners through Central Park and down The West Side Highway to the Southernmost point of Manhattan for the past 12 years, NYRR has decided to go in the different direction, perhaps for a new beginning or maybe something more grand? Okay, I think you get the point. New course calls for new strategy - go!
GRAND ARMY PLAZA - MILE 0
Since it’s the first time we are starting this race here, things can get a bit confusing - even for the staff and volunteers. So, make sure you read all the race info and know exactly where you have to report to on race day.
A word on the MTA: I’m telling you now, you will be taking the train on an early Sunday morning in NYC. Expect MTA service changes, delays, sick passengers, track work, track fire, train cars so packed you can’t get on, etc. Know before you go by heading over to www.mta.info and plan on getting there earlier than usual to avoid all that extra anxiety stuff that you don’t need to deal with on race day.
Once you arrive at the start, your focus should be to get through security, find your corral, then do what you have to do to prepare for your race.
The sound of the horn means the race has begun. Everyone will be roaring out of the gate, you don’t. Instead, take in the beauty of Grand Army Plaza and as you pass the JFK Statue on your left, it’s a good moment to reflect on the race version of his words “Ask not what your [race] can do for you. Ask rather? What you can do for your [race].” Stick to your game plan.
FLATBUSH AVE - MILE 1
The excitement of starting the race on a new course with a 100 feet elevation drop should have everyone running significantly faster than their race pace - you don’t. Stick to your game plan, stay patient, and if others want to go out faster - let them. You on the other hand will prepare for the upcoming bridge and the remaining 12 miles. Oh and don’t forget, as you run pass the Barclays Center, I will be standing on the west side of Flatbush Ave giving out free high fives, hugs, and some last minute pep talk.
MANHATTAN BRIDGE - MILE 2
As you approach the biggest climb of your race, take note of how much effort you are putting in and maintain that effort when you scale up the bridge not your pace. Remember, with the help of gravity you can make up for some of the lost time on the other side. Good news is, elevation will continue to drop until you enter the FDR Drive at Houston Street. For now, enjoy the liberty and freedom of running in New York City right smack in the middle of The Manhattan Bridge staring right at the Statue of Liberty and the Freedom Tower in the distance on your left.
CHINATOWN/LES - MILE 4
As you exit the bridge, you will make a sharp right onto Canal Street - welcome to my old stomping grounds, Chinatown/LES. As you cut these streets, you will merge on to East Broadway and Grand Street, and finally turning onto Columbia Street where the road narrows a bit, but opens up as you pass under The red Williamsburg Bridge
FDR DRIVE - MILE 5
The Houston Street ramp will bring you down onto the FDR Drive. When you see the East River Track on your right, it’s a good time to check in with yourself and see how you’re feeling. If you can dial it up, do so. If not, stay where you are, enjoy the views of the Queensborough Bridge, and just be grateful that you don’t have to run over it. Stay on your right to exit the FDR Drive and as you approach the United Nations you will make a left on to 42nd Street.
42ND STREET - MILE 7.5
As you enter 42nd Street, you will start a 56 feet climb past The Chrysler Building and Grand Central Terminal back to 7th Avenue/Times Square. Stay strong, the young runners are waiting for you in Time Square.
TIMES SQUARE - MILE 8
This is the last turn before you head north into Central Park. Since it’s the city center, there should be some noise here. Say hi to the kids!
CENTRAL PARK - MILE 9
Welcome to Central Park. We have all done this before whether you’re from NYC or not. But don’t get too excited just yet. Here’s the last four miles of rolling hills, but if you didn’t pace yourself properly in the early stages of the race these hills can feel like mountains. Again, this is nothing new. Prepare yourself for another big climb.
CAT HILL - MILE 10
After you pass this Boathouse, it should be cheer squad central - you should put your cheer squad here too. Welcome to the second biggest climb of your race. Ask yourself: how much do you have left in the tank for a 5K? Again, same effort going up the hill and use the momentum of this decent all the way down to the westside of the 102nd Street Transverse to take you up through the rolling hills of the westside of the park.
3 SISTERS - MILE 12
As you exit the 102nd Street Transverse you will enter your last big climb. Remember, same effort going up, use the gravity coming down. Once you climb out of that third hill passing the Reservoir at 86th Street, put the pedal to the floor for the last 0.60 mile. Don’t hold back when you come down that last hill. Give it everything you got all the way to the finish.
WEST 76TH ST - MILE 13.1
Congrats, you are done! Go find your/a jacket to cover up to stay warm. Eat something, give some high fives, and be proud that you completed a half marathon with a new course PR.