Yes, this recap is happening about 4 months after the fact, but better late than never right?
I’m not really sure where to begin with this recap, so let’s start with logistics. For starters, the race was technically called the Running of the Lights, not the Chanukah Chalf as there was also a 5K and 10K option (but Chanukah Chalf sounds way better). It was put on by NYCRuns which I was pretty pleased with after the Queens half (although I am NOT pleased that they’ve moved the Queens Half to my Easter Sunday so I can’t do it this year…bastards).
Sorry, I was digressing. NYCRuns is a good, inexpensive, we don’t have to run in Central Park all the time racing option. I registered for this race as part of my Goofy training plan. Figured I would run the 13.1 and then tack on the extra 5 miles I had to do get my 18 miles in for the day.
Little did I know, the walk to the start would be a mile from the subway (or just feel that long). The weather was actually pretty great. I know the previous year it was freezing and WINDY, but this year, there was hardly any wind (I know because I was wishing there was some at some points) and the temperature was fairly mild for that time of year.
I’d be lying if I said I wanted to do the race that day. I really wasn’t feeling it. I only mention this because this would end up being a pretty big factor in how the race went.
The course is both great AND horrible at the same time. It’s flat, super flat with maybe a microscopic hill that’s pretty much not worth mentioning. And the scenery. The path takes you under the Verazzano Bridge and all along the water in Brooklyn, great scenery. The part of the course that sucks is that it’s an out and back and then a longer out and back, so there’s a 2 mile stretch that you run 4 times. As if that’s not bad enough, this means that if you are slow like me, not only will you see everyone pass you at least once on the way back, but you get to see them pass you a second time on the way back. That REALLY sucks.
Sorry, apparently my course map got saved as a pdf. Oh well, click on the link and you can see what I’m talking about.
Since I was planning on using this as a training run, I was gonna do my 4:1 intervals, since that was my plan for the marathon. It’s a smaller race so there are no corrals, just one big free for all. I don’t remember any type of fanfare for the start, just the people in front of me started running so I knew it was time to go!
I was frustrated early on because I thought I was experiencing a relapse of what happened in Wine & Dine where my legs just weren’t warming up and feeling stiff the entire time. Plus I didn’t bring any water with me, which is bad when the race only has 5 water stops.
Eventually my legs started working and that’s when mentally I just started telling myself, the faster you run, the faster you’re done. I also started spotting some other runners and deciding I had to pass them. I admit it, I got a little competitive. But a realistic competitive, not a let me try for a sub 2 hour competitive. Before I hit the first water stop (about 2 miles in) I had decided I was going to PR this race. Why? I don’t know. I mean, I definitely didn’t train to PR. I guess because I wanted to be done running as soon as I could. This actually meant a change in my strategy. Normally I walk the water stops because, as you may have heard me mention, I cannot run and drink water at the same time. Instead of doing this, I grabbed the cup of water and did my best to hold on to it and not spill it all and would drink it on my interval walk break.
I would watch the fast runners on the way back pass me, hate them for their speed, but keep on trucking. I used my desire to be done and my competitiveness to keep picking off runners (not many, there were not a lot of back of the packers). But I would see a runner, decide that within x number of running intervals I would pass them (see, I was still being smart and not trying to sprint to pass them right away!) And this was working pretty well for me. The mile markers weren’t really there (very confusing considering the multiple out and backs) and none of them had timers on them so I had no idea what my pace was.
At some point I caved and looked at my Garmin and saw that not only could I PR, I could FINALLY get a sub 2:30 (I told you I was slow). By mile 10, I was dying, I was dehydrated and could feel all the salt I had lost from my sweat (sorry for the TMII). BUT, I looked at the time and saw that unless I had an EPIC collapsed, I could pull off a PR and could still possibly get that sub 2:30. At the last water stop though, I made an executive decision. I walked it. I was worried it would cost me time, but I was so dehydrated and I needed to every drop of that water and couldn’t risk spilling it running while waiting until my next walk break.
I was still “battling” with runners trying to pick them off if for no other reason than to just keep my pace going. I finally saw the finish line and began to sprint…ok that’s not entirely true. I tried to sprint. But I couldn’t. But I finished! And I PRed! AND…drum roll please….2:29:05! That’s right! I finally hit sub 2:30! I will now never mention my finish times again so that you’ll all forget how slow I am :)
Would I do this race again? Honestly, unless I lived in Brooklyn and it was super close and easy to get to…no. I enjoyed their Queens race much better. Although it was a 2 loop course, it had a more appropriate number of water stops, had photographers at the finish (I would have liked a finish line shot of my PR/sub 2:30 race) and had actual mile markers with timers. But I’ll let you choose for yourself
-Decent Race Shirt (long sleeved)
-Chocolate Gelt at the Finish – all finish lines should include chocolate with the post-race snacks :)
-Out and Back 2x – for me this is just mentally tough
-Inconvenient To Get To – took me almost 2 hours to get there, and it’s a decent walk from the subway once you do
-Lack of Water Stops – I know not everyone hydrates as much as I do, but I’ve never had so few stops
-Eh Medals – I know medals don’t matter to a lot of people, and the design is actually really cute, but, the medal was the same whether you ran the 5K, 10K, or Half. And it was cheaply made (the Queens Half one they did was not).
-No Photographers – disappointing if race pictures is your thing
-Had to Run Around People NOT Racing – this was not a closed course, it was on the path that was open to the public and since the weather was so nice, there were a lot of people out there walking and fishing (why you would fish in that water I don’t know) which caused issues, especially with runners in both directions.
I don’t know, perhaps my race standards are too high for this? I could take or leave this race.