I used to play a lot of ultimate in Prospect Park, so I was somewhat familiar with the area, though I had never run it's three mile loop. I felt great in my new Vibram Five Finger Bikila's for the first lap (I was probably still half asleep) and the second loop also went by without much problem. I chatted with a few runners about my shoes, and made a point to run up to (and then pass, hehe) other VFF runners. The four or five VFFers I spoke with (all males, though ages varied from people in their 20's to early 50's) all loved their shoes and were all enjoying the run. I even talked to a guy who was running in the Vivo Barefoot Evo running shoes. He really liked them, though maybe it was because he worked for the company. I gushed about how I own three pairs of Vivos and that they need to get some other colors and styles in for next season. At that point he had enough of my ramblings and ran on ahead.
Once we left the park at around mile seven I started to get a bit tired, though I pushed through it and kept my pace up. I made sure to focus on my form and kept telling myself to "pull" my foot off the ground, a la Pose style. My breathing thus far was perfect, as my heart rate stayed low and I was able to breath smoothly in and out through my nose. The next six miles were flat and straight as far as the eye could see down Ocean Boulevard, which was actually kinda boring. The road surface wasn't as smooth as Central Park, and I felt the balls of my feet tingling a bit as the miles wore on. This was a bad sign, so I kept checking in with myself and made sure my form was getting sloppy. Fatigue leads to injuries, and with only last weekend's 10k run as my longest recent run, I had to be careful. The worst part about running on the flat, straight, endless road was when I could have sworn I was approaching mile ten, but alas, it was only mile nine. Argh.
The route didn't get interesting until the very end when we made a turn onto the famous Coney Island boardwalk. I think by that time my form went to poop, as the soft planks yielded to my weight. At the very end there was a guy running next to me who said, "C'mon, you can do it!" So I picked up my pace and said, "Ok man, let's do this", and I took off like a rocket and sprinted across the finish. I could have sworn some spectator on the sidelines said, "Wow, look at him!", but I was going too fast to really hear. Boo yea!
My official time was 1:40:26, which is a new personal record for me, beating January's time by over six minutes, and improving over my first half last July by over thirteen minutes! A lot of that has to do with my running form improving, my workout routine which includes more leg exercises, and my knowledge of what 13.1 miles feels like so I can better gauge my pace. My breathing the whole race was calm and easy, and I breathed through my nose the whole race, which I'm most happy about. I still have three more half marathons to run this year to complete the NYRR Half Marathon Series, and I'm eyeing the Bronx one in a few months to further improve on my time.
My new VFF Bikilas held up great, though I think I hit the pavement a bit harder than necessary during the latter part of the race, causing the slight tingling sensation on the balls of my feet, and a small blister under my left foot. Overall they held up really well, and I'm looking forward to wearing down the tread a little bit to made them thinner and more flexible. I'm definitely still a fan, and I highly recommend them to any newbie minimalist runners out there.
-Total runners: 7006
-My place: 988 (cracked the top 1,000!)
-Total time: 1:40:26
-Race pace: 7:40 minute miles
-Note to self: Coney Island is friggin' far from the Upper East Side