New York is always a good idea, and is a great idea when it includes 13.1 miles of running the streets of New York City! Tata Consulting Services, TCS, invited me to participate in the 2019 United Airlines NYC Half as a continuation of the ‘Empowering Teachers – Inspiring Students’ program. Team TCS provided a complimentary, guaranteed entry into the half marathon, pre and post-race hospitality, and an early exit with private baggage check. I have been completely spoiled with the running VIP treatment on the east coast!
Nearly 25,000 runners started the race in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and ended in Manhattan’s Central Park. Early in the morning, I made my way excitedly to Prospect Park in a subway train filled with race expectation conversations. When I arrived at the starting village, I quickly moved past the security checkpoint and was given a heat shield to keep warm. The layer of warmth was welcomed since I was chilled in the crisp 35-degree weather.
I decided to take full advantage of my to access the VIP tent. Being assigned the 4th starting wave, many faster runners had already cleared out to begin the race, leaving the tent not crowded. An outstanding feature of the VIP tent was the private porta-potties. Not a single runner was standing in line for my last minute restroom break before the race. This was seriously a runner dream come true! The tent also included a light breakfast and toasty hand warmers that I placed in each of my gloves for the first few miles.
The starting line of the race was well organized into four different corrals and every runner was on the course in a matter of minutes. While running I enjoy taking in the sights and sounds around me. The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch caught my eye at the end of mile one. My initial thought was to stop and take a picture, but I pressed on. For the next mile, my thoughts were filled with photo regret. Luckily, a second chance came as the course passed the Memorial for a second time just before mile three. While continuing to run, I took a few photos to recall the memories later of this race experience.
Living in Long Beach, California, I am most comfortable running pancake flat miles. This half racecourse was deceivingly hilly and added somewhat of a mental running challenge. I was surprised at the end of the race to realize the max elevation gain was only 164 feet. The hills were never too difficult but seemed to be a continuous test from the first mile to the end of the race. While running, I took full advantage of the downhills to open up my stride as an attempt to make up time. Out of all the incline, the climb across the Manhattan Bridge at mile 5 was worthwhile. The views of the New York City skyline were breathtaking. It was spectacular to see the entire span of the Brooklyn Bridge against Lower Manhattan as I kept mentally reminding myself not to stop running.
As the race continued, I found the waterfront edge miles along FDR Drive challenging with the headwinds. I mentally distracted myself along miles 7 through 10 with the East River views and a music playlist created of NYC artists. The welcomed left turn onto 42nd street brought a mile of cheering crowds. This exhilaration continued to build as the right turn onto 7th Avenue brought into sight the bright lights of Time Square. This section of the race was another crowning moment of pure bliss. As a Southern California girl, running in Time Square was a dream turned reality.
As the leafless winter trees of Central Park in the distance became more clear running up 7th Avenue, I knew the race was near an end. I ran this final mile on tired legs, but it was one of my fastest as I pushed to reach the finish line. My love for New York bubbled up yet again as I ran past the Bethesda Fountain and Terrace, my personal favorite area of Central Park. A matter of moments later, I crossed the finish line clocking a 2:18 race finish time.
Elated to be done, I made my way to the Team TCS early exit where I collected my enchanting finisher medal highlighting the Manhattan Bridge and the captivating view it provides of the city skyline. The next stop was The Ribbon, for the Team TCS post-race hospitality. The Ribbon restaurant had an amazing selection of food to feed my ravenous hunger as the warm and cozy ambience made it a perfect location to celebrate the completion of 13.1 miles. As I enjoyed the Team TCS generosity I shared in the conversation of accomplishment with other Team TCS teachers.
Before leaving I gave a gracious thanks to the TCS staff for another wonderful New York City running experience. A few short hours later I found my way to JFK airport ready to fly home to share my race accomplishments with my students at school on Monday! New York City is an amazing place to visit and an exhilarating place to run. I am beyond grateful to TCS for providing me with this race experience.