(Apologies for the language in the video - hills are not my friend during the race)
The Fred Lebow Manhattan Half is one of my favorite races of the year.
Why? Because it's a half marathon. In January. In the cold. In Central Park. Could you ask for more of a challenge?
For mere mortals like me, January means "pre-season" so to speak. After finishing the TCS New York City Marathon in early November, I took a bit of time off from running to recharge the batteries.
Over the Christmas period this involved runs that never went longer than 6 miles. Fred Lebow Half is 13.1 miles. So that represents a bit of a challenge - a good challenge to see where my fitness was at.
My half marathon record came in the middle of training for the Queens Marathon last March at the NYC Half Marathon. So I approached Fred knowing I would not break 1:38 and just hoped to finish it healthy enough.
The week prior to the race, I also spent a lot of my time cursing out the course, which encompassed three Cat Hills and two Harlem Hills. Previously, the course only had two and two. The extra Cat Hill would be torturous I told myself. Turns out, I was right.
On race day, the third Cat Hill was horrible. I trudged up it, slowly, but surely and cursed the Cat as I went up it. Then, as I got my legs back, I dashed to the finish. And guess what? No, I didn't break my PR, but I actually enjoyed it. Yes, during the video, it looked like I hated the hills (and I did at times), but who likes easy? You find out more about yourself when it's not easy and you're being pushed.
The challenge pushed me to the limit, which was a good thing. The course was actually was fun - I didn't miss the south loop of the park, an area I'm more than familiar with, and I the rolling hills were great training for whatever lies ahead.
After the disappointment of Fred Lebow being canceled last year due to heavy snow, this was a great reminder of why the race remains one of my favorites on the calendar. I walked away with a time of 1:43:15, not my worst half marathon time - and on a challenging course. I think that sets me up well for the year ahead.
Gridiron 4 mile is next on the agenda and time to see how those NYRR speed classes are improving my race time.