Monday, April 27, 2015

2015 More Fitness Women's Half Marathon Recap

The 2015 More Fitness Women's Half Marathon in Central Park
Central Park, NYC As the sun came up on Central Park West on April 19th, 2015, over 7,403 women runners and their supporters gathered near Tavern on the Green for the 12th Annual More Fitness Shape Women's Half Marathon. The temperatures couldn't have been better too. Low to mid 50's with lots of sunshine and very little wind.

The Race Course was two times around Central Park for a total of 13.1 miles. The route was incredibly beautiful with park trees in early bloom. You may not be aware of this but Central Park is full of hills and inclines. Not at all flat like most of the city! 

Race participant Beth McCombs is ready to roll.
As an embedded journalist for this race, I met women who were for physical reasons, choosing to walk the course. One such woman was pregnant and decided to do this half-marathon walking with her mother. Just as long as you complete the course within 4 hours. Carrying a rather heavy bag of camera equipment and taking pictures/video along the way, I had a slightly greater degree of difficulty, especially when we hit the hills!

A Woman's Only Race the More Fitness Women's Half Marathon is one of the largest races of its kind and builds on "Girl Power" with a positive spirit of support. Yes, there were women who are there for the business at hand but there are also women who are recovering from injury or illness, trying this for the first time and those who are looking to get into shape. 

Coming up on Mile 1!
Everyone is welcome and I found none of the snobbery I've seen racing with the men at the Mountain Bike Classics I've participated in. In fact the lead runner came back out to the course to cheer us on during the race. Now how cool is that?

Lead runner, Deena Kastor passed us to cheers and hoots.
Suffering and Succeeding Together are some of the best parts about an event like this. I saw women with canes, visible limps, grey hair, no hair, in shape, no shape, overweight and everything in between. One thing they had in common. No one was judging them but everyone was encouraging them to finish. Everyone who finishes receives a beautiful medal just for that so each woman who completes the race receives something tangible for her work.

The Central Park Route as you can see from the above video snippet is a beautiful one as it allows you focus on doing your own race without traffic and other unwanted distractions. The trees did not have a lot of leaves on them and so allowed the most sunshine possible. There were also hydration tables and lots of fantastic volunteers who kept cheering us on. Some were holding funny signs saying "You Got This!" and "Ryan Gosling is Waiting at the Finish Line!" It was just like a breath of fresh air and a second wind seeing them out there.

The Finish Line! The Journey was just as much fun as the Destination.
The Finish Line had SO many people cheering the racers on. Everyone wanted to blast over it in triumph. One women whom I met on the race route told me that last year just as she was ready to cross the finish line, the racer in front of her fell. Unable to avoid her, she fell on top of the poor woman! So not every finish is picture perfect.

The Final Stretch: Some walked, some ran.
All the same everyone who crossed the finish line gathered at the Naumburg Band Shell for some great music and dancing. Each woman who came over that finish line had something to cheer about. Completing a goal and perhaps encouraging someone else along the way makes this a worthwhile challenge on so many levels.

Happy friends who came over the finish line together!
What I Learned: A Half-Marathon is a great milestone event and there were pace runners whom you could follow if you wanted to finish in a certain time period. Here are some main take-aways from this race:

Road Shoes & Socks: I would also wear running shoes about 1/2 size larger than usual. Even though I wore RejuvaHealth Socks (which helped a lot), my toes did swell some. It happens when I skate for long periods too so go a half size up. In this race, I wore Hoka One One's super-light Vanquish Road Shoes which did not disappoint. 

Race Essentials: GoPro, Hytail Hat, THINK Tank & Hoka One One Vanquish

Dress in Layers: The day started with me arriving at about 7:30 am with temps in the high 40's so I wore my THINK separates which I have been training in. The tank was a life-saver as you can see me at the finish line stripped down to it! Likewise the THINK yoga pants have enough spandex to give your thighs a bit of compression. I topped these with my black Terry Metro Skort which is really lightweight. I topped everything off with my THINK Pink Hoodie which needed to be peeled off after a few miles! Rethinking all the equipment weight I was carrying, I would have preferred to have run with very little on. I was able to warm up quickly.

One of my sponsors, Mariel Heather, owner of THINK apparel.

Sunblock for face and lips: I applied sunblock before taking off and kept a 30 SPF tube of Australian Gold Lip Balm with me and reapplied it during the route. I also wore my Hytail Pony Tail Hat which helped keep the sun off my face. It kept my hair out of the way as well.

Fuel for the Race & After: Having to rise at 4:05 am to make my connection into NYC didn't leave me much time for a hearty breakfast. So I had an Organic Plant Protein Shake (by Garden of Life) and was on my way. I didn't use any energy supplements or fuel bars for this race. Just water and a little Gatorade from the water tables once I was on the course. Once I came over the finish line, the volunteers offered us bagels and fresh apples. I didn't eat them but got some more water and fixed myself a Raw Protein Energy Shake (by Garden of Life) to recover. That night, I took some Rainbow Light calcium citrate and Gaia Turmeric Supreme to ease any lactic acid build up and inflammation.  It helped because the next day I was back on my feet running around!

My training table protein shakes, vitamins & energy supplements
The Wrap: I would definitely recommend doing a half-marathon like this. Very well organized/hosted by the NYRR Club and even televised on NBC with hosts, Natalie Morales and Eric Hill, you will find so many people rooting for you to finish! The only drawback to races like these is that they often require you to pick up your race numbers & route a day or two before. You could have a family member pick it up for you or do it yourself if you are already staying in NYC. 
I would recommend working your way up to a half-marathon by entering a 5 or 10K first though. That way you can get an idea on how to pace yourself and calculate your approximate finishing time.
Very special thanks to all my race support team members and amazing sponsors, namely: Lole Women Activewear, Hoka One One Running Shoes, Terry Bicycle Clothing, THINK Fitness Apparel, Hytail Pony Tail Hats (AD Activewear) and Garden of Life Organic Nutritional Supplements

NEXT UP: I'm signed up again for the Rapha Women's 100 Cycling Sportive on July 26th, 2015. I'll also be celebrating Bike Month (May) and Bike to Work Week so stay tuned to more fitness fun at XTreme XTraining!

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