I’m officially three weeks away from the big race day at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco and the team at Nike Canada has been doing a stellar job at preparing me for this experience over the past several weeks, which I will be sharing with you until after I cross that finish line. Lucky for me, I am able to enjoy this process with three other amazing women in media; Melissa Greer Editor at Best Health Magazine, Justine Iaboni Features Editor at Kenton Magazine , and Karen Kwan Freelance Writer, Marathoner and Founder of Health and Swellness. We all have different backgrounds but we are all in this for the same reason – for personal growth and to challenge ourselves. This past weekend we flew into New York City for a whirlwind 24 hours to take over Central Park for our last long (peak) run before the half marathon on October 19th.
We started our Saturday by making a quick visit to Mecca, otherwise known as NikeTown NYC located in Midtown, to take a look at the brand’s latest for women’s running and to pick out some pieces to get us through outdoor running during transitional weather conditions. After what seemed like way too short of a visit (I could have easily stayed for 5 hours), we were whisked uptown by our driver to the Nike Upper East Side location to meet the other media and the Nike New York team that would be hosting us for the remainder of the day.
Making this experience even more special, our run was led by Nike+ NYC Live Running Head Coach Chris Bennett and some Nike Running Pacers from his team. Coach Bennett is no joke…he’s a 4-minute miler on the Olympic Development Nike Farm Team and prior to that he captained both the UNC Tarheel XC and Track teams. Knowing that this was the first half marathon for majority of those in the group, Coach Bennett used his wit, easy demeanour and knowledge to calm us down before embarking on our 20K run.
We departed the UES location and lightly jogged over to Central Park West for a short pep talk form Coach Bennett. Our pre-run discussion was on the importance of stretching, pacing and proper hydration (pre, during and post race). The reasons for stretching is a no brainer, but understanding how to pace yourself in a long race is pivotal to crossing the finish line. More often than not, marathon newbies break away from the pack early on and begin the run at their desired race pace, losing steam half way rather than beginning slow and gaining speed throughout the 13.1 miles (23 km’s). Not only did this tactic allow for my body to properly warm up but I found that it left me with enough gas to successfully tackle the hills and I was able to run a negative split – meaning the time per km was faster in the second half of my run. It was a super hot day in the park with temperatures reaching the mid 80’s, which is pretty ridiculous for September. However, it made for great practice for San Francisco. Unbeknownst to us all, apparently drinking water is not sufficient enough during a warm weather run and we learned that it’s imperative to cool our body temperature down throughout the race by putting ice down our bras (yes, you read that correctly), on our necks, and pouring water over our heads at hydration check points. Truth be told, each did the trick and not once did I feel myself overheating throughout the run and despite a painful IT Band injury I ran at a really decent pace of 5:06/km.
Photography by Nike U.S.
Following our run, the ladies and I headed to New York City’s premier boutique gym Clay Health Club & Spa to wind down, shower and prep for highly anticipated meal at Dos Caminos in Soho. If you happen to live in NYC, are into fitness and have never heard of Clay, you must check it out immediately. With state of the art equipment, organic cafe and rooftop deck in addition to customized training, nutritional services, a spa and a private members lounge with wifi…no other fitness facility in the area can compete. And I couldn’t think of a better way to cheers our training milestone than with celebratory margaritas and Mexican eats at Dos Caminos.
A very special thank you to the entire Nike+ NYC team, Coach Chris Bennett, the Pacers, Danielle Gibson and Claire Rankine from Nike Canada for putting together this amazing “Nike Long Run in Central Park” experience. Stay tuned for my next post on hydration featuring my fave juice spot in Toronto, Greenhouse Juice Company!