Allstate New York 13.1 Half Marathon, New York- 30th state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. New York was my 30th state.

A funny thing happened to me on my way to the 2014 Allstate New York 13.1 Half Marathon. Only it wasn’t really funny but at least now I can look back at it and while I’m not laughing at least I’m not as upset as I was then.

So first the drama that happened on the way to the race and then the specifics. My husband, daughter, and I took a taxi to the race start and when I got in I told the driver we were going to the National Tennis Center (our hotel was nearby also in Queens so I knew it should only be short ride). He nodded his head and we took off. After about 10 minutes I realized he was circling around Corona Park, where the National Tennis Center is, but it was obvious he didn’t know exactly where to go. Or he knew exactly where it was and was trying to run up the bill.

I looked at my watch and it was 10 minutes before the race start. I started to panic as I watched the minutes ticking away and we still weren’t there. Finally I told my husband I just wanted to get out, so I told the driver to just pull over right where he was and let us out. I just blindly ran in the direction I thought the race start should be (based on the race website) and made it to the start with a couple of minutes to spare. I was furious that I was almost late to the race start because the taxi driver didn’t look up the directions and pretended to know where he was going, but I tried to channel that into positive energy and ended up running a good race and enjoying myself.

The state of New York has no shortage of marathons or half marathons. There are at least two half marathons in every single month of the year and a marathon in every month except four. This may make it difficult to decide which one to do if you’re only going to run one in each state, like me. However, I always knew my half marathon in New York would be in New York City. I had been to New York City before and typically I like to run races in new cities, but honestly, I was just looking for an excuse to go back because I had so much fun the previous times I had been there.

It did occur to me that the weather can be temperamental in New York City in March but I thought I would take a chance and hope for the best. Fortunately the weather for the race was a bit chilly and windy but at least it didn’t rain so overall it was pretty good. Later in the afternoon the day of the race, a storm blew in and it was freezing and raining, so things could have been much worse.

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Race day temperatures ranged from the low 30’s at the start to the mid 30’s a couple of hours later when I finished. It was also pretty windy and overcast. The course went  through Corona Park in Queens, a place I thought was relatively scenic and we got a glimpse of Manhattan at one point during the race. There were two double loops, both very flat with the only “hills” being bridges. Very good volunteer support along the course helped keep things moving smoothly.

I had been dealing with a strained hamstring that caused pain in the back of my knee in the 2 weeks prior to race, but thanks to a massage 3 days before the race, I was able to run at a decent pace with no pain. At the finish, I was handed a HUGE medal and offered plenty of post-race snacks and beverages. My finish time was 2:02:26.

Typically I tend to choose races that are off the beaten path at least a bit and since this race was entirely through Queens and no other boroughs, it gave me a glimpse into another part of New York City I had not experienced previously. Like most first and even second time visitors to the great city, I had stuck to Manhattan and had not ventured out much beyond that. This gave me and my family an opportunity to see things such as Flushing Meadows Corona Park, New York Hall of Science, Queens Museum, and Queens Botanical Garden. There’s even a small zoo in Queens although we didn’t go there.

This was my daughter’s first visit to the Big Apple so of course we also went to the Empire State Building, American Girl Doll Store, Metropolitan Museum of Art , Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, New York Public Library, the iconic American Museum of Natural History (one of my favorites), and the Guggenheim Museum. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a tour to see the Statue of Liberty (I didn’t make reservations far enough in advance) and of course there were other things we missed as well, but we squeezed in as much as we could in a few days after the half marathon- no way I was doing all of that walking before the race.

As far as I can tell, 2015 was the last year for this race. However, like I mentioned earlier, there are many others to choose from with almost 20 just in and around New York City alone throughout the year.

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Chicago 13.1 Half Marathon, Illinois- 25th State

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Illinois was my 25th state.  Half-way there!!!

Looking at half marathons for my one in Illinois, I was drawn to those in Chicago. I had been there once when I was in high school and had been wanting to go back, so I signed up for the 2012 Allstate Life Insurance Chicago 13.1 Half Marathon. It was in June and as one might predict, it was hot. Extremely hot. So hot that they put out warning flags at mile 2. I knew early on that I wouldn’t be getting a PR (personal record) at this race.

At packet pickup the day before the race, I got a blue technical material short-sleeve shirt and a matching blue rucksack. The race started along Lakeshore Trail near North Lakeshore Drive and only had a rise in elevation of 25 feet, so it was about as flat as half marathons come. Although it was a large race with a lot of runners, it was well-organized and had corrals so we weren’t on top of each other. There was some shade along the course for the first seven miles but after that, there was no discernible shade. The volunteers and aid stations were great along the course and afterwards.

At the finish, I got one of the biggest, heaviest medals I had received at a half marathon. There was also the usual food and drinks, but the best part was the proximity of Lake Michigan, where I cooled off my severely blistered toes and attempted to cool down. The heat slowed me down especially during the last 5 miles of the race so I was about 5 minutes off my goal. My finish time was 2:07:27.

Chicago is filled with all kinds of fun things to do. My family and I spent a week here just doing all of the touristy things like taking photos of ourselves in front of the “bean” at Millenium Park, going to the Museum of Science and Industry (highly recommend), checking out the Field Museum (also highly recommend), admiring the views from the Skydeck at Willis Tower, and my daughter had a ton of fun playing in the water at Crown Fountain. One way you can save money is to buy a Chicago CityPASS and you can save 53% off admission for up to 5 attractions.

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The cold water of Lake Michigan felt awesome after the race!

Chicago 13.1