Festival of Lights Half-Marathon Run & Recover

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, I finished my seventh half marathon (NY Runs Festival of Lights) this past Sunday.  It was a bit of a doozy, mostly because the weather dropped from 50F (Friday) to 20F (Sunday) and was accompanied by 20-40 mph winds.  I’ve been waiting to see what the whole winter thing is about, so I guess there’s no better way to get introduced than to go running in it.

I’m sure you are familiar with race-preparation and so of course I’d have to start off my eats with Saturday night’s dinner. When I ran in high school, we would have team pasta dinners before every race.  We’d rotate to different houses throughout the season and would gorge ourselves on lasagna, garlic bread, and fruit salad.  Needless to say I was not interested in any sort of Italian food for the next few years.  These days I don’t have a “pre-race” routine or specific meal.  So, when my roommate Hope whipped up this homemade meal of pork chops and mashed potatoes with apple pie, how could I resist?

IMG_1406Dinner was followed by tea and television (or Hulu).  What can I say?  I’m a social butterfly. 😉 Fast-forward to the next morning and even though my race wasn’t until 10:30 (practically unheard of), I was still wide awake around 7:30.  So, I decided to force down some oatmeal, sunflower seed butter, 1/2 a banana and cup of coffee.

Oatmeal was actually a pre-race (or everyday) routine during my senior year of high school/xc/track, so that was a no-brainer.


Why good morning New York.  Doesn’t this look inviting?  What’s funny is that I ran on Saturday in a t-shirt and shorts and was just fine.  That would NOT be happening today.

IMG_1410It took me about 45 minutes to an hour to get to the actual race start.  When I signed up for the race, I thought “Brooklyn” meant just across the Hudson.  False.  Anyways, I set out into the cold air bundled up in layers upon layers of clothing.  Oh, I definitely had a few moments where I thought about turning around and going back to the apartment, especially when I arrived at the race site and everyone was freezing, uttering some choice words 😉 and the wind was whipping around us.  However, I know myself and I would have felt extremely guilty and probably would have regretted quitting.  I knew I wanted to prove a point to myself, that I could do it, and I had already told a bunch of people I would run anyways.

Gear: Nike pants (sans thermal layer…might need to invest in those), normal socks, Under Armour running turtleneck, Nike 3/4 zip thermal shirt, Nike windbreaker, hat, running ear warmers by Target, and knitted ear warmer by my grandma Nance.

I think my toes were the most cold right before we started.  I honestly couldn’t feel the bottom of my foot and was worried I might roll my ankle because there was no stability.

Waiting for the race to start was THE WORST.  Water was jumping the wall and you could see it spraying the path that we were supposed to run on.  My hands were numb, despite the gloves and three layers I had wrapped around them.  I plugged in my iPod and just treated it as a nice long run.

To be honest, I was drop-dead nervous all of Saturday.  I would usually get some race-anxiety in high school, just because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.  Sometimes I get these bad dreams of falling, quitting, or just finishing last.  My sister reminded me to “run relaxed” and showed me how she writes that phrase on her hand when she races.  Funny thing is that I wrote it on my hand on Saturday night, it ended up on my face Sunday morning, and I never even saw my hands during the run, but I guess it helped.

The wind certainly helped push us along as we headed south along the water, but retracing our steps was something else.  Each person I saw was leaning into the wind, afraid that one mis-step would send you into the fence.  During the last mile, I got caught by a bad angle and almost crashed into the photographer, but luckily caught myself. 🙂

Overall I managed to push through most of the race with my calves cramping only a few times.  I was extremely thankful my iPod didn’t die and that I had a decent playlist because focusing on the music and only the music took my mind off every negative thought I might have had.

I’ve learned that I may not be the fastest runner, but I am usually good at running hills and finishing races on a strong foot. This course didn’t really have any hills, but I did manage to finish strong, encourage a few people to push through the pain with me, and ultimately pass 6 or so people.

IMG_1420 Post-Race: My fingers were once again frozen, so I chugged a cup of hot chocolate/coffee, which did the trick.  Picked up some coconut water before getting on the metro (hopefully to loosen up my cramping muscles) and purchased a Skinny Peppermint Mocha before crashing at my apartment.


Originally I thought I would have a big ‘ol brunch.  Well, by the time I made it back I was in no mood to go out or even cook an elaborate meal.  So, I settled down to one of the bagels I snagged from the race finish and smothered it in Neufchâtel cheese, blueberries, sunflower seed buter, and 1/2 banana.


Netflix (started season 2 of Revenge!!) + hot bath + cozy apartment = happy Kaitlin

Originally I thought I had finished around 2:04.  Not really sure where this time came from since I ran sans watch.  Three layers over my wrist + my gloves prevented me from using any type of watch.  I actually liked racing without a watch because I focused less on the time and more on how my body was feeling and the pace of my music.  I tried to do the math a few times but that didn’t work out.

Well, according to the quick follow-up email by NY Runs, I finished in 1:51:12 for an overall finish of 44th and age group finish (20-29) of 4th!  I was beyond stoked when I read that email because for the type of training program I came up with (or lacked…whatever), this past week’s activities, and that brutal wind, it was quite a personal accomplishment.

To finish off the night, I met up with a good college friend who happened to be in the city on business.  She happened to be staying in the Flatiron area so of course I had to take her to Eataly. Confession – I’d actually never eaten at Eataly but wandered the aisles countless times.  Turns out there are a number of small sections where you can choose to eat – fish, veggie, pasta, meat based, etc.  We sat down and dove into conversation as if no time had passed.  I loved how our conversations have always been straight-up honest and cover pretty much each and every topic you could imagine.


The spread included probably the BEST bruschetta I’ve ever had (had to do with the cheese spread on top 😉 ), a new take on gnocchi w/ broccoli rabe, and completed with gelato (mint chocolate chip/salted caramel).  Honest to goodness, flavorful and filling – everything I would expect to be “Italian”.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow, enjoy your time with friends and family, and for more delicious and unique eats, head over to Peas and Crayons. 🙂

What do you eat for pre-race or post-race fuel?


14 thoughts on “Festival of Lights Half-Marathon Run & Recover

  1. I’ve always wanted to go to Eataly! Oh man you have really hit up all of the best places in your short time in NY thus far! And that time- speedyyyyy I always love when my time is faster than I think it is 🙂 I hope your travel goes well today!

  2. Um, YUM to mashed potatoes! 🙂

    I loved your race recap and congrats on an incredible finish. But BRRR! Kudos to you for running in that weather. I don’t think I could!

  3. Oh my gosh, awesome job on your race! You should definitely invest in Nike thermal pants-they’re the best thing ever! They saved me when I was rowing on the bay in the winter-they’re basically fur lined spandex. What could be better?

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