085 Grete’s Gallop 1/2 Mary – 1:20:53

The mighty Grete Waitz (for those of you that don’t know) was a rock star of a woman, winning the NYC Mary 9 times. Whaaaaa?! She is also from Norway and based on a recent DNA test I found out I am primarily Norwegian. Perhaps a distant relative? One could only wish for a relative like her. I digress… this Half Mary is in her honor and takes place in The Central Park.

Since completing Ironman in August a huge weight was lifted in my training both physically and mentally. My ‘A’ races (Boston as well) for the season are over. I’m racing NYC Marathon, but I always do that simply because it’s so much fun! Therefore, I’m not stressin’.

That brings us up to speed on our discussion on Grete’s Gallop. To race, or just run, THAT is the question. Abbe told me to race it and seeing how the Mary is 3 weeks out thats more than enough time to recover for it. Also, I secretly can never just ‘run’ a race no matter what I tell myself beforehand.

Now I was nervous. I started thinking about my latest Marathon PR and how I achieved it. Perhaps I could use that same strategy? This strategy (used in the Kentucky Derby Marathon) was simply to throw all pacing rules out the window and run as fast as I could the whole time.

The day before the race was actually quite relaxing. Abbe and I went to the Met (I now live a stones throw from it) and checked out the Warhol exhibit. We hit the Member’s Lounge for a few drinks and then headed back to the apartment for a nice home cooked race meal. In bed by 11! “Baker, good god man why so late?” The race started at 10:30, who ever heard of that?


I had a strange dream about my father during the night that was really vivid. He ‘visited me’ and brought me a keepsake. It kind of affected m a lot and I decided to hone in on it while racing.

Had some coffee and really just counted down the hours until I had to leave! Abbe left earlier as she was volunteering. You can read all about her wild experience here.

A quick 10 minute jog got me over to the Start Corrals. I saw Erica Sara finishing up her 20 miler and ran with her for a hot second.

Up in my corral I didn’t see (for the first time in awhile) any of my Blue Corral buds. I later found out Antonio was hiding in it somewhere.

The usual suspects spoke… National Anthem… race route instructions… THE GUN.

I never know how a race is going to go until I start running (or swimming if we are referring to a Tri.) Immediately I felt as if I ran hard the day before. My legs, although moving at a good pace now, felt exhausted.

We hit Mile 1 at 5:45. What did I tell you my plan was? That’s right, run hellfire speed the whole time and I seemed to be holding up to it. In my mind thought I was like, “Man, this hurts bad. Maybe this isn’t such a great idea. Remember that easy long run we did last weekend at a 7 minute pace, let’s do that!”

Unfortunately, my legs didn’t listen. They can be stubborn. I was already tired by the time we hit Tavern on the Green (the Finish) and was like, “OH, now we have only 2 laps to do.” I kinda wanted to come up with a reason to DNF since my heart was on fire and I was super hot, and yet, I just kept running.

Oh, I forgot to tell you. I intentionally did not wear a Garmin. I wanted to try and get in tune with my heart and not just numbers.

I saw my friend Elizabeth at Mile 4ish who’s cheering gave me a boost.

By the time Harlem Hill was approaching we had formed a single line of runners, spaced out 10 meters each. A few of us started leapfrogging, but we were all holding the same pace so no one gained. It was at this point I started running ‘boy, girl, boy (me), girl’ with a few legit competitors. We would run the entire rest of the race together! That’s 9 miles of us all in formation, each of us taking turns leading.

Harlem Hill kicked my ass. Oh, and we had to run it one more time, awesome!

Climbing the east side of it I saw Jim from ‘Dad Posse’ who gave me a good cheer!

As our line barreled down the East Side we played the tangents. Well, we played them until I saw Course Marshall Abbe at which point I veered over to give her a high five. I tried to think of something more entertaining to do, like tackle her into the bushes, but I was exhausted.

Then, we saw Ed from ‘Dad Posse’ who gave me a cheer. I wondered if they both knew each other were in the Park running?

After we crossed the Start area I switched on some much needed music. Based on my calculations we were running right around a 6 minute pace. I was happy with this but knew we would slow down, this being the half way point in the race.

Right around Mile 8 or 9 I noticed that I felt pretty good! So weird. I was still tired, but I was running happy and knew I would finish.

I saw Sebastien cheering on the sidelines who gave me a boost.

Our pace team, led by a tall brunette with a grey sports bra, a CPTC guy, me, and a brunette in a pink hat and shades, were now attacking Harlem Hill for the second time. We hit it pretty hard and showed no mercy. I was happy to hit the apex. (ohhh good word.) Barreling down the descent I saw Josh on my left cheering us on. I yelled, “Josh baby, what’s popping?!” I seemed to be in a cheerful mood, maybe because I had 3 miles to go.

By now we had started lapping other runners and it was no longer possible to hit the tangents, having to run wide left. We would no longer be able to get to the aid stations unless willing to risk serious time loss.

Passing Abbe again I gave her yet another high five. Then I saw Sebastien again (who had crossed the Park). I love seeing all the Runner Army out there support each other. Times like this make me happy to be a part of the local running community.

I hit Mile 11 at roughly 1:06 and change. I tacked 14 conservative minutes onto that and calculated that, yes, I might PR. I ‘thought’ my PR was 1:20:21, so that was the time I aimed for.

It got real crowded the last 2 miles and I was just trying to make it around the other runners without slamming into them. I was really excited to PR and was trying to keep pace up.

As the last mile hit I came upon and Urban Athletics runner going my pace. “Hey Chris!” he said. I evidently knew this person but had a hard time putting a face to a name until someone yelled out, “Go KB!” Beganics, of course! We chatted briefly before reeling in the last 400 Meters. The clock said 1:20 flat and knowing I could never PR at that rate I didn’t punch it. In reality, my PR was 1:20:48 and I probably should have blasted ahead. Way to do your pre race homework Baker.

Truly exhausted.

I finished in 1:20:53 and you know what, I’m so happy with the time! I raced without a Garmin and was a few seconds from a Half Mary PR, one that I set in 2010 in fact!

Bib Overall Place Age
AG %
M34 132 83 17 1:20:53 6:10 73.5%

 I have no idea what I was doing at the end… waving at the crowd?