Here's where I got worried. I totally underestimated my pace - I wasn't sure if there was a penalty or something for going over pace so I think I put my pace at a very conservative 8:15 or so (which works out to approximately a 1:48 half). However, I'd been having a great month of workouts and had revised my goal down to 1:40. But because they grouped the pens by pace I was stuck with the 1:50 pace group. I was going to have to hustle my ass off and do extra work passing people to get up to the 1:40 pace group. I was just trying to do the math in my head when the final announcements started and before I knew it, we were off.
The first part of the loop was all downhill, so I started on the outside and just ran like hell, big strides, passing as many people as I could but being careful not to wind myself. My first three miles, which included Cat Hill, were 7:07, 7:10, and 6:43, which is insanely fast, but by the time we hit the reservoir straightaway I'd passed the 1:45 pace group and taken my first goo so I allowed myself to settle in. I didn't attack the big pre-Harlem Hill downslope too hard, hit the hill at a nice pace, and by the time the rolling hills came along I'd settled in to a nice 7:30 pace. The next few miles were pretty easy; I still hadn't found the 1:40 pace group yet but I figured I would find them soon. We were coming up on the start line - which meant the six mile mark. I was about to make the second loop of Central Park for the first time.
Right around the 6.5 mile mark is when things started to get sticky. I was really starting to get warm at this point (I'd worn a running jacket to be safe but probably didn't need it)... The album I was listening to at the start finished, and I was getting tired of music in my ear, so I took them off. I took my hat off. Running along the initial downhill at the south end of the park now - I took my gloves off. While transferring them into my pockets I dropped one - and panicked. In mid air I kicked it and it went maybe ten feet in front of me. I bent over and picked it up - seamlessly, somehow - a runner next to me said "nice move". Looking back, I probably should have just let the glove go, but I wasn't really thinking. I was breathing pretty heavily at this point and tried to calm myself down. Heading around the turn that starts the loop going north again, I looked ahead - and saw the 1:40 pace group. Somehow I picked up speed and caught them after a quarter mile or so. For the next mile I stood shoulder to shoulder with the pace sign just thinking - don't let him pass you. don't let him pass you. Just breathing and trying to relax.
At Cat Hill I made my move and separated from the pace group a bit. The Hill felt surprisingly good - this is at around mile 8. I'd been running for around 55 minutes now. Still hard - but I'd settled in a bit after the overheating stress and tried to slightly pick it up a bit at the reservoir straightaway. Here is where the toughest part of the race was. Holy shit. The experience of trying to choke down a chocolate goo at 8.5 miles was just traumatic and disgusting. The Gatorade one - Strawberry Banana - that I'd had six miles ago was tolerable - had the consistency of thick jello - but the Powerade one that the race supplied was chalky and slimy and just gross. Like protein powder and chocolate syrup. Just horrible. As I went into mile 9, my intestines started to rumble and growl. Please don't let me shit myself - I begged. Four miles to go. Just let me finish without sharting or outright shitting myself. Please.
Harlem Hill the second time around was slow - but not terrible. But the rolling hills that came after it were hard, and very slow. My pace dropped to around 8:30 here for 3/4 mile or so - but somehow I got out of it. By the time we passed the reservoir - which means no more major hills - I was ecstatic. I saw my pace. As long as I don't totally bonk, I will beat 1:40, I thought. I maintained. And maintained. The crowds were getting bigger now - when we hit the 72nd st transverse there were a bunch of people cheering. Not gonna lie - it did help. I didn't think it would, but it did. Mile 11. Mile 12. Going at 7:20 now. The last mile was fucking brutal. I was exhausted. My knees hurt. My form dipped. There was another guy running along side me panting like he was dying. At 12.5 there was a NYRR volunteer standing in the road, separating finishers from those who had one more lap. I was fading. "One more hill! Attack the last hill! Finish strong!!" he was saying. OK. I did.