Grete’s Gallop: The Surprise PR!!!

For the greater half of this year, I was chasing a goal: run a half-marathon in under two hours.

It took four unsuccessful attempts before I finally achieved it in Maine in August.


And I have the banana to prove it. (Uh, had. I don’t have that banana any more. That would be gross.)

I was only hoping for 1:59, but I surpassed my goal a little bit and hit 1:58:30. I knew I’d probably run at least one more half between then and the marathon, but PRing didn’t even enter my mind.

A week or two ago, I signed up for Grete’s Gallop, which was this morning. I’m trying to finish my 9+1 requirements before the marathon because I don’t want to have to worry about getting them in after the marathon. I’ve been trying to wait until races get closer to sign up for them so that I mostly run races I actually want to and don’t just run them out of obligation. This has worked out okay until I wait too long and a race fills up. (See: Staten Island half next week.)

Last night, I was sort of dreading this race. Two loops of Central Park? Seriously? Noooo.

I had 18 miles on my schedule, and my plan was to run 5 to the park and run the race as the end of my long run, keeping a nice, moderate pace.

Well, I putzed around too long before leaving and only had time to run 3 to the park.

I ran up to the park and picked up my bib.

photo 1.JPG

photo 2.JPG

The race was part of the Norwegian Festival, honoring Grete Waitz, a Norwegian woman who won the New York Marathon a record nine times and passed away this year.

I walked over to the corrals and wondered what I was doing there. It was so crowded. (No more, really, than any other race, but I just haven’t been racing much lately.)

photo 3.JPG

I have to say, when Mary Wittenberg, the NYRR CEO, started talking about Grete, I teared up a little. Partially because I’m reading a book about the NYC Marathon and it talks a lot about her, partially because I’ve been super-emotional lately. Partially because I’m just a huge sap.

I don’t usually run with headphones, but I decided to start out with them today so I could zone out a bit. I got about 2 miles in and decided to get rid of them so that I could take in everything and everyone in the park–one of the things I like about races. I love listening to people’s conversations while they’re running and just watching people.

I was keeping a nice 9:30 pace when I ran into Gia. I was excited to see her and planned to just run with her, her husband and her friend for a mile or so and chat and let them leave me in the dust, but 10 miles later, I found myself finishing the race with Gia–in 1:55:58! (More than a two minute PR!)

When I started with Gia, we were keeping around an 8:30 pace. I knew this was faster than I should have been going, but I was able to keep up so I figured I’d hold on to it a bit before splitting from her. Well, when I realized we’d gone a few miles together, I figured I might as well finish fast and get it over with. I saw Ali and Erica cheering, and their cheers totally kept me going, even though my legs were definitely feeling tired–especially after mile 11.

Gia was so amazing to run with–not only did she push me to go faster with her pace, but when I started complaining after mile 10, she reminded me that we had less than a 5K to go and that I could do anything for another mile or so and that I should channel what I’ll be feeling finishing the marathon and keep pushing.

Should I have run one of my long runs this fast during marathon training? Probably not. Did I get in all the miles I was supposed to today? Negative. Did I get an awesome, surprise PR today? YES.

photo 4.JPG

I <3 sweat. And Gia.


When I came home, I got an everything bagel with tofu cream cheese. Rebecca swears by the tofu cream cheese, and I try to limit my dairy to keep my stomach happy, so I thought I’d give it a try. Verdict? It’s not exactly like regular cream cheese, but it’s not bad.

The other night at happy hour, we were talking about PRs. Our thoughts were, it seems like you either get them when you’ve worked really hard for them and you know you’re going to get them that day or they completely blindside you, like this one did today. There’s no “oh maybe I’ll PR today.”

Have you ever had a surprise PR??

21 comments on “Grete’s Gallop: The Surprise PR!!!

  1. ellen

    awesome job, lady! that’s a crazy PR – the sub-2:00 still alludes me… my 7+grete’s today was not nearly as great, but it’s done. btw, i’m signed up for the staten island half next weekend, but it looks like i may go to the shore instead. if i do, and you’re interested, i’ll give you my bib. let me know if you’re interested.

  2. MegG

    Wohoo, congratulations! A lot of racing and going fast is about letting go of a hangup on time based goals and making yourself a little bit more uncomfortable, especially towards the end of the race. If you can stay positive and motivated in your mind or sometimes just distracted, you have a better likelyhood of doing better. I always try to remind myself that the body can do unbelievable things, just got to stop thinking and run.

  3. Katherine

    Awesome job!

    I accidentally PR’d during the Queens Half Marathon. I was recovering/coming off an injury and it was hott out to so I told myself I was just going to run it and wasn’t going to push it. I guess I got swept away in the race because I kept a fast steady pace the whole time and wasn’t even really thinking about it. my legs were going the speed they wanted to. In the end I beat my last Half time by 4min and I was pretty happy about that!

  4. Dori

    Congrats!!! So exciting and impressive. My surprise half was at the Queens Half, my first race back from injury. Love how that happens. Too bad I missed you today!

  5. Kimra

    My current half PR was totally accidental — I’d registered for the race on a whim, slightly tipsy, and after taking time off due to injury. I had *just* enough time to get all my long runs in but didn’t taper at all and was aiming for a time around 5 minutes slower than my first half. Instead, I set a PR by about 30 seconds!

  6. cindylu

    Congrats on the PR. I don’t race enough to be completely surprised at earning a PR. I’ve only done races of the same distance twice and I’m usually expecting improvement because I’ve trained for it or I’ve just improved as a runner. I got one of my PRs trying to keep up with my faster sister. That always helps.

  7. Gia

    Great race!! Such a fun morning. I think we make a pretty good racing team. NYCM – here we come!

    I kinda curse my accidental half PR – but wait, I’ll be more positive 🙂 I have this crazy PR in a half that MOTIVATES me to attach wings to my body the next half and fly.

  8. Christine

    congrats!!! you never cease to amaze me – especially recently with these PRs and super successful training runs.

    i had an accidental PR at the queens half! it was only a couple of minutes, but during marathon training, any PR can be a great surprise!


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.