A blog by runners. For runners.

Race recap: Bridge Run Half Marathon (front-of-the-pack)

The few from the front. A race recap from a super speedy front-of-the-pack runner.

A few weeks ago, I ran in the fourth annual Binghamton Bridge Run Half Marathon, the capstone race of my spring season. The course gets its name from the six bridge crossings along its scenic miles that snake through the downtown, historic district, and beautiful west side of Binghamton, N.Y. It starts and ends at NYSEG Stadium, home of the Binghamton Mets.

My training for this race could not have been more different than last year’s structured, regimented plan adapted from Jack Daniels Running Formula. This year, I simply had no plan. I kept telling myself I would officially start my half marathon training cycle tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. But tomorrow never came. Throughout the most blustery, unforgiving, and unpredictable winter in recent history, I ran the same out and back stretch of rolling hills four times a week. It was the only predictable measure in my training toolbox in addition to my weekly (let’s see how far and fast I can go) long runs. I opted for consistency over a structured series of workouts. And because I let my body decide on the day, in the moment how far and fast I would run, I managed to fill my week with lots of high intensity, (sometimes) enjoyable running.

The week before
This is always the hardest week for me. My body’s urges and signals contrast with what logic and tried-and-true practice preaches. I always want to squeeze out a few more miles in each run, but I resist the urge and taper my mileage, leaving two days of complete rest before the race. Of course, I spend the excess time and energy focusing on the factors that I cannot control.

  • Monday: 6 miles (4 at goal pace). Check Sunday’s weather forecast.
  • Tuesday: 5 miles easy + strides. Check Sunday’s weather forecast
  • Wednesday: 4 miles (2 at goal pace). Check Sunday’s weather forecast
  • Thursday: 3 miles easy + strides. Obsess over Sunday’s weather forecast
  • Friday: Rest. Obsess over Sunday’s weather forecast
  • Saturday: Rest. Scrutinize the hourly weather forecast!
  • Sunday: RACE.

Line up
I toed the line with many familiar faces – friends and rivals – shook hands, and methodically tied and retied my shoes to get them just right – a triple knot just to be safe.

Miles 1-3: Henry St. – Water St. – Clinton St. – Glenwood Ave. – Main Street
I quickly moved into position with the two lead runners and tucked in just behind them. The headwind was strong, so I didn’t want to be out there breaking it alone. We pulled away from the  field with a 5:18 first mile (a bit faster than goal pace.) and followed with twin 5:25s for miles 2 and 3. My friend, Byron, cycled the course and provided steady morale boosts along the way. My dad rooted me on at the 5K mark, and I gave him a thumbs up. I was feeling fine!

Miles 4-5: Court Street – Tompkins St. Bridge
The lead runners began pulling away as we entered downtown, but I let them go without chase. I was comfortably maintaining 5:25-5:28 pace, and I needed to focus on running my race.

Miles 6-8. Conklin Ave. – Pedestrian Bridge – Court St. Bridge – Front St. – Riverside Drive.
This rolling stretch is the most challenging of the course. And to make matters more difficult, the headwind was a steady wall pushing against me. I maintained the same effort but slowed my pace to 5:45-5:55.

Mile 9: Patricia St. – Highland Ave – Beethoven St.
I knew I would have to do some work to get my race back on track. But I also had a secret weapon at the top of the most challenging hill: my mom and 2-year-old daughter cheering me on. Their support coupled with a tailwind helped me get out of my funk and get back to goal pace. I clocked a 5:41 mile.

Miles 10-13.1: Seminary Ave. – Laurel Ave. – Schubert St. – Schiller St. – Grand Blvd. – Crestmont Ave. – Main St. – Fayette St.
I felt stronger and stronger with each mile. The crowd support was overwhelming as I ran through downtown and approached NYSEG Stadium. I ran negative splits for the final three miles: 5:34, 5:31, and 5:27, securing third place with a 1:13:40, a personal record for the course.

What’s next.
With beautiful weather abounding, I am excited to add more dimension into my training. I will use the month of June to build a steady base of mileage before sharpening my training for the third annual Runner’s World Half Marathon in Bethlehem, Penn., this fall.

Written by Stephen Marcin.

For another perspective from this race, read Ashley’s race recap.