Since you’re my friend, you obviously know that I ran the New York City Half Marathon this weekend. [I wasn’t exactly modest with my facebook posts over the last 10 weeks regarding this topic…Sorrynotsorry.] Now, as a girl who got kicked off of her no-cuts track team in 7th grade, this is a pretty unbelievable feat.
The day before the race, I had to go to the Race Expo to pick up my bib and bag. There was a room where you could post a note on the wall explaining why you run. I took pictures of a few of my favorites (all of the snarky ones, obviously).
I attempted to pay attention to my diet and bed-time on Saturday, but as they say: the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I ate a few too many baked goods and gnocchi with alfredo sauce, and I went to sleep after midnight. Oh well. You can’t win ’em all. I woke up at 5:30 am on Sunday, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to throw some ‘bows at the Kenyans creeping on my sub 5:00 mile (oh wait… that must have been in my dreams).
I arrived at the park (it was FREEZING!) by 6:30 and headed to my corral. The race didn’t begin until 7:30 (I didn’t actually cross the start line until 7:47) but the corrals were full long before then.
In the words of Annie, “LEAPIN’ LIZARDS!”
You guys. I’m not gonna sugar-coat it. It was HARD.
For those unfamiliar with the course, we ran the loop of Central Park (going up the East Side and down the West Side… which I have come to know as the “easy” direction), then down 7th Avenue through Times Square, across 42nd Street, and down the West Side Highway to the South Street Seaport.
The first mile was a breeze. I vaguely remember miles 7 and 8 being manageable. Most of the park was difficult (it’s not exactly flat). Before I began training, my major goals were to finish in under 2 hours, and to not stop or walk the entire time. Many weeks ago, I came to terms with the fact that my sub-2 hour time was merely a pipe dream. However, I knew that the no walking/stopping goal was entirely attainable and completely within my power. Sadly, my body had different plans for me. Around mile 9.5, my right ankle decided to go on strike and I had to walk for about 3 minutes. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to resume running, but 3.5 miles seemed like a pretty far distance to walk (especially after I’d run so far to begin with) and so I forced myself to start again. My ankle screamed at me for about 1.5 miles, but eventually adrenaline did its job and I was able to resume my previous pace.
Are you all familiar with ridiculously photogenic guy? Well, there will NOT be an internet meme created for me and my stellar race photos. Below, I present to you past race photos (that I’ve obviously screen-capped…. No, I will NOT be paying $47.95 for 3 pictures of me looking like a sweating, suffering Quasimodo, thankyousomuch). I think they are hilarious, for the most part, because they are SO UNFLATTERING. This time around, I attempted to smile every time I saw a camera pointed in my direction… partly so that I could have some non-heinous photos (to screen-cap), but ALSO so that I could look back at the race photos and remember what an amazing and exhilarating experience it was – I may have been running 13.1 miles, but I could still smile!
With about 200 meters left to go, I saw my friends in the crowd. After you’ve run for over 2 hours, there is nothing like a few familiar faces. I screamed and threw my hands in the air (but I didn’t stop running cause I still had a time goal that I was coming very close to missing). During our post-race celebration, there were re-enactments of my reaction to seeing them, which were all precious and priceless.
The race was an emotional one for me, for so many reasons. I ran in support of breast cancer research. My mom is a breast cancer survivor. So many people that are very close to me have been deeply affected by breast cancer. Throughout my time training, there were countless moments when I wanted to give up. However, there were so many people who had donated on my behalf that quitting just wasn’t an option. When I was having a difficult run, or lacked motivation, or simply felt lazy, knowing that people were counting on me lit a fire under my ass to put the hours in. For that, I thank every one of you. I am so humbled and blessed by your love and support.
As I crossed the finish line, I had a good ugly cry. Luckily there were no photographers around at that point. [Maybe that could be my meme? Post-race-ugly-cry girl? Hmmm.]
My friends came over to my apartment where we consumed: Boozey Shamrock Shakes, Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes, Peppermint Patty Cake, lots of pizza (there MAY have been a pizza with ham AND bacon on it… no judgment), beer, and whiskey. I, for the most part, remained planted on the couch and people brought me drinks (thank you to my friends for being such gems).
In conclusion, I have a few thoughts (which I will gather in an enumerated list, because that’s how I like to write this blog).
1. If you are thinking of running a race, JUST DO IT. There are SO many resources out there to help you (training programs, running groups, online communities). Whatever your fears may be, just acknowledge them and then tell them to fuck off. In my race, there were: people over 70, people who were overweight, people with only one leg (that guy passed me at mile 11), people who had never run a half marathon before. If you want to run a race, just do it. [Nike was on to something with that slogan, I guess.] You will be so proud of yourself.
2. Sorta piggy backing on Number 1: I recently had a conversation with someone (I have had SO many conversations about running this year… I can’t remember who it was. Apologies!) wherein they recounted that their father (who was a runner) told them: No one likes running. Everyone likes finishing things and winning. Running provides you with opportunities to do both of those things. When I was in my darkest moments of the race, I knew that no matter what, I was going to finish the race. That is a powerful motivator, let me tell you! Sure, I wasn’t going to WIN (the winning time was just over 1 hour. 1 HOUR! WHAT?!), but there is always the opportunity to compete with yourself, and that, in my book, is winning.
3. If you want to run, run for charity. When you feel like giving up or slacking on your training, that accountability will light a fire under your ass. Your laziness or long day seems sort of inconsequential when compared to the larger issue you are fighting for.
For those who care, my time was 2:09:21, which is an average of 9:53/mile.