Yesterday, I ran my second half-marathon. For reasons I won’t get into, I had a really stressful Saturday night, and I didn’t sleep well at all.
I woke up at 5:15 and gobbled down a Luna bar and a banana. Shortly after 6, Meg and I headed to the subway from my apartment. My usual subway stop was closed (WTF?!), and so we had to get on at a different stop to transfer to the 4/5. By the time we got off at 86th Street (fail, we totally could have stayed on until 96th Street), it was about 7:05. The race started at 7:30. We still had to hit the port-a-potties. After a bad training run and all that stress, I was not very confident the race would go well.
I wore a pair of my old sweats over my shorts to keep warm before the race started. As I waited for Meg outside the port-a-potties, I decided I was warm and ditched the sweats. That physical shedding of the vestige of my heavier days was far more cathartic than I ever would have expected. I smiled as I laid them over the fence, and Meg and I walked to the start, sneaking our way under a rope to hop into our corral.
The race started, and for the first 3/4 of a mile, I wondered, as I always do in the first mile of a race, why I was doing it. Maybe it’s because I don’t know it very well, maybe it’s because I’m a water baby (Aquarius!), but I’m not crazy about Central Park. I much prefer running on my good ole’ path on the West Side Highway.
The only good thing about the park? Laurel was volunteering at the second water station. Though it would have been kind of awesome to see her later in the race when I needed a little pick-me-up, seeing a familiar face so early in the race kept that smile on my face, especially when she yelled out my name!
So I was thrilled when we finished our eight miles in the park. (This also meant that the course was basically flat the rest of the way.) We came out of the park at 59th Street and 7th Ave and ran down 7th Ave to 42nd Street.
I’m pretty sure I was grinning like an idiot the entire time we were running down 7th. For starters, I thought there’d be race cams there, and I am always gunning for a race photo where I look human (has yet to happen). That, and, they shut down 7th Ave so we could run down it! There were spectators cheering us on!
We were doing about a 10:15-10:30 mile in the park, but we definitely picked up the pace upon leaving the park. I remember at one point, running west on 42nd Street, Meg said it felt like we were flying. We ran together until the water station around mile 10, but I couldn’t find Meg after she stopped to walk through it. I looked for her for probably the next half-mile, but when it seemed like I wasn’t going to find her, I picked up my pace and ran hard the last 2.5 miles.
At some point in the park, one of the spectators yelled to the crowd, “Keep it up! Your mind is stronger than your body!” I laughed, and said to Meg “I really think my body is stronger than my mind!”
And for the first 12 miles, my body was stronger than my mind. During mile 12, my legs started feeling like jelly, and that’s when my mind took over. Rather than slowing down, I think the power of my thoughts – OMG YOU CAN DO THIS! YOU ARE ALMOST THERE! – propelled me to the end.
They had various markers, 5K, 10K, 15K, 20K along the course. I’ve only run one 10K and one 15K race. When I passed the 10K mark, I was just a minute or two shy of what I ran the 10K in. Considering a half-marathon is about twice that distance, I was happy that I was running very close to what my 10K pace had been. The 15k I ran was the crappy one I ran right before Christmas, and when we passed that marker, I told Meg that I had DEFINITELY beat my 15K time. (It turns out that I had beat it by 9 minutes!).
After mile 12, the final markers I saw were 800M, 400M and 200M. I knew 800M equalled half of a mile, and I was bummed I still had that long to go! The distance between 800M and 400M seemed interminable, so by the time I got to 400M, all I could think was, another 400M of this??? By the time I got to 200M, I was beyond ready to be done, and I all-out sprinted to that finish line!
My first goal with this race was to beat my first half-marathon time. Given that it was my first, the bad weather, the early start time, I was pretty confident in this goal. My second, secret, goal was to run it under 2:15. I beat this goal by 1 minute and 15 seconds.
My mom had come to watch, and she yelled my name about 10 feet after I crossed the finish line. After 13.1 miles of running, I should have been done, but I continued running, into her arms. I was so happy, I almost started crying.
Disney was a great race, but there is no beating running a race in your own city. Especially when your own city also happens to be the greatest city on earth.
Achieving my goals in this past year or so, adding to the medal collection on my dresser and the glow on my face today (not to mention the high creative output I’ve had professionally today!) are all worth my battle scars, my feet covered in blisters and my gait a little off. I want to wear my medal all week as my badge of honor.
(Photo via NYRR)