I’ve heard about this race for several years now and I always got pumped about the idea. Finally, this year was the year! It was a spontaneous decision, made about 1 week before the actual race, only upon seeing the banner hanging above the tunnel as we drove through that Sunday. I immediately got pumped and by week’s end, my rooommates and I were officially in the running! SAVED BY AN INSIDER TIP! I was torn by one issue, however, which pitted my competitive side against my nurturing side. There were two waves of runners: the “under 25 minutes” and the “over 25 minutes” group. The competitive streak in me always chooses the more difficult option, the road less traveled, the result that will make for a better story! But, my conscience wouldn’t let me shake the idea that I should be running with my roommates who I encouraged to do it in the first place and who could use the morale support. Then, lo and behold, as I expressed my woes at my bib pickup, I heard that I could actually run both, as they started at different times and it wouldn’t be a big deal. What a concept! And so, my plan was to run at 8:00am and 8:45am, satisfying both my competitive streak and conscience! RUNNING SOLO! So, Sunday morning, I was out of the door at 7:20am and jogged down to the tunnel, arriving around 7:40, ready to rock and roll! There were about 4,000 runners that day and the bus parking lot across from the tunnel was filled with vendors, music, and people milling around, buzzing with excitement and energy. I was busy taking photos and videos and chatting people up and then joined in the group stretching session. Suddenly, it struck me that it had been a really long time since I had arrived. I checked my watch: 8:15! The first wave was supposed to take off at 8:00am! O.M.G….I think I missed my race! The commotion in that parking lot and lack of a central focus had completely distracted me and I was essentially mingling with the 8:45 wave! I sprinted over to the starting line and took off…all alone! What a difference from the image in my mind! Within the first few steps, I wondered if I should just forgo the first run and be early for the second run. But I decided, as always, to try and stick with the plan and run my heart out right then and there. WORTH IT! It was incredible to zip through the tunnel without a crowd to slow me down. And so, I videotaped and kept myself entertained during the first race, sometimes cheering on the stragglers that were still running, and the whole while, fist pumping to my music. I loved seeing the “light at the end of the tunnel” and it was surreal to see it while not in a car. When I crossed the finish line at 40 minutes, I knew that having started at 18 minutes, that was a kickass time, but everyone else must have thought that I had run a 13 minute mile…haha! I was literally the second to last person to cross the first race’s finish line, almost actually missing the finish line, as I didn’t realize it was further away than I had thought! My second run w/ my roommates was a casual one since the pace was much more slowed and I was chatting with them and others the whole way. The crowd was so thick that mostly everyone followed a group pace, so it might have been a blessing that I had had the freedom of running my first race at my true pace. We met up at the end, grabbed the free Nesquick giveaway, and headed home! LESSON: I love racing. I observed a dramatic change in my energy and demeanor and mood during that race and have concluded that racing accesses a part of me that lights me up. I think that I get high off the excitement of a race. I enjoy the athleticism, the challenge of making a good time, the satisfaction of passing opponents, the festivities, the post-race free snacks, and even the private rituals of getting dressed as if on mission. It’s really quite awesome and now I understand why people get addicted to racing and competing. Now I understand why some people do marathon after triathalon after ultramarathon. I think that I’m going to keep running races this year until I qualify myself for the 2013 NYC Marathon. Running has proven to be great for my body and now I know that it’s also great for my spirits. Racing also brings out the crazywoman in my because I videotaped everything…even running through the tunnel! Make sure to watch it!