A month ago, I said to myself, “I need to do something to change my body” (This may have marked the 100th time that I have said this!). But nevertheless, my strategy this time was going to be running…not running on the treadmill for 30 minutes, but something different, something perhaps more involved, almost like a sport. And so, I signed up for two NYC half-marathons, set one month apart. I had never run more than 6 miles…and those were not all-out runs. This was going to be new ground being broken, but I never let that stop me. I figured, “how hard can it be to continue moving one foot in front of the other once I reach the mileage that I usually clock?” And so, I started running with the Nike running club, quickly learned that I was quite an impressive runner (that’s what they said!), became savvier on the technical aspects of running (clocking mileage, time, pace, etc), and learned exactly what the right type of sneaker was for me (a structured sneaker with cushioning). I ran 10 miles on each of my three Saturdays with the club. The fourth Saturday was the half-marathon.
I rose at 4:30am in order to get to the starting line at 7am. It was insane. I had only slept for 2 hours the night before. And not only did I not sleep, but I also chose to munch all night! I was a mess that morning: bloated, tired, and feeling far from ready. Nevertheless, I had too much invested to do anything less than complete what I had started. It was going to be a learning experience: learning how much I could do in such a screwed up situation. The next few hours were just as messy. In short, the New York Road Runners had done a pathetic job of organizing transportation for the runners to the starting line. There we all were, clad in sneakers and Underarmour, dressed to take on the road, with no where to go. A line of runners, three blocks long, waited listlessly as the 7am start time crept closer. It wasn’t until 6:55am that I stepped onto the bus and 15 minutes later, we saw the race well underway as runners sped past us at the 2 mile mark. The bus driver idiotically dropped us off at the 2 mile mark and we were abandoned with the sole solution to WALK TWO MILES to the starting line!
As Tamara (my fellow pissed off runner) and I walked in disbelief, we half-joked, half-cried about the surreal scenario that had unfolded over the past two hours.
At 8am, a full hour late, she and I stood at our starting positions and off we went. It was strange, running the race with one person beside me…not much of a race atmosphere, if you know what I mean. I soon learned, however, that a race is truly a race against yourself; it’s your own time to reach your own goals; it’s very much an individual sport. And so, I didn’t mind when Tamara ran ahead of me. Here’s how the following 90 minutes transpired. At mile 2.5, I was ready to give up. I had all the excuses to justify quitting and I was ready to allow myself to throw in the towel. Half a mile later, I came up on the 3-mile marker, grabbed a cup of Gatorade, and walked. As I walked, I recovered physically and mentally. I looked at my watch and realized that I had a fighting chance to redeem myself. I threw away my cup and started running again. I started passing people, always looking to the next person ahead each time to establish a short term goal. I passed the 4 mile marker, then 5, then 6, then 7, and it was coming easily. I was watching my watch closely and committing myself to stay at an 8 minute-mile pace…I would never forgive myself if I ran much slower than that. (Two years ago, I ran a 6-mile race at a 7:38 pace). And hang on to the pace I did, passing more mile markers, passing more runners, throwing more cups of Gatorade down my throat, loving each child, cop and spectator who cheered as I ran past, and discovering that I was reaching my goal, stride by stride. At the 10 mile mark, my feet started hurting, but I forged on, determined to finish without losing my pace, promising myself a frozen yogurt when it was all over. I was ecstatic as I passed the 11 and 12 mile markers still within my desired pace! I passed the 13 mile mark, ready to celebrate and quickly realized that there was .1 miles to go! (fun fact: a marathon is actually 26.2 miles!) And so, .1 miles later, it was all over and I grabbed a Gatorade, french toast bagel, and a plum.
I walked around, stretched, and just relished in the fact that I had “done it.” I have to admit that I am proud of myself. Like Forest Gump, I just kept “going and going and going.” And you all know how much we love Forest! The only downside now is, “Where’s the six-pack that is supposed to come with all this work?!” Maybe next week I have to run 18 miles to start seeing it. Stay posted and enjoy the visuals I captured of this amazing experience! http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=111279&id=686433068&saved