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!
…it’s a test of friendship, patience, respect, teamwork, deductive reasoning, problem solving, discernment, persuasive abilities, creativity, boldness, recklessness, and competitiveness. For 6 hours on Sunday, my friend and I were put to these tests and with the help of a team of loyal friends, a cousin, and a boyfriend, crashed through the finish line in third place. We lost only to a team who had a car at their disposal and another team who was almost intolerably spirited. The mission: To scour all 5 boroughs of New York searching for landmarks [Each borough contained 3] in front of which we were to pose for a photo. The timeframe: Sunday, 5/22: 11:30am-6:30pm The reward: bragging rights and $200 each. (For the record, when we first signed up, the prize was predicted to be $1,000…each!) The result? Well, Eunice and I met everyone at the assigned meeting location, Ozzie’s Coffeeshop in Park Slope, Brooklyn, at 11am. We were greeted w/ our first challenge, to pass M&M’s to each other via straws, using only our breaths as suction. Creative? yes! Easy? No! We were frustrated as we dropped a few, ran out of time just as we were getting into a rhythm, and had a fellow competitor watching us like a hawk the entire time! We passed a total of 4 M&M’s to each other in one minute…a decent performance. Following was a brief welcome, during which we learned that we (the Queens of the Concrete Jungle) would be competing against Men in Black III (3 black guys!), The Flying Pigs, I Love New Dorks, If Charlie Sheen were on our team, we would win (they were wearing “Charlie Sheen shirts!”), The Three Ninjas, & several others. Then, we received our packets (20 pages of clues and instructions) just in time to flip them over as the clock started at precisely 11:30am! Our game plan went a little something like this: sit down and plan, plan, plan…Get addresses, train stops, transfers, and create a route that would efficiently move us through the 5 boroughs, landing us back in Brooklyn with 3 clues in each of the 5 boroughs completed! In addition, we had 2 large items and about 20 small items at our disposal to offer us more points. Conflict: Inevitably, there were differing opinions as to how things should be tackled. One of us wanted to incorporate all of the small items (a picture with a kebab vendor, a picture in front of the Wall Street bull, a picture in front of the Staten Island hospital) worth 5 points each, while the other one of us wanted to focus on the big ticket items (a picture in front of the Beekman Theatre, the Chrysler Building, Cleopatra’s Needle), worth 15 points each with an added bonus of 20 points upon the completion of the 3 items per borough. Deciding which clues to tackle and in what order was incontrovertibly our chronic point of contention. Interestingly, however, there was never a question as to what order in which we should tackle the boroughs or the pace we wanted to keep. The Pace: Speaking of the “pace we wanted to keep,” it was pretty much “run!” We literally ran from the Brooklyn Museum to Prospect Park, then ran within Prospect Park to Lefferts Garden to take a picture in front of a house there. We ran into the subway stops, out of the subway stops, off the ferry, onto the ferry, inside parks…poor Eunice who hadn’t worked out in three years! The exhaustion began to set in around 4pm as we sat in my cousin’s car on the way to the Unisphere in Flushing Meadow Park. As we lifted our creaky bodies out of the car, we had to will ourselves to get our legs moving again so that we could break into a light job. Moments: With stakes high, outlandish tasks, clashing dispositions and time ticking, moments of pure comedy will remain fond memories of this day! Here are some hilarious slices of the day!
- I had just bought Eunice’s boyfriend a slice of pizza from one of our photo stops and he wanted at it right away…while he was driving. Normally, this would be perfectly normal behavior, but in such a high-pressure situation, the sight of him leisurely munching on pizza while navigating the car with one hand was clearly unbearable for his no-longer-so-sweet girlfriend! So finally, as he hungrily reached for the bag of garlic knots, she snatched them from his hands and bursted out “You can eat them later when we get out of the car!” He was shocked and hurt. I chuckled silently in the backseat!
- Eunice, who hadn’t run in three years, was an amazing sport and never once did I feel she was weighing us down. At one point, huffing and puffing, she called her boyfriend to request the help of him and his car. Her conversation sounded a little something like this: “Chris, puff, puff, can you, puff, puff, meet us in, wheeze, puff, puff, in Coney Island?! puff, puff, puff, puff. Her bag was bouncing off her body, her expression was one of pure strife, and her voice was one of a damsel in distress. I felt terrible but so entertained at the same time!
- One possible game-changing clue was one in which we had to create a “New York, New York” kick line with as many strangers as possible, collecting an enticing 2 points per person. Knowing that the Staten Island ferry was in our near future, I knew where we would get it done! With a captive audience, we began approaching people and collected three very eager guys, a group of very enthusiastic ladies, and a handful of other singles and pairs who got caught up in the shuffle. We began kicking and singing and snapping away! I believe we got credit for 20 people in our kickline. That was crazy!
- It was about 4pm by the time we reached Queens and jumped in my cousin’s car. We had completed 2 boroughs and wanted 3 more under our belt. 2 hours later and a lot of traffic later, we had to face the reality that we were not even going to complete even Queens. My cousin, shaking his head at our trials, wondered aloud why we didn’t just Photoshop ourselves into everything! It was a genius idea, but Eunice was immediately resistant. I was enticed, and in that final hour, I was willing to do it. It was a battle of the morals as we duked it out in the car, closing in on 30 minutes left. It’s interesting how things change when under pressure. 😉