Today was the day – the More Fitness Women’s Half Marathon! I’d never run this one before, but a couple friends from work did it 2 years ago and still talk about it, so I knew it was going to be a good one. It was in Central Park so I had home field advantage since that’s usually my go-to place to run. I feel like I know the outer loop of that park so well – down to the hundredth of a mile. Every incline, every turn. I know exactly where I am, how far I’ve gone, what’s coming up, and how long is left to go.
I prepared yesterday by spending the day at Yankee Stadium with my sisters, mom, cousins and some others watching my Red Sox (they lost, but it was still a good time!) and then carbing up with the usual pasta alla vodka, this time while watching Glory 15. If you don’t know about Glory then you are missing out. They have some of the best fights ever, and it’s pretty impossible to not get caught up in it all. I am always ready for Glory!! (Too bad the Red Sox and Glory have nothing to do with tri training or I would just talk about those for the rest of this post!)
So, my alarm clock loudly and violently woke me up this morning at 6:30, and I immediately thought Nooooo!!!! I’m not going to work this morning. Wait, it can’t be Monday yet. What’s happening? Why am I awake?! And then I remembered – I have a race to run!! I got up, had some oatmeal and a protein bar, threw on my Team in Training shirt (gotta represent!) and shorts (YESSS!!!! shorts.on a beautiful morning – I’ve been waiting for this since about September!) and headed out the door.
I broke a cardinal rule of racing today. I knew a few days ago that I was going to break this rule and no one could talk me out of it – my mind was made up. I wore new sneakers that I had never run in before. Yikes – what a little rebel, huh? That decision had potential to be disastrous but once my mind is made up there’s usually no turning back. But look at them! They’re lightweight, flexible, and say “I fly you to the finish line” on the inside. I am a sucker for marketing gimmicks, and I was in the mood to fly!
I was running a little late and was slightly worried that I would miss the start of the race, but then I got off the subway and saw crowds of fellow racers rushing to the park. If there’s one thing you can count on the rest of humanity for, it’s that they will also be running late. Us tardy folks are never alone. I got to the starting line just as the Star Spangled Banner was beginning, and heard Hoda Kotb’s remarks before the official start of the race. I had my music this time, so I turned on one of my running playlists and waited to get going. There were TONS of women running and it took 2 full songs to get to the actual starting line and begin running. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people in one race before!!!
What started as home field advantage slowly began to feel a bit negative because, well, I feel like I know the outer loop of that park so well – down to the hundredth of a mile. Every incline, every turn. I know exactly where I am, how far I’ve gone, what’s coming up, and how long is left to go. I tried to forget about all that though – I felt great, my feet felt great, and I was ready.
Around mile 3 Bon Jovi starting singing in my ear. Oohhh we’re halfway there. What?!Get it together, Bon Jovi – no one likes a liar. We’re no where close to halfway there. I lip-synced along to the chorus and looked around at all the colorful outfits. Lots of pink and fluorescent. Some tutus. A ton of sparkles. There was even a Batgirl and a Wonder Woman. I’m not one to run in outfits like that, but if it gets you through a half marathon then more power to you!
Green Day, Avicii, and Eminem accompanied me through the next few miles. I was really feeling that playlist!
By the time I made it to 6.5 miles, volunteers on bicycles were speeding by with whistles telling us to keep to the left because the frontrunner was coming through. She flew by us with ease. People on the sidelines were clapping and cheering for her. Us runners clapped and cheered for her. She was on a roll, and it was really impressive. More impressive, though, was the camaraderie of the runners. I was surprised to see all the support everyone was giving each other. It wasn’t a competition, just a ton of girls running together toward a common goal. That’s probably the thing that stands out the most, and what will probably make me do this half marathon again next year.
Back to the sneakers, which needed to be broken in a bit. I realized around mile 7 that they were juuuuust slightly too small. My toes were starting to hurt a little but I’ll take that over blisters or ankle pain so I powered through. Besides, DMX was barking and growling in some throwback song from high school, which threw me back in time to when I was about 15 years old – that was way more fun to think about than my toes.
At 9.5 miles, I took a Gatorade energy chew (fruit punch, my favorite!) and had some yellow Gatorade. The last big hill was coming up, and I dreaded it. But the next song pulled me through it. It’s the moment of truth and the moment to lie. The moment to live and the moment to die. The moment to fight, the moment to fight. To fight, to fight, to fight. Yeah, 30 Seconds to Mars!!! You always know the right things to say. It was like Jared Leto was talking directly to me. I could totally picture it – those eyes, that hair. I debated the pros and cons of both his man bun and free-flowing beach waves. Those were a good few minutes.
I started to hit a wall around mile 10.5, but at that point I was practically done so I just listened to some Rihanna and 2 Chainz and enjoyed the run. I sprinted the last half mile while Bon Jovi sang me through to the end. This ain’t a song for the broken-hearted. No silent prayer for faith-departed. I ain’t gonna be just a face in the crowd, you’re gonna hear my voice when I shout it out loud. The cheers of the crowd overpowered Bon Jovi and I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face and bounce in my step. (The bounce could have been due to my hurting toes, though.)
I got my medal and an apple and walked home (partially because it was a beautiful day and partially because the train wasn’t running again.)
And just like that, week 3 of triathlon training is complete!!! Since this half is over I am going to concentrate more on swimming for the next couple weeks. Now time for some 4 cheese pizza (with no sauce!) to celebrate my 3rd half marathon of 2014!
**Don’t forget to please donate to my cause, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. They provide coaches for me to train for the triathlon, allowing me to achieve my personal best so that blood cancer patients can achieve theirs. I am 42% done with my goal of raising $4,000 – please visit my donation page! http://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/nyctri14/meredith