On Sunday, I ran the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Half Marathon, my first time running that race.
Brendan was out of town for the weekend so I spent Saturday night cleaning out my closet for spring and eating sushi and watching The Hills. Totally normal things. (Right?) I went to bed way later than I planned but thankfully woke up immediately when my alarm went off (which NEVER happens on a normal day, only on raceday). Still, I wanted to go back to sleep and wondered why oh why I did this to myself. After leaving my house around 6:15 AM with a large coffee and large water in hand, I drove to the city in record time. I got the best parking spot in the history of NYC street parking. And it was free! I figured that was a good sign. I literally could not be closer to the park.
I walked over to the starting area and still had about 30 minutes to spare, so I spent some quality time in my corral and enjoy the gorgeous morning. I love women’s races because it means I’ll be in a lower corral, therefore making me feel like a rockstar. Noooot quiteeee up with Deena Kastor, but, you know…kinda close. Anyway, a girl standing near me asked me if I’d run the race before, and I said no. After she mentioned running it last year, I said “I hear it’s tough!”. She scoffed and said no, explaining that she lives upstate New York where there are “REAL” hills (her words not mine) and that it’s all relative. Her comment (although a little snarky) definitely gave me a mental boost – I’ve run and biked on those upstate NY hills and they are relentless and painful. Central Park has some tough ones, but not quite as intense as the Adirondacks!
So, off we went. The race started at 8AM; thankfully this was early enough to finish before it got too warm. (I never felt too hot!) After the first three miles I began wondering if I could keep my pace up. I was thinking I would take it easy with 10:XX paces, but was surprised to see low-ish 9s flashing on my Garmin. If I could, I thought, I would definitely get close to my PR. Even though I’d been telling myself all week that this should be an easy training run, I secretly knew I was going to push if I was liking the splits in the first few miles. I can’t help myself.
By miles 4/5 I was sure I went out way too fast but figured I’d keep going (like a tempo run) until I couldn’t any longer, and then treat the rest like a cool down. Still, I stayed cautiously optimistic.
We came up on the west side hills and I suddenly was very concerned for myself. I was preeeettty sure I was going to crash and burn like I did in Philly a couple years ago, but in my head I told myself that I’m much stronger and way more prepared than I was then. It didn’t HAVE to end that way, I just needed to stay positive.
By the time I was on my second lap I knew I was all in. I did some math (well, I tried) and I determined that I could PR if I kept up my pace. Although I knew the rolling hills were coming again the second time around, I somehow convinced my brain to tell my legs to keep moving at the speed they were going. I pretty much sprinted down all the hills which is probably why my quads still feel like death. (I kid you not, I’m more sore after this half than I was after my Ironman. How can it be?!)
The entire time I thought about my pace and how I was feeling. I literally didn’t think a single other thought, except that I hoped GB was there at mile 6 and mile 12. (And he was!) It boosted my energy so much to see a friendly face and throw out a high five. (When I saw him the second time I’m certain I looked like hell. I don’t even think I said anything.)
The first time up Harlem Hill I thought “this ain’t so bad!”. I came back around to the east side for the second loop and was still doing pretty good…but I knew the hills on the west side were coming again. The second time at Harlem Hill I thought “WHAT THE F DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS”. I literally texted Brendan and Beth mid-run asking for support as I was coming up to the base of the hill. I told Brendan I could potentially PR and needed inspiration. Thankfully he responded immediately saying he would buy me ice cream if I did. Game. On. (I’m motivated the most by food. I see nothing wrong with that.) I also would like to thank my Cherry Lime Roctane Gu for the much needed caffeine boost. Changed my life.
By this point I realized I was over-running the course by about .20 miles. When I passed the 12.1 mile mark I got unnecessarily angry that even though I should technically only have a mile left, I actually had ONE POINT TWO miles. Cue the rage. Still, my legs somehow continued to move. It was a huge struggle. Then I saw the semi-uphill finish…and got all ragey all over again. The crowds at this point were pretty great (actually they were for most of the race) so I got a mini-boost.
I don’t think I’ve ever pushed so hard for so long in a race in my life. Or at least not in recent memory. (I do tend to block that stuff out though.)
I finished. WITH THE PR. 1 minute and 20 seconds faster than Brooklyn two years ago.
Want the numbers? Here you go:
The pictures from the race photographer are basically one big gallery of the worst race photos in the history of racing. I have a sweaty frown or exasperated look in each and every photo, except the one taken in front of the backdrop after I finished. I’m actually fairly concerned that all these photos are connected to my name and out there for all internet-users to see for the rest of time.
I felt rough the rest of the day. My stomach hurt pretty badly and I think was dehydrated. After laying around for awhile (and chugging water and eating everything in sight) I perked up, and Brendan and I went on a walk which did actually help. I even made it to the Yankees game that night but was still hurting a bit while I was there.
Was it smart to race? I don’t know, but I’m thankful I’m feeling pretty good today (Tuesday). Does this mean I’ll crush my sub-2 goal in Brooklyn? Maybe. Can I take another 3 minutes off this effort? Who knows. I’ll keep up the speedwork and strength training and try to stay mentally strong. That’s all I can do, right?
Tell me about a time you surprised yourself by surpassing your expectations!