The first half marathon I ever ran was the More/Fitness Magazine Half Marathon, which is essentially two laps [plus a little] around Central Park the hard way. Between the new PDR [personal distance record] that I would be facing and Central Park's not insubstantial hills, I knew I'd have to take a training plan seriously. And I did. I was following Fitness Magazine's half marathon training plan pretty diligently and determined that a reasonable goal for me would be to finish in 2:20:00.
Flashforward to race day morning...I woke up to rain. Not rain, actually, torrential downpour. At least, that's what it seemed like. I was immediately thrilled that my good friend AMA had recommended that I not skip one of my training long runs on a rainy day so that I "be prepared for anything come race day." [Actually, I had already been thrilled because I saw Ethan Hawke on my run that day, so double shout out to AMA - thanks for the inspiration!! :)] That said, I still panicked. I mean, the skies had opened and they had welcomed race day with their finest - I honestly don't think I've ever seen it rain so hard in my life...anywhere...ever. So I called Coach Dad. "Ah!!! It's crazy!! What do I do?" I don't know why I even called because when I heard his advice [don't run it today - there will be other races], I thought, "that's crazy, I just trained for two months to do this thing...I'm doing it."
And so it was that I set off in the rain for my first half marathon, with ominously dark skies, in shoes that had become completely water logged before the gun even sounded. And James, poor Jamesy, who had just moved to NYC for me that week, headed out to cheer me on in weather that earned every spectator 5 gold stars and then some.
|And you thought I was exaggerating about the ominously dark skies...|
James could have stood on the sidelines with an umbrella like most normal spectators, but he wanted me to have support throughout the race, so instead he ran back and forth across the width of Central Park to be able to catch me at multiple miles. It was so much fun having his smiling face to look forward to along the way! And he even made me a sign. "Go Cupkate!" Unfortunately, the sign, which James wouldn't let me see ahead of time, didn't really survive the walk to the park, and was just barely legible/un-decimated enough for me to read at passing number 1.
|If you look closely you can see how hard it's raining, I think. And lots of lame-o people with umbrellas. Clearly James earns SUPER extra bonus points.|
Believe it or not, I would actually say that in hindsight, it was a good thing that there was so much rain. First of all, it created a light atmosphere where everyone seemed to share a, "ha! can you believe we're actually doing this?" mentality. This completely distracted from whatever nerves I might otherwise have been suffering from.
|Stress? What stress? I'm too busy laughing over how ridiculous this whole thing is!|
I was pacing just where I needed to in order to hit my goal when it happened. Around mile 6 I felt a sudden and unrelenting urge to pee. I glanced towards the porta-potties grouped ahead on my left and my heart dropped when I saw it - a line of women waiting for them. Stop and stand there for at least a good 10 minutes? Not only would that hurt my time, but talk about losing momentum!
|I'm in a hurry. There's no time to stop for a porta-potty!|
And what do you know - I finished the race in 2:19:52 - exactly 8 seconds before the cut off of my goal. Pretty glad I didn't stop for that porta-potty ;-)
Part 2: I HEART CARBS
One of the best parts of training, in my mind [maybe this explains why I'm not a better runner?] is the carb-loading part. Not that I'm really on board with the whole "carbs are bad for you" jam anyway, but it's always nice to feel justified in adding that extra heaping pile of pasta to your plate. All that said, imagine how pleased I was to come across this article in Runners World last fall - just in time for my longest marathon training runs and the NYCM. It's a great article and I highly recommend that anyone interested in getting on the carb-loading bandwagon in advance of a long distance / endurance event give it a read, but to recap the take away that I was most pleased to read: it's not enough to carb load the night before the big event.
|Pineapple-soy marinated chicken with lettuce, cheese and salsa verde on spinach wrap...probably not carby-enough lunch. Oh no! Looks like we'll have to SUPER carb load at dinner!|
Part 3: Outlook on this Weekend's Brooklyn Half
Yesterday I came across a comment on AliontheRun that got me back in the right mindset for tomorrow's Brooklyn Half, which I'm so unprepared for:
I am will be in Myrtle Beach this weekend running a half marathon with two coworker and friends who are running their first. Somehow I inspired them run a half marathon.. I am thankful for them because of their excitment in the race and reminding me that it’s about having fun and finishing. Every race does not have to be a PR.
After all of my recent trepidation about how I haven't had the chance to train right for this race, which will only be exacerbated by the heat warning that NYRR has put into effect for the race, this comment put my head back on straight. You know what, it's probably not going to be a great race for me. I might even have to walk. I might even have to quit and take a taxi to meet my friends at the finish if it feels like too much. But whatever. Who cares. I've proved to myself that I can do a half [3x now!] and meet my goal and even a marathon, so why don't I just go out there tomorrow, hope for the best, listen to my body to make sure I don't overdo it and hurt myself, and see what happens. I already spent the money on the entry - I might as well plan to enjoy at least however much of it I can run.
And with that, Happy Weekend to all and good luck to everyone racing tomorrow [and if you're racing, check out my tips!]!