Monthly Archives: March 2012

Epic Win

The opposite of fail; when something of awesomeness happens [Urban Dictionary].
 
The most recent awesomeness in my life took place on March 18th at the NYC Half Marathon in which the opposite of epic fail occurred.
 
I had set a goal of 2 hours and 30 minutes, having jumped into this three weeks before the event, only allowing for two weekends of jacking up the mileage. I figured under-estimating myself had been a good life strategy thus far, so why change thought processes now? Knowing that the race started out with 6 hilly miles before hitting the ensuing 7-mile flat stretch, I added that to my reasons for being content ‘just to finish.’ It was only mid-March after all, and I usually don’t hit double-digit training miles until June.
 
O, ye of little faith.
 
The gun went off in the semi-dawn, but it took 30 minutes for my group to make it to the actual starting line…and then we were off up into the hills of Central Park. I quickly realized that at each clock marker, I would need to subtract 30 minutes from the displayed time given my late start. Give or take a minute or two in either direction, I seemed to be holding my own at my usual performance level as I checked each clock. Didn’t even fret ‘Heartbreak Hill’ but I sure was glad to hit finally that flat and fast turf.
 
Proceeding at a brisk pace down thru midtown Manhattan was a surreal moment. These are sights and sounds I’ve experienced many times over, but certainly never from the vantage point of running in the middle of the street without a single cab in sight. I didn’t even stop to look behind me, focusing on that finish and something warm to drink. I rounded the corner onto 42nd Street and caught Sam’s face in the crowd. I was on the left side of the street and he was on the right, so I quickly crossed thru a bunch of runners, shared a high-5 and kept on running. It lifted my spirits to have found him amidst the cacaphony of stimuli, and I suspected I was pegging away at a decent pace.
 
The last turn onto the West Side Highway meant 5 miles ahead. I wasn’t sure I had what I needed to beast this thing, but every glance at the clock indicated I might make it in 2:25. I got to thinking maybe a walk was in order, but every time I slowed I would then shag ass a little harder. Tired but not spent, I pushed on past more familiar sights and more clocks. Not too shabby…maybe 2:20?
 
The last mile took us down into a small tunnel. I thought if I could make it back up the slight incline on the other side, I might be able to pour it on for the finish. I stopped checking clocks and thinking about finish time, and did what all race runners do at this moment: follow the ass in front and keep running. 800 yards….200 yards….13-mile marker…and then that extra tenth. I saw myself up on the big screen and waved like an idiot with the other finishers in my group. This might be the only time my finish is ever on video, so I sure made it a good one.
 
A really good one: 2 hours, 15 minutes, 30 seconds. Not just a 2012 PR to work my way down from, but a career PR.
 
And there was my runner support, with baby wipes for my crusty face, a hug and dry clothes.You really have to give it up to anyone who would kiss somene who just ran 13.1 miles.

Win-win.

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Got Support?

Hello, dear Blog Diary, how I’ve missed you.

Out running 8 miles on my own this past weekend, I got to thinking about the unsung heroes of the running world: our athletic supporters.

I’d gotten so used to weekend long runs with Sam cycling by my side that doing it solo made me realize how much we runners depend on non-runners to tough it out. I’m one of those people who needs to be as light as possible, so having Sam hold my extra water bottle has been helpful. And it’s nice to have company besides an Ipod and the occasional “How ya doin” nod to others on the bike path, at least until it becomes hard to trot and convo at the same time.

I remembered the time Mary and I were doing my first-ever 20 miles. Her hubby Joe packed the car with extra drinks and led the way for us, providing rest stops along the muggy way. Once he was driving slowly just ahead us, which caused another driver to slow down and ask us defenseless females if everything was okay. We laughed at the idea of ‘Poor Joe’ as he’s often known being mistaken for a creeper.

It made me appreciate the people who came out for me along the way of my two marathons and one half-marathon. I know I wouldn’t have made it thru that first 26 without Jean’s chipper chatter from mile 18 to the finish line. And then there was Dave holding up an evocative sign for me half way: ‘You Will Finish.’ It was the first time anyone had done that for me, and it gave me a little push towards the second half of that grueling route.

I thought of my family coming to my rescue at my second 26 during unprecedented hot October weather, providing me with a fresh bandana, a washcloth for my face and another water bottle to help me reset myself for the miles ahead. And my daughter and her friend also came my rescue at the finish line with congratulations…and fresh clothes.

I thought back to the other races I’ve done, and how I often cried because there was no one rooting for me as I ran my way from new widow to new runner. Once in awhile, a family member or friend managed to come out for me, but most of the time it was a lonely walk back to the car with my free shirt.
My first competitive running challenge is coming up on 3/18, the NYC Half Marathon. Sam will accompany me to the start and see me off. The next time I see him will be at the finish line with dry clothes, a fresh water bottle and a big hug. His smiling face will be more tonic than any chocolate milk recovery drink could ever provide.

If that’s not a metaphor for a relationship, I don’t know what is.