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.