The night before the NYC Half Marathon, I enjoyed a delicious pasta dinner at Serafina with some bloggers I love – Lindsay , Katherine and Leslie ! This was my first time meeting Leslie and I was so excited. My friend Melissa, a blog reader who I trained with for the half also came to din.
I kept it simple and healthy at dinner by ordering the Whole Wheat Penne dish and I requested it be served without garlic. Garlic taste can stay in the mouth for an entire day no matter how many times I brush my teeth, and I needed perfect mouth conditions for the race.
I had a hard time falling asleep that night, as expected. But I woke up before my 5:30 am alarm time and my first thought was “It’s half marathon day!” A few seconds later, I had another thought: “It’s my birthday!”
I got up and took a shower. I’ve never showered before a race, but I read in Runner’s World that a warm shower will loosen up the muscles. Anything that could help me run stronger and prevent pain sounds good to me.
I got dressed in my brand new Lululemon outfit, my new Bondi Band headband that I bought at the expo, my knee sleeves, compression sleeves and birthday crown.
Happy birthday to me!
Since it was going to be cold before the race started, Melissa and I bought matching I <3 NY sweatshirts. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see Melissa before the race to take a picture together. I had a little fun on mine with some fabric markers I bought when I was going to make a race shirt that said “wish me a happy birthday”, that I decided not to wear.
Melissa and me at the expo:
I found my section for bag check and there was no line, it all went quickly and easily. I walked into the park and waited on a very long line for a portapotty and then headed over to my corral. I started at the start line and walked past corral after corral. After corral. After corral. How far back was I?? I kept walking and walking. Eventually I spotted a corral that had a lot of room, and even though it was a couple of corrals before my designated one, I went in. I knew I could run between a 10 and 11 minute mile and decided there was no reason to be all the way in the very back.
While I was waiting, I got a BBM from Leslie and told her where I was. I loved being able to have my phone with me thanks to my Spibelt! She made her way alllll the way back to me from her much closer-to-the-start corral and we talked and took a picture.
I loved passing the time before the race with Leslie. When she had to go back to her own corral, I turned around and there was Catherine – my Core Fusion health counselor and teacher! She was in the same corral with me! It was so nice seeing her.
As I waited for the race to start, I looked to my left and noticed a row of portapottys right next to me with NO line. I decided to take advantage of this sign from above and use one. So glad I did! I still had plenty of time before the race started.
I was getting a little upset because no one seemed to care that it was my birthday. I was wearing the crown and lots of people saw me on the portapotty lines, in the corrals, and no one said a word. Finally, someone wished me a happy birthday. And then someone else told me it was her birthday too. I felt a little better about my ridiculous crown once it was acknowledged.
And then the race started and so began the 15 minute walk to the start. You heard me right. I started the race exactly 15 minutes after it officially started according to the digital clock at the start line. Crazy! There was one small problem. During the walk to the start. . . my body decided another portapotty trip needed to happen. Why do I have to pee SO MUCH when I am nervous? This has happened before. I drink the exact same thing before training runs and races, yet I only have this issue during races and other events that make me nervous or anxious. Is this my body’s fight or flight defense? Because if it is, it’s stupid.
I was so excited to start the race, I wasn’t about to try and find a portapotty. I was no longer near the ones by my corral. I decided to just start running and hope it was all in my head. I turned my music on and I was off!
Loved the spectators in the park cheering as I started. Woo hoo! I did cry a little bit as I crossed the start. Who cries at the start??! When did I become so emotional? I quickly tossed my sexy sweatshirt to someone on the side and got into my music. The weather was gorgeous, the conditions were all ideal except for that nagging pressure on my bladder. Ugh! I avoided water stations. Every time I passed portapotties, there were long lines. Dashing in and out is one thing, but I was not about to start waiting on lines! I worked too hard for this race. So I kept running. At each mile clock, I saw that my time had moved by exactly 10 minutes. 10 minute miles, yay! That made me happy, although I tried not to focus on the time and remind myself I would still come in under my goal if I started running slower.
When I crossed over the 5K time tracker thing my face broke into a big smile – I knew that pretty soon, all the people who signed up for email alerts would get an email with my first time! As it turned out, they started sending my results after 10K, but I didn’t know that at the time.
The full loop of Central Park is 6 miles, which means that shortly before mile 6 I was by the part where the race started. By then I had been running for an hour while having to pee and I was not comfortable. So at that spot I saw the long row of portapotties for use before the race and since there were so many, there was no line. This was my opportunity! While running, I yanked down my Spibelt and lifted up my shirt. I was not wasting ANY time in there!
I used the bathroom and ran out and was back in the race. I was upset that I lost some time, but I tried to accept that these things happen and you can’t always control them. And above all – I felt SO MUCH BETTER. What a relief!
And then I saw Catherine again! I started screaming her name and ran over to her. How funny to run into her mid-race. I separated from her shortly after saying hi to make my way over to the water station. Now I was ready to drink!
I took Gatorade by accident, but I liked it. I ended up switching between water and Gatorade at most stations after that.
I crossed the 10K mark in 1:05, which is only 2 minutes slower than my 10K race PR of 1:03, so it doesn’t look like my bathroom stop hurt too much!
I was still feeling really great at this time, too. Even with the bladder discomfort, the first 6 miles went very easily for me. I never thought a day would come where I’d utter those words! But yes, 6 miles – NOT BAD!
After we passed 7 miles I got excited because it was my last mile in the park. Everyone told me how great it is when you can finally leave the park and run down 7th Avenue. Mile 7 felt so long! I just wanted to get to the next leg of the race and every time I thought I was close I would recognize something around me that showed me just how far from the 7th Avenue exit I actually was. I ate a shot block. I also started feeling some minor chafing. I had never experienced this before, but my left arm rubbing against the side of my back was creating some uncomfortable friction. I passed some people handing out sticks of vaseline a few miles back but didn’t see any more. Now I know for next time!
Finally I got to Mile 8 and smiled as I left the park.I paused the music on my iPod since I heard I’d want to hear all the people cheering for the runners. And then . . . nothing. There were very few spectators along the sides of 7th Ave and it was very quiet. After a minute I put my music back on because it was boring.
I looked at the spectators I did see, but none of them shouted Happy Birthday as I’d hoped. Oh well!
There were a couple of bands on 7th Ave, so I would pause my music to hear them, which was nice. There was a cheerleading team, but they were facing AWAY from the runners and cheering for people watching them on the sidewalk. Wtf?
I know everyone says running through Times Square is the most amazing part of the race, but I don’t know. I found it kind of blah. I think this was a combination of there being so few spectators and the fact that the runners were able to spread out on 7th Ave and I felt like there were no runners around me except for the slow stragglers at the back. Of course I was not a straggler in the back, but it did feel that way.
Can you spot me?
We turned onto 42nd street and that was pretty dead too. And by this point I was really starting to struggle. My knees were both hurting, my old familiar sharp pain on the outside of the knees. My quads were hurting too and felt very heavy. I ate another shot block. I thought maybe if my energy improved the pain in my knees wouldn’t be so bad. Blah. Running, running. Going through the motions. Mile 9, hello.
I crossed the 15K tracker and again thought of the people getting emails about me who actually cared, which did help push me through. It was like having virtual fans.
Onto the West Side Highway. There was a band playing so I paused my iPod to hear them and then when I pressed play, I lost my playlist! I somehow moved from Half Marathon playlist to Florence + the Machine album. How did that happen? I pressed a couple buttons without looking and somehow was able to get back to my race playlist. I did lose my place though and had to start over.
I didn’t let this little snag get me down. I loved my songs in the beginning and it was actually pretty awesome to hear them again! I put my least favorites towards the end of the playlist anyway.
Here was my full playlist:
I didn’t get to hear any songs from the Heaven on. Once I restarted, I simply skipped over songs I didn’t think would pump me up enough at this point in the race. But I LOVED the songs I got to hear twice (cough, I’d Rather, couch) and the song I ended the race to (Bounce That — Girl Talk).
Mile 10. Just 5K left. My first race was a 5K. But during my first race I didn’t have this pain in my knees and heaviness in my legs. I was running but I was going so slowly. There was a woman in a white top and she was walking. And I could NOT pass her. For a long time, she was walking, I was running, I could not pass her.
That took a little out of my confidence.
At this point, I just wanted to be finished. I knew I would finish, but I decided to let go of any plans on meeting my time goal (more on that later). I was barely moving, I was in pain, I was feeling pretty crappy and I knew I would not finish strong, but I would finish. This was the longest mile of my life. Both my knees hurt. My quads hurt. No one was wishing my happy birthday. FInally, Mile 11. Just 2 miles left. What’s 2 miles? It’s an easy 20 minute run. I could do this. I was still struggling though. It took me over half a mile to realize I was PDRing, 11 being the longest I’d ran while training. Woo. Hoo. Yeah.
The mile 12 marker was nowhere in sight and I was getting frustrated. I finally saw mile 12 in the distance and felt relieved. Finally, I made it to mile 12. Shortly after, I looked to my left and THERE WAS SARA!!!! My friend Sara, who just started a really great blog about restaurants in Manhattan, was cheering for me! I screamed. Seriously, I just screamed, not caring what the other runners around me thought. I was so happy to see my friend!!! I waved at Sara and she took a couple photos of me. You can’t see me in the first picture she took because I’m behind a huge guy (I don’t remember him being there at all), but Sara did manage to get this awesome picture of me that I am obsessed with and stare at all day long at my desk at work:
Yayyyy! You can’t tell I was struggling at all, right? Neither could Sara. She thought I looked strong and happy. Well, it is crazy how mental running is, because as soon as I saw Sara, my struggles ended and I WAS happy. I felt amazing! The pain in my knees didn’t seem so bad and I was able to speed up. I had a new burst of energy and I ran faster and stronger. I cried a teeny bit and smiled while I ran. 800 meters to go. I got this! 400 meters to go. Well I just did 400 since that last sign, so I could do that again! I ran and ran. I saw the finish line and I guess my body was too beat to sprint, but I kept running strong and crossed the finish line with my arms in the air and tears in my eyes. Okay, I lied. Full on sobs. What is wrong with me!!!
I was so overwhelmed with emotion and so happy and I just finished the NYC Half Marathon, my first half marathon!
I cried some more and then waited on line to have my picture taken, since I was wearing a crown and all! And now that I see the picture, I understand why no one wished me a happy birthday — no one saw the crown! It got pushed back!
I had a secret time goal of 2:20. After my bathroom stop I knew it would be harder but still possible. After my difficult miles 9-12 and not being able to pass a walker, I decided to let go of my time goal and just enjoy myself.
So what was my time?
I still beat my goal!!! I signed up for my own tracking emails so I knew my time as soon as I checked my phone after the race. I am so so so so SO happy with my time!!!! That averages to 10:37 miles, which is really awesome.
I picked up my baggage (easy smooth process!) and saw Leslie right away! Leslie PRd and qualified for a special corral in the Chicago Marathon from this race!
Then I went to find my best friend and I ran into my good friend Jackie (from the following: Jewish day camp, high school, grad school and old job) and then I ran into Katie! I saw so many people I knew randomly!
I know this post has been about me, but I actually ran the race for charity. And if it wasn’t for all of you, I wouldn’t have even had the opportunity to run the NYC Half Marathon. I cannot thank you enough. Your generosity, support and willingness to help me run a charity auction to fundraise for Think Pink Rocks was beyond what I ever could have expected. I raised $1,671 for Think Pink Rocks, and the money goes to breast cancer research and prevention. My mom is a breast cancer survivor, so this charity was important to me and I am so honored to have run for this amazing cause.
Cool shirt, right?
My best friend and I went to brunch at Landmarc where I ordered my favorite food, french toast. This french toast was special and came inside a hard french toast bread shell. Then I went home and enjoyed my post long-run 2 hour deepest nap ever. Also, I worked. People don’t talk much about post half marathon pain by the way. My quads were burning for days. I could barely walk. Subway stairs were brutal. Trying to sit down was unbearable. You never really think about the muscles you use while trying to sit but wow do we use muscle! My knees were also bothering me. After two yoga classes and some ice, I am doing much better! It took a few days though. Also, my toe situation is pretty gross and very black. Will discuss in a future post.
Just like that, I ran 13.1 miles. Last year I was running maybe 20 minutes and now I am running over 2 hours and feeling great. I LOVE RUNNING! It is so amazing because anyone can improve.
My next half marathon is the 13.1 Marathon NY in my hometown of Flushing, Queens on Saturday, April 3. As I said, I try not to make time goals . . . but if all goes well with the bladder, I think I can beat my time. I am so excited!
March 21, 2010 was the most rewarding birthday I could have ever imagined! Welcome to my 27th year!