NYC Half 2012: Owning my NYC streets

Ah, what a day… I was really looking forward to this race!

This was my first race ever, in 2006, the first time they ever held the race. It poured, I had no clue what I was doing, my longest run up to then had been ONE 6 miler and I have no pictures from it. 

It’s been a long journey. (probably an understatement)

As you can imagine, I loved it in 2006. I did it in 07, 08 and 09. Four years in a row, and then, meh, I wanted to diversify. So many roads to explore, so many other races to run… and for some reason this past year I thought to apply (there’s a lottery!) and got in.You never forget your first love, don’t you?

And I got in. Then, after barely recovering from two stress fractures, doing my slowest marathon ever, and getting re-messed up with a month-long tendonitis… I started to get back to it. Basically, I hadn’t been in shape since last July.

In mid January, I started back up slowly, very slowly, low mileage, quality over quantity and very strict rules I imposed on myself. Still, with just two months of little slow (but hilly) mileage, I had no idea where I was fitness-wise. My hill sprints showed some promise in the last month, but nothing record breaking. But I was running, so I was happy. That’s really all that matters!

I was running, but not enough time to train, and NYC Half was just lurking so I just did the best I could and decided I’d enjoy my race. MY race. That was the plan. To run through my city. Also, I had already paid for it!

My goal for the last week was to sleep and be there rested come race morning. Well, that OBVIOUSLY never happened. SoSaturday, I cozied up at 7 pm, passed out, got woken up at 9 pm by crazy loud St. Patrick’s day partiers (my block is pretty much in Ireland!), got earplugs, passed out again and managed to sleep 9 hours. Ok, NOW I am ready.

Race Morning, all is going great. I am freezing in the corral (one hour to go, 47 degrees, and I am in shorts and a singlet), and a lady offers me her extra mylar. YEY. Go into the portapotty and it doesn’t smell… Am I dreaming this? I’m waiting in the corral, and one of the NYRR’s photogs comes over to take my pic. All too much fun!

Not sure why it looks so dark…

Anyway, I was in the third corral, with around 15K people around me. I find two team-mates in my corral, and I know Michelle and I used to be around the same pace, back in the day when I was running consistently.  I ask her what’s her goal. 7:40s or 7:50s or something. Hmmmm, I say, you go girl!!

Given all the stuff I had gone thru, my tighest estimation, if all went well, was a 1:52. Or so I hoped. I also thought I’d be closer to 1:55. But my secret and wildest dream in my fantasy world was a sub 1:50. But, who knows, right? Pace would be around 8:30, if I could hold it, and it would be A-OK.

They introduce the elites, I set the Motoactv (ha, two seconds to get satellite while everyone else is fumbling!!), I check all my parts, and I get crazy excited. I really have to pee, but oh well, forget all about it. NYC, get ready, I am coming and you better be ready for this tornado!!!!!

We go.

There’s Michelle and I, both in our team’s singlets. I decide I was gonna let her go Do not try to pursue her, Elizabeth. But I like company… NO. NO. She’s gonna go fast, and you can’t afford to go fast in the first miles. And the park is the hardest part. NO, let her go!!!

Yeah. I am crazy. And I talk to myself when I race.

Then, around the Mile 1 marker I hear it, and I say I hear it because the Motoactv reads my splits info into my ear, while it lowers the music a bit. Never had to bother to look down to see my splits… how amazing is that???

So, I hear it…

Hmmm. now I am confused… I am not great at a lot of things, but I KNOW I can pace smartly… Is it possible I startd out too fast? Hmmm, I should let Michelle go, and back off?? but I felt good. And also scared that I had no clue what I was doing and was gonna blow up later… Ok, relax, keep going… 

In case you don’t know, the course does 10k in Central Park, with a big big hill and a bunch of rolling hills. After we leave the park it’s completely flat, so you could really really speed up. Unless… you went out too fast. But I know this. There’s now way I could be pacing myself wrong, but on the other hand, how am I going to sustain this pace?!!?

Anyway, want to see a bit more laps…? I bet you do!

Yeah, I was holding it, in the PARK!

Unfriggingbelievable!

And I was still hanging on to Michelle. And I was spitting out splits, as it was just easier for me to repeat what motoactv said, instead of both of us looking down on such a crowded course. 

This is the other thing that was throwing me off. Get Ready. It’s hard to explain, but I am gonna try to do my best.

One of the main reasons this race was so great is because I had the most support and love on the course ANYONE, and I am sure I can prove this, ANYONE had. Not even the elites. I promise you. It’s impossible.

I had my groupies who were there on the course just to see me.

I had lots of friends on the course, to see me and maybe someone else.

I had ALL my coworkers, plus all the Team in Training volunteers, plus all the Team in Training Coaches. That could probably amount to around… 300 hundred people I waved at in this group only.

Half my running team was running, the rest was either spectating, or taking pictures or volunteering at a water stop. Impossible to miss either.

I had LOTs of friends running, who I run into or run past. I even caught one at mile 11 and finished 1 second apart!

Lots of friends on other teams, with their team mates, ex coworkers, NYRR people, Footlocker challenge people, neighbors.

Some of them. I even saw twice or more on the course. Like my friend Patricia, who only slept 3 hours and saw her twice on the course! 

I waived, I screamed, I kissed.

People around me even asked me about it. Who are you? Why are you getting all these cheers?

I promise you, not even the elites got this many shout outs. Impossible.

So… that was throwing me off a bit too. Because I wasn’t sure if I was in a fake high from all the love (there was hill there?!!?!) or if I was really in this ok shape… I let it be, rode the love wave, and decided I would figure it out once I left the park and things calmed down. AS IF. 

In that pic above, I am on the right, waving at the guy in blue, who works at Super Runners shop and best NY runner in his age group (per the Runner of the Year commitee!). See? In EVERY picture I am waving at someone. Pretty ridiculously amazing if you ask me!

Then I get to leave the park…

And into the most amazing part of a course you could run… Times Square! 

Times Squares SUCKS. It does.

If you live here, you hate it. Really, every newyorker hates Times Square 365 days ayear.

BUT, if you are New York Runner, you hate Times Squares, just 362 days. Because the high of running through it, just this one day, lasts a bit. There’s no feeling like it. I can’t describe it. You will have to try it for yourself.

Oh yeah, that’s my I hate Times Square face.

GPSs were going wild and people were freaking out. I had proper pace/speed, you guys don’t?? We’re flying, people, just ride it!

Then we turn into 7th avenue, then onto the West Side Highway… a long, flat, and straight stretch that was quite boring the last time I run it. Not this time. Saw LOTS of Team in Training friends and coworkers (including the boss and the Executive Director!) cheering and in purple wigs. I love my job!

Hmmmm, when I would get a few quiet seconds I did my check ups. Lungs? Heart? Hammies? Feet? All systems seemed to yell GO, so I kept trucking along.

Pace…? you want to know huh? I was still doing low 8s, yeah, unbelievable. Though, really, I was starting to believe. I felt well. I felt like I was floating. Am I really running this pace, this comfortably?

HOW?

No time like right now to keep running and keep enjoying! Keep trucking! Let’s own these streets!!!!!

Around mile 11, it hits me. And it hits me hard. I remembered when 6 years ago I did this race, my first ever and I saw that Mile 11 sign. I had started crying, and I didn’t stop until I finished the race. I now have a bit more control over my emotions while running, but not that much. I was running. I was still running. Six years later. And I was running fine. With no pain, no slowing down… it was pure joy. I didn’t want the half to end. I wanted to double it up. Or triple it up. Or bottle it up. But I sucked it up, swallowed my feelings and got back to the race. Pfffff.

Mile 12 and change, after a water stop with more TNT friends, we go into a tunnel. This was the only weird part for me. I had never run in a tunnel, I had no clue what to expect. I thought it’d be a short tunnel, but I couldn’t see the light at the end, pun intended. Then there was a turn, still no light. Another turn. How long is this thing??? How long have I been under here? I miss my watch’s voice! 

Then I see the light. And more.

At around Mile 5 I had lost Michelle. I thought she was gonna fly and I decided it might be easier for me to gauge my pace on my own instead of just trying to go with her. But as soon asI come out of the tunnel, into the light, I see Michelle again. And I see a800 meters to go sign. Those signs. Gotta love them. Because then I think it’s two laps. But, when do I ever ever do laps?? HA. Never. So I just go crazy-all-out.

That’s my grinning stooopid. It’s happiness coming thru my pores. Just like I did at the end of the NYC Marathon. I closed my eyes for a few seconds. I might have airplaned a bit. I couldn’t hear anyone. I didn’t care about anyone. This was mine. And I was still running fine!

I look down, the watch says 1:42 something. I am in SHOCK. My PR is 1:42 something. HOW IS THIS HAPPENING???

I had no pain, I wasn’t even running. I couldn’t sprint because I couldn’t even hold it in anymore. 

I crossed the finish line. I owned the streets. I won. Whatever I wanted, I had it.

And two seconds later, I completely LOST IT.

I LOST IT.

I was bawling. A few people came over to check. Michelle had to hold me for a bit.

Really. I really have no clue about how things in my life work. I have zero control. Stuff just happens. But I can’t complain. This was way too emotional. Just like the NYC Marathon finish:

What a frigging cry baby!!! Or drama queen!!! Go ahead and make fun. It’s been a crazy year and I’ll cry of joy if I want to!!

Ok, eventually I wiped my face and showed my happiness!

I didn’t PR. I didn’t even know I could sub 1:50, but later that day I (looked up my PR and) did the math: I was 20 seconds away from a PR… I guess it could have happened if I thought  I had a chance… but who knows!! And, who cares when you have such a good race??!?!?!?!

Please, get ready (you should have seen how FAST I reached for my camera for this!). Runners…

Post finish, at the Motoactv booth, for their website:

At the Team in Training booth, with super osom (from left) Sam, Meghan, and Danielle! Poor Danielle shares an office with me. I think her life is gonna be more amazing every day, just karma for putting up with me! GO Team!

I eat a few bars, drink some G, chat with everyone around, stop at the Team in Training party for a bit (we had the whole Heartland Brewery right by the finish for us) and as we’re heading into the train… my heart skips a beat… I had seen a Dunkin Donuts. I need a Boston Creme. In and out, off to the train back to the Upper East Side… 

You know those days that seem like you dreamed them? That was Sunday.

NYC Half 2012: Owning my NYC streets

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One thought on “NYC Half 2012: Owning my NYC streets

  1. Pingback: NYC Half, Throwback Thursday edition #nychalf #tbt | runningandthecity

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