I had been dreading this Half for a few days: they had been announcing very very cold weather. I don’t do well in very very cold weather. And I definitely can’t run well on it. On race morning, I woke up at 6 am to frigid 12 degrees, with wind chill of 4. Would I be able to run in the freezer? Well, we shall see… After 10 days of very intense workouts, I *thought* a day would be enough rest. But going up the stairs of the R train to the race I knew I was doomed. My legs were sore and heavy. I guess I could have skipped running 20 flights of stairs with ankle weights on Thursday, but it was now too late.
Flor and I headed to the race start to meet up with the team, gear up, and check our stuff.
I was wearing, from top to bottom:– asics fleece headband + fleece balaclava– asics long sleeve shirt, nike thermal running top, adidas jacket– fleece half-finger mittens– UA tights, leg warmers, nike pants I was the Michelin man and I was still freezing, shivering, and cursing. Ugh. We get to our corral and I tell Blaise I am sore and to go ahead. Race starts and after ten seconds I am alone. Ten seconds later and I am suffering, and I am barely moving. Half a minute into the race I am considering to stop. I briefly considered how unosom it would be to DNF at the first race of the year, but I didn’t care. My lungs couldn’t take any air, or my heart couldn’t pump anything, and my legs are stuck. Nothing was moving fast enough for me to warm up. My fingers were still frozen and I just had no idea why my body was not responding. I am jumping in place and my heart is spiking like in a 5K. Quicksands. By minute 2 I was scared and I wanted out.
Then, the miracle: Steph (an accidental runner) comes to say hello. We had planned to meet earlier but with 5 thousand runners it was too chaotic in the corrals and we couldn’t. I tell her how I am struggling and thinking about quitting. She kept me company and I was just trying to keep up with her. I knew she had a lot more in her tank and I was expecting her to go ahead and push it a bit more in the second loop of the park (the last 7 miles) but I figured I would do the first loop with her and at least I’d get some miles out of this mess. We kept running. And chatting! We chatted away the whole time. Apparently, a race is the perfect place to catch up, as I hadn’t seen her since she paced me for 16 miles during the 60k. Ah, this girl is the best and she keeps getting the worst version of me!!!! My running team was also there cheering, in that crazy cold, so they got some pictures of us! On the other side of the park we managed to see my friend Baker, and run_nyc74 on each loop! As miserable as I was, at least I was moving around! I felt really bad for everyone who was cheering… I don’t think I could have handled standing there for two hours like they did!! We kept running, chatting, laughing, and Grrrrring. I made a point to curse out loud to the cat on Cat Hill. I cursed loudly for both of us: Steph is too nice to do that.
During the first 6 miles, I thought every mile was my last. But just do one more for now. By the second loop, I knew she’d push me to the finish and I had to do my best. My agave gels were frozen stiff, so all I had during the race was just two cups of Gatorade, which wasn’t really much, as I was soaking wet with sweat… Steph and I finished the race together. We grabbed hands and lifted our arms through the clock, and then I hugged her. There is no way, I would have finished this race without her. She could have had a faster race but stuck with me. She’s just a priceless friend; and shows up, like an Angel, every time I am crumbling down.
I gulped down two cups of Gatorade and a bagel. I will need to rethink racing in such temperatures again for next time. I am not sure it is worth the effort/risk for me. Soon after the finish I found Flor and my team. We all headed for brunch, soaking wet, stinky, and frozen, what a bunch! Way to start the weekend, crazy people!!!!!
I ended up with a 1:54:10; an average pace of 8:42, which is slower than my marathon pace and 12 minutes off my half-marathon PR. But it doesn’t matter. I got a lot more out of it than just a cold tempo.