Brigadeiros, true to her Brazilian roots, are colorful and upbeat. She’s pretty fancy too, having been purchased at one of those running stores where they make your person run on a treadmill so they can use science to assign them to perfectly matched sneakers. Her person and mine hooked up as we all neared the exit of Central Park (thank God- I don’t know how the rest of out little part felt, but I didn’t think we were ever getting out of that park with its hills and looping trails!).
Want a partner?
There’s something about having someone with you that makes anything easier. Anything. How hard can the second half of a half marathon be when there’s someone to make you laugh? To have someone to tell when the pace car is gaining on you? To distract from any aches or pains?
Times Square was far more fun with a friend at our side- laughing and waving. The little kids in cars, who were stuck with their parents in race day traffic didn’t know, or care, how slow we were- they only knew we were running a race and were excited to cheer and stick their tiny hands out of practically parked car windows to give a little luck in the form of a high five. I have never wanted to a be glove so bad in all my shoe life!
Beyond the halfway point, we turned onto the West Side Highway- vast and long and, let’s face it, at this point, practically empty. Water stations dotted the course still, and provided cheerful volunteers as well as never-before-so-delicious Gatorade. Why, why, why did she forget to eat breakfast? Who does that?! Here we are, in the center of the greatest city ever, where under normal circumstances one can get anything their heart desired to eat, we now have few options- Swedish Fish, or a Double Latte flavored energy gel, handed out by race day sponsors, “with 2x Caffeine!”, that we have never had before, never trained with and therefore have no idea what effect it will have on our digestive system. Hmmmm, what to choose, what to choose?!
The Swedish Fish, of course. The ones packed specifically for this purpose, the ones we used in training runs all winter. Like, actually the ones, from the very same packet, so that there could be no question of reaction- none. The very desired outcome of none.
Nope. The energy gel. The untested, completely new to her body, energy gel.
Yeeeech. Seriously, So gross. Made worse by the sight of that our friend, the bike marshal, enjoying a hot, seemingly delicious gyro as we run past. Yes, Carlton is enjoying an early lunch of genuine NYC street meat. Harumph! If he wasn’t so awesome, he would totally suck. He at least appears sheepish when our person catches on to his snack, calling him out on it,
“Really?! While we choke down gels?! “
Her laugh gives her away, and he knows she’s more amused than anything.
Right about this point, the pace car pulls up along side us. Our watch says differently, but no one is about to argue if NYRR decides that it’s time to take to the sidewalks. Except that isn’t their plan at all, they are merely offering a bottle of water. Such sweethearts, they’ve been all smiles and encouragement and now refreshments to boot!
The next miles pass without much fanfare and even the chatter from above wanes a bit. Brigadeiros and I are beginning to catch up to other pockets of runners. A Team in Training group, mostly coaches jogging along with their fund raisers. A few singletons just trying to push through. One runner, found sitting upon a barricade, is cajoled into getting back in the game.
“My feet are burning” -she argues
“Yeah, well they are going to be burning whether you finish or not, so you may as well finish!”
I mean, how can you disagree with that sort of logic? You can’t.
& then, we were at the entrance to the Battery Park Underpass. I don’t know about the rest of the group, but this is when I realized we were going to finish. Shortly. Down into the tunnel, with it’s echoes and darkness, the next mile passed with “whoops” and” whooo hooos” giving us the zip we needed to get up the last, steep hill of the day, out into the sunshine once again.
800 meters to go, a bit of commotion from behind- it seems that our pace car doesn’t follow to the very end and this is where they leave us. Not without a hug though, our favorite pacer made good on promise extracted around mile 9 and chased my person down for a squeeze.
South Street, to Maiden Lane and, then… Water Street. The finish line is finally, finally in sight.
As Brigadeiros and I approach, our people above grab hands and cross as they spent the bulk of the run- together.
The rest passed in a swirl of hugs and tears, of medals and photos. There was mylar blanket and a reunion with Glitz. I remember a Clif bar and a water bottle and not much else before falling asleep with my medal back at the hotel. Perfectly content with my soreness.