Half Marathon

A Half Marathon Story in Two Halves, Part II

Brigadeiros headshot

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.

latte 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.



A Half Marathon Story in Two Halves, Part I

I know, I know… I was so excited to be free of my confines that I completely neglected to tell you about the race. Be forewarned, I will never be able to do the experience justice. It was the most exciting day of my shoe life and equal parts the best, and worst.

The excitement the night before was at a all time high. I even forgot to pose for flat runner, one of my favorite rituals. I mean, even during the pre-sleep bib pinning and lying out of the outfit, I still didn’t think of it. There were hours to get it done too, I tossed and turned in box for a long, long time until finally falling asleep. As you would imagine, the wake up call came early. Between getting dressed and then my person and her friend struggle with getting small, clear discs into her eyelets, we were out the door and on the street before I was fully awake. Glitz the flip flops secure in her clear drop-off bag and a pocket full of breakfast (coconut chocolate chip flavored CLIF bar = crack) we were ready to hail a cab. At least, that was the plan. Another pair of sneakers stood at the curb, their person also sporting a race bib.

“Wanna share a cab to the park?”

Turns out that all of the roads leading to and fro our hotel block were already closed off to most traffic. Thankfully, our new friends knew of an alternative travel option- the subway. We took off together, at a brisk pace, through a still somewhat dark city, toward a set of stairs leading under ground. I can’t say that it was the cleanest floor I’ve ever walked upon, but we weren’t on it long. No sooner had our people had swiped a shared card (a Metro one, whatever that means), a giant silver train rumbled into the station and we boarded what appeared to be the half marathon express. Seriously, almost everyone was wearing a race bib and there were more running shoes than the shelves from which I came. Only then we got off the train about fifteen minutes later and joined what appeared to be every runner in the world. Clearly, an exaggeration, but when 20,000 pairs of shoes come together, it is complete and total chaos. At least that’s from my point of view. My person, somehow knew exactly where to go.

A pit stop to drop Glitz off,  “see you guys later!”,  before heading through the first of several security checks: an officer checking bibs, who directed each of us to walk under an arch of sorts, I thought that I heard it was used to detect medals, but that can’t be right, none of us had even started, no less finished as yet. Next  up, a wall of officers who waved wands up and down the front and rear of every runner. Magic wands, for luck, I’m sure. It was after this blessing that we were finally inside Central Park and could look to locate our corral. So many people. Yet, only the last wave of the runners to take on NYC as registered participants. As we stretched and warmed up within our section, 13.1 miles away the elites were nearing the finish line. My person was probably receiving her second magic wanding of luck from the police officer at our corral entrance just as Molly and her Sauconys broke away from Joyce’s Adidas and took off on the last 800 meters solo.

Then, somehow, it was 8:30. Ninety six days from when we opened an email from NYRR.org telling us that we would be ‘flying through the streets’, we took off…

Through the six, seemingly endless miles of hilly Central Park:

2015 nychalf start

It was during these miles that we realized we never had breakfast, and that CLIF bar? Long gone. Plan B- Gatorade and the emergency Swedish Fish which were, thankfully, still on our person.

It was during these miles that we met the pace vehicle girls. Two spirited young ladies in a black Chevy Suburban, tasked with driving behind the pack at the speed of 15 minute miles. They sped up for a bit and drove alongside each of us back-of-the packers, explaining that once they passed us for real, we had two options- board the sweep bus, or continue to Water & Wall Streets via the sidewalks.

It was during these miles that we met the marshals. Two dedicated bicyclists who have been working the NYC Half for years, who had, in fact, ridden to the finish line once already that morning having ushered in the elites before circling back to keep us safe.

Most importantly, it was during these miles that we met Brigadeiros.


Eek! A bug!

It’s been slightly warmer the past few days. Slightly. By no means would I mean to suggest that Spring has arrived. I certainly wouldn’t imagine that insects have descended on us just yet. I’m often surprised to see the deer out and about while on runs, no less a bug. However, I know enough by now to know that there is so much I don’t know… Charlie is a small horse?! Really? None of you thought to set me straight?!

Anyway. Bugs, I was talking about bugs. Seems that despite the frigid temps and seemingly never ending snow falls, there is at least one of them; flying around, wreaking havoc and infection. I don’t know much, other than it’s bite causes, for lack of a better word, insanity. I know that because my person was bit. And now, she is crazy. Crazier? No red bumps. No itching. No swelling or otherwise outward sign.

But the crazy! Ohhhhh, the crazy. We’re 8 days away from a half marathon neither of us is confident about participating in. Yes, 8! Just over a week from that race and what do I find out? She has gone and registered for another race… See? C R A Z Y !

Another half marathon. Roughly 100 days to train. I have got to get my aglets on a fly swatter.

New Year, New Goals

Many of you may recall that last year I was preparing to run the Disney Wine & Dine Half in November for charity… The good news, my person raised well over goal for a local organization tasked with feeding the families of moms who are fighting cancer. The not-so-good news? Though we have a medal that says otherwise (not that she has ever put it on), there was no completion of the 13.1 miles through the cold and rain. Cold, and rain- in the happiest place on earth. Ugh. It was not pretty, nor was there any point that I was thinking, “wow, is this fun or what?” Puddles, puddles everywhere. About mile 5, I had decided that I had had enough. Around mile 7, so did my person and just before mile 9 we ran together to the awaiting van along the side of the course. Warm and dry, and no regrets about the decision either. Fundraising completed, the main goal of the initiative had been reached- with the added bonus of a foundation to becoming a runner in place.

I take you now to present day. Well, to the beginning of December, anyway.
The NY Road Runner races are notoriously difficult to participate in- they are so popular that in addition to strict guidelines for automatic eligibility, one must either enter into a lottery, or raise money for charity in order to secure a place. My person doesn’t exactly have ‘luck’ written all over her so while I was jazzed at the idea that we would continue to run, I had no concerns about having to run 13.1 miles though New York City when she entered into the lottery.

She won.

nyc half banner

March 15th, it is so coming.