Andrew’s Half Marathon
March 20th –
The night before the race I was tired. So I went to bed at 9 pm. At 11:30 I was still tired, but awake. I counted sheep, focused on my breathing, tried meditating….nope. Getting frustrated, I decided to do what any red blooded American would do when they can’t solve their problems…I took a pill. Within 20 minutes I was out.
March 21st- Race Day
I woke up at 5:30. Ate half a banana. Ate my English Muffin. Drank my coffee. Took a hot shower. Put on a tube of anti-chafe gel. Dressed. Stretched. Out the door.
I got to Central Park and went directly to the port-o-potty line. Peed. Went to the runner’s corral. My bib number was 11222 so I was WAY in the back of the pack. I’m talking at least a quarter-mile from the start line. As we started to move toward the start line I thought “Oh FUCK ME….maybe I’m just really nervous but I have to pee again!!!” I was just about at the point where I could dart over and use the port-o-potty one more time or just keep moving and start the race. I chose to pee again. Best decision ever. After ridding myself of what could have been a pound of fluid, I got back in line and moved with the herd toward the start line………
So now I’m in the pack with the slow people. People who are expecting to run the race in about 2:30. So as we hit the start line (the official clock read 16:30 by the time I started the race) and I’m passing people all over the place. It was a great feeling. I was a little worried about starting too fast, but I felt amazing. NOTHING hurt. It was all systems go. My first mile was 8:44. And every mile I could tell that I was getting faster and faster. I ate my energy gel at mile 3 and I felt even more of a boost. I had no problems with any of the hills in the park. Running was easy. The toughest part was getting water and drinking it while not getting 95% of it on my shirt.
By the time I hit the 10k mark I was still feeling amazing. And I was fast. Faster than I had ever run during training. Faster than I thought I could run for an extended period of time. I did not know this while I was on the course, but my 10k time was faster than a 10k race I ran last year.
Sidenote: My original game plan for this race was to “survive” the Park and then turn it up from miles 8-13 when the course went through midtown and was completely flat.
It is mile 7 and I am almost out of the Park. I am starting to feel a little tired. Time for another energy gel. I start to feel a cramp. OH NO. I did not get a single cramp the entire time I was training for this race. Not one. Here I am with 5 miles to go and I have this sharp pain in my side. I started breathing techniques to help dull the pain. When that didn’t work I said to myself, “You drank once in 11 weeks. One small cramp is not going to prevent you from breaking 2 hours. Let’s get to work” So there I was giving myself a pep talk in my head and……………..here comes the exit to 7th Ave. I was out of the Park. It was a beautiful thing. People were cheering and suddenly I was running through the middle of the city. I was in awe of how inspiring running down 7th Ave. was. As I got toward mile 9 I was getting used to running with the cramp. I was focused on keeping my pace rather than turning it on at the end. By then I knew I was going for a solid time no cramp was getting in the way of me breaking 2 hours. At mile 9 I ate my last energy gel and felt a little full. But by then I really needed the boost, I was getting tired. It hurt. My body simply was not used to the stress I was putting it through. I got to the West Side Highway (only 3 miles to go) Longest 3 miles I have ever run. I was crashing. I was giving it everything I had to keep my legs turning hard. And then I got to mile 11.5 and I heard “Go Andrew” It was my friends Kiley and Jess. Then I got worried about how slow I looked when I heard “Run faster” In my mind I was thinking “Oh no, I look as bad as I feel.” So I pushed even harder. Finally I saw the 12 mile marker. ONE MORE MILE TO GO and I’m done. I had nothing left. I was on fumes. There was not going to be a huge kick to the finish I was fighting to get to the line. Every stride was me putting every ounce of energy I had. Then I saw the 400 meter sign….the crowd was huge. Everyone is yelling for you. I started grunting and making only what I can imagine sounded like animal noises. I was doing anything possible to keep going. People are trying to sprint home with whatever they have left and somehow I’m keeping up with them. I didn’t want anyone beating me. Not today. I looked down at my watch as I pushed myself across the finish line….1:47.17. 8:12 minute miles.
I finished in 2995th place. (As it was pointed out to me, I only got beat by 800 women)
I did it. I did not leave anything out on that course. I gave that race everything I had. At no point do I look back and say “I could have tried harder” I am very proud of that.
I got my medal. I got my post race “snack bag” with a water, an apple, and some pretzels. Then I just stood around. Took it all in. I met up with Kiley and Jess. Took the subway to my apartment and headed to the bar.
Some people might say…wow, just ran 13.1 miles probably pretty tired. Well, yeah. But I caught a second wind because I was at the bar for NINE hours. I drank 11 Guinness, one Bud Light, and four shot of Jameson. At one point someone asked me how I could possibly drink that much after waking up at 5:30 and then running a half marathon. My response, “I’m a machine”. I was one drunk machine by the time I got home.
I would like to thank everyone who came out to celebrate with me. Throughout the day I think 15 people came by to grab a drink. It was a wonderful reason to get together and grab a few beers. A big thanks to Jess and Kiley. I can not begin to say how much it meant to hear people cheer me on during that race. I needed it in a big way. They stood on the West Side Highway for over an hour and a half just to see me run for 5 seconds.
To everyone who sent well wishes, encouragement, and gave their support….it means the world to me to have such great friends and family. This whole experience has shown me just how wonderful the people in my life are. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
I set a goal. It was a goal that I had to achieve on my own. There were no short cuts. There was no easy way to do this. The only luck break I caught was the beautiful weather on race day. If I fell short the only one to blame would have been looking at me in the mirror. If I was successful nobody could say I did not deserve it. I liked having that accountability. I liked the control. I liked crossing the finish line.
Next stop: Brooklyn Half Marathon, May 22nd.