Updated: May 14, 2019
St Patricks day 2019 was a dream! Several months back, even with a very good qualifying time, I was denied the Boston Marathon by 7 seconds. I was defeated and broken. I say an ad come up on facebook that said you could register for a lottery spot in the NYC half. It didn’t seem appealing to me at first considering I had just finished 3 marathons in 6 weeks and it was a half marathon. After some thinking I thought well it doesn’t hurt to apply right? In addition, I had never been to New York and that would be cool to experience. A few weeks later I received notice that I was accepted. Immediately, I became full of joy and excitement but than sadness as I realized I had to wait 4 months to experience this.
Two years ago, I was so fearful of trying anything especially flying. Crossing finish lines, and preserving past lines I never believed I could, has slowly taken the items that once brought me fear in to joy. One of those fears was flying. Fears are only tasks we haven’t conquered yet. Everything is a little scary at first, but embracing those fears and not hiding behind them can leave us with unthinkable adventures and self-confidence. Reaching that finish line of that half marathon when you never say yourself running more than a 10k. Furthermore, finishing a marathon when you had given up on yourself and had no idea where your energy came from, but you did it because you persevered.
I didn’t read much about the race ahead of time because I didn’t want to psych myself out. The parts I did know were enough for me. I was going to run across the Manhattan Bridge, through a closed down Times Square and finish in Central Park. In addition, I was going to get to enjoy it with my husband cheering me on.
Arriving at the Expo was unlike any other expo I had been at. There were television crews, huge signs all over the outside, and announcers proclaiming how significant this race was. It was than I realized, wow this race is a big deal. The biggest race I had done previously had 7700 runners in it, and this was 25,000 runners. I kind of laughed at the expo because it was set up in a way that all the fun was in one side and then it was almost like a light switch to game time mode. The fun side had plenty of merchandise, giveaways and opportunities to snatch some pictures. The game time side was very serious, with videos of the course, very detailed elevation graphs, pace motivation guides, and experts to give you strategy. Ok, the fun was over now to freak out about the event I thought I was prepared for but now I am second guessing myself. What did I get myself into? Yes, I know, I said it didn’t matter how I did, I was going to see NYC? I was going to run through Time Square, time doesn’t matter just enjoy the race and experience, right? Simple answer, yes, but this was the big leagues I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I flew from Minneapolis, and I was going to represent. Well, hoping. I glanced at the map of the race, evaluated the hills, and decided it was time to go and stress back at our hotel.
Originally, we had plans to sight see this day, but the stress of the race was starting to sink in and it was time to find our hotel. My husband had the brilliant idea of doing a pre-trip to the race start to make sure that we had a smooth morning. When I booked the hotel, it said it was close to the race start but we were finding close in New York meant close to an hour via Subway. The distance was 1.8 miles to the park but from there it was another mile walk. I contemplated just walking, but the Subway we went. Tears of anxiety began to flow down my face which happens to me a lot before a race because each race means so much to me. I’m not the best runner in the world by any means, I’m not going to break any record, but each finish line symbolizes a stage in my life. Crossing that finish line, knowing that I gave it my best, Is worth all the anxiety. Leaving everything on the course, no regrets. Knowing that I was going to have to spend up to 2 hours before the race just to get to race was exhausting. Furthermore, it was messing up my eating plans etc. There was no choice at this point, lets do this. I feel like race nights never go well, and I spend most of the day overreacting and telling myself I am giving up. Even though I know that I am going to make it to that race no matter what, and dominate or fail, at least I made the first step. Kind of like life heh? My original plan doesn’t seem to be happening but that’s ok.
Now it’s race day, I’m up, showered, and race gear check. Our hotel was suppose to have breakfast but since we had to leave earlier than expected due to subway transportation, we were on our own. I grabbed my back up food, and bag for race and we were off. Stopped in the lobby on the way out and to our surprise the hotel started breakfast early. Man was I excited. We grabbed race appropriate food and coffee and we were off. When we arrived at the Subway, we were greeted by many other racers. One comforting thought was at least we knew we were headed the right way. When we arrived at the park it was still dark outside. It was about a mile walk to the start line. Prospect Park is this huge park with many different trails and entrances. The site to the start was like an image out of a Halloween movie. People came coming from all directions in mass numbers in this dark foggy graveyard type scene. When we arrived at the start area there was security and dogs around to check for drugs. It was a chilly, windy morning so I held on to my warm ups as long as I could. I gave my husband a kiss, and I went through the massive security to other side where the race was starting. Once I passed through, it was like a new world. The field where it was starting was huge, filled with waters and 100’s of porta-potties. The announcers were getting everyone ready for the race and to their correct wave in the appropriate time. Meanwhile, I force myself to use the toilet one more time. As I was waiting to use the toilet, I heard words I had never heard in a race I’ve run, it was the announcement of Olympic athletes and Dez and flannigan. Are you kidding me? I’m running the same race as Dez? I have learned about Dez and fell in love with her story, this was a dream!
Finally making it out of the porta potty in just enough time to get to my start wave. I realize how nervous I am ahead of time, but it sure sinks in right before race starts. I stood there literally shaking and I couldn’t breathe. It’s than I realize, I didn’t take my inhaler. Now I was really second guessing myself. Immediately I text my husband, and he tries his best to calm me down and assures me it will be okay. The gun goes off, and here we go. This race started off just like I love it, a straight up hill. My usual self-doubts started to set in, telling me I couldn’t do this. Right after 2 miles, I was almost taken out by another runner because she wanted to get a head but there wasn’t enough space, so she elbowed her way pass me. With all the people in the race, you had to be on your game and the miles seemed to go fast. When I got to mile 4, the Manhattan Bridge, my husband was standing there with my inhaler and words of encouragement. It was the mental relief I needed to keep going. I plunged up that, what seemed like an eternity, the Manhattan bridge. It was than I saw the Statute of Liberty for the first time. Amazing! Ok, I can do it. Between miles 7-8, my legs were getting sore due to the hills, but I hadn’t seen Times Square yet, so game was on. I took my gel packet and kept going. Soon, I could see Times Square and there was nothing but smiles on my face. Running through a closed down Times Square, with the bright lights and people cheering was like nothing I had ever experienced. I felt like Annie when I she got out of the orphanage for the first time. Like I was seeing the world for the first time. This was why I was here and it didn’t disappoint.
Less than 2 miles ago, we rounded Central Park to the finish. With just under a mile to go, I almost get knocked down again by spectator trying to run in front of me to get to the other side. This really aggravated me and drove me more to get to that finish line.
400M, 200M, and it was finished. My time wasn’t what I was hoping, but it wasn’t my worse by any means and wasn’t too far off from my best time either. My husband was right, I finished and did it well. I crossed that finish line and I felt like I had just finished the biggest marathon in the world. I had to remind myself that I just finished a half marathon not a full. I had never seen so much fan favor at a half marathon. There were people everywhere, recovery tents, news crews and quite frankly a lot of chaos. All I wanted to do was find my husband and keep moving, but with all the crowds it was hard to find anything. In addition, I couldn’t call my husband because there was so much noise that I couldn’t hear. Texting was also foolish because I had to see where I was going, but I was also shivering so bad, I couldn’t settle my hands long enough to type a message. I went in the direction everyone else was and found the closest building that I could get warm in. Finally, 45 minutes later, I was reunited with a warm hug and a congratulations. This was the end to a dream, but also a beginning I feel to other races in this category. The event was overwhelming, I felt unworthy to be there, but I showed up, finished and ran my race.
Finishing time: 1:45:29
Average pace: 8:03