Sunday, April 14, 2013

More Half Marathon race recap - part two

If you haven't read part one, you can do so here.

So. After my crappy night of sleep - we woke up at around 6 AM. We ate our breakfast in the room, had a quick shower, checked the weather, and debated a million more times about what to wear, and we were out the door by 6:45 AM. The plan was to take the subway to the race. I was the one who had the subway card from the day before, and when we were leaving the hotel room, I grabbed the wrong card. So when we arrived at the subway, I realized I had my Metro North ticket instead of the subway ticket.  Nice. Yeah. Not wanting to go back up to the hotel room, we decided to walk to Central Park.

It was only 9 or 10 blocks and it was a good way to warm up. We arrived in Central Park and met up with some other running friends and grabbed some quick pictures. Then we headed to the bag drop and then it was time to line up.

Felice. Elisa, and me right before the race

Heading towards the bag drop
Felice went into a different corral, so we had to separate. Elisa and I lined up together. We chatted with some other ladies in our corral who also happened to be from Albany and they even recognized Elisa. I swear, that girl knows everyone! 

Before we knew it - we were off. I have to say - that it was an amazing feeling to be in this race with 7500 other women. The feeling was empowering and it gave me some chills. Anyway, I never heard the horn blow. But I guess it must have, because before I knew it, we were moving. We were off.

The first 4-5 miles we did exactly what we always say we shouldn't do. We ran too fast. But we couldn't help it. You just get so caught up in the excitement and the crowd. It is pretty much impossible to not go fast. 

The route was great. It was basically two loops around Central Park. During the first loop, Elisa was my tour guide. She pointed out different museums that were just outside the park. And I have to say that Central Park is a beautiful place. There is something magical about seeing all of those high rise buildings surrounding the park from every angle.

Anyway - as pretty as the route was, it was also hilly. I will be the first to admit that I hate hills. However, I really didn't think that the hills in this race were that bad. There was one big one that was around mile 3.5, and then again at around mile 9. When I hit the hill the first time, it was still early enough in the race where I was feeling pretty good. It literally felt like I was flying up that hill. I felt strong. I felt good. So I pushed it. And I passed people. And I felt bad ass. Seriously. I did. I think I even shocked Elisa. She caught up with me and noted that I went up the hill at a 9:15 pace. Nice. That is speedy for me on a big hill.

We approached the 6 mile mark, and that started the second loop. At this point, I was still feeling good. But yet, I noticed that my darn knee was starting to feel just a little out of sorts. It wasn't awful. But it was there. I decided to take a walk break and Elisa ran on ahead. I walked for a minute or so, and then started running again. The walk break helped. My knee started to feel better, and I saw Elisa in the distance and sprinted towards her and caught up with her. Back together again, we ran along. As the miles passed, I noticed that when I hit a downhill section of the course, it was actually more painful on my knees. Mmmm. Not so good. 

Soon enough we were back at the big hill. I took a walk break and walked some of the hill. And soon enough, we were at mile 10 and then 11, and finally mile 12. At that point, I knew Elisa and I would cross the finish line together. We kept on. My legs were screaming in pain. And it wasn't just my knees. The backs of my legs were killing. After all, I had just tackled some hills for the past 12 miles  - so it was completely normal to feel a little pain. We finally turned the corner where we veered off towards the finish.

We crossed the finish line together at 2:09:02. I didn't reach my A goal which was 2:05. But, I did reach my B goal (which was 2:10). I was elated and emotional. The feeling of finishing a half marathon is pretty amazing. And even after five times, that feeling of euphoria doesn't go away. This was even more special since I crossed the finish line with Elisa. There is nothing like crossing the finish line with a friend. I have done it a few times now - and it's pretty amazing.

We both had our issues along the course. My knees were giving me a run for my money, and Elisa was having some breathing issues with her asthma. But you know what? We got through it. We didn't plan to stay together during the race. It just worked out that way.  And I think that happened for a reason. Our energy fed off each other and we were strong. 

The thing that I felt most proud of was that I felt mentally strong. I ran through the knee pain. And I have to admit that it wasn't as painful as it has been in the past. (Those hip exercises must be working somehow).
I felt tough. I felt experienced with how my body could handle the mileage. I felt proud.
It was an amazing day. 

My stats:
Time: 2:09:02
I was 3031 out of 7550 runners.
I was 428 out of 1067 women in my age group.

Felice, Elisa and me - post race with our medals!

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