Training for the NYC Half was much less than ideal. Sure I ran the Princess Half in Disney World a month ago, but I was also still sick so I took it very easy. I didn’t have that kind of option or time to spare in the competitive surrounding of NYC runners so I was a bit scared yet excited about this race.
This race was also a big payoff for me. Since I didn’t get an entry in the 2015 NYC Half lottery, I ran 4 races in 2015 in order to qualify for guaranteed entry. These races included The (emotional) AirBNB Brooklyn Half, The (hot and humid) Queens 10k, The (omg this is hilly) Bronx 10 miler, and The Staten Island Half Marathon that I ran hours before boarding a plane to Israel.
So yeah, this was a big deal.
Even though I was emotionally and physically exhausted (I had spent most of the Saturday prior unable to move from the couch) I made it to the start line with little time to spare. It is always so nice to people watch and listen to conversations, so many were talking about how beautiful Central Park was and we’re looking around in pure awe. It was only then did I remember this race, like the NYC marathon, was an international race. There were 20k people running today and most were from out of town.
It was so cold. I have never run a half in anything less than 40 degrees. It was 32 at the start. I layered up accordingly but I was a bit scared. To add insult to injury as I was searching for my playlist for the half I watched my iPhone battery go from 77% to 22%. I went into an immediate panic. I restarted my phone and just that quickly my battery level read 15%. I knew I wanted to get at least one picture in Times Square but I’d have to shut off my phone and prayed it turned back on. The saddest part about all of this was that I had no access to any music. Running in the cold was sort of manageable, running 13.1 untrained miles in the cold with no music?! No. I swear I almost turned around and went home. I know my limits. I know the noise of my own thoughts would doom me pretty much immediately.
Then I remembered that I had a bit of music on my TomTom Spark. I’d never added any, but I knew that something was there by default. I paired it with my Bluetooth headphones (that I had purchased 2 days prior) and listened to the same 37 minutes of random techno music. It wasn’t ideal but it shut out my thoughts and allowed me to press forward.
I am intimately familiar with Central Park because of the dozens of races I ran last year. This didn’t make things any easier. It seemed like the longest 10k ever. Right before the three mile point I saw the sweep bus about a mile behind me which was a wake up call for me that I would HAVE to keep moving as stopping was not an option. I didn’t run four entire races last year for this opportunity and turn around and get swept for the first time? No sir.
It was such a relief to exit the park on 7th avenue. The crowds had thinned but those that were still there have me so much energy. Even though I worked in Times Square for nine years, running through was a completely different story. It was breathtaking. It was hard to keep the emotions at bay but somehow I managed.
As we turned on 7th avenue straight down to the west side highway, the crowds were fantastic and I gave more than a few high fives to drivers on the left side. Body was hurting terribly at this point but the environment was a great distraction.
The hardest was the west side highway. My thoughts took over here, thoughts of extreme sadness, wonder if the sweep bus was close or not, the cold of the west side highway penetrating my bones and desperation to finish. After what seems like forever I got to the Battery Tunnel. I have been through this route a million times so being there on foot was simply the coolest thing ever.
As I pushed through towards the finish line, I really couldn’t believe I made it to the end. No music that I liked, no timing device, no phone. As I approached the timing mat the CEO of The New York Road Runners was there high fiving the back of the pack and really that simple gesture meant the world to me.
My cousin waited for me and I appreciated that so much because it was so nice to see a family member and talk about the race. She pr’d which was so great.
It was an emotional race. The kind that I had to dig deep, then dig a bit deeper in order to keep going. It was colder than cold, I wanted my bed. The technical difficulties made a hard situation almost impossible…but I did it. This seems to be the reason why I run. Sometimes the conditions are perfect, sometimes not, but each time–I complete it. I make it to the end. I toe the start line, I move at my pace, and I make it through. Some days I don’t even know why I run, but I know deep inside its because I impress myself. My times are never impressive to everyone else but to me they are matchless. Running proves to my inner doubts that I can do anything I put my mind to. It helps me in my work, it helps me in my writing. It is hard, so hard, but so is life. If I can push through these 13.1 miles, I can push through life as well. Through grief, through disappointment, through illness, through triumph. I can handle it.
I finally get all the hype about this race! The #unitednychalf was so cold, I had a ton of technical difficulties, I didn't think I was going to make it past mile 3 (for real) but wow what an impressive race. Running through Times Square, the never ending crowds and the awe of running through the battery tunnel. What?! Crazy. I didn't have much in the tank (physically and emotionally) so I'm really proud that I finished. 💪 Half marathon #10 complete. 😄
Has technology ever completely failed you during a race? How often do you run without a watch timing you? Have you ever used fitness to get through something difficult?