Another Half Marathon, another day
Last Sunday, I ran the More Fitness Women’s Half Marathon. I had signed up because it was on a Sunday which is my long run day anyway, so I thought why not. I would normally do over 13.1 miles but it would be a race so I’d be going at a speed unattainable in training so it would all even out. I got my race bib at the expo on Saturday and my number was 231! The lowest number yet. Good omen? At least I hoped it was a good omen that I would finish cramp-less or within a decent time, since I was only 2 weeks recovered from my full marathon run (see last post) and although I was walking fine, whenever I ran, I’d immediately get tired or stiffen up!
I woke up that morning very, very tired from the night before’s taiko practice. I had my mate and ended up with a stomachache. This was not going well! But I saw it wasn’t hot out so I would endure. I paid for it, after all! And my number was so good…maybe I would luck out and feel better.
At the race, I was in the first corral…and although I came just ontime, it was pretty empty! The race staff started yelling at us few to move up, but then I was pretty much on the start line! With my stomachache only slightly better, I started becoming legitimately concerned that I would get trampled. The cool thing was I was right near two Ethiopian runners, and Deena, the professional runner! They were warming up and slipped right under the rope after a photo op. I was going to get to watch these elite ladies take off!
After some speeches, including by the lady who ‘hosts’ The Biggest Loser who was also going to run, the race started and I got to follow the flashing lights of the lead vehicle. It was super cool. The ladies didn’t take off super fast so I watched them in front of me until the first turn going north up the park. Then I lost sight but that was totally OK with me. The first bit is a rather easy part of the park and I clocked in my first mile WAY too fast. I realized that and slowed down, since I had a long way to go and they included hills. I had no intention to PR in a 2-loop Central Park race (the same course as the Manhattan Half which I clocked in at 1:39:40, vs. my 1:36:36 PR at NYC Half). But I didn’t want to do too shabby either. I have a slight reputation to keep!
I really enjoyed the first loop as my stomach ache subsided and the park was in full bloom. Although a bunch of people passed me, I really didn’t care because I knew what was sustainable for me. I always try to pick it up later so I really needed to save strength, esp. for mile 9-11.5 when it was the ‘rolling hills’ portion and my legs would already be tired. I saw Fernando at mile 5.5 and was smiling and in a good mood. I saw him again on the other side of the park at around mile 7 for some more encouraging words. Then came Panther Hill, some flat, and then the dreaded hills.
Approaching the part I considered the hardest was a crowd of the women who basically signed up for the race to walk it. I have no problem with this. At least they are participating and doing something! But do they have to be in the way? They took up the whole race course after mile 9 and it was quite annoying. They had been instructed not to walk more than 3 people wide but they didn’t look like they could care less. It means having to run on the outside of the course, and it adds extra steps to an already long run. Plus, people walking along and chatting away carelessly can be a bit moral-dampening for those of us who are basically lapping them but really trying hard to do our best to clock in a good time.
I don’t know how I made it up the big hill, but I did. Then was that short steep bit that kills already hill-beaten leg muscles. Following shortly were the two hills which I always feel are manageable and once I was over those, it was smooth sailing for about a mile. But again, the walkers were really crowding the course. Truly uninspirational. Round I went to the south end of the park and the park volunteers yelled for finishers to stay to the right. So I did. Only to see later when the finisher’s lane approached that I had to change over to the left of the lane. A lady bumped me pretty hard, but she said sorry. I said it was ok, it wasn’t her fault since we were both trying to change lanes which seemed like a ridiculous waste of energy to be weaving in and out of walkers to get closer to the curb. FINALLY the end was in sight and exhausted and deflated as I was, I hoofed it to the end in the best sprint I had left. It wasn’t enough to get it under 1:39:XX which would have been nice. But I ended up settling for 1:39:05 (7’34”).
Yaaay! It was over! It was not too exciting but my long run was done and a lot faster than it normally would have been. I got a lot of Gatorade (I was super thirsty, here comes the warmer weather races where I will have to learn to hydrate a lot more) and a new medal. I even got to get someone to stretch me since I was at least done fast enough that there wasn’t a huge crowd at the finisher’s area. So I guess that’s when my lucky bib number finally gave me some luck. Ha!
My big toe had been feeling a bit weird around the 4th or 5th mile and I had the fleeting thought that it might be being rubbed off but luckily for me, the sensation stopped bothering me as I became more focus and more tired in the race. But once I
spied the foot massage station, a station I normally would never have passed up, I remembered something might be wrong and that it might be time to go home. (We had German guests again!) After briefly talking to a guy who said my age group was dominated by 1:25:XX results, and who also was 94 years old and had peaked when he was 64, running marathons in 3:2X:XX, it was subway time and back home. Low and behold, the big toenail was purple. Not my first time losing the big one, it didn’t bother me until the next day’s revelation that I couldn’t wear closed-toe shoes. A week in flip flops at the office (bah, I resigned anyway!) and it’s still hanging on and less and less painful (but only after a very painful taiko performance yesterday which involved a lot of dancing around in tabi, those traditional Japanese shoes were you shove your big toe in one area and the rest of the toes in another more spacious area). I got in a mile run today with Fernando whose femur has healed and we’re getting back to the normal running schedule this week now that the winter has broken and we are healthy – toenails be damned!
On a sad note, my heart goes out to all those who suffered injury or fear, and even death from the bombings at the Boston Marathon. It was a truly scary moment for everyone and I really hope that we all get some answers about why these people would choose to sabotage such an innocent sporting event where people from all over the country and world come to challenge only themselves, yet selflessly helped those in need in the chaos that ensued, even after all those miles.