Oversleeping is not a good way to start race day.
Race day started with a non-alarm. The daylight woke me up just in time to realize that Sh*t! I woke up 45 minutes late! This wasn’t just any race. It was the 40th running of the New York Road Runners Mini – an all-women’s 10k that was a groundbreaker race for allowing women to eventually compete in distance running. Aside from the marathon, it’s probably the only race I will do in NYC this year. It’s been on my race calendar since February. So missing this race due to oversleeping would really suck hard.
I’m not sure how it happened, as I have a specific alarm on my iPhone for “Race Day” and I know I set it because who doesn’t remember setting an alarm for that god-forsaken hour of 4:30 AM?
Anyway, my original plan was to get ready, drive to the train station, and take the train into the city in time to pick up my race bib, stretch, potty, and get the race start at 8 AM. All last year when I was running the 9 NYRR races to get the guaranteed entry for the 2012 ING NYC Marathon, I had my little rituals of eating my banana in the car, bagel on the train, bathroom at Grand Central, and subway up to Central Park. Like clockwork.
So I get up and know there is not 45 minutes to spare. Now I have to decide how to get there…take a late train? Drive? Train? Drive? The internal ramblings of a suburban non-caffinated overslept brain seize me. While my bagel is toasting, I decide to drive and realize I’m just going to have to suck it up and pay up the wazoo to park on the Upper West Side. DANG. Then I start hacking and realize that some allergies and/or cold has taken hold of my lungs overnight. DANG DANG. Then I realize that I forgot to hang my running bras up to dry last night. Now I need to dig out one of my B-squad bras, the ones that work fine but are either a pain to get on or give me uniboob or chaffe in a hideous spot or some other reason they are not on the A-squad. DANG DANG DANG!
I wasn’t going to let the drive, hacking or uniboob stop me. Luckily, I had everything ready (except the bra) the night before and was able to dash out the door, down the highway, into the city, and found a garage on the UWS. The parking attendant said $50 – YEOWZA – but I did not have time to circle the blocks and find another. So I handed him the keys, grabbed my bag, and hoofed it to Central Park.
As I was walking, I had brief nostalgia moment for quiet weekend mornings in the city.
Wait a minute. I lived in Brooklyn. The sidewalks were never this clean.
I arrived at the registration/check in at the Sheep Meadow. I was
a bit a lot winded, being that I jogged about a mile to get there. It was 7:30 AM. PERFECT. I knew I had time to check my bag, use the bathroom, stretch, and get to the starting line, and I’m already warmed up. Things were looking up.
Let me just take this moment to say that New York Road Runners totally GETS the need for the proper amount of potties…
Look Ma, no lines.
They were also cleaner and less stink-bombed than in the co-ed races. Just sayin’.
The start was about 1/4 from the finish, so I had to get moving. I passed the finish chute:
Fun fact: This is also the same finish spot as The Marathon.
And took my place amongst the 6000+ women at the start, in Columbus Circle at the bottom of Central Park West. Yes, you read that right. Six-THOUSAND. Awesome. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had bumped up start corrals. The NYRR places you in a start corral based on your last fastest pace time. I’m now orange, woot! Here’s looking behind me to Columbus Circle…
I like the gal in the purple tank. Fierce.
…and looking in front of me up Central Park West:
I decided to run this race with no music. I fretted about not having “Momma Said Knock You Out” as my super-runner-girl-finish song, but you know, I guess I should just be happy that I got there. I missed Mary and my other running buds. (Holla Mary!) I was still coughing mildly despite a puff from my inhaler. I just wanted to finish and maybe beat my prior PR in the 10k, which was 1:03:something, but I wasn’t even sure I could do it. My mind was starting to do a downward spiral.
Contemplating if it will be Best Race Ever or Worst Race Ever.
Before the Star-Spangled Banner, the NYRR introduced some of the VIP’s and the elite runners. One of them was my absolute favorite running crush, Desiree Davila. If you haven’t heard of her, she came out of nowhere to almost win the 2011 Boston Marathon by two seconds, and is also going to be representin’ the USA in London at the Olympics this summer. What I love about her is that when she runs, she is calm, cool, and collected. She doesn’t even look like she’s exerting herself. She has a kind of underdog aura to her, and who doesn’t love a good underdog?
Anyway, they handed the microphone to her she said, “Run with joy in your heart.” I snapped to attention. Yes, yes. That is why I am here. Forget the late the start and the anxiety and the uniboob and just run.
The start horn sounds, and we are off! It is crowded, but there were no body checks, as was in the Run Like A Mother 5k. Everyone seems to have been in the right start corrals and I didn’t have to weave too much. I crossed the start pads, and clicked the button on my new Garmin 110 (an anniversary present – who needs diamonds? Seriously…they don’t tell you your pace) and head up the street at a fairly fast-for-me clip.
Into the horizon!
There are few things I dislike about running in the streets of of NYC, but one of them is the road hazards. We’re talking potholes, plates, dips, food vendors, and patches. Running the loop road around the park is fine, but those city streets are mean, people. Now when I fall asleep and I’m thinking about the marathon all I can picture is me doing a face plant in front of a news crew. Great.
One of the things I love about running in NYC is that you will see every size, shape, and color of person running the NYRR races. You will see women running in hajibs. You will see old men with crooked bodies sprint past you. You will hear people conversing in an unidentifiable language behind you. You will see a blind person running with a guide volunteer. This race was no different. There really is no place like New York City.
Sorry about my fingers. I wish you could have seen her. Probably about 70, with a long braid and tons of makeup. She probably finished way ahead of me.
There is also nothing like an all-women’s race. The energy is different. It’s difficult to explain, it’s just different. The vibe is one of competitive unity, like, “We’re all in this together, but I’m so going to pass you on the hills.” We ran up Central Park West past the one mile marker, heading to the park entrance at 90th Street. Then, I see a dude in front of me.
There’s a dude in this race!
So I start wondering, is he lost? Did he get swept in the race somehow? Did he decide to bandit the race? He didn’t look like the rebellious type. He didn’t look confused or embarrassed. And unlike the race director who tried to swipe Katherine Switzer’s race number in the 1967 Boston Marathon, he didn’t seem to be bothering anyone, so we ladies just ignored him, and went on with our race. I never saw him again.
The thinking about the Bandit Dude distracted me from this loooooong uphill…
Don’t mind us, we’re just passing through.
I’ve run this course before – the clockwise loop around the park road is the harder direction to run. There are 2 more hard hills to come. It’s getting very humid, and I’m already dripping with sweat. I check my speed, and I’m going a little faster than I’d like, but I’m staying with the pace of the crowd around me. Here comes another hill…
Everybody lean in! (Check out the knee socks in the bottom right. Me want.)
This is where the non-music decision is being questioned, because hills mess with your mind, big time. You start hearing girl-grunts and huffing and puffing and you get to the top and there’s a cathartic release of glee and oh my god I made it and sh*t here comes another one. And then a sweet, sweet downhill.
The Cliffs of Insanity.
After a water stop, I know the biggest hill is coming. You know by now, that I prefer to kill ’em.
Little do they know what lurks around the corner.
Harlem Hill, you are done for.
We reach the 5k marker. 28:05. “Holy crap!” I actually said aloud. I just made a new 5k record for myself. Well, this race is going better than I had planned.
The rest of the race was just me trying not look at my Garmin and to distract myself being that I didn’t have any music. Sometimes I was distracted by other’s music (Whitesnake, anyone?) and sometimes I was distracted by the dudes cheering on their teammates and having awesome signs…
I so badly want to be a Dashing Whippet!
and was often distracted by things like this…
And that was the second tutu of the day.
…and sometimes, (which I found out later) that I snapped a random photo of my leg.
The hazards of sweaty hands.
We rounded the bottom loop of the park, and I snapped this shot. I heart NY.
I will always love running here.
The happy hormones were coursing through me, and the joy was certainly in my heart. But the work wasn’t over. I felt the unwelcome familiar twinge in my right arch and knew the plantar fasciitis was still there, lurking. I decided to ignore it. The crowds got larger and louder…
OK, Blondie, I’m pacing you.
…I find that last bit of oomph and try to make a strong finish, despite the slight uphill.
OK, so Blondie’s got a last-minute kick.
I come into the finish line and into the chute. I look down at my Garmin…
Holy PR, Batman!!
What in da word?? (Quoting my 4-year-old) Did that really say 57:07? Not only a new PR, but a new PR by 6 minutes, and finally breaking one hour! Triple WOOT!! Could this day get any better?
Yes…yes it could. Look who I ran into after I got my medal, water, and bagel:
She’s tiny, strong, and awesome.
Desi Davila was just coming out of the VIP tent with her coach, Kevin Hanson of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project group. If I didn’t catch her now, I’d have to wait in line at the meet-and-greet, which is fine, but just so meet-and-greety. So really having no idea what I would say, I just called out “Desi!” and walked up. She stuck out her hand and I introduced myself as I shook her hand. Another woman that was with them (that I think might have been Kevin Hanson’s wife) said nicely, “You look like you might want a picture.” Oh yes, I babbled. I figured we’d snap a photo and I’d let them be on their way. After the photo, her coach Kevin asked me how the race went. Of course I blurted out, I got a new PR! First time under an hour! Here he is, coaching someone that can run a full marathon in the time it takes me to run a half, and both he and Desi are all like That’s awesome! Way to go! This was a hard course! Ugh, those hills! and I’m like Yeah, all hot and humid like London will be, I suppose.. and I’m thinking, I’m making small talk with one of my running idols! Little did I know that Desi had come in 11th, and I’m guessing that’s not really where she wanted to place that day…she and her coach were so gracious and awesome and nice about me being a babbling fan. So I thanked her for coming to NY to run this race, it was great to have her here. I truly meant it. I hope that I can stalk her in November if she decides to run the marathon.
So, on many levels, one of the Worst Race Starts Ever turned into one of the Best Race Days Ever. Perhaps I should oversleep for every race?
And to wrap it up, here’s me with bling and the buildings and the uniboob looking quite happy and whatnot:
Oh, happy day!
P.S. I got back to my car and only had to pay $22 to park. Like I said, Best Day Ever.
P.S.S. Take the $30 I saved in parking and donate it to my ING NYC Marathon Fundraiser for LitWorld. (Howdya like that logic?). Then you too, will have the Best Race Day Ever.