Leading up to race day I’m not going to lie I was nervous. This training season had been WAY different than my summer/fall training season. Last year I was running 30-40 miles weekly
strength training, and eating whatever I wanted (giving into the “myth” of carb loading). I was lean, and felt pretty great. Come December (after already signing up for two half marathons) I decided randomly to prep for a Fitness Bikini Competition.
People thought I was nuts
: training for two completely different goals, but this was not out of character for me. I tend to think I can do it all (hence the Superwoman
nickname). So, I proceeded to lift 5-6 days per week, packing on muscle, and running when my legs would let me. Between the AWFUL winter we had, and my hatred of the dreadmill
, training for my first race in NYC was incredibly challenging. I lost motivation to run, I almost
dropped out of the race and my confidence had just gone way down (running wise). It dropped so much that I could barely get through 4 miles without stopping, which made me even more upset. Then: magic happened. 4 days before the race I set out to run 10 miles. I knew if I could get myself through 10 hilly miles in North Haven, then I would 100% be able to complete 13.1 in NYC. I lucked out with a beautiful Spring day and not only ran 10 miles, but renewed my love for running, and ran faster than I had in months. It’s like something clicked in my head telling me that not only was I completing this race but I was completing it well. I was also surprised that after my longest run since the Fall, I was not very sore and recovered quite quickly. I can thank resistance training for that. Sure my legs have SO MUCH more muscle on them than they did last year, but they are strong. They can handle those miles much better than my legs of the past. This was the most exciting learning experience for me. Not only did I prove everyone wrong who said I couldn’t do both goals, but I was able to do the two things I really loved: running and lifting.
RACE DAY: March 16th, 2014
Yes, I woke up at 3am on race day. Yes, I took the 4:30am train from New Haven to Grand Central. Yes, I was wandering around the city like a lost puppy for a little while BUT I saw a fellow runner and asked to share a cab with him to Central Park where the starting line was. All morning I had planned on walking there to use it as a warm-up mile….but I quickly talked myself out of that when I realized how cold it really was. I know what you’re thinking, “You shared a cab with a complete stranger at 6am in New York City while you were alone?” Yes, simply because the runner community is unlike any other. We are all pretty much the same person: and when you are releasing crazy endorphins like that: we’re usually the happiest of people you will meet.
After chatting in the cab, I soon found out my new running friend was a cop, also from Connecticut. (So for all of you who were worried, worry no more.) Not only did he just begin running a few months ago, but he completed the NYC Full Marathon as his first ever race! I am always inspired by individuals who begin running, complete something as accomplishing as a full marathon, and continue racing. That just shows how contagious this sport really is. Arriving at Central Park was exciting. Just think, 20,000 runners and who knows how many spectators all coming together for this event at 7am on a cold winter day. My luck continued to escalate because there was a HUGE line for security to even get to the start and my wave was about to start in 10 minutes. Luckily my new police officer buddy got us to cut the entire line, I gave him a big hug with good luck and we went our separate ways. Funny how certain people can make such an impact at the most unexpected times. I was grateful!
As I made my way to the start so many emotions were running through me but the one that was taking over them all was determination. I’m the type of person that when I know I need to do something, I do whatever it takes to do it. I decided right then that I knew I was going to finish that race and do it under two hours. I decided that no matter how hard I had to force my legs forward, or how long I had to hold my bladder (LOL) it was going to be done. My wave kept inching forward, and before I knew it we were off.
Running through Central Park was not only beautiful but it gave me time to reflect. I reflected on how far I have come in a year, on past races, and even on past training runs that stuck out in my mind. A year ago I had never run a race (seriously) before yet here I was cruising through New York City running a half-marathon. That factor alone I think is what kept me going throughout the entire race. We made our way through Central Park in its entirety and as we were exiting I was getting exhilarated because the tall skyscrapers were starting to take over. Looking straight ahead was no longer an option. I made sure to slow my pace (just a little!) and enjoy the views that were surrounding me. Running down an empty Times Square was a once in a lifetime experience that I hope to never forget. The crowd was going wild, my music was blasting and even though that was only Mile 7, I already felt accomplished. Feeling what I felt running down 7th Avenue is EXACTLY why I love the sport of running.
We proceeded our route to the West Side Highway and I knew at this point it was pretty much a straight away until the finish and not only that but it was also probably going to be the most challenging part of the course. I have to say all in all I felt completely energized up until Mile 10. I fueled this race with Generation UCAN: a unique carbohydrate known as “SuperStarch” (I will link their website below) and honestly don’t think I would have been able to run without it. GenUCAN has been my savior on ALL of my long runs and races and I would never use any other Goo/energy source as they have messed with my stomach. By Mile 10 I was getting a little fatigued but never as bad as any of my other races where I would fatigue by Mile 6. This factor kept me going. I had already come 10 miles, what’s 3 more right?? Right and with that thought I completed those 3 miles as fast as my legs would take me. The last Mile was through the tunnel, which I was not a huge fan of running in the dark so I think that also sped me up a bit but when that finish line was in sight: it was all business. I pushed my body to the extreme, giving every single drop of effort I had left to get me there. When I saw the clock only said 1:51 thats when I was 1. pumped that I finished within my goal and 2. even more pumped to get my medal! The energy from the volunteers was outstanding and they really made me feel so special giving me my medal and my goodie bag of treats. As I saw other runners reuniting with their families I did wish I had someone there to cheer me on however: since running my last race alone, it is somewhat fulfilling to go on these adventures by myself: knowing I can succeed in anything I want to do. (Plus I had a million messages from my family and friends to look forward to reading on the train home)
March 16th, 2014 was a day I will always remember. Not because I ran 13.1 miles and got a medal, but because I set a goal for myself and although I got off-track in preparing for this goal, I still achieved it. Never give up on your dreams no matter how big or out of reach they may seem. If you think you can- you can!