I wish I could say I’m jumping for joy after finishing the Manhattan Half Marathon.
Instead, I’m just here to say I finished. Period.
Ok, maybe feeling joy a bit, since I did finish. Don’t get me wrong. I FINISHED!
But, dammit, I know I could have and should have done better.
Brought up the rear — hey, somebody has to do it, right? I wasn’t dead last, there were many behind me. But I was definitely in that last pack of stragglers. I prefer to look at my placement as a community service to the other runners.
I wanted to throw-up for the entire race. I wanted to quit after mile 2. I had to pee through most of the race (note to self: limit the amount of coffee before a major race).
I carried on an interior dialogue that went something like this: “What the Hell am I doing here?” You’re running a half marathon. Why? Because you set a goal. Well, so much for that. I want to quit. Why? You’re not a quitter. Why start being a quitter now? Good point. I don’t quit. I had this conversation with myself for about three and a half hours. Yeah, 3.5 hours. I was getting tired of hearing myself.
I couldn’t find my stride. I never did, the whole race. It’s as if my muscles never warmed up. I couldn’t even feel my butt. Imagine a globe and all of Asia disappears. I didn’t feel happy like I did when I was running the Long Island Half Marathon eight months ago. I don’t know why, either.
I questioned my training. Truth be told, I could have been better prepared had I been more conscientious. I found a solid six-week training plan. But I took days off when I shouldn’t have. I got lazy. I paid for it.
After awhile, my internal conversation turned to the physical. My feet hurt. My torso wanted to disconnect from my body. My knees felt like disconnecting from my legs. I was cold. I was restricted in my movement because I probably had on too many layers. I also was carrying a heck of a lot more “junk in the trunk” since my last race. (note to self: empty that $%#@&^* trunk). That extra, um, “baggage” made a big difference — my joints took a major and much heavier pounding this time than the last race.
Finally I told myself to forget about what’s hurting and to just move forward. So I did. I tried to remember that I was running on a beautiful sunny (but very cold) day in my favorite place in the world to run. And it really was spectacular. Central Park is amazing. But maybe 5 degrees warmer minus the 20-mph wind would have made a difference. Or not. I don’t know.
The volunteers really made it a little easier for those of us who needed an extra push. Cheering all the way. Some spectators held signs with the phrase “You Can Do It!” and other inspirational messages. Some runners had the phrase “Run Like Hell” emblazoned on the back of their jackets. I trotted behind another woman with my last name for awhile (it was on her shirt).
I cheered my fellow runners. A group of slow runners that was “praying on it” eventually shuffled past me. A couple of walkers passed me. But it was okay, I was racing against myself, I’d wanted to finish better than I had in the LI Half. When it was evident I wouldn’t, just finishing was all I wanted. By now I was dreaming of a nice fat bagel and a hot bath.
I drank frozen water. I slurped slushy Gatorade. I plodded on. I cursed. I sang. I ran.
I finally had enough as I passed mile marker 13. That, my friends, is where the dam broke. I burst into tears, which froze on my face. Yeah, that freakin’ cold. I headed for the finish line. Thank God.
Except it was gone.
Yes, the finish line was nowhere to be seen.
Gotta hand it to the New York Road Runners — they’re one efficient machine. They tore the whole shebang down. So as I’m running to where I think I should be going, I ask one of the guys loading up the finish line apparatus onto a truck “Where…the Hell…is the finish line?”
He pointed forward. Another guy said “you passed it. here’s your time 3:29:00, tell the people in that van.”
So I did. Officially — based on his watch — 3:29:00, though I was so far back in the pack, I didn’t pass the starting line until six minutes after the front of the pack. So my time was about 3:23:00 (ha ha, huge difference). Doesn’t matter anyway. I finished the race. The guy in the van told me because I completed, I can use the race as a marathon qualifier (as if).
But…no bagels. No bananas. No water. Nothing left at the end of the race. Nothing for the slow pokes, maybe the people who need it the most. Everything was gone, put away.
It’s okay. Run faster next time for the rewards at the end. I know now what I need to do to avoid this kind of disappointment in the future. Train better. Be more serious about it. Try harder. No problem.
But I can say I finished.
Yes, I finished the 2014 Manhattan Half Marathon.
I did it.
And I’m quite happy about that.
See you in May on Long Island.