In just 27 days, I will be standing in Staten Island, waiting for the 2012 ING NYC Marathon start.YIKES! What will it be like? How will I feel?
I tasted 50% worth of what that might feel like when I stood in Staten Island this weekend for the Staten Island Half-Marathon. With racers all around me, I was anxious for the race to start. After the sound of the ferry-boat horn, we were off… and then there would be no turning back. Once I start a race, I know I will do everything I can so that I finish.
Believe it or not, getting to that race starting point was really half the battle. The night before, I left my keys at work – irretrievably. By the time I got into my home, it was well after midnight and past my bedtime for the night before a race. AND, the anxiety then began. I woke up the next morning at 4 a.m. so that I could eat a hearty breakfast and make it to the 6:30 a.m. Ferry from Whitehall Street in Manhattan to Staten Island. I was tired, groggy and I’ll admit, a grumpy monkey.
I love and hate watching the mass exodus of runners heading to the start of a race. I can’t explain, but I relish in the excitement of joining all the runners while anticipate the start of the race at the same time with apprehension. Also, seeing all the runners, I feel like I’m a spectator among Olympians. Basically, I am always fighting the feeling that I am out of my league.
Once I made it off the ferry, nerves took me right to the restroom. I wasn’t sure if it was because I drank enough water to get me through a few days in the desert or because of the nerves. Perhaps a combination of both! I suspected mainly because I drank too much water. I am not running in the summer heat anymore; so my hydrated body doesn’t need to drink that much water before a race. (Noted)
A few more things hit me once I reached the bag check. It looked like rain. Bag check had no cover, which meant that all the contents of my bag were going to be soaked in a heartbeat if the rain started to come down. I also noticed that I was incredibly cold in my running outfit. I hadn’t packed a change of dry (warm) clothes. I was not prepared for a cold run. (Noted)
FINALLY, I ran into a few of my American Cancer Society DetermiNation teammates. I hate a great time conversing with Charlie and Stephanie (brother and sister). They made me laugh, smile and feel at ease. Charlie told me a story from our coach from the first time he did a marathon. Coach Ramon told Charlie to quit standing around and doing nothing before a race. He said that if there was nothing better to do, go stand in line to use the restroom. He said, after you use the restroom, go to the back of the line and wait to use the rest room again. We laughed and laughed as Charlie told the story (trust me, it was funnier coming from him). Even though I was chuckling, I immediately got into the bathroom line at the end of his story. Guess what – twice! Who knew how relevant this story would be for me on this race day!
After the second wait to use the restroom, it was literally minutes before the start of the race. I had to fight through thousands and thousands of people to get to the back of the line with everyone else wearing a bib in the 9,000’s. Finally, I made it! … and finally the ferry blow horn! … and finally the crowd slowly moving toward the start! …and finally, the race begins! Half of the battle was over for the Staten Island Half.
So, everything was going smoothly now and I knew I would complete the race. I felt at ease, happy even. Until I hit the second mile and realized that I needed to use the restroom – AGAIN!
Inner monologue: Clearly I am drinking too much water. I am not used to the cool runs where you aren’t sweating so much. I need to adjust my plan… but it’s too late to think about that now, I need a restroom!
So at mile 3, I stopped. There were 4 people in line. I thought how that wasn’t too many people and it would be a wise decision to stop now. I figured as the race went on, the lines would be worse. I thought for sure I would zip in and out. I could not have been more
wrong. It took me nearly 8 minutes to use the restroom. By that time, everyone had passed me and I was literally the absolute last person in the run! Even worse, after mile 3 – there was no such thing as a line to use the restroom. #FAIL! Who knew I would need a “potty plan?” Well, now I am all the wiser!
The New York Road Runners indicated on the race information that they would only be timing for 3 hours. By the time I got to the 10K point of the race (and thankfully passed it), they had begun taking down the timing mat. I resolved that I would not make it in the 3 hours and that I would be okay with that. My goal was simply to complete this race. I didn’t need the “finisher” title. (This is what I told myself, and I believed it.)
But, I’ll be raw with you. I was talking myself out of sadness because I knew I would have no idea what my time would be for this race. I plan to run and run and run and run for the rest of my life. I would really like to know what my official time is for my very first half-marathon ever. Is that too sentimental? Is it too much to ask? I spent almost $100 on a Timex GPS watch, that did not record properly. MapMyRun is so off, now by 3 – 4 miles ahead. And to boot, when I passed the start – the clock was all jumbled – I couldn’t see what number to subtract from the official clock to see what my time was – – but who knew if that clock would even be there by the time I got to the finish.
As I ran, I started passing people. 1, then 2, then a group of 4… I felt strong. I wasn’t too tired. My feet were hurting, but I didn’t care. I kept going. I didn’t want to stop. It started to rain. I started to sing the version of “Singing in the Rain” that my mentor, Dawn, and I sang the last time we ran (and sung) together while in the rain. I was happy. I was thanking the police officers along the way to the finish for guarding the course, thanking the people cheering me on, smiling, happy – euphoric! I really didn’t care about finishing with a time anymore. I was loving my moment in the rain, in Staten Island and on the course. In the very last moments of the race, I had at least half a dozen American Cancer Society DetermiNation teammates and coaches waiting for me and two more of my teammates who hadn’t finished the race yet. The were cheering so passionately for me! The excitement and happiness forced my eyes to well-up in tears! Don’t make me cry! At that point, I turned around a corner down a small hill to the finish – and there was my mentor, Dawn, with a few more teammates cheering me on. Dawn ran with me for a few seconds to encourage me and let me know how proud of me she was and then she encouraged me to press hard to that finish and let me finish that on my own. I was so happy, so overwhelmed.
And guess what, the clock was STILL there! I have my official time. All that worry for nothing, right? So, for today only, I am celebrating my medal and finish for the Staten Island Half-Marathon at 3 hours, 4 minutes and 11 seconds. After today, I have to get back on track and start thinking about the big day – the ING NYC Marathon on November 4th in just 27 short days!
Please feel free to support me and my journey to the ING NYC Marathon by supporting the American Cancer Society through my campaign link here: http://bit.ly/xahndra.