Friday, March 28, 2014

race recap: nyc half and the time i almost pooped my pants at mile 12 because i make poor choices

Half marathon #12 in the books!

j2 and I drove down to Queens after work on Friday (March 14th). The plan on Saturday morning was to hit the race expo, and then to meet Natalie and Lori to eat. First up: the expo. I've never run the NYC half before, and for some reason I just assumed the expo would be just a huge and crowded as the one for the Marathon. It was in a much smaller location, with fewer booths, but it was definitely just as crowded. Just as we were about to walk out, someone at the Skechers booth told us that Meb was on our way and that the line was short if we wanted to wait. Sure, why not, right?

After finishing up at the expo, it was time for some lunch. We met up with Lori and Natalie, and made our way into the village for some lunch. Every visit back to New York is always a juggling act of trying to see as many people as possible in a short amount of time. After the expo, j2 and I made our way back to Queens to eat some dinner, watch some tv, and (hopefully) to get a good night's sleep. I ate some pasta, some bread and like an idiot, a couple slices of pizza. After running dozens of races, and knowing that I have a fairly sensitive race-day stomach, you'd think I would have learned my lesson by now. Nooope. I definitely paid for that mistake later on in the day.

Early Sunday morning my dad drove me and j2 into the city. The original plan was for my family to spectate, especially since they missed me on the marathon route, but one by one that all gave some excuse to get out of it. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed. Luckily, j2 is the best and he still wanted to catch me out on the race course. We walked me to the entrance of Central Park and he made his way down to mile 7 to wait for me.

Luckily, I was able to meet up with Meggie at the start. Meggie is a friend of mine who is on the New York City LUNA Chix run team, and also ran the NYC marathon this past November. We met at the corral and spent a good amount of time complaining about how damn cold it was and how we should have gone to brunch instead. I was definitely hoping for temperatures slightly higher than the low 30's. The first five miles of the race took us through Central Park on a counter-clockwise route starting around East 72nd street. I've run through Central Park a few times, most recently during the NYC marathon. I know that there are some tiring hills, though I didn't know at all when to expect them. It was wonderful running with Meggie because she was able to tell me when to expect a hill, and even better, how long it would last! The first couple of miles went by in a blur and all of a sudden, my stomach was hurting.. badly. Meggie had to go to the bathroom as well, so we made a pit stop just after the 5k mat.

mile 1: 10:02
mile 2: 9:40
mile 3: 10:15

I knew that the first half of the race would be the most challenging because of the hills, so I just tried to settle into a comfortable rhythm. It definitely helped to have someone to talk to, it kept my mind off of the fact that I was actually running. I didn't really like running through the park - it was really crowded and I felt as though I spent most of the six miles trying to get around people. Also, my stomach was still bothering me. Stupid pizza. Who eats pizza the night before a half marathon? I'm such an idiot.

mile 4: 10:19
mile 5: 10:17
mile 6: 10:08

I knew that I'd be seeing j2 shortly after exiting the park. And I made my way over to the left side of the road so that I wouldn't miss him. There weren't all that many spectators out for this race, so it was must easier to spot people along the sidelines. Just around mile 7, I spotted j2 and dashed over to give him a quick hug and a kiss. It felt really good to see him and it definitely gave me a little bit of an energy boost for the second half. Also, I have to say that it is pretty awesome to run down the middle of the street through Times Square. It was definitely my favorite part of the race.

I lost Meggie at a water station around mile 8 and I knew that I was on my own for the rest of the race. The course took us down 42nd street to the West Side Highway. It was scenic, but shady and pretty windy at times. I normally don't get chilly while running, but I was definitely cold for this portion of the race. I saw another Louisa, another NYC Luna Chix, around mile 9? 10? And she ran next to me for a little while before wishing me luck and heading off. It was really nice to see another familiar face. It helped to take my mind off the fact that my stomach was gurgling and that I was feeling mighty uncomfortable.

mile 7: 9:47
mile 8: 9:10
mile 9: 9:51
mile 10: 10:15

I passed a couple of porta-potties at mile 12, and my stomach was bothering me so much that I really did consider stopping. But then I told myself it would be ridiculous to stop at mile 12 and that I've dealt with worse cramps than these (at least.. that's what I told myself). And before I knew it, I was in a tunnel. Like, an actual tunnel. It was dark, and creepy, and eerily quiet. I actually tripped once and I was terrified that I'd take a tumble in there. Needless to say I was not a fan. Emerging from the tunnel, I was greeted with what felt like, a pretty severe incline. I just kept telling myself that I was almost done, and once I was done that I could find a goddamned bathroom. I am positive that I spend that last mile convinced that I was actually going to poop my pants (cute, right?)

mile 11: 10:11
mile 12: 9:52
mile 13: 8:59

I crossed the finish line and didn't even glance at my watch because my stomach was hurting somethin' fierce. I maaaayy have yelled to (not AT) a volunteer "WHERE'S THE BATHROOM?" before darting off past baggage claim to the promised land aka a huge row of porta-potties. It was there that I finally managed to glance at my watch:

no, i did NOT take this picture in a porta-potty
HECK YEA! That's a 32 second PR. Not too shabby for my first long race of the year, and my first half marathon in quite a while. Awww yea, running!

Also, a huuuuge thanks to j2, who trekked all the way down to New York to watch me run by for approximately 10 seconds in time square and navigated the city all by himself to be an awesome spectator. I love, love, love, and appreciate that even though he's not a runner, that he's always proud of me for completing a race of any distance. Thanks, boo.

Oh, and no more pizza the night before a race. EVER. Case closed. End of story.

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