I'm used to running smaller, more obscure races that no one knows about unless I happen to mention them. Now, I had all these people at work and in my writing group and at my pool coming up to me and asking if I was excited, what my goal time was . . . all sorts of questions. While I certainly know that they're just trying to be supportive, it felt like more and more pressure! What if I didn't make my goal time or something terrible happened and I didn't even finish. I would have to tell all these people! Never mind my coach, who clearly had a goal time in mind, even if he hadn't told me what it was. Heck, I had a goal time in mind, and disappointing myself was the worst feeling of all. But I also tend to have high expectations, so disappointing myself was also a very likely possibility. (More great planning on my part, I know.)
To make what's already a long story . . . less long, I'll just say that the race started, and I ran. Here's an approximation of what I recall thinking along various miles of the course:
Miles 1-2: I cannot believe I'm going to have to do mental math at every mile. I passed mile 1 at 11:45, so minus the 3-ish minutes it too me to cross the start line. . . . The clock did say 11:45, right? And not 12:45? Guys are so lucky, being able to just pee off this bridge. Ew it's on the ground! I'm stepping in it! I think it splashed my calf! Oh my god, if I see another obviously uninjured person walking, I might punch them. Seriously, if you wanted to walk the race, you should have started in the last wave, not up here with all of us.
Miles 3-7: Geez there are a lot of Hispanic people in Brooklyn. And I thought this would be one of the emptier sections of the route. I should not have brought my iPod. Oh look, there's . . . what's her name? E__'s friend? Argh! "Hey green hat girl!" She didn't hear me. Oh well. Yikes! Sewer grate! Why do people insist on running in pairs? It's hard enough to dodge around all the single runners. This should be outlawed. Oh look it's Ju___ and Ma___! Hi guys!
Miles 7-8: Okay, somewhere in here I'm supposed to see R___ and my aunt. What was the name of the cross-street I gave them? Degraw? Delancey? I knew I should have memorized the directions I wrote them better. It was something with a D. . . . If my Garmin was working, I know it's at mile 7.8. Grrr. Okay, it's almost mile 8; I think I'm supposed to skip this water stop. Oh look there they are! Oh my gosh, my aunt has her camera out! Hi!
Miles 9-12: Am I running fast enough? I don't think I'm down to 7:30s yet. Was I even supposed to run 7:30s to make my the half marathon time J___ set for me? What's 1:38 divided by 13? I guess if you times it by 60 and add 38. . . . I can't do this. My half marathon PR was basically 1:30 and that was sub-7s, so my splits for this must be slower than 7:30 per mile, because 8 minutes divided by 13 is not 30 seconds a mile. Or something. Shoot the Gu! Well, guess I can just take it now. Where's the next water stop? Oh ew, this stuff is so disgusting. After this race I must find an alternative. Ugh, it's so slimy in my mouth. Swallow, swallow. . . .
Mile 13: Oh no. I think I'm getting my period. Yep, this is definitely happening. Well, at least I feel better about almost crying this morning.
Miles 14-15: That guy said "Mile 15" back at the water station, but I didn't see a mile marker or a clock. Did I just miss them? I wonder if E___ made it out here in time to see me. It would be a miracle if I can spot her among all these people. I don't remember this section being so crowded when I cheered before! Oh look, there's the 15 mile marker. I knew I didn't miss it. Lord this bridge is long. And cold. And windy. Is the sun really not going to come out for the rest of the race?
Mile 16: Holy crap that is a lot of people. Please, please don't let blood drip down my leg. Please.
Mile 17-18: So this is when I'm supposed to hit the wall, right? I feel pretty okay. Shoot that was a mile marker, wasn't it. Guess I'll just do my minute of "pickup" now. I wonder if J___ knows how hard it is to estimate a minute without a watch. There's that lady in the long-sleeved purple shirt again! Am I just going to keep passing her every time I do this pickup minute? Whatever, I'll get her in the end. Re___'s supposed to be somewhere along here . . . there she is! I cannot believe she made me a sign! Oh my gosh and there's Mi___! I totally forgot she lives in NYC. Somehow I associated her with DC, but that's just because she ran the Marine Corps Marathon. Oh wow and there's Ma___! That guy must be her boyfriend. How cool that they came all the way down from CT for this!
Mile 19: R___ and Aunt B___ will be at 117th. 117th . . . 117th . . . 117th . . . just get to 117th. . . . There they are! They made it! Oops, I'm supposed to get water here. Or was it Gatorade? Whatever, I'm already past that. Oh, oh, oh! I got it in my eye! Is my contact still there? I'm blind! Okay, no I'm not. Blink it back. There you go. God it's cold.
Mile 20: The Bronx isn't so empty. There are people up here. GCR is supposed to be up here, I think. I hope I didn't pass them. Why didn't I read that email more closely?
Mile 21: Another bridge. G*!$@&^it. Why am I doing this? Whose idea was this, anyway? What a terrible idea. Hey look, it's T__! I can't believe he's here! Come on, try to smile. He knows you're tired.
Mile 22: There are R___ and Aunt B___! Sheesh, she's still go her camera. You have to smile. Now. You're supposed to be having fun. That's what R___ told you last night: have fun. Fun, fun, fun.
Mile 23-25: Oh my God my legs hurt. I swear they did not hurt like this last time. Are they even moving very fast? Why are people passing me? This is supposed to be my glory time! I'm supposed to be passing other people! What is wrong with me? Don't walk. Walking is not allowed. If you walk, you'll never start running again. It's almost over. Just a few more miles. You can do this. You could run 4 miles in your sleep. Just 4 more. Come on.
Mile 25-26: Okay, you can pick it up for one mile. One. Single. Mile. Look at all these people cheering. This is supposed to be motivating. I don't even care. I'm not smiling for them. It hurts so bad. Why can't I go any faster? Where are my legs? Why does this hurt so much?
Mile .2: Is that the finish line? No, that can't be it. There'll be an arch and stuff. But I thought it was at the top of this hill! Why are we still running? Oh my god, that girl just flew by you. You suck. You aren't even moving your legs. There it is. Right there. You're almost there. 3:21-something. God you're the worst. Not even close to 3:15. Whatever, it'll be a PR as long as you don't stop. Just get there.
As it turns out, I don't care much about crowds. Seeing people I know is important; knowing that R___ and my aunt would be at specific miles looking for me was really helpful, because it gave me something to look forward to, to "run toward." And seeing other people along the way was a real boost, too. But big generic crowds? By the end I barely noticed them.
And no, I didn't make my "secret" goal of a 3:15 marathon, but I did get a personal best, beating my 2009 marathon time by about 2 minutes. Apparently I also fell into the 60-second window of time my coach J___ predicted for me, so I can't really be ashamed of my race . . . at all.
I'll just have to put in more work before the next race.
For whoever is interested, here are the race results:
Male Overall: 2:08:24
Female Overall: 2:25:07
Female 25-29 (my age group: 2:44:19
Age Group Place
Here are my splits (which I have to admit are amazingly consistent):
| 0:23:57|| 0:46:41|