Coming into the Queens Half Marathon I was extremely nervous, probably more nervous than my first Half Marathon. I was questioning myself, my ability, my preparation. “It’s going to be too hot,” I told myself. “I ran 10miles last week and could not imagine running a step farther, I can’t finish 13 miles!,” is all I kept thinking. Coming out of an injury (and still not 100% recovered), I was questioning whether I SHOULD run the race, if I COULD do it without pain. I expressed my fears to my boyfriend and a close friend, hoping that voicing my fears would help them go away. They both told me the same thing that I was being silly and of course I could finish the course. Looking back on it, I was just being my good ole’ worry-wort self. I was prepared, I was ready and sh*t, I can do anything if I commit to it.
The day before the race was pretty standard, I tried to stick to my standard foods and not shock my stomach too much. Lunch was a veggie burger, multi-grain roll and some marinated veggie salad from Todaro Brothers. For some reason, I felt the urge to take a picture, I love meals with lots of colors:
I was trying to keep my diet to less processed, more natural foods to avoid the risk of any morning stomach irritation, but I did indulge in my one “guilty” pleasure – sugar-free chocolate pudding with blueberries, CoolWhip and sprinkles (everything is better with sprinkles!):
I say “guilty” pleasure because I don’t like to eat “diet” foods (i.e. sugar free), but there’s something about the sugar-free jello that’s just comforting to me every once and a while. In general, though, I don’t believe in diet foods. I am a huge advocate of natural foods, feeding your body the nutrients it means (which includes fats) and allowing “unhealthy” foods in moderation (and by moderation, I eat some kind of candy/cake/ice cream almost everyday, but in small amounts). Anyways, I’m getting off track…
I didn’t run, or really move at all, on Friday and I did an ample amount of stretching. I was asleep by 10:30pm and was awake before my alarm clock went off Saturday morning at 5:30am. I didn’t give myself time to snooze, I got right out of bed and jumped into the shower (to wake up, not clean up!). I then sprayed on some Duane Read brand spray suntan lotion, downed some extra concentrated instant coffee and Vitamin Water Zero, grabbed the bag I had packed the night before (water, fuel belt, peanut butter and jelly sandwich) and was out the door on my way to hail a cab. I got a cab right away off of 2nd ave. I ended up telling the cabby to take me to the 7 train stop at CitiField cause I knew how to get to the race from there. On the cab ride, I caught a nice glimpse of the sunrise along the East River:
I got to the starting line in Corona Park Flushing Meadows by 6:20am. I took the extra time to eat my pre-race breakfast, which consisted of a slice of wheat bread with peanut butter and jam, sprinkled with salt. As I’ve mentioned in the past, although that may not be enough to fill me up for a long run, it’s all my stomach can handle real early. If you’re wondering why I waited until 6:30ish to eat when I was up at 5:30am, it’s because my body digests food pretty quickly so if I had eaten really early I’d be hungry by the race start at 7am, but it wouldn’t give me enough time to eat again. Everyone needs to “trial and error” what works best for their own body for early morning runs and I’ve discovered that eating 30mins before a run works best for me. I then waited in the huge porta-potty lines (NYRR was WELL prepared with lots of porta-potties, but it looked like 90% of at racers were in line!) and snapped some pictures of the surrounding area:
At 6:50 I was promptly in line waiting in the Pink cordial (which I was so overly excited about being in the pink section!). I shot a packet of salt in attempts to fight off dehydration. The race started a little late at 7:15 and then I was off and running!
The run started off smoothly. It was warm, but there was a nice breeze and the heat hadn’t hitten it’s full potential yet. I was expecting this run to be tough for me, so I prepared with a solid playlist to hold my attention and try to get my mind off the miles ahead. After the first 3 miles, I realized I was running faster than expected! I had purposely left my Garmin at home. I wanted to run how I felt – if I had the energy to run fast, I didn’t want to consciously slow down; if I was tired, I wanted to run slowly with out feeling bad about it. For me, not knowing my pace is sometimes for the best. Ignorance is bliss right?? However, I did make a mental note of the time on the board when I started so I could get an estimate of my pace at each mile (where NYRR kindly provides the race time). I wasn’t doing hard math during the race, but I could tell I was running below-10min. miles. I ran my first Half at a 10:10min/mile pace. Recently I have been running at an avg. of 10:30min/mile pace durring my training runs because the heat has been tough on my speed, so this was fast for me! By mile 6 when I realized I was still keeping up my speedy pace, I was a little afraid I’d burn out, but my legs wouldn’t let me slow down. I swear, they had a life of their own! The course was relatively flat, besides a couple of short hills. Every mile I mentally checked off as a separate “win.”
As I passed the 8miler marker and was on my way to mile 9, I was still feeling strong. I was running strong; I was running fast; I was weaving in and out of other runners, pacing people by. It was at that moment as I embarked onto mile 9 that I had the epiphany:
“I AM a runner”
Despite accomplishing one Half Marathon and keeping up a running schedule that included running 4-5 days of the week, I still never actually felt like a “runner.” During the Queens Half, though, I felt it. I felt like a runner. I could feel the strength in my stride and the muscles in my legs propelling me forward.
By the time I reached mile 10, my high had started to dissipate. On top of that the heat was kicking in. I couldn’t stop, though, I had made it this far. “Only 3 wimpy miles to go” I told myself. There was a moment when I considered walking, after all I had previously declared that it was OK if I couldn’t make it and I was using this race merely as a long run. Ha, yeah….if I was being completely honest with myself, the idea of walking part of the race would only really happen if I mysteriously broke a leg mid-run. I’m too stubborn, sometimes it’s a downfall, but on Saturday it was a win. I set out on the last 3 miles of the race, being sure to fully emerge myself in every misting station (have I mentioned I love NYRR for providing mid-race cold showers?).
Somewhere around mile 11 there was a steep, but short, hill that seemed to just be an evil joke. I could see a lot of people stop and get discouraged at the hill (rightfully so!), but I took it as one last challenge – this hill was not going to get the best of me!
The 12mile mark had passed and I was on my way to the finish line. I had planned to make mile 13 my fastest and strongest, but I had unexpectedly kept up my pace the previous 12miles and I didn’t have the energy to push much faster. I was truly dragging as I came up the last leg of the course, but then I saw Dori rounding the Sphere, running strong and in high spirits. Seeing a familiar and happy face gave me a pick-me-up (thanks Dori!). I FINALLY hit the mile 13 mark and with 0.10miles to go I booked it! I crossed the finish line running as fast as possible. I grabbed my post-race water and plum, provide by NYRR, and headed out to find my boyfriend who had kindly got out of bed early on a Saturday morning to meet me :-). I took a few minutes to catch my breath before snagging my sexy post race photo:
I just want to say thank goodness for that hat! It really helped keep the heat of my head and my temperature down. I think I must have gone delusional somewhere durring the run, though, cause I got to tell you I didn’t even really feel the heat. I know it was hot – the thermometer said so, and fellow runners’ post-race Facebook posts confirmed it was hot, but I managed to somehow block out the weather. Maybe I was just so thrilled it was 100 degrees like the weekend before! The mist stations really helped too, those were heavenly.
I later checked my results online and I came in at 2:08:25! That’s about 4min faster than my previous Half Marathon and is an avg. pace of 9:49min/mile. I was ecstatic. Not only did I FINISH the race, I hit a PR. What really made me proud, though, was the fact that I had beat my injury. I didn’t let the fact that I was hurt get me down or stop me. Instead I looked my injury right in the face and told it to “shut up.” OK, maybe that’s not how it went, but I spent a lot of time in Physical Therapy, extra time doing exercises, stretching and treating my body right in order to overcome the pain. The effort paid off and that’s a good feeling 🙂
I wish I could say I was feeling fabulous post-race, but that would be a flat out lie. I spent most of Saturday with an awful stomach pain. At first I thought it was just hunger; I quickly realized that was FALSE. I went to brunch outside at Bistango (LOVE Bistango) and got some delicious eggs with veggies, potatoes and toast. The food tasted great going down, but I didn’t feel well for long. I had serious diarrhea (sorry if this is TMI, but I feel the need to share). Having just run 13miles and needing to refuel and hydrate, this wasn’t the best time to get diarrhea. I wanted to be able to eats lots of yummy foods and enjoy them. Instead, I completely lost any appetite. I did head out to Eataly with the bf to get some gelato (tasty gelato, long line and pricey) and sat in Madison Square park for a bit. Yeah, that $5 small cup of gelato didn’t sit well either, but boy was it tasty going down! I’m not sure what it was, probably a mixture of the heat and running, but my stomach hated me. It didn’t help that the A/C in our living room had broken on Friday night and is not being fixed until Monday. Needless to say I spent a lot of time in the bedroom with the working A/C.
I hate to end on a negative note, because the Queens Half Marathon was such an amazing experience! I feel much better today and one day of stomach pain was worth well worth the accomplishment of the Queens Half.
QUESTION: What did you think of the race? Or how was your weekend runs? Let me live vicariously through you – what yummy things did you eat this weekend or what fun things did you do!?