I was so pumped up yesterday morning before the Queens half marathon—that was after I had serious second doubts.
The past two weeks were light on training, but I still felt really prepared to run for over 2 hours for a total of 13.1 miles. But after a short weekend (since the race was Sunday) my non-runner friends left reasonable doubts for my craziness.
I was questioned why I would pay to put my muscles out of its misery. Why pay to run when you can run right here outside? Why wake up before the sun rises to chase the morning in a 45-minute car ride away from my home?
But even as I questioned myself, I realized non-runners have a hard time understanding why we runners love what we do.
I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to dress, stretch and gather my race-necessary items. This included lacing up in my new pair of Brooks running sneakers and making sure I had enough GU gels and energy chews.
Side note: I wore a white and silver workout top that I got in JCPenny’s for under $10. I love to splurge on runner clothes from the big-named clothing companies, but sometimes my wallet is not liking the price tag. I was able to buy two tops and two pairs of shorts for $40—what it costs for one pair of leggings from some athletic wear companies.
There were these two ladies dressed in hot pink tops and a zebra print skirt over black shorts that I ran along during the race who I thanked for helping me pace. I kept up with their speed, sometimes passing them, sometimes trailing behind. After the race, they found me and congratulated me for finishing. They complimented my shirt, asking where I got it from. “It was shimmering in the sun the entire time,” one of the women said.
But I digress.
My mom drove me to Queens Flushing Corona Meadows Park for the borough’s first half marathon. I chose to pick up my race packet the day of and was stressed that I would miss the 7:30 deadline. “No exceptions,” the email read.
We got lost once we got near the location and we had to run through the park after we parked to get there. At least I warmed up.
I was able to get my bib and then waited on the huge potter potty line. I was in time to line up for 8, even though we started closer to 8:30.
It was the perfect weather to run. A slight chill was in the fall air, but the sun shone bright and was warm against my face. I felt so strong during the run.
The first mile I was feeling so good, but the next 3 were a bit long. I always feel like after mile 3, something switches in my body and brain and begin to really get in the groove. I ran along small bodies of water with wadding ducks. There were cornfields and lots of greenery. There were jungle gyms filled with kids and soccer fields full of men running and kicking back and forth. There were families having picnics and a couple having a photoshoot with their baby. The mother and child lay out on a picnic blanket as the photographer crouched down. An assistant lied blue, red, white, and yellow balloons to a basket.
The race was on the same land as the iconic 1964’s World’s Fair. I ran past the globe and the high towers that look straight out of “Men in Black” that used to be a ride.
Just before the half marking point of 6.5 miles, we looped back past the starting line and I was able to see my mom cheering me on. I was at 1:22:00 at this time, awesome timing in my book. “Book it!” my mom screamed as I slowed down to refuel.
I am not going to lie, even though I felt like I ran faster and stronger, painless and slightly effortlessly, I did stop for walking breaks waaaayyy more than my first half.
The firs time around was a completed flat course and I only stopped when drinking water and around mile 12 when things got tough.
This course had so many inclines! I ran as hard as I could and every time there was a steep incline, I opted to refuel and walk.
My strategy was just to make it to 6.5 miles. Then I would focus on getting to 10. The last 3 would be nothing. The half way point to mile 10 was decent, periods of walking and feeling strong, but at mile ten I saw a woman down in the near distance. A popthole looking-like part of the cement causing a runner to take a tumble. I saw a volunteer and two other runners helping out, and when I saw the blood, I raced towards her. She tripped and looked like she broke her nose. She seemed a bit out of it, holding her bleeding nose, as the volunteer asked if she had a headache.
I stopped to check on her and see if there was anything I could do. I offered her some gels for electrolytes in case she was feeling woosie. When I knew the ambulance was on it way, I wished a good luck and started running. I felt so bad since she was so close to finishing.
The next mile was a bit tough, but the rest of the race went almost smoothly. I felt good, without any major aches the entire time. Sure my ankles began to feel like rubber, but that was way back at mile 5 and the sensation came and went. I pushed through.
Mile 12 is always a killer. This mile felt never ending and I kept looking out for signs of the finish line. But some runners who had finished, medals dangling proudly from their neck encouraged me to finish strong. I smiled and was so touched by their words of motivation. I always get so emotional, thinking of being so close and reflecting on the accomplishment. I teared up a bit before my tired body had my mind focused on how tired it was.
I came around the bend and saw my mom cheering me on. Then my feet carried me over the finish line. I was aiming for a 2:30:00 time since my first time was 2:42:00. However, I finished at 251:18 at a 13:05 pace per mile. I came in 205 out of 208 finishers in my age group, and came in overall 930.
While this was not my personal best, I have no regrets stopping and helping, plus walking when I needed to.
My stomach did fell a little off afterwards, probably from having chews for the past 2 hours, but I happily munched on my victory everything bagel.
I am now amped up for the next half in October and will aim for a better time.
Thanks for sticking with this long post! I greatly recommend this half marathon for all New Yorkers!
Did you race this weekend?