As blog titles go, this one is pretty amazing one to write. Yesterday I finished my first half marathon – the NYC Half! I had been training since January, figuring it would be a great way to keep me on a regular exercise routine while I was working hard on the book. It turned out that way.
I wasn’t sure what to expect yesterday. Last weekend, my whole lower leg became so inflamed after running just a couple miles that I had to stop. Plus, I had just taken a week off because I strained something in my right calve the weekend prior. I did a lot of stretching, icing, and other rehab kind of stuff over those two weeks, but on Saturday I was a bit dejected unsure whether I was going to finish. I was hoping my recent problems was a result of muscle fatigue having pushed myself hard – but I was mostly expecting to run 3, 4, or 5 miles and have to shut it down.
With 15,000 other runners in pretty tight space, the first few miles were slower than I normally run, but it turned out to be pretty perfect for me to warm-up. I was feeling good 2.5 miles into the race, got a boost from seeing my girlfriend and decided to push myself to meet the second goal I had coming it. First goal was to finish, second goal was to finish in under 2 hours.
The race course was pretty cool. A full loop in central park, plus 2 miles more for a total of 8 miles. Then exiting from the south, it turned down 7th avenue straight into Times Square. Central park is amazing it itself. Then it was even more amazing to run through the middle of nyc streets and right through the heart of the most photographed place in the world (hear that stat recently). The view of Times Square littered with runners ahead of me is an image that is firmly burned into my brain. At this point, I’m right on the line for making it in 2 hours, but the hardest 4 miles are left.
After leaving Times square, the race headed west down 42nd street to the west side highway. Originally I had thought, it would be nice to run by the water, but what I didn’t realize was that it was all concrete. Running on that surface added that extra bit of brutality, and the pounding got so bad there were a couple points where I thought I would have to stop. I didn’t run with music, and was regretting not having something to push me other than myself. At that point, I was struggling to muster up the energy, until I imagine myself like Andy Dufresne in Shawshank crawling through a mile of shit to freedom.
From mile 10.5 to 12, that’s what kept me going. Then as soon as I hit mile 12 it was like a light switch had been flicked. The end was within reach, I was still within reach of meeting 2hrs – but it was going to be close. I held off pushing myself, and I held a bit off too long. I finished in 2hrs and 8 seconds.
There was a twinge of disappointment that lasted a few seconds, before realizing how happy I was that I was even able to finish. From where I was a week or two weeks ago, I was and am really happy. Happy too that it’s over.
For those who didn’t read my earlier blog about the race, I decided to run in support of a charity called “Gift of Life.” Their mission is to find donors for people with Leukemia. Eight years ago my cousin, randomly registered as a potential donor, and last year he saved the life of an 8 year old girl. Inspired by his story, I’ve registered as a potential donor and ran the half marathon to raise money for them. I covered the $1,200 that was my minimum goal and if you’d like to help a great charity, click here.