This whole thing started last fall after a bunch of the women on my team came up short of their goals in NYC. We all decided to give NJ a shot in the spring. As winter went on, people got hurt or decided to do the half instead. I've been gunning for a BQ and felt like I had to do this soon or I was going to drive myself and Loren totally nuts.
This was not the best winter to run through, believe me.
On to the race.
After traffic and shuttle issues, we were lucky enough to be redirected to alternate parking, which happened to be right next to the start.
It was in the 50s and raining a bit. I wasn't too worried about that. I made my way to bag drop and got my outfit ready. I knew I'd be going in shorts, and singlet, arm warmers, toe socks (much to Loren's horror), and most importantly: PIG TAILS. The pig tails thing is a bit of a joke. Several weeks ago, I put my hair in pig tails for a race and ran really well. Then I did it again. Ok, they've brought me 2 PRs. They're staying. I'm not very girlie. I never would have worn pig tails as a kid. Loren's not very girlie either so her putting my hair in pig tails just add to the absurdity. She says I look like I'm running away from an institution. I like to call my pig tails the Amys, one for Amy Sedaris, one for Amy Poehler.
After 2 more trips to the bathroom, I go to line up. They announce a delay in the start. The race ends up being delayed 30 minutes. 30 minutes of just standing there. I also can not find the 3:45 pace group. I'm thrown by this for a little while then just try to let it go. I have my watch ( I dont race with my garmin) and my pace band. I have to run it myself anyway. I start off with my team mate Cenk. With in the first 800m, I can't even see him anymore, he just took off.
I'm around a few other women who are also aiming for 3:45, so we form an informal pace group.
Mile 1 9:12
ok, I wanted to go out easy, not that easy. I told myself it was fine, I'll make it up and there's no need to do it in the first mile.
Mile 2 8:30 better, maybe a bit too fast, I'm between the 3:40 and 3:50 pace groups. Either some one is going too fast or someone is going too slow.
Mile 3 8:28
Mile 4 8:38
I have to pee. I'm sure it'll go away if I dont think about it. I dont remember the last time I stopped in a race to pee. Ok, there's water and a nice row of port-a-johns. If they're no line, I'm going. No line, I stopped. When I came out I was right in the 3:50 pace group. Ok, pick it up a bit to get in front of them.
Mile 5 8:43
Not bad for having a potty break.
During this mile I see Loren and Kelsey and Sandi, the cheering squad. Kelsey, who also coaches FRNY, got up at 3:30am to take the train out here to watch me run. He told me he wanted to be there when I BQ and made it very clear he would not just stand in the ran for just anyone. Gay men.
Mile 6 8:45 First gel
Mile 7 8:31
Mile 8 8:31
Running steady, chipping away at the time. I was a little behind, but not much. Took a salt pill.
Mile 9 8:49
Mile 9 has the only hill in the race. This was the most off pace I got, about a minute. No panic. No trying to make it up in one mile.
Mile 10 8:19
Ok, maybe trying to make up a little.
Mile 11 8:28
We're getting close to the end of the first loop, so all the half marathoners are trying to pick it up and finish strong. I'm trying not to get caught up in it. Gel #2
Mile 12 8:36
On the boardwalk now. It's crowded with spectators and halfers finishing.
Right before mile 13, I see Loren, Kelsey, and Hilary who also made the trip out to watch me and my other team mates race.
Mile 13 8:33
I get under the half way banner and Dave and Rosario, who ran the half are there cheering like mad. What a great feeling.
To be on pace, I should have gone through half way at 1:52:30. I think I went through just over 1:53 so I was still in the ball park.
Now things have thinned out. Now's when it starts I told myself. All the halfers are gone and everyone left is going the distance. I went deep in my head and told myself this is a 13 mile training run. This is what we do in the park, we just go out and run it.
Mile 14 8:27
Mile 15 8:23
There were still a lot of people out on the course even though it felt colder and was still raining. 3 little girls were standing on the side of the road looking for high 5s. Yes, it was going to take a few seconds for me to high 5 them, but ya know what? This weather sucks, they deserve a high 5. As I ran by I said to them, this high 5 means I wanna see YOU out here some day. All 3 of them and their parents went crazy. It was an awesome boost.
mile 16 8:32 took gel #3
Mile 17 8:32
wow, I'm steady. Chipping away at that time.
Mile 18 8:38
I see my crew again, this time the girls who ran the half had joined them. It's a sea of noise. I love it. I toss Loren my unneeded sunglasses I had been wearing anyway.
Mile 19 8:39
I had been telling myself that thing all marathoners tell themselves: at mile 20, I'm gonna GO. I'm gonna run a hard 10k. No wall here thank you very much. And that's what I intended to do.
Mile 20 8:43
Ok, I need to run better than that if I'm going to run a hard 10k. As I rounded the turn on mile 20, I saw something I didn't want to see. Something that actually broke my heart. I saw my pal and person I had run with the most through these horrible winter months and she was walking. I caught up to Rachel and asked her what was up, she mumbles a bit and I just got excited trying to get her to come with me, let's finish this together. Then I hear someone else call my friend. It was Elizabeth who I knew from the Runner's World forums, also fallen off her pace. After a quick introduction, I tried to get them both to come with me. Rachel did for a bit and Elizabeth just yelled GO GET THAT BQ!
Mile 21 8:28
Here comes that hill again
Mile 22 8:52
Yup, that's really feel like a hill when you see it at mile 22. But ya know what, we're almost home and 28 seconds behind. Last gel.
Mile 23 8:39
Mile 24 8:40
I'm working hard, I'm doing math. I'm 48 seconds off. I have to move (point of clarity, I'm 48 off coming under 3:45. To qualify for Boston, I have to be under 3:45:59, so I still have some time) I see Cenk walking. I come up behind him and say I know I dont see you walking! He came with me for a short distance then I was on my own again.
Mile 25 8:30
In the distance I see someone in a yellow rain jacket and a hat waving their arms like mad. Then I realize, hey, that's Loren. I have never seen her this excited. Because she is too cool for school, she will completely deny how excited she was to see me, but she was. I got choked up a bit when I saw her and started hyperventilating. I threw my water logged visor which had been driving me insane at her and tried to get my breathing under control. I was still a bit behind, I started really moving. She was running on the side walk behind me SCREAMING.
PICK IT UP!!!
YOU LOOK STRONGER THAN ANYONE OUT HERE!!!
and most importantly
STOP LOOKING AT YOUR WATCH!
I couldn't, I was obsessing.
She was telling me I had it. This felt like the longest mile I had ever run.
Mile 26 8:15
It was also the fasted mile of the race.
I was moving as fast as I could. I saw all my boys standing there screaming for me. Of all my years as a Front Runner (my years are going into double digits) this ranks as one of the best moments ever. This right here, this is my team.
I throw my arms in the air and scream to the crowd I'M GOING TO BOSTON!!!
I go under the banner that says finish. But guess what? It's not the finish. Oh crap. WHERE IS THE FINISH! Did I start celebrating too soon? I high tail it to the REAL finish.
.2 1:25 7:05 pace. Can that be right? Man, I must really scared myself.
Finish time by my watch 3:44:57
A negative split.
A PR by over 8 minutes.
Most importantly, a Boston Qualifying time.
And you know what? Not one person passed me on the 2nd loop. Not one.
I stood in the chute for a minute trying to pull it together. A few people asked me if I was ok. I said I was. I got my medal. Loren came running over to me and I waited for Cenk to finish, I knew he wasn't far behind. As he crossed the finish line, I was there and gave him the biggest hug I could.
It was pouring. We made our way back to the bag drop where I was greeted by team mates chanting my name, it was amazing.
I dont think I could have put together a better race for myself. I'm still in shock.
For all of you that have been following my blog all these months, thanks for reading and thanks for your support.
RWOL girls, you are a really special group. I can't wait to see you in Boston.
FRNY my 2nd family, with all the good and bad things a family brings :)
Kelsey, thank you for being my friend and my coach and for standing out in the rain.
And mostly Loren, well, I guess you're ok too.