Sunday, March 25, 2012

The "Woo" You Can Do

Well then. We haven't properly regrouped, now have we? I ran my 5th Half Marathon last week. It was my first race since last year's little setback, so although I had certainly completed these races before, I was a bit nervous about it. Luckily, I had my ever-supportive parents in for the weekend to feed me, keep me calm, and lead the cheering squad.

My parents arrived at my flat [I have Notting Hill on in the background, so I've decided to use British terminology whenever possible] Saturday afternoon. I had a full day of stretching, relaxing and furniture reassembly, which was required after a feminist "I don't need no man to assemble my furniture" situation from several weeks prior had turned awry. Only a father can fix the fall-out from something like this. Lesson learned.

That evening, my aunt and uncle, and I went out for a lovely little Italian dinner to carbo-load before the big day. I had spaghetti. It was very nice.

The next morning, I was up bright and early at 5 am to eat, stretch, and prepare so that I could arrive in Central Park by 6:45 am. Although the race was scheduled for 7:30, it was important to arrive early because it was such a large race so it is crucial to find your designated "corral" and then get in line for the port-o-potty. Not being funny here. Very critical.

This picture is a glimpse of that early morning scene. You can see the numbers which correspond with your bib number which -- in turn -- corresponds with your pace expectancy. I was in the 16,000s (of about 20,000 bib numbers). The start of the race was at the southwest corner of the park near Columbus Circle. For those of you versed in Central Park geography, the corral I was in was on the 72nd Street traverse, probably mid-way. That means I had to walk -- with the crowd -- over a half mile just to get to the start. This took about 25 minutes. Like I said...big race.

I finally crossed the starting line, and we were off! The music was pumping, the crowd was cheering, and I was ready to roll! The first leg of the race was a loop of the park. I was feeling okay, but started a bit fast from adrenaline, and had to remind myself to slooowwww dowwwwwn. Myra and Ken had been given instructions to see me at various points in the race: Mile 1, 5, and 10. They were equipped with strict directions as well as a packet of maps that was -- if I may brag -- glorious.

And because of it, find me they did. All three times!

Here's Mile 1 from their vantage point:
With a close-up:
The model of athleticism
Lookin' good! And so eager! You'll notice I am holding my shirt, which I promptly threw at my Mom's head. Immediately upon release I regretted it. My god, it is only 40 degrees. I am pumping with adrenaline. I am not actually warm. Damnnnnnn. Oh well.

Miles 2-6 in the park remained rather uneventful except for a bit of nagging pain in the foot and ankle that had been injured. Yikes. Thinking a lot of that was in my head....but let's file it away and ensure I keep stretching and icing, shall we?

And then we left the park and ran down 7th Avenue. And it
So amazing. I was grinning like a freaking idiot and running fast as the WIND!! It was really, really, really cool. Can't stress that enough. Miles and 7 and 8 flew by in a blur of music, noise, and Times Square looking -- for once -- not like the hell hole I usually despise. We should always just have an open road with people running it would be so much better.

Ironically, since my bib was on my aforementioned long sleeve shirt, the race photographers were unable to catelog pics of me away for future purchase. BUT I did find one! And I illegally downloaded it. It's a bit stretched, so bear with me:
Yep. The one photo of me from the race is me sauntering with a cell phone. Classic. The sheer power and grace of MeriG as an athlete can not be underestimated.

We banged a right down 42nd Street and powered through to the river. I was gettin' a little tired, but I had myself some Gu and Gatorade and manned up. Like a champ. I knew my time was pretty consistent, so I was just trying to keep it around 9:30. We then ran South down the Westside highway. I got a little boost during that stretch, because I knew I was seein' Mom and Dad at Mile 10. And see them I did. Try to see if you can guess if I was happy or sad to see them:

The hand you see is my Mom's. She is holding up a Red Sox sweatshirt because she's a god damn gem. Ken was capturing the moment like a serious sports photog. It was fantastic.

Want to see a close-up? You might feel indifferent, but here. I will show you:

Clearly depressed.

That powered me through for a couple of miles. We then entered the tunnel under Battery Park and spent almost the last mile in a tunnel. It was a little bizarre, to be honest. I did learn, however, that there may be no cooler "wooooo!" than the woo you can do in a tunnel during a Half Marathon. "Woooooo!!!"

The last tenth of a mile we had a little excitement. As you remember, I had taken off my long sleeved shirt. I had the foresight to unpin my race number and had stuck it in my SpiBelt (i.e. fanny pack) before throwing the sweaty shirt rag at Myra. With 200 yards to go, I was border-line accosted by a race volunteer who demanded to see my Bib. I guess a lot of people tried to jump in, so they were being super strict. While running at top speed, I managed to unzip my fanny pack and show the bib to her. All very dramatic. In the retelling I will say we had a fight a la Katniss and that other girl by the Cornucopia. You know what I'm sayin'.

I finished the race at 2:03:07. A PR by exactly 5 minutes. Five full minutes! My average pace was 9:24, which I think was plenty respectable! I was really, really pleased with my time and really pleased by the race itself! It was varied, there was a great crowd, the NYRR always put on a well-organized show, there were musical performances on the side, and I honestly really had fun running it.

After a -- relatively annoying -- series of corrals at the finish where we procured medals, food, and drink, I found my parents:
My Mom is holding my eaten apple core because I could tell her to hold anything and she would do it for me. "Hold this live grenade, Mom." "Ok!"

And here is one of my favorite photos of the three of us ever:

I am proud of myself for this race, and -- like I said -- I had a great time. But more than anything I was so happy to have had my parents there to support me. Although I would have done it if they weren't definitely wouldn't have been as comfortable, successful and -- frankly -- meaningful. My personal cheering squad served as my photographers, my garbage disposals, and my personal valets. I made them run all over creation. And they did it with a smile. They are the champs in this situation.

I mean, I ran 13.1 miles. Let's not forget that. But they too are pretty amazing. Love you, Mom and Dad!!


  1. How great, Meredith! I enjoy getting inspired by you to do better for myself! I will be following your blog!
    Eileen Loring

  2. Love the photos! Especially the cell phone one. Congrats on finishing the race! Having an injury that would stop me from running is my worst nightmare.