One of the best parts about this weekend was driving to a place, getting out of my car, and immediately being fed by people that I like a lot. Case in point, when I arrived in NYC on Thursday night this glorious sight awaited me:
Hell. Yes. Emma and Noel are incredible hosts. Even though I’ve only been to visit them in their new apartment twice it already feels like a second home to me! It was so nice just being able to stop by and visit them before the next leg of my journey. They make me love going to New York.
The next day after having fucking pie for breakfast (banana and peanut butter pie, christ almighty do these guys know how to live..) Katie and I hopped in the car and made the drive to Rochester, NY.
Have I mentioned that I really, really love road trips?
I have to be honest this night was kind of fuzzy for me. After driving for six hours and barely sleeping the night before (Maestro was being kind of a prick, the citizens of Washington Heights were shouting obscenities, I had pre-pre-race excitement/jitters) I was a barely functioning human being.
I do know that Katie’s awesome family made us a delicious carb filled meal of pasta, salad, and bread (what can I say? I’m a lucky gal!).
We also picked up our numbers and this is how we felt after all that driving:
And according to this photo, Katie and I went to Wegman’s:
Katie’s Mom: You have to take Chelsea to Wegman’s!
Me: What’s Wegman’s?
Katie’s Mom: (with gravity) Oh…it’s a grocery store.
Wegman’s was spoken of in the same tone of voice that I’ve heard people use when preaching the glories of Wawa. Wawa did not disappoint me, and neither did Wegman’s.
I mean, it looks kind of like a castle and they have a toy train running above the deli meats.
Stop and Shop, what do YOU have?
After our merry Wegman’s adventure we came home, showered, and printed out maps of the course. Much to our dismay we made a chilling discovery:
Look, .16 miles doesn’t seem like much, but I almost rather not know that it was just a LITTLE bit longer than it was supposed to be.
Ah well, you win some you lose some!
After that we attempted to go to bed. I say attempted because going to sleep the night before an early race is like trying to go to sleep on Christmas Eve. I get so excited and nervous! Luckily I was exhausted so I passed right out. I did wake up throughout the night, but it was better than no sleep at all.
THEN IT WAS RACE MORNING.
I am so damn happy Katie was there to go through all the pre-race excitement with me. It’s so much better to have a buddy to share it with.
On the drive to the course it was foggy and about 65 degrees. I was THRILLED. Running in misty, cool weather is clearly the best.
So I thought “pssht, I don’t need to bring my hat or wear sunscreen or basically do ANYTHING to protect myself from the sun!”.
As one of my favorite youtube poops would say: “WRONG!”.
As soon as we got there the sky cleared and the sun said “Hello, Chelsea! I’m here to burn your flesh and make you sad! BAHAHA”. I was not amused. My only hope was that part of the course would be shaded and that being by a great lake we would get some cool breezes. That’s how it works, right?!
No, no, not all.
Katie and I lined up at the start line (after dealing with the mysterious toilets that only flushed when THEY wanted to).
We high fived (it actually took us several attempts to perfect it…), wished each other luck, and BANG! gun! off we went!
I had one big goal for this race and it was to come in under two hours (my most recent half time was 2:01). My reach goal was to come in under 1:50. There was a part of me that thought I had the potential to do even better than that because in June I had a couple of kickass long runs where I had an average pace of 7:20 – 7:45. Granted these distances were between 8 – 10 miles, but still! Just maybe…
I didn’t let these delusions of grandeur get the best of me though because I was nervous for a few reasons:1) the lack of sleep 2) the stiffness from driving the past two days 3) the stupid, stupid sun 4) my kind of piss poor training in July (stupid HEAT).
So I held back at the beginning. To the best of my ability. It is so damned tempting to just book it when the gun goes off. I also decided that I was going to start the race without music. Katie was the one who suggested this and I’m glad she did! I promised myself that if I could do the first 10k without tunes I’d let myself turn them on for the rest of the race.
And I did! I’m also really happy I was able to stay around an eight minute mile for the first five miles. I told myself “If you stay at this pace, you can go faster towards the end if you’re feeling it, BUT ONLY THEN!”.
My god am I grateful I didn’t go any faster than I did because the last few miles of this race were hard. REALLY hard. There was no way I was going to get faster. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Join me in a journey through my mental state…
Miles 1 – 5: the first few miles of a long race are weird. “Well” I think “I guess I’m going to be doing this for awhile. Might as well enjoy not being exhausted while I can.” Mile 4 is always kind of upsetting. You’ve already run a 5k, but you still have, oh, 9 miles to go. HAHA. I put those thoughts out of my head and remembered “I’ll get to play my music soon! And maybe I’ll get a second wind and be able to pick up the pace later on!”. I also tried to enjoy my surroundings.
Miles 6 – 9: These miles were my fastest. Whee! I have music! That means I can kind of dance AND run! Also sports drinks! They are like crack! Thank you lovely aid stations! Let’s kiss a little! Running is fun, yes, yes it is!!! zooooom!
Mile 10: At this aid station I almost contaminated their water supply. Whoops. There was a guy handing out gus (this weird type of gooey running food) and I took one without looking. To my horror it was CHOCOLATE. Who wants chocolate flavored things after they’ve been running for over an hour in the horrible sun?! NOT ME. I had some hope it wouldn’t be TOO awful, but, nope..it was pretty much the worst. So I tried to throw it away in the closest trashcan which turned out to be holding the water for the aid station. A volunteer shouted “NOT A TRASH!” and frantically waved her arms in front of my gu. I recoiled in shame and ran towards the REAL trashcan and tossed it. Phew, close call. I’d feel like a real asshole if I ruined that for the rest of the runners. The rest of this mile was odd. I felt good because I was in the double digits, but I think I underestimated how long the rest of the race would feel.
Mile 11 – 12: This is where I REALLY started dragging. Up until this point I’d been pretty dang consistent. But I slowed down considerably here. I told myself “It’s alright! You’ve got a good buffer for your sub-2 goal so you could coast in with 9, hell, even 10 minute miles and still make it! Let it go!”. Still, I felt bad! I didn’t want to slow down! But I did. These two miles were 8:22 and 8:38. A good compromise actually! I allowed myself to slow down without giving up completely. But still! It was HARD. “Um, how am I going to run a goddamn marathon in December if I’m dragging now?!” “shh, shhhh you will train, shhhh” “BUT BUT” “SHUTUP PUT ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER” “mmk”.
Mile 13: aka the longest 1.2 miles ever. Every step of this last mile I thought “WHERE THE HELL IS THE FINISH LINE”. Also there was this girl who sprinted past me at one point “whatever, I’m going to make my goal, don’t mind her”, but then she started walking only a few feet in front of me! So I picked up the pace and passed her. Then she sprinted by me AGAIN and did the exact same thing. We went back and forth for awhile, but I finally thought I’d passed her for good.
I saw the finish line right as she ran by me again.
OH HELL NO. Not letting THAT happen. So I picked up the pace and raced by her right as I crossed the finish line. I hope she doesn’t think I’m an asshole. But (as a baby would say) SHE STARTED IT.
And with that I had finished my third half marathon. Coming in at 1:46:42.
I could not rip off the bottom of my bib for the life of me. After struggling for a good while the volunteer said “uh, I got it” and did it himself. Sorry, dude. Brain and hands no work after running.
I then staggered towards the hot dogs while waiting for Katie. I had a variety of great conversations with other runners. Everyone was so supportive! “How did your race go? Did you meet your goal?” “Great race out there!”
It was great.
After stuffing my face with meat I stumbled into Lake Ontario getting the closest I’ve ever been to Canada:
The water was ICE cold and felt amazing on my legs. There I also had a semi-coherent conversation with other relieved runners “This is both the best AND worst thing I’ve ever felt! Am I laughing or crying? WHERE AM I?”
Then I waited for Katie to finish. She met her goals, too, and I was so fucking proud of her.
Afterwards we talked about how quickly after a race we think “oh, that wasn’t SO bad, let’s do it again!” even though an hour earlier, at mile 6 or so we were like “Yup, definitely gonna die, why do I do this to myself again? WHY?!”
Because it just feels great.
After we got home we ate some more meat, showered, watched The Shawshank Redemption (BEST MOVIE), and napped. Then I got in my car and drove five hours to my grandparents. The rest of my weekend was just eating everything in sight and hanging out with my Grandma and my dog. Then I drove home to Boston, saw The Dark Knight Rises with Joe, and was a very happy camper. The End.
And tomorrow I start the training cycle for my marathon. Holy. Shit.