Although the Trimara Sports Holiday Half Marathon that I ran on Saturday went really well, it wasn’t without its challenges, and at times I felt like it was a doomed race. Allow me to explain. (It’s a long recap, so buckle up!)
I am definitely a Type A person, and I planned every single detail for this race to a point of near obsession. Things first began to go wrong for me on Friday evening. After having eaten an early dinner filled with a thoughtful balance of protein and carbs, I relaxed and digested a bit before eventually heading off to the bedroom at around 8:30 pm to get a really good night’s rest. At this point I laid out all of my race gear which I had packed in a special section of my suitcase (I’m telling you, I’m a crazy person) so that things would be as easy as possible during my 5:30 am wake-up call.
After I laid everything out, I heard my Garmin beep. This was really weird/unusual, so I picked it up and saw that it had somehow gotten turned on in my suitcase, and had been tracking our steps around New York City all day. What’s worse is that it was flashing the dreaded low battery signal, which was so annoying since I had charged it all the way up before leaving my house, and didn’t bring the charger with me since a charge can easily last me a few days. Ahh!!
I had been relying on my Garmin to show me my splits during the race, and the thought of not having it charged up sent me into a panic. Luckily I had a couple of options available to me, and while I thought I might have to go traipsing around the Upper West Side in search of a sporting goods store, I called my aunt and uncle (since we were staying at their apartment) and they told me there was a spare Garmin in their office that I was free to use. Phew!!! I then spent the next hour or so YouTube-ing videos so I could learn how to use that model, and wound up sticking my arm out the window for a while to make sure I could get the watch to pick up the satellites ok. Fun times.
After a while I finally felt comfortable using the watch, and I got into bed about an hour after I had planned to, thinking that all my problems were solved. I should have known there was more to come.
In the morning I woke up on time, dressed in my super fun holiday race attire (a sweater with Santa and his reindeer worn over a typical athletic running top), ate a quick breakfast (Oatmeal squares that I had brought from home and skim milk) and walked down to the Subway. I then got on the C train exactly as planned, and took it all the way downtown to Jay Street in Brooklyn where I would transfer to the R train.
When I got there, I saw this.
Ummmm…what? No R trains running from this stop on weekends? WHYYY?! Since I am not too familiar with the NY Subway system this was enough to send me into (another) panic. Of course there was no one around to ask for instructions either. Perfect. At this point I didn’t know what to do, so I just followed the instructions on the sign and got back on the C train and backtracked about 5 or 6 stops to Canal Street. From this stop it was really unclear where to go, but after looking at a Subway map I realized I had to exit the Canal Street station, walk about 4 blocks, go into a different Canal Street station, and take the R train from there. What a nightmare.
By this point I had added about 45 minutes to my trip, and I was starting to get really nervous about how much time I would have before the race. Once again I was thankful that I am a super crazy planner and was able to still get to the race with a bit of time to spare.
At least my view from the train was a pretty one.
Finally I arrived at the race location, and was happy to find that the lines weren’t too long for bib pickup or porta-potties. The race was only about 500 people, and I was so thankful that I didn’t have to deal with the huge crowds of other races I’ve run since that definitely could have made me late to the start.
The location of the race was really beautiful – it was right on the water and you could see the Manhattan skyline in the background – but it was FREEZING. The wind off the water felt like ice, and it was so hard to concentrate on anything but the cold.
After I pinned on my bib and used the porta-potties, I took a pre-race selfie and decided to text my cheering squad telling them to bring extra gloves and hats since the wind was so cold.
Then a terrible thing happened. My phone died.
I’ve recently been having some problems with my phone’s battery (e.g., it would be at around 30% and then just die), and since I knew I wanted my phone to listen to music during the race I had been super careful all morning not to use up the battery. For example, during all that time on the Subway I didn’t listen to any music or podcasts, I had the brightness turned all the way down, and kept all of my apps closed. It was almost like my paranoia that my battery would die caused it to actually happen.
At this point I was really upset, and I didn’t know if I could actually run the race. That probably sounds super dramatic to some of you, but I have never run without a) something to listen to or b) someone to talk to. I’ve always had Fabio with me at races and I was already worried about not having someone to push me through the tough parts, so then not having any music to listen to really threw me for a loop. I had even made a special “Holiday Half Marathon playlist” and was so excited to listen to it for the first time.
Because of all the hiccups at this point in the race (and it hadn’t even started yet) I was thinking maybe it was a sign I shouldn’t run it. I didn’t know if I could run one mile without music, not to mention 13.1. But then I remembered how far I had come for this, and that all of my friends were coming to cheer me on, and I knew I had to suck it up and do it.
At this point I asked a random guy if I could borrow his phone (awkward) and I called Fabio. Thank GOODNESS I have his phone number memorized. I told him that my phone had died and that I didn’t have any music, and that I would see him at the finish line. I didn’t leave any time for whining or being upset because I knew that would only make things harder. Even having to explain the situation to him made me want to cry, and I was resolved to turn the situation around so I knew I had to just hang up.
From there I just tried to focus on my mental game, and I patiently waited for the race to begin.
Right before we started, the Trimara Sports guys made a few announcements, and then we sang the National Anthem. And by “we sang” I truly mean, we ALL sang it. Because this was such a small race, they didn’t bring anyone in to sing the National Anthem, and the Trimara Sports guy explained that since he was such a terrible singer himself, he would need us all to join in. At first I thought this was kind of silly, but then as I stood in line to start the race and everyone around me started singing the National Anthem, I couldn’t help it. I sang too. I smiled. I got chills. It was great, and was just the boost I needed to start the race.
And then, we were off!
All photos from this point on come from my awesome cheer squad, since I obviously had no phone. Thanks, guys. You truly are the best friends a girl could ask for.
I’ll try to keep my explanation of the actual race brief, since this post is already so lengthy.
The race route was set up as a multiple out-and-back loop. So basically, I ran 3.3 miles south, turned around, ran 3.3 miles north, and then repeated the whole process again for a total of 13.1 miles. At first this set up sort of annoyed me – I like to see different sights when I’m running that far – but it actually was pretty nice because I could break up the run into four manageable 3.3 mile chunks.
The first 3.3 miles were awesome. The sun was shining in my face, the wind was at my back, and I just felt great. I was happily enjoying the run and felt like it was going to be a piece of cake, even without music. My splits during this time were 8:14, 8:18, and 8:20. I knew I was running too fast, but I had heard that it was really windy going the other direction, so I was sort of trying to over-compensate.
When I turned around the first time, I was blown away (literally) by how strong the wind was. It was just ridiculous. It made running soooo much harder, and I started to struggle to keep up my pace. At about halfway through this section I started to get worried, because I was already feeling tired. My splits were 8:32, 8:45, and 8:48. I was still sort of on-target for a PR, but I was starting to get nervous about how much energy running against the wind took out of me.
Unfortunately I was expecting this segment to be as easy as it was the first time around since I knew I would have the wind at my back, but I was already so tired from running against the wind that I just wasn’t feeling great. I was really missing my music at this point, and was thinking how much an up-beat song would have helped me push through. I tried singing some songs in my head (Let it Go, and Something in the Water after a stop at the water station, haha) but it wasn’t totally working. I tried really hard to power through this segment since I knew another windy stretch was coming, but I was just so tired. My splits were 9:15, 8:57, and 9:32. Yikes. I knew a PR was probably not in my future at this point, so my pace definitely slowed down.
On my final turnaround, I just kept trying to tell myself that I just had three miles to go. With each step I took I chanted the words “three more miles” and then changed it to two to one, etc. This helped for a little while, but that darn wind just totally brought me down. I would feel like I was sprinting with all my might and would look down at my Garmin and see that I was going more than 9 minutes per mile. What the heck?! This wind was just so, so annoying, and it was really hard to run directly into it. I have to admit that I stopped to walk a couple of times during this section, and took more time at the water stations than I did during at any other time. My splits were 9:20, 9:52, and 11:15. I know, that last mile is really a killer, but at that point I was so spent and really didn’t think I could push through any more.
Finally I saw the finish line (and my friends!) and I was able to sprint to the end.
My final time was 2:03:30, which is neither my fastest nor my slowest record for this distance. It definitely could have been worse!
In the end I was just proud of myself for sticking with the race, and for powering through the wind without any music. I’m still sort of amazed that I did that, and now I know that I can. Who needs music anyway? 😉
How awesome is my cheer squad by the way?
It was FREEZING cold and I know they were all frozen and numb while cheering for me, and I could not be more grateful for their support. I felt like the luckiest girl alive to have them all there.
I was especially happy to see this guy, who I really missed during the race.
I never realized how much I relied on his encouragement in prior races, and I felt so appreciative of his support. Plus he brought me a sugar cookie shaped like Jack, so I was happy. 🙂
Question of the day: Do you run with or without music?
*Disclaimer: Trimara Sports compensated the cost of my bib for this race, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.*