Friday, December 17, 2010

A Runner's birthday

Reporting live from Cartagena de Indias

A great birthday in twelve steps.

1. Have your brother plan his wedding for the day after your birthday in a kick-ass vacation spot.

2. Wake up and have dad make you a Colombian coffee and arepa breakfast.

3. Go for an easy 5 mile run on the beach.

4. Stretch and have breakfast again.

5. Read, rest, nap, receive happy birthday wishes by phone, email, and social media.

6. Lunch by the beach. Catch of the day: red snapper. Six platters please.

8. Mom-made birthday cake with sparkly flares!

7. Nap, rest, read, and receive more birthday congratulations.

8. A cup of fresh Colombian coffee.

9. Total relaxation on the fifth floor with a view of the old city: swimming pool, sauna, swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, swimming pool.

10. Dinner.

11. More cake!

12. Friday night out in the old city. (Still to come)

The only thing that could have made this day even better would've been for friends to join me tonight, but the commute was an ocean and a handful of countries too long for most. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NYCM Report - Part 3

When I'd grabbed bracelets at the expo I hadn't thought the extra one, turned into a cheering squad bracelet, would be the only one I would end up wearing. But if it had been a choice, I'd have gone with the cheering bracelet. I might have been able to finish my first marathon without adequate pacing, but I wouldn't have reached the finish line without the help of good friends.

Brooklyn cheering got me all the way to the Pulaski bridge going into Long Island City. As I headed towards the bridge, I noticed the half-way point sign. I'd completed a half-marathon! I was halfway there! The clock on the 13.1M sign made no sense to me. I looked down at my watch and realized I'd run this portion at a half-marathon pace even though I'd taken a long port-a-potty break in Greenpoint.


As I headed up the Pulaski bridge I started to feel a little tired. Had I suddenly gotten a ton faster and would be able to have a fantastic finish or was I headed for trouble? On the bridge incline my legs weren't feeling so fresh anymore and the miles ahead started to seem daunting. My stomach was hurting, I had a light headache, and my head was cold. I tried to love the Pulaski as I had on training runs, but the Pulaski wasn't loving me back. To help control the negative thoughts, I focused on my next cheering stop.

At the 14.4 mile point, Kristin and Jenn would be waiting for me with the rest of my shot blocks and snacks for the later part of the run. I'd managed to miss spotting some friends who'd come out to cheer for me in Brooklyn, but these two were unmissable. Standing over their bikes and dressed in hot pink and highlighter yellow, they were jingling cowbells and screaming my name like it was their job. I'd met them at just past mile 6 and Kristin had held on to my hat, so I was able to refill my pockets with goodies and cover up my head again as I approached the Queensboro.

There was only a two-person line at the port-a-potties before the bridge where I'd stopped again hoping for relief before the climb into Manhattan. As the first person was about to go in, a woman in her sixties coming off the course dashed to the front and begged to go in first.

"Sorry, we're all in a hurry and we're all in line" was the response she got.

The woman looked panicky and was squeezing her legs. As she went to move to the back of the line, the guy in front of me waved her in front of him and when another port-a-potty opened up she went in.

While we waited, the guy turned to me almost to dare me to challenge him. I didn't. I'm all for respecting lines in general, but when there's a toilet (or potty) involved I'm all for giving right of way to anyone who demands it. Not only do I not want to risk causing and witnessing an accident happening right at my feet, but it gives me hope that when I end up on the other side of that someone else will let me go first. Because yes, with all this running and racing, there is no doubt in my mind that one of these days that will be me, begging. Fortunately, that day wasn't marathon day and after that stop I headed up into the Queensboro.

I'd run the Queensboro during training runs and had liked it, but on that day the bridge seemed eerie and cool. After the sun and cheering crowds, the bridge provided the opportunity for quiet and peaceful reflection. For me, this meant my mind started going "#*%^$&* What I have gotten into?" Once I'd reach Manhattan I'd still have 10M to go. That's about two more hours of running and I was tired, hungry, and had a headache. I didn't feel like running for two more hours. To make things better, the incline helped me feel like I wasn't even moving forward, so I stopped running.

Walking up the bridge would help me recover so I'd be fresh again once I hit Manhattan. Besides I had friends there! I wanted to see my Reiko & Co who'd be waiting on the other side! And the headache was probably because of the sunglasses! Silly me deciding to wear sunglasses for the first time for he marathon. I'd give the sunglasses to them and my headache would go away. I'd start running once we started going downhill and I'd have an amazing rest of race.

Such was the pep talk that managed to give me enough of a second wind to reach 1st Ave running.

It didn't last. By the time I hit 90th I was slowing down again. I thought I'd be meeting friends there and I was sad. These weren't any friends. They were running buddies, Ragnar teammates, they had Woodstock sitting on a high throne with them, and they had coconut water for me. And they didn't wait for me! They were gone! They didn't care! I was so disappointed not to see them that a few blocks later I was walking. I was still walking when I saw them at 99th St.

They later told me I looked bad and that they were worried for me. That I was shaking my head and just didn't look like myself. I tried to run again for them, but I think it was barely a shuffle and by the time I reached about 116th near mile 19th I was walking again and I'd had enough. I'd had enough of the noise and the crowds. I didn't want people chanting my name. I wanted everyone to leave me alone. And I wanted to put my feet up.

I walked over to the side of the road. A concerned bystander asked me if I was ok. I told her I needed to adjust my socks. I sat on the curb and took my shoes off while I thought about my options.

I'd blown my time goal. Not matter how fast I ran, I was not going to make it. Besides, I didn't want to run anymore. I wanted to hop in a cab, go home, and sleep for a long time.

A little kid came over and offered me a bottle of water. I didn't need water since I'd just passed a water stop, but the kid seemed uncomfortable to see me sitting there on the curb. Besides, I wasn't ready to call my friends and tell them to go home. I wasn't hurting. Nothing was broken. Was I really going to throw the towel because my feet were a little tired? No. I was not going to quit. If I wasn't going to quit, then I'd better get moving. This wasn't going to get any easier, the sun was going down, and I had friends waiting for me.

It was time I put my shoes on and start running again, run to them.

To be continued.

Previously on Muy Majo...
Part One
Part Two