I swore off half marathons the day I signed up for the Queens race. I ran it, and my opinion didn’t change. (If you heard me bitching about how I’d never run an absurd distance like 13.1 miles again some time after August 2011, I wasn’t lying or trying to get your attention. I really, truly meant it.)
Come November, I was feeling a lot more confident about my running though. I hadn’t dealt with an injury in a while (whereas the Queens half was marred by a curious case of piriformis syndrome – the most literal pain in the ass I’ve ever incurred), and since the summer, I was feeling generally strong.
It was around that time that Noah signed up for the race. Naturally, I signed up too.
OK, so I fast forwarded a bit. That’s us after the race; happier than I ever could have imagined myself after running half a marathon up the notorious hills of Central Park, in a snow storm that seemed to peak just in time for the event.
I should throw this out there now, because you’re bound to find out sooner or later. I’m not a fast runner. I don’t and never have run for speed. I don’t have a Garmin or other shmancy watch. I prefer to be unaware of how far my legs have carried me and how quickly they’ve done it. What I do love is picking a destination in Manhattan, running to it, and then running home – stopping off at Starbucks for a skim latte on the way. It’s like this little ritual with myself that I’ve come to love, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. You probably clicked on this blog because you wanted to read about the Manhattan half marathon, and instead you’ve stumbled upon my stream of conscious musings. I guess that’s because the morning of the race, January 21st, wasn’t all that dramatic.
Knowing that the weather would probably not be 70 and sunny, I stopped by Paragon Sports on my way home from work. (My office is in Union Square, conveniently sandwiched by running stores galore.) I picked up water resistant threads to get me through the race relatively dry. (Another confession: Besides my bedazzled 180s ear warmers, my running outfits of choice are usually made up of old, ripped leggings and stained t-shirts.) In other words, I needed to snow-proof myself badly if I was going to get through this race without catching pneumonia.
I wound up choosing this Asics zip-up (sale!), which totally did the trick, and a pair of Nike fleece-lined leggings in purple, since they only had black ones left in XL. I was setting myself up to look like one of the California Raisins, but at least I’d be the driest raisin there ever was.
See, purple leggings. I’m judging, so you can too.
Moving on, I can’t even describe how happy I was that I participated in and completed this race. There was an incredible and indescribable vibe being out there among all the other idiot runners. I think they call it misery, but to me, it was pure elation.
The first loop of Central Park went by in a flash. I hardly noticed the daunting hills of the Northwest side, and before I knew it, I was passing the reservoir, then the start line, and then the 72nd street park entrance. At that point, there was only one lap to go – a loop I had run a million times before.
With Noah by my side (the plan was for Noah to break off after the first lap, but with conditions as they were, he decided to run the entire race with me), we headed north again, this time the snow pelting us in the face worse than before. His eyelashes were white; I had icicles in my hair; my tear drops were frozen. It was all really attractive.
But as soon as we started to veer west toward the once-dreaded Harlem hill, I knew I was home-free. Nine miles came sooner than they ever had before, believe it or not. And while sure, there were still four miles of ground to cover, well, it was just four miles.
To the sound of The Beatles, the snow fell angelically all around us. It was like running a race in a snow globe; Mother Nature’s version of glitter.