April 15, 2011

More Half Recap

As usual, I'm way behind on my blogging. I've completed two races in the last month and the race recaps have been swimming around my brain but I haven't felt like taking the time to write them. So on this Friday morning, hanging at Starshmucks (because I have to be a shmuck to pay this much money for a cup of coffee) staring out the window, I'm finally ready to recap. Since I'm so behind, I had planned to combine my recap of the More Half Marathon and the Scotland 10k into one but the Scotland 10k pictures are still not available from brightroom so that one will have to wait. Because what's a race recap without pictures, right? Any bets on how long it'll take me to write it?

The More Half Marathon. Here we go. The More, an all woman's race, took place in Central Park on April 3rd, 2011. It was the only Half I had planned for the Spring so I actually trained for it. Since the course is two loops of Central Park, my last long run was a 12 miler two weeks prior and I rocked that run. I felt alive, strong and happy just about the entire time; I felt ready and excited. Fast forward to a week before the race and I was a mess. Every time I headed out for a run, I couldn't feel it. My legs wouldn't move and my lungs hurt. Saturday of that weekend, I headed out for a 6 miler. I ran 2 before I walked home feeling defeated and confused. I told myself I'd make it up the following day, and ended up meeting friends Chelsea Mae and Robin for a loop of the park. Only, once again, it felt like torture. I told myself, you just need to warm up and you'll be fine. But as we headed up Cat Hill within the second mile of our run, my chest started hurting, I couldn't breathe and I got lightheaded. I had to sit down.Sit down during a run? That had never happened to me! After trying to go at it again, I told Chelsea and Robyn to continue without me and forced myself to finish that 6 miler just so I could regain my confidence. It was one of the hardest runs I have ever had but I'm happy I finished. I'm still not 100% sure why running that week seemed so impossible to be but I have a feeling it might have had to do with the colder temperatures again since I was having so much trouble breathing. But whatever, it's in the past.

It was no surprise that by the time the race came around, I had no idea what to expect. Would it be as easy as my 12 miler two weeks before? Or would it suck just as much as the 6 just a few days earlier? I woke up, went through my normal race morning routine of coffee in the shower followed by breakfast, stretching and meditation, and headed out to Central Park reminding myself to be optimistic.

Slightly off the topic but, a very cool thing happened on the way to Central Park: someone recognized me. Stopped at a corner waiting for a light, I heard "Excuse me, are you Erica Sara?". Miriam introduced herself as a reader and gave me some pretty wonderful compliments. She was incredible sweet and it seriously made my day to meet her, not because someone recognized me (I'm actually not a big fan of attention), but because she took the time, and put her mother on hold on her cellphone, to be nice to me. In a city where people walk down the street without so much as a glance, let alone a smile, at strangers, it was so nice for her to take a moment to say hi. Shout out to Miriam!!!

Back to the race... I arrived in Central Park, checked in my bag and met up with Katie and Theodora in front of Tavern on the Green to discuss race pacing. Katie was running but not racing this one so she had offered to pace us. We agreed that Katie would pace Theodora for the first loop since she's much faster than I, and then would wait for me at mile 6 and would help me out for the second half. With that, I was off to my coral and waited for the race to start. I stood there, trying to just take in all the great energy around me and looked down to see my 26.2 race bling hanging around my neck. It was a great reminder of all that I had accomplished over the last year and gave me the confidence I needed to start this race with the belief that I would kick ass. And with that, I was off!

The first loop of the park was awesome and I was flying! It felt just like my successful 12 miler and I was confident that I would reach my goal of 2:08. I made my way around the park, looked out for friends who were supposed to be out there cheering and enjoyed the women around me and scenery. I conquered both Cat Hill and Harlem Hill feeling great, as if they were nothing at all. Just after mile 5, I spotted my friend E who was gracious enough to bring my camera to the park to capture some great race moments. For example, the moment when I spotted him

And continued on my way to meet up with Katie at mile 6.  But something happened between mile 5 & 6... I hit a wall of sorts and was spent. Before the race, I assumed that I wouldn't really "need" Katie but would be happy to have her nearby. By the time I reached her, I definitely needed her. The second loop of the park sucked big time. I can honestly say, I don't remember having this much difficulty finishing a race. This felt more difficult than the marathon. I was spent, the hills kicked my tushie and there were points when I didn't think I could finish. Katie stayed by my side, I focused on her feet hitting the ground next to mine and just followed her lead. She was incredible. She reminded me to take my shot bloks in time for the second round of hills and when she saw I was struggling, she told me "You've got this" or "You know you can do this. You've done it before." I can honestly say I couldn't have hoped for a better pacer during this race and I am so grateful to have her as my friend.

I wish I could provide more details but I don't remember much about that second loop except that I wanted to quit but I'm happy I didn't. What I do remember best was seeing E again around mile 11, and then hearing some incredible runner friends cheering for me as I approached the last mile. My friend Steph also ran that day and PRd by 4 minutes! She then headed back to meet up with the crew and they waited for me to finish so we could head to brunch. How lucky am I to know such incredible people? So lucky.
Maura, Ben Bryan (aka the High 5 Guy!), Baker, Matt, Steph & I at brunch after the race.
 I did finish the race at 2:11:28 with a half marathon PR of about 5 minutes so I've been told by my friend Dani I shouldn't complain. And I got to see friends (thanks E for taking shots, Dani for at least trying to see me, Seth for meaning to wake up in time, Lam for volunteering & that cup of water & cheer, Jess for cheering me on as I approached the finish line, Glenn for volunteering & a post race congrats, and the runner crew above) which is always awesome. I just know that I have a lot to work on and am ok with that. Now I'm itching to run another Half so I can reach new goals. Any ideas?

Saved the best for last... some more pictures! Like a said, what's a race recap without pictures? And a slideshow from E's picture below. Enjoy!


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