So as it turns out, running a half marathon is difficult.  Really difficult. Before I rehash the day I got schooled by Harlem hill, let’s rewind to Saturday, when I took the train up to Westchester for my cousin Jack’s christening.

After the service, we headed to a restaurant a few minutes away to celebrate baby Jack.

My nerves were definitely getting the best of me on Saturday, so I drowned my fears with any carbs I could find within arms reach.

While everyone tried to make Jack laugh, my Dad (the terror) managed to get some tears.  Poor kid.

Hanging out with my family was a nice distraction from the impending doom of the next day.

I took the train back in and walked over to one of my high school friend’s apartment, to do a little more carbo loading.  I signed up for the race with 5 of my high school girlfriends, and we had planned to run the race in honor of our old Principal who passed away about a year ago.  We thought running a women’s half marathon together (my HS was all girls) would be an inspiring thing to do in the name of Sister JB.  That is, until they saw me shuffling along with a grimace on my face. Yeah, really inspiring.  Luckily I have superstar friends who run like the wind.

After dinner we rolled ourselves to 16 Handles for some extra sugar.  It was the perfect ending to our meal, that brought us one lucky step closer to developing diabetes.

The best part about running a race? The carbs. The worst part about running a race? The running.

Don’t we look excited!?  I said one last goodnight to New York and collapsed into bed.

Next morning I woke up around 6:00, made myself some coffee and breakfast which was PB and banana on toast.  I gathered up all of my running gear, my bib, tied up my sneaks, and walked over to Meg’s to meet the rest of the girls.

On the walk over to the park, we were all obviously feeling very nervous, but kept ourselves laughing at the ridiculous-ness of what we were about to attempt.  We arrived at Central Park along with thousands of other women, and you could feel the anticipation in the air like soup.  It started to drizzle a little, but then it cleared up!  It ended up being a beautiful sunny day.  A little humid, but not terrible.

Before we knew it, we were off! Within about half a mile in, our group separated, and I ran the majority of the race with Joanie and Katherine (or ‘Kitty,” as labeled on her shirt).

So… the race. The race route was a little more than 2 loops of Central Park (the main loop is 6 miles).  I had been doing training runs in the park, but I had never done a full loop because I typically avoided “Harlem hill,” which is a monster of an incline at the top of the loop.  Smart, Alex.

Let me say that going into it, I knew I could handle at least 7-8 miles without stopping to walk, but the remaining miles made me nervous.  Miles 1-6 went by fairly quickly, with the three of us chatting.  Harlem hill sucked, but that was as expected.  I was still feeling pretty good, trotting up all the hills (ow) but at mile 7, and I hit a wall… hard.  I knew my parents would be watching around mile 8, so I attempted to pick up my spirits to at least fake it when I saw them.  “This is so much fun!” I yelled when I saw them.  Obviously I was joking. Obviously I looked like death.

If it weren’t for Joanie and Katherine, I probably would have stopped to walk much, much earlier, but they kept pulling me along insisting that I had to keep going.  I was in so much pain, and around mile 8, I was ready to puke.  Literally. Uh oh, I thought, this can‘t be good.  I had never experienced feeling physically nauseous during a run, and I knew that was a sign that I was pushing myself too hard.

We hit Harlem around mile 9, and I kept…trying… to keep going, but it wasn’t happening.  Do you know that feeling when you’re standing up, and someone comes behind you and taps the back of your knees so that they buckle? My legs felt like lead/Jell-o, and were buckling at every.single.step.

I tried so hard to keep running, but every time I picked up my pace, I became overwhelmingly nauseous.  Miles 10-13 were a walk/run.

Honestly, I was really disappointed in myself.  I should have trained harder, I should have known.  Better luck next time.

I shuffled my way up to mile 13, and put on a good face as I finished up that last .1.  As I spotted 2 of my speed-demon friends cheering me on at the finish line, I yelled obscenities and pushed my way over the finish line. Thank God.

Post-run with a bouffant. Never looked better.

I was not feeling okay – I think I chugged too many cups of water?  Once I spotted my parents’ faces, I began stumbling over and started sobbing.  It was like I was 5 year old Alex, who had just fallen off her bike and ran to her parents crying.  “That was so hard,” I blubbered.  I think it was a mix of dehydration, exhaustion, pain, and sheer joy that I was done.  Unfortunately this was something slapping a Band-Aid on couldn’t cure.

I found my friends, sat down,  put my head in between my knees and tried to keep everything down. My amazing friends/roomies came to cheer me on, WAY earlier than their normal weekend wake-up times, and I was so grateful for them.  They were there cheering me on around mile 12 where I was a shell of a human, just trying to take one step at a time. Thank you guys for coming, it truly meant the world.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing, eating and drinking.

(pancakes at Parlor Steakhouse on the UES… amazing.)

I had to take it slow when I was eating/drinking, because I was still feeling a little green. I will never taking sitting for granted again.  Walking after sitting for so long at brunch was an interesting experience, and I’m sure putting on real shoes for work is going to be a blaaaaast.  Walking down stairs? Forgetaboutit.

I could not be more proud of all the girls for running this thing.  It was definitely an experience, but running alongside these superwomen inspired me…green-face and all.

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