18 Miles: 3 Loops, Steady Hills, and Burning Thighs

I woke up at 4:30 am to get ready for the 18 mile tune up that started in 3 short hours. I did something I never do on race day... I drank coffee that morning. Now I will add that I made sure to drink extra water too, but I knew this was a long race and I wanted to make sure I was going to go to the bathroom prior to start time. I planned on meeting the Team For Kids group at 6:30am for stretching and warm up close to the start line, so I got my things and was headed to the subway station shortly after 5 am.

Now New Yorkers, I don't have to tell you anything because you already know the weekend trains are the worst. However, for those outside of this city, I will enlighten you that if you want to go anywhere on the weekend, it's a hassle. So I got on the Q headed for Canal St., switched to the 6 train, and at around 6:15 am I was walking toward the park. I went to the bathroom as soon as I got there (YAY coffee) and met my team. We stretched and got our heads in the right place. 

If you've never participated in this specific race, it's a doozie. 3 loops around Central Park and each time it feels as though those hills get longer and are much more elevated than the previous loop. I was very lucky that my mentor, Craig, was already strategizing how we should tackle this course. We decided to go out slow at a 10-10:30 pace to get "warmed up" for the first loop. After that, evaluate how we feel for the second loop and increase our time. We hoped to increase our speed each loop so that our last loop was intentional "marathon pace" and our fastest loop. 

Well as life goes, things didn't go as planned. The first loop was a success and for once I didn't start out a race too fast! This was a huge accomplishment for me because during last year's marathon, this did me in. However, as we got to our second loop, I was feeling so good, I was booking it! I was nearly sprinting up hills, flying down the long stretches, and felt so strong during the in betweens. Well those feelings caught up with me at Mile 14 where things got messy.

One of my biggest fears happened. I had to stop to go pee! Luckily there was not a line and I didn't lose much time. However, it mentally threw me off of my game. My legs started cramping and my muscles felt so tight, I never thought I'd get to the end. I lost my running buddy in the chaos and the humidity (it was 82% that day!) was starting to overwhelm me. It was a miracle that somehow Craig and I got back together and he kept me pushing, shuffling my heavy legs that felt like concrete to end the race on a high note. As we passed Mile 17, it hit me how close we were. Somehow we picked up our pace and finished, sprinting to the finish line with our hands raised in excitement. 

 
 

Y'all every race isn't going to go perfect, but I tried some new things, I learned some new strategies, and even accomplished things I typically struggle with. It's all in the journey.. 

New things I tried during or after this race: