Exhilarating. One word doesn’t do yesterday justice, but if I had to pick one to sum up my first ever race experience that would be it. After 3 months and 184.5 miles of rigorous training, building up strength, endurance, and mental stamina the day was finally here. On only 3 hours of sleep I ran from start to finish and ran all 13.1 miles in what was my best run yet. It must have been the adrenaline, because I didn’t feel tired or out of breath once, not even up the steep hills in Central Park, which is surprising, because for 4 weeks I’ve had agonizing pains searing through my legs. And if you remember from my earlier post I had a horrible run this past Monday which left me really nervous and upset because I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the race. I did finish though and I finished strong! Plus, I’m not nearly as sore as I have been in the past after my long runs. Well, that’s aside from the 2 massive bloody blisters that popped all over my sneakers (but I didn’t even notice that pain either until I got home and even that’s not getting me down). Amazing!
Adrenaline is a crazy thing. Since picking up my bib number this past Thursday I’ve been as excited as a little kid counting down the days till Disney World. The anticipation just kept building and building and I couldn’t wait. But when I woke up yesterday morning at 5am an interesting thing happened and if I didn’t know better I would say that I was certifiably crazy. One second I was shaking out of nervousness and the next I was buzzing with happiness. I was literally kookoo. Adrenaline is like a drug and it takes over your body forcing it to do things that you’re not telling it to do. My heart was racing, my emotions were erratic and I was happy, nervous, and a bit sad all at the same time. Why sad? Because I didn’t want this experience to end. It was a major milestone for me to run my first race and once it was over I could never have it back. Of course this moment was going to come though and once I was at the start line all my pent-up nervousness disappeared and excitement rushed through my body. Have you ever heard a song that starts off slow and then climaxes? Something about the rhythm propels you into motion and your heart skips a beat and you feel inspired? That’s exactly what I felt at that moment, but there was no music. I knew that I would finish and I knew that it was going to be an amazing run.
Being part of the racing community feels incredible. Racers filled the 6 train on their way uptown and it was so cool to feel connected to a bunch of strangers on a NYC subway. Normally you ride the train and are completely anonymous to everyone else, but yesterday we all were linked together by one thing that we all had in common. All of us, wearing our bib numbers on our shirts and orange tags on our sneakers, carrying the same clear plastic bags for our valuables, fueling up for the run, and on our way to 97th St. were joined for this moment. There were so many of us, that if you were standing on 95th street when we exited the station you would think that it looked like a bunch of ants coming out of a hole.
I must tell you though, I never want to eat another freaking jelly bean again! If you’re not a runner (yet ) I’ll explain… There are food products specifically designed for endurance sports. They contain simple sugars and electrolytes that break down easily, so that you can quickly refuel your muscles when you’re exercising for long periods of time. They come in various forms, such as gummies, gels, drinks, and jelly beans. I prefer the beans, but after 4 packs of them yesterday I never want to even see or smell anything that looks remotely like a jelly bean. Even saying the word is nauseating me now. You would think that being given permission to eat candy would be a great thing, but not after 4 packs of the damn things.
You know what was mind-blowing? Running through the streets in the middle of Time’s Square being cheered on by the people watching on the side. It’s awesome to think that normally cars pile up bumper to bumper with horns honking, but yesterday the streets were closed so that I could run through them! There is no other time that you ever get to see Time’s Square like that. And yesterday I got to do it!
I think that was somewhere around mile 9 or so. There are mile markers telling you how far you’ve run and how much further you have to go and each time I passed one it wasn’t agonizing thinking about how many more I had to go. Actually, it was almost sad to think that every mile meant that it was that much closer to being over. It was exciting too though thinking about crossing the finish line and seeing Roman and my mom’s face. This was my victory run and I really couldn’t believe that I was doing it. At the last 1/4 of a mile stretch I literally sprinted through the finish line and had to hold back my tears. 10 years ago I was on my way to living a life of desperation and torment, and possibly early death, because all that was important to me was being skinny, but here I was now changing what I once thought was going to be my future and creating my own destiny.
I’ve worked harder than I have ever worked at anything to overcome negative thoughts, emotions, and beliefs, and I am so happy to say that today I am close to conquering myself. This training has taught me more about myself than any therapy has. No matter what difficulties I’m faced with I know that I can overcome it. No one really talks about how exercise can be so empowering, but it’s so much more than building physical strength, it builds strength of mind too. If you want to know the formula for building confidence, conviction, determination, and pride, push yourself to your physical limit. Push yourself until you think that you have nothing left in you and then just push a little further. You’ll see that you’re made up of much more than you think. I beg you to do that for yourself, because until you’ve tried it it’s hard to believe, and your life will be forever changed.
It’s one day after the race and I feel confused. I’ve been on a 12 week journey and now that it’s over I don’t know what to do with myself. There’s no running to prepare for and nothing to expect, so I’m feeling a bit out of it today. But you know what, this 12 week journey was only the beginning of a new life for me. I just signed up for the Brooklyn 1/2 marathon in May and I’m seriously contemplating joining a charity for the real deal NYC Marathon in November. If you’re ready to conquer yourself and experience something life-changing I dare you to join me. I promise that you won’t regret it and I will be there with you every step of the way.
P.S. I just want to thank you, Roman for sticking by me. Had we not started doing our Sunday “family runs” in the park with the dogs I would most likely never had entered this race and I wouldn’t have had one of the most amazing experiences of my life. You always have my back and you made my goal your goal too by acting just as excited as I was about this. It’s a special thing to be able to share your life with someone and I wouldn’t be who I am today without you. As I told you yesterday, I feel like I’m living a fairy tale.
P.P.S. Shilpa – I really couldn’t have done this without you either. We had a little role reversal there – you, my client, forced me, your trainer into running. I definitely would not have entered this race without you and I have to seriously thank you for encouraging me through my hard runs and sticking by my side. I still can’t believe that we met only a year and a half ago. I’ve seen how far you’ve come and I am so so so proud of you. This was a victory run for you too and I teared up a little as we were sprinting to the finish not only thinking about myself, but about you too. You deserve only the best in life and you have proven to yourself that you are capable of anything. Good friends are hard to come by and in all sincerity you are a fabulous friend.
** I just want you all to know that as I reread this post I realize that it doesn’t even come close to what I am feeling or what I experienced yesterday. It’s the best I can do to recreate it though…
*** So sorry that there are no pictures, but I can’t find the cord for the camera. These blisters are forcing me to wear only flips flops, so as soon as it stops pouring I’ll go down to Radio Shack and get a replacement