I have no idea what all the fuss about January 1st is. I could do without the sparkly dress, the champagne toasts, the ridiculously priced parties, the pressure to find someone to kiss at midnight, and the resolutions….well maybe I don’t mind the sparkles and champagne that much, and now that I have a kissing friend, I’m not so stressed about that either. But seriously, New Years is way too hyped up, in my humble opinion.
This past week I’ve been reveling in the excitement of this year’s New York Marathon, but my thoughts have been focused on next year’s race – the one that I’m going to run, and it occurred to me that now I’m keeping time by my races – the year I ran my first half marathon – the NYRR Queens Half Marathon, the year I ran the Philly Marathon, the year I ran the Detroit Half Marathon, and the year I run the New York Marathon.
(Cue Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”)
Happy New Year! To me anyway.
So what if it still says 2011 on the calendar? With the advent of the new guaranteed entry rules, I must run it next year or lose my guaranteed entry. There’s no fall back option this year. It’s New York or bust. But it’s not like I needed some silly rules to cement my dedication anyway.
Early Sunday morning, I woke up and started this post, but couldn’t finish it. It was taking a dark turn as I expressed fear and doubt about my ability and desire to run the marathon. These fears have been lingering in the back of my mind since November 20th of last year. Nowhere was this more apparent than in my actions.
Though, I tried to maintain a happy and optimistic facade – giving little voice to my fears, I’ve become a little run shy over the past year. I haven’t run a race this year where I just let it all hang out. I’ve held back. I’ve run with friends and family members who hadn’t trained sufficiently, and I *kindly* offered to finish with them. While I was happy to do this, it also allowed me to beg out of pushing myself to the limit. Even when I wasn’t working out, I was eating unhealthy foods and drinking too many glasses of wine, all in the name of needing-a-break, but in the spirit of self-sabotage.
Then Sunday happened.
I got up at 6:30 a.m. Sunday and sat in my apartment watching the television coverage until 11:00 a.m. I teared up as I watched Mary Keitany practically fly ahead of the field and then the sea of runners descend upon the Verrazano. I squealed at the JackRabbit Sports commercial as I saw Ali, and teared up over an Alec Baldwin piece on the marathon posted by Ashley.
Just after 11:00 a.m., I headed out to catch the runners who run like me (a.k.a. not at Olympic speed) and cheer on a friend. I made it to Queens at 12:15 p.m. and hung around mile 13.5 watching Wave 2 and 3 pass the half-way point. From there I went to the Upper East Side, my ‘hood, and watched the eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen minute milers pass by.
But two cheering spots weren’t enough for me, so my friends and I headed over to Mile 24 to catch our friend one last time. His official time was somewhere in the five-hours range and Central Park was insanely packed. It was so packed that I didn’t spot him until he was almost past me, and my other friend had to chase him down to say hi. When I saw these crowds, both on and off the course, I felt relief. I knew it was going to be okay.
I knew that I wasn’t going to be running 26.2 miles alone.
All along I have been stressing out my ability and will to run a marathon, but Sunday made me realize that was not the problem at all. My real fear was that I would be finishing up twenty-six point two miles while the race officials are driving by me every ten minutes asking if I want to quit. Or see the water stations at mile 21 cleaned up before I even reach them and the cheering stations abandoned. I could never imagine running an out-and-back for the last half again and watching people finish a marathon as I just reached the half-way point. And let’s not even talk about walking to the baggage pick-up to see that my bag is one of only about 5 bags left unclaimed. Not that it mattered, ’cause I had just finished a marathon, but for the love-of-sweat, could anything else make one feel like they were a turtle in a half-shell?
When I run other races of shorter distances, these things don’t matter to me. I put my game face on and do my thing. I’m not focused on anything but what’s going on in my race. But when it gets to the marathon distance, all these seemly unimportant things matter to me – as much as each training run and a jungle of bananas. I need my crowds, my cheering fans, my crazy signs, my hoards of runners – even if they aren’t doing it for me, in my head it’s all for me.
However, given my propensity for freaking out and my flair from dramatics, I know that it will not be smooth sailing from here until next November 4th. Instead of wasting a whole year, focusing exclusively on the marathon, I sat down and made a few small goals that I could focus on over the course of the year. I figure eight small goals is a heck of a lot easier to manage than one gianormous goal (that’s a word and I’m making it official now!).
Goal One: Run a NYRR four mile race in under 36 minutes. That’s a nine minute mile pace, and something that I can hold for about 2.5 miles right now, but not much longer. I’m thinking that I’ll sign up for the Gridiron Classic, City Parks Foundation Run, Achilles Hope & Possibility, and Fitness Mind, Body + Spirit Games.
Goal Two: Run two of the NYRR Half Marathons, including Brooklyn. I would like to do one of the summer half’s as part of a training run, and race Brooklyn.
Goal Three: Run Brooklyn in under 2:12, or in 10 minute miles. The Brooklyn race is in the middle of May so I’ve got about 6 months to get there.
Goal Four: Run some races for fun with friends – I’m not sure which races these will be but I’m thinking the 13.1 New York, the Women’s Mini 10K, a Turkey Trot, and The Dash to the Finish Line (I really hope they do this one next year!).
Goal Five: Do 9+1, because if you’ve been counting, I already said I want to run 8 NYRR races next year, so I might as well do one more and get in for 2013 as well.
Goal Six: Run New York. I’m not setting a time goal yet except for faster-than-my-first-marathon, as I’ll wait until after Brooklyn to set my goal time. Until Brooklyn, I will not think about how fast I will or won’t run New York.
Goal Seven: I typically run solo and I love it – most of the time. But running alone is soooo easy. I set the pace, and if I feel like quitting early, there is no one but my ‘pod to convince me otherwise. I’ve already convinced my boyfriend to run with me and I’m going to check out some of the group runs offered in New York. I plan on checking out: RunNYC, JackRabbit Sports, and NYRR group runs.
Goal Eight: Forget goals one through seven and just have fun running.
And that my dear friends, is as close as I will ever get to making a New Year’s Resolution.