"You know when I was here last?" said an older gentleman today before the Queens Half Marathon started. "The World's Fair in 1964. You weren't even born yet." I nodded my head, impressed that this man who had been around at the World's Fair was running this half marathon with me. I can only wish that I'll have that drive decades from now.
The Queens half marathon debuted a new course today that took us on a pretty scenic route that passed through Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Citifield, the observation towers of the New York Pavilion and the iconic Unisphere.
I can ooh and aah at the gorgeous pictures now that I'm chilling at home with the AC blasting and all the cold water I can drink. But I recall looking at the Unisphere earlier today with dismay on the approach to the 13th mile of the half marathon. We had to run around it and then through what seemed like a very long street to get to the finish line. It is amazing how long a mile seems once you're on your 13th!
The Queens half marathon course was relatively flat and fast, but the heat this morning was absolutely punishing. We started early at 7am and for the first hour it was cloudy, breezy and actually quite nice. An hour later though, it was a different story. The sun came out and started blasting us. At that point, I dredged up my inner perky little cheerleader and pep-talked myself through 13.1 miles in upwards of 85-degree heat. A lot of stuff runs through my mind while running but it's usually random blabber and not words of encouragement. Today though, when every mile felt much longer than usual in the searing heat, I had to continuously affirm myself for an added boost: "You're doing a good job Cel! You're actually sticking with this 10-minute mile pace. I had no idea you could do this, but here you are doing it! You've trained for this, you're well-rested, and you're definitely fueled up. Keep going!!!"
I'd previously already done a 12-mile long run while training so I was confident that my body could handle the distance, and it did in fact withstand it. I never hit a wall and remained cramp-free the entire time. But the heat was a whole other monster to tackle. I stopped at every single fueling station (a million thanks to the organizers who put one on every mile) and grabbed two cups each time—one to sip and another to pour over my head and neck. I had minimal expectations of myself for this half marathon because it was my very first one and temps were too high (Announcers repeatedly said over the loud speaker, "Today is not the day to push for personal bests."). The only goal was to finish, but I estimated I'd do it somewhere in between 2:30 and 2:45. To my surprise, as I hit every mile marker, I found myself hovering around the 10-minute mile pace. And when I reached mile 12 and saw that the time was at 2:12, I started getting giddy. Holy crap, I was gonna do sub-2:30! I, Celine, who had not run a single mile before April 2010 was gonna finish my first half-marathon in under 2:30. I was shocked!
For a lot of serious runners (or just those more naturally gifted and long-legged than myself), this would be a bad run, but I never even dreamt I could do sub 2:30 so I will display it proudly:
With fellow running addicts Phil and Dwayne
Now daydreaming of a 2:15 for my next half marathon, though that's probably an impossible goal since it's only 3 weeks away. Furthermore, the Bronx half takes place during the hellishly hot month of August, and may involve a heck of a lot more hills compared to today's relatively flat course. The 2:15 goal might have to wait until the Staten Island half in October ... but it doesn't hurt to dream!
To close, random thoughts from today that may help for the next half marathon:
- Just ditch the shirt and run in a sports bra. I kept wishing I was wearing less during that steamy run. And the tank top tan line is just not attractive. But what sports bra can I get that won't leave ugly tan lines but won't have me popping out? I'm thinking this yoga top from Shakti might work, though it'll be tough to find in a small and my preferred color, black (White would be cute but after dousing myself with water at station after station, it might turn into something like a wet t-shirt contest).
- Speaking of tan lines, don't forget to use sunscreen next time!
- It's time to invest in Body Glide. Chafing is a b*tch.
- Hydrating like there's no tomorrow the day before the race is a great idea. It made a world of a difference.
- Avoid alcohol at all costs the night before the race. The night before my last 10K, Mitch and I finished a bottle of wine. The next day, by the time we hit the finish line, we were both ready to hurl. This time I made myself skip two birthday celebrations because I've come to realize that I have a complete lack of self-control. I am utterly incapable of having just one drink, so just skip it completely and be rewarded with finishing a race without having to throw up.
- Be vigilant about not getting feet wet. Despite dousing myself in water at every fluid station, I managed to keep my feet dry ... until I hit mile 12 and made eye contact with the guy holding the hose at the misting station. I knew he was gonna blast me straight on, which was fine, but when he did this chick running next to me careened straight into me and stepped into a puddle, drenching my feet completely. By the time we got to the car to change, I had a blister on my heel. Thank god we were done by then. This would've been disastrous at, say, mile 4.
- Add more electronica to the playlist. It turns out I respond better to electronica. Good beat and evokes happy emotions. Robyn's music kept me going on the last stretch (Thank you Patrick for turning me on to her!). Love, love, love the song Dream On, and it totally kept me going for some difficult stretches today.
That's all for me. It's a Saturday in New York but there's no place I'd rather be than tucked in my bed tonight. Party on for me, will you?
Race images via nyrr.org