So I did it. No one is surprised right? Well you better not be.
I wandered up to my starting point, at the back, and jiggled my legs about in an attempt to appear organised in my warm up protocol.
1 mile down. Easy. 2 miles check. Loving it. I am cruising. Now where is 3 miles? Turns out the distance between the mile signs were playing tricks on me. I almost gave up on sightings of mile 4, 5 and 6 signage and at this point it was quite clear that with only half of the first lap of Central Park completed, my main obstacle was my doubtful mind. A mile is quite far. So 13. 1 in a row is like.. really far.
I had expected rolling hills throughout, after all I had been warned by people in the know (including the race website), and yet by mile 7 and nearly one full run through of the course, I felt like I had spent most of the first hour freewheeling downhill. I like a bumpy course I think. No flat roads to force me to propel myself. I enjoy the hike uphill because I know it will be closely followed by the inevitable drop at the other side. By mile 8, I was happy as a clam. The legs were on autopilot and I was only occasionally wiping the “glow” from my brow.
By mile 10 I could almost taste victory. But entertaining myself was becoming more tasking with every stride. I had seen a man running barefoot, I had watched oncoming traffic of horse-drawn carriages leaving their stinky mark on my path towards triumph, and I had been lapped by the speedy front runners who look like they have done this before. I am bored and I can distinctly feel a tightening in my legs. I have just over 3 miles to go and I need a better target than simply THE END.
I set my sights on light blue shorts. I noticed light blue at around mile 4 I think. We were similarly paced, her Cambridge-esque light blue kit caught my attention, if only for comfort, as we journeyed together around the Park. So this was the key. Sit behind light blue and then jog past her to roaring cheers (in my head). But now I am at mile 11. She is holding strong and my quads are starting to fail me. I am positive I have sent pulses of information to the muscles indicating my desire to run forward, and yet they are slowing down. I must not stop. It will be the end of me. What I need now is a long winding downhill. What I need now is a cheer from the crowd to encourage me. Tick and tick. Off I go. Pick the feet up, move the legs forward. Let Newton’s gravity do the job and pass my secret opponent. Mile 12 and I am not feeling any love for the sport of running.
I have defeated my arch nemesis (should have found dark blue shorts in hindsight, but she served her purpose) and now all I need to do is bring it home. The final strip is lined with spectators. I hear my name and I have an almost minute burst of speed until my legs remember they are not happy with me and go back into a grump. I fear I have not hydrated well. At the first two water stops, way, way back in the early days of this Sunday morning I had gulped and not sipped. It was not a good tactic and it scared me to drink anymore. I had upset myself, in particular my sensitive tummy. Now, with exhaustion and the dizziness of thirst I have 200 yards to go and I am probably going to be sick. Not an optimal choice of venue as my exit path is blocked by an applauding audience. I must…. continue. I can’t stop now. Who walks the last 100 yards after running the previous 13 miles? Losers, that’s who. If I have 13 miles in me, I can find something, somewhere. I hit the final banner and immediately crawled into a corner to avoid vomiting all over someone’s illuminous yellow Nike shoes.
No, not a good idea. They pounce on me. Wheelchair is rushed over and I am lifted against my will into the rolling seat. Please no. I ran this whole thing I can definitely walk to my friends.
Don’t be embarrassed miss.
Too late mister!
After convincing them, with my absolutely lucid speech, that I was just feeling just a bit motion sick and they could send me on my way with a bottle of water and a bag of salt, I found my wonderful and encouraging friends and we hobbled to brunch.
In summary, salt in water tastes awful. Grilled cheese sandwiches (otherwise known as “the toastie”) taste marvelous. If only I could depart my seat in this UWS resto and make my way home.
I think I am going to pay for this in pain tomorrow.
Worth it? Definitely.