Exorcising (Exercising?) My Demons

I’ve reached an age* where nearly everything can make me cry.

*Just kidding, I’ve always been like this.

Seriously though, it doesn’t matter whether the event is big or small, happy or sad. Practically any wave of emotion will turn on the waterworks, and the variety of experiences that can set me off is downright embarrassing. Saying goodbye to my brother and sister-in-law as they left for their deployment. Dropping my sandwich. Asking my best friends to be bridesmaids. That sappy Christmas commercial where a man ties an engagement ring to a puppy’s collar. Finishing a good book. The final scene of While You Were Sleeping. Every dog I’ve ever met that I can’t keep.

Aloha.

Aloha.

In November, I experienced something new that could bring me to tears: an utterly disappointing performance at the New York City Marathon. I crossed that finish line on Nov. 1 in involuntary sobs after missing my goal time by more than 25 minutes, and vowed right then and there to never put myself in that situation again. I was never again going to put so much weight on the outcome of a single event that it left me shattered. I was never again going to let my emotions get the best of me on the race course. I was never again going to have a run leave me crying at the finish line.

Me. Crying. But also smiling. It's like when it rains and the sun's out.

Me crying post-marathon. (But also smiling. It’s like when it rains and the sun’s out.)

Turns out, that was a promise I couldn’t keep. Today, I ran the NYC Half Marathon – my first race since that god-forsaken marathon – and as I crossed the finish line, my face contorted into uncontrollable sobs once more. But this time it wasn’t due to disappointment.

It was because I FREAKING KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK.

HEAT-SHEETED LIKE A CHAMPION!

HEAT-SHEETED LIKE A CHAMPION!

That’s right, folks: today, I shaved almost 2 minutes off my half marathon PR, felt strong all race long, smiled ear to ear for 13.1 miles straight and, most importantly, finally feel like the ghost of my 26.2 mile slog in November is behind me.

Why was it such a good race, freezing cold (but not snowy!) start and all? Lots of reasons: the first 6 miles were in my home park, so I knew exactly how to tackle those hills; miles 7-8 took us through the closed-down streets of Times Square, a neighborhood I’d never visit willingly but is pretty great when you’re barreling through it; miles 9-13 were straight down the wide, flat West Side Highway with a welcome tailwind at our backs, and, most importantly, I knew the sooner I finished, the sooner I could head home and warm up.

IMG_1178

And drink all the liquids my lovely fiance left for me. Swoon.

But above all, the best part of the day was approaching mile 11, doing the math, and realizing I could beat my previous PR of 1:49.12 if I could just maintain pace for two more miles without losing steam. During the last two miles of November’s marathon, I could hardly lift my legs, but today, maintaining didn’t seem so challenging. In fact, I felt so good, I actually picked up the pace.

Those last two miles of today’s race, I found myself getting faster and faster, with more fuel left in the tank than I’d ever expected. As I tore through the Battery Park Underpass, took the final corners and sprinted my way toward the finish line, I knew I made the right decision not throwing in the racing towel after the marathon like I was tempted to. I was reminded just how great a great race feels, and that’s a feeling I didn’t know if I’d ever feel again. And that level of emotion, well, brought tears to my eyes.

Thank you, New York City Half – I feel redeemed.

How did your race go?

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6 Responses to Exorcising (Exercising?) My Demons

  1. Chelsea says:

    Congrats!!!! I emailed you oh so many months ago about running a half and it turns out our races were the same day! I had a great race at the Oakland Running Festival this morning (even though miles 10-12 were soooo looong) and am jazzed to hear you had a great one, too!

    • Congrats to you, too, Chelsea! I remember you’d been mulling a full in the summer. Is that still on the table? I would love to live vicariously through your training if it is because I swear I’m not doing one this year… And I occasionally keep promises.

  2. Congrats!!! Happy for you.

    I did the half too. Had a very good race considering that I had been sick and not training much. There must have been magic in the air.

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