This weekend was Halloweekend and if I’m being completely honest, I was way more excited about this little race called the New York City Marathon that happened on Sunday despite Halloween landing smack dab on a Saturday - every college student and twenty-something’s dream.
Up until this year, Halloween was something I got pretty into. It was an excuse to get friends together, put a lot of planning into my outfit (which can be fun sometimes), eat a lot of candy (fun always) and consume large quantities of alcohol.
Looking back through Halloween pictures of yore makes me feel somewhat nostalgic (except for the year I was in a walking boot with a stress fracture and couldn’t do much of anything) so I’ve assembled a quick trip down memory lane.
But while those Halloweens from the past were fun and all – this year the main focus of the weekend was on racing and running.
Friday night I apparently discovered that the key to a successful race is a giant Two Boots whole wheat pizza with basil, eggplant, mushrooms, onions and artichokes with a side of pesto. Also, red velvet cupcakes and Haagen-Dazs ice cream.
Clearly, I was taking this race extremely serious with my fueling strategy. This was to be my first race in over 5 months and I went into expecting a humbling experience and a good indicator of where I am at speed-wise.
Two friends from Connecticut got in around 10:15 that night and we stayed up chatting for a while, so it wasn’t the most sleep I’ve gotten before a race, but still a solid 7 hours.
I made myself some peanut butter, banana and honey toast with a cup of coffee and definitely did not stretch or foam roll like I promised myself I would.
The journey to Roosevelt Island was an easy one and it was a gorgeous fall morning – crisp and cool but warm in the sun. And I was wearing my favorite color-coordinated outfit. The Halloween race was put on by NYC Runs and they offered both a 5K and a 10K. Everything was well-organized and I loved that it was a smaller race. Tons of people were dressed up and there were hardly any spectators – which meant I got to be front and center as Allison and Kait finished their 5K.
Once I congratulated them, Allison held my bag while I shed my layers and went for a little warm-up jog. Instead of helping me feel warmed up – I went into a slight panic due to completely numb feet. Luckily I managed to wiggle my toes enough so that by the time I was at the starting line, they had regained feeling. What I didn’t manage to do before I got to the start was that oh-so-important pre-race poop, which I was afraid would end up being an issue for me.
With a really official, “Pretend this is a gun – on your mark, get set, BOOM!” we were off.
The course was two loops with a few wonky little “go down this side street and then make a U-turn at the end so that we can get the right distance” portions – not my favorite type of course but what was awesome was that the course was flat as a pancake! And again, the weather was perfect for racing AND we got to go along the water for a portion of the race which is always pretty.
I tried to start out conservatively but that’s never my specialty. My Garmin informed me that my first mile was a 7:12 and I knew I would be in serious trouble if I kept that up. Luckily, two runners on my right were chatting about how they were going to try to run 7:30s which sounded much more realistic. I creepily paced off of them for the next 3 miles. Around mile 4 I told them they were officially my pacers like a total weirdo and when they asked if I had a goal I said no, but my PR is a 7:19 pace. The man who was clearly better at math than me said that I should think 7:18s and I could definitely get it.
So I pulled away and spent the rest of the race trying to keep two other women slightly ahead of me from getting too far out of reach.
I was feeling wonderful which was such a nice surprise and I was also scared that at any minute I was going to regret running 7:20s. But I just tried to enjoy the strength I was feeling in my legs. There’s something about racing that I just love. I’m a competitive person, and I can say all I want that I’m not there to “race” a race, but without fail once I’m out there – it’s on.
Up until mile 5, it was all about competing against myself. Setting a new PR, proving that I CAN still run fast after months of feeling “meh.” Proving that my work on strengthening my legs and hips has paid off.
And then, something happened.
The woman who I had been trailing the entire race turned around and said, “You better tell them you cut a corner.”
“What?” I asked , completely dumbfounded.
“You cut that corner. You were behind me and then you pulled up ahead.”
In my head, I was thinking, “Uhhh, yeah, it’s called a race and I passed you at some point…”
I thought back over the race and was still genuinely confused so I asked her, “When are you talking about?”
She sounded so nasty and so vindictive that I really didn’t know how to react.
“Well I’m not trying to win or anything so go ahead!” I yelled.
I was so upset – this has never been my experience with runners and the running community especially at a Halloween run. This woman was dressed up for God’s sake! And I had been planning on complementing her at the end for a really well-run race and for looking great doing it!
Then I got a little pissed.
“Happy Halloween to you too!”
Then, I started thinking that maybe she was doing this as a way to mess with my mental-game. Which is a game that two can play.
“You know, I was going to compliment you on a great race and tell you you looked great doing it. I think you’re just scared I’m going to beat you.”
It just came out.
And as soon as I said it, I regretted it. Because I just gave her all the fuel she needed to kick my butt and I had also given myself a lot more motivation to beat her.
A minute before I had been happily cruising to a PR and now I was scared this race was going to end a lot differently. With me angry and beaten down by this bitchy Wonder Woman.
I got a little teary. In my mind, I had let her take this race away from me. I had let her get in my head and suddenly I was no longer just racing for myself. I was racing to beat her.
But it is what it is – now I knew there was no slowing down that last mile. I stayed close behind her, sure not to pull ahead and give her something to chase.
Luckily for me, I could tell she was fading. I probably could have gone faster overall if I wasn’t playing a strategy game with her, which is frustrating to look back on. But hauling-ass the second I saw that finish line and leaving her in the dust felt damn good, I won’t lie.
And I still managed an 8 second PR – which was 2347293748 X more exciting to me.
Of course, she immediately went to the race director who pulled me aside and asked if I had gone around the lighthouse two times. Yes, I most certainly did because I vividly remember the amazing volunteer stationed there who jogged in place the entire time and said, “I’m still going with you!” I thanked her for being out there both times I passed.
I told the race director that I totally understood if they had an issue giving me an award and he said they would look at the splits and that would make it very obvious if I had cut any corners.
Apparently, the clock told them all they needed to know and I received my plaque for 2nd place female ages 20-29.
And Wonder Woman got hers for first place female ages 40-49. Which she more than deserved.
She ensured that I finished with a major kick at the end – which is my favorite way to cross a finish line, so for that – I thank her. I legit blacked out those last 100 meters so THANKS ALLISON for these baller pictures.
NYC Runs had lots of candy, fruit and bagels afterwards along with a fun costume contest. It was a great way to spend Halloween and I even got to take the Roosevelt Island tram for the first time on our way home! It was anticlimactic but still a nice change from the underground subway.
The entire rest of the weekend was spent drinking and eating to celebrate Halloween and the NYC Marathon. There were Bloody Mary’s, nachos, brownies, Chipotle ($3 on Halloween, duh!) ciders and obviously 16 Handles (twice).
Congratulations to everyone who took on the five boroughs on Sunday– it was a beautiful day and I loved getting to give a giant hug to some of my favorite marathoners at the after party!