i know you’re standing there waiting for me, i won’t let you down: 21 miles through staten island.

so that’s it folks, my training has peaked and i’ve officially reached my taper period.  it’s time to trust my training and let my body recover from a few high mileage weeks, specifically this past weekend when i ran 21 miles (yes, at one time).

i was glad that a half-marathon was scheduled for exactly 4 weeks out from the marathon so that i could incorporate it into my longest run of the season.  for longer runs, it’s so great to have part of them (especially the last miles) be part of a race becauuuuuse:

  • there are water/gatorade stations every mile or so. yay for not having to wear a water belt!
  • there are people there to cheer you on.  no one cheers for you when you’re running alone on a weekend morning around the park.  they don’t care that you’re just about to complete an absurd number of miles.  you’re not special to them.  now, throw in thousands of other people, a couple road closures or race signs, a finish line and a guy with a microphone and woooopah! you’ve got fans.
  • med tents and medics. pretty self-explanatory.  if i fall or pass out when i run by myself, i have to count on the friendly new yorkers in the park to get help.  during a race? there are people literally stationed all around whose sole purpose of being there is to lookout for and help people who are hurt.. so i figure my odds of survival are better during a race.  
so yea, i was pretty happy that the staten island half-marathon fell on the perfect day for my longest training run… even though that meant more time spent in staten island. arghh.

saturday night, mama b-rocks and i went out to dinner so that i could carb-load on enormous amounts of pasta deliciousness.  we then headed over to a new spa to get upper body massages.  it was awesome.  can’t think of a better way to relax the night before a long run (note: lower body massages are BAD BAD BAD the night before a long run.  wait until AFTER you’ve completed a long run to divulge in the gloriousness of the lower body massage).  
at the early hour of 9pm, i called my other half and got in bed, ready to sleep until my alarm went off at 5:31am.  5:31 because i refuse to set my alarm to any time that ends in a 0 or a 5. why? because i’m weird, apparently.  i don’t know why it annoys me so much but it does.  i’ve tried to set my alarm to a normal time but it only drives me crazy until i change it so that it ends in another number. if i need to wake up at 6, i’ll either set my alarm to 5:59 or 6:01… i would usually opt for 6:01 because obviously that extra 2 minutes makes a huge difference.  yes, i realize that this is abnormal.  

by 6am, i was dressed and ready to head out.  i had my giant purple bag packed with all sorts of race essentials:
  • GU chomps
  • ipod shuffle (for all runs, i keep one headphone in and the other tucked away.  i like to hear the crowd and i also enjoy not being hit by oncoming traffic.)
  • Garmin (to monitor my pace and keep track of my pre-race mileage)
  • blue gatorade for after the run
  • a banana for the car ride home
  • a change of shirt for after the run (no one wants to drive home in a sweaty, smelly shirt)
  • flip-flops (quite possibly one of the best feelings after a long run is the removal of the sneakers)
it was also the first time i was wearing my brand new sneakers so i was a little nervous and excited to see how they felt (they felt awesome, btw).  my other half bought me the sneakers and my parents bought me the two “charms” that i attached to the shoelaces. they’re pretty.  and they’re pink.  and obviously this makes me happy.
anywho, around 6am, just as i was about to do a last minute check of the apartment to make sure i wasn’t leaving anything “essential” behind, my phone rang.  assuming the other half was just calling to wish me good luck, i was surprised (and touched and excited and happy and all other corny in love emotions) to find that he was sitting on my front porch, ready to head out to staten island to support me.

it was dark (as usual) and i had no idea where i was going so i was nervous driving and very glad that i wasn’t alone in the car.  we got to staten island and found a parking spot pretty close to the start line so i was happy about that.  around 7:10ish, i jumped out of the car, removed my sweat pants, and started my run.  i needed to get a solid 8 miles in before the race started to complete 21 miles for the day.  i planned everything out meticulously (of course, as i’m OCD like that) to make sure that i got to the start line approximately 10 minutes after the race started.  i didn’t want to spend any time waiting in a corral and wanted to be able to just continue running at my pace and into the race without slowing down.  
open your eyes, ang. geeze.

the stars aligned and everything worked out perfectly.  i ran the course so that i passed water/gatorade stations and by the time i crossed the start line (about 7.5 minutes after the race began), my garmin was at 7.94 miles (i kept my first 8 miles around an easy 10:45 pace).  it felt great- i was going to cross the finish line with 21 miles behind me.  

i felt really good those first few miles of the race. i ran (ha!) into jennifer from work at the mile 2 water/gatorade station.  she was not only running her first half-marathon, but her first race ever!  i made sure to give her a huge congratulatory hug today because she is awesome.  
unfortunately, once i reached the turn around (halfway through the half-marathon… roughly mile 14.5 for me), there were crazy uphills the whole way back.  i kept thinking it wasn’t fair.  so many of these people were still in single digits and i had already run a half marathon and then some.  but i needed to suck it up.  i had someone waiting for me, someone counting on me.  my pace was pretty consistent (around a 10-10:15 min/mile) and i wanted to keep it there.  no time to feel sorry for yourself, ang, (wo)man up.  
21 miles – gotta stop that garmin.
once i hit mile 10 (my mile 18), i got super excited.  when’s the last time i ran more than 18 miles? oh that’s right, last years’ nyc marathon.  it felt super empowering to know that with each step, i was running further than i have since november 7th of last year.  
once we turned back onto bay street, the crowds started growing thicker.  there was tons of crowd support (which is awesome at a half-marathon and damn near necessary when you’ve got approximately 20 miles behind you) and i definitely wanted to kick up my speed even if just a little bit. right before i hit mile 20, i saw the other half on the side cheering and got my boost to pick up my pace.  mile 21 was my fastest mile.  thanks, babe.
turning down the hill to get to the finish line felt fantastic.  even though i felt pretty good (“pretty good” at 21 miles is way different than the “pretty good” i felt at mile 8), i was still ready for it to all be over.  the crowds were thick and loud down by the finish and i figured i wouldn’t see the other half.  luckily, he made sure to shout “go ang” as i passed him and i was able to turn around.  good looks.
i passed the finish, threw my arms up, and stopped my garmin (obviously).  21 miles in 3:38:57. that’s a 10:25 pace (nyrr has my half-marathon pace at a 10:16 min/mile).  ya know what a 10:25 overall pace would give me in the marathon? a 4:33.  that’s right people, 4:33.  booyahhhh.
4 weeks and counting. i’m ready.
incredible book by Liz Robbins. ask me and i might let you borrow it.

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