Monday, October 11, 2010

Slogging it through two half marathons

I recently completed two half marathons, powered by my not-yet-fixed heart. I wanted to write something, to thank my running buddies from the NYC scene, for keeping my chin up, and really helping me keep moving through this rough time.

The first half was the Newport Liberty Half, held in Jersey City, NJ. I learned about this race from my friend (and old college roommate) Ansky, and saw on the website that race day registration was still available. I also learned that my Tweeps Samantha and Eissa were going to be running as well - so I made a decision the night before to sign up and head over. Race day weather was great, the lines were minimal (except for the bathroom lines) and the crowds were generally pleasant. I met up with Samantha, and we headed to the start together.

I ran the first few miles with her, but then I felt my ticker starting to rebel. At around mile 3, I wished Sam a good race, and sent her on her way. The next few miles were a combination of running and walking, eventually turning into more walking than running. By mile 10, the wheels were coming off bigtime. I mostly walked the next few miles, until I finally started to run again around mile 13. It was a tough day for me, and by far, my slowest ever. I started to feel really sorry for myself, thinking that this really isn't what I had in mind for the fall racing season, and that I was supposed to be past this by now.

A couple of weeks later, I decided on a whim to register for the Staten Island Half Marathon. A number of my friends were running, and I decided to take a different approach to this race. I made it a challenge for myself, Joe vs. the Busted Heart. I decided that I was going to tackle the race mile by mile, but in the end, I was going to win, not my busted heart.

On the morning of race day, I made the trek to Staten Island with my friend Sharon. We met up with Erin and made our way to the start. After a quick stop at bag check and the restrooms, we set off to the corral. My heart rate jumped right away, so I wished Erin a good race, and sent her on her way. Samantha passed me a few miles later, and at the turnaround, I caught sight of Sharon making her way back, look of utter focus on her face. Miles 3 - 5 were the worst for me, I just gritted my teeth and gutted it out through the pain. Amazingly, by mile 6, I felt my heart starting to calm down, and I had a few pretty comfortable miles. The trouble started again around mile 9 or so, and I just remember gutting it out, and hoping for a finish. As I crossed the line, I remember thinking that my busted heart didn't win, and it made me tear up a bit. I can't remember feeling so grateful about finishing a half marathon before.

I have come to a realization: Even though I can't run very fast right now (not that I was ever "so fast" to begin with), it's better to be out there racing than doing nothing at all. I have come to accept where I am now, and am I am hopeful that things will work themselves out soon, and I can get back to where I was. I am so grateful for the support of my running friends, who offer a wave, a smile and some encouragement out on the race course when I am feeling my worst. Thank you guys so much - you are what keep me coming out week after week.


Robin said...

What a great post!
And great job pushing through on two races which sound like they would have been very easy to quit; that's not something most people can do.

baker said...

wow inspirational post joe! i love your toughness on showing up on 'game day' no matter what the outcome might be.

Sharon said...

You totally inspire me.

Neil Harris said...

Glad to read this update, Joe.
Your realization, itself, is inspiring.

I will tell it over to my 5th grade son tonight when we both think of giving up while playing Batman Lego for Wii. :)

Seriously, I'm going out biking tonight for the first time in 2 months and I WILL be thinking of your post.