It was about 11 am on Saturday morning when I finally stood outside my girlfriend Nell's brownstone on the Upper West Side. I had just taken a flight, a bus, a short walk, a subway, and another short walk. But here I was, standing there looking at her beautiful building, when she walked outside to greet me.
Nell has a big smile and a huge heart. We've been running buddies for - wow - nearly 10 years? We used to run at 5 am in the morning darkness, rain or snow, when we were neighbors in Delaware. We talk and laugh and run. I think we could solve the world's problems when we run. Besides our usual hour-long runs, we've run a Half Marathon on Staten Island and a Ten Miler in the Garden of the Gods in Colorado. Now that she lives in New York, I was excited to join her for this race in NYC.
We started the visit with a tour of her apartment and a quick visit with her husband and kids and then set out for a walk. We didn't want to do anything too strenuous the day before the race, but we needed to stretch and catch up. Nell lives just a few blocks from Central Park and she wanted to show me her neighborhood. We had a healthy lunch at a gourmet counter on the way to the park and walked around to see some of the gorgeous architecture.
Spring has definitely sprung in New York, and the flowers and trees are blooming beautifully. Pinks, greens, and pastel buds were everywhere. After some great photos, we wound our way around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir loop and back to her apartment. That afternoon we stopped by a local coffee shop and then picked up dinner at the local market so we could eat fresh and healthy in preparation for the race. I got to bed early and slept well.
In the morning, we were delighted that it wasn't raining! The forecast didn't look good, but we were lucky. We walked to the start point and stretched out amongst thousands of our newest partners. We were in it now! The race chute was packed with women in colorful, ambitious race outfits. The running attire alone was inspiring. My favorite fashions were the T-shirt that said "It's just a hill...get over it!", the sisters wearing shirts that read "Older" and "Louder", and the fun ruffled running skirts. Knee-high socks (in loud patterns) were the trend this year. The people-watching was fabulous all morning long.
The starting horn blasted between rocking tunes from the loudspeaker. We were off! OK, actually we inched our way forward for five minutes before we crossed the start line. But then we were off! We held a steady pace for the entire race- just enough to chat for the first loop while dodging and weaving between the many runners. At the half way point, just as we were congratulating ourselves for a fierce start, the race winner passed us. We got lapped! She had bicycle escorts clearing the way for her as she dodged to the left to enter the finish line shoot. We cheered as she breezed by. And then we continued with our second lap. There was less talking on the back half, as we were working hard. But the sun was out and a nice cool breeze blew at us between the trees. It was shady, my iPod sang loudly at me, and we finished strong.
I'm the proud owner of a finisher's medal from the More/Fitness Half Marathon! It was a beautiful day to run around Central Park (twice!) with over 10,000 women. It's invigorating to be in such a crowd of motivated, smiling, health-minded, encouraging people of all backgrounds, shapes/sizes, ages, and life stages. I get a huge boost of energy being one of the "many". In settings of diversity, people tend to quit feeling like differences are a drawback and that their uniqueness is an asset. I love that no one cares if you're first or last, just that you showed up to do it. Hopefully you learn the lesson that it's important to encourage others (as they're all encouraging you!). I love that just putting one foot in front of the other is a significant accomplishment for each of us, whether it's physical or metaphoric.
Thirteen (point one) miles is challenging. My muscles still feel it, even though I'm taking a light day today. I didn't eat much yesterday because my body was still recovering after the race and didn't feel like it. Today: lots of stretching. Tomorrow and beyond: more training. There's more races out there, both on the track and in life. With any luck, I'll always be amongst 10,000 Good Global Citizens to help push me on. And hopefully along this journey I'll push along a couple of them myself.