|Photo found on NYRR.org|
I felt almost nothing for the first seven miles. That is, I simply enjoyed the sea of runners, the people standing by to cheer, and the beauty of the day and didn't yet feel tired. My favorite sign was black letters on a hot pink poster board that read: "Run like you just stole sumthin'!" Cracked me up. I'd run most portions of the race route over the past few weeks on my long runs, but it's completely different when the traffic is blocked off in every direction and you're no longer a solitary runner. As we exited the park and made our way onto Ocean Avenue, the route took us down the freeway entrance ramp. I've never run down a freeway entrance ramp before, and I found myself smiling and enjoying the moment as I looked down over the multitudes, smoothly making their way to the ocean, like a human river in search of its delta.
Around mile nine I wasn't smiling anymore. Running was getting hard at that point. My feet were sore, I was trying to maintain my pace, I was getting tired, and I still had four miles left to go. But you know, you just keep running. At mile eleven I noted that I had reached the "this is the farthest I've ever run" point again and asked myself whether I was ready for the last two miles. And to myself, I responded that I was.
I know that sounds silly, but I think tests of endurance take a lot of actual talking to yourself. These conversations I had with myself yesterday, they were different from thinking. I didn't speak aloud necessarily, but they were deliberate conversations with real questions and concrete messages of encouragement.
So, on I ran, all the way to Coney Island's boardwalk. One of my past students who I am close with came to cheer me on across the finish line. Knowing she would be waiting there helped me keep running that last mile. And then it was done. Just like that.
Today I am somewhat fatigued, but the good sort that’s like a lingering echo of recent accomplishments. And I'm happy not to have to run in the next few days, looking forward to a bit of rest. Even as I type this, though, I'm listening to my race-day playlist and finding myself thinking, I could go for a run...