Waking up this morning for a run was nothing out of the ordinary. Saturday is typically my long run day, and as I get in gear for the Disney Half Marathon on January 10, I’ve been ramping up my definition of ‘long’. I ran my first half marathon in March 2014, but was injured in June and only started building up past a 10K this autumn. My first 9-miler was a couple of weeks ago. I was planning to leave it at that, maybe do a 10-miler next week, and taper from there – if I’ve learned anything from injury, it’s that you should push yourself to the limit, but be careful to know where that limit is!
However, I got an email from New York Road Runners a few weeks ago with a special discount offer for the Ted Corbitt 15K. I figured this race would be the perfect length for me to test myself before the half. As a bonus, apparently today is an auspicious date for other reasons – 12/13/14 is apparently the last sequential calendar date of the century – so I figured, since I’m not doing anything else momentous today (like graduating school, or getting married, as I’ve heard many people have arranged to do!) I could go for a nice run with a couple thousand other New Yorkers. Plus 12/13/14 for a 15K? Sounds sequential to me!
The subway heading up to the race was awfully crowded for a Saturday morning before 8am. I noticed that most of the other sleepyheads were wearing numbers and fumbling with headphones – we all caught the last 6 train before the race began, apparently! Once at the starting line, it was windy and cold, so they got the ball rolling fairly quickly – a short speech and Star-Spangled Banner and we were off!
The course was two loops around Central Park, the first a bit shorter than the second. I felt pretty good despite the cold, although I was caught in the trap of having to unravel a few of my layers around Mile 2. I was going strong until Mile 5 – the second loop began here, and the way it was set up, the winner of the race (who finished in about 47 minutes, otherwise known as 5-minute miles) crossed the finish line as we regular runners began our second lap. I always find this inspiring rather than disheartening, but it’s still a little bit of a shock.
It’s a good kind of shock. It always makes me think about the reasons why I run, which is what I did as the next few miles flew by. I don’t run because I’m particularly fast – when I first started running a couple of years ago I was a solid 10-minute miler, and while it’s closer to 9-minute miles these days for shorter races, I’ve never felt the need to train for more speed. Going the distance has been my goal, both in running and in life. I didn’t even start entering races until I was regularly running 10K distances, and even then only for charity events. I started running for physical fitness, sure, and to de-stress, but very quickly I began to look forward to my runs for the mental clarity running gives me. I’ll be plugging steadily along a path, and suddenly I’m able to see things that happen in my life in a whole different light. Whatever’s worrying me is diminished, seems so less important when I’m outside with the wind in my hair, always moving forward, not stopping to look back and dwell on what might have been, but looking ahead to the possibilities that might be. And it’s the greatest feeling in the world.
So that’s what I did today. I’m not going to lie, the last mile was tough – that lovely wind in my hair played some cruel tricks, gusting fast enough to make 35 degrees feel like 20 – but in the end, I made it, and that was enough for me. Next stop, Orlando!