Today was my first race of 2014! And with sub-20 degree temps and 13.1 miles to tackle it was quite a day! The Fred Lebow Manhattan Half is the first of six races in the New York Road Runner's Borough Series (5 Borough's + the NYC Half), and dedicated to the founder of the New York City Marathon.
I first became with Fred Lebow's story (dare I say legacy?) when I stumbled across the documentary, "Run for Your Life" (2008,) on Netflix which centers on his impact on running events with NYRR. However, this December, when I was volunteering at a bib pickup at NYRRs headquarters on 89th Street, the "mandatory" volunteers like myself, had the opportunity to meet many of the older true volunteers who came for reasons other than fulfilling a 9+1 credit. And I will never forget at least two of them -each completely independent of the other- would get a faraway look in their eyes and smile as they recounted a story about Fred's enthusiasm about something as usual as sorting bib numbers. And for that, as fantastic as "Run for Your Life" was, I feel like I learned more about Lebow in the 2 minutes I watched his friends remember him.
It was also for these reasons that amid the threat of a "feels like -1 degree" weather forecast and potentially icy course conditions, that many runner's pressed for NYRRs to continue the race as planned instead of canceling it (as they were considering last night).
It was probably some combination of Fred's spirit prevailing and the cold winds not that culminated in the race continuing. And by 7:55 the mister and I were running from our car to the corrals, where I managed to squeeze in just before the gun.
Let's break it down.
Miles 1-6: Not bad. Feeling strong. The hardest part was chewing super cold Shot Blocks.
Mile 7: Internal monologue: "Hey! I just ran 7 miles in 1 hour. Looks like I might come in under 2:00 hrs on light training after all. Wait, now I should try to shave 3 mins off of that and PR too...." Cue number crunching and minor stress.
Mile 8: Motivated by a high five from someone in a bunny suit, and the idea of a fuel-ingesting walk break reward after my favorite downhill.
Mile 9-12: Better understanding of why people cry might cry when they hit the wall during marathons. Beginning to think I pushed to hard to get to that walk break because my legs are finally feeling shot. Also, I know I am way behind on my water intake, but my stomach has had it today and any more and I know I am risking full blown cramps.
Mile 13: Longest mile of my life? Probably not. Quickest mile of my life? Definitely not.
And at long last, the finish! I lost my mister for the whole race, but found him again (with a huge scarf and an even bigger smile) exactly as they announced my name and a moment later I was crossing the finish. It. Was. Awesome.
1:55:44 - my new 1/2 marathon PR didn't hurt either.
Oh yeah, and then this happened!
I saw the High-Five Bunny again.
Me (to the mister)- It's that bunny!
Bunny (comes over for high five)
Me- I already got a high five earlier! It was great!
Bunny- Oh yeah. You want a gift card?
Me (suspicious new york style)- Um, kind of.
Bunny (gives me $20 Jack Rabbit Gift Card)
So I guess that makes him a High-Five Jack Rabbit?