Friday Five Link-Up: Race Memories Under The Influence

Happy Friday, lovahs!

I’m a little woozy right now having just returned home from a medical procedure, and have a fair amount of meds in my system, so please forgive me if I seem a little different or start describing seeing lavender sliding down rainbows into my front yard.

The meds restrict me from going to work because I can’t drive and I’m not supposed to sign any legal documents for the next 12 hours, which means I probably shouldn’t also give legal advice while I’m still intoxicated.

Even though I’m loopy, I didn’t want another day to pass without blogging, as my goal is to blog at least three times per week. Today I’m linking-up with Courtney of Eat Pray Run DC and her buds Mar of Mar on the Run and Cynthia of You Signed up for What?!?.

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I know–I was a link-up virgin until this Monday, and now this is my second link-up this week! But what can I say? This blogging-community-building thing is infectious.

This week’s Friday Five theme is Favorite Race Memories. Here are mine (in no particular order):

1. Running my first half-marathon, the 2011 BMO Vancouver Half-Marathon.
I had started running about 9 months earlier, didn’t know what to expect, and had no time goals. My vague understanding at that point was that running a sub-2:00 half was a common goal for runners. While I thought it would be awesome if I could do that, I didn’t set it as a goal. I just wanted to finish in one piece. I ended up running the race faster than I expected, and was cruising on endorphins from Mile 2 until probably Mile 11. No joke. The weather was perfect–sunny and dry, which is kind of unusual for British Columbia in early May. The crowds were unexpectedly supportive–like I said, I didn’t know what to expect, and there were decent crowds of spectators with signs. I think I read every sign because I’d never seem signs in a race before. It was an incredibly fun race and it totally hooked me to run more. Extra bonus: I ran a 1:49:02, which shocked the hell out of me.

IMG_0135.JPGWe celebrated pretty enthusiastically post-race.

2. Running my first marathon, the 2011 Portland Marathon, with my friend M.
M and I had trained together and I was concerned about how prepared I was for the race after getting sick and developing an ankle issue 3 weeks before the race. We decided to run one mile, then walk on minute, then run another mile, then walk a minute, and so on and so on until the end of the race. The race was a hoot, for the most part. We ran at a conversational pace the whole time (that is, when we weren’t walking) and I ate half of my weight in the gummy bears handed out on the course. Although I experienced a terrible side stitch around Mile 22, M kept me plugging along and we crossed the finish line together.

3. Running a sub-1:00 at the 2012 Sound to Narrows.

IMG_0136.JPGThe Sound to Narrows is a local racing tradition: 12 kilometers of hills, hills, and more hills around and in Tacoma’s crown jewel, Point Defiance Park. The race started in 1973 and I grew up going to Sound to Narrows parties put on by family friends. Before I started running, I decided I would run it in less than an hour, which is the prevailing opinion of a “good” time for a female runner. The race is brutal, though. It’s a majority uphill course, and the only significant downhill is at the very start of the race, which often leads to people going out too quickly and then crashing midway through the course. It’s not long enough (like a half marathon) to make up for pacing mistakes, but it’s too long to gut out like a 5K. I ran it in 2011 and came in around 1:02. In 2012, I met my goal by running it in 59:52. I will never run it again. I would rather run a holy half-marathon like the Seattle Marathon than the Sound to Narrows; I just can’t enjoy this race.

4. Running the 2013 ING New York City Marathon.
I was coming off an injury that allowed me only 10 weeks to train for the NYCM, for which I had been miraculously selected through the lottery system. Everything about this race felt special and momentous–from finding a way from my hotel in Murray Hill to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in lower Manhattan, to taking the ferry and chatting with fellow runner, to taking the buses to the staging area, to waiting in my start village and talking with some international runners, to waiting in my corral as we heard the cannons sound as the first wave started the race, to to hearing “New York, New York” play as I ran (or, actually, shuffled) across the start line, to the actual race itself. What can be said about the NYCM that hasn’t been said already? The course is legendary–running across the Verazzano Bridge, through multiple diverse neighborhoods in Brooklyn, through a corner of Queens, up and over the Queensboro Bridge, up 1st Avenue in Manhattan through Spanish Harlem and a tiny part of the Bronx, through Harlem, and back into Manhattan down 5th Avenue and into Central Park. The crowds were incredible and cheered for me as if I was a world-famous elite runner or their family member. The NYCM wasn’t just a race, it was an experience of a lifetime.

5. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon at the 2014 Newport Marathon.
As I crossed the finish line at Newport last May, the clock read about 1 minute over the qualifying cut-off time for my age group (3:45:00). My Garmin’s time wasn’t accurate because I’d forgotten to start it until I was a couple block lengths past the start line. So I had no idea whether or not I qualified for Boston. My husband and kids swarmed me after I crossed the finish line and my husband was really sweet as he raved about how strong and fast I looked out there. I was totally preoccupied with finding out my time. My finish was too recent for my time to be posted on a finish-area board containing faster times. Fortunately, we found a man sitting at a desk with a laptop and he gave me my time after reading my bib. “Great job! You ran it in 3:44!” Well, actually, it was 3:44:33 according to the paper slip he gave me, but upon hearing and seeing this, I jumped up and down and squealed and hugged my husband, coach, and kids. I was beyond thrilled. Beyond. All that training and gutting it out through a tough race had been worth it; I’d qualified for the Boston Marathon!

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What are your favorite race memories?

10 thoughts on “Friday Five Link-Up: Race Memories Under The Influence

  1. Molly, this is a great post, especially considering your self-proclaimed mental status while writing – ha! I am envious of your race memories, considering I have yet to complete a full marathon and I certainly have not (will not!!) qualify for Boston anytime in the near future. New York has always been a bucket list run for me, so it was great to hear you write about your experience there. Thanks so much for sharing! Love your posts!

    • Thank you, Tara! You’re too kind. I haven’t read what I wrote since the meds have worn off. A little concerned to see what I find. 🙂

      I want to run the NYCM again, so maybe we’ll be fortuitous enough to run it the same year!

    • In retrospect, I think it was more exciting to find out after the fact that I had qualified.

      Congrats on running Boston last year! Did you write a recap? I’ll check out your blog and see.

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