There’s two kinds of exhaustion. The kind where you’re dead tired, want to cry, and just curl up in a ball and sleep forever. And then there’s the kind where you feel accomplished, like you actually made something of yourself. Mostly it’s been the latter. Mostly.
Last weekend was the first time I ran for real since my surgery in May. The rain cleared up just before 8am and made the world all the more beautiful. I made it just in time, pinning my number to my shirt as the “Star Spangled Banner” finished over the loudspeakers in Central Park. Over 5,500 women in bright colors raced down closed streets, past old buildings with ornate angels and flora carved in to their stone fronts, up and up and up to the north, then cut through the Park. There was one area up there where jagged rock walls closed in around us; low cliffs, tall rocks, with grass and other plants overflowing from it’s tops. Rain water sparkled and dripped down from them like something magical. Something you wouldn’t expect to find in the densest city in the US.
I didn’t think I could make it past two miles. Usually when I train by myself, even hitting 2 miles is tough on the streets here. But as they say, working out is purely psychological. I ran 5 miles straight at a steady pace, deliberately slow (13min/mile) in anticipation for the distance. The 6th mile, I walked, then ran the final 0.2 miles to the finish line. It’s funny…whenever I hit the halfway point in any distance, I start thinking my body feels awful. If I run with 5K as my goal, the 1.5 mile mark has me feeling tired. 4 mile run, 2 miles gets me exhausted. So during this 10k, 5k was easy, 4 miles was hard, 5 was pushing it. But I’m so happy I finished!! It wasn’t that bad at all, and the shirts they gave us were pretty nice!
It’s actually very flattering! More flattering than the terrible angle I got with my ill-placed mirror at home. The design is pretty cute…I like that it’s BLACK!! Free shirts tend to be awful colors, unisex sized (boxy), or plain white and ugly. This one’s breezy and very form-flattering without being clingy.
At the end of the race, they also gave everyone lots of water, free bananas, plain bagels, raisin bagels, a participation medal (there’s a prize for the first finishers but I was FAR from that!), and a flower. Random, but I took it all with a smile. I don’t know what I’m going to do with a participation medal…I took it since the volunteers handing it out seemed so excited to give it to me, but on principle, I don’t quite agree with such things. Why reward mediocrity? I could be dead last and they’ll give me a medal just for being there. There was also a raffle for expensive running gear at the end, but I missed it.
As I jogged next to my high school friend during the race, the reasons I like signing up for official races came to light. Yes, it sucks that it costs money! Not crazy expensive, and not as much as things like Color Run or Spartan Run (which go to about $55+), but it’s enough to cover a fancy dinner here in NYC. It’s a commitment you can’t get a refund for, and you have to wake up SO early in the morning for it. The subway sucks on weekends, let alone the time period before rush hour. I had to take a taxi to Central Park to make it on time, so that’s an additional “dinner” I could’ve had.
But there’s a lot to love about signing up for a race, as opposed to just working out on your own. I saw parts of Central Park I’ve never seen before, never knew about before. Going north of 14th street is hard enough, so when would I ever go north of 86th? The sights were beautiful. I don’t know how people can stand doing cardio in a gym! Weights, strength training, classes, that makes sense to do indoors. But jogging in place for an hour? Staring at a wall or TV playing “America’s Next Top Model” just doesn’t appeal. Even with an iPod, I get bored. If you can do that, you are STRONGER than me!!!! My mind just gets so bored, and where I could normally run for 40-60minutes outside with zero problems, 10 minutes on a treadmill or elliptical is murder on my brain.
I love the sights, the smells. It helps that I don’t run on the street normally, inhaling car exhaust. I run by the briney East River, or beneath the trees in Central Park. Watching dogs, looking at flowers, admiring the sparkle of the sun on the water. It helps me forget and sometimes even enjoy the pain of running. Working out shouldn’t be a chore, and the sights running in the city offer me are great motivation.
Another great thing is the socialization. It’s so incredibly hard to get people to work out with you, and I’d attribute “waiting for my friend” as a key reason a lot of people don’t stick with their workouts. They think having a “workout buddy” is a great thing, that you’ll support each other and force each other to work out. And that COULD work out…if your workout buddy actually likes working out already!! If you’re both lazy motherfuckers, what the hell would make that person haul your ass to the gym? She’d just say “I’m tired too, let’s order pizza” or something like that. You can only rely on yourself, your own dedication, to make change in your own life. Can’t rely on others.
But the people who put money down for a race are more likely to work out…they basically bet on themselves financially to attend. It usually works. Say what you will about the evils of money, but it’s an awesome motivator. And because NYRR makes it in to a big event, it’s so different from just buying a gym membership through Groupon. It’s a social thing. I jogged along side my high school friend for 5/6.2 miles, which was a decent hour of us just chatting and catching up. Now that we both have jobs and lives, it’s hard to just do that.
All in all, it was a great run and I wanna sign up for more. Every day before the race, I was dreading having to get up early and go. I was looking for every excuse to avoid it, like “Oh we have a tropical storm the night before, maybe it’ll rain out”, or “We’ve been working overtime the past few weeks and I haven’t slept well for months”. But in the end it’s all excuses, and you gotta just get up and DO IT. As much as I hate Nike, and damn do I hate Nike, they got their old slogan right. Just do it. You’ll be all the better for it. And happier, probably. And that’s not just the runner’s high talking – I just woke up from a nap after pulling an all nighter at work. There’s black eyeliner all over my face. Everything in my body is fatigued, but I feel accomplished :)
Injury report…no joint pains, only fatigue and sore muscles. Ankles especially sore. Thighs scream murder while descending stairs.