The Big Day: The More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon
Refinery here! Before you read on, make sure you check out Meghan’s other posts here, here, here and here. Meghan graciously took us along her journey to refinement as she prepped for the Women’s Half Marathon on April 19, 2015. Now, Meghan shares with us the day before the race and everything in between, leading up to the big day. Here is her story!
The day before the race, I took the train to Herald Square and checked into the beautiful Refinery Hotel at 63 West 38th. St. I can’t say enough about this hotel. So luscious, so beautiful, and my hotel room was roughly the size of my last apartment (which is awesome and sad all at the same time). I made plans with friends to have an early dinner before heading up to the Refinery’s Rooftop to enjoy the view of the city. Apparently, eating a pile of food the night before the race is whole-heartedly encouraged. I don’t generally need a reason to eat a ton of food, but in this case, it seemed totally justified.
So we met at Eatly’s La Pizza & La Pasta Restaurant to enjoy a carbo-loaded feast. We had meat, we had cheese, they had wine (no alcohol for me before the race) and then I had the most delicious al dente rigatoni of my life. It was great. My friends totally distracted me from my nerves, and I left feeling full of happiness and pasta.
We walked back to the hotel where we all laid on the coziest-bed-of-your-life, and admired the gorgeous bathroom, complete with watermarked toilet paper and brass fixtures. Then we went upstairs to the Rooftop. I don’t often find myself on top of the city, but when I do, I am just awestruck by the beauty of Manhattan. Sure, there is a crazy, frenetic energy that can be overwhelming, but when you see the city from up high, it’s just… breathtaking. Naturally, there was an onslaught of picturing-taking as we posed with the Empire State Building in the background. It looked beautiful and massive, like you could reach out and touch it, because that’s how close we were. It was definitely one of those magical New York City moments.
Although I wanted to linger on the swinging chair, I decided to turn-in pretty early. So I left my friends to go down to my room and lay out my clothes. I filled in the back of my bib, complete with emergency contact information that I prayed I wouldn’t need. Then I got in bed, and tried to sleep. But it was like Christmas Eve, and I couldn’t settle my mind down. I stayed awake watching, “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” until I finally closed my eyes around midnight.
In the morning, I woke up to the first of four alarms I’d set on my phone (there was no way I was going to sleep through this race). I got dressed and covered my body with Glide, because I wasn’t going to deal with chafing thighs or arms during the race. I quickly ate a banana and a couple of rice cakes with peanut butter on them. And then, I did something I am not proud of—I decided to take a cab to the race. I KNOW. It was only 30 street blocks! Most New Yorkers would be publicly shame me for cabbin’ it such a short distance. But, I felt like running 13 MILES was going sufficient amount of exercise for the day, ok?!
As my cab pulled up to Central Park West, I could see the runners pouring in. It was a sea of women in neon shirts, shorts, and sneakers, flooding towards the starting point at 63rd St. Women of all different ages, races, professions, and lifestyles, and they all had come together to run a half marathon. The sight itself was just inspiring, and we hadn’t even started to run yet!
I quickly found my place amongst the runners who had a bib numbers in the 8,000’s. Everyone was talking and laughing; you could feel the excitement in the air. Then I heard the announcer call for the first group of runners to “get ready,” and all of a sudden, the race had started! The throng of runners began edging towards the starting line, and before I knew it, I had crossed too!
I started running with a surge of adrenaline, and reminded myself to take my time so I wouldn’t burn out after the first 5k. I began to focus on the park. It was the most spectacular morning. I don’t know how I got so lucky as to run my first race on this glorious day. The sky was clear, the sun was up, and all of the trees were covered in pink, yellow, and white flowers. The temperature was in the low 50’s, but it was gradually getting warmer as the sun crept up in the sky. It was just a perfect morning.
There were loads of supporters lined up along the course to cheer their ladies on. Many had made signs, some of my favorites were: “I saw Ryan Gosling at the finish line,” “I Love Fast Women,” and “Remember: you paid for this.” These made me laugh, which is so brilliant for runners who are getting stuck in their heads. It takes the focus off of the pain in your body, and you are laughing, and your feet feel a little lighter.
I just adored watching runners see someone they knew in the crowd. They would run over to their friends or family, give them a big hug and kiss, and then continue to run. Little kids were so thrilled to see their mommies in the crowd of runners. I couldn’t get enough of the love and positivity that was everywhere.
I was supposed to start smiling during the race when I felt myself “hit the wall,” but I don’t think I ever hit the wall… I probably should have, and I would be lying if I said it didn’t feel difficult to run for that long. But I smiled almost the entire time. I smiled at the volunteers, at the supporters, at the trees. I was just loved every minute. Maybe this is what helped me not get too fatigued… or maybe I was just hyper-aware of the photographers stationed along the course. You had better believe I cheesed at every camera I passed.
I crossed the finish line after 2 hours and 25 minutes. I am really pleased with this time, since I thought I would run closer to 2 hours and 45 minutes. But honestly, I was just happy to finish the race. I felt strong (and tired), but also, proud of myself for being able to do something that I wasn’t sure I could do. It felt like so much more than a physical test. I had to convince myself that I could do this, and I did.
If you had told me two months ago that I was going to run a half marathon this year, I would have laughed in your face. But, I might be totally hooked now. I have already started looking at other races and I still have that smile plastered on my face!
So I must say thank you to everyone who encouraged me throughout this process. I couldn’t have done it without your support. It means more than I can say. THANK YOU. And to those who are considering signing up for a race, do it. You’ll surprise yourself. I know I did.