I’m reposting this race because this was the first time that I raced alone. Since this race, I’ve raced dozens of races alone but this was a breakthrough for me to be able to do this.
The last week has been rough. On Tuesday, I wasn’t feeling right when I went into the city. Then on Wednesday it hit me. I couldn’t move — I was in bed from Wednesday until Friday morning. After trying to sleep it off, I still had a headache, soar throat, dizziness and felt achy. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make the NYC Half Marathon that I’ve been training for for the last nine weeks.
Going to the doctor
After driving into the city to pick up my race number, I decided to go to the doctor. He told me it was a sinus infection and possible strep throat. He gave me antibiotics and a host of over the counter medication and sent me on my way. As I left, he said, “Hilary, if you don’t feel well tomorrow don’t race!”
I was torn. I didn’t know what to do. After countless thoughts on the pros and cons of racing in the NYC Half Marathon, I decided to go for it.
Booking a room in the city
My family and I decided to book a room in the city last minute. We found a relatively inexpensive hotel room near the park. We went out to dinner and went back to the room. I set my alarm for 5:15 am, laid out my clothes for the morning and put the water bottles in the refrigerator.
When the alarm went off, I got up, took my medication, put on my running gear and went out the hotel lobby. I saw dozens of runners on the street. Some were running trying to warm up and others were just walking. It was 20 degrees in the morning with a strong wind chill that made it feel like in the teens.
Long walk to the park
It was a long walk into the park and then once we got to the park at 59th and fifth, we had to walk up to the starting corrals in the 80’s.
I met the most incredible people. Everyone was so friendly and supportive. We were freezing standing there. I had extra clothes that I borrowed from my son and an extra sweater that I ended up tossing into the giveaway bins. There was an older woman standing next to me who was shivering. I felt so bad for her. I just so happened to have an extra set of hand warmers and gave it to her.
At the race start
As the race started, I kept thinking that I wanted to go slow, like my NYRR (New York Road Runner) virtual trainer suggested, but I couldn’t. I was running an 11 mile and hour pace, which is fast for me.
Running through the park was emotional. I’m not sure why. I felt in the moment. I had my headphones on, which I typically don’t do when I’m racing and listened to Pandora’s Family Road Trip. Every time, the sun hit my face on that cold, windy day, I smiled. It was incredible to see all the buildings surrounding the park.
The first eight miles, I felt happy. It was exciting to leave the park and see my family standing by the Sheraton Hotel on 53 and 7th. After taking off an article of clothing, giving it to them, waving kisses, I was on my way. I felt so good I felt as if I could run forever.
On to 42nd Street
I turned onto 42nd Street. The New York Road Runners had a few bands playing along the street. Cars on the other side of the street were at a standstill. The drivers were honking their horns and waving to the runners. It made me realize how much I love New York!
As I was running, the wind was so strong, I felt as if it was pushing me back! I finally got to 42nd Street and the West Side Highway, made a turn and then a U-turn and headed downtown. After seeing the Freedom Tower in the distance, I started to get emotional again.
Oh no the pain!
At mile 10, I started to hurt. My hips, my groin, my knees and my ankles were killing me. The pain was so intense. I tried to ignore it and kept on going but it was so strong that I found myself walking a lot toward the end. At mile 12, I saw my children. They were screaming, “MOM….” I turned and saw them.
“How are you doing?” Zoey, my daughter asked.
“I’m hurting bad,” I said.
Running with my son
“I’ll run with you Mom,” said Derek, my son. “Come on. You can do it. I know you can. I’ll do it with you.”
And he did. He ran the last quarter mile with me and crossed the finish line with me. Along the way, he kept encouraging me. “You got this Mom,” he said.
After the race, I had to walk what felt like a 1/2 mile to get out of the runners area. I was glad that Derek was with me because I could barely walk. When we finally found my husband, daughter and her boyfriend, my daughter said to me, “that was so inspiring, I think I’ll sign up for the NYC Half Marathon next year.”
“Maybe we should run it as a family next year….” my son said.
“Hmmm… that would be an incredible thing,” I said. “I guess I first need to recover from this race before planning that far ahead…”
We never did run as a family, although I ran a bunch of races with just Zoey and a bunch with just Derek. I am so grateful to have them in my life to share my journey!