It was a glorious day to be Scottish in Central Park yesterday. Bagpipers, kilts, people wearing those weird red hair wigs with the plaid hats, Scots being offended by people wearing those red hair wigs, tons upon tons of Scottish flags (mostly in my race packet-normally we get our race bib, chip and tshirt in our race packet, this time, along with a special bag, 2 flags, a Scottish flag poncho, pin and pen…I could be a Scottish flag for halloween!!) and bucketloads of people. I’m still not sure why there was a Scotland Run but I guess every other runner (or wanna be) in the city was curious what that was about too and showed up to see what all the fuss was about. I never ventured off the race course at all so I’m not the authority on other Scottish activities but maybe it was a fun old time. It was, however, the most packed I’ve ever seen a New York Road Runners Race.
Once again I was using this as a long run, not a race, so I had to run some miles before and after the race. I was going to do between 11 and 12 miles depending on how I felt. I decided to do 2 before, 6.2 during the race, and 3-4 after. I’ve never done this before so I wasn’t sure how it was going to go with me running part by myself and part as a race, but a fun experiment it would be! (very Yoda-esque) When I got there, I realized how many people run before the races-I almost thought the race had started, there were so many people running along the course! And I joined right in! I ran my two miles down to the starting line (easy, nothing exciting, basically a longer warmup) but got there too early. I arrived at around 9:35 and the race didn’t start till 10. I thought about venturing over to the Time Warner Center to use their restrooms (just a tad nicer than the port-o-pottys, just a tad) or maybe do a little shopping (I did have $7 in my pocket afterall!!) but didn’t want to risk slow lights and crazy crowds. So I decided to keep on running. I ran about 4 minutes back up and turned around and got back in line where people were finally lining up. Lots of Scottish and English and Ameican people said some stuff I couldn’t hear or wasn’t interested in, some bagpipes played the American National Anthem (why not the Scottish? Is there a Scottish National Anthem if it is part of the UK?) and we were off!! Well, 7 minutes later we off cause the crowds were so insane that it took that long to get to the start. ugh.
The first 2 miles were…annoying. It was so packed that I could barely run. And there were so many walkers that had gotten mixed in with the faster runners we had to dodge them. I basically spent the first 2 on the grass, running outside of the pack just trying to get into my groove and get running! Sloooowly it thinned out and eventually I could run without tripping over people’s feet (which-ever since I tripped someone in my first race, I am so frightened of doing again. Which would cause a huge mass pile-up in the race and I would ruin the entire thing. stupid clumsy feet.). Mile 3 was basically one big downhill and one big uphill-oh you Harlem Hills you. I knew this hill was coming up, and I was hoping it would cause the pack to thin out even more, and it did, cause that is one bitch of a hill. But I tackled it hard!! I pushed myself and passed lots of people running up that hill, never really slowing down. I was tired at the top but felt great. One of the best feelings is coming over the peak of a hill, knowing you just pushed yourself really hard on it. And, at the top of it there was one lone bagpiper, I think he’s a runner just out to cheer on the crowd cause he had a New York Flyers singlet on (one of the local running clubs). I paused my ipod and took it in. Beautiful day, running among fellow runners, feeling good, and a lovely bagpiper…a great moment to be a runner!
Miles 4, 5 and 6 were uneventful. I felt fine and strong but could not, of course, stop thinking about the 4 miles I had to run after I completed the race. I wasn’t sure if I could muster up the energy to do 4 more miles, but I would try, and see where that took me. I finished the race strong, at 55:26 which I was very pleased with. I wanted to keep a steady 9 min/mil pace the entire time and I basically did. But, I pushed through the crowd, drank half a cup of water, and just. kept. going.
I was looking forward to running by myself after running with such a large crowd, and I did enjoy that aspect of the run. But, it was a really hard and difficult 4 miles. I struggled the entire way, even on the big downhill. My stomach started hurting very badly during the downhill, but I knew it was the muscle, not my actual stomach but I didn’t know how to react, if I should stop, or whatever. I kept going, nervous how this was going to turn out but I went up the hill and it went away. The hill was alot harder this time and alot of strength to top it, and there was not bagpiper at the top. I guess he wasn’t out there just for me. At the top of that hill I had about a mile left, which was one of the most difficult miles I’ve ever run. I was exhausted, kinda hungry and ready to be done. It took something deep within me to finish but I did.
I stopped at the Engineer’s Gate at E. 90th, where I started, and just stood there. I didn’t know what to think or how to react. Racing through my brain was the thought that I can’t believe I finish, I am so exhausted, I just ran 12.5 miles-a distance that I never ever would have thought of achieving (it’s those extra 8 or so minutes before the race when I was bored that pushed me over the 12 mile mark). It was an oddly very emotional moment and as I was stretching, I definitely shed a few tears. I was overwhelmed at that moment but confused at the same time. I was excited, tired emotional. An interesting and powerful finish to a hard run. And one that I probably won’t forget.