I joined the New York Road Runners association back in December in hopes to participate in several races throughout the year and automatically qualify for the 2013 NYC Marathon. So when I signed up, I also registered for the Gridiron Classic (Note: It is pronounced "Grid Iron" - when Craig said it out loud it was shocking because I had been trying to pronounce it as "Grid-ree-on") It was a Super Bowl themed race (complete with a longest football toss competition!) where the general premise was to support your chosen team by wearing a jersey, tshirt, etc. from your team and also splitting the racers into two separate lanes representing the two teams. Sort of a ''running vote", I guess. Being one who doesn't really care about football (or passionate about sports in general) I just wore my regular running clothes. Confession: even if I did have a jersey or tshirt, I probably wouldn't have worn it. I was way too nervous about the actual race and I probably would have equated non-running clothes as a 'distraction'. Yeah, I'm real weird.
Because of my corral number 7929 - *Hint: they went up to 8000* I was put in the last adult corral. There was a corral of kids behind me. Kids. Nice. Craig was one ahead of me so we spent as much time together as possible before having to separate into our corrals. He did his best to calm my nerves, but I knew that it wouldn't be an easy run. Stupidly, our schedule allowed for no time for running the entire week before the race! Running cold turkey and being a cold chick was not a good combination. Craig did give me a "little hottie" to help me stay warm, but It didn't really do any good. I pulled my hands inside my jacket sleeves.
I had to be very careful about starting, I knew that - I have a big problem with going way too fast and too hard in the beginning of a run and two miles later, I literally could fall down and die. So, in my head I was saying "slow and steady... you've got 4 miles ahead of you, slow and steady."
When I saw the first mile marker up ahead I gave myself a little pat on the back. 1 Mile! Without stopping once! And up Cat Hill! Woo hoo! Remember when I couldn't run a mile? I do. Shortly after the 1 mile mark, a water station came up. A 4 mile race doesn't really need water, but I decided to take a cup anyway. I was running a race! That's what race people do! So I jogged alongside the table, grabbed a glass, then put it to my lips to take a sip. And now a real question: How do people drink out of cups while running?? I was already numb all over and proceeded to pour cold water all down my chest. Way to go, VA, way to go.
At one point, I had to walk a bit up a large hill (I realized that my large walking steps might get me up the hill faster than my tiny running steps - hello, ass burn!) but for the most part, I ran the whole way! After passing the 3 mile marker, I knew that the finish line wasn't that much further away. I had run this route before. It was mostly downhill, people were yelling and clapping, telling me I was doing great... yet it felt like torture. Every step came with a mental pep-talk. I knew how upset I would be with myself if I stopped just before finishing. So, I kept going. I spotted Craig in the crowd and noticed he was scanning the runners for me. I gave a shout and he ran outside the barricade with me. And then, I was done! Done done DONE!
Here are my official results. Yes, it appears that I run a 12 minute mile. When I saw that, I'll admit I was a little disappointed. A whopping 344 people finished behind me. But you know what? 3 months ago, I cried when trying to run a mile. It may have taken me 49 minutes to finish, a whole 40 minutes longer than the winner of the race, but I finished. And now, I have something to work from. My first race, I ran an average pace of 12:23. And the next race? I'll beat it. And then I'll beat that one. And the next.
In fact, I signed up for a second race (4 miles) for the 25th of this month. And, it will be better.
The final picture of the day: Craig and myself after the race finished. (Note: They give you bagels and fruit after the race. I would have run it again if they offered veggie cream cheese with it! - oops, that's the fattie in me talking.. but seriously, that was the best plain-plain bagel I've ever had.) A special thanks to NYRR and all of the volunteers at the Gridiron Classic - especially you, Mile 3 Lady who said "you are amazing!" Because, sometimes, you have to stop and think about how amazing you are. I may not be the best, and hey, I may have come so close to last it's laughable, but I ran 4 miles that day. And for me, that is amazing.