I know you have all been waiting on the edges of your seats with baited breath to see if I finished my half marathon. And I’ll let you know as soon as I get to that part. In order for you to get the whole experience, I thought I would start at the beginning.
I’m thankful that my flight to Buffalo wasn’t an indication of how my trip would be. On my flight from Orlando to Atlanta, some heffa sat her behind in my window seat, and had the gall to act as though she couldn’t speak English when I let her know. I sucked it up and flopped down next to her, opening my Kindle to read. You know, since I couldn’t look out the window. Apparently her English wasn’t too poor, because she read right along with me. During my short layover in Atlanta, a young girl sat on the floor with a Chihuahua in her lap, stroking its head as she scrolled through her phone. An elderly woman took advantage of her inattentiveness, sneaking bits of her sandwich to the dog. I chuckled to myself, thinking about the mess that the dog owner would likely have on her hands (literally) as a result of her forbidden snack.
When boarding the plane to Buffalo, I was quite dismayed to find that the aforementioned dog was on my flight, only a few rows ahead of me. After about 30 minutes, I found myself very perturbed with the dog, its owner, and the supplier of the forbidden snack. Dog farts make for a seriously unpleasant flight.
Since I arrived in Buffalo on Thursday and the race wasn’t until Sunday, I thought I would spend some time visiting friends and family, as well as carb loading. For those of you who don’t know, carb loading is the practice of increasing carb intake prior to a race in order to store energy in the form of glycogen. Ideally, carb loading would involve the consumption of starchy vegetables and maybe pasta. I like to take a nonconformist approach, so my carbs included Bocce’s pizza and carrot cake at Ammeh Donia’s house. When all was said and done, my muscles were stiff and I felt as though I had gained 70 pounds.
The morning of the race was wet and dreary. I didn’t mind the rain, so long as it stopped before the race got started. My sister, BFF, and I arrived at the Erie Basin Marina at about a quarter to seven. Anyone who knows me personally knows that punctuality is not my strong point. It was an absolute miracle that I arrived not only on time, but early. After posing for pictures, taking trips down memory lane, and receiving a whole lot of unsolicited advice from a woman we’ll call Angel, we headed to the start line. Have I told you all how nervous I was about this race? As always though, I got swept up in the excitement of the experience and looked forward to getting started.
The first few miles were fairly easy. I had invested in some SuperFeet insoles for my sneakers the day before, so my arches (or lack thereof) didn’t burn the way they normally do by mile 2. We entered Delaware Park shortly after mile 6. When I was younger, I loved Delaware Park. At least that’s the false memory that my brain forced on me. “Remember how awesome it was to make two laps around this park?” said my liar brain. “I don’t recall good feelings about this place,” my legs replied. It turns out that my legs had a better memory than my brain. The majority of the path around the park was uphill, and it was the longest 1.78 miles I ever walked in my life. Something about steep hills just brings out the worst in me, and I had to fight to keep myself from growling at people on the sidelines giving me thumbs up. Shortly after leaving the path at the park, I hit mile 8. And leg cramps hit me. I had mentally prepared myself for fatigue and thirst, but the possibility of leg cramps never even crossed my mind. Needless to say, my calves are still tight even four days later.
Once the fast runners finished up (those who complete half marathons in 2 hours), the volunteers started removing the traffic cones and taking down the water tables. You can imagine our dismay when we slowpokes reached mile 10 and had no clue where to go. After wandering around for a bit (and stopping at Walgreens to buy Gatorade), a police officer who noticed our race bibs was kind enough to point us in the right direction. The 10 mile marker was the last one I saw, because all the other ones had been taken down.
I could barely contain my excitement when I spotted the finish line. Do you remember that scene in The Shining where the lady is running down the hotel hallway trying to escape her would-be murderer, but the hallway just kept getting longer? That’s what the finish line felt like for me. The closer I got to it, the further away it moved. One of the former Biggest Loser contestants (sadly, I can’t remember her name because I didn’t watch the season that she was on) yelled encouraging words to me and gave me the extra push I needed to keep going.
I can’t explain the euphoria I felt when crossing the finish line of my first half marathon. During the weeks leading up to the race, I had some serious doubts about whether I would be able to do it. I had very little confidence in myself. I had even begun telling myself that it wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t finish, as long as I tried my hardest. For the first time in a really long time, I started something and stuck around long enough to see it through to the end. Despite my tight calves and general fatigue, I’m ready to sign up for the next one. I’ve been bitten by the bug, y’all. I do believe I’ve found my calling.
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