There is so much to write and so much to say. Over time I will share about our crazy trip to Florida and how we almost didn’t make it. I’ll talk about the weekend in Miami, the friends I made and maybe even share my new nickname. In the interest of brevity, or what passes for brevity in one of my (infamous?) race recaps, I will stick to the race itself.
Miles 1-2.68 - I have never seen a race start that is so crowded. I am no Kenyan, but I am starting pretty far up and expect runners, who can… run. So when I see two women walking in front of me and blocking my way, I am not happy. I am all for people taking as long as they can to finish a race. I think it’s great when skinny-challenged individuals exercise to lose weight. Would you find starting in the back? Is that too much to ask?
As you can tell I am tense and tired, and hence moody. I trudge through the first mile in nine minutes and become increasingly grumpier. The giant ocean liners fail to cheer me. I do not care about the singing of the birds. I am trying to see if I can run a fast race and am carrying more than my share of doubts.
Then I see Shua, a new friend from the weekend who has Spina Bifida. He is wheeling along in a wheel chair on the side of the road, with a look that somehow combines joy and determination. It is time for me to stop having a personal pity party and start taking part in running a race, which just happens to be one of my favorite things to do.
Mile 3- First interesting sign- “I don’t PAY to run, I pray to run”. This man, whom I think I have seen at previous races, is trying to remind us that at its essence running is a free activity that can be done whenever we want. Paying to run is foolish. He’s right in a way, and yet I know and he probably knows that his cause is probably hopeless.
Mile 4- South Beach- I spot a skateboard dude on his skateboard going in the opposite direction. “Wrong way” I tell him, in what seems like a witty comment to my oxygen starved brain. If looks could kill, I wouldn’t be typing this now.
Mile 5- Katherine Hepburn is cheering on runners, or at least a woman who sounds like the actress playing Katherine Hepburn used to on Satuday Night Live. According to Wkipedia, Hepburn died in 2003, so it probably wasn’t her.
Mile 6- Some guy is giving out pink beads and holding a sign that says “Run like a diva”. What does a diver from Brooklyn have to do with running and pink beads?
The sign says “Go Mommy Go” which of course makes me think of mine in whose memory my brother, nephew, wife and I raised $21,000 for kids with cancer and are running. I miss her.
Then I think of the other mommy in my life, my kid’s mommy. The one who was crazy enough to surprise me and run this race last year. The one who is crazy enough to be running again this year…while pregnant. I love her.
Mile 7- What is it, a Jewish holiday today? There are over 400 observant runners out on the course for five different charities. I cheer for Team Yachad, Chai Lifeline and HASC. I see a co-religionist who is not running for any team. I call out “Go Team Yarmulke”.
Apparently Team HASC did not get the memo that each team is supposed to have a CH (think Challa) in its name in order to make it as frustrating as possible for any non-Jews to cheer for us.
Mile 8- Dang that guys from Team Yarmulke is fast. I decide that I will stay close to him for as long as possible. Soon I am thinking of him as my angel. He is going to pace me to a fast time. Wait, where is my angel going? A port-a-potty? Do angels have to go to the bathroom? Even if they did, there is no way that G-d would make them use a port-a-potty. I am on my own.
Mile 9- We come to Lido Island. I look around. It doesn’t look so Lido to me.
Mile 10- One more bridge and we are back in Miami. I go through the toll without paying. That’s right, I ran the toll.
Mile 11- I am really pushing it, at time going under 7 minutes a mile. It hurts, but in a really good way. Toby Tanser, humanitarian, Team Lifeline coach and all around nice guy, shouts out that I am looking strong. Never mind that he finished running the course 20 minutes ago. His words of encouragement feel good.
Mile 12- Almost there. If I can take the pain I can break 1:45. Not my fastest time but pretty good as I come back from my knee injury.
Mile 13- Digging deep- The Team Lifeline fan support REALLY helps, especially from my friend’s dad, who was my professor in grad school.
13.1- I cross the line with nothing left to give. 1:44:53. I am not yet back. Certainly not ready for Boston, but I am back-er than I have been since my injury.
I go back to 12.8, 1/3 of a mile before the finish, to wait for my favorite runner with a Team Lifeline sign. I see my brother and his son heading for the finish. 14 years old and doing his first half-marathon. My nephew that is. He finishes in less than 2 hours, ninth in his age group.
Knowing how much cheering helps, I cheer on the runners, by name, if it is written on their bib. There is nothing like hearing someone cheer for you when you feel like you have nothing left. Among the things I say:
· “1/3 of a mile to go, then you never have to run again”
· “There is a cold beer with your name on it waiting at the finish line”
· “Go Team Lifeline”
I even get to cheer on a former student who is running to help disabled children.
Then I see her. This year she is smiling and like last year, looking great. I jump back on the course to run the last part of the race with her. This is my favorite part of the race. It is something I hope to repeat many times (minus the pregnancy part). I hope the photographer got a good picture as we crossed the finish line. Either way, I will have a memory in my heart that will not fade.