Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Manhattan: Take One.

Mile 15 was bleak. Bleaker than bleak. As in in the bleak midwinter, a hard rain's gonna fall, mama said there'd be days like this, the woods are snowy, dark and deep, and I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.

Having studied the course somewhat obsessively beforehand, I knew that mile 15 was up and over the bottom part of the Queensboro Bridge, and was thus uphill, dark(ish) and quiet, without any crowd support.

Before the race, Tommy told me to expect to have several points during the run where I would find myself wondering why in the world I ever decided to do this. I have moments of doubt in the minute and 4o seconds it takes me to run a 400 during speedwork; it stands to reason I'd have them at several points during 26.2 miles. However, all the training, anticipation, fundraising, writing and tapering had me so excited I'd forgotten to consider the likelihood of dark moments.

I was deep in my head at mile 15; the strain from the uphill and the lack of crowd support left the reverberating sound of thousands of footsteps beating the pavement the only noise that made its way down the wormhole into my brain. I kept looking left per Scott B's advice, taking in the Manhattan skyline, reminding myself that I was on my way to 1st Avenue where a thunderous crowd was waiting for me. I put one foot in front of the other and made my way up the hill.

When I finally crested the bridge and headed down the other side, I started to listen for the crush of Manhattan. I listened and listened and listened. And I didn't hear anything.

Don't get me wrong-it was exciting coming onto 1st Avenue, for no other reason than I'd put that bridge behind me and was on borough #4. But further reflection on the lack of noise revealed one key point: I am not Ryan Hall, or Kara Goucher, or Shalane Flannigan. I am not in the lead pack and thus am not the first person that the crowd sees coming off the bridge, so I don't experience the roar of excitement and enthusiasm that the elites receive, and they're the ones who've written about this awesome experience. Alas.

Once I got a little further up 1st, the crowds really were overwhelming. Bands played, people partied, kids gave high fives. I knew, too, that I was going to see my crowd at mile 19. I'm grateful for these photos because truthfully, I don't really remember much about this mile, and these prove that I was actually there. Despite diligently searching for my peeps, I think I kind of checked out after mile 18.

It's strange; whenever I'm running, I rarely think about stopping, or quitting, or really even walking. It's more like I may just disappear, like running somehow keeps me connected to the ground, keeps me around. If it weren't for these photos, I may have thought I'd disappeared.
Aside: I gave up fanny packs back in '84, but had to carry my Gu in something. Thus I look like a complete tool. And let's not even go into the knee-length spandex-my sincere apologies. The shorts stopped working long ago.
I look happy though, don't I? I was so excited to see everyone and knew that it was only four short (hahahahahahaha) miles until I got to see them again.

Another aside: note the red bracelet on my right wrist. It's my One Good Thing bracelet, worn in memory of my dear friend Mandy's daughter Hudson, and in honor of Mandy, who you'll hear more about later. Today is Hudson's birthday, and Mandy's written about it here, beautifully, poignantly, painfully. Do one good thing today in honor of Hudson-you'll be glad you did.


Mandy said...

Kelley-- I wish I had noticed your bracelet in the brief moments I saw you and hugged your neck. I think it was probably covered up in many layers as you tried to warm up. Thank you for wearing it for 26 miles-- what a gift. And thank you for remembering our girl for her birthday. Much love, old friend.

P.S. Ain't nothing wrong with knee-length spandex, sister.

Anonymous said...

Kelley - I love the photos! Thanks for sharing - you look SO happy - Can't sense the pain you are referring to.
Spandex = QCR Volleyball. Yee Haw!
Thanks for sharing Mandys story with us - I read it from start to finish - thanks Mandy for sharing your story with so much honesty and strength.
Kelley - Love Ya Cuz and I am truly proud of you (spandex & all). JNasty

kristen said...

you are rocking that knee length spandex. not many can do that.

Greg said...


thank you for sharing this experience and for the link to ONE Good Thing.


Meghan said...

Where is your bum in the last picture?
Thoroughly enjoying every post.

Thank you for posting the link about One Good Thing. What a beautiful way to honor a bright light.