10/6/-10/7 Diva Long Island Half-Marathon Report

What a fantastic race to finish the 2012 Race Season!!  I am so happy that I was able to participate in this event with my running partner, Linda, her two girls, and Linda’s family.  Because of the combination of all these pieces, it was a awesome weekend.

Linda’s parents, with the assistance of their “guard dog”, Benjamin, opened their home up to me, and allowed me to stay with them, Linda, and the girls, in order to participate in the 2012 Diva Long Island Half-Marathon.  I was welcomed with open arms and I was surely treated like one of the family.

Our journey began Saturday morning as we left Broome County in the pouring rain.  While I had hoped that the rain would hold off until we got on the road, that was not exactly the case.  Nonetheless, we made swift time traveling to the Packet Pick-up.   While at the Expo, we were able to browse and enjoy the Expo, plus get a few photo shots in.  Shortly thereafter, we were on the road again and we arrived at Linda’s parents.  George, Linda’s Dad greeted us at the door and I was hugged and kissed.  (Sniffle).

As we unpacked the car and began to settle in, Mom, Lucy, arrived home with the fixings for dinner.  I think she was expecting a small team upon our arrival, rather than the four of us.  However, Lucy began hosting with the mostest and we were presented with cheese, crackers, dips, spreads, vegetables, and other nosh items.  I am thinking, if I keep eating this stuff, how am I ever going to be able to eat dinner.

Well, knowing any family gathering, there was a FEAST.  Spaghetti, chicken, bread, salad, and dipping oil.  Seriously, push me away from the table before I start rolling.

After dinner, I assisted in the clean-up of the evening’s fixings and I was promptly yelled at.  This resulted in me shooting a glare of “really” to Mom Lucy.  Then, Linda, Becky, and I travelled down to the near-by beach to walk some of dinner off and share in a special moment.  As we approached the boardwalk, we saw the evening sun settle into the sky by being wrapped in the open water.  While there was a faint wind,  it was not cool or chilly, but settling.  We walked along the beach briefly and we got to wiggle our toes in the sand.  Now, that was chilly.

We enjoyed a moment or two, and then headed back “home” to prepare for the next day’s festivities.  We had conferences with Dad at the dinning room table determining what time we needed to leave and where to park.  We pulled up Satellite maps so we knew where the start and finish were.  We had discussions with Becky for where to meet us at Mile 12 for the younger girls to finish running with us.  Talk about a table with minds turning and commands and orders being directed.  It was like a Central Brain.

As the evening crept upon us, it was fast approaching 10:00 p.m. and we ALL really needed to go to bed in order for our early wake up call.  As the time for slumber fast approached, the race gear, racing bib, socks, apparel, and nutrion were laid out for the next day’s grand event.

Eventhough Linda, Caitlin, and I shared a bedroom, there was a sense of calmness, peacefulness, and mindfulness as I fadded away.  I usually fall asleep with noises from the roadway or when Will and Mac leave for work.  However, there was the sound from a fishtank pump that settled me for the evening’s slumber.

I was awoke at 5:15 a.m. on Sunday by the rooster call on my cell phone alarm. (And yes, that is my alarm).  I promptly brushed my teeth, put the contacts in, and adorn the race gear.  I then make my way down the stairs to get some nourishment before leaving.  Based upon our Captain Linda, “we are leaving this house no later than 6:00 a.m.!!”.  Haa, that did not happen.  By 5:55 a.m. we are wrangling the young ones up and shuffling along the parents to leave.  We finally get on the road at 6:09 a.m. and I say, “I hope your Dad can keep up”.  As we travel along the Meadowbrook Parkway, I am making great time, and then Linda says “Don’t lose Dad!!”.

We arrive at Eisenhower Park by 6:36 a.m., and the parking lot is full. We get directed to another parking lot. That one is full.  We finally see an opening and I shoot into another parking lot, and we obtain our parking spaces.  We quickly eject from the vehicles and we start proceeding towards the Start line.  Becky, keeps Linda and I company, as Caitlin and Summer keep Mom and Dad safe (or vice versa).  We arrive at the finish line, we check our gear, and then Linda and I head towards the start line.  Now, mind you, it is approximately 7:30 a.m. and there are thousands of people.   Approximately 3,000 runners, and a mass amount of spectators, cheerleaders, and volunteers.  Most, if not all, are wearing Pink.  Pink shirts, pink sneakers, pink shorts, pink hats, pink, pink.  I was in heaven.  I think to myself how my mentor and best buddy in heaven, Lynne, would have love to been there, but I knew in my heart that she was there, watching, and inside of me.

Now, the 5k started at 7:45 a.m. and the half-marathon started at 8:00 a.m.  Linda and I watched as the 5k launched.  You could not contain the excitement and adreleain from the crowd when they launched.  Husbands, boyfriends, kids were running with their Moms, sisters, and family.  (Sniffle).  We then began lining up for the half-marathon.  Linda and I wandered our way back to the 8 minute mile mark.  Originally, we were going to start at the 9 minute mile mark, but I told Linda that there will be so much traffic, that we have to get in front of that so we don’t get stuck behind them.  THAT WAS PERFECT STRATEGY FOR WHAT LATER ENSUED.

The gun was fired and we were off.  Now, our strategy was for me to lead through the pack and then Linda was going to get us to race pace.  As we began, we started darting to the left, to the right, up the center, along the side, to get a clear space.  By mile 1, we were way ahead of the group we started with and we had some clearance before us and behind us.  Sweet. As we hit Mile marker 1, I look at my watch and we are at 8:27.  HOLY CRAP.  Okay, this is good, but I am thinking, how much longer can I keep this up.  Linda is a WAY faster racer than I.  We are running, we exit the park and we still see the posters of encouragement, the cheers, the spectators, the cowbells.  Wow.  We come across Mile Marker 2 and it reads 16:24.  HOLY CRAP.  Never, never have I been this fast.  I tell Linda that maybe we should start to slow down to save ourselves to the end.  She agress with me, but she later proves to LIE TO ME!!  As we approach Mile Marker 3, I look at we are at 24:21.  Okay, I just PR’d my 5k.  I say, “Linda, we really need to slow down.   I need to restrategize our race plan.”. I see this evil little grin and we proceed.  As we approach the turnaround, we see a motorcycle sitting in the distance.  Linda thinks this is her brother Ken.  Then, we see Ken.  We run to Ken, and he says “keep on going, don’t stop for me.”  Linda is surprised and happy.  Her own brother came to see her race.  (Sniffle).   As we approach the turn for Mile 4, we notice some girls (gentlemen) dressed in gear cheering us on.  I got to give credit to the young man wearing the stockings and climbing on a guardrail.  He did not even have a run.  As we approach Mile Marker 4 and I look at my watch and it reads 32 and change.  I am now blown away. I have PR’d all of my short distance races in one day.  We approach Mile Marker 5 and I look at we are at 41 and change.  Okay, I am now restrategizing where I need to take my nutrtion and hydration because I did not expect to be this far this soon.

As we approach Mile Marker 6, Linda is struggling with her Chomp bag. She is trying to open it with her hands, her teeth, and then she asks me to try.  I try to open the bag with my hands, and my teeth.  I am about to give up when I think of a sharp object.  Sign!!  I run over to a broken traffic sign and I slice the chomps package open.  Ha!!  Got it, and we move forward.  As we make Mile Marker 6, we are at 50 and change.

At Mile Marker 7 (59 and change), Linda takes water, and we take a small walk break for me to catch my breath. Somehow, I lost my breathing rthym and I am having a hard time getting it back. Linda says, “we are more than half-way done”,  and I agree and we are off.

At Mile Marker 8 (1:07), I am starting to feel the “push”.  I have not run a race at this pace consistently before and I am getting fatigued.  Also, I was frustrated in not being able to catch my breath.  We take a small walk break, and then we are off again. I think between this mile and Mile 9, we had picked up the speed.  At this time, I feel some leg cramping and become more aware of my gait. When I get tired, I tend to clench my fists and tense up.  Okay, relax, make the feet light and follow.  We keep moving forward and it is now some quiet this time for me and Linda.  As we approach Mile Marker 10, I scream an obsenity as I thought it was Mile Marker 11.  Now, I was more frustrated.  I thought I could push another 2 more miles out, and I am struggling. The left leg is cramping and I surely did not take enough water in earlier.  Linda runs in front of me and I am following her in the corner of my eye.  I am now focused upon my gait and keeping it strong and steady.

As we approached the entrance to the high school, where we pick up our boa and Tiara, I start looking for the girls because they were supposed to finish with us.  I see Linda ahead of me and I am now struggling with my boa which keeps hitting me in the face and I am spitting pink feathers out.  I quickly stuff it down my shirt.  As we finish along the back stretch of Eisenhower park along the golf course, there are a number of spectators and fellow runners cheering us on.  I specificially recall a band of cyclists who give Linda and I loud cheers.  As we make the final turn into the finish line, there is a male cheerleader on a bull horn yelling and saying that we are almost done and to keep on going and that we are doing great.  This was great to hear because I was about physicially done.  As I saw the archway to the finish line, I sprinted to the end and looked at the clock to see my finish time.  I was quickly greeted by a young topless firefighter who presented me with my “bling”, and I then received a rose, a glass of champagne and FOOD.  I quickly found Linda, we hug, and then we say we need to find the parents.

On our approach out, we find Linda’s Dad George who told me he was yelling at me at the finish line, but I never heard him.  I guess that tunnel vision really set in.

We then find the girls, get some great photo shots, and Linda and I claim our gear.  We start walking back to our vehicles, which now seems a long distance away because of our legs, but it gave us enough time to talk about some of the highlights of the race.  The spectators, the cheerleaders, Ken, volunteers, the course, the weather, all of the factors that made today’s event so special.

As we get back to the car, I am thinking how bad I want a shower and a cold beer.  Linda took the helm of the car, as Becky and I talked about the race as we headed back to Mom and Dad’s.  Shortly thereafter, I was able to grab a nice hot shower, and I slid down the stairs to enjoy my cold beer.  Now, remember those days when you were a kid and you enjoyed sliding down the stairs and get carpet burn down your back.  Well, my intension was to go down one or two; however, that was not the case.  I slid down the WHOLE stairway.  At first I regreted this move, but later on, this was better than rolling on a foam roller. I really should have done it again on the other side.

As the day progressed, we were able to visit with Linda’s family and friends, and enjoy a nice lunch.  Becky and I even had a nice walk down to the Bagel place down the street from Linda’s parents, which is right next door to a bicylce shop.  Boy oh boy did they have some pretty bikes. I made Becky not let me walk in there.  While at the Bagel shop, I grabbed a HUGE pink lemonade and Becky was blown away by the size of it.  It was like an adult sippie cup that you needed to hold on to with two hands.  This walk helped by legs dispense with the latic acid from the race for the drive home later that night.  On our way back to Linda’s parents, we encountered some strange exotic tree life and made puns to “Jumangi” and such.

As the day further closed, we needed to get back to Broome County and we needed to say goodbye.  The car was promptly packed and our farewells were given.

I am truly blessed by this weekend not only for the company, but for the ultimate experience.  I was once again able to enjoy in a family moment or two with people who I care about and love.  It has been some time for me to have this feeling with the loss of my parents.  There was were many moments that reminded me of my mother and father and what I wish I could say to them now.

I wish my daughter was with me to enjoy in this moment, but as with all young adults, she is busy growing into her own young self.  And that is okay.

I wish Lynne could have been physically there with me so I could see her expressions upon her face on all the things she wanted to do with me.

Would I change a thing – HELL NO!!  Would I do it again – HELL YES!!

Love,  Me.

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