|Marty and Jen pre-race|
The sun had not begun to shine, but we were on way to Long Branch NJ for my first battle with 13.1. As an ex-performer I have had to endure my share of nerves before a show, but this was different. Although I felt prepared, I just didn't know what to expect. All of my training had taken place on a torture device known as a treadmill. The most I had ever run was 10 miles on this thing and even though I've heard if you could run 10 you can run 13.1, I still had my fair share of doubt. My mind went back to my first and only 5K, where I felt I had trained enough but hit the wall only 1/2 mile in. 13.1 was a pipe dream for me. Something athletes can only do or my amazing and inspirational wife Jennifer. I have always hated running. From my days playing man hunt on streets of West New York, NJ at 10 years old until yesterday, running and I did not mix. I have been asthmatic all my life so I've never had any luck when it came to running. I would just pretend that I thought it was boring, but in reality I just really couldn't do it.
About a year ago Jen signed me up for that first 5k. I really wasn't in any shape to do it, but she made me feel confident that I would be able to conquer it. I'm so glad she did. Although I almost died a couple of times during that 5K, I finished it. I broke through the asthma thing and I proved to myself that I had the ability. Since then, I have lost close to 20 pounds, most of that contributed to running. I said yes to Jen's suggestion of running my first half. I trained hard and the moment came quickly.
It was 55 degrees, perfect running weather. I knew it was going to be a good day, not only cause I felt it, but our car got crapped on four times by rogue birds as I drove 80 mph on the Garden State Parkway. What are the odds? That's good luck - right? As soon as we pulled into the parking lot you could feel the electricity in the air. My nervousness turned to excitement instantly. We quickly made our way over to our corral and waited. Corral by corral, runners began their journeys. Our corral was called. The moment of truth had arrived. For a second, doubt crept in. Was I going to hit that wall early? I turned to see my beautiful smiling wife giving me the thumbs up. I knew then that this time would be different. I was trained and confident that I would tackle each and every one of those 13.1 miles. Thank you so much Jen for being you and believing in me.
We took off. The breeze felt incredible as we weaved in and out of slower runners and walkers. Why have I been training on a treadmill all this time? The music was blasting and luckily Jen kept holding me back and helping me keep a good easy pace. Before I knew it we were passing mile one, then mile two, I couldn't believe how incredible I felt. I wasn't gasping for air like in the past and my body really felt good. We got to mile three and Jen had to to stop for a potty break. I had all intentions of stopping too but she told me to keep on going and she would catch up. I had no doubt she would, so I agreed and kept on chugging along. Weird things happen when you don't really know what your pace is.** All of the sudden I turned into Jesse Owens, the short, latin, over weight version, but Jesse Owens none the less. I must have been running like the cops were after me because all of the sudden my music was interrupted by the sound of Jen's Wonder Woman ring tone. She was literally running like the devil trying to catch up to me. Oops. **this is Jen - I wanted to kick his ass at the time. I told him to jog/keep an easy pace so I could catch up… I SPINTED for more than a mile in the 8:30 area to catch him! I was a little peeved and sucking air by the time I got him. grrrr. Thanks dear.
She caught up to me right after mile 4 and laid down the law on keeping a nice slow pace. I just couldn't help it. I felt like a gazelle for the first time in my life. I knew I had to enjoy it now because the big bad lion, aka mile 11, was coming to pounce on me. I had never run more than 10 miles and when I did that I thought the gym was finally going to get to use their portable defibrillator. At mile 5 I heard my kidneys pleading for a porta potty break. The problem was that every time I stopped there was a line 20 deep of people that clearly could care less about their times and I was damned if I was gonna let the 3 hr pacer get too far ahead of me. I kept running and putting off the inevitable until visions of kidney stones danced in my head. We stopped at mile 7 and waited for one of those potty doors to open. I don't know what was more torturous, my exploding kidneys or losing time. Drop and go people, drop and go!! We finally got back under way. I'm feeling real good, Jen looks good and we were coasting. It was incredible to see how many people were out there supporting us. I couldn't have asked for a better atmosphere for my first half. The best thing of all was experiencing this with my wife and my best friend. Amazing.
Miles 8, 9 & 10 felt longer than the first seven. My ankles were screaming, I had chosen the side of the road for most of the race. I was literally running on a slight angle. That took its toll. Running in the middle of the road for a while really help me out. Then came mile 11. The end was so close but oh so far away. Jen started to have cramps in her hamstrings and my legs felt pretty battered up at this point. Luckily Jen found some coconut water and downed it - that seemed to help her. Now I'm starting to struggle, but we are on the Broadwalk and only 2 miles away. I still could not see the finish line but it was only a matter of time before it came into view. My inner Jesse Owens decided to take over again. I wanted that finish line to come quickly and with Pitbull singing one of his 50 songs in my ear phones, I took off running like a hurt gazelle that's trying to stay away from the jaws of a lion. All of the sudden I looked back and to my surprise Jen was not there. I didn't realize she was still going through a little cramping. I slowed down and we both headed towards glory. ***ahem. I was cramping a little bit and with the fear that I might have another seized moment like I had at the Hollywood Half, I didn't want to risk it… besides, we were still 2 miles out and I save my 'gazelle' move for the last mile… rookie. ;)
There it was, I could see the glow of that beautiful finish line the distance. Jen suggests that I take off my ear phones and take in the moment. She was right. The crowd was pushing me towards my goal. The closer the finish line got the more emotional I was getting. I could hear our names being announced on the speakers. Crossing that finish line might go down as one of the most incredible feelings I have had or will ever have. That sense of accomplishment cannot be out done. You trained, you hurt, you ran the miles. I almost shed a tear until I came face to face with the hardware. My first medal, unbelievable. Like zombies we hobbled the streets of long branch and waited for our school bus to come and rescue us. Finally the bus arrived. The sweet taste of victory over pancakes at IHOP awaits.
Why Yes I am the proudest wife ever.
PS: Marty forgot to mention that our time was 2:51 not bad considering two potty breaks! Pretty sure we would've come in around 2:40 - my garmin (which automatically pauses when stopped) said we did it in 2:38… not bad. My first took me 3:15! Go Marty.