Back in 2011, I got the brilliant idea to work my way into getting Guaranteed Entry into the New York City Marathon. I remember sitting on my couch in wake of running my first half marathon, The Nike Women’s Half in San Francisco, and developing a massive girl crush on Olympic runner, Shalane Flanagan as she tore up the five boroughs on my TV. I tweeted later that she had dethroned, Usain Bolt, whom I met in 2007, and her retweet pushed me over the edge. So, I decided to figure out how to get into one of the crown jewels of the marathon community: The New York City Marathon.
While working on my Running History page, I realized that I could not for the life of me locate my stats from the Queens Half (Corona Park in Flushing, Queens, NY not Her Royal Majesty The Queen). Pulling up the NYRR website, I took a stroll down memory lane, revisiting the year that I trained and ran the most. While working at a boarding school in New York, every two weeks out of three, I was off duty, so I could hop the Hudson Line in my running gear and participate in various challenges in Manhattan. Central Park and I became close friends, yet I never had any of those movie moments while running through CP. The organization and affordability of the NYRR races certainly enticed me into participating in the GE versus attempting to get a qualifying time in an actual full marathon. No, it is not a short cut or lazy approach as I believe I ran more in 2011 than I have in the last two and half years combined.
I ran the Japan Run in the months immediately following the Tsunami that ravaged Japan. It was the first race where I started crying in the corrals as opposed to when I was nearing the finish line. Having lived in Japan for five and a half years, and at the time working at a private Japanese boarding high school, this race in particular meant something special to me. It was a part of who I had become over the last ten years, someone outside of running. I was unapologetic about my emotions running high because looking around at all the people who came out in support of the race, the running community, and Japan. I even talked with the Japanese Olympians participating in the race. They were so sweet and enthusiastic they could talk, instead of just smiling for a photo.
Shortly after returning to the dormitory and enjoying a nice victory shower and hammered out my plan, utilizing the race schedule. I honestly, believe this is how my race habit turned into an addiction. Having a schedule packed with races staring certainly motivated me to run regularly. If I didn’t regularly train, how could I be expected to safely run a full marathon? Maybe I should revisit virtual racing as a means of keeping my workouts on track when I can’t attend all the races I’ve been stalking online.
The GA 9+1 format also motivated me to actually give back to the running community and volunteer. The American Heart Association’s Start! Wall Street Run was fun, but I had to laugh. I got the best workout for my arms that evening as the wind was whipping off the Hudson River, making it quite tough to hold my giant sign directing runners to the start line. It felt good when runners would stop and give me a high-five and thank me for showing up. So many folks forget that without the volunteers the cost of races would go up as they would have to hire people to help conduct these events. Thank the volunteers, Folks. Nobody likes a selfish runner. Here’s my GE race record:
- Japan Run (4Mi; 05/08/11) 43:07 (10:46/mi)
- AHA Start! Wall Street Run – Race Credit (Course Marshal)
- Celebrate Israel Run (4Mi; 06/05/11) 43:00 (10:45/mi)
- Boomer’s Run to Breathe 10K (07/09/11) 1:15:11 (12:08/mi)
- Central Park Conservancy Run for Central Park (4Mi; 07/16/1) 46:28 (11:37/mi)
- Queens Half Marathon (07/30/11) 2:57:53 (13:35/mi)
- Fitness Mind, Body, and Spirit Women’s Run (4Mi; 09/17/11) 43:48 (10:57/mi)
- Harlem 5K (08/27/11) – Race Credit (Extreme Weather Cancellation)
- Bronx Half (08/28/11) – Race Credit (Extreme Weather Cancellation)
- Fifth Avenue Mile (09/24/11) 8:24. Yes, my personal best.
You ask, but Karen, you did not RUN all the required races to get complete your guaranteed entry into the New York City Marathon. Ah, that may be true, but extreme weather advisories (hurricanes) threatened to blow us all away on the weekends of the Harlem 5K and the Bronx Half. I try not to look at it as cheating the system because NYRR did their utmost to protect one of the most important elements of their races: runner safety. Turns out that would ring true the following year when I was supposed to run my first full marathon at the New York City Marathon. Superstorm Sandy showed up and blew the event out of the water.
Looking at the distances, it would seen that I should start trying to find races (actual or virtual) that would target the 4 mile distance. I haven’t done a four miler since I left New York, save for treadmill workouts on layovers. The schedule I maintain when flying makes it trick to commit to monthly road races, as reflected by my current running history. Selfish Karen has nixed the Atlanta Diva’s Half in September because she doesn’t want to spend her birthday alone and summer halves just don’t mix well with her. Revisiting my time in Central Park and the Boroughs, I feel motivated to focus on shorter distances again. How I would love to shave twenty-four seconds off a single mile.