Irene and I awoke to the buzzing sound of my trusty clock radio which glowed 3:30am as I hit the snooze bar for another 5 minutes of reprieve. Again, as always the buzzing sound returned. Time to get ready for the Bronx Â½ Marathon.
We wanted to arrive early to make sure we were able to find parking. By the time, we arrived the sun still had not risen above the horizon, but hundreds of workers and probably hundred more volunteers scurried about setting up the course and the start and finish lines for the race. Plenty of Police Officers were on hand, as well as tow trucks ready to remove any cars off the street course. We actually ended up in a convenient parking lot at the start/end of the course.
After we picked up our bibs, we rested in our truck and then prepped for the race. Irene was calm, while I was still apprehensive because my foot was still hurting and only ran a limited amount of miles the weeks and days prior to the race.
Finally it was time to head to the start. We met up with our other team members from Team for Kids. Lanie, a close friend, who is a newlywed and withdrew just weeks before race last year was ready to attack the course. Andrea, who will be doing her first marathon. There was about 30-40 TFKer’s running the race.
Coach Sid and Asteria lead us in some warmup exercises as a group of lime green singlets circled around them leaning in one direction then the other direction. Then Coach Gail and Glen gave us some advice on dealing with the hills on the course. The race was about to start so everyone disbanded and headed to the porta-pottys.
Unfortunately the crowded lines remained long. Surprinsingly we were not worried since the race really begins when our D-Tag crosses the starting line. As we stood in line, we can see the corral of runners funnel forward to begin their journey of 13.1 miles through the streets of the Bronx. Like Wack-A-Mole, Irene and I tried to anticipate which door would open next.
Irene jumped in first, then I found another one become free. As I escaped the capsule, I searched for Irene. I wasn’t sure if she was still in the box or on the course, so I jogged toward the start line to begin my race. My ankle felt tight, but I was ready to finish as fast as I could.
While the race started around a body of water named Jerome Park Reservoir, I did not see any water except for the cups of Gatorade and Water, along with the occasional spray from a few strategically placed hoses.
I wondered where Irene was on the course, so in the meantime I kept working my pace, making sure I did not bolt too quickly and do more damage to my left limb. The great thing about this course is that you can see runners head back in the opposite direction. It’s inspiring the see the elite runners run towards you, then you realize they would have crossed the finish line and finished brunch by the time you reach mile7. Mental note: need to run faster!
On Mosholu Parkway, I finally saw Irene up ahead. There was a turn around at mile 3, and I think she was working on a half mile lead. As she headed back, we saw each other and waved. I yelled, “You’re doing great!” As I made the turn back , Raymond, my brother-in-law poked me from behind. He was running late, and eventually will finish ahead of both of us. I told him to run his race, and he left me in the dust. By the way we are both doing the Disney Marathon in January.
What helped me so much was to see the enthusiasm from all the Team for Kids Coaches in the race and cheering from the sidelines. From Coach Vinny yelling my name and taking the course with ease. To Coach Brian who has an amazingly steady hand holding a camera as he maintained his speed. Coach Gail who always supports all members and writes the most inspiring words. Coach Sid, Asteria, and Zakia (who manages all the TFK stuff) where out on the course clapping and cheering us on. Everytime I saw Zakia, she kept on saying, “She’s just ahead!”
When I made the turn on to the Grand Concourse, I seached for Irene’s white hat and lime green TFK singlet. Irene was about 10 blocks ahead! I charged up the inclines and took it easy on the downhills. As I got closer and closer, I appreciated the Art Deco architecture of the 5 to 6 story buildings. What I really enjoyed seeing was the Empire State Building in the distance.
She made the turn around and I gave her a high five. About a mile later I finally made my move and passed her before Mile 10. It was shortlived lead until mile 11.5, where I crashed. I was seeing spots and my ankle/foot did not want to move. I heard a familiar voice say. “Let’s go old man!” Irene stayed a few minutes and off she went. I caught my second wind a little after mile 12 where I saw Zakia again, and she was wondering what happened when Irene passed me. I stepped it up and I saw Gail who said that Irene was looking great.
I sprinted the last quarter mile, or at least I think I was…and Irene greeted me with a smile behind some yellow caution tape after the finish line. I’ve always known that she was faster and stronger than me. I am so proud of her! She officially won by 25 seconds!