This post comes from my lovely wife, Ellie, who recounts her experiences at this year’s Freihofer’s Run For Women.
It was hot. Maybe people think I’m exaggerating, and maybe I am. But holy crap, Batman. I thought my face was melting.
Saturday started out really leisure-like; I almost forgot we had a race. After the 7:00 a.m. start time for the Buffalo Half Marathon, not having to leave the house until 9:00 a.m. was a chance to sleep in! After a light breakfast, Scotty took Becky and I down to the New York State Museum, a.k.a. the starting line. Unfortunately our third amigo, Mama Bard, had been feeling under the weather the week previous and decided to sit this one out. (I think we are all glad for this, as the humidity and sheer temperature were draining for those of us who weren’t even sick! Nobody wanted to see Donna on the eleven o’clock news being carried away on a stretcher after the race.)
I should have realized how hot it really was when I saw the firetruck spraying water into the street . . . but no. I just avoided getting wet, like a fool. We lined up and Becky got to enjoy the herd-of-cattle feeling of being corralled before the start gun went off. When it did, we were off! And then we came to a stop. And then we moved a few more feet! And then we stopped again. Beck and I were getting a little frustrated as we were unable to catch any kind of stride and had to dodge around people. But, hey, it took our focus off the steep hill we were shuffling up.
The crowd finally thinned out when we hit lovely Washington Park (almost a full kilometer in). I was truly very excited to be running this race. I was spending some time with my sister, it was her first official road race, and it was the second time I’d run this race (the first repeat race for me!). At one point in the park, a poster-board sign said “Hey you, random stranger. You’re a rock star!” So I screamed “Wooo!” and the sign’s holders yelled back. We were having a great time. The first and second kilometers ticked by like nothin’.
Then something hit me. I don’t know if the humidity notched itself up a few more percentiles or, as Jon would say, if it was something mental. But I struggled for the rest of the run. I made Beck pause for walking breaks (something I had had to do in last year’s Freihofer race, and I was not happy about doing it then, either). However, I told her I would make it up to her. At one point, after we entered Washington Park for the second time, I said, “Beck, I can’t.” What I meant was “Hey, dear sister, I’d like to take a short break here and maybe see if I can drain the fluid from my lungs. And by the way, you are rocking this and I love you for putting up with my shenanigans.” What a fellow runner heard was “I quit!” to which she responded, “You can do this! Your body is so much stronger than you think it is! You’re running with five thousand other women! It’s amazing!” So I asked if she would carry me. Becky said she would; and I believe her with all my heart. So there went that break.
Onward we trudged. Or, rather, I trudged and Becky flitted down the street, dodging in and out between slower runners like Bambi prancing through The Meadow. My efforts to usher her ahead and “go on without me” utterly failed. Damn sisterly bond.
When we finally made it back to Madison Ave., I could see the hill, the same one we had shuffled up at the start. This was what I had been waiting for; this was my chance to make it up to Beck. I shouted “Let gravity take you!” like we were in a weird epic-adventure film probably directed by James Cameron. We sped—nay, we rocketed down the final hill and across the finish line. My aunt, uncle, and two cousins were at the finish line and saw us cross. When we asked how we looked coming down the hill, my cousin Larsen said, “Well, you looked pretty angry.” He meant me. Becky, I’m sure, looked like a gazelle mixed with an Amazonian warrior. I, on the other hand, may have been a little angry. But in the words of Fat Amy, the heat/humidity had “fueled my hate fire.” We had finished the race.
In the end, I am vowing to my sister that we will run another race together. Maybe we can do something with an earlier start time, since running in colder temperatures is likely not in her future because she hates cold weather (something about numb and/or frostbitten toes . . .). But let the record show that I did enjoy this race and its outcome: times of 30:25!
I think it’s safe to say that I don’t do well in heat. But I’m working on it, especially with the Boilermaker coming up! And I really did have an awesome time with my sister. I am so happy she and her husband, Chris, came out to the 518 with us. And I am looking forward to our next run together, whatever and wherever it may be.