Before the NYC Half Marathon start I went through my check list. Soft ankle brace check. Hinged brace check. Advil check. Inhaler check. Cell phone, check. Running playlist ready to rock at the touch of a button, check. Hugs and kisses from my daughter at the start check and check. And, I am off.
I decide the night before to tackle the NYC Half in three parts and plan for several exit points along the way in case I have to drop out of the race. Exits and how to handle exits are key in good strategies. My daughter will wait at the first exit. The park exit at 7th Ave. If I feel I can continue she will head to the finish. If in the worse case scenario I have to stop after, I have my Metro Card to catch a bus or train and she will come to meet me.
Part I: A full loop around Central Park starting with a down hill. A rush of able bodied runners behind me dart pass my right. Like a driver cruising with the emergency spare tire on, I stay on the outer lane of runner traffic in the event that I have to come to a full stop.
I really want to run past Times Square. I hear there is nothing like it.
|Part I: Central Park Loop|
After a light jog around the lower loop I walk up the infamous "Cat Hill," just ahead of East Park Drive and 72nd Street. This is the first major hill on the course and second in difficulty to the Harlem Hills at the Northern end of the park between mile 3 and 4. Once on top of the hill I jog down slowly, stop and walk and continue to jog. Walking up all the hills, jogging lightly all the downs and walking as needed I pass mile 6, exit the park and keep on going.
Part II: I pause my music and start to walk. I want to save my energy for a short run down past Times Square. Most of the heavy runner traffic has past. It is quiet. Just a few bystanders and police officers are on the street along with tourist, both puzzled and amazed by this running spectacle. The street appears wider than it does in the day when it is teaming with traffic. I have a Wow! moment and start to think of some of my favorite songs about NYC that always pump me up, Frank Sinatra's New York, New York and George Benson's Neon Lights of Broadway. There is definitely a magic in the air and I feel charged.
I put one ear bud in for my power song. Every runner needs a power song. For this race I picked Princess of China (Coldplay & Rihanna, from Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto Album).
The jog into Times Square is electrifying. I gimp a short sprint down the main stretch passing mile 7 and look forward to seeing the Team Fox squad at the end. They are awesome. Go Team Fox!!! Woohoo!! I got this far. I am running for a wonderful cause. My mom is home. It would have been nice for her to come out but it would have also been too much with her PD. She is with me in heart. Donning her photo and that of other members of the Brooklyn Parkinson Group on my black chapeau, I look at my second race exit point, the Subway entrance at Times Square and 7th Avenue- I think to myself, "There is no way I am not going to finish this race now!"
|Passing by the Team Fox Squad. Photo by Team Fox|
|Part II. Middle 4 mile Stretch|
|Part III- Approach to and the Finish|
I forget about my power song. The cheers of spectators and other runners who were done with the race, having a reason bigger than me to finish this race (to raise funds and awareness for Parkinson's Disease and the efforts of the Micheal J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research) powers me across the finish.
|Together we can do!|
P.S. Why "Gimpy Mo"? A good friend who has shuttled me to many races at the crack of dawn (Thanks Mr. D! Don't forget I may need you in November!) and has seen me on the mend on many occasions endearingly called me Gimpy Mo the morning of. That is what friends are for. To rib you. To remind you, to look a the lighter side of life and.... keep smiling!