One of the best pieces of news I have received was delivered to me by a nurse as I lay on a hospital bed, coming round after surgery.
By Lee Sandford
One of the best pieces of news I have received was delivered to me by a nurse as I lay on a hospital bed, coming round after surgery. No, it didn’t involve the birth of one of my children, it was after I had surgery to repair a torn meniscus. The news was “the doctor wants you to know that you can’t run any more marathons.” She was terribly sympathetic, not realizing it was music to my ears!
With apologies to anyone embarking on the journey to marathon for the first time — marathon training *#*#*! I wasn’t surprised to read in this month’s Runners World that for the seventh year in a row, there has been more than a 10 percent growth in the number of people finishing half-marathons, resulting in a record 1.85 million finishers in the U.S. in 2012.
The biggest advantage a half marathon has over a marathon is … well, that it’s shorter! That seems obvious, but when your long training run is 11 miles versus 22, you can manage to lead a normal life as well as train for a race. Marathon training doesn’t allow for nearly as much balance. It makes you, in fact requires you, to be obsessive. Half-marathons are a huge challenge requiring dedication and commitment to your training regimen, but are definitely a more user-friendly goal for a greater number of people and more diverse starting levels of fitness.
On Sunday, April 14, ten women from Rye and Harrison headed into New York for the More Half-Marathon, an all-women event held in Central Park. More than 10,000 women took part. Our group was a good representation of the large cross section of people that the Half attracts — four first-timers, two second-timers, and two with several races under their belt. First timer Raquelle Frenchman decided to do the race simply because she wanted to see if she could do it. Karen Dore had done one a couple of years ago and thought she had checked it off her list, but when a friend mentioned she was doing it, Karen thought it would be good to have a fitness goal to work towards over the winter months. Maria Bannon and Marci Lyons are, like me, marathoners of long ago with no plans to revisit, but none of us is quite ready to hang up our racing shoes altogether; so the 13.1 distance is a challenging goal to work towards once or twice a year. On that dreadful second loop around the park this year, Marci said she was thinking, “What am I doing? I’m too old for this now!” and shortly afterwards was running alongside a lady she thought to be in her 80s, and realized she can’t use that excuse for another 40 years or so.
In the week before the race, all of us were excited if a little bit nervous. My fellow runners had a positive attitude when I asked them what they were dreading the most. Answers included, the early start, using the port-a-potties and even – “nothing at all.” My answer to my own question was that I was dreading every step, mile, and hill.
There has been some debate about changing the name of the half-marathon. Running “half” of something doesn’t even sound like you finished! Don’t underestimate how physically challenging running 13 miles, around two hours, is.
At the finish, I collapsed on the hill wrapped in my foil blanket, shakily peeling a banana saying “never again.” By the time a few more of the group came over the line and we congregated to cheer others as they crossed, I heard myself say, “Next year we should have a list of each other’s numbers.” What did I mean next year? Five minutes earlier I was hanging up my boots and buying a shadow box for my number and medal to commemorate my last race!
The rest of the group had a similarly quick recovery back to chipper and were excited as the endorphins kicked in. Jennifer Walsh, one of our first-timers, said the run was much more difficult than she had anticipated, but that the hundreds of kids cheering their moms on and signs like “Ryan Gosling is at the finish line” cheered her up and spurred her on. We all agreed the atmosphere and camaraderie is hard to beat, and is probably heightened due the fact that it’s an all-women race — Girl Power and all that.
Ladies, if I haven’t done a good enough job of putting you off, the next women’s half-marathon in our area is the Diva Half in Long Island on October 6. Drop me an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to find out about training programs and training buddies.