A Heavy Hearted More FITNESS Half Marathon Recap

I ran the More/Fitness Women’s Half Marathon on Sunday, April 14 and it is a day I will never forget. It will go down in history for me as crossing something off my bucket list that I have wanted to do for a very long time. Though it was my 3rd half marathon, it was the first time that I was running in an all women’s race and in New York City to boot. Two and a third loops of Central Park and I was done

I was so excited about writing this recap, but subsequent horrific and deadly events at the Boston Marathon the next day numbed me, left me unable to write this until now. It’s nearly a week later and my brain is still reeling, my heart is till very heavy. I have spent the past week since my half marathon stretching, doing yoga and walking. I haven’t ran yet, to be honest the ‘thought’ of it makes me a little sad rather than energizing me. I think my body was ready to run again on Thursday, but emotionally I just have not been ready to. On Sunday, I’ve booked myself in for an easy 5 miles. I’m sure it will do me some good both physically as well as emotionally to put the anger and sadness that I have felt post Boston behind me.

Besides the carnage, loss of life and senselessness of it all, the thing that really shook me personally was how  elated I was to have my family cheering me on at the finish line. Mr BAM, Mr P (5 years old) and Little Miss (17 months) were so happy to see me, and I them. I can only imagine how heartbroken it would be to feel responsible as a runner for the injury or death or your personal cheering squad. Mr BAM and I have since talked about future races. Would I expect to see them at the finish line? How would he feel about brining the kids to one of my races? It’s all still blurry but hopefully time will heal all.

The quote above was taken from Kathrine Switzer, the first women ever to official enter and run the Boston Marathon. I thoroughly recommend you read her book, Marathon Woman. It’s a phenomenal read for any woman facing societal challenges and striving to carve out her own path – I  promise, you don’t need to be a runner to enjoy this, strong women only! And if you are a runner then it is a MUST read to understand how easy we have it nowadays as female runners. I chose to share the quote because once upon a time, it was so true – the events in Boston have changed this, but hopefully as a community we will get back there.

Now onto the recap…

The morning started at 5:30AM, not terribly early for me, as that is when I normally get up to start my long runs on the weekend. I was feeling rested and excited to be running. Last year, even though I registered for this race, I missed out, I wasn’t ready. So it was nice to get a second chance.

On the subway as I got closer you could spot other women who’d be racing. The tell tale orange D-Tag on the shoelaces that would later record our finish times as well as the nervous scoffing of bananas and swiggs of water.

It’s always nice stepping out into Mnahattan near Central Park. The streets have the look of brownstones that are often featured in NYC cop dramas, and you could feel the energy as women descended on the park out of cars, yellow cabs and the subway like me.

I met up with the running group Black Girls Run and posed in their group picture. Though the running times for the local chapter don’t work for me, I appreciate what they stand for and maybe just maybe one day running with them will fit into my schedule. I still take advantage of their support and knowledge in their Facebook community.

A group of women asked if I’d take their pics at the 13 mile marker and they’d do the same for me. The photo on the right is me just minutes before the race started. As you can see I don’t look super relaxed in either of these. I think I need a certain amount of anxiety before I race, though I must admit I’d love to run a race one day without feeling so ill from nerves first thing in the morning.

For this 10th anniversary edition, the theme of the race was “Women Run the World”, and so Beyonce blared from the speakers as we literally crawled across the start line. For my start, due to my projected pace per mile, it took an agonizing 10 minutes before the race started for me.The women around me marveled at how fast the likely runners took off and sped off into the distance – these women were running their own incredibly fast pace! While I ran through mile 7, cheers roared up as the top women were on their second lap heading to mile 13!

I turned my headphones on and set off at my pace as best I could. Pacing is definitely not my forte and something that I’d really like to focus on for my next race – wherever that may be! I run with Runkeeper on my iPhone so I get updates at every mile. I’d set off on the first mile much slower than I’d anticipated, partly cause the course was so chock full of women and partly cause I was having trouble judging how fast I was going. Once the runners started to fan out and not all bunch together, I settled into listening to my brand new playlist. I always create a brand new playlist the night before a big race. Not only does it keep my mind off things the night before, but I also feel surprised and excited as I run. Thanks to JT, Will.i.am, David Guetta, Fun, Azealia Banks and so many other high energy hits for getting me through not 1, not 2, but 4 rolling hills including the infamous Harlem Hill. I’m much more used to the sharp elevation of the hill at Prospect Park, whereas Harlem Hill snaked around seemingly never going to end. To my credit, I’d been doing hill workouts and so was somewhat prepared.

You can never really know a hill until you run it, and I’d never run these ones before. 

I was happy to be running a race with a fuel belt for the first time. It was good for my psyche not having to slow down for a drink. For me in the past that slow down can be deadly.

It was a tough training for me, with way too many seasonal colds having been passed around our house, forcing me to the sidelines either to look after sick kiddos or myself – I didn’t get in as many miles as I would’ve liked. But I can’t complain, mentally I was there. I got straight through the 13.1 miles, pushing straight through to the finish and feeling good afterwards.

The spectators were phenomenal! Random people cheering me on, thumbs up along the way and especially the loud applause as we ascended into mile 4 and 10 on the second loops. Loops are hard, you know that you will have to do hill another time, and have to erase it from your brain.

My favorite signs from the sideline that I can remember were

Hey Girl, I just saw Ryan Gosling at the finish line.

and

Just keep running, I don’t know CPR!

One spectator at the finish line had a sign announcing she was pregnant! I wonder if it was true and who the sign was for.

Overall, I couldn’t have been happier to have run. Its ignited my urge to run another race, maybe a Rock N Roll or a 10K. Though I love the training and preparation of a half marathon, I think I could totally kick butt in a 10K – that’s my distance. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and its definitely a race I would consider doing again next year.

More/FITNESS Race Expo highlights

One of the highlights of the race weekend was  the expo, the first of its kind for me. The only other races I have ran since being in the US have been 5 or 10K and so have not had expos. One out the 2 half-marathons that I ran in New Zealand was out in a woodsy area known for its hot springs, so the expo consisted of number pickup at a local school. The other much bigger half marathon was in New Zealand’s largest city (Auckland Half Marathon), sponsored by Adidas, this had an expo but the scale of it was not the same as the More/FITNESS Marathon.

I met some interesting companies and actually fell in love with major sponsor Athleta. I don’t know why, but they never interested me much before. For some reason, I ‘got’ them over the course of the weekend. I love their “Power of the She” tagline and really felt it. I liked their total body approach to offering stretches and I am soooo going on a major shopping spree at the end of the month – love their collection.

You know you’re a mother runner when

Another highlight was meeting the women behind the fantastic books Run Like A Mother who had a booth at the expo. I got to talk briefly with Dimity and was trying to figure out if I can make it to one of their Another Mother Runner parties later in the year. We talked about how cool it is to be part of a community where your commnalities (running and motherhood) means that everyone gets you. So again, another book recommendation! Check out their book if you are looking for support and training plans that account for the fact that sometimes its difficult to get a long run in after a sleepless night with baby.

I digress…They often post funny pictures on their blog for the reasons you know you are a mother runner. So in that vain, here are a few reasons that came out of the race for me!

  1. You share your prepared bagel and banana with your kids…even though you just ran 13.1 miles. I wasn’t really looking for it, but I never found the table(s) with the obligatory post race bananas and bagels. I saw other runners eating them, but I just didn’t see the table. Obviously, I beelined it to baggage check so quickly so that I could meet up with the kids and Mr BAM that I missed it. When I took out the bagel and banana I’d brought from home, Mr P and Little Miss of course required that I share.
  2. You forego the after pics a la red carpet style in order to play in the park with the kids. Though I got a few sweaty shots with the kids after, and some of me looking nervous before the race, I never got the photo in front of the sponsor wall – oh well!
  3. Watch the kids eat hot dogs and pretzels while secretly dreaming of going home and whipping up a post run protein smoothie. We were in Central Park after all on a gorgeous spring day, so of course they had to have a hotdog, while I was already mixing my smoothie in my head.
  4. You let the kids climb all over you while Dad buys diapers. In the middle of Central Park, we rrealize that Little Miss needs to be changed, but as typical of some dads, he was not traveling with diapers or wipes! So I sat on the edge of a fountain staring out at Trump Towers while both kids climbed and jumped all over me while Mr BAM headed to Duane Reade to buy diapers. Thank you DR :)

Have you checked anything off your bucket list recently? How did you feel afterwards?



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13 Responses to A Heavy Hearted More FITNESS Half Marathon Recap
  1. Emily
    April 21, 2013 | 1:43 am

    Congrats to you for accomplishing your goal. I feel like I would die if I ran that far, lol.
    Emily recently posted..Air Wick National Park Collection ReviewMy Profile

    • Ghada V
      April 21, 2013 | 10:08 am

      That’s what I thought a few years ago too :)

  2. Jadey Sam
    April 21, 2013 | 4:39 am

    It’s my dream to run the marathon…I need to get in shape first.

    • Ghada V
      April 21, 2013 | 10:08 am

      One day I hope to do a full marathon, but no time in the near future :)

  3. Tammi @ My Organized Chaos
    April 21, 2013 | 11:00 am

    What a great motivational post! I’ve always wanted to start running, so hard to get started!
    Tammi @ My Organized Chaos recently posted..Easy Banana MuffinsMy Profile

  4. Shannon (The Mommy-Files)
    Twitter: themommyfiles
    April 22, 2013 | 12:53 am

    Wow – way to go girl! You are definitely an inspiration and have motivated me. I just started jogging and it is sooooo hard! I can’t imagine what those at the Boston Finish line must have felt. It has also left me numb.
    Shannon (The Mommy-Files) recently posted..Homemade Chicken Cordon Bleu Recipe with Ingredients from Smart & Final #ChooseSmartMy Profile

  5. Kim @ 2 Kids and a Coupon
    Twitter: 2kidsandacoupon
    April 23, 2013 | 12:58 am

    Congrats on your accomplishment!

  6. Becky Schollian
    May 1, 2013 | 2:54 pm

    WOW!! Congratulations on your victory!! I think it is to see just how we can do anything we want as long as you strive for it!!I live in California & I have M.S. It absolutely warms my heart to see your happy Sweaty faces. What an inspiration you are!! I am new to your blog & look forward to reading your post. Thanks!!

  7. marissa lee
    May 4, 2013 | 8:21 pm

    wow what an inspiration you are..thank you for sharing..we all can use motivation.congrats on your victory.

  8. Rachel R.
    May 5, 2013 | 9:16 am

    I have been sidelined from running for a while due to fertility treatments and now pregnancy (yay!), so thanks for letting me live vicariously through your race recap.

    That’s so cool that you got to meet Dimity, their first book was great when I was training for my first half marathon. I also love the Ryan Gosling sign, I may have to steal that since I’m now the one cheering at races instead of running :)
    Rachel R. recently posted..Back from Vacation – Sharks, eels, and stingrays, oh my!My Profile

  9. Olivia Rubin
    May 12, 2013 | 4:12 pm

    I can’t imagine being able to run that far. I just finished week 7 day 1 of the 10 week program. I ran for 24 minutes straight and feel so accomplished that I couldn’t do this 6 weeks ago.
    I often think of the Boston runners while I am out. I don’t feel a connection to them, but rather that I should be willing to commit myself to the task of running since they all list so much that day…all the runners.
    I hope to one day run a race and see a sign that puts a smile on my face.

  10. […] Training Week 1: The Bumpy Road to Auckland Half Marathon Written on August 10, 2014 in Healthy Living/Running So excited to be running the Auckland Half Marathon again! I ran it nearly 4 years ago just before we decided to try for number 2 (who is now Little Miss).  Running over the bridge from Devonport back into the city was exhilarating, I’ve always loved that view. It was my first road race, my first half being an offroad in Hanmer Forest. I then ran my 2 main bucket list races in New York city – the women’s 10K and the MORE Fitness Women’s Half Marathon. […]

  11. Susan
    April 12, 2015 | 10:11 pm

    Inspiring story. “Marathon running, like golf, is a game for players, not winners.”
    Susan recently posted..Choosing The Best Personal Training CertificationMy Profile

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KiwiCanadian expat adventures with my husband and 2 kids from life in New Zealand to New York and back again. Adventures in inspired family living, travel, health & fitness.Read More »