Now that we’ve established the high level of professional athleticism B and I were about to exhibit (if you haven’t read Part One yet – you can find that here), we were ready to tackle the Big Show, the Main Event – the NYC Midnight Half Marathon. Hooray, it’s finally here! After capturing our likely route in 62 (not an exaggeration, literally 62) iPhone screen shots of Google Maps directions less than 2 hours before gun time, we were ready/still had basically no clue where we were going. And, we were running late to get our butts into Manhattan to the starting line from 7 miles south in Brooklyn. Lucky for me, it only took me 2.5 subway stops to down the extra large Gatorade that may be partially responsible for this race’s eventual success. We sped walk/jogged to the race check in, where we came upon a mass exodus of the race participants heading toward the start line. This was the first of many “Oh shit” moments we would experience.
Nerves were running high, and I was still unconvinced that I would actually be able to finish this b*tch without dying a death. Trying to contain the level of freakout to below a solid 6/10, we jogged to the race’s start under the bridge, about 1 mile-ish away from the race check in.
Except no one was there. Not a soul. (= Oh Shit Moment #2)
Pulling out the folded-a-million-times (and already sweaty) printout of check points from my pocket, I realized that we were at the wrong bridge. That’s right folks, the Williamsburg Bridge ≠ Manhattan Bridge. Mo. Thur. Eff. Still trying to maintain the threatening-to-skyrocket Freakout Level within normal operating conditions, we
ran sprinted to the Manhattan Bridge. We reached the starting line as the race organizers were gingerly folding up the timing mat that would clock our start time. Approaching one of the race volunteers, I exclaim, “We ran to the wrong bridge! What do we do?!” He (and everyone else standing around packing up cases of water bottles, immediately fell silent) looks at me like I’m Queen of the Morons, kind of throws his hands up in exasperation and barks, “Go!” (Hey buddy, just because YOU and 99% of the race participants live in NYC/Brooklyn does not mean that everyone does, mk? Chiiiiill).
Slightly demoralized, and now running this race 100% freestyle with no start time clocked in (and at least 20+ minutes after the rest of the pack), B and I take off towards the Brooklyn Bridge – check points 1 and 2 involve us crossing the East River into Brooklyn. Except we cannot for the life of us figure out how the EFF to get ONTO the Brooklyn Bridge, instead of just running in circles under/around/beyond it. And it’s really starting to feel like the start of a Law and Order: SVU episode (it’s dark, and creepy, and we are running on a bike path that feels a little bit like I should be holding mace in my hand). Finally, my patience hits a wall and my AAA personality wrenches control of navigating (sorry for firing you B, I love you always), and following logic and reason we begin to run back towards and then under/along side the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. Question: How many biochemists does it take to navigate over the Brooklyn Bridge? Answer: Apparently more than two.
In the course of the next 5-7 minutes, approximately 374 f-bombs were dropped. Sample: “This is TOTALLY F&^%ed UP! Why is Google Maps such a worthless f&^%ing piece of $%&?! What the actual &^%$!!!!!!” It was a liiiiittle bit like an all-caps Kanye rant. And that was just me racking up that f-bomb count, B was the still on the other side of optimism, while I was firmly within Raging Red limits. Under the guise of logic and reason, we encountered a map that made no sense (see above), a German tourist who I accosted and demanded to know if he lived in the city, and one extremely helpful, and devoid of judgement police officer/parking attendant/idk this dude was wearing a uniform, who kindly directed us to the g-damn pedestrian staircase to get onto the g-damn Brooklyn Bridge. *LE SIGH*, FINALLY.
Once we start cranking it over the bridge, the Kanye rant ceases, the Freakout Level plummets, and I begin to appreciate just how effin’ cool this is. It was the perfect temperature for running (mid 60’s), dark (i.e. no sunscreen necessary for this fair one over here), an almost-full moon and the views were stunning. NYC at night is pretty freakin’ gorgeous. That sparkly feeling lasted until we were almost halfway over the bridge, and realized that the elite runners at the head of the pack were running back over the bridge, having hit checkpoints 1, 2 and were already halfway done with the race. (= Oh Shit Moment #4)
Determined not to be a complainer, and appreciate the fact that I get to run next to my best friend, at midnight, in NYC, just for fun, I decided it was time to focus on the fact that our Cheer Squad was at Checkpoint #2, and just think about moving my little stems to get there. And of course, the fact that there would be ice water and encouragement from our Cheer Squad waiting for us when we arrived. (Meanwhile, I later find out that B was thinking about zombies chasing her in order to motivate her to run faster. Lolz. Love that betch.)
We passed by Checkpoint #1, which was completely abandoned (no surprises there, we were way behind at this point), and the reality set in that we were totes on our own on this one: it was just me and B. As we made our way through Brooklyn toward Checkpoint #2, the rest of the race participants passed us running in the opposite direction, so at least we knew that we were most likely going the right way (score!). And it was somewhere along there that I remembered our Cheer Squad, B’s bf Miguel* and his bff Diggy* (*names have been changed to protect the innocent), were tracking our route on Find My iPhone, and probably were wondering what the EFF we were doing earlier on our tour of Law & Order: SVU film locations before we made it to our actual course. Somewhere along the way in Red Hook, I hit my stride, and as we were zooming along the Red Hook Container Terminal, which is sketchy as f^%$ at midnight, I finally felt that I could probably finish this race without actually dying a death.
As predicted, Miguel and Diggy were waiting for us outside Checkpoint #2, Sketchy Dive Bar* in Red Hook. We took a breather, chugged ice water, gave them an abridged version of our adventure thus far (including how we are both completely Navigationally Challenged), and were on our way with ice cubes shoved in our sports bras. This time, much easier – all we had to do was retrace our steps, not fall into a pothole, and watch for the creepers. We passed by zero other race participants, and the second half of the race was filled with much more laughter than curse words and happily unremarkable.
In the interest of time (as in we didn’t want to still be running at 2:30 am), personal safety (all the checkpoints had been disassembled and the race volunteers had peaced) and the fact that we would prob end up running more than 13.1 miles, we crossed off Checkpoint #4 from our list and headed straight over to the finish line.
And we freakin’ did it. Without dying, vomiting, injuring ourselves or encountering any creeps. BOOYAH!!!!
1. Yes, Gatorade will save your life if you are mostly unprepared for a race.
2. Running with your BFF is the best motivation in the universe.
3. Being forced to run to a bar in Red Hook where your Cheer Squad is waiting WILL motivate you to actually do so.
And even though the winner finished in a record 1:11 (what kind of non-human animal that person is, I do not know), I can guarantee that B and I had 3000% more fun than anyone else. Because that’s how we roll. And life is not THAT serious, so sometimes you just have to prepare for a race in completely opposite the way you know how. And have fun. And then, you get pizza.
Since we had pretty much the best tour guide ever, Diggy delivered and put up with my demands for pizza, right now, at 2:33 am. Post race, we “walked out our legs” (in quotes because it was only semi-on purpose, *cough* Diggy *cough*), and we made our way to Little Italy and had the best pizza ever. Photo evidence:
Yum. So that’s how you do it, folks. Prepare as instructed in Part One, get super lost during the start of the actual race, make up your own route to the finish, and then eat pizza. These four simple things lead to complete and overwhelming race success. And, if you want to know what you’re supposed to do after you check all of those things off your list, come back tomorrow for Part Three: How to Celebrate Your Complete Victory and Domination of 13.1 miles. Yaaaasssss!