Best way to roast the broomstick. Must try. Five Stars.

How I survived the 2011 ING NYC Marathon, part two

(You can find part one here.)

Back in September I went on a couple of five-mile training runs with Christy and Erin of Every Mother Counts and realized that their pace was a tiny bit faster than my own. Nothing that I couldn’t keep up with, but when I thought about the enormity of the marathon I was pretty sure I’d be running it alone at the back of the pack, my ten GUs strapped around my waist, my iPod stuffed with Enrique Iglesias.

After that last sentence no one can accuse me of being a hipster parent ever again.

I love that you can work out to The Decemberists or Mumford & Sons, that is so cute. But, honey, NO BUENO. I carry around a tiny iPod shuffle that holds two GB worth of songs, and half of all those songs are this one:

How ridiculous is that song? Am I actually admitting out loud on the permanent Internet that I love it? That when I hear it my chest swells with the capacity of Hurculean lungs? If I am sitting down when I hear this song I am compelled to move at least one if not more parts of my body, so imagine what happens if I hear it when I’m running. I shift into falsetto.

You’ve never seen someone run in falsetto? GOD, people. Get your life lists in order!

At the starting line of the marathon I tucked my iPod into the zipper pouch on the back of my running pants knowing that I would run at least the first few miles without it. Many of you told me to take in the energy of the crowds that would line the route, so I wanted to be alert and receptive. Also, I’d be running through Brooklyn for the first ten miles. You can’t listen to Enrique Iglesias in Brooklyn. It says so in The Constitution.

We all stood together as a team, the ten of us, surrounded by so many bodies that it took over three minutes for us to cross the starting line. We held back a bit to let the crowd thin out, and then four of us fell into a natural group right there on the Verrazano-Narrows bridge at mile one: Erin, Lauren, Julie, and me. We didn’t know then, but our little group would stick together for over 23 miles. Those three women will own a part of my heart until I die, and not because the lesbian orgy we had at mile 12 curled my toes.

But first, can I just get a WHAT WHAT for Brooklyn? So many people came out to cheer and roar and clap and sing. Erin and I had written our names on our shirts, and every two or three strides someone would call out for us. We both commented to each other that we were smiling so much that our faces were starting to hurt. Great. Awesome. I was going to sprain my cheek from grinning. THANKS RUNNING.

And then when we got to Queens there was immediate silence. Like aliens had landed and kidnapped the entire human race except for those running the marathon. Queens woke up, realized it was Sunday morning, and thought FUCK THAT.

Early on we came up with a plan to walk through the water stations to conserve energy. Our pace was about an eleven-minute mile, so essentially we’d run for eleven minutes and then walk for twenty seconds. And thank God we walked through those water stations because I tell you what. There are many embarrassing ways one could exit this life — on the toilet, in a dryer, having sex with Spencer Pratt — but when you’re surrounded by all these athletes, the last thing you want to do is slip on a discarded mountain of gatorade cups and impale yourself on the stick holding up a sign that says, “SHOW ME YOUR NIP GUARDS.”

Other signs along the route:

YOU’RE RUNNING THE WRONG WAY.

THE SUBWAY IS RIGHT THERE.

BEER MISSES YOU, TOO.

BECAUSE 26.3 WOULD BE CRAZY.

The four of us ran side-by-side, each of us looking around for the others as we passed through the stations. When we found each other we’d make sure everyone was ready and then head off running again. Each time one of us saw someone we knew along the route, the whole group would slow down so we could have our moments. Each and every time. We even agreed to stop only once, at mile 13, to use the porta potties. I was certain that within the next half mile all our menstrual cycles would be synced.

I can’t stress enough how having this group dynamic helped with the pain, helped with moving forward. Because at 13.3 miles I realized I was headed into no man’s land. I had never run that far before, and we were only halfway done.

Heather, that’s why they call it a half marathon.

Head, I know this, but when you’re actually running a marathon you don’t think, oh, I just ran a half marathon. You think yay! I’m halfway there, IDIOT.

Heather, you’re talking to yourself in the third person AND calling yourself names.

I’M A RUNNER. IT’S WHAT WE DO.

As we ran that 13th mile I’d turn to Erin every other minute and say, “Look! This is the farthest I’ve ever run!” And then finally at mile 14 she was like, dude, if you say that one more— but I interrupted her because I had just run the farthest I had ever run.

Right at that moment I thought someone had shot me in the left knee with an arrow, a flaming arrow filled with poison that immediately unfurled in liquid black waves up my left thigh and down into my calf. So not only was it the farthest I had ever run, it was the first time any part of the left side of my body had ever hurt while running. I am checking off my life list faster than you can read it, BITCHEZ.

  • Steph Bachman

    Still chuckling about “this is the farthest I have ever run”

    I met a girl at mile 10 of the Savannah Rock-n-Roll marathon/half marathon and after she said she had never run more than 10 miles before, I congratulated her on her new distance record at least three times in our conversation.

    It IS what runners do. Betcha never thought you would be one of those. A RUNNER.

    Me neither! HA!

  • santa barbara

    I did the same thing to my amazing group of girls during Bay to Breakers last May; kept turning to them and saying “I’ve never run this far before!” and “I am a running robot!” Speaking of which, you would LOVE B2B. It’s only 12K and the people of San Francisco are so supportive and awesome. My favorite was the group sitting on their porch playing a steady rotation of “Eye of the Tiger,” the “Rocky” theme song and, for some reason, “Ghostbusters.”

    Am I making you want to run B2B next year? Don’t you miss running races already??

  • Daddy Scratches

    The liquid-black-waves-of-pain thing sounds fun. You’re making me want to run a marathon.

    Actually, I ran 26.2 miles this past summer. Not all at once, mind you; from, like, late May to mid-August.

  • napangel

    I really want to read the whole story right now. And this will keep me laughing the rest of the day: “but I interrupted her because I had just run the farthest I had ever run.”

  • slappyintheface

    If I ran a block, it would probably be the farthest that I have ever run.

  • luv and kiwi

    You are SOOO describing my marathon experience…well besides the four friends and super model.

  • jan001

    Had to laugh at the signs, and will add one for you to watch for next time you do this:

    A friend of mine ran a big marathon somewhere this past weekend and came back still laughing about seeing a guy on the sidewalk, about halfway through the race, holding up a sign that said…

    WORST
    PARADE
    EVER.

  • Canadienne29

    My favorite sign that I’ve ever seen on the race course:

    CHUCK NORRIS NEVER RAN A MARATHON!

    I can’t wait for the sequel to this entry! Awesome race reports, Heather!

  • Apepito2011

    I would love to know your running playlist! I’m always looking for good music for the gym…anything that makes me want to move!!

  • LinKelley

    Where do you come up with all the crap that falls out of your mouth (and roils around in your brain)? You’re so damn funny!!!

  • prestonk9

    I too love that song – so much. When it comes on in my kickboxing class, I totally become J-Lo training to be a bad ass in the movie “Enough”. Kinda like running in falsetto. I knew Enrique was hot but that was the first time I saw that video – whew! I may have licked my computer screen.

  • abbyfitch

    I can’t tell you how happy I am for you that you finished that marathon. And you have inspired me to run another – your descriptions made me miss that experience (I’ve run two).

    My favorite lines of this post?

    “Heather, you’re talking to yourself in the third person AND calling yourself names.

    I’M A RUNNER. IT’S WHAT WE DO.”

    Ain’t that the truth. 🙂

    WAY TO GO, HEATHER!!!!!

  • Laura Mauk

    Hilarious. And Inspiring.
    My big confession is running while listening to Matchbox 20. So uncool. But in the pas three years the most running I’ve done is walking fast to Dairy Queen for ice cream that I shouldn’t be having. Hopefully your posts will rub off on me.

  • k8y

    Enrique is my guilty pleasure, too. I discovered him quite innocently, then encountered him during a Zumba class warm up/cool down and was hooked. I find it nearly impossible to not move listening to his stuff.

    Between Enrique, Adam Lambert, Lady GaGa and some soon-to-be added Rihanna (thanks to you) I am able to do my treadmill thing at the gym.

  • DisposableWombat

    I have been looking for some way to “celebrate” my mid-life crisis. I am now – as a result of the insanity of The Dooce – toying with the idea of running a marathon (or at least a Ragnar) next year at the ripe old age of 50. If I survive, I’ll be available to share survival advice with Mr. Armstrong.

  • annanewelljones

    What a great post! Love how you write… so freaking funny…

  • aloysius

    The part of Queens the race usually goes through is an industrial area that’s not very populated. I’m sure this is the ONLY REASON Queens did not represent.

  • superkb

    What what, Brooklyn! So glad you liked it—we take pride in our cheering! So fun to spot you and the other Moms on the course! Congrats on the race! It’s an amazing accomplishment!

  • tallnoe

    I love the energy around races. From my side. And that side is the SIDELINES. The only sane place to be…

    Anyway, YAY for you!!! Can’t wait for the last part.

    Also, love Enrique for working out. I think my workout playlist will eventually get me banned from my indie music world…

  • kelcut

    I have to confess that every time I read “the 2011 ING NYC Marathon” in your posts, my head hears it as
    “the 2011 F-ING NYC Marathon”.

    I think I’m channeling your pain. That shit is Freudian right there.

  • OrangeLily

    Part-way through this post, I thought, this is the most fun running has ever sounded. Then I read about the liquid black pain – that dampened that fun mood.

    I tried to start running once. Even went to The Running Room to get proper support runners. Ran a block, my shins hurt, I walked. That was it. The idea of running appeals to me. The implementation of it doesn’t.

  • shan.h

    I’m with slappyintheface on this one.

    I had also almost forgotten of Spencer Pratt’s existence until reading this post.

    Heather you’re a rockstar for finishing that marathon.

  • LillyO

    “I was certain that within the next half mile all our menstrual cycles would be synced.”

    Oh.My.Effing.Gawd!

    Heee-larious, bitchez!

  • michellesa

    When you’re running 26.2 miles, all bets are off when it comes to what music you listen to. If it keeps you moving, it’s fair game! As a long time, runner and now two-time marathoner, I’m loving following along with your running. Despite the injury setbacks, it kind of sounds like you’re hooked….. And I know exactly what you mean when you say ‘running in falsetto.’ Non-runners might not get it, but I’m sure all the runners out there do.

  • j m m f

    Awesome job!

    How much did you hate bridges by the time you were done? I did it two years ago and still believe NYC is entirely made of grated bridges.

    I just ran the Chicago Marathon in October, and the best sign I saw along the way said, “Worst. Parade. Ever.”… was at mile 23 and I laughed until mile 24.

  • jodimckee

    yay! my husband and i were so happy that we saw you! thanks for crossing the street to give us high-fives!!

    got some pics of you & your team, too! http://ow.ly/7x7oa

  • melanie

    hmmmm….i’m trying to figure out what it means, the fact that i absolutely recognized that song, but somehow had always assumed that it was done by katy perry…

    congratulations on the marathon. just amazing, miss heather!

  • k2

    have you been looking at my ipod? because mumford and sons and the decemberists (along with a LOT of avett brothers and others) are precisely what are on there! and as much as i love them, i’ll admit that they are not the best songs to run or workout to (although the zydeco music i’ve got on there will get me moving). so, i’d also love to know your running/workout playlist because sometimes i really need a kick in the ass. and that enrique song is one that’s used in my body pump class. i had no clue who sang it….i just do my bench presses to it and I LIKE IT!
    big congratulations for running the marathon! it is a HUGE accomplishment!

  • KatieMama

    Oh, my gosh, I HAVE to have fast music in order to run, so I have no judgement whatsoever about the Enrique Iglesias song. I actually never judge anyone’s taste in music, it’s just too personal. If I were ever to run a marathon, which I hope to never want to do, I’d want a pack to run with like you did.

  • mamawiseman

    Loved your posts on running! As a runner, you are always happy to read that someone else is equally obsessed.

    Congratulations on the run. You were SO fast given injury, lack of training. Such an inspiration for me- I haven’t been training while dealing with a back injury. After reading your posts I have decided- fuck it, I am not going to stop running, just be smarter about it.

    I would love for you to post your entire playlist. Maybe as an iMix? I always love to know what everyone else is listening to.

    Congrats again! You continue to amaze and inspire. Thank you!

  • LynnB

    Maybe you’ve posted it somewhere else in the community but I keep hoping to see part 3 of how you survived. You must have some great stories (and crazy thoughts) somewhere between miles 15 and 26.2 – after all, that’s when the delusion really sets in. Please? And congrats!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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