As a member of the global running community, I'm always fascinated in the myriad of ways by which our presence as individuals and as a whole enrich the lives and experiences of those within and outside that community. Some of us run races to raise money for charity. Others take on loftier challenges and bigger goals to bring attention and raise awareness for public health concerns (See Sara Stanley in RunRideInspire Project). Still others write blogs, engage in twitter, and produce podcasts that educate and inspire their audience with stories from their own adventures on the road. Heck, even the lonely runner who does none of these things but only complains to his non-running buddies about his ITB acting up in the middle of a weekend long run is contributing to the community by advocating for our sport and engaging others in a conversation about health and exercise. What a wonderful feeling it is to know that no matter who we are, no matter what we do, or who we know, as long as we're consistently getting out there, day after day, running, biking, swimming and staying active, we are all doing our part collectively and sharing our passion for everyone in our communities, our cities and our country to lead healthier lives.
Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I am heading into the city to participate in the NYRR Manhattan Half Marathon. For me as well as for a lot of the local runners I'm sure, it will be our first road race of the new decade. The excitement and energy for this 13.1 mile race through two loops of Central Park has been palpable on blogs, twitter, and facebook for the past few days. The race has been sold out for weeks and during my visit to the NYRR headquarters for bib and t-shirt pickup on the first day of registration, I overhead a conversation between the volunteers that they had to call in extra help because there wasn't enough manpower to handle the crowds at the t-shirt station. Wow!
Personally, when I was putting together my race calendar for the first half of the year, I never envisioned that I'd be running this race. It's still early in my marathon training cycle, I'm still building up my mileage slowly, and I'm nowhere near my tip-top racing shape. But when my friend Brandon asked me to consider pacing him for his PR attempt in this race a few weeks back, I did not have to waste much time coming up with a response. Unbeknownst to him, he inadvertently created the perfect scenario for me to participate, run, but not race this race! Not only will I be completing my scheduled long run for that week at a 7:15 pace that is perfectly comfortable for me, I also get to run in scenic Central Park, help out a friend, hang out with other Flyers and friends who I haven't seen in many months and develop my skills as a consistent race pacer! (I have serious aspirations of being a BQ pacer in a marathon later this year or the next, but that's another story for another day...) Since the inception of this idea, we've invited several other twitter friends to join us and our impromptu 1:35 pace team for the race tomorrow. I am absolutely thrilled, extremely excited but a little nervous at the same time. The Central Park course, as anyone who's ever run there knows, is extremely technical. There are so many hills, big and small, that to maintain the same pace throughout will be difficult to do. I will do my best to maintain a consistent effort and avoid having to speed up or slow down too much at the end. I sincerely hope I do a good job and everyone who runs with me will have a pleasant experience.
Best of luck to those racing this weekend, both here in the city and elsewhere! Let's all get out there and inspire!