16 October 2011

Bolt the Billyburg: A Race Report on the Running of the Williamsburg Bridge

I've been running the Williamsburg Bridge since the days where I found the bridges of the lower part of Manhattan the most rewarding place to run when I lived in a crowded "one bedroom" (not sure if you can even really call the teeny apartment Jenny and I lived in that) in the East Village. So when I saw the announcement for Bolt the Billyburg, a race solely run on the bridge, I thought, "YES!" And then I got scared.

In recent years, I have been running long. LONG. I feel very comfortable running a 50miler, to be honest, more comfortable than I do running a 5k. But I still felt drawn to the race.

After a day of run-work-haircut-run-more work-protesting-NBR happy hour, I found myself tipsily ending the night. The alarm began braying way too early, but as usual, I respected it. And got myself to the foot of the bridge.

Fernando, Kim, Tyler, Wayne and I were the sole representatives of NBR, with Christine showing up for the Whippets (I miss her in NBR!). We did the race in two waves, running over the bike path side of the bridge, ending at the foot of the bridge in Manhattan, turning around, running back over the running partner until we hit the cross-over, then running across that, and down the bike path.

Wayne had promised me he'd run with me - mostly b/c I'm feeling like a slow wimp lately. He told me he'd pace me, and stuck by my side the whole time, which was really awesome and nice.

We started fast. My asthma was feeling crappy the day before, so of course, I immediately felt like hell. My lungs were burning - I used my inhaler. And again. And again. And again. I pushed hard up the bridge. My legs said yes, my lungs said no. It was so hard to push as fast as I was capable of.

I pushed faster. We got on the flat part and my lungs slowly calmed down. I looked at the water, the boats churning past underneath, the skyline, including my job's building. It was fun to run fast on my favourite bridge.

Running downhill was fun. My lungs were like, "Awesome."

At the base, some of the friends/volunteers of Mikal's were there to remind us to not run into speeding traffic and to instead turn around and run back upwards. And then my lungs began cursing me out again.

We pushed it faster.

And then flat.

And then down.

I pushed harder.

"You're the first woman," Wayne told me. That was obvious in our small heat, but I didn't know about the other heat. I told him this. But still, I pushed down.

He held my hand for a little while running down the very bottom of the ramp...

Until we finished.

I sat there, filling my lungs with oxygen and another six puffs of my inhaler.

After, we all went to Pips, where people drank PBR (though not me, a beer-hater), played pingpong, learned results, hung out, let my lungs chill a little. I was kind of excited to find out that I was indeed first woman; it was a very small race, but that's always fun to have. Victory does indeed taste so sweet, and it's impossible to accomplish without those you love. (Thanks, Wayne.)

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