Ray K came back for round two of the Great NY 100 Mile Running Exposition - and it was even better the second time around.
Ray K. is one of my best friends, my coach, and used to be one of the top ultrarunners in the world. Now, he's begun truly focusing on his training, and it's amazing how much he's progressed since he began 100% focusing - and when he doesn't stop to take a nap!
I got up at 7am, ran and trained over to Central Park to do the Pride 5 Mile Run, called Ray to hear his updates and update him on my race (7:11 pace for 5 miles, not too bad), came home, showered, ate breakfast, and then Wayne and I drove down to mile 71, where we were to report to at 2:30. We got there at 1:30 and it was Far Rockaway Beach - yay, RIGHT on the street in front of the beach. Wayne and I hung out on the beach until our co-volunteer of the aid station called and told us we didn't need to report until the first runner came in to at least the aid station before - so Wayne went surfing, I waited anxiously for the phone call, checking the FB page to see the status of runners coming in, while spraying on sunblock and reading a Wade Davis book.
Our aid station was pretty much the most awesome aid station ever. We were in front of this weird MoMA dome w some sort of cafe during the day and club at night. All these random sometimes drunk people kept talking to us and asking us what was going on. The RDs only supplied water and gatorade, but Wayne, Yuri and I brought pickles, bread, chips, pretzels, watermelon, crackers, and other random snacks. And the ocean was across the street! Great people watching, and you could see the runners from far away.
It was fun, greeting runners. I'd run into the street, doing high kicks, shouting things like, "I AM YOUR AID STATION!" and chase them along to the aid station. People went inside the dome for a mid-100 mile dance. Others did cartwheels coming into the aid station. Some people were out of it. Others, so with it I was amazed. It was pretty impressive.
Ray came up an hour later than he was supposed to, but that's okay. We ended up having a lot of fun instantly, so who cares?
We headed on the road, sharing stories, asking each other for advice, talking about our days, the fun and struggles and getting lost (Ray got lost, not me, for once).
Mile 75 aid station was hidden in the bushes, but we welcomed it, said hi to Todd Jennings and ran on. We began catching up w runners who left way before Ray, so he was happy.
The Marine Parkway Bridge. I HATE this bridge; it freaks me out. When I run over it by myself, I have to SPRINT AS FAST AS I CAN or I'm frightened like crazy. Ray couldn't sprint to save my sanity so instead he gripped my hand as I hyperventilated across the bridge.
The run along the Belt was very dark and sandy. Ah, Plum Beach where Wayne likes to go kite surfing. We ran a little with Michael and sometimes Shannon (who was experiencing extreme chafing problems...) and pacer Claudia.
And...into Sheepshead Bay. On the other side of the bridge was Mary Harvey, armed with cheddar penguins. We ran over to the beach where two guys rapping Eminem sent us into hysterics. We ran down the boardwalk, trying not to trip, looking at the amusement parks, the drunk people, the beach.
Let's not get lost....and through Brooklyn. Parks. So many parks. We sang a little, sometimes the same song, sometimes making up songs, sometimes we were all quiet and the songs just took place in my head.
4th avenue. I got in a shouting fight w a drunk jerk who ended up calling me "White bitch" (Seconds earlier I was sexy....I talk back and the tune changes....) and I was worried Ray would have to protect me after 80-something miles....
Last year, Ray had stopped here for a sit-down Chinese meal during the 100 miler. Mary kept pointing out every single Chinese place (all closed and shuttered at this early hour of the morning) to ask him if it was the one.
And on...and on....
Ray was feeling good. Strangely good for running as far as he had. We ran hard into the mile 95 aid station, and he drank some Coke and "let's go." We did. I had been pushing him earlier but now I didn't need to. He was pushing himself.
On the bridge, Ray complained abt the uphill...and THEN WE WERE FLYING DOWN! It was amazing. We picked up speed, and pushed, and pushed. I was so proud of him.
We ran faster. I looked at the directional sheet and then would catch up.
On Broadway...we counted down the streets...closer, closer, closer...and then...the finish line!
It was a beautiful experience to support a wonderful amazing friend - the stores we shared that night, the fun we had, the great running, the trouble we almost got into...and then we took a nap, like Ray K specializes in...