" We were like 40 hamsters about to start running after the cheese!"
I ran a half marathon on a treadmill race in Times Square and won $US 5,000 dollars!!! This was the most bizarre of my running experiences and one of the most profitable!!... I just arrived back from running the Beirut International Marathon and was basking ion the glory of overtaking a few Ethiopians Elite females to win the 11 position amongst the elites and USS $400 dollars... I was in training for New York City 2003 which was only in two week after the Beirut race. .My plan was to totally taper between the two marathons. A friend e-mailed about this race on a treadmill in Times Square on the Tuesday before New York City Marathon and mentioned that the prize was $5000...
I thought to myself, should I risk blowing my taper ... Oh why not!! If I get too wiped, I can always get of... So the morning of the run, a work morning at that, at 7:30 am, 40 of us chosen from the NYRoad Runner Club pool, had to sign in at the ESPN zone which was a sport bar in Times Square. Oh my, to my astonishment, all of the best runners in New York City were also there. We all looked so hideously out of place! A far ways from Central Park and inside and on treadmills! Sacrilege!!!How embarrassing!! Oh it was just for fun and no doubt we all had the same thoughts, the money and the thinking that everybody else would be either at work or resting up for New York City Marathon which was the following Sunday...
So there we were. None of us knowing how to do this or what exactly would happen. We were like 40 hamsters about to start running after the cheese! We were told that if we touched anything on the treadmill during the run by mistake we were to be disqualified.
As luck would have it, I overheard a fellow runner telling a female competitor before the race ...’You know how you do this’... My ears perked up…...You have to go all out... the top of the treadmill speed and try to go as long as you can.. So there it was….. The key to success!!….. Pacing at the highest level it can go ...The problem was the treadmill would only go six minute miles ...that was a problem especially for the faster males...Anyhow, I hopped on next to an elite man and we were of... I push it to maximum and hung in prepared to bear pain for 13 miles... The boredom of the journey, well I could deal with that, as I had lived in Jakarta for two years previously and had run on a treadmill for 2 hour ever day due to outdoor pollution and lack of running roads inside the city... I guess, then I am a bit like a hamster that way... either really focused or some would argue just plain stupid... So, back to the race…. I managed to hang on to a six until mile seven...then let go a bit to catch breath but had already put distance between me and the second women. I did not know that though...how could I? I then gently pushed back up to 98 % and hung in for the long run ...The treadmill is not like road as you do not have a terrible impact, so all you feel is everything inside your body... The key I think is to allow your self to be numb and have faith that you can get through it... Bearing pain is the key to a success in running competitively even on a treadmill. Except inside you trned to get sweaty and gross and people are looking at you...I had a camera in my face or on my feet etc...It was a publicity event for snickers marathon bar …the cameras were glaring at us...So awkward but fun and different from Central Park …..... I finished in 1:20 minutes... The boredom of looking at the person’s feet in front begun to take a toile and I started to use visualization techniques to help get me through the roughest part ... The rewards came as I looked at the time slowly inching closer to 13 mile mark... I loss any sensation of my legs and my feet and also the crazy hamster boredom and just plain focused on the time, tick, tick, tick. Seconds can not be so long …. Can they???...Yes they can!!… Almost there, bear the pain almost there, Think about the money $ US 5000 dollars... almost there... Whew Gosh I just won five thousand dollars … Joyce Joyner was the MC and she complemented later...She said the pain did not show, I guess a champion has to somehow bear the pain inside and appear to the world that the effort is effortless……That is a joke!!! … Nobody wins with out enduring a certain level of pain …and the pain is relative to the winning time…...even on a treadmill!!! The best part of this story was that even with the heavy race on a Tuesday, I did a personal best in New York 2: 54 on the Sunday thereafter and won another $3000... Good luck in Ottawa!!
Stephanie Hodge, April 2004
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