Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Empire State of Mind

As anyone who follows me on social media knows, I just ran the NYC Half Marathon through Manhattan this weekend and can’t even wait to tell you all about it! I started typing this yesterday, actually, as I was in the air over Pennsylvania on my way back to Kansas. What does running this race have to do with my year of service as your Mrs. Kansas United States 2013? You'll find out a little later in my post.

I entered the lottery for the NYC Half Marathon after my sisters-in law, Dana and Karla, suggested it following their finishes in the full New York Marathon last October. I’ve always been a runner, I was on the Cross Country team in high school and run six days a week at my local gym to stay healthy, but I’d never considered running such a long distance. And I think 13.1 miles is a pretty long distance! Along came December and, lo and behold, I was accepted in the lottery, officially claimed my spot and started training!

Now, obviously, it’s mid-March. Time to race! My husband and I got to New York, where both of my sisters-in-law live, the Friday before the race and I felt reasonably ready, even if the weather was looking a little chillier than I thought it would be. And, as you would expect, I was fashionably ready for the race thanks to the Barrett's Braids bar at the John Barrett Salon at Bergdorf Goodman and my new lululemon clothes! If I'm running in New York City you'd better believe I'm going to look good!

The morning of the race, Sunday, March 16, the three of us took a car from Brooklyn to Central Park South near Grand Army Plaza to warm up and get into our starting groups. A little before 8 a.m., our group was released, I was bib number 18034, and off I went!

I ran north through the middle of Central Park to Central Park North around 110th St., then back through the west side of the park until I exited near Columbus Circle on Seventh Avenue and ran south toward Times Square. It was absolutely mind-blowing to run by all those neon signs through those huge streets that were lined with spectators and typically crowded with cabs and delivery trucks! I then headed to the West Side Highway down 42nd St., and ran through Chelsea, Soho, TriBeCa and Greenwich Village on my way to Lower Manhattan. Then, I ended the race near Battery Park in the Financial District after running through the Battery Park Underpass and by the amazing new One World Trade Center, which is nearly complete.

I have to tell you, immediately after finishing the race, I was totally miserable. Like, totally miserable. I was cold, my feet hurt, I couldn’t find my husband in the huge crowd, I was starving and thirsty. But after I drank my Gatorade, ate some pretzels, found Alex and sat down on the Subway for our trip back to Brooklyn, I had a chance to reflect on the experience and felt so proud at what I’d accomplished. I ran at a good pace, never stopped, and proved to myself once again I can do anything I set my mind to!

What made this race memorable for me, exactly? Well, nearly everything! The man in a gorilla suit banging on a cowbell near 47th St. just north of Times Square. The band playing (bad) covers of Blink-182 songs near 43rd St. The ladies standing by the Giuseppe Mazzini statue in Central Park holding signs that said "It's faster to take a cab! You're crazy!" The fact that I got to run it with my sisters-in-law, my husband was there to watch me and cheer me on, and I was running through some of the most iconic (and usually busy) parts of a city that I love. Most of all, though, I committed to running, to challenging myself, and didn’t back down. So happy!

I always enjoy traveling to New York City, too; the sounds, the smells, the streets, the people. So much happening everywhere all the time. It’s truly a lovely, albeit hectic, place where I find quite a bit of inspiration and energy. Whenever I leave I really do feel different; in an empire state of mind, if you will. That’s not to say I like it better than Kansas, though; I mean, there really is no place like home, right? But it’s one of my favorite places to go.

I was excited to write this not only to share my (awesome) experience but also to encourage you to make sure you take risks, step out of your comfort zone and continually challenge yourself throughout your life, like I did in signing up for this race. Never quit and never settle! If I can survive 13.1 miles through windy, chilly Manhattan with 20,000 other runners you can compete in your first pageant, go after that dream job you want or do any of the other seemingly crazy things you’ve contemplated but have never felt ready enough to do. Go get it! Get whatever you want, right now. It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you put your mind to it and find away to get over the fear you have.

Well, that’s about it for today! Thanks for letting me share my story. And because no blog post from me would be complete without a comment on the weather, here you go: it was freezing in New York so I am very excited to be back in the Heartland where it's nearly 60 and sunny!

Finally, I have to once again congratulate my sister-in-law Dana on her (very) recent engagement! And by recent I mean Saturday, the night before the race. It’s so great to have been included in that celebration and I look forward to helping with all the wedding plans and officially welcoming Lindsay to the family (though he’s unofficially, for lack of a better term, been part of it for quite some time)!

Enjoy the rest of your March. There are only 21 days left until I crown my successor! If you're interested in applying there's still time, just visit www.mrskansasunitedstates.com or call Janet Parkes at 913-381-7121.

All the best,


At the Expo in Manhattan Saturday picking up my bib and tee. 
I survived! Trying to stay warm in my medal and space blanket after the race. 
Yum! I couldn't resist, just like Olympians do on the medal stand. 
With my newly-engaged sister-in-law, Dana, after the race on Sunday. 
Team Karwas! My husband, Alex, me, my sister-in-law Dana and my sister-in-law Karla at Henry Public Sunday night.