T-minus 12-ish hours. LET’S DO THIS.


S*** just got real, as the kids say these days. THAT IS MY RACE NUMBER and  IN LESS THAN TWELVE HOURS I AM DOING THIS THING.

[Sidenote: $19.16 is also the amount of money – rounded up to $20 – that I am donating right now to NJ Runner Girl’s (http://njrunnergirl.wordpress.com/) fundraising effort for her half marathon later this month to benefit the Special Olympics (https://register.boardwalkrelay.org/fundraising/fundraise.aspx?event=4811&fundraiser=4364). You should donate, too!]

I am so ready. I am so excited. I am so stir-crazy it’s… well, crazy.

If you want an idea of how I feel, below I’m going to quote an excerpt from one of my favorite pieces of sports writing of all time. William Nack wrote for Sports Illustrated from 1978-2001; his beat was horse racing, with which he grew up. Like many young girls, I grew up completely horse-obsessed, and have long since lost count of how many times I read stories of my favorite race horses over and over and over again. When the great Secretariat died in 1989 (when I was 9), Nack wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated – “Pure Heart” – that I’ve nearly memorized. I never got to see Secretariat run, but reading this piece made me feel like I had. This particular excerpt describes a visit Nack made to Secretariat’s barn the night before the Belmont Stakes, which is the third race in horse racing’s Triple Crown. (Secretariat won the first two.) (Sweat, by the way, is the horse’s groom, Eddie Sweat.)

(The full text of this article can be found here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1005832/index.htm)


“I slept at the Newsday offices that night, and at 2 a.m. I drove to Belmont Park to begin my vigil at the barn. I circled around to the back of the shed, lay down against a tree and fell asleep. I awoke to the crowing of a cock and watched as the stable workers showed up. At 6:07 Hoeffner strode into the shed, looked at Secretariat and called out to Sweat, “Get the big horse ready! Let’s walk him about 15 minutes.”

Sweat slipped into the stall, put the lead shank on Secretariat and handed it to Charlie Davis, who led the colt to the outdoor walking ring. In a small stable not 30 feet away, pony girl Robin Edelstein knocked a water bucket against the wall. Secretariat, normally a docile colt on a shank, rose up on his hind legs, pawing at the sky, and started walking in circles. Davis cowered below, as if beneath a thunderclap, snatching at the chain and begging the horse to come down. Secretariat floated back to earth. He danced around the ring as if on springs, his nostrils flared and snorting, his eyes rimmed in white.

Unaware of the scene she was causing, Edelstein rattled the bucket again, and Secretariat spun in a circle, bucked and leaped in the air, kicking and spraying cinders along the walls of the pony barn. In a panic Davis tugged at the shank, and the horse went up again, higher and higher, and Davis bent back, yelling, “Come on down! Come on down!”

I stood in awe. I had never seen a horse so fit. The Derby and Preakness had wound him as tight as a watch, and he seemed about to burst out of his coat. I had no idea what to expect that day in the Belmont, with him going a mile and a half, but I sensed we would see more of him than we had ever seen before.”


“Wound tight as a watch” – that is the perfect way to sum up how I’m feeling right now.  I’ve got this. I’m so ready to go!

Because I can’t let you not know how Nack finishes that excerpt, here’s the rest of it. The last line sends chills up my spine:


“Secretariat ran flat into legend, started running right out of the gate and never stopped, ran poor Sham into defeat around the first turn and down the backstretch and sprinted clear, opening two lengths, four, then five. He dashed to the three-quarter pole in 1:09[4/5], the fastest six-furlong clocking in Belmont history. I dropped my head and cursed Turcotte: What is he thinking about? Has he lost his mind? The colt raced into the far turn, opening seven lengths past the half-mile pole. The timer flashed his astonishing mile mark: 1:34[1/5]!

I was seeing it but not believing it. Secretariat was still sprinting. The four horses behind him disappeared. He opened 10. Then 12. Halfway around the turn he was 14 in front…15…16…17. Belmont Park began to shake. The whole place was on its feet. Turning for home, Secretariat was 20 in front, having run the mile and a quarter in 1:59 flat, faster than his Derby time.

He came home alone. He opened his lead to 25…26…27…28. As rhythmic as a rocking horse, he never missed a beat. I remember seeing Turcotte look over to the timer, and I looked over, too. It was blinking 2:19, 2:20. The record was 2:26[3/5]. Turcotte scrubbed on the colt, opening 30 lengths, finally 31. The clock flashed crazily: 2:22…2:23. The place was one long, deafening roar. The colt seemed to dive for the finish, snipping it clean at 2:24.”


2:24, coincidentally, is a number I am not only aiming to beat tomorrow but also to annihilate. I want to finish under 2:15, but I know I have it in me to finish under 2:00.




One Response to T-minus 12-ish hours. LET’S DO THIS.

  1. njrunnergirl says:

    Thank you SOOO much Kat for donating! And good luck to you tomorrow on your 1/2 marathon! Can’t wait to read your post race blog to get another take on what I’m in for in 2 weeks! You are RUNDERFUL!! =)

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