So, incase you are just joining us or somehow missed it, I ran THE New York City Marathon this year… on November 6th to be exact. It took about a week to fully take in the whole event of the marathon and be able to actually talk about it and then another week to try and collect all my thoughts into a post. I’m not sure where to begin, other then the beginning of “marathon weekend” and see where that takes us.
Everything really began last year when I secured my guaranteed entry into the race. That basically meant a month of thinking about, talking about, stressing about, and training for the epic 26.6 adventure. Races and training runs alike were well thought out and strategically placed to support progress throughout the year. Then summer happened… and training took a nose dive as heat, humidity and illness kept me from adding on miles. Fall teased me a little and I welcomed the cool break, which of course stood me up at the Navy-Air Force Half in DC back in September (read all about that here). In what ended up being the worst half I’ve had to date, I seriously considered deferring my marathon entry for a year, thinking HOW can I get through 26.2 miles when I can hardly get through 13.1 and that’s supposed to be easy this far into training?
Well, I took 2 weeks off. Put the shoes on a shelf and thought long and hard about what I was going to do and if I was going to get my New York on this year. Yes, I was getting physical sick but a lot of it was because I was pushing myself to much mentally. I stepped back. I re-evaluated. I thought about how I would feel November 7th- Marathon Monday… seeing everyone with their medals and knowing I gave it up. (Not to mention I really couldn’t afford to pay this race again). I decided to approach a long training run with a new mind set— go for time. Go out for 3-4 hours and see how much ground I could cover in that time, but slowing down if I felt like I was getting exhausted. And that’s what I did. 3 hours and 15 miles later I felt on top of the world and knew in that moment I had found my key to success for 26.2. Slow down, enjoy it, maintain a roughly 12 minute miles and get 5 miles to the hour. I wanted to finish the marathon and feel just as amazing as I did that day with only 15 miles.
So that gave me 4 weeks to continue running and cross training and trying not to panic!
Fast forward: Marathon weekend started as soon as I clocked out for work on Nov. 3rd and went to check out the Marathon Pavillion in Central Park. The best part of that? The wall with all 50,000 runners names on it. I was able to find mine at eye level and take tons of annoying photos with it!
Next was the Expo- a HUGE event- for getting race numbers, pre and post race info, t-shirts, and all the gear you could want! Basically it’s an amazing and overwhelming experience and Megan and family came along to keep me on track, as well as get in the New York Marathon Weekend spirit. Ran into some other runners I’ve “met” through Social Media and checked out all the vendors. We had fun, although there was no no size Medium in the official Asics marathon jacket… which was a little itty bitty teeny weeny issue cause I wanted that jacket. Like I really wanted it… so I now strategically fit into a Small and just can’t gain and weight. No problem.
Dinner followed by outfit prep and a foot soak were the perfect way to end the day and get ready for the 4:45am wake up call I had to start the adventure to the start line.
Oh goodness early morning to get to the train to get to the ferry to get to Staten Island to then stand in a huge mess of a crowd/line to get on a bus to get to security to get to the start village to find you holding zone to wait to get into your corral to get to the start line…
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Up, dressed, packed, and out. Megan came down on the train with me to be sure I 1. ate breakfast and 2. made it there. LOL.
Having never been on the Staten Island Ferry, I was very content to stand at my spot in the front and watch the morning unfold over the city. Seeing the Verrazano Bridge come into view and pass Lady Liberty was pretty amazing.
Once we docked the real tedious waiting started. I didn’t start the race till 11am and I was like “Oh a 7am ferry is soon early”, nope best thing… cause there is a LOT of tedious waiting. First in a mess of a line… more like a crowd… that moved slowly to a stair case that eventually lead outside. But no, not to the start… to a LOVELY *sarcasm* cue that funneled us on to busses that sat in traffic to shuttle us to the Start Village.
Standing on the ferry and in about an hour of lines, the bus was a welcome fluffy seat, but the traffic was creating panic among other runners who were frustratingly close to missing their wave start times. Eventually we were allowed to jump ship and go through security check points, which was actually very smooth. If anyone remembers Brooklyn Half 2015- work security check point EVER (but that’s seriously another story).
Start Village is color coded and has all the comforts of home- coffee and apples, glamorous portaletts, cold concrete curbs to perch on, and bins full of outer layers to be donated.
Now this would be a good time to mention that the day was perfect for the race. Clear blue skies and sunny, but with a constant breeze, it didn’t get to hot. The ground was dry, the air was light, and humidity was low- in my book, all perfect conditions.
I munched, I walked, I stood in lines… finally Wave 4 opened for corral line up. Somehow I was placed in Corral A which was pretty cool cause I was so close to the Start Line. I could hear all the announcements and music- we danced to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” before starting, and watch the start gun go off. Over the bridge and through BK.
The next 6-10 miles are a blur. So much adrenaline and energy from the crowds, I felt like I flew through the first 6 miles and the next 4 felt pretty awesome too. Right before the bridge to Queens at the 13 mile mark, I was starting to feel some chaffing threatening to be a problem (tank top issues) and by a stroke of luck the medical tent was out in full force with TONS of Vaseline! It’s like they knew I would need it right then, haha. While Brooklyn was pretty straight and flat, Queens threw a curve ball (literally we had a lot of turns and winding roads) with different terrain.
I was actually excited to hit the 59th St. Queensbouro Bridge at mile 15/16. I’ve heard about this bit sense I started talking about going the Marathon and here it was. *Disclaimer, by this time I was rocking the “jog a mile, power walk a mile” option. So YES, I walked parts of the bridge.* The view was amazing and a photo op. was definitely taken. But it’s true it’s so QUIET! I usually run with music and this race was no different- although I turned it off when the crowds were cheering or bands where playing- and I had to turn it off for part of this bridge. To hear the talked about quiet and just take in that we were shutting down the city to do this!
Coming off the bridge- the Wall of Sound! As we turned on to 1st Ave. the crowds were AMAZING. The noise and the signs. So many people right there to share this amazing experience with us. Megan and family found me a few times along the way, as did friends Amanda and Tyler. Seeing signed with my name on them was totally thrilling and encouraging. I didn’t run with my name on my shirt…. it’s SO long… but that didn’t stop me from enjoying support from every single spectator I locked eyes with.
I don’t really remember running over into the Bronx. I was starting to get seriously tired and the feeling of actually working set in. Yes, the sign about the talked about “hitting of the wall” reminded me this was probably what my body and mind were working with… but I wan’t stopping. I just started wanted every sort of food I could think of! Once again, the medical teams were at just the right place with a little salty pretzel snack, which I darted back to grab and continued on.
Then we were back on a bridge (the last one as everyone around was excited about) and back to Manhattan. While it was starting to get later in the day, so many people were still out, leaving no runner un-cheered. Finally turning onto 5th Ave. meant only one thing- Central park and mile 24 here near. A little pain and rubbing in my left shoe required a short pull over to adjust a sock and put into perspective that I had less then a 5K (3 miles) and definitely less then 30 minutes left to run.
This was thrilling and scary all at the same time- I was about to finish the New York City Marathon- oh wow but then it will be over and THANK GOODNESS I’m tired and sweaty!
Mile 25 included charging West along Central Park South just as the sun was setting over the buildings and a wall of spectators lining the left side of the street. I’d been power walking to try and ease the slight pain I was feeling in my left heal, but I promised myself I would run the finish and as we turned into Central Park for the last 800 meters, I picked up the pace and did just that.
The sounds of the announcers and the lights of the finish line got nearer and nearer. I could feel myself choking up and focused on breathing to finish happy and strong. (But tears happened at the finish anyway)
Snapped this pic and had that medal hung around my neck. I DID IT. Still smiling, I finished the TCS NYC Marathon.
Now other stories I’d heard came to mind. The walk and the wait to get to your soft fuzzy desired Post Race Poncho and get out of the park. The finish shoot is ridiculously long and after grabbing a “recovery bag” and managing to open the water bottle, I was slow… every muscle was beyond tired and this bag was like the heaviest thing I’ve ever carried. For fear of having to go to the medical tent, I refrained from leaning along the fence even just for a moment and just kept walking.
Finally we turned off to see the iconic ponchos up ahead! Once wrapped in fleecy loveliness- and YES PLEASE I would like my hood put up, thank you VERY much- you are set loose on the streets on New York.
This was hard, slowly wandering down the street to the meet up point with friends, but the energy of every other runner was humming throughout the city streets on the Upper Wests Side.
Let’s fast forward cause this is getting a little long… that night I showered, got home, had a grilled cheese and a lot of fluids, soaked my feet and went to bed super early.
Yes, I was sore but no bad pain. My knees hurt a little but that went away and my left ankle was a little inflamed for a time. BUT no headache and no back pain, no getting sick!!
Monday Marathon Monday
It means taking off work and sleeping in. Wearing your medal all day long and as much Marathon gear as you want. You are a super hero for the day and no one rushed you across the street.
I followed the advice of my dear friends Holly and went to get my medal engraved then we hung out and took ALL of the post race finisher photos.
I’m still reeling about that day. I ran a marathon. I ran the New York City Marathon. I have the medal and all the memories. The question I get now is, “Will you run it again?”. The answer— I’m not sure.
I never thought I would run a full marathon to begin with and sense I had such a great experience, I don’t feel a need right now to change that. What I would hate is to do it again and get sick or hurt. For now I’m going to enjoy that I had (for me) the perfect race and that’s how I want to remember it.
Perfect weather, conditions, outfit, training, course, city, people, everything. I finished right were I thought I would and I felt great, can’t argue with that.
Did you Get Your New York On? Share!!