Well, I’m a marathoner now! As for the days leading up to the race, I had no doubts about my abilities to finish this. But I also knew anything could happen and that I should respect the distance. Between all the love and support and reading stories like this, I am very emotional. Disclaimer: I am even more emotional after the events of this week and delayed publishing this by a few days in an effort to start coming to terms with the election results.
As of writing this Tuesday, I am also very sore. I got a massage Monday which apparently might have been too soon and maybe I just made more micro-tears in my muscles. Whoops! It felt good, that’s for sure. Anyway, back to race day:
If you’re unfamiliar with the course, this is an excellent primer.
Getting to the start at Fort Wadsworth was an experience. I boarded the 8:15am ferry, which should have left me plenty of time after the shuttle buses dropped us off for my Wave 3 10:40am start. But there was bus traffic the whole way and what should have been a 10 minute ride (according to others who have done it before) took 40 minutes. Apparently an earlier ferry broke down. I made new friends on the ferry and while waiting for the bus who came from all over. It was so nice to talk the time away and not worry about the ticking clock. I scarfed down my strawberry Uncrustable (saw others were having PB&J and it had been 2 hours since my freezer waffles). By the time I hopped off the bus and used the bathroom, the corrals for my whole wave were about to close. I quickly shed my throwaway layers, then ran into a PPTC member who had run this before and calmed me down a lot. I didn’t feel ready, but I knew it was go time. I ate my honey stinger waffle slowly and got a picture.
Miles 1 & 2:
I knew I should take the Verrazano Bridge very slowly, and I did. You definitely don’t feel the incline because of the adrenaline, so I focused on taking in the views and not tripping over throwaway clothing. The fire boats were shooting out water and there was a rainbow! I was Orange, so we were on the left side of the bridge and did a neat little turnaround before entering 4th Avenue. Blue was on the right side of the bridge and had their own route, then Green was on the lower level and seemed to come up then over to their special route, as seen below from the NYT. 11:12 for mile 1 and 10:26 mile 2, enjoying that downhill a bit.
Miles 3 – 6:
Bay Ridge was fun! I come down here sometimes for work or food, so I knew different stretches of the route. The crowds really started to come out and had some excellent signs. I saw a few PPTC people who ran past me and my pace was remaining steady with the same effort much closer to 11 minute miles than 10. I had hoped for more easy, breezy even 10:30’s like during my longest training run, but it seemed it wasn’t happening. I was afraid to push harder in case my body fell apart on the back half, so I reined it in. I untaped my pace bracelet for my A Goal time of 04:29 and threw it onto the median around mile 6. So long, A Goal! I had my first Gu of the day, Salted Watermelon around the 1 hour mark. Writing these down seems very important for any future marathon training I may do. This was a little later than usual but I figured the extra Honey Stinger waffle on top of the two-part breakfast had given me plenty.
I THINK this photo is from Bay Ridge or going up 4th Avenue but I could be wrong
Mile 7 – 9:
The best running miles of my life! This stretch included seeing the first of my coworkers, then one of my besties, then the PPTC cheer zone, then finally my parents and roommate. I have no words left to describe how exciting this part of 4th was. Then we did the Flatbush to Lafayette turn around mile 8 and I was equally impressed by Fort Greene. The party had really started. I saw great costumes, another coworker, and enjoyed the music. I took these miles a little fast and then my GPS messed up and told me I had run a sub-8 mile through Lafayette. I was fast, but not that fast! My watch had been beeping a little ahead of the mile markers but this is where it started being behind and I didn’t even realize. NYRR says I did the 10K in 1:07:28. Gu #2 (the other Salted Watermelon).
Coming in for family hugs on 4th
Hi, Dad! Bye, Dad!
Mile 9 – 12:
I saw a few more people along Bedford (another coworker, old roommate who ran the marathon last year, and a team captain) then enjoyed the more quiet miles of Orthodox/Hasidic Williamsburg. I had a work assignment in this area the last few months that just ended on Halloween, so I’ve become more familiar with the area and the culture. There was still a fair amount of crowd support and the course was just chock full of Northern Europeans. I felt like I was surrounded by Swedes, Danes, and Germans. Then Williamsburg re-brought the party. I could actually smell the booze! I saw 2 lovely coworkers in Greenpoint before the Pulaski Bridge and was riding that high.
Miles 13 – 16:
The Pulaski Bridge was short and sweet, then we were met with a large crowd throughout Long Island City, where my main office is. It was so weird to see my work building then just keep running right by! Some friends were having their usual marathon party and I almost missed them because I couldn’t remember which side of the street they were on. I ended up making a beeline for them and coming in for a quick high five before zipping off again. Then the Queensboro Bridge happened. It was rough, to say the least. I still had dreams hitting my B Goal (4:30-4:45) and I hit the half in 2:23:01, which would make the tail end of that goal doable with a slight negative split. But the bridge ended that, as I chugged along at a 12 minute mile. Gu #3 (Strawberry Banana) was chased with water still.
Maybe this was actually Marcus Garvey? Who knows!
Mile 17 – 19:
The Wall of Sound on 1st Avenue was no joke and I loved seeing the throngs of people five deep cheering for us. I, however, got totally confused about which mile I was on because of my GPS mishap and missed a couple of friends here. I sped up just a little bit but couldn’t get back under 11. I also chose to address my underboob chafing with some Vaseline. Unfortunately, they had run out of sticks so the medical volunteer just had to hand me a glob of it. No shame at this point and I smeared it where I needed. Gu #4 at the 3:20 mark, plus 2 shot blocks and some Gatorade at this point.
Miles 20 & 21:
The Bronx was really short and sweet and people were out in droves, contrary to what I had heard. The guy running next to me (who I saw again toward the finish) was a local and kept welcoming all of us to the BX. Also, it is just wild to me that we take such a detour around the Western Beef supermarket. I’m glad the afore-linked NYT article mentioned it because it was so confusing. Then right before the bridge, a lady had a great sign that said LAST DAMN BRIDGE. And yes, it was.
All aboard the pain train! Actually, it wasn’t so bad at first. I got another Vaseline stick and swabbed myself on 5th Avenue, then we went around Marcus Garvey Park, which looked autumnal and lovely. I was apparently shuffling along in the 11:40’s here and had a great butt slapping hello with my friend Allison in the upper 120’s. Then I ate half a banana since I had taken my final Gu (Salted Caramel, which has a little more caffeine, though not as much as the Caramel Macchiato I meant to take) at the 4 hour mark. Then somewhere around mile 23 marker (my watch was still behind), I got a nasty side stitch on my right side. I tried to keep jogging through it, but it brought me down. The worst grimacey photos are from this point, but my friend Brittany hopped in and gave me water and talked me through it. She reminded me how to stretch and breathe then sent me into Central Park with a smile on my face, ready to run down Cat Hill and make the finish in under 5 hours (C Goal!).
Brittany walked and talked me through my side cramp
Miles 25 + 26 + 0.2:
The last two miles were a magical blur, full of spectators and my last wind. I chugged a final shot of Gatorade just to get me through the finish and managed to pick up my pace on 59th St. I passed a couple teammates but couldn’t really form sentences any more. I remember seeing the ‘800 meters to go’ sign and being excited, then feeling crestfallen when I realized just how far that was. Bronx guy was with me here and yelled out the sign, but it wasn’t enough. I pushed so hard just to get under a 10 minute mile then sprint in the finish, arms raised and feeling triumphant.
Then the epic shuffle to retrieve our medal, apple (yum), heat sheet, goodie bags with snacks, and finally the exit poncho. I pulled my phone out of the Ziploc bag and turned off airplane mode since I hadn’t turned it on to listen to music even once because I never needed it. The energy of the race was more than enough to get me through the tough parts). I tried to answer the many texts and WhatsApp messages I got and let my family know I was alive and heading to the reunion point. My walk speed was actually pretty quick and I tried to get out of the park as fast as I could while thanking all the volunteers. I entered the reunion school and got applause and cheers like a rockstar. Instead of chocolate milk, I was handed some delicious hot chocolate by a volunteer and grabbed some Milk Duds thanks to my Dad. After wiping down and changing and a mini photo shoot, we went to Bar Boulud for an amazing post-race meal. After a long cab ride back to Brooklyn, I tried to facebook and instagram a quick post before bed at 8:38PM.
The crowds make this race. I mainly mean the million + people cheering us on, but I do also mean the runners themselves. Everyone I talked to, smiled at, or otherwise wasn’t elbowed by (there were a few of those but most were apologetic) was so thrilled to be running this race. It was really something special to run through all 5 boroughs of this city I love and have called home for over 6 years. NYC is the place I’ve lived longest in my adult life and that is for many reasons, but the people are overwhelmingly the biggest one.
I brought too much nutrition with me. Fortunately my pockets were huge (thank you, Lululemon Speed Track Shorts), so my leftover Shot Blocks and extra Gus will be used in the future.
I feel very sure about my decision to not run another marathon until 2018 at the earliest. I’m looking forward to a leisurely summer and fall next year, where I can sleep in past 8am on weekends and not plan my vacations around my long runs. I also hope to get faster with the help of more speed work, and plan to try my hand at more shorter distance races that I didn’t want to risk this training cycle. I would hope that I could try a higher mileage plan for an future marathons and honestly, the thought of it right now is a bit much. I’ll probably end up doing the 9+1 in 2017 just so I have the NYC option open to me in 2018, but would of course consider other full marathons. My only definite 2017 races (barring injury) are the Philadelphia Broad Street Run (deferred entry from last year) and the Richmond Half Marathon.