Settle in… it’s a long one.
Most of last week I was seriously so excited I thought I might throw up at any second. But by Friday and Saturday, an eerie calm came over me. It weirded me out a little that the jitters were gone – it almost made my worry, oddly enough. Was I not nervous enough? Would it all hit me in a horrible way on Sunday morning?
Friday night included all things marathon. I made a pizza, drank Pellegrino out of a wine glass (class), and watched Spirit of the Marathon. I still didn’t have those butterflies that I’d had earlier in the week. Was it good that it was all becoming real? Or was I losing sight of what was coming? I kept running through the course in my mind and trying to think about how awesome it would all be – was I forgetting all the pain I experienced in 2008?
Mmmm, homemade pizza.
Saturday morning my parents came in to town. I really wanted to head to Columbus Circle to find my name on the wall, and also to walk through the finish line (it wasn’t up when I ran the last ten miles of the course a few weeks ago). My parents and I headed down late afternoon.
Woohoo! It's me! And my name!
See you tomorrow, finish line.
It was just the boost I needed to really feel the marathon’s presence again. Jitters? Back.
We came home from our afternoon field trip to find my husband and friends in my apartment making posters (and awesomely ridiculous inspirational “cards”). Such a great surprise and they all stayed to help me carb-load on spaghetti and meatballs.
Crazy collage cards FTW
Everyone left around 10pm and I scurried around to make sure everything was together and I would be all set for race day. I was getting really nervous at this point (holyshitI’mrunningamarathontomorrow).
Trashy magazines for pre-race and Gu. What more could I possibly need?
I set three alarms on my phone, read a few more chapters of A Race Like No Other (never finished – whoops), and fell asleep around 11pm.
At 5am I was up, and quickly got dressed and ate a little. I usually eat a piece of bread with peanut butter, honey, and sea salt before a long run. I ate that and had a cup of tea, then packed another one to eat in Staten Island.
The 1 train, at first, was an interesting mix of sleepy runners and crazies. By about 14th St, though, it was entirely runners chatting with each other which was awesome and kinda funny. I never bring a phone or camera, but I really wish I had one to take pics of all the runners on the subway, the hoards of runners heading into the ferry terminal, and getting to the start villages.
I took the 7:15 ferry and was happy that I got on this one instead of the 7:30 one I signed up for. It took 2 tries to get on to a bus and the ride to the start villages was longer than expected. By the time I got there, it was close to 9:00 and the corrals for the first wave were already closing. I had enough time to get water and a cup of tea. I ate my sandwich and saw that my corral was open.
I gave my snuggie and trashy magazines away to a few people waiting for wave 3. I was a little bummed I didn’t see a single person I knew, but still felt really positive about the start and the race. I felt strong and was ready to run.
Inching up to the start I couldn’t wipe the giant grin off my face. I got a little misty at points, too, thinking of the enormity of the task ahead and the excitement and pain I’d inevitably encounter. Once I heard the canons and “New York, New York” I was off. It only took me about 5 minutes to get to the start line. I started my watch and was off.
Mentally, I decided to break the race up into 3 8-mile chunks. I’d be taking a Gu roughly every 8 miles, so this made sense to me. Sure, this method leaves out the last 2.2 miles, but regardless of how the race went down, I could crawl 2.2 miles if need be (but hopefully it wouldn’t).
The Verrazano was great. I was especially careful not to go out too fast (which I mistakenly did when I ran in 2008 for the first 13.1 – whoops). When I checked my watch at mile 1, I was on pace for a 4:10. Perfect. I wore 2 pace bands (4:10 and 4:20 in the hopes that I’d end up somewhere in that range).
I LOVE running Brooklyn. This was my favorite part of the race last time, and I was psyched to head through the borough again this year. When I got off the bridge, it was as crowded and loud and exciting as I remembered it and the miles just ticked by.
The water/Gatorade stations were everywhere and well stocked. I hydrated early and taking a swig of something at almost every station. Before I knew it, I was approaching mile 8. I took a vanilla Gu with some water and checked my watch. I was still on target for a 4:10 marathon.
This is right around when Brooklyn gets incredible. Fourth Ave is awesome, but I really love Lafayette and Bedford. Right around the big, busy turn onto Lafayette, I heard someone yell my name (it was on my shirt), but when I looked I saw it was my sister-in-law (Hi Jess!), her husband, and his sister. It was AWESOME to see a group that early on in the race. Definitely added a little excitement before heading into my favorite part of the race.
Lafayette did not disappoint. People are EVERYWHERE and they are loud (marathoners go for this, haha). The trees and houses look beautiful and it’s really just a nice stretch. On Bedford, it’s similar, minus the beautiful brownstones, but definitely better people watching.
My pace slowed a teensy bit, but at this point I was still under a 4:15 pace (around 4:13) and I felt comfortable that this was more sustainable. I was confident knowing that at no point in the race would the wheels fall off (like last time). My pace may slow a little bit, but I wouldn’t need to stop or walk, and I wouldn’t lose control of what that pace was.
Approaching Queens, I started to get excited for my first sighting of my husband and parents. They were going to be stationed somewhere before the Queensboro Bridge. I still felt great at this point, and the big stupid grin was still on my face from the start village.
Headless (but happy) runner before the Q'boro Bridge
Seeing them right before turning onto the bridge was a great boost to get me up that hill. I still felt great – mentally and physically.
Runners heading up the Queensboro Bridge (shot by husband). Beautiful, no?
The Q’boro was not too bad and the darkness and quiet were a great opportunity for me to visualize the rest of the race and really reflect on how I was doing.
Heading off the Q’boro Bridge was awesome. Spectators were perched like gargoyles on barriers of the off-ramp towering over the runners. It was amazing. The First Avenue wall of sound didn’t disappoint. Spectators were awesome and oh so loud. This is when I was the happiest that I had ironed my name onto my shirt.
Right around 90th Street a runner sidled up to me to say hi. It was my friend with whom I co-coach our high school cross-country team! I view the north end of First Ave all the way to Marcus Garvey Park those toughest – physically and mentally – so I was ecstatic that she ran with me this entire way. We chatted and she distracted me enough so that I didn’t focus on how much my legs were starting to burn at this point.
I have to say, the Bronx was awesome. They had a solid number of cheering spectators and some awesome music. It was a rough point in the marathon, but with all the excitement, and my running buddy, I made it through no problem. At this point I was barely keeping a 4:20 marathon pace.
Heading back into Manhattan I started to get excited again. I knew I was getting closer and that I would see my family and friends again. Even though I was a little apprehensive about the Fifth Ave incline up into the park, I knew that I was in much, much better shape than my last NYC Marathon.
And there they were. Right at mile 22.5 I saw my husband, then a few yards down my parents, then a few yards down my screaming, crazy poster-waving friends. It was AWESOME.
The Approach! (That guy looks angry. And intense)
SOOO HAPPY at mile 22.5
This was a huge pick-me-up. My running buddy dropped off and I headed on to finish on my own. I felt like I could hold on to my current pace (now closer to 4:25) through the finish and possibly be able to pick it up in the last half mile.
I totally owned 5th Avenue and kept a steady pace and a big smile the entire time. At this point, my legs were definitely feeling it, but I was determined to just ignore it since the finish line was so close.
Turning into the park felt awesome – though I knew the hills would likely feel like mountains at this point. I took my final Gu for a little caffeine boost to get me to the finish line.
I slowed a bit heading up the hills in the park, but not too badly. I knew at this point that I’d finish somewhere in the 4:20s which was still awesome and still a huge PR for me. Fans at this point in the park were great and I made sure to run along the inside edge to maximize people yelling my name and lots of high fives, haha.
Central Park West was amazing. I started getting goosebumps and a little misty and overwhelmed when I realized how close I was. Lots of people were slowing to a walk at this point and I powered by up the hill. So. Close.
Back into Central Park for the last little stretch. I picked it up a teensy bit and ran as hard as I could across the finish. It was over and I couldn’t believe it. I felt amazing. And overwhelmed. And so, so proud of myself.
Official Time: 4:26:14
Stretching Post-Race at the Museum
Congratulations to everyone who ran! And a HUGE thank you to the 2 million spectators who cheered on strangers and made us feel like total champions along the way.