On Sunday, November 3, I fulfilled a lifelong dream by running the New York City Marathon.
As I’ve discussed before on this blog, it was a long journey just to get to the starting line of this race. I tried to register through the lottery three years in a row (2009, 2010, and 2011) and then had trained to run in 2012, but the race was canceled (at the very last minute) because of Hurricane Sandy. So, this was the fifth year I had tried to run the race. Even before I had ever entered the lottery, I had watched the race on TV and knew it was something really special I wanted to do one day.
After many months and many more miles, November 2013 was finally here and my husband and I made the trip up to NYC for a weekend full of marathon fun.
On Friday, November 1, hubs and I checked-in to our fabulous hotel right on the Park and went to the marathon expo.
I usually love marathon expos, but for reasons that aren’t clear to me, they had a DJ at this one with music blaring so loudly that thought my ear drums might explode (yes, I am old). Apparently someone confused the marathon expo with a New York City nightclub. In any case, once we moved away from the music, we enjoyed visiting all of the booths and I bought two awesome Sparkly Soul headbands.
After the expo, we took a cab uptown to pick up my FDNY team singlet and wristband. My brother is an FDNY firefighter and was able to hook me up with the FDNY running team for the race. Thanks, Neal! I didn’t plan to wear the singlet during the race, but still wanted to have it as a memento, and the wristband got me special access to the FDNY team motor coach to Staten Island on race morning.
On Saturday, November 2, we watched the 5k (including the elite women who were AMAZING!) and then hubs and I met up with a huge group of Oiselle Team ladies for brunch. It was awesome! These ladies are amazing and I had such a great time chatting with them about running, the marathon, and life. It was so great putting names (and Twitter handles) with faces.
After brunch, it was time to rest my legs for race day. I laid out all of my stuff for race morning and then sat around in the hotel for the rest of the day.
On Sunday morning, everything went smoothly. I had no problem getting up and out the door on time (I wasn’t really sleeping anyway!) and finding the FDNY team motor coach. As we got close to Staten Island, the nerves and excitement really kicked in. I took this pic of the Verrazano Bridge out the bus window. This is the landmark most people associate with the NYC Marathon and I would be running across it in just a few hours!
The time on Staten Island went very quickly. I was surprised about that. Soon enough, I was standing in the “green” village and wave 1 was about to start the race. The green village was right under the bridge. The cannon went off and we looked up and saw throngs of people running across the two levels of the Verrazano Bridge. At the same time, a giant TV screen showed the pro men running across the bridge. At that moment, watching those runners, standing there at the marathon, I was overwhelmed with emotion and started to fight back tears. I thought of all of the mornings I had watched this race on TV wanting to be there and here I was, at the New York City Marathon! It was an overwhelming, amazing feeling that I will never forget.
By the time I got myself together enough to take a picture, the crowds were already waning, but I did manage to still catch some folks running across the bridge above us.
In no time, my wave, wave 3, was loaded into the starting corrals and led up to the start line. It was VERY cold and windy waiting to get started. The cannon went off and off we went. I had wanted to stay with the 4:30 pace group, but the bridge was so insanely crowded that you could barely move. Plus, it’s quite a steep incline and I didn’t want to push myself too hard in the first mile. Soon enough, the 4:30 pace group was too far in front of me for me to see, but I was fine. I was staying calm.
One of the coolest mental images I have from the race is when we were running over the bridge (I was on the lower level) with an NYPD helicopter hovering right next to us as we ran. Security was very tight after Boston, of course, but it was pretty impressive that with all of that wind the helicopter could hover exactly between the two levels of the bridge.
The race was amazing. The crowds were amazing. I can’t even describe the energy. There was never a shortage of crowd support for the entire 26.2 miles!
As far as my race, I started off feeling good and staying confident, even when we hit some challenging hills. I knew it was smarter to slow down than to push my pace up the hills and I was sticking with that plan. All was going well until inexplicably, around mile 14, I started to feel ill. I will spare you the gory details, but basically, I felt like I had to vomit and couldn’t keep even liquids down. My pace slowed significantly, I had to stop eating and drinking, and it soon became clear it was going to be a challenge just to finish the race.
I saw Jon at mile 17ish and stopped to talk to him about how I was feeling. While we were talking, I kept having to stop because I was afraid I was going to vomit on him (my poor husband!). I told him to text my brother, who was waiting to see me in the Bronx, to let him know I would be well behind schedule.
At this point, I started gently slipping water at each water stop because I knew I needed to try to stay hydrated. I thought of my coach telling me that running is almost always faster than walking, so I just tried to keep running as much as I could, even though I was moving at 11-12 minute mile pace.
Unfortunately, I somehow missed my brother in the Bronx! I’m still not sure how that happened, but it did.
Soon enough I was back in Manhattan and looking forward to seeing some of my Oiselle Teammates at the mile 22 water stop. I got a hug from one of the girls and at that point I knew I just had to finish the race.
I saw Jon once more, in Central Park. He said he was proud of me and that meant the world to me. I knew I just had to push through. I felt like shit (your body needs calories in these long races and I wasn’t able to consume any gels after the halfway point), but I knew I was so very close to the finish line. I fought for every step to get to that finish in 5:05.
I was well behind my goal finish time and well off my marathon PR (4:40), so I was initially disappointed and upset with my race. But after some time to reflect, I can honestly say that I am proud of myself for finishing the race. It was a rough day, but I made the best of it. I was mentally tough. And, I crossed that finish line.
NYC Marathon Stats
1-10:51 (I was fine with this because it was so crowded and up hill)
8- 10:46 (still feeling positive at this point because this was a hilly section, so I was fine with slowing down a bit)
14- 11:45* (this is when the stomach issue started and I just couldn’t keep anything down)