Hard to believe this race is in the rearview mirror!
First and foremost, thanks to everyone for all the messages, texts, well wishes during the training and the race. Knowing that I have the love and support of so many people means so much to me. I also want to thank my training group, the Brazos Valley Runegades, and my BRF, Lesley, for training with me during a very, very long 20 week training cycle in what was one of the hottest summers in Texas in a while. During this training cycle, I logged 821 miles of running. And I couldn’t have done it without God’s blessings of health, family and friendship.
Second, I’m really blessed to have gotten into the NYC Marathon through the lottery on my first try. I was kind of stunned when I got in, fully expecting to not get in and then thinking, oh crap, I guess I have to run. lol. I’m so thankful that I didn’t give in to the worry, anxiety, butterflies that plagued me much of the training cycle.
I left on Friday morning for NYC. After I arrived at the airport, I went to the bathroom and when I turned the corner. I saw a man using the stall with the door open! Thankfully for me, he was facing the wall. I quickly did a double take questioning whether I was in the right place. I walked back to the restroom entrance, saw the “WOMAN” sign and then walked back into the bathroom as the man was using the sink. And no, he wasn’t transgender… He was embarrassed as he realized his mistake and I just chuckled. But, I thought, I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.
I whizzed through security and waited for the little puddle jumper to take me to Houston. The incoming flight was delayed which meant I was going to miss my connecting flight to NYC since I only had 45 minutes between each flight. The airline employee told me there was a chance I could still catch my flight because they could make up the time, so not to worry. After a smooth flight, we landed with 20 minutes to spare before the next flight. It was in another terminal, but I got my sprinting face on and was ready to bolt. Except, they had to move the plane back one foot from the gate because they had miscalculated. After correcting for that, I still had 10 minutes to spare. I dashed out of the plane, trying very hard to fight the urge to push people out of the way. The other plane had left on time. But, I was put on the next flight to NYC arriving at 9 pm, about 4 hours later than planned. No worries.
I met my sister at the airport, had a nice dinner at their place and went to bed much later than usual but got a pretty good’s night sleep.
Saturday, we headed to the expo. I was so excited and had a checklist of things I wanted to do. I picked up by bib and shirt, made a custom back bib, and walked around all of the booths. I wanted to buy every.single.thing, but I really wanted to show some restraint for things I would really use. I heard a talk on race strategy from the race organizers, met with some of the pace team leaders. For a few seconds, got photos with Shalane Flanagan as she dashed between appearances she had to make at various booths. And got a Bartie with Bart Yasso (such a nice guy!). I splurged on a pair of 2XU recovery compression leggings that aren’t even available online yet. It’s part of a new recovery line they’re launching. These are dreamy. And I got a free shirt with purchase! I love this shirt.
I tried to stay on top of nutrition and hydration all day, and for the rest of the day, we just chilled at my sister’s place relaxing. We had a nice dinner at her house. My parents came in town from Maryland to surprise me. This was the first time they’ve cheered for me during a race, so it was a big deal. I know they worry A LOT about me running, particularly a marathon, so it meant a lot to have them there. Everyone had a pow wow about marathon signs to make for the race.
Saturday night, I was getting nervous and overwhelmed with the thought of getting to the starting line on time. I didn’t get much sleep (as I usually don’t before a race day) and woke up at 3:45 to eat a small meal and have a cup of coffee. After a short subway ride, I got to the NY Public Library at 5:30 am to catch the bus. Everything moved very efficiently and in about 10 minutes I was on my way to Ft. Wadsworth. We got there at about 6:30 am, got through the security screening, and got in my corral. I settled in for the long wait until 10:15. I spent the time chatting up other runners, eating more and drinking my water and some hot tea.
We got in our corral late because they Wave 1 (I was in Wave 2) left later than planned. But, we got started right on time. From the corral, you walk quite a way just to get to the start line. And then, it was wall to wall people. I positioned myself as close as possible between 3:40 and 3:45 paces groups so I could get a good pace and not get stuck behind people. There were people elbowing, and tripping each other accidentally it was soo hard to stick with the pace group. I stuck with them until mile 11 or 12 and then hit a bottleneck and when I navigated that, they were gone. 😦 Not the ideal, but I settled into a comfortable pace and kept going. I had my phone with me (as I always do during races) and my headphones. The weather was perfect. I didn’t put my headphones in because I wanted to enjoy the crowds and cheering. I’m so glad I ran without music because it was hard enough to navigate the mass of runners. Also, why I didn’t take any pictures. During the first 11 miles, I fought hard to stay at my pace and not trip or be tripped by people passing me, slower runners, etc.
I didn’t take any pictures because it was too dangerous to do so without getting injured.
Miles 1-13 Started on the Verrazano Bridge and ran through Brooklyn. Running on the bridge wasn’t as bad as I thought and I kept to my pace. The crowds in Brooklyn were electric and this section is largely flat. My biggest problem was sticking with the pace leader and trying to keep him in sight.
Miles 13-15: The bridge into Queens was steeper than I had expected so I slowed down a bit on the incline not to burn it all and stay steady. My sister, brother in-law and parents were in Queens cheering at mile 15, which was awesome to see them. I was so worried I wouldn’t catch them, but then I did and waved. I wish I stopped to get a hug, but my brain wasn’t working to backtrack a little bit to get over to them. I almost wiped out several times, and being short and at elbow level of many runners, I was convinced my face would be covered in bruises. Not intentional at all, but hard to navigate.
Miles 16-20 through Manhattan and into the Bronx. Two more bridges and this section wasn’t bad. My pace slowed down a bit and I knew I wasn’t going to hit anywhere near 3:45, but I still wanted to get under 4 hours if possible.
Miles 21-24 were the hardest. Back into Manhattan and a steady incline up 5th Avenue. I was dragging. I was stopping at all the water stops and guzzling water and Gatorade.
Miles 24-26.2: I was ready to finish. I buckled down as best I could and ran through the soreness that had developed all over. I pushed through and finished in 4:01.
Favorite things about the race: NYC. Simply the most diverse and eclectic group of people around. The crowds, the scenery and the organization. The people are energizing. Random people shouting your name? That’s awesome. Through every marathon I’ve run, and this one no different, I’m really struck by the physical and mental obstacles that many have to overcome to run this race. I saw one elderly man with a stooped posture walking with a sign on his back that said 87 marathons and counting!!! It was inspiring and emotional to see the Achilles team runners overcoming blindness and other challenges to crush a race like this. Simply amazing! And as I encountered each of these runners, when the voices in my head were starting to get to me about feeling tired, I thought if they can do it, I can too. And I can!
The challenges of the races? People talk a lot about the bridges and how hard they are, but I actually didn’t find them too bad. The Pulaski Bridge from Brooklyn to Queens was one of the hardest because of the incline grade. But, I had trained to run on hills so it wasn’t a big deal. What I wasn’t expecting was the grind of 5th avenue from miles 21-26 when mentally I’m not all there to remember my mantras and verses. And then in Central Park, because of the small hills at the finish, you can’t see the mile markers, so I just had to push to keep going.
Then, I walked 15 blocks to get my heat sheet and race poncho (which is absolutely lovely and warm) and then 15 blocks south to meet my family. THAT was painful, but I’m glad I did that to keep moving and not stiffen up. Walking up and down flights of stairs to take the subway right after the race was also not fun, but necessary.
NYC, my third marathon in less than one year, was by far the hardest course ever. I was a little disappointed that with each marathon I’ve gotten a little slower instead of improving. But, I’m so thankful for the ability to run, and to run another marathon, a blessing I don’t take lightly. and experience this awesome race–truly once in a lifetime.