The whole week leading up to Sunday November 2nd felt like it crawled by so slowly. I had a million things on my to-do list between marathon prep, getting the girls ready for Halloween, and of course WORK. The expo opened on Thursday at the Javits Center, but I didn’t have time to get over there on the first day. I waited until Friday around 2pm, and there were absolutely no lines to get bibs. It sounded like earlier in the day on Friday the lines were pretty insane, but mid-afternoon on Friday was easy-breezy. If you go on Friday, you’ll avoid a lot of crowds as out-of-towners mostly arrive to NYC on Saturday. Grabbed my bib, snapped a pic, and headed out for trick or treating with my kids!
Saturday afternoon: Team MR8 had a team dinner at Carmine’s in Times Square. There is a whole separate post on that. I ate pasta with vegetables, chicken, lots of garlic bread and a canolli. We ate on the earlier side, so by 7:00pm, I was hungry again and had Gino’s Pizza. If there was any night to have two dinners, it would probably be the night before 26.2! I laid out my “flat runner” to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, and tried to get to bed at a decent time.
Sunday Morning: Astrid met me at my house at 5:15am. We got on the 5:45am train from Manhasset, which got us into Penn Station a little past 6:30am. The 2 train was packed with marathoners, all more looking like hobos than runners at this point. If you are reading this (and there are probably like 5 of you) and you’ve never run a marathon before, let me fill you in on what happens before you run. If you are running in the fall or winter, its pretty cold outside, and there is a lot of standing around and waiting. Runners wear a “throw-away outfit” that they’ll be comfortable standing around in, but one that they don’t mind completely discarding before the race. For me on the morning of November 2nd, that included sweatpants bought from a dollar store, high knee socks that were at least three years old, a sweatshirt I got for free, a Zara winter coat that I was going to donate to GoodWill, a winter hat that had seen better days, and (perhaps the best part) was my Snuggy. People loved the Snuggy. I loved the Snuggy. It has a zippered bottom so I didn’t have to fuss with it too much every time I used the bathroom that day. Brilliant. I had a hard time parting with it, but alas, it was destined to hit the ground in Staten Island.
When we got to Staten Island, we were herded through the ferry terminal, and out on the sidewalk to get in line for the buses that were going to take us to Fort Wadsworth where the starting village was awaiting. I was in the green starting village and in corral D, but finding this wasn’t that easy. In fact, I really only had about 10 minutes of actual downtime before they were calling my wave. In a matter of minutes, I transformed into an actual runner, rather than a completely crazy looking person in a Snuggy. I was down to my long sleeve shirt layer, headband, sunglasses but I kept my hooded sweatshirt on just to combat some of the wind on the Verzanno Bridge. They moved my wave through the corrals, and up onto the starting line at the base of the bridge. I was actually pretty surprised at how easy that part was, but I wouldn’t say the Fort Wadsworth was super organized; that was stressful. And once I parted ways with Astrid, I really didn’t like being alone. It was pretty quiet in my head.
The music started, the famous NEW YORK, NEW YORK was blaring over the speakers, we were off! I crossed the starting line and I was running the NYC Marathon.
The bridge was windy. Really windy. It sounded like people’s bibs were going to rip off from their shirts entirely, and hats were flying all around. I actually saw two people running back the way we had come (don’t run backwards in a marathon. Ever. Like, ever) to chase down various articles of clothing that were blowing around. I was running fast, too. Too fast. Like super-excited-everything-feels-too-easy kind of fast. The view from the bridge was pretty incredible. I teared up a little as I looked over at downtown Manhattan, thinking that in just a few hours (or five…spoiler alert!) I would be a finisher of the NYC Marathon. Emotions, people! They are real. There were barges in the water, and choppers hovering on each side of the bridge. I was on the lower level but I swear I could hear the footprints and whoops and hollers of the folks on the top level as well. People were pumped up.
When you come off the bridge into Brooklyn, you go down and around a highway exit, and then you’re in a pretty residential neighborhood. This must have been around the three-mile mark, because I saw someone holding a sign that said “only 23 miles to go”. Don’t ever make signs like these.
Brooklyn was amazing. I can’t even really put into words (and trust me, this race recap is 3 weeks late; I’ve been TRYING) how much I loved running the first 13.1 miles of this race through Brooklyn. It was everything. The crowds are literally standing on top of one another, almost at times in the way of runners in the street. There was a band on every corner. Every church had a choir on the steps, and the sound was upbeat. My steps were quick too, I was pacing way too fast for me in this type of race. At one point I turned my phone off of Airplane Mode and opened the NYC Marathon app, and I was pacing to finish in 4:15. I was averaging around 9:15/9:30 miles at this point, but I felt GOOD. I knew I should slow down, but my legs just wouldn’t listen. I was all sorts of pumped up when I saw my AdRoll friends at mile 11.
I hit the halfway point in Brooklyn still feeling really strong, and pacing for about a 4:30 finish. Not bad for half-way! As I made my way to the Queensboro Bridge, I started thinking about where I would find KJ and my brother-in-law on First Avenue. I texted him to get his exact location, and waiting for the text to come back occupied my mind on the slow climb of the bridge. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, after I had built up the quietness of it all in my head for so many weeks. One of my favorite memories is actually looking to my right and seeing the Roosevelt Island Tram gliding past the bridge. The passengers inside were waving at us and holding signs. It was one small moment in the day that I haven’t forgotten about.
Coming off the bridge and onto First Avenue lived up to expectations completely; it was LOUD! The sun was in my eyes (even with my sunglasses on), so I had to stay completely to the left of the street even though the crowds were on the right side. I checked my phone to get KJ’s whereabouts, and from 59th Street all the way to 80th, I just stayed to the left and tried to get to him as fast as I could. I spotted him and Matty in front of Bar Coastal, and made a pit stop with my fam. KJ had carried some GuChomps with him, and opened them for me and I ate one. Bad idea. All of a sudden, I couldn’t really swallow any of my food and I felt nauseous. It was only mile 18, and it was a little “early” to be feeling like this. I left them with promises of “I’ll go as fast as I can!” and pressed on up First Avenue. The crowds thinned a little as I crossed into the Bronx at Mile 20, and I still felt like something wasn’t quite right. Then again, it was mile 20 of a marathon, so nothing was quite right. I walked a little around mile 21, and tried to drink two cups of water before I let myself “run” again. I turned off my Garmin watch so I wouldn’t get discouraged by the paces that were flashing. I told myself to just have fun and enjoy it, and to forget about the clock. I picked it up through Harlem to Mile 23. Confession: I had to walk a lot of Mile 23. Like more than I would have liked. It had started to get chilly, and I grabbed a pair of gloves off the ground (I had chucked mine in the warmth of Brooklyn about 13 miles ago), and I even accepted a warmth cape from a medical tent around mile 24. My teeth wouldn’t stop chattering!
At mile 24.5ish I gave myself one last pep talk. I thought about Martin, and Team MR8, and all the money that I had raised. As we entered Central Park, I was running. I made it up the backside of Cat Hill and down the wonderful-oh-so-wonderful downhill by the bottom of the park. I smiled, and gave high-fives, and tried to make the most of (what I knew was) my last mile of my last marathon. There was a moment in Central Park where a girl in a red shirt darted out in front of me, almost cutting me off (if I was running at any sort of speed). I almost said, hey watch out, but then I saw her shirt. On the back, she had taped her name: Lulu. My Lulu was at home waiting for me to finish this damn marathon, and I laughed thinking that this was SUCH an appropriate sign to see at that moment. I knew I was close. The finish line was in my sights, and I could see the clock; I was SO CLOSE to breaking 5 hours!
Official Time: 5:02, a new marathon PR for me. I wanted to (finally) break 5 hours, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me. Pretty close though!
This is where things get bad: the finish line SUCKS at the NYC Marathon. I can totally see why some people who love to run marathons, don’t love to run big city marathons. We had to walk easily another half a mile to get to the fuel stations and get our warm ponchos, and I was FREEZING. I started crying (super emo day!) and a nice man next to me asked me if I was crying because it was my first marathon. I said, “no, it’s my last and I just want to find my husband.” What a mess!
We wound out of the park, and I walked a few blocks to 72nd Street, where KJ and Matt were waiting for me. They claim that I looked better than half the people hobbling and limping around them, but I think they were just being nice. But either way, I appreciated the compliment.
I finished! We headed down to Brother Jimmys for some beers and fries (my biggest craving!) and I was already proud of myself for being able to drink a beer. After Boston, I couldn’t drink anything until the next day. So this was a win.
So yes, I am retired from the 26.2 distance! I have now run Chicago, Boston and NYC, and raised a pretty decent amount of money for three incredible charities. When they decide to change the distance to a more manageable 20 miles, let me know. I’ll sign up for that.