New York City Marathon COMPLETED!!
I’m sitting here writing as a NYC Marathon finisher; with a happy heart and very sore legs. Sunday, 11/6/11 was one of the best days in my 26 years of life. From start to finish, everything by NYRR was well organized. My friends were able to track my progress online. The volunteers at the expo, start villages, and on the course were extremely friendly and helpful. Everyone I met inspired me.
I actually got a decent amount of sleep the night before the race. Minus the inebriated couple fighting outside my window around 11pm. Before bed, I packed up pretty much everything in the house:
My lovely roommate, Ben, woke up like a champ at 4:45am after staying out until around 3am. What a trooper. He drove me to Metlife Stadium where I boarded a bus with thousands of other excited runners. When I arrived at my quaint little green village underneath the Verrazano Bridge, I grabbed half a bagel and settled in with my blanket, Gatorade, and 53,242 hand and foot warmers. I HATE to be cold.
I waited, met a couple people, stood in some lines, checked my bag, talked to some more people, stood in more lines, and then finally made it to the bridge. New York, New York began playing and we were off.
I ran. And ran and ran and ran. I stopped to stretch a lot. Borrowed “the stick” from some random guy. Then ran some more.
I’m still reflecting and taking everything in, feeling
a little EXTREMELY sad that it’s all over. (What am I going to obsess over now?!) Post-race sadness always gets to me. After so much training and dedication, the big event ends within a few hours. NOW WHAT!?
I was battling a minor injury toward the end of my training but I did all I could to take care of it leading up to the marathon. I would not miss out on something I’d dreamed of doing since my high school cross country days and I certainly didn’t want to let myself or anyone else down! Of course, the injury started hurting on the Verrazano Bridge, AKA within the first 1/2 mile, much to my dismay. “Mental toughness” got me through the race by making up for any physical weaknesses. Who would have thought, me, mentally tough!?
Was it right to keep pushing through injury? Maybe not. But I felt okay. I felt strong despite all that. I pushed though it because of the energy of the outstanding spectators (my favorite sign said “Worst Parade Ever!”) and because I refused to believe I couldn’t finish. It wasn’t an option I considered at any point.
I think my favorite borough was a surprising Brooklyn. Spectators lined the streets and I can’t remember any point in time where people weren’t cheering and high-fiving everyone. The smile never left my face, and I constantly found myself turning my music off just to take it all in.
As the race went on, I began telling myself…”I’m going to sprint the last 5k no matter how I feel. I want to PR. 5k is nothing.”
Then, it became “Okay, the last two miles is fine. I’m “sprinting” the last two.”
I think I forgot what running a marathon felt like.
Eventually I talked myself down, convinced that my
sprint faster jogging would be the last mile. I stopped getting water at the hydration stations when I had three miles left because I was sure I was going to cross the finish line and promptly throw up. Smart move, Kara.
1/2 ended up being my magic number. With 1/2 mile left, I got my kick. The kick that never failed me in high school cross country, or any other race I’ve done. I always find an adrenaline-fueled run to the finish.
I took my headphones out of my ears, then picked it up and ran as fast as I could through the last half mile. However, the main thing that kept me going through the entire race, step by step: I was inspired by thinking of a friend with cancer – his strength and generosity. I reminded myself that cancer patients go through chemotherapy and radiation and that doesn’t end. At least not in a day, or without a long, drawn out, exhausting fight. “THIS WILL END TODAY” I kept reminding myself. My race would be over, but so many people are fighting such a bigger battle that lasts a lifetime.
The most inspirational shirt I saw (right at the moment I needed it) said: “Though the body says stop, the spirit cries never” (from the Rocky movie). I don’t know what it was; maybe that despite the fact that my body was indeed saying “stop!”, it still reminded me that the marathon encompasses way more than that physical pain.
Because of my amazing friend, I am proud to say I ran the New York City marathon, and beat my first marathon time by 40 minutes. I left all I had on the streets of NYC.
I saw firefighters running with all of their gear, a man with one leg running with a crutch, a man with one arm running, cancer survivors, first-time marathoners, elite marathoners, birthday girls and boys, the old, the young, proposals, happiness, pain, anger, exhaustion, gratefulness, excitement, inspiration, motivation, toughness, strength, and kindness.
Congrats to all the finishers and a big thank you to all the spectators!! The support from all the boroughs of NYC was incredible.
Until next year, NYC marathon…
P.S. I’ve written all my favorite NYC Marathon tips here!