The New York City Marathon is already over. This is so sad. Good thing I can re-live it on the blog, right? Right. Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about my third marathon:
Saturday Night: I ate lots of carbs in the form of spaghetti and bread. After dinner, Brendan took me to his “office” and gave me a bunch of old gear that I could use to stay warm at the starting line and toss once I began running. Thanks to the Jets’ switch to Nike, I was able to take some of their unused, super warm Reebok gear.
I foam rolled, chatted on the phone with my fam, and finished my raceday playlist before going to bed around 10PM.
Race Morning: As soon as we woke up, Brendan started playing motivational videos for me. Isn’t he the greatest? Once I was properly inspired, he drove me to my friend Meghan’s house, where were finished getting ready and watched “Friends” while waiting for our ride. From Meghan’s house, we were able to get to Staten Island via the Bayonne Bridge. It was SO EASY! We were dropped off steps from the starting villages and only had to wait around for 30 minutes or so before our waves were being called. It was so perfect. (And much better than 2011, when I had to take the bus from NJ at 5AM!)
And then, the wave fiasco happened. I was supposed to be in wave 3, so I got into a line for my corral and my wave. We waited and waited for about 30 minutes as the line slowly moved. All of a sudden, they shut the gates and told us that wave 3 corrals were closed. WHAT!? Hundreds of us were still waiting. Everyone started yelling and running toward the gate, but no one would let us in. The cannon went off for wave 3 as we were all still standing there. I was so upset – I was very excited to be in the earlier wave. I was ready to go. I was planning to meet up with Meghan along the course so we could run together (she was in wave 3 too). I wanted to run with people my own pace and was hoping to find the 4:30 pacer, also in wave 3. I had friends who were waiting for me based on the starting time I told them. I know I should have stayed positive, but this put me in such a bad mood. I didn’t even enjoy hearing New York, New York at the starting line when I finally got there. I just wanted to run. I was just angry-tweeting, naturally. (Yeahhh sorry about that.)
As I started running, though, I decided that only I have the power to change my mindset, and that negativity wouldn’t do anyone any good. I mean, come on…I was running the NEW YORK CITY MARATHON! And then, I saw BETH! It was the best thing that could have happened. I was so thankful to see her and to be able to share part of her first marathon with her. I think I was more excited for her race than mine. We ran together, just chatting and reveling in the fact that we were FINALLY running this race. After about 6 miles, I decided I wanted to pick up my pace a little bit. I gave her a hug and headed off through Brooklyn (which is totally underrated, by the way. The support there is incredible!).
My knees were already a little achy at this point, which really worried me. I kept focusing on running with a little forward lean like my physical therapist taught me, and that definitely helped take some of the pressure off. The miles ticked by. I was making a major rookie mistake – weaving in and out of other runners – but I felt like I had to. It was a lot more congested than I remember from 2011, although I’m guessing that had to do with starting in the later wave. I knew I did the right thing by starting slower, but was a little anxious I was running too slow to reach my goal of 4:29. (I was a few minutes slower than my pace band showed I should be.) Nevertheless, I kept putting one foot in front of the other, knowing that was all I really needed to do.
Eventually I found myself in Queens; a welcome change of scenery after running through Brooklyn for so long (no offense, BK!). I started thinking about the Queensboro Bridge and how I was ready to take on this notoriously tough section of the course. The rap song I was listening to (can’t remember what it was now) was repeating the lyrics “Queen B” and it made me laugh. Of course they weren’t singing about the Queensboro, but hey, it pumped me up! Whatever works, right?
A lot of people were walking on the Queensboro (or whatever it’s called now…59th Street Bridge?). I felt lucky to have run it multiple times in training this season. (I felt that way on a majority of the course – it’s so nice to know exactly where you are and what’s coming up!) It was frustrating when people were walking in the middle of the bridge instead of moving to the side, but I just focused on what I knew was ahead…the famous 1st Avenue! At this point my watch went crazy as it always does when I run the Queensboro. It said I was at mile 15.1 for pretty much the entire span of the bridge. As you’ll see in my splits, my mile 16 time makes it look like I was basically walking…but I wasn’t! I was powering up that hill. I could faintly hear the cheering coming from 1st Avenue below, and I became extremely antsy and excited.
Before I got to the bridge, my watch was showing that I was running the course about .15 over what the actual mile markers were reading. When I got off the bridge, my watch was at about 15.5 when it should have been over 16. (Sidenote: I remember seeing the “10 miles to go” sign and being SO happy. 10 miles seemed like nothing, but I tried to remind myself that a lot can change in those 10 miles and to not go crazy.) It was at this point that I stopped going by the mileage on my watch and started solely looking at the time. I was trying to calculate the pace I’d have to run to reach my “A” goal, 4:29. That didn’t last long. I can’t do math normally, much less while running a marathon. I did figure out that I was more than a couple minutes off…bummer, but I still thought it was a possibility.
Coming off the bridge into Manhattan was a lot better than I remembered. I knew that a lot of my friends were along this stretch and was really looking forward to seeing them. Not to mention, the spectators in general were pretty fantastic – they were 2-3 rows deep, screaming for everyone…not just their own marathoner. I smiled and waved as people called out my name (which was on my shirt – always write your name on your shirt!). I eventually saw Kim, Abby, Steph, and later on, Ashley and Danielle. It made me SO happy to see each and every one of them and they all really lifted my spirits. (THANK YOU LADIES!!) I’m stealing these pictures from Ashley:
I headed into the Bronx around mile 20. I started thinking about my last run with Beth – when we ran the last 10 miles or so of the marathon course – and it gave me strength. My knees were hurting a lot more at this point, so I just reminded myself to run with my heart. I only had a 10K left – I could do that! I saw a guy with a sign that said “F*CK THE WALL”…and then, it was on. There’s always one race sign or saying on a shirt that gets me totally jacked up, and this one was it. (Thank you, random man.) I was smiling ear to ear, thinking there was NO WAY “the wall” was going to get me down. (If you’re not familiar, around mile 20 is typically when runners “hit the wall”. Their energy levels drop, the pain takes over, and they slow down.)
No wall for me today.
I saw my coworker at this point and he hopped in and ran with me for about a minute, telling me I looked awesome, which gave me another huge boost. I was still thinking I could maybe hit my 4:29 goal if I ran 10 minute miles the remainder of the race, but looking back I think I must have done the math wrong, haha (sounds about right for me). Anyway, I prepped myself for the long uphill on 5th Avenue, knowing GB and a few others would be there. I wanted to look strong when I saw my friends!
Eventually my knees stopped hurting but my hips started aching, and my energy levels were decreasing (obviously). I gave a thumbs up to people cheering for me, but for the most part just focused on powering up the hill with each step. Thanks to the crowds, 5th Avenue felt much easier on raceday, which was really surprising. (Not EASY, but easier for sure.) There were alot more spectators than I thought there would be. I actually think it was better than 1st Ave, because the road is much narrower so it’s like you’re running through a tunnel of spectators.
In my head, I kept telling myself to keep pushing and not to give up. That I really, really wanted as big of a PR as possible. That I wanted to prove to myself that I could finish faster than I started. I wanted to finish this race proud of myself. As I pushed through the last few hills in Central Park and on Columbus Circle, I just looked straight ahead and pounded the pavement as quickly as I could. I’m SO, SO proud that my last (uphill!) mile was the fastest of the entire day!
I crossed that uphill finish line with my hands above my head, totally ready to stop running but so proud of myself for everything I’ve done this year. Neither of my first two marathons went well for me, so this was a huge PR…based on the official results (which have me running a 4:38 instead of the 4:36 my watch shows), I improved my PR by 44 minutes! (I ran a 5:22 in 2011 in this same race.)
I’m proud I never walked (minus a few seconds when I got caught up in crowds at a water station). My fueling was perfect (a bagel with PB and a Honey Stinger Honey Waffle before the race; during the race, 3 Gus with caffeine and 3 salt pills, + water and sips of gatorade). I kept a smile on my face. I may not have reached my “A” goal (4:29), but I’m so happy with how the day went.
Brendan’s parents were gracious enough to go wayyy out of their way to drive me back home to NJ (how did I get so lucky to have all these wonderful people in my life?) at which point I took a hot shower, put on some yoga pants, called my parents and laid on the couch for the rest of the night. Our household was extremely happy with the Jets win and my marathon, so everyone was in great spirits. Today, the outside of my right knee still hurts (which is worrisome), and my quads are definitely the most sore. Although, the more I move, the better I feel!
Now, I just have to figure out what’s next…
Did you run this weekend? How did it go?!
P.S. I’ve written all my favorite NYC Marathon tips here!