Race re-cap it is!!
I have been debating in my head since Sunday how I wanted to write this post. I’ve been struggling with this for almost 4 days now. So instead of trying to come up with something clever and witty (which, who am I kidding, these things I am not!), I decided to just lay it all out there. I want you to experience the emotion I felt on race day – not so much what I DID, but how I FELT.
I’ll get more into it later, but Saturday was a day of bad decisions. I struggled with this all day, but I couldn’t justify traveling to NYC and not exploring the city. So I chose to enjoy my family and experience NYC instead of taking care of myself for Sunday’s race. Do I regret it? NOT IN THE LEAST.
I took an Advil PM around 9:00 Saturday night and slept pretty well until 3:00 Sunday morning. I was already awake and ready to get up when my alarm went off bright and early. I also got an extra little boost of energy when I saw that Team Heatha had decorated the apartment for my birthday and the marathon.
Luckily my husband loves me, too, and got up to walk me to the buses that would take me to the start villages. I was pretty quiet as we walked the 12 blocks or so to the buses. I kept thinking about how my ankle was going to hold up after walking so much the past 2 days (which would end up being my biggest crutch).
I was early enough that there wasn’t too big of a crowd yet, so I was able to hop right on a bus. It was a quick ride and I found Molly in the blue village relatively easy!
I ate a banana and peanut butter at 6:00 and then some trail mix around 8:30. I was drinking my huge bottle of Smart Water, but I could tell I was still hungry. I just didn’t know what to do about it. I had never had to fuel for a race where I was up 6 1/2 hours prior to the start. So about an hour before my start time I had 2 bites of a Power Bar they were graciously handing out to runners. In my head I was praying it was enough.
The start came quicker than I thought it would and I kind of walked through the corral in a fog. I shed my throw away clothes, and then it was TIME. New York, New York started playing and we were running across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge! I felt great, the weather was perfect and the scenery was amazing. I had heard of men peeing over the edge of the bridge and witnessed this first hand on the downhill. It was gross. And smelly.
It was around mile 3 that I knew I had to pee myself. I was hoping the feeling would go away (I had peed 4 times before I started!), but I had no such luck. But besides having to pee I was feeling pretty great. The crowds were AMAZING and I was averaging roughly 10:30 miles.
And finally at mile 8 I saw these beautiful faces (right where they said they’d be!):
J jumped in and ran a couple miles with me. Poor guy. I was getting so crabby from having to pee so bad and seeing a line a mile deep at every porta potty! So I finally saw an alley and told him I was going to duck in and relieve myself. Unfortunately, the person living in the apartment that exited out into the alley decided to leave his place of residence mid-stream (literally). He looked me in the eye, I said “Oh no!”, he shut the door, and I continued my business. I’m sure it was quite the sight. Or not.
J took the above picture while I was having my nice alley encounter.
I remember telling J after that how much better I felt. And then we hit mile 13. The Pulaski Bridge.
Two things happened on that bridge:
- My stomach felt empty. Like, dehydrated empty. Where you can drink and drink and drink, but nothing absorbs. I had been drinking every mile from my Nathan handheld, but I guess it wasn’t enough? Or maybe it was a combination of being thirsty and hungry? Because by now it was around 1:00 and I hadn’t eaten since 8:30. I had no idea (still don’t).
- My ankle was swelling and not liking the hills. I still don’t have the full range of motion in my ankle so instead of being stupid and powering through the hills, I decided to walk them. I’m not sure if this was a smart decision or not. It hurt my time A LOT (I mean, A LOT), but I’m able to walk today so I’m going to say it was a good decision.
Miles 15 to 16 were the Queensboro bridge. HOLY MOTHER. This bridge was killer. Long and monotonous and boring. My least favorite part of the race. It was also my slowest mile of the race (16:44 – eeeek!). But I knew we were headed towards First Avenue, which was supposed to be the mecca of crowd supporters.
I took my headphones out at this point because there was supposed to be this “wall of sound” when you reach the bottom of the bridge of the crowd cheering. I didn’t really think the cheering was anything superior to what had been in Brooklyn, but the people were at least 10 deep. It was ridiculous. Like one big frat party!
I also found my family again here! My sister jumped in to run a few miles with me and I was mad crabby. I was upset with my stomach, and couldn’t even think about eating my Honey Stingers (even though my sis forced me to eat some – we compromised on 2 – ha). I had started drinking water at every water stop (they were every mile) and drinking my nuun sparingly. The water was just so refreshing at this point!
It was also at this point I started to get down on myself. Miles 18 through 20 were all 12 minute miles and I was feeling like crap. I knew my goal of a 5 hour finish was out of reach and I couldn’t get that out of my head.
That is, until we hit the Bronx and Harlem. KICK ASS. It was like one big party that everyone was invited to! There were rappers free styling and high fiving the runners, break dancers, people doing the Cupid Shuffle (which I totally dig!), and mad love all around. It was hands down my favorite part of the race. Right up my alley! I was dancing and loving every minute of it. I’m so thankful for these areas because it was then that things changed for me. I knew I was going to finish. I didn’t care about my time anymore, and I was PROUD for what I was accomplishing. And if things couldn’t get better it was right then that a message from J popped up on the jumbotron! Unbelievable. I actually screamed out loud and pointed at the screen – it was the best pick me up (thank, Babe!). Things just came together during this section – and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.
My bff, Nikki, jumped in around mile 22 1/2 to run with me for a bit and I remember being happy. I told her I wasn’t going to be able to talk much but it wasn’t because I was crabby, I was just tired. My legs were hurting and there were lots of rolling hills as we entered Central Park. Kids were handing out candy and I remember taking a piece, handing it to Nikki, and telling her to “save it for after – I’m going to kill that candy bar later”. Hehe.
My stomach was still revolting so I just continued to drink water at every mile and tried not to think about it.
Next thing I knew she was gone and I was coming up to the 25 mile marker. SO CLOSE. I just kept my legs moving forward and ran with this stupid grin on my face. Since I work with ING on a daily basis, the company generously offered my family VIP passes to the finish line area so I was pumped to see them again. This was it. I looked at my watch and didn’t even care anymore. I only cared about crossing that finish line.
And as I approached mile 26 I could hear the announcer say “This is your finish! What do you want it to be?” and I immediately got choked up. I had never cried during a race before but I was so emotional! The tears came as soon as I saw my sister, J, and C.
You can pretty much see the happiness on my face here:
And I’m pretty sure I’m still smiling here, too:
I accomplished something I thought was nearly impossible when I started training 10 weeks ago. I have been so down on myself the past few weeks that I’m happy to finally say that I’m PROUD of myself. I deserve this medal:
This was my worst marathon finish by far, but it was the BEST experience. No other marathon will ever compare to this one. It was truly an experience of a lifetime. And something I will never, ever forget.
I still have so much to say, but I think I’ll save it for another time. I think this post is long enough.
Thanks again for all the support. You guys are all kick ass.