My bags still lay packed on my bedroom floor, shoes still untied where I dropped them, but the medal hangs on the wall brightly above. The energy of the marathon still hasn’t worn off and the lust to be back in the moment is real. The New York City Marathon did more than moved me, it challenged everything I knew and motivated me for the future.
34th street and 11th Avenue was buzzing with excitement, the NYC Marathon was here. The Streets outside the Javits center were flooded with New Balance bags, and constant chatter of the up and coming marathon.
I picked up my bib on Friday night, 27290 would brand me for the days ahead. All over the expo center there were tons of things to take pictures with. Murals of the NYC skyline hug all over, and the lines crawled everywhere. Vendors, eager to get there product out, shouted at the top of there lungs to anyone who would listen. It was very exhausting walking around, but alas I would return the next morning.
On Saturday the expo center was even more crowded than the night before and the excitement and energy was at an all time high. I tunneled my way through the eager crowd to met up with the best strangers I never met, the Nuun crew. About 35 of us Nuunies all met up at the Nuun table to talk, catch up (in Nora and I’s case), and wish good luck for the upcoming race. We were nervous, you could tell it with the short witty banter, with laughs where there did not need to be laughs, and a part of our bodies always moving, but it was good. This was the supportive family we all needed in this time.
The Night Before
“What should I wear!?!?!” I asked everyone. Over text, in person, I made phone calls, asked the cat.
“Well, what do you feel most comfortable in?” was the response
Ughhhhhhhhhhhh. I had my shorts picked out, I only have one pair that I race in. I had my socks picked out. Tiux just released the NYC edition compression sock and there was no way I was missing the opportunity to wear them. Shoes were a go. I read somewhere if you visualize putting your sneakers on, the ones you are thinking of are the ones you should wear, lobster Launches by Brooks was it. BUT WHAT GOD DAMN SHIRT SHOULD I WEAR!?!?!
I had a marathon specific shirt, but I never ran in it. When it was made, it was made in a size large, when I wear a small. Nothing was looking good, but as I tried it on it felt like magic, so it stayed.
Typically my pre race meal is chicken parm. This way I get the protein from the chicken, and the carbs from pasta… but tonight it was chicken parm lasagna, which turned out to be the best thing ever. I also made snicker doodles to build on the cookie theory, but that is a story for another day.
I fell asleep watching How I Met Your Mother on the couch at 9:30, and went to bed shortly after. My alarm, titled “LET’S GET IT!!! NYC MARATHON DAY BABY!” would ring at 3:15am sharp. Where I would throw myself out of bed, get dressed, make a bagel and get driven to the Meadowlands where I would catch my bus to Staten Island.
I slept like a baby.
I was among the first buses to arrive at Staten Island at the ripe hour of 5:30. Roughly 4.5 hours before my corral would be loaded for a 10:15 start.
First thing I did after I got off the bus? Used the porta potty. It may have been dark, but by smell and opening the toilet paper I could tell I was the first one in. SCORE, it was going to be a good day.
I made camp on a tree in the back of the orange corral runners village. I put a heat blanket on the ground and a sweatshirt on top of me. The top of the Verrazano could be seen behind me, sticking up as a reminder of the looming marathon. I chose not to look at it.
Between bagels, coffee, trips to the bathrooms, and sharing magazines with my tree partner, Staten Island was like a camp. It was great. I half expected us to break out in song and light a camp fire.
What felt like years later the first wave was loaded into their corrals. The cannon fired, the rest of us who weren’t in wave one sat startled for a minute before we realized what happened.
An hour later, wave two was called to load. I was one of the first people in the wave 2, letter C, orange corral. We stood for what felt like an hour before we were walked up to the bridge. It was cold. I dropped my long sleeve shirt, sweatshirt and sweatpants before entering the corral, but the wind coming over the Verrazano hit me to the core.
After listening to Jim Diego (a fellow Nuunie) sing the God Bless America, the cannons were fired (startling many people), Frank Sinatra blared over the speakers and we started our 26.2 mile adventure.
Being the orange corral I started on top of the bridge and stuck to the left railing of the Verrazano. It was beautiful. Past the rain clouds you could see Manhattan off in the distance, almost calling our names. Ships, stuck in the harbor, looked like toys, and helicopters flew overhead giving off the feeling of world domination. I did not feel the largest elevation climb of the marathon, I was too busy being a tourist.
Coming off the bridge was a roller coaster. Downhill for almost a mile straight, it was one of my 2 seven minute miles on course. Once you hit flat ground in Brooklyn, that is when the crowds started.
They were deafening, the crowd. Cheers, high fives, witty posters and it was all for us. If you want to feel like a celebrity put your name on your shit, I can guarantee you it wont go unnoticed. I set a PR for the most high fives I gave in one day, and that was before I left Brooklyn.
Brooklyn dragged on forever, and the crowds never stopped. Yes, there was a quiet section, but even there you could still hear voices cheering you on. The bridge to Queens was the half way mark. I wanted to stop and walk it out, but I was afraid the crowd would retaliate. They cheered so loudly I owed it to them to keep moving.
If Brooklyn took forever, Queens was a second. I blinked, and the 3 miles was gone. We were already heading up the Queensboro bridge. Here I took my first walking break, it was a planned decision from the day before. I took a gel, and checked my phone to see where my parents would be cheering, 64th and 1st ave.
The incline for the Queensboro bridge was worse than the Verrazano for me, it never ended. Hitting the downhill was magical and warranted my second and final 7 minute mile. The wall of sound at mile 16 was amazing coming off of the silence of the bridge, I am pretty sure it was louder than the crowd at the Superbowl.
I found my parents at 64th street and 1st Ave. They had a bag of goodies that I packed which I thought I might have needed, more Nuun, gels, Run Gum, all I wanted was water to fill up my bottle. While I was doing this the people around my parents commented about how I did not look like I was running. They were right, I was still feeling incredibly strong. My legs were starting to get tight, but I still had more in the tank. I joke a little bit, while filling up my handheld and went on my way.
First Ave was lined 10 people deep all the way up, the noise was screaming in my ears. Fellow runners were starting to slow, I accidentally ran into more than one person who stopped abruptly. The wall is a real thing, I’m just happy I never reached it.
“Welcome to the Bronx! Hurry up and leave!” A lady yelled at me from the top of the Willis Ave Bridge, this was my second and final planned walk break. I would already be coming into mile 20 ten minutes past my goal time. The Bronx was another blink and out, although I did have to fill up my water bottle again! I barely drank from my handheld the first half, then I realized hydration is key and started drinking more.
“Attention runners, the Bronx is now closed. Please get out.” A man with a monotone voice announced over a handheld speaker over the Madison Ave Bridge. That was fast.
As we entered Manhattan the speed picked up, there was 4 miles left, and my legs were gone. I lost my quads at mile 20, but my mantra was, “Keep going, its supposed to hurt.” The Fifth Ave mile killed me. I took an unintended walk break before entering the park. Everything hurt, but the crowds made me want to keep going.
Once I entered Central Park I knew it was almost over. I had 15 minutes to go 2 miles to reach my sub 4 goal. It was hard. These were the hills that I trained on during the summer. The crowds, still cheering, still screaming, it was like a soundtrack on repeat that I never got tired of.
With a mile left we exited the park, I had 4 minutes to run a mile to get a sub 4… Yeah, that wasn’t happening. I don’t remember 59th street being uphill, I don’t even know if it really was, all I can tell you is that everything hurt. I do not remember much of 59th street at all actually. People were stopping on every side of me, cramping up and walking it out, I did not want to be one of them.
As soon as we entered the park I saw the finish line. It was all the motivation I needed. I ran, I felt like I was sprinting, I was pushing. It was uphill, it hurt, but I was almost there. Before I crossed the line I heard someone yell, don’t worry about stopping your watch just smile!
I threw my arms up, crossed the line, biggest smile on my face. I just finished the New York City Marathon.
I was soaked, every inch of me. I don’t remember it raining, but it was. I also don’t remember the head wind but I was assured there was one. I received my finishers poncho by a poncho angel who draped it over me, then I proceeded to walk a mile to find my parents.
I walked into the hotel and the staff burst into an applause. I was one of the first back, they were so happy for me, it was exactly what I needed. Every ounce of emotion let loose right there, I started crying for probably the 12th time today. There was so many emotions. I just finished a huge chapter in my life, now what?
I showered (found out I did not chafe at all), and put on warm clothes. I sat on my bed (with a quad shot of espresso, I still had to go out and party all night) and debated what to write to my Instagram followers. Normally its a long heart felt piece, but this time. It was just what I felt short and sweet with 2 pictures.
The NYC Marathon pushed me, it challenged me, it changed me. I ran the best race I had on one of the toughest marathon courses in the world and I PRed. Not only that I ran on an injured ankle and still PRed.
In the days following the marathon I would think back on it frequently. The people I met, the people who cheered me on, even the people who encouraged me while I was training. The marathon made me a better person. Not even a week later I singed up for my next. I need to take 35 minutes off my time to qualify for Boston, it will challenge me.
Till next time, Cheers.