NYRR’s theme for this year’s NYC Marathon was/is, “You make it the marathon.” I like how they don’t really specify who “you” is, because really and truly, it’s the spectators who make this marathon. Every step of the way (minus the Verrazano and Queensborough bridges) they were there and screaming at the top of their lungs. NYCM is a tough course, and those cheers make all the difference in the world!
Short story: no PR, no BQ, but 3:43:57 was what I had in me on Sunday and not a second more or less. My heart was in it to win it, but I really didn’t know what to expect from my legs since I’ve never run two marathons in a month. Turns out it’s a little tough, but I’d do it again in a millisecond for the experience that was the 2013 NYC Marathon.
Susan and Betsy came over on Saturday night for pasta, bread and You’ve Got Mail (carbs + one of the best NYC movies = perfect race prep), while my sister and mom went out for dinner to escape the run-talk. We talked about the race, the weather and everything else and it was pretty relaxing. Our plan for race morning was for Betsy to take a cab over to the East side, pick up Susan and I and head down to the ferry by about 6:00 a.m. I woke up around 5:00 and made my breakfast (peanut butter and banana sandwich), had some coffee and got ready with lots of layers.
race day outfit
Our cab driver was adorable (although directionally challenged) and asked us if we were going to win (umm, YES). We made it onto the 6:15 ferry and watched the sunrise over the city as we made our way to Staten Island – it was awesome.
on the ferry!
We bussed to the start from the ferry drop-off and I ate my sandwich, and once we exited the busses everyone had to either go through metal detectors or be wanded (or however you explain that…) by NYPD. It took a little longer, but I really appreciated feeling the extra sense of security.
Susan was in the orange corral and Betsy and I were green, so we reluctantly parted ways in the start village. I think it was around then when I realized how windy and COLD it was. Luckily we didn’t have too much time to sit around before getting into the start corrals, but once inside we still had to hang out for a good hour. Betsy and I huddled in our heat sheet and blanket, and Ali joined us with her amazing giraffe hat. We were quite the trio. Time went by pretty quickly and we were summoned to the bridge for more waiting – we shed some layers shivered together until the national anthem and finally, the start.
Miles 1-5: ??, 8:02, 8:22, 8:07, 8:04
Running over the Verrazano Bridge is a great way to start the race – the helicopters are flying above, you can see the city skyline to the left and it is ON. We were at the bottom of the bridge so it wasn’t quite as scenic, but super windy. The left side of my face was completely numb and I could not wait to get off that bridge. Not sure what my first mile split was because the satellites were a little screwy. Betsy and I were running side by side and the pace felt comfortably hard.
Miles 6-10: 8:07, 8:12, 8:21, 8:27, 8:19
Betsy and I were moving together pretty fluidly, but I was starting to notice some fatigue and achiness in the legs already. Tried not to think of it and just push on, because the farther you get into Brooklyn the more exciting the crowd support is, and it’s a great distraction. Took my first gel around mile 6. We saw Betsy’s friend Katie around mile 8 who was an excellent cheerer.
Miles 11-16: 8:36, 8:21, 8:33, 8:24, 8:44?, ??
Betsy and I didn’t talk much besides a few comments here and there – really unlike us, but I felt like I needed to focus all of my energy on keeping up the pace, which was getting harder. Betsy was starting to not feel so great, and I think my response was, “Noooo. stay with me as long as you can!” Even though we weren’t talking, it was so calming to have her next to me. Took my second gel around mile 12. Around the half point Betsy said she was going to put her headphones on, and a few minutes after that I lost her behind me but kept pushing forward. I never remember much of the Queens part of the race because I am so focused on getting to the Queensboro Bridge and over to Manhattan. It went by pretty quickly and before I knew it, we were heading up the bridge. I definitely slowed down with the uphill incline, but am not sure what my splits were on the bridge (miles 15 & 16) due to whack satellites. As we started heading downhill and neared the ramp to First Avenue, I got so excited (how could you not??).
my sister took this shot of Meb. He didn’t have the best race, but by far has the best attitude (watch this)
Miles 17-21: 8:19, 8:18, 8:42, 8:29, 8:30
This is, by far, my favorite part of the race. The walls of people screaming and cheering – there is nothing like it. I had friends and family along the way to look for and couldn’t wait to see them. My mom and sister, running buddies, co-workers – I managed to see most of them and gave my empty water bottle to my sister. I felt like I was flying miles 17-18 and the adrenaline was amazing. I know they say the race can be lost on First Avenue, but I definitely needed that pick-me-up and didn’t care that I was running faster than maybe I should have been. I’ll take it when I can get it. Reality hit as the crowds thinned up First and most of my body parts were in quite a bit of pain. I thought for the first time about taking a little break and walked through a water station, but picked it up after that and kept pushing. My legs were tired, but it was a familiar feeling from having run so many times on tired legs through this training cycle. I knew I could push through it. The bridge into the Bronx was another unwelcome incline, but I knew it would only be about a mile until we were back into Manhattan for the final time.
Miles 22-26.2: 8:31, 8:36, 8:38, 8:34, 8:25
Cruising back into Manhattan I felt good. I thought maybe I could eek out a PR if I kept it going even though every step hurt just a little more. I knew the hardest part of the course was coming up – the Never Ending Hill on 5th Ave. This hill is between 23 and 24 and seems to go on forever. My mom and sister were cheering at 95th street, along with some co-workers near the hospital, and I loved seeing them knowing I was almost there. After the hill ended, I just needed to hold it together for 2 more miles. TWO MORE. Mile 25 hit and finally I really, really wanted to stop. I hadn’t taken my fourth gel and instead sipped Gatorade at the aid stations, but maybe it wasn’t enough because I felt a little bit of The Wall coming. “You will not stop. You will keep going and you will finish strong,” I told myself. The crowds along Central Park South were awesome, and adrenaline once again took over as I rounded the bend back into the park and didn’t stop or slow down until crossing that finish line.
Official: 3:43:57, 8:33/mile
I had been glancing at my watch every couple of minutes so knew I’d missed a PR, but was pretty close (59 seconds, to be exact). I ran the second half of the race about three minutes slower than the first, but am surprised at how semi-even the splits are given how shitty I felt for the last 10K. After getting my medal and a heat sheet, the runners who didn’t check a bag were herded out the “early exit” (which seemed to take forever) and given a bright orange poncho. By that point I was freezing, so this was the warmest and best poncho in the entire world. My sister found me at our meeting spot and I went to change and get warm at Jack Rabbit before heading home on the subway/bus.
my lips are blue because I am so cold.
Now, if someone were to tell me this is how my fall marathon season would have turned out – two races, no PR or BQ – I may have been disappointed. And probably pissed. But having lived it, I am so not. Running a strong race in the awful heat and humidity at Wineglass and an even stronger race one month later on a tough course with tired legs – I can’t be unhappy with that. I gave it everything I had left on Sunday, and that’s all I can really ask myself to do.
I’m learning more and more that running, and marathons especially, are not just about time or pace, but the journey to get there and the journey on to the next one.* This training cycle was the best ever, largely due to having Betsy to train with and other running buddies like Susan and the Runner Army always around for a burger, beer or some miles in Central Park.
After the race we showered, ate some food and met up at a local pub to celebrate and rehash the days events. I’m honestly not sure which part of Sunday I liked more – running through the streets of our great city or talking about it after the fact with some of the best people I know over some well-deserved beverages.
Susan, Betsy and I – buddies <3
The spectators made this race, and my spectators certainly made my race. Running 26.2 miles is hard, but so is standing in the cold for several hours and racing around Manhattan to see your runner in multiple spots for a total of 5 seconds. My mom and sister did just this and were the best cheer section I could ask for.
I think this year’s NYC Marathon showed the people of New York (and beyond) just how positive and inspiring a marathon can be, whether you’re spectating, running or just happen to be passing through an area on the course. And that’s really what it’s all about.
*this is not to say I don’t want to PR or BQ, because I do now more than ever and future plans are already in the making…