What can I say? Sunday was epic in every way. With each stride, I felt such pride in my city and the thousands of people that came out to cheer, and infinitely lucky to finally be able to run the New York City Marathon.
I was so impressed with how organized it was from start to finish, and the volunteers were amazing! We’ll breeze right by the sitting-in-the-cold-for-3-hours-before-the-race…THAT kind of sucked.
But once we were in the corrals I just could not wait for the race to start. The energy was ridiculous – I’ve never experienced anything like it! We could see people in the first wave running over the Verrazano Bridge, and it finally registered in my head that I would be doing the same thing very shortly – AH!! Running over the bridge was awesome, but it took those first two miles for me to be able to feel my feet after being so cold!
I knew by mile 3 that a BQ just wasn’t a realistic goal for the day – I wanted to keep a conservative, relaxed pace and really enjoy every second. Advice from these folks helped me keep my pace in check:
Joan Benoit Samuelson (omg, omg)
Talking Ryan Hall’s ear off… (his advice: “Stay relaxed, shake things out of you get tense…and don’t start out too fast!”
I also met Lolo Jones, who told me I had to beat three people: Jared from Subway, the Chilean miner and Al Roker. (I did!).
I think I was also a bit scared to hit The Wall, and really wanted some juice for the last half of the race.
The first 10 miles FLEW by, and the Brooklyn crowds were great – especially my friend Jessica who made this amazing sign for me:
I missed it and every other friend that was watching – when you have bad eyesight, spotting people (even very large yellow signs with my name on them) is quite the challenge…
I took my first gel at mile 10 as planned, and sipped Gatorade from a bottle I brought with me. Avoiding the water stations for the first part of the race was great – it helped me keep a good rhythm. After Brooklyn it was all about getting through Queens to the Queensboro Bridge – I was so excited to see the First Avenue crowd.
The quiet of the bridge made the roar of the crowd on First even louder – hands down, one of my favorite parts of the race! I was feelin’ great and saw my mom and sis at mile 17.5 where I had them stationed, and gave them my empty bottle and gloves in exchange for another gel.
I felt amazing all the way up First, took the gel at mile 20 and felt great throughout the short trip through the Bronx.
Miles 21-22 were great, but the hips were getting noticeably tight and my IT Band was not happy.
I stopped briefly to stretch in Harlem – this was definitely the toughest part of the race. There was a decent, long incline, and the growing pain in my ITB made me want to stop. Luckily my mom and sis were on 96th street, so I had something to look forward to and kept going. I stretched again briefly when I got to them and my sister screamed, “GO!! Only 3 miles left!”
So I went, and for a split second seriously contemplated stopping after I saw them – there was still a good 6 blocks of incline left. But I dug deep and said to myself:
“OH HELLLL no you don’t! You didn’t come this far to walk to the finish – suck it up and go – you’ve got this!”
So I kept going. Once I got to the park, the voice in my head got louder:
“This is MY PARK! You do this run all the time, now GO! 15 more minutes.”
The ITB pain was in and out and I knew I could get through it. Central Park South came pretty quickly, and it was amazing, the crowds were huge and I felt strong as we pulled back into the park. Seeing the finish so close, and hearing so many people cheering pulled me through to mile 26. I looked at my Garmin for the first time in a few miles, which read about 3:56, and the voice in my head said:
Seeing the finish looming made the last couple hundred meters bearable, and I did not take my eyes off of it!
I can’t describe the feeling of making it there. Crossing the finish line I’ve been dreaming about for so long – it was amazing. It took a few minutes to sink in.
“I did it.” The voice said. “I’m a marathoner now.”
I smiled, shed a few tears and hobbled through the park with the rest of the masses; each in varying stages of pain and absolute joy.
My sis and mom met me with flowers, hugs and chocolate milk. They were great spectators and an excellent cheering squad (thank you)!
After a much-needed shower and some stretching, we enjoyed some Shake Shack burgers, fries and peanut butter milkshakes
Hey – if you can’t splurge after 26.2, when can you?
So, am I happy with this race? 3:58:35 is a bit further from the BQ (3:40:00) I had hoped. The answer is a big, fat YES! I think BQ-ing my first marathon may have been too tough a goal, and I’m glad I ran this one strong and steady. I learned a lot about the distance, pacing and fueling.
You know, for my next marathon in the spring of 2011
The legs are super sore today, walking down stairs is downright comical, but I’m loving every second of it.
I won’t forget about November 7, 2010, or stop smiling, for a good, long time.