This was such an emotional Marathon Sunday for me that it took me a bit to process everything first. Usually I post my weekly recaps on Monday and as I’m writing this post it is Tuesday night. I’m not sure where to start, so many things happened the days before this event. My two-year old came down with a stomach virus, I was sick from Monday night on. Wednesday night during my kid’s Trunk And Treat Event my cold symptoms got worse and my voice was starting leaving me. By Thursday morning my voice was completely gone, until Friday afternoon. It was insanely hard to take care of my kids while I had no voice to communicate. Needless to say that my kids at first thought I was joking around. I knew I was in need of an antibiotic, but I had my Marathon coming up on Sunday and an antibiotic would just drastically weaken my endurance. So I opted to pump up my Vitamin C intake, drank lots of tea with lemon and by Friday night I was at least able to communicate. With this cold I had to start packing up for New York, get my two kids ready to go on an airplane and running a thousand little annoying errands before boarding our flight on Saturday morning. I was relieved when we finally all were on the plane.
When we got of the plane around 12:30 in the afternoon in NYC we got into the City by 1:30 PM. After we checked into our hotel in Tribeca, we put the kids in their double stroller and headed Uptown to the Javitz Center to pick up my Bib Number. At this point my kids were already exhausted, drained and cranky from the flight. In addition, Saturday was quite chilly in NYC so my little Floridians were freezing cold. When your kids are cranky it is hard for every parent and as a mother you just can’t focus on your own needs first, even when it is the NYC Marathon the very next day. To make this day even more stressful we took the wrong subway train Uptown and when we got out on Columbus Circle. So we had to walk down to 35th Street with two freezing cranky toddlers. The entire commute turned into a 2 hour ordeal. We finally made it to the Javis Center by 3:15 pm and met up with my friend Leslie, who was also running the Marathon. I was so exhausted and drained that all I wanted to do was to grab my bib# and just leave. But since this was the NYC Marathon expo I decided to hang out at least a few minutes and took some pics.
I’m actually very happy I did. When my kids are cold and hungry I just can’t stay anywhere. I will just leave. Like every parent. Saturday happened to be Halloween as well and when my kids saw all the other kids in the Tribeca neighborhood trick or treating, they wanted to go trick or treating as well. So we went trick or treating. After trick or treating we were desperately trying to find some place to eat that would serve the whole family and wouldn’t cost a million dollars. No tricks here. We decided to go to a Burger and Fries place. The only problem was that I didn’t feel like eating. My cold took my appetite and when I looked at the menu I just didn’t know what I felt like eating, so I decided on an order of fries. Yes, I know. My dinner on the last day before a Marathon. I know this decision didn’t sound too smart but it would be the only food that I could stomach at that time and it was carbs. Later on I asked myself why I didn’t go to a store and just bought bananas with peanut butter, but I felt so drained and exhausted from the traveling all day that my brain was just not functioning anymore. When we got back to our hotel I told Jim how bad of a choice this food was before the race, but hopefully I can make up for it early in the morning by eating a better breakfast. All I wanted was to lay down and get some sleep and forget about the day. I was still somehow in denial that I would run this Marahon in a few hours, so weird. We sat the arm clock for 5:30am . After waking up I headed down to the deli for some oatmeal. The sign said that it was a 24/7 deli so when I saw it the night before I was sure that they would serve oatmal in the morning, like almost every full service deli in NYC. When I walked in the guy behind the counter said no hot breakfast until 9am on Sundays. Really? The other 3 Marathoners behind me had the same look on their faces like me. The look of despair not knowing how to endure 26.2 miles without the right type of fuel. The only food they were serving were Saran wrapped muffins or apple turnovers. So I headed back to our hotel room, ate 2 Cascadian Farms Granola bars that I took for my kids and took one Kidz GU bars with me.
I met up with my friend at the Ferry at 7:40 am. The Ferry was leaving at 8 am. There were hundreds of runners and it took several Ferry trips to get everybody to Staten Island. When we got off the Ferry there were buses waiting for us. This is a very important info about the NYC Marathon. My friend Leslie and me took the bus that was the closest to us when we got off the Ferry, but it was one of the very last ones in line. We didn’t know, and nobody told us that for our corral we should have been in the buses that were further up in front. There was nobody pointing this out to us, not even signs on the buses. I’m writing this part, because by the time we got off our bus and when through security, our corral had already left and we had to wait for the next wave. So for everybody running the NYC Marathon for the first time: It is important to know that you are on the right bus in order to run with the corral that is designated for you. Yes, that was really awful. We had to wait until 11 am to start running, 45 minutes later than our corral (estimated finishing time 4:15). The other problem was that the signs for the different waves and corrals were really confusing, and not every volunteer really knew where all the different corrals were located. We had 3 volunteers sending us in 3 different directions. We were running our behinds off to meet up with our group only to hear that they have already left. So, get on the right bus and don’t waste any time at porta potties and other things, find your corral first, otherwise you will be losing your starting time and will be backed up for a later start. You will still run, but now you have even more people ahead of you who in addition run a much slower pace than you. Good Luck passing them. However, I do believe that its does take a toll on your own finishing time.
Right before the start I took off the extra layers of clothing I was wearing and I left them for donation, like everybody else. I took one gel, because I knew that my food intake was not the greatest. When I listened to the National Anthem I was still in such daze somehow. I looked over the bridge and this dream of running the NYC Marathon seemed so surreal to me. For so many years I wanted to run this race and the big moment was finally here. The canons shut off and we were off running. What a slow start it was. Since we were in the wrong corral we had so many people slower than us ahead and even though I wanted to take it easy in the first two miles, this was a bit too easy and a waste of time, in the true sense of the word. I think this is one of the down parts of the NYC Marathon. People get to choose their estimated finishing time when they register and I heard this about to wave 1 quite a bit, were really fast runners had to deal with slower paces in front of them, simply because people completely overestimated their pace. As we were coming off the Verrazano Bridge I already started to feel the warmth and humidity. My arm warmers definitely felt too hot and I took them off and threw them on the side my mile 3. I came from Florida and I was looking forward to a cool run, and this was not cool. The lower 60s in Florida would have actually felt nice, but here in NYC it felt too hot for this race. I stopped at the first water station. Not because I was thirsty, but I knew that I will face dehydration problems if I didn’t hydrate now. My Garmin in Mile 4 stated LOW BATTERY. How in the world could this be possible? I thought I charged it sufficiently before we left. I have no idea what happened. I knew that within an hour my Garmin would leave me. And there where on obvious mileage signs at every mileage. At least that I could see. I remember the sign for the 13, 18, 21, 24 and 26 mile mark. No others. Please let me know if I am wrong. My pace was pretty good up to mile 9, sometimes I had to slow myself down, because I knew if I kept running that fast that I would run out of steam eventually and rather sooner than later. At Mile 10 in Brooklyn my stomach was growling and pretty quickly I started to feel weak and hungry. I used my second gel. The sugar rush of that gel gave me some turbulences, and I struggled with light-headedness up to mile 13. I literally thought that the race was over.
I somehow recovered, but I knew I had to take my pace down even more in order not to end up in a medical tent. Somewhere around this point is when my Garmin shut off, too. So frustrating.
Long Island City in Queens was the point for me when I realized that I will be really lucky if I finished. I didn’t know what it was that made this course so difficult to conquer. In hindsight I know it was the many sharp turns and the long steady inclines, especially before the bridges. It really is a tricky course.
When I turned the corner to run up the Queensboro Bridge, I knew I was in trouble. My legs felt like lead and I was pushing for every stride. For so many years I have read that this Bridge, the 59th Bridge is the breaker in the Marathon and when I reached the top of the bridge there were just as many people walking as there were people running. Such a discouraging sight. I wanted to stop too, but I was so scared that once I stop I would not have strength to continue to run. So I forced myself to continue running up to the next fluid station. I could barely take in all the hype that came off from the side of the roads, so many people cheering us on. It was insane. I was way too focused on keeping my act together to finish this race that I really couldn’t acknowledge all the energy.
At this point when we ran along 1st avenue in the 60s the sun and humidity felt so hot. I felt so dehydrated that I had to grab2 drinks at a time at every station. Somewhere in the 80s and 1st Avenue we were handed gels. The one I grabbed was Chocolate/Coffee w/Caffeine. A brand I never trained with and my system had a hard time digesting it. It could have also been that it was my 3rd gel at this point and my system was just not having it anymore, along with all the Gatorade.
Anyway – now I was nauseous too! My thoughts wondered to the finishing line and all I wanted to see was Central Park, so I pushed and pushed. My feet, especially my right foot was in excruciating pain ( when I got home I saw the gigantic blisters on both my feet) and my knee caps seemed to fall off at any minute. When I calculated my finishing time, my spirit was almost broken, too. I really wanted to have a 4 hour or 4:10 finish, but that was not happening anymore. When I finally reached Central Park I was only thinking about Jim and the boys. Nothing else. I kept on thinking how I taught my little boys counting to 10. So I counted to ten in my head over and over and over again. The thought of them and their faces helped me to put one foot in front of the other. In my mind I thought about the long day these two little guys had in this City they didn’t know and they waited for me outside of some park instead of playing on a playground. There were so many people cheering for us in the park and I felt so bad that I had no strength to acknowledge them back or take it all in. When I made the turn towards Columbus Circle I was in so much pain and almost convinced that I will never run another Marathon again. The 0.2 was really hard, in my mind. I don’t know why but once I know that I have only 0.2 miles more to go it feels endless. So in my mile I pretended that it was another full mile, to make it easier on me somehow. And all of a sudden there it was. Up the hill on the Westside. The Finish. It seemed so small that I had to make sure that it really was the finishing line. Yes! It says FINISH on the right. I was there. I raised my arm to the photographer only for the sole reason because everybody else raised theirs in front of me, not because I felt like it. To be honest, when I crossed that finishing line, I had nothing left inside of me. When I stepped over the line I started to cry for a second or two, but pulled myself together fast.
I was disappointed at my finishing time which I thought was 4:30, but when it came up on the tracker it said 4:23:58. A photographer pulled me to the side to take my picture. The last thing I felt like doing was taking a picture. I really felt like crying.
After the race there was about a mile and half walk until you could meet up with your family and friends. The poncho they give you is super nice and really helps you to keep warm. The goodie bag was nice too. And I agree with what other people had to say about the apples they give you: They taste so good! So definitely grab one!
I wanted to run this Marathon a lit bit faster, not by much, but 4:10 would have made me really happy. I was realistic about a 4 hour finish.
I dreaded writing this recap but it actually felt good. I was forced to relive all these wild emotions of this race one more time. Boy – what a run it was. In the City that used to be my home for so long. Where I met my husband and where my two boys were born. I knew every single block of this race. I will always have a huge emotional attachment to New York.
But, I learned that I will never travel for a race this far again. It’s just too much and too exhausting with two little kids. I underestimated how much strength I would lose from traveling.
So to sum it all: My next race will be local:)
But the NYC Marathon is a fantastic Marathon and I’m so happy that I was lucky enough to run it. It will stay in my runner’s heart forever. Thank You NYC!