I’ve spent so much time thinking about what I wanted to share and I’m finally ready. Let me just say that I didn’t PR or hit any of my goal times, but I couldn’t care less. This marathon was the experience of a lifetime and I will hold it in my heart always. I’m linking up with Amanda today over at Running with Spoons for Thinking Out Loud.
I didn’t really know what to expect with this race and I was a little worried that it wouldn’t live up to everything I’ve ever heard, read or seen about it. It was more than I could have ever imagined and my heart is still so full.
The logistics of this race are rough, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I’m going to break this recap up into three parts: pre race, during, and post race.
I will be doing separate recaps of the expo and days surrounding the race, so stay tuned for those. 🙂
My mom and sister surprised me the day before the race on the steps of the American Museum of Natural History. I can never thank them enough! I know my dad wanted to come, but he had work and a kitten to take care of. I am so thankful to share this with them.
Since I was in the last wave, I didn’t have a super early morning. I got up, wrote my mantra on my arm, ate a bagel with peanut butter and drank some water. I also filled up a water bottle and added some Nuun Active cherry limeade to have on the subway train/ferry/bus ride. I kissed the Mr. goodbye then I headed to the subway.
I got a little lost, but ended up getting on a different train at a better location. Then I arrived at the Staten Island Ferry terminal. After the ferry, I got on a bus to the start.
I was a little worried about making it to my corral in time, but I had just enough time to hit the portajohn then get to my corral that started at 11.
While I was waiting in my corral I talked to the two sweetest women. One was older, about 60 years old and the other was about my age. We discussed running the first couple miles together too.
With the sound of the cannon and Frank Sinatra we were off up the bridge.
Ginger, the older lady and I ran together over the first bridge, the beautiful and perfect Verrazano. It was exactly like the fold out advertisement in all the running magazines. Incredibly beautiful and incredibly crowded. We both agreed that we didn’t want to waste extra time and energy trying to get around people so we just went with the flow.
The next while was a blur. We kept looking at each other and being like, “Girl, we are doing it”. Ginger hadn’t run a marathon in 15 years and decided this was going to be her last one. She said her body was tired and couldn’t handle any more marathon training cycles. She and I became the best running partners for each other.
I told her about my mantra for the day, “Live for Today” and we both embraced it. As a back of the pack marathoner, it’s rare for me to see big crowds in a race. Some races are better than others, but generally the back of the packers don’t get the same on course support as others in earlier waves. The New York Marathon was different.
I have never seen so many people in my life. Sections of Brooklyn *shout out to Williamsburg* had 8-12 spectators deep on the sidewalks. I literally felt like I was running in the Olympics or in my mind that that must be what it feels like to be an elite. I felt like I couldn’t hear my own thoughts on some sections because the crowds and music were so intense.
There was also so many people playing loud music all over the course. It was insane! Everything from alternative rock to a lone bag piper…I’m serious. As soon as we would run through a group of spectators we would look at each other and be like oh wow, there’s ANOTHER party up here.
I can’t explain the feeling I had running with Ginger and experiencing this with her. She is an incredible woman and I got to know so much about her. We talked about everything and I think we both instantly saw a lot of ourselves in each other. It was so fun sharing the whole race with her.
I saw the Mr. my sister and my mom at miles 5, 18 and 23. It was incredible to share this with them and see them along the course! The course was challenging and even though I train on hills, I don’t think I was prepared.
Ginger and I walked through the aid stations and enjoyed the ride. Each neighborhood was so unique and beautiful. Between the buildings, the energy and the people there was always something to look at and experience.
When we got to the Queensboro Bridge around mile 16, it became so real. We were almost to Manhattan and that much closer to the finish. It was just like everyone says. We were running on the bridge and could hear the roar of the crowd on First Avenue. I can’t really explain how that felt, but I fought back tears.
The crowds in the Bronx and Harlem were incredible too, especially because it was so late in the day. Since my corral didn’t start until after 11am and I took my time, it ended up being a long day.
Ginger and I were still running together and vowed to run together until mile 22/23. I was tired and hurting around mile 19 ish. I think running the Chicago Marathon weeks before and not getting enough rest on the days leading up to the race really wore me down. I didn’t want to hold her back and I knew she was feeling great and ready to go. With tears in our eyes we hugged and said goodbye.
I saw my family going up the huge hill around mile 23. It was nearly a mile long incline and it was rough. I knew once we got over the hill we would be in Central Park.
Central Park was even more beautiful than the previous day. The park was really showing out and since spectators weren’t really allowed it was somber and quiet and magical. Since it was the first day of daylight savings time, the sun set around 4:30pm. It was dark, but that was fine with me.
Mile 25 came and went then it was some more rolling hills to the finish. The Ritz Carlton and Plaza Hotel were all lit up and the spectators were still out as we ran on the outer edge of the park. I couldn’t believe it! There was even a DJ on the last stretch and then I could hear the announcers.
It was an emotional experience when I saw the finish line. I remember looking to the woman next to me as we rounded the corner and saw it. We looked at each other with such an understanding and I pointed to the finish line and said, “we’ve made it”. I could tell English wasn’t her first language and she said, “my first one” and I told her congratulations. She sobbed.
I can’t remember the last time I cried in a race, but I fought back tears for such a long time after I crossed the finish line. Even after I finished the race, got my medal and was walking with my post race poncho, I continued to cry. I tried to keep it together and met my family.
This race was so different and I honestly can’t imagine what my life would be like without this experience. That might sound extreme to some, but this experience was profound. In the end my C Goal should have been my A Goal. I smiled the entire race, cried tears of joy and still can’t believe that I ran the NYC marathon.
To say this race changed me may be weird, but this race will stay with me forever. I don’t think anything will ever compare to this experience and that’s okay by me. This race restored my faith in humanity and made me so proud to be a marathoner. I will talk more about the incredible volunteers in another post.
Naturally I ate a lot of food post race, including this PB&J doughnut from Doughnut Plant that I found at a hot dog stand in Times Square.
This race was EVERYTHING and more!
Have you ever met someone and shared an experience like this?