Today we are heading home from a wonderful weekend in New York. I’m currently blogging from the air – thanks again to Virgin America 🙂 Now that I’ve had some time to recover, I’d like to provide a full race recap of my first marathon experience.
Sunday morning I was awake by 4 am, but managed to stay in bed to rest until 6 am. I ordered a bowl of oatmeal and some toast from room service and then showered to wake myself up. I was dressed and ready to go by 6:45 – and the nerves had definitely kicked in by this point!
By 7:00 I was in a cab on my way down to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. While in the cab, I noticed many fellow marathoners riding in cabs along next to me. It all started to become real at this point. I arrived at the ferry terminal by 7:30 and sat on a bench patiently waiting for the 8:00 ferry that I was scheduled to be on. It was fun to people watch during this time – I was definitely checking out my competition. 🙂 I boarded the ferry a little before 8 and enjoyed the scenic 15 minute ride over to Staten Island. I sat quietly by the window and gazed at the Manhattan skyline in the distance and the Statue of Liberty in all her glory.
Upon arriving on Staten Island I boarded a bus with other runners that would take us to the staging area for the start. I found a patch of grass to sit on while I waited for my wave start. It was a bit chilly outside, but my layers of clothing kept me warm. At 9:40 we heard the cannons go off for the first wave start – everyone started cheering and it was exciting to see the runners make their way over the Verrazano Bridge. The second wave cannons went off at 10:00 and at that point it was time for me to make my way to my corral. I had checked my bag at this point, but I kept my “throw away” clothing on to stay warm. There were so many people trying to enter the corrals that I literally felt like cattle being herded. This was not the most enjoyable part of the day. Once I made my way into my corral I still had to wait about 10 minutes before the start of my wave at 10:20. It was exciting to hear the cannons for my start, but it still took a good 10 minutes to walk up to the starting line. Right before the start I took off my last bit of extra clothing, and I was ready to go!
The race begins on the Verrazano Bridge going uphill. My strategy was to run really slow up the hill so that I wasn’t already exhausted by the time I made it to the top. I wouldn’t have been able to run any faster had I wanted to because there were so many people. Running across the bridge was windy and cold, but also BEAUTIFUL! When I reached the top I had a great view of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. I could basically see everywhere I would be running over the course of the next 26 miles. I felt great coming off the bridge, which was almost mile 2 at that point. Upon entering Brooklyn is where the crowds began – and they were great! I was feeling great and running at a good pace (for me!) and before I knew it I was at mile 4. I was excited thinking that I would see my family and friends at mile 8. Miles 4-7 were easy and fun. There were great bands along the way and lots of entertaining people to watch. At mile 7 I took a cup of water and continued running while I drank some of it. I was really well hydrated before the race so I felt great.
Coming up on mile 8 is where I began looking for my family – I couldn’t wait to see them! I came around a turn and that is when I first spotted my husband and then I saw the rest of my family with him. They were cheering so loud for me – it was the greatest feeling. I stopped briefly for a kiss from my hubby and some quick hugs and then I continued on my way. The next few miles through Brooklyn were a bit hilly but I was still feeling great and running at a good pace. At mile 11 I grabbed some Gatorade and walked for about 20 seconds while I drank it. I reached the halfway point before I knew it and was thoroughly enjoying myself . I was amazed at how many people from different countries were running the race – I heard more people speaking foreign languages than speaking English! I saw some interesting costumes, running attire, and running styles throughout the race. It definitely kept things interesting!
After mile 14 I began the climb up the Queensboro Bridge to head into Manhattan. I had been warned about this bridge by several people – and man were they right! I got about half way up and just couldn’t continue running. The climb felt so steep (it probably wasn’t!) so I decided to walk until I got to the top of the bridge. Once I reached the top I began running again and sailed down and into Manhattan. The crowds as I came to mile 16 on First Avenue were by far the loudest I had encountered so far. They gave me a renewed energy and I felt great as I ran up First, anxiously awaiting the arrival of mile 18 where I would see my family again. At mile 17 I was STARVING! So, I got water and Gatorade at the water stop and ate some of the Luna Moons I had packed. I immediately felt better and continued along. Right past mile 18 I saw my husband, parents, brother, cousins, and some friends. Again they were cheering loudly and it felt great to see familiar faces. I stopped for about 30 seconds and stretched my quads, got a kiss and hug and was on my way again. Around mile 19 there was a fence around a park where school children had created signs encouraging the runners. It brought a smile to my face and I thought about my class and how excited they were for me. I was cruising along at this point, feeling good.
Around mile 20 is when things started to get a little rough. This would be known as “hitting the wall”. I began having sharp pain in my left knee and the pain radiated up through my quad and hamstring. I would walk for a minute and then try running again. I would tell myself if I could just run to mile 21 then I could walk for a minute. I played this game continuously in my mind to get through the last 5 miles. At one point I was in so much pain I had to pull off to the side and massage my knee and leg to “bring it back to life”! Around mile 22 I saw a sign someone was holding – “Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.” This got me through the last 4 miles. I repeated that mantra in my head over and over. I saw my family for the last time around mile 23. I didn’t want them to worry about me, so I put on a brave face. They told me I looked great!
I entered Central Park and was limping at this point. When I got to mile 25 I told myself I had to run the last mile of the race. So I did. It was not fun. I was in a lot of pain and I don’t remember much of the last mile. What I do remember is turning back into Central Park and seeing myself on the big screen above the entrance. I looked up and thought to myself, “wow, I’m really doing this.” I’ll never forget seeing the finish line ahead of me. The crowds were loud and I was able to forget about the pain I was in for the last 30 seconds of the race. When I came up to the finish line I put my hands in the air and smiled big for the camera. I finished my very first marathon. I will never forget the feeling I had crossing that line. It was one of the best moments of my life.
After receiving my medal and picking up the bag I had checked, I exited Central Park to find my husband and family waiting for me.
My cheering crew is definitely what got me through the race. Knowing exactly where I would see them helped me get through some tough miles. Thank you for all of the support and loud cheers!
And of course I couldn’t have made through all of my training without the loving support of my wonderful husband. Now we can have our relaxing Saturday mornings back. 🙂
Although I didn’t beat his time (or come anywhere close to it!), my brother was very proud of me and I was happy to have him there cheering me on.
I was in a lot of pain after the race and spent the rest of the day in bed icing my knee and elevating it. It is still very painful but is slowly getting better. I believe I strained my IT band, which can cause a lot of knee pain. It’s funny how things work out – I was so worried about my foot before the race and it was totally fine! I was very happy about that. It’s unfortunate that my knee was so painful and caused the end of my race to be quite a struggle. I’m happy I pushed through it and didn’t give up. It’s going to take time for my body to recuperate, but it was well worth it.
So, I’ve saved the best part of my race recap for last. 🙂 On Monday, we went to the “After the Marathon” tent in Central Park. The finish line was still up, so I went over for a photo.
Much to my surprise, guess who was standing next to me with his family?! Meb Kaflezighi! The OVERALL WINNER of the marathon! I was a bit star-struck to see him there in person next to me. Of course I asked for a photo with him. 🙂
So there you have it – the full run down on my very first marathon. Will I ever run another? Probably not. It was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I guess I should never say never…
I have to say thank you again to my wonderful, loyal blog followers – many of whom are good friends and family. I began writing this blog when I started my training, in hopes that it would help me through the process. Well, it far exceeded my expectations. Reading your encouraging comments truly motivated me, when at times I felt like giving up. I enjoyed sharing this journey with you. And although I may not be running any marathons again, I will always be a runner.
So, in case you are wondering, I will continue writing this blog, as long as you enjoy reading it. I plan to run many (shorter) races in the future and look forward to sharing more running “tails” with you. And as for Cali, she may prefer swimming over running these days, but she will be joining me on shorter runs, tail wagging and all.