Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NYC Marathon Recap: The Race

We set our alarms for 6 am (which felt like 7 am - yay!).  I had gotten a decent amount of sleep on Saturday night, which I was actually surprised about.  I also didn't have the alarm/getting up anxiety I usually do, because there were three of our phone alarms, plus alarms in the apartment to utilize.  We ate a little something (banana for me, half a powerbar for Louise & Maria) and took the rest to go.  We thoughtfully packed our clear UPS bags (the only bags allowed to be checked at the site) with stuff for after: advil, warm clothing, our official marathon shirts, water) as well as another bag filled with more food, gatorade, baby aspirin, body glide, and salt for before the race.  We were ready!

We got to the train and were slightly worried that the R was going to run on a weird schedule.  Luckily, it came within 5 minutes and we hopped on, soon joined at the other stops by more marathoners on the way downtown.  It was still dark out, and kind of dreamlike.  We got out at Whitehall Street and immediately got to South Ferry.  We used the bathroom, then popped a squat to wait a short while for the 8:00 ferry.  We got on quickly and soon started to eat more (english muffins with peanut butter, made by yours truly) and take some pictures!

We chatted with a couple of people running the race, mostly from other countries.  We got off the ferry after about 20 minutes, and then had to join the massive crowd waiting for the buses to shuttle us over to Fort Wadsworth.

Once on the bus, we overheard an 84-year old woman and her 76-year old male friend running what was something like their 30th marathon.  I thought, geez, if they can do it, so can we!

We got off the buses, and to be honest, this next part really sucked.  I won't go into much detail, because it's boring and there's no point, but it took forever to get where we needed to go and everyone around us seemed to be rushing one way or the other.  They called the first wave and so we felt like we were trying to swim upstream as a group of panicked runners starting hurrying back towards where we were coming from.  It didn't do much for my fear of crowds, and I was starting to worry because I had a bad headache that wasn't going away. The one good thing is that we just happened to be stopped by security at a random point, where yellow tape was put up on either side of a path, and the elites were escorted RIGHT past us!  We saw Ryan Hall and Brian Sell in the bunch.  Wow!

I took one extra-strength Tylenol, which definitely seemed to help.  Checked our bags right before they closed at 9:30 (we even saw a bunch of runners who seemed to have missed the bag check because they were dawdling!)  We ate even more (powerbar for me, bananas for them), used the porta potties again, and took our baby aspirin and salt.  Sipped on Gatorade and waited, people watching, and nervously chatting.

And then, they called our wave, but it was still a long time before we were actually invited into the corral.  We saw the elites start, then wave 1, then wave 2.  Finally, we were in!

We knew to reign it in at the beginning and to not pass anyone on the bridge.  But the rest...?  We decided to communicate when necessary, and be honest about how we felt.  We each had a 5:00 pace tattoo (Maria had a pace bracelet) because that was sorta our goal.  Let's see how it all went!!!

Mile 1 - 12:37
Mile 2 - 10:59

This bridge was exciting, and not at all grueling.  We were so hyper and happy!  The second mile was fast because it was all downhill....now into my hometown, Brooklyn!

Mile 3 - 11:11
Mile 4 - 10:39
Mile 5  and 6 - 21:56 (didn't see the mark for 5...ooops)
Mile 7 - 10:56
Mile 8 - 10:53

This section above is what I'll call the "how did THAT happen?" section, otherwise known as the crazy party, revved-up, going a bit too fast section.  We ran through Bay Ridge first, which was a bit uneventful off the bridge as our color, green, had to veer off East from everyone and we had no crowds for about a mile.  It's ok, it'll feel awesome later.  We conserved our speed a bit.  Then Bay Ridge Parkway was a great street, with people really showing neighborhood support, tissue boxes and paper towels out, etc.  Before we knew it we were at 4th avenue, where we met up with the other colors, and saw tons of crowds.  It was insane!  I was slapping people's hands left and right (well, just right I guess :) and people were shouting our names.  Good thing we decorated our shirts!  Maria saw some people from work in this section.  I looked for Judy and Lenny, my mom's friends, at 11th street, but didn't see them.  But then at Union Street I saw Derek, Maureen, Matt, and Sarah!  I gave Derek a big kiss, but didn't lose any time as you'll see from the mile markers.  Fast, fast, fast!  The energy kept up until we hit the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which was a crazy crowd too, and I saw Emily!

Mile 9 - 11:14
Mile 10 - 10:53
Mile 11: 11:17
Mile 12: 11:22

Then we made a right turn and I started to feel the effects of going out a wee bit too fast.  We had a big hill somewhere in there that killed my legs and my heart was pounding like crazy, though the crowds were still supportive.  They even offered us leftover Halloween candy (thanks, but no thanks!)  Still, I needed a bit of a respite from those crazy spectators.  I did get a bit of a break in South Williamsburg, and was then hungry for more cheering in a mile or two.  I knew I was going to see Trish and Allison somewhere in Williamsburg, but the course map didn't show where McCarren Park was (where I knew they'd be).  I knew it was somewhere soon...where is that damn park?  THERE IT IS!

Of course, I didn't actually take this photo, but someone was nice enough to do it for them, and they sent it to my phone!  Trish, to my surprise and excitement, grabbed my hand, hopped off the course, and ran a block with me in her high-heeled boots!  She asked how I was, and I said, "Good," which I guess was true even though I knew it might not be long until I was no longer feeling that great!  We chatted, still running, until the next water station (by the way, those stations were a MESS!  Navigating through them was insane!  I had to keep shouting to Maria and Louise that I was right behind them, or whatever, so we would know we hadn't lost each other.  Plus, there were cups literally EVERYWHERE and the ground was slippery from water and sticky from Gatorade. Gross!)  Said goodbye/I love you to Trish, and headed on over to the Pulaski Bridge and Queens!!!

Mile 13 (Halfway!!): 11:37
Mile 14: 11:47
Mile 15: 13:56
Mile 16: 12:09

We were actually ahead of our pace tattoo schedule for beating 5 hours!  I was getting really crazy with excitement.  This provided us with a cushion, should we need to use the bathroom, or, just, duh, needed to slow down after mile 20 or whatever.  The girls mentioned the bathroom at about mile 13 or 14, and we decided to stop at a great point (in Queens, almost to the Queensboro Bridge).  By the way, Queens was great and showed a lot of support.  I think I heard "Just Dance" by Lady GaGa in there somewhere!  Woohoo!  I didn't have to use the bathroom and in fact felt that if I, um, "adjusted" anything it might not feel right when I put it back on, so I decided to just use the opportunity to regroup and stretch for about 2 minutes.  It was greatly needed, as I was really stiff and my feet/legs were starting to hurt.  They jumped out, and off we went to the Queensboro Bridge and into Manhattan!!!!!!

Mile 17 - 12:06
Mile 18 - 11:16
Mile 19 - 12:11

This is where the going got tough.  The bridge was relentless, neverending, and pretty much felt all uphill (of course, until it started to go steeply downhill, a respite for our lungs and hearts but not for our quads!).  After running 14+ miles, the mile and a half of the Queensboro was just not welcome at all.

However, we knew that we were in for quite a scene when we came out at the other side.  We heard the cheering and screaming...and when we emerged, there we were!  First avenue in Manhattan.  Wow!

I quickly assessed the area and realized it was super crowded. No way was I gonna see Andrew and Kristin even if I tried.  Oh well.  Louise knew to look for Britt on their own corner, at 63rd street...yay!  Before I knew it we were in the mid 60s, when....I heard and saw Andrew, Kristin, and Wil!!!!!  It was great to see them and they realized that if they were to get a good place to stand it was to be a little further uptown from the bridge.  Yeah!

I was feeling a little bit like I was dragging, and then another surprise hit me!  Derek and Maureen on 89th!  Maria spotted them first, but what a sight for sore eyes.  Maria also saw some of her friends during this stretch.

Mile 17 brought about the Poland Spring hydration zone, complete with soaked sponges.  That felt pretty nice, especially because my hands were all sticky from Gatorade from previous stations and I looked forward to cleaning them off.  Louise jumped off the course a minute to see someone and then met back up with us.

The next couple of miles SUCKED.  That's all I can say!  First avenue, which I thought was going to be flat, instead proved to be a series of rolling hills.  Sometimes it would be a really nice relief, but at others I just wanted to scream.  And I was tiiiired and getting a little bit bored with the sameness of the avenue.  But, the crowd support was still pretty strong and I got a lot of people calling our names and saying "Go Team in Training!"  Mile 18 was the PowerBar Gel station.  I grabbed two - Raspberry cream (yum) without caffeine, and Double Latte with 2x caffeine.  My strategy was to take the non-caffeinated one now, and save the caffeine boost for mile 22.  I had been eating mostly non-caffeinated gels which was good because my stomach wasn't mad at me.  Good to know for next time.  Also?  The GU chomps, which are great for long training runs, are not as convenient for the intensity of a race.  I think I'll stock up on PowerBar Gels (my fave) and stick to those for races.

Mile 20 - 12:23
Mile 21 - 12:33

I kept thinking, "Just get me out of this part of Manhattan, just get me to 20 miles."  Before I knew it, the 20 mile mark was in sight and we were already in the Bronx!  Crossing the Willis Avenue bridge actually wasn't too bad, and it was interesting that we had an orange carpet rolled out for us - that grating must have been horrible on the legs.  I saw a couple of people look like they were losing it, including a guy who looked like he was in excruciating pain.  Just pushed through and hoped that he was ok - it would suck to have all that hard work not amount to a finish because of leg cramps.  Louise got a bit teary-eyed at mile 20, as did I.  Remembering this moment in Phoenix was awesome, too, but now we were in NYC and it was great.  Being that I worked in the Bronx for so many years, I felt a particular affinity towards this part of the course.  But before we could get comfortable here, we were crossing yet ANOTHER bridge - the Madison Avenue Bridge, the fifth (and final!) one on the course.  Back to Manhattan to finish this one off!!!!

Mile 22 - 12:14
Mile 23 - 12:32

I knew that pretty soon I was going to see my parents.  So that, coupled with the nice, smooth paved road on Fifth, made me happy at this point on the course.  There were lots of gospel singers and it was great.  The road is narrower at Fifth, which I was thankful for because there weren't as many barricades and people were able to get closer.  At one point, I heard Jordin Sparks' "One Step at a Time" and I am slightly embarrassed to say I got all emotional.  It was one of the songs on my marathon playlist, and just works at a time like this.  Saw my parents - who were screaming! between mile 21 and 22, at 125th street.  Then there was the famous "Fakeout" of Marcus Garvey park - like anyone would think that was Central Park!  Well, maybe if they were delirious enough.


At 110, we were comforted to know that we were abutting the park and were very close to being home free.  Here is where the crowd support was really key.  We just kept going, no matter what, but it was hard and everything hurt at this point.  Maria got a "Go Marla!" which made us laugh because in Phoenix everyone kept calling her Marla and not Maria.  110th to 90th on 5th was endless and the uphill climb was a bitch.  I was like "are we seriously only 2 blocks past when I just looked?"  Then we were fortunate enough to run past Christine Luff, one of our TNT coaches, and she said we looked great and just let us know that shortly, we'd be at the entrance to the park and just to look for mile 24.  "Let the crowd take you," she wisely said.  And we did!

Mile 24 - 12:45
Mile 25 - 12:15

It was a relief to be inside the park.  It just felt like home.  These couple of miles were mostly downhill, including Cat Hill in reverse - yes!! Saw Heather and Mike, who were excitedly screaming.  When mile 25 approached, I said aloud, "I can't think about this as just one more mile, because then it will seem endless.  I just have to be in the moment."  I tried my very best to do just that.  And then finally we turned left for a quick jaunt out of the park onto Central Park South.

Mile 26 -  11:54
Last .2 - 2:35

It's weird, because this last mile seemed so long, but so short too.  Definitely still got the support, and the three of us seemed to pick it up a little bit too.  Funny that 11:54 seems like a quick mile at this point, when early in the race we were averaging around 11 minute pace.


When we turned back into the park, I could scarcely believe it...but there were my mom and Jack again!  Somehow they had made it to one of the most coveted spectator spots on the course.  Hooray for them!  Gave it all I had through the last 400 yards...200...and at 100 I could see the finish and was so relieved and excited!!  Ran through and felt perhaps the proudest I ever have in my life!

Finishing time: 5:08:13, 11:46 pace!  A great accomplishment!  And a personal record by 45 minutes!

I will write another post tomorrow rehashing the finish, along with more pictures and stories about post-race. Stay tuned!!


1 comment:

  1. Congrats, loving the build up!!

    I cant wait til the London Marathon on April 25th, and I've already enquired about doing NYC in November 2010!!

    Amazing time, well done!!