I did it! I completed the New York City Marathon!
This has been such a long, incredible journey. So much excitement along the way along with some disappointments as well. It took me 4 years to get into the Marathon via lottery. I struggled with getting my training in along the way due to injuries, and I had to defer last year because of injury. Once I started training for this year’s run, I took it very easy and followed a very conservative program. Still, I thought my training was going well and I felt strong the first several weeks. I definitely thought that I could do a sub 4 marathon or at least a sub 4:10. Then, I pulled a muscle at about 12 weeks into the training and had to take 2 weeks off. I felt that I was able to get back on track fairly quickly, but I didn’t feel as strong as I had prior to the injury.
I was super busy the two weeks prior to the marathon. I was getting my taper runs in, but I was feeling very tired during some of them. I became a little concerned when I ran my last easy run on the Nature Center trails and had to walk up part of the last hill which hasn’t happened at all during my training. I chalked it up to having worked so many 12 hour shifts together, and I just needed a little rest. That was on Thursday and I was leaving for New York on Friday. Leaving Alaska on Friday and running the marathon on Sunday was probably not the best of planning. I would definitely do it differently if I would run it again.
But, we (Scott and Sonja) made it to New York late Friday night. And my room in the Time’s Square area was a little bit of a disaster. I am very sensitive to noise and I was in an interconnecting room (not requested btw). I could hear the guy next door talking as if he were in the room with me. He was so loud. I’ll leave out the not so pleasant details of trying to get another room, but the hotel was full and I would have to wait until the following day. Needless to say, I did not rest well.
But, we got up the next day, ate breakfast, and headed to the expo. The expo was very well organized. I was able to pick up my bib fairly easily and quickly. Once, I received my bib, I became very emotional. Wow! Finally here! It was a great feeling.
Then we moved on to the actual expo and bought some fun stuff. We also took in the NYRR strategic race planning talk. It was way cool for me because it was presented by Stewart who was part of the coaching team of the NYRR Virtual Training program that I was using. I wanted to meet him and get a picture but a line formed for questions and we had a dinner reservation that we had to get to. But, Sonja snapped a couple for me….cool!
She had a way of making things work out. I also wanted my picture with Meb but the line was super long.
Yes, by the time we left there, we were just in time for dinner. A long day at the expo also probably not the smartest the day before the marathon. But we had a lot of fun!!
I had made a reservation for dinner at Tony’s di Napoli. We- Scott and Sonja, along with my sister Teena and brother-in-law Jose-had so much fun, lots of pasta and a little wine which I thought might relax me. I was very tense, nervous, everything….crazy! Antonio took great care of us and the food was really good!
And dessert….I only had a couple of bites 😜
Sonja and I headed back to my room while Scott, Teena, and Jose took in a little of the city. I got all of my running gear and throw away clothes laid out for the next morning. I also phoned the front desk for a wake-up call just in case something weird happened with my phone during the time change. I felt like I slept okay, not great. But, that is pretty much expected the night before a marathon, right?
I had chosen the mid-town bus as my transportation option. It was kind of funny because we took a taxi to the bus stop (got to save the legs) but I wasn’t expecting the line to be several city blocks long. I guess I hadn’t really thought about it. We could have just walked a few blocks to get in line instead of taking the taxi and then having to walk back to the start of the line. Oh well. Live and learn. We got there about a quarter til 6 for the scheduled 6 o’clock bus. We waited in line for about half an hour but the line was constantly moving. It seemed like the time went by a little faster than that.
Once I got to Staten Island, I went straight to the bathroom of course. For me, the wave starts and corrals were not that clearly marked. Fortunately, there were several info booths around to help. I was in the orange wave and corral A with a start time of 10:15. I had stressed so much about getting to the start and being able to stay warm while waiting for the 2 hour plus before the start time. But, the time went by so fast! By the time I found my corral and used the bathroom again it was almost time to start lining up. I thought I would sit down for a few minutes, stretch and take my sweats off but once I got the sweat pants off, we were moving onto the bridge! I took off an old hoodie that I brought, but kept my light jacket and hat. I ended up removing them on the bridge once we got started.
And a couple of photos from the NYC Marathon start.
That tired feeling that I had felt on my last runs plagued me at the start. I just felt sluggish and tired. I thought that once I got across the bridge and warmed up, I would probably feel better. I barely even remember hearing the signature start New York, New York by Frank Sinatra. I tried taking in the sights and relaxing while running across the bridge, but I just felt like I was in a fog. And I never really perked up.
The first 5-6 miles seemed to go by fairly quickly. I had started out really slow because the first mile was pretty much uphill, but then I was running just over a 9 minute pace which is exactly where I wanted to be. I was hoping that if I went out conservatively, that I could end strong. That didn’t exactly happen. By the half (13.1 miles), I had slowed down to about a 9:24ish pace but still not that bad. When I saw the half time of 2:03, I knew that I would not hit my goal of under 4:10 (BQ) because the second half would be harder than the first half. I tried not to let that get me down and just enjoy the marathon, but I felt soooo tired and sluggish still.
I thought my fueling plan was going okay. My breakfast included a bagel and a banana, but I wasn’t even hungry. I thought once I got to the start, they would have more snacks but I never actually found the area where the food was. Still, I thought I would be okay. I started taking water from mile 2 and then at mile 4, I started taking gatorade and switching them up with almost every fluid stop. I started taking my Blok Gels at about 1.5 hours into the run and took them every twenty minutes. Yet, I was slowing down. By 20 miles, I had slowed down to a 10 minute pace and at around 21 miles, I got this really bad cramp in my left thigh. I watched my thigh ball up into a big knot. I couldn’t even walk on it. I had to stop and rub it out, but I was able to resume running again. My family was right around the 25 mile mark and their encouragement kept me going! So happy they were there.
I hit the wall around that same time. I could barely run. I felt like I had absolutely no energy and everything, I mean everything hurt. Every single step! My pace slowed incredibly to 11-12 minutes. It was painful and getting to the finish was brutal. I never even thought about quitting though. I could only think about getting to the finish. I never realized how long 0.2 miles could seem. Once I crossed the 26 mile mark, the finish still seemed a long way away. I was so glad, though, to reach that finish line.
And a little bit of a celebration 🙂
And then the long walk out of Central Park. Volunteers give you a thermal blanket and a goodie bag at the end of the race and then a little ways away, they give you the poncho (if you chose that option, the other option is a drop bag of your belongings).
That walk also seemed like it took forever. I felt so horrible that as I passed the med tents (many of them), I kept thinking that I need to get help. But, I pressed on to the end where my family was waiting for me. They were easy to find, actually they saw me first.
We were still a long way from the hotel and I just couldn’t possible walk all that ways back, but there were no available cabs. So, we got a pedi-cab to take me back to the hotel. Scott went with me and everybody else walked back. I was soooo cold! Even my daughter said that my lips were blue. The pedi-cab cyclist covered me with a blanket which really helped. As soon as I got back to my hotel, I got in a hot shower and then went right to icing my legs.
I thought that I would be able to go sight-seeing with my family afterwards. But, that wasn’t happening. This race gave me a really strong reality check! I have not ran a marathon in about 15 years and even then I had been running for years leading up to even trying a marathon. I have a little more respect for this distance now!!
What I have realized is that I need to improve my training along with my diet. I think that part of my problem with this marathon was that the last couple of weeks, especially the last week, I was so busy and not eating as healthy as I normally do during training. I was just grabbing whatever on the run. I don’t think I was as hydrated as I should have been and probably still suffering the effects of travel. No, this race didn’t go as I had expected or wanted it to. But, I did learn a lot from it. I am so glad that I accomplished my dream of running the NYC Marathon and now I can cross it off the bucket list.
But….during my training, I ran the Skinny Raven Half Marathon and qualified for NYC for 2017. I am still debating whether to run it again or not. In the meantime, I have signed up for the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach on March 19th and I have also signed up for the lottery of the Chicago Marathon in October. No, this experience only makes me want to improve; not give up. Everybody has a bad race occasionally. I’m not that okay with my time, but I guess it could have been worse. It could have been a DNF. My time by the way was 4:20:59!
I would like to add that the volunteers, entertainment, and crowd support were amazing. Everybody was so nice and encouraging. And even more importantly, my family was there for me. It meant so much to me to have my husband (Scott), my daughter (Sonja) and my Sister and brother-in-law (Teena and Jose) cheering me on. They were around the 25 mile mark and their encouragement got me through the end of the race. I was done at that point. I really was. I had nothing!! But they helped me to believe that I had a little more in me. Love them!!
And definitely thanks to my Chiropractor Dwayne Engelbrecht of Arctic Chiropractor in Palmer, Ak. He is the reason I was even able to make it to the starting line. Actually, he is the reason I was able to get back to running period!! I am so grateful to him!
And I would definitely recommend the NYRR Virtual Training program. I really do believe that I had a good training program. I think there were other factors and poor decisions that led to not having the best experience. I am actually using it again for my next marathon. I am moving up from the conservative plan to the moderate plan. They were very helpful in answering my questions and revising my plan once I was injured and then again after I was back to running. They were very supportive!
The support from the FB Virtual Trainer Group has been awesome as well! Now the alumni group who are moving on to the next marathon/race and are still encouraging each other!
And I especially want to say thanks to all of my family and friends for the encouragement and texts before, during, and after the marathon. The support has been incredible!
My Mother was always encouraging me also. When I got home I received this beautiful card from her. ❤️
It has been a memorable experience. Stay tuned for post-marathon fun! 🙂