Saturday, November 9, 2013

NYC Marathon - Part 2

Yes!!  I did it!!!

Daylight savings was the weekend of the race and luckily, we were getting to “fall backward” and gained an hour of sleep.  I woke up just before 6am and got up and got ready for the day.  I knew the temps would get to the mid 50’s while I was running so settled on shorts instead of running crops.  I had 4 layers on top (not counting my sports bra) as I knew it would be chilly on Staten Island where we would stage before the race.  My bus was leaving the Midtown Manhattan Library at 7:15am but for some inexplicable reason, I had us out the door by 6:20am.  Kevin stayed in bed while Keith walked the short distance to the bus.  I was nice and stopped at Starbucks so he could get a much needed coffee though….something I often deprive him of on race mornings.  We rolled up to the library around 6:40am and there was a line already but it was moving very quickly.  So quickly that I was getting on way earlier than expected.  Keith gave me a hug & kiss and wished me luck and then I headed on the bus all by my lonesome.

I get emotional before big races and I knew this one had potential for epic waterworks given how much I’ve wanted to do this race. I put my earphones in and listened to Eminem and Katy Perry several times (my go to songs of course).  As we approached the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, I took out the earphones and just was in awe.  The bridge is a lot longer looking in person than in pictures.  And then I looked across the water to see the Manhattan skyline WAY too far off in the distance.  Holy crap!  I’m going to run over there. 
As we approached Fort Wadsworth where the staging area was, I noticed the long lines to get in.  This was due to the extra security as a result of the Boston Marathon bombings.  I didn’t mind though.  It gave me that much more time to take in the whole experience.  After getting in, I made my way to the Blue village where I would wait for the next 3.5 hours (give or take).  I went straight to the porta potty line where a nice man gave me an extra Dunkin Donuts hat he picked up.  He could tell I was cold and didn’t mind parting ways as he picked up 4!  I pulled the cap down over my ears and felt instantly warmer.  

After getting through the line, I found a tiny spot that was somewhat protected from the wind. I had meant to pack an old towel or blanket to bring with me but forgot.  While waiting, I met a man who recently visited The Woodlands as his daughter lives here with her family (she works at The Container Store so he told me to go in and ask for Chelsea).  I also met a lady wearing an Ironman visor (like me).  We got to chatting and I learned she did Ironman Lake Placid so we traded stories.  She was also from my hometown of Buffalo, New York!  I looked at my watch and it was now 9:40am.  The corral for my wave would open at 10:15am.  Damn, time flew by!  I told her goodbye, wished her luck and then went to the potty one more time. 

At 10:15 I made my way to the blue corral and specifically, my little area.  I was looking for the 4:30 pace group as I had planned to run with them but couldn’t find them anywhere.  Oh well, I guess I’ll just do this on my own.  The corral closed at 10:40am and that’s when I shed my first layer…goodbye ugly Victoria Secret sweats!  At 10:50 I shed my old black fleece.  I decided to keep on my tank and two other shirt though.  I got my camera phone out and started snapping pictures.  OMG, I was about to start.  The cannon sounded and so did “New York, New York”.  I had fully anticipated it taking 10 or more minutes to get across the start line but it didn’t.  With the addition of a 4th wave, it was far less crowded than I expected.  Don’t get me wrong, there were a shit-ton of people up there but it wasn’t terrible.  I was on the top deck of the bridge (right where I hoped to be) and couldn’t believe how windy it was…I almost lost my hat!  I ditched my new Try Andy’s Tri tshirt after about a mile and also ditched the cute Dunkin’ Donuts hat. 

After getting off the bridge, you see the 2 mile marker and hit Brooklyn.  O M G.  The crowds were unbelieveable.  This race was already everything I could have hoped for.  I checked my watch more frequently than I normally do only because I wanted to make sure I didn’t get caught up in the excitement and go out to hard.  10 for Texas was not a good race for me and I was determined to not let history repeat itself.  Before I knew it, we hit the 5k mark and I was exactly where I needed to be. 

Gee, I wonder how I missed the boys in Brooklyn?

I was taking in everything.  I am confident I wasted a lot of energy scanning the crowds constantly.  But how could I not?  I mean, it was crazy.  The miles clicked away and as I crossed the 10k mat, I glanced at my pace bracelet and saw I was doing very well.  Nice!  As I approached mile 8, I started paying attention for Kevin & Keith as this was a spot they were trying to make it to.  This area of the course must be popular for spectators as it was packed.  I knew there was no hope of me seeing them. As it turns out, they were standing  near a church I remember very well.  I also remember that area I never looked to the opposite side of the street where they were standing.  They waited there until they got the notification I had crossed the 15k mat and then headed out.  Bummer!!

Time was speeding by.  I was approaching the half way point and as I crossed that mat, saw I was at 2:11.  Had this been “just” a half marathon, I would’ve posted my 5th best ½ marathon time.  Woo hoo!  This day was going well. 
As we approached the Queensboro Bridge, I had a little chat with myself. I knew this would be a tough spot in the race but I also knew I could handle it.  The bridge was steeper and longer than I remembered reading about and felt myself getting fatigued just as I was approaching the end of it.  I heard a sound toward the end of the bridge and it kept getting louder and louder.  I had read about this…it was the sound of the spectators lining the streets of Manhattan who were waiting for us.  Oh my gosh, this was amazing!  For the 30th time of the day, I felt tears in my eyes.  This race continued to energize me.  What an awesome day!  One of my favorite signs around mile 16 was something like, “if you call 10 miles easy, then welcome to the easy part”.  I had to laugh because that’s exactly what went through my head. 

The Wills Avenue Bridge ended up being the one that really kicked my ass.  I think that by this point, I couldn’t deny the fact that my quads had been pushed to their limits by the first 3 bridges.  I knew I would need to walk for a little bit but was careful to not let myself walk for more than one minute.  Walking actually hurt more than running and I could feel everything tightening up. I decided to pop a couple of salt tabs even though it was before my planned “eating” time.  I knew I was slowing down a bit but not terribly. Not enough to worry.  Yet.  

As we got into Harlem, I heard one of my favorite guilty pleasures, “Space Jam”.  I fought the urge to dance as I didn’t want to be THAT girl.  J  I was happy because thanks to my Ironman background, the “wall” never really came for me. I mean don’t get me wrong, I got tired and I was hurting but I knew I was ok.  I knew I was doing fine. 

The Madison Avenue Bridge put a smile on my face only because I knew it was bridge number 5 and so, the final bridge of the race.  Thank you!  I was getting closer.  Wait a minute, I’m getting closer!  This means I’m almost done.  No!!!  It’s crazy, I totally didn’t want to be done.  But then at the same time, I did want to be done.  I just didn’t want this experience to end.

There was one last steady climb before entering Central Park and it was a beast.  I knew this was  coming and knew it would hurt because I read about it.  I willed myself past this point and just like that, I saw the entrance to Central Park. Oh.  My.  God.  I am almost done.

Ahh, ,Central Park...the final 5k of the race!

As I turned into the park, I felt fantastic.  Cardio wise, I was in great shape.  My quads were starting to go on strike though.  I think I have pretty strong legs but they were put to the test that day.  Right around mile 25 I spotted Kevin & Keith!!!  Yay!!!!!  I was soooo happy to see them before I finished.  I could tell by Keith’s face that he knew I was having a good race and he could tell by my face that I was happy with my race.  The other treat for me here was that I was expecting to see the 24 mile marker when I saw 25.  I don’t know if I fell asleep or what but somehow, I thought I was one mile behind.  So you can imagine how excited I was to see 25!!!  1.2 miles to go. That’s it!!!

I remember passing the boys, thinking how glad I was to finally see them.  

At mile 26 I was choking up.  The crowd was so loud!  They were so happy.  Everyone was giving out high 5’s. I felt like a rock star!  800 meters to go.  Ok, while I don’t want it to end, I’m ready for it to end.  I want my medal.  Where the heck is the finish line.  The next sign…400 meters to go.  WHERE IS THE FINISH LINE?  I was trying to push myself some more.  I made a slight turn and there it was.  I threw my arms up and smiled, laughed, cheered and fought back more tears.  I crossed the finish line and squealed.  I DID IT!!!! 

I opted for the early exit by not checking baggage at the start so had to make my way to the area that was giving out the mylar blankets and then the ponchos for those of us who didn’t have clothes to pick up.  Well, I got my medal first.  I called Keith to let him know where I was and then my coach to let her know how I did.  She was SO happy for me.  She knew I was going to be happy with my time.  Obivously my main goal was to finish but I knew that I wanted to be between 4:30 and 4:45. 4:38:18 was my final time and I couldn’t have been happier.  There would not be any picking apart for this race.  I didn’t care if there was anything I could’ve/should’ve/would’ve done differently.  This was my first stand-alone marathon.  It was my first NYC marathon.  I enjoyed the hell out of every single step.  For me, this was the highlight of my races this year. 

It took me quite some time to find Keith & Kevin due to street closures but I finally found them in Dunkin’ Donuts where Kevin had hot chocolate waiting for me.  I also had a couple of awesome post race presents from my super sweet boyfriend!  I was on cloud 9.  Maybe even cloud 10 if there is such a thing. 
The icing on the cake for me?  I beat Pamela Anderson, former Baywatch babe.  Take that! 

For those of you thinking about running NYC, do it.  If you can qualify for it, more power to you.  I will enter the lottery again someday.  I can’t say it enough, this race was EVERYTHING I hope it would be.  It lived up to the hype.  The volunteers, the spectators, everyone and everything about it was first class.  If you told me I could only participate in one race a year the rest of my life, this would be it.  It was amazing.  I’m sitting here typing this and my eyes are filliing with tears again because I’m just that excited.  I can’t imagine a race being better than this one.  If there is, tell me and I’ll sign up!

A million thank you's go to everyone who supported me.  Honestly, everyone I talked to was so excited for me to do this race.  Like sincerely excited.  Keith is my #1 supporter and having him there meant the world to me.  Getting to spend several days with my brother Kevin was also an added bonus.  We had a blast on our trip.  We laughed a lot!  And of course, my coach Ana deserves so many thanks.  We've gotten to know each well over the past few years and she knows how to push me and I am learning how to take her abuse.  Just kidding! She's an amazing coach and an amazing athlete too!  She has helped me build my confidence up and has really helped me believe in myself and believe I can make times I NEVER thought I could hit.  I love my coach!!!!

I know this was long and not very well written but thank you for reading the whole thing!  I can’t possibly do this race justice on this blog.  You HAVE to run it for yourself.  And maybe I’ll even run it with you.  


  1. Congratulations Jenny!! You have accomplished so much! Probably a stupid question, but do you just throw the layered clothes away along the route?

  2. Thanks very interesting blog!

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  3. Tracey, clothes discarded along the course get donated to charity. I wore things I didn't mind parting ways with.

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