*THANK YOU so much to everyone who wished me luck with the race. I felt so supported and loved.* Long recap, but I tried my best to segment it into key points :)
I got up around 5:30 a.m. which felt like 6:30 due to the time change. Having laid out all my clothes and gear the night before, it took me no time to get ready. (I guess I should have taken a picture of all my stuff neatly lined up, but you’ll have to imagine it). I made a quick bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter and drank water before leaving for the bus stop.
Because the start of the race is on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and many roads are already closed off for the race, runners have to take transportation provided by New York Road Runners (NYRR). For my transportation I chose the Midtown Manhattan bus as it was just two blocks from my hotel. This was the first of many times throughout the day that I was very impressed with the race logistics. I can’t imagine planning a race of this magnitude but NYRR has got it down pat. While waiting in line for the bus I was cold but not too uncomfortable because the wind was mostly blocked by the buildings. Around 7:15 I said goodbye to my mom and hopped on a bus. I sat next to a nice woman from Texas who was running in honor of her dad battling cancer. So many runners were running for charity! The bus ride took about an hour so we arrived at the start village at 8:15…2 hours and 25 minutes before my start time.
Start Village Observations:
-There were so many volunteers who absolutely rocked.
-Dunkin’ Donuts provided the coffee at the start and passed out these bright orange and pink hats to people (seen above).
-People weren’t kidding when they said getting a port-a-potty wouldn’t be a problem. They were literally everywhere.
-For other celiacs, gluten-free people: they don’t have any bananas at the start. Just bagels and power bars. I obviously could have brought one but I figured bananas were a staple at race breakfasts.
The almost 2.5 hours at the start were as hard as running the marathon. Ok, a bit of an exaggeration, but the weather got to me…starting then. I was freezing. I had on four layers plus a trash bag, gloves and face mask, but the wind was powerful that nothing could have kept me warm. I’m not used to this type of weather, although I know that’s not an “excuse” for some. I did the best I could have to come prepared, but there’s no doubt I felt like a wimpy Floridian for being so cold. I was very thankful when my group was called to line up in corrals because I hoped running would help.
*Another example of how amazing NYRR is at organizing the race. Everyone is assigned a color, wave number and corral. For example, I was orange, wave 3, corral A. There were 3 colors, 4 waves and 6 corrals. This was their way of staggering all the runners so it wasn’t too congested.*
Standing on the bridge waiting to start was surreal. I couldn’t believe where I was standing let alone what I was about to do. A runner sang “God Bless America” and before I knew it, the gun went off.
Right off the bat, it’s an uphill climb on the bridge. It’s about 1 mile uphill followed by about 1 mile downhill. The hill didn’t bother me nearly as much as the wind, a recurring theme for the day. I held onto my hat basically the entire bridge and I was pushed around by the wind a few times. But there couldn’t have been a better view. It was pretty spectacular. At the end of the bridge I shed two of my layers because I *thought* I felt warm enough.
I loved Brooklyn! This was my favorite part of the race for a few reasons:
1) I’ve never been to Brooklyn so this was a nice tour
2) The crowds were amazing
3) I saw my family at miles 7 and 12
4) Physically, I felt strong. I was at very steady pace around 8:40 min/mile.
I had a few pieces of my race fuel, dried fruit, at mile 7. Right before the halfway mark, I made my first of two bathroom stops right. This stop took a lot longer than it should have because I had to wait for a port-a-potty and I could barely move my frozen hands enough to open the door, go to the bathroom, etc.
The Pulaski Bridge wasn’t too bad, and the rest of these miles were kind of uneventful ha! I was still maintaining a sub 9 min/mile pace at this point. I had another few pieces of dried fruit at mile 14.
After coming off the Queensboro Bridge and rounding the corner into Manhattan, the noise was incredible. The streets were so packed with people cheering that I missed seeing my family! They were around mile 17, like we had planned, but I never saw them. These miles were tough physically and mentally. You’re on First Avenue the entire time and there is a slight, but steady incline.
The Bronx was not good. I’ve never loved the Bronx, as I am not a Yankee fan, but I now have bad memories of it. After crossing mile 20 I took my first walking break. My legs just couldn’t seem to move anymore. Nothing hurt at all, they were just frozen. My upper body wasn’t cold at this point but my legs struggled to move. I had some dried fruit and texted my parents saying the last 6.2 miles were not going to be pretty. (Stopping and texting during a race was a first for me, too).
I ended up stopping at mile 22 for the bathroom again and luckily saw my mom and sister soon after. My mom gave me her vest and gloves and I drank some coconut water. At this point, we both knew I was not looking or feeling my best. My body was too cold. Afterward she told me I said something funny when I stopped (I don’t really remember) so that made her feel a little better about my condition.
I walked a lot. As in, I can’t remember how many times. Every part of my body was cold at this point. You would think running would keep my body warm, but the damage had already been done. Central Park was a welcomed sign (and it was gorgeous, as always).
I ran the last 1.2 without stopping. The crowds and beautiful Central Park gave me the little oomph I needed. I crossed the finish line with a smile on (don’t know how I managed that!), got my medal (!!!) and immediately went to the medical tent. I didn’t know my time at that moment, but I later found out it was 4:34:13. Significantly slower than my first marathon, but I cannot compare the two in the least.
I went into the medical tent and diagnosed with hypothermia. My temperature was 94.8, and that was taken after being in the warm tent for 10 minutes. I sat on a cot with two blankets, drank hot water and warmed up near a space heater. I ate a banana and apple while texting my family updates. The people at the medical tent were beyond incredible. So attentive, helpful, and thorough…thank you! I have never had to do something like this so part of me felt embarrassed. But I needed the help…badly. The tent was packed (and there were two other tents) so I was by no means the only one there. Some woman needed oxygen, one next to me was hypothermic too, but most people were there for injuries I think.
Once I left the very warm tent I walked for 10 minutes to get out of the park. I finally found my dad and he immediately gave me his jacket. We stood inside a clothing store while figuring out how to get back from the hotel. We had a whole plan arranged for where to meet and how to get home, but those were scratched after I finished. We walked a few blocks to the subway and before I knew it, we were back at our hotel room.
My family is amazing. I ate THE BEST dinner from Hu Kitchen (more on that tomorrow) and that entire plate of watermelon. Yes, I ate all of that watermelon in one sitting. Not a challenge for me. My family surprised me with a special, limited edition NYC Marathon charm from Tiffany’s. I’m engraving it with my time and the quote “The One With The Wind,” a play on the title of Friends’ episodes. We spent the rest of the night talking, stretching and race-recapping.
So to end this insanely long post…
I’m very proud of myself. I went into the weekend with the right mindset and I accomplished everything I intended to…I had fun, soaked up the city and made the most of this experience. This was by NO MEANS a walk in the park and it took a lot of mental strength to keep going. For some bloggers/runners, marathons come easy. I feel like I see people running one every week like it’s no big deal! That’s not the case for me and I consider it a personal victory for finishing. The marathon is a beast that should be respected. I worked hard and am now feeling both the post-race high and sore quads. Hopefully a massage this week will change the latter :)