|My ING NYC Marathon arm warmers purchased at the expo and worn for the race|
Where do I even begin?!?! So much happened. It was overwhelming, fun, not fun, great, not great....My head is still spinning!!
If you remember back when the lottery sign-up opened, our sister-in-law Jenna begged us to sign up with herself and Dino (Emir's brother). Obviously we didn't get in however then someone we know contacted us to say he could possibly get us in on Team ING since he works for them. And he was able to so here we were Friday night driving up to NYC after dropping the kids off at my parents house. Despite our hesitation to spend $260 each on a race and it not being our typical type of race that we like to run (50,000 runners, millions of spectators), we did have the luxury of being able to stay with Dino and Jenna at their place in NYC so that balanced things out a bit ;-) We also weren't too keen on having to sit outside in the elements on Staten Island for many hours but running through team ING meant a special bus ride over to Staten Island and a heated tent so in the end we were able to eliminate that part. And let's face it everyone proclaims that NYC marathon is the greatest in the world and people would give anything to run it. We needed to find out for ourselves what makes this race so special to so many people and of course doesn't it just sound cool to say you ran the NYC marathon?!
The main reason we drove up Friday was because it would have been super hectic to drop the kids off Saturday morning, drive up there and hit up the expo and the Team ING hotel to get our stuff. This turned out to be an even better decision since then we got to sleep in until 9! Been a really, really long time since that happened!! Eventually we made our way to the Team ING hotel. They gave us an orange ING bag full of orange ING goodies and a Team ING tech shirt. We also received our 3 wristbands to get us into various areas on marathon day.
Then it was off to the expo. It was definitely big and there was security however they kept everything moving. We never ended up waiting in line really for anything. We got our bibs and our shirts, took some pics, Emir and I bought NYC Marathon arm warmers and we browsed a bit. Oh and Emir won entry to the Puerto Rico Marathon and I won $25 off. hmmmm......Do I see a trip to Puerto Rico in our future???? Most likely not but it's always nice to be a winner. The rest of the day we spent eating and resting. I was the most nervous I have been for a race in a LONG time. I was just about this nervous for my first marathon just because the normal "can I run 26.2 miles? Will I finish? etc" plus my first marathon was in Croatia with over 7000 feet of elevations so that was freaking me out. I didn't run another marathon until about 6 months after having Una so I wasn't too stressed out about time or anything. I just wanted to complete it. The rest of my marathons after that up until now were either smack in the middle of 50K training or took place on mountains so I wasn't stressed about my time for those either. But now my goal for this training season was to beat my PR of 3:59 and it was really starting to stress me out on Saturday. It wasn't just the simple stress of trying to beat my time but also that I just raced (and I mean raced) the hat trick at Runner's World Festival two weeks ago. I did a PR by a lot in both the 10K and the half marathon on hilly courses. While I was super pumped about that, now I was thinking "was that a mistake? Would my legs suffer tomorrow during the marathon because I raced so hard so recently?" I was really kind of freaking out on Saturday, not good.
At the expo
Somehow I fell asleep and actually slept pretty good until around 4:30 when I had to go to the bathroom. I couldn't really fall back asleep but we were getting up at 5 anyway. Another stroke of luck for this weekend was that it was daylight savings so an extra hour of sleep Saturday night, we were definitely grateful for that. We got dressed, made coffee and bagels and hit the road to the Hilton Hotel where we were catching our team ING bus.
Early morning, heading to catch our bus
The bus ride was pretty fun actually. We had police escorts and drove through red lights, pretty exciting! When we arrived to the starting village on Staten Island, it looked like a huge line for security to get in, but all in all, the line moved pretty quickly. Eventually we found our team ING tent. That starting village really is a village! I've never seen anything like it just for a race (I mean I don't have the most experience but still). I also need to mention how while we were walking all through the village I couldn't help but thank God that we had the ING tent to go to! People were everywhere sitting on the ground, wandering around aimlessly, waiting in endless lines for toilets all while freezing their asses off. It was a good temperature for running a marathon but definitely too cold and a bit windy on Staten Island to have to just sit around outside for hours. The ING tent really was great. It was warm, had food, drinks, coffee and it's own porta pottys. We enjoyed all it's amenities and eventually it was time to make our way to the corrals around 9:15. The Corral was packed!! There were also porta pottys here too which we used but I really should have gone one more time. They had started moving us from the corral to the start line probably around 9:45 even though our start was 10:05 so standing there waiting I totally needed to pee again but never did. It was very exciting standing there at the start line. People were watching us from the tops of city tour buses, there was all kinds of police, military, etc. Ms. New York sang "God Bless America" Then next thing we knew they said "On your mark" and "BANG" off the cannon went! I'm not going to lie, that scared the crap out of me! But it got me going.
All of us in the starting corral
I love racing in my Saucony Virratas!!!
Since hydration packs were not allowed (although I did see a few on the course) I was wearing my belt that held four bottles. I had all four filled with Tailwind and I had a couple gels in my belt as well. Since I had less liquid with me, I made my Tailwind a bit more concentrated to ensure I had enough calories. Emir had mixed my berry flavor with his plain flavor. It really was not bad at all, pretty good actually. My only problem was that since I felt like I had to pee since before the start, I was afraid of drinking too much. I also was getting very thirsty and Tailwind makes me feel more thirsty so I was forced to stop at some water stations to get plain water. That was another area where I felt that I got blocked a few times. I tried to go to the end of water stations where it was less crowded but inevitably I ended up getting bumped or blocked in so I had to stop a few times. Anyway since I was drinking some plain water and I had to pee, I ended up drinking less Tailwind than I had hoped.
Tailwind, shaken not stirred ;-)
Luckily I had decided to bring those two gels so I did one at the halfway point and the second one around mile 20. One last thing that really annoyed me during this race was non-runners crossing the street in the middle of the race! It seemed to happen a lot during the second half for some reason. I wasn't like a random person here or there, it was packs of people. Several times either myself or someone near me totally crashed into someone trying to cross. Even if you weren't the one who crashed into the person, other runners close to you had to pull up short or crash into other runners. I understand this marathon totally consumes the city and sometimes you just really need to get where you need to get, but I felt like it happened a lot during my second half and it was very disruptive and could have injured a runner. END RANT ;-)
Anyway back to my actual running. After the halfway point, I did start feeling my legs getting a big sore in places. I was getting a bit worried. I knew after how fast my first half was that I would definitely not negative split and now I was thinking I probably wouldn't even split either which really was fine since my goal was to go under 3:59, therefore I should have plenty of cushion. During mile 14 we entered this bridge where we were on the bottom. Due to the wind it turned into a wind tunnel. So not only were we on this mile long uphill but fighting a descent headwind as well. I think this is where I really lost a lot of steam and became really sore. I was able to kick it up a notch on the downhill of this bridge. On the exit ramp down I was scanning the crowd below and I saw Jenna's huge sign of Dino's face. At first I thought the sign was a bit ridiculous when she had showed it to us but as I ran I saw ALOT of even bigger faces, I had no idea such signs existed! Not to mention I was able to spot it so far in advance of reaching her that I was able to swing over to where she was and run right by her. It was SO NICE to have someone I actually knew cheering for me!!! This never happens for us since my family is usually watching the kids. She was screaming like crazy for me and she was able to snap some awesome pics of me, it really pumped me up again for a while.
Eventually that adrenaline wore off and even the huge crowds of spectators screaming couldn't make me feel better. Miles 20-26 were pretty hard for me. There were some gradual ups and downs that felt so hard at this point even though I know they weren't really that bad. I kept thinking ok the description said that there was uphill during mile 20 and then it's all downhill. LIE. Why do people like to lie so much about hills in races?!?! I think I'm better off just not reading course descriptions anymore ;-) hehe Anyway I'm pretty sure it was mile 23, there was definitely a descent uphill section that felt almost impossible for me at this point. My legs were just done! I eventually made it through and we went downhill for a while again. As we were nearing the finish, it went uphill again "what the hell?!?!" Anyway I ran what was as hard as I could at that point and finished at 3:55.37! Yes! I did it! I accomplished my goal and a PR! I was pretty happy although I felt like I wanted to die. We had to walk a minute or two before we received our medals. Then we got our pics taken in front of the backdrop and I was interviewed on camera by someone. I was so out of it, I totally didn't ask who he was, where it would air. Oh well!
All my happiness started to fade pretty quickly when I pulled out my phone. I opened my tracker app and saw that Dino had finished in 3:58. It was his first marathon ever and sub 4. I was really happy for him but then I pulled up Emir. He hadn't even crossed the last checkpoint yet before the finish. My heart just dropped to the ground. I just knew his foot had to be bothering him and how upset he would be. I was jolted back to reality by some volunteers telling me I had to keep moving. Ok fine, I'll go find a spot to wait for Emir after I get some water. At this point, I literally felt like I was dying for water not to mention I really had to pee!!! I kept walking and walking, well let's be honest, I was limping like a 90 year old but so was everyone else. It was at least 5-10 minutes before finally we reached a point where they were handing out bags that had a couple drinks and snacks in it. FINALLY!!! I chugged that water like nobody's business but then I wasn't allowed to get anymore. Fine whatever. I walked a few more minutes til I felt I was out of the way and just really needed to sit down. I also wanted to wait for Emir. Not 2 seconds after I sat down, another volunteer came over. He asked me if I was ok and I said I was that I just wanted to sit for a couple minutes. He said "oh no! you need to get up right now! If you sit down then other people will think it's ok and we can't have that!" Fine ok so I got up and started trudging along again. Every so often there were signs for "Early Exit" which was for those of us who didn't check a bag. Volunteers kept saying "you are almost there!" LIARS! I literally walked for a good mile and a half if not more until I got to the point where they gave us the ponchos for those who didn't check bags. And thank God I reached it when I did! I was freezing my ass off at this point and I could tell everyone else was too. At least the poncho was fleece lined and fairly heavy, it felt good.
Wandering NYC in my orange poncho
There was still no exiting this exit corral thingy. I was supposed to meet up with Emir, Dino and Jenna at the ING family reunion place which I was wearing a bracelet for. I had no idea where this place was so I kept asking the people at the info desk, volunteers and police officers. No one had any clue. They told me just keep walking until you see the letter for your last name. I knew that wasn't right and I really wanted to wait for Emir. So I tried just lingering (not sitting, heaven forbid!) around especially since I saw on my app that he had finished. 4:26 not his best but still better than his first ever marathon. I was so proud of him for finishing despite who knows what he was going through with his foot but I also knew he would be disappointed and upset which why I REALLY wanted to wait for him. Every time I would stop walking for a few seconds I would get approached by a volunteer or a police officer and told to move along. FINE ALREADY! So I gave up on the idea of waiting for Emir. By the time Jenna was able to get back to me on the address of the ING meeting spot I was at 61st street. The meeting place was at 77th!!! AHHHHHH!!! I had just walked for a solid hour in pain, I really did not want to have to back track. Then Jenna and Dino remembered that the Hilton Hotel was 54th and 6th ave so that was actually closer than meeting up with them. We needed to go there to get our medals engraved for free by ING (another nice perk :-) ). So I headed off in what I thought was the right direction. I ended up being re-routed several times due to barricades preventing any pedestrians so then I had to wait 10 minutes to cross a street and 2 other times because I went the wrong way :-( I had finished my marathon a little after 2 and I finally arrived at the hotel a little after 4. I hit up the bathroom and chugged some more water as soon as I walked in the door! The only positive to this was after walking for 2 hours, my legs had finally stopped hurting as bad and I was able to eliminate all the negative thoughts in my head when I had first finished about having to run the Philly marathon in 2 weeks. Shortly after, I was reunited with Emir, Jenna and Dino. We had our medals engraved, took some pictures and got food and beer.
All in all, I am very happy I ran the NYC marathon. However, I do have to say I will never run it again unless somehow I was given free entry and had a heated tent again at the start village. The actual race itself was great! The crowds were nothing short of fantastic. There were thousands of signs, constant cheering, screaming and music. It was indeed very uplifting. Even having water stops at every mile due to no hydration packs, really were no big deal. It was interesting to see so many different neighborhoods throughout the 5 boroughs. It was definitely an experience I will never forget especially running it with both Emir and Dino. Despite some of the negatives, there were a lot of things that I felt were handled well considering how many runners and spectators there were to manage. The expo was no problem at all for us. Security into the start village was good but efficient. We felt completely safe the whole course. However, there are some glaring negatives that are why we wouldn't want to do it again. This race despite it taking me 3:55 to run it, was an ALL day event. As a runner, this really isn't ideal to have to wake up at 5am for a 10am start when you are staying so close to the race. It also wasn't ideal for us as my parents were expecting us home Sunday evening to get the kids however we didn't even get back to Jenna and Dino's until 7pm. I know there are SO many people and there are reasons they have to do things the way they do, however it's not something I want to experience on a regular basis. It was fine for a "one time" thing but it's not really something I want to do again. And of course the crazy long walk at the end of the race was just ridiculous. Spreading things out a bit to keep the crowding to a minimum at the finish is one thing but expecting people who just ran a marathon to walk 1-2 miles afterwards and call it "early exit", I have serious issue with that.
my never ending battle with chafage continues
Now to how I'm feeling about how I did. I was excited obviously to PR but I was feeling a little bit of "could I have done better?" Based on how I felt the last 6 miles, I definitely went out too fast the first half. If I had run more conservative the first half, would have I done better? Then again maybe my legs would have been just as sore from the mileage and then I wouldn't have had all that extra time cushion from my first half and I wouldn't have PR'd. I guess you never really know the answers to these types of questions. Now that I am a couple days out, I have had time to think and talk things out with Emir. Don't get me wrong, I am SUPER HAPPY about my PR. I just always have to analyze and see if I could have done even better, can't help it. Anyway I've come to the conclusion that my legs definitely were tired the second half due to having raced so recently, I mean there's a reason they tell you not to do that right? And honestly I did know that going in to this race. But you know what, I don't regret any of my fall races for a second. I had a ton of fun at the Blues Cruise 50K and Runner's World Festival. And guess what? Despite having done a race every other weekend since the beginning of October, I ran a PR in the 50K, huge PR's in the 10K and Half marathon and now a PR at the NYC marathon. What's there to be upset about??? NOTHING!!! I'm so proud of myself (patting self on back)!!! I started 2013 with a marathon PR of 4:19 from last year's Philly Marathon, now I'm ending it with a PR of 3:55, a 25 minute improvement. That's huge!!!
Now of course next weekend November 17th is the Philly Marathon. You would think I would be tired of running this fall by now but for some reason I'm not. I'm really excited for Philly. This year is the 20th anniversary so there will be some special things for this year. Also now Gore-Tex is the main sponsor so I'm excited to see what changes that brings. And even though I've never lived "in Philly" I've always lived just outside in the Philly suburbs which unlike some big cities, it really is considered living in Philly. I love everything Philly from sports to food to the people to the buildings themselves. I really can't wait to run next weekend! Even better is that we can stay with my sister at her house downtown, walk 5 minutes to the start line, get our medal, food and water immediately after finishing and be back at her place in like 20 minutes from finishing. My kind of race!!! ;-)