Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Philly Marathon--Two Marathons, Two Weeks, Too Much?

So you might be wondering, why?  Why would I run two marathons in a span of two weeks?  That is a good question!  One that I was asking myself a lot in the first few days following NYCM.  I laid everything on the line at that race to PR.  And not only that but just two weeks before that I busted my butt at Runner's World to PR in the 10K and half marathon.  That was a lot of fast running for my legs in a short period of time.  I was definitely sore and questioning myself a bit about what I got myself into.  But then by that Wednesday I woke up and my legs weren't sore anymore.  I went on a short run after work and felt pretty good actually.  I did another solo run that week followed by 6 miles with Emir and the kids in the stroller over the weekend. 
Emir and Niko running after our 6 miler on the trail
The week leading up to the marathon I did an easy 4 miler and 3 miler.  Every run felt pretty good leg wise.  My problem actually was a cold, actually all 4 of us had this problem.  There was lots of coughing, sneezing and snots all over this house, ugh.  The weekend between the two marathons was the worst.  No one felt very good which equals kids not sleeping well which equals no one sleeping well.  We all medicated ourselves and by Friday of Philly marathon weekend just minor phlegm issues remained thankfully. 

My NYCM medal and Giant 20th anniversary Philly medal
So back to why Emir and I were running two marathons in two weeks.  We signed up for the Philly Marathon a long time ago after we filled out the survey from last year's race.  They gave us a discount and because it was early registration, the race ended up being fairly inexpensive.  We figured that this would be our fall marathon and of course logistically it is an easy race for us.  Plus this year was the 20th Anniversary so we figured it would be great to run an anniversary race.  We were not disappointed as this year's shirts and medals were awesome!  Running NYCM had never entered our heads until our sister-in-law convinced us to enter the lottery (read my NYCM race report).  Once we found out we had spots in NYCM, we couldn't get a refund or defer Philly so the only answer was to run both races.  And yes you would be correct that even if those options existed, we still would have run both anyway ;-) 

Now here we were Friday of Marathon weekend.  Emir's foot was feeling a lot better thankfully so he was going to give it a go.  One nice thing about Philly is that even if you are signed up for the full, you can just finish at the half and get a half marathon medal, food, etc.  Everyone runs together until right around 13 miles where the halfers turn to finish at the Art Museum and fullers continue on for the second half.  So Emir had that as a back up in case his foot was too painful.  We took the kids to the expo after work on Friday.  Very typical big marathon expo with a couple of features that I think make it a little nicer than some.  Not that we could take advantage but one nice bonus is a variety of lectures/talks on running that are free for anyone to attend.  The second thing that I think is great is the Kid's Zone at the expo.  Not only is there a kids race over the weekend but at the expo there is a whole section for kids.  The have a huge blow-up bouncy thing for kids to play on, face painting, balloon making man and kids crafts, ALL FREE.  Niko and Una had a blast.  After that we went out to dinner, put the kids to bed and we stayed up a bit too late watching Breaking Bad. 

My sister Cindy and I at the expo

Niko and Una


Bib #4676
Of course Niko woke up at 4 with a bad dream.  Then Una woke up a bit before 6.  We managed to get everyone back to sleep but then everyone was up for the day before 7.  We went to the small zoo near us since the Berenstein Bears were going to be there (one of Niko's favorites).  It was a great time but several hours on our feet. 

Then in the afternoon Niko had a birthday party for one of his classmates.  More time on our feet chasing the kids around.  Then we took them to my parent's house, which would have been fine if we could have just dropped them off and left.  However, unfortunately my parents had a wedding.  So we put the kids to bed and had to wait for them to get home.  I went to sleep around 8.  I was sooooooo tired from being up late, running around all day and just still feeling a bit under the weather with congestion.  My parents finally arrived around 11:00.  I got up and we made a beeline for my sister's house in the city.  Cindy was running the half marathon and had invited us to stay over since it is literally a 5 minute walk from her place to the start line.  With road closures and then trying to find parking, it would have been way more difficult to go to the city in the morning.  A block from her house is an amazing parking garage that charges $5 for 24 hours so we took advantage.  By the time we got down there, parked and settled in to sleep it was easily 12:30.  Not great for a 5 AM wakeup :-(  But we are parents first so as I have said before "Life happens but so does running"  So despite an exhausting couple of days, I knew we would give it all we had in the morning.

I woke up at 5 with a headache and feeling EXHAUSTED.  I went to use the bathroom and Cindy's roommate had left us a sign that said "You are awesome, Run Fast"  I couldn't help but smile and start to get out of my "early morning, not feeling it" funk. 
Emir and I started getting ready in the dark as Cindy was still in bed.  My head was feeling worse so I finally asked her if she had something.  She did, however I had to dig through her purse for some loose pills.  I found a couple different types.  Cindy sorted through them and gave me what "she thought was Tylenol".  I crossed my fingers and down they went.  We made coffee and bagels.  We had to drink our coffee with just some milk as apparently there was no sugar in the house. Around 6:15 we left for the start line.  There were tons of runners making their way as well.  It's a great sight.  Still slightly dark, runners coming from all directions, exuding energy, converging on the start area.  I just love it!  It only takes probably 6-7 minutes to walk to the start, after about 5 minutes, Emir realized he forgot his "nipple covers" (his little circle band aids to prevent nipple bleeding).  He said he had to go back.  We started walking back with him but then he said that he could just go on his own and meet us at the start.  Cindy and I continued on.  Security was very easy, no lines.  I saw a couple people I knew, always fun then I realized I definitely needed to go #1 & #2 before this race starts.  It was a little after 6:30 so Cindy and I hopped in line for a porta-potty.  The line ended up moving slower than I had thought.  I knew we didn't have to be in our corral AT 7 because the wheeled people go first followed by elites followed by two corrals before ours.  After a little difficulty Emir found us.  There may have been a minor disagreement about what we "should have done" as apparently there were other pottys that were less crowded.  Anyway then we realized there was no one in line at a nearby potty so we ran over and did our business. 

I work for MossRehab as an acute care PT at Einstein Hospital in Phlly

Perfect Motto for my 2nd marathon in 2 weeks" Challege Accepted!"

We then jogged for the corrals.  The first one we hit was black which is the first one after the elites who had already started.  There was a huge opening to get in so we just hopped right in there.  Literally a minute later they started us.  Let me tell you despite Emir's initial "disagreement" with us about waiting in line too long, that was the best timed pottying I've ever done for a race to date!  I didn't feel like I had to pee at all until the last few miles.  They had announced that Mayor Nutter was on the right giving out high fives so I stayed over to that side on purpose.  I am NOT into politics whatsoever so I have no idea if I agree with the Mayor's policies etc but what I DO know is that he comes out every year for the whole Marathon weekend, Broad Street Run and Susan G. Komen race for the cure to encourage everyone and give out high fives.  And those are just the events I know of.  For such a large city, I think it's pretty awesome and I give him a lot of credit for that.  Anyway I stayed to the right got my high five from Mayor Nutter and off we went!

Sisters waiting for the potty
Emir and I had signed up for the 4 hour pace group a long time ago.  Since we had hopped up a couple corrals, we were starting at least a few minutes ahead of that 4:00 group.  At the expo we had grabbed the 4:00 pace bracelets so luckily we had decided to wear those.  I knew Emir really wanted to do 4:00 since he felt that his foot was feeling better.  I was encouraging him however I knew with having a foot injury for over a month now, even if it wasn't hurting too bad during this race, it had taken a toll.  Even when you start feeling better it takes time to get back to your "healthy" self and pace.  But you never know in the race with adrenaline and all the people cheering, he could do it.  I on the other hand, I really had mixed feelings over the two weeks in between NYC and Philly.  The first couple days were "How am I going to run another marathon in two weeks?!?!"  Then it was "Ok I can do this, I will be able to finish"  Then finally a few days before the race "Hmmm legs are feeling pretty good on these short runs...."  But even though my legs felt good on those runs, they were just short runs.  I had no idea what my legs would feel like over the course of a 2nd 26.2 in the span of 14 days, this was a first for me.  I was having battles in my brain the days leading up to the race "you'll be able to go fast the whole time, no problem" vs "your legs are going to be hurting the second half!"  obviously as for any normal person the thought of doing another PR crossed my mind but I knew that was a far reach.  But still it would be pretty sweet, right?  ;-)  So anyway I had no idea what to expect as we started off on our 26.2 through our city. 

All 3 of us started off together.  Cindy started pulling away pretty quickly.  I knew her goal for the half was 1:55 so I let her go.  I really didn't want to go that fast for my first half.  Emir and I were together through the first 3 miles.  I was just going a nice, steady pace that didn't feel too strenuous.  I kept finding that Emir was lagging a bit even though I didn't feel that I was going too fast.  He informed me otherwise :-o  He said he just wanted to hover around 9:00/mile pace until the halfway point and that I was not doing that.  As always our agreement is not to get mad if one person wants to go ahead so that's what I did.  I really enjoyed the first half.  I love how it takes us through Old City, down South Street to South Philly, down Chestnut Street, by the Zoo and then the Please Touch Museum.  There was people out cheering throughout the different parts and I saw some great signs too.  I felt like I was cruising that first half even up the mile 9 hill.  I had set my watch to elapsed time since I know pace is usually off due to my watch having a bit more distance than the mile markers of the race.  I also did this because I had worn that 4:00 pace band.  Since overall I was feeling descent and not having too much trouble with the pace, I would check my elapsed time at each mile marker and compare it to the pace band.  By 13.1, I was at 1:58 and on pace for overall 3:56 IF I could even split which still was a big question mark in my mind. 

Unlike last year I didn't mind the few turnaround points or the out and back nature of the second half.  I also didn't mind seeing the half marathon finishers as I headed out to my second half.  Maybe this being my 5th marathon of the year, I'm more conditioned to have no desire to stop until I reach that 26.2 finish?  Who knows!  The turnarounds this year I actually really liked since Emir was behind me somewhere.  So there was 3 or 4 different times that I was able to pass him as he was going by and give each other a reassuring smile.  I was also so grateful that I could check on the status of his foot and make sure he was ok and just to KNOW that he hadn't stopped at the half. 

Right before the finish
So I headed out for my second half.  Somewhere between mile 14 and 15 I had a bit of a coughing fit, I guess brought on by my phlegm issues.  Next thing I knew I had this awful side cramp.  It hurt SO BAD!  I massaged my side, took deep breaths, drank some fluids.  Eventually it did subside but took at least 2 miles.  One positive thing was that it took my mind off my legs and how I could feel them starting to fatigue.  By this time we were at the Falls Bridge.  The course goes over the bridge down MLK drive for a short distance and then we turn around and go back over the bridge.  Slightly annoying but I know they have to get the distance in.  Going back to the bridge is slightly uphill which at this point was really tough on my legs.  Next the course heads in to Manyunk which really is the PARTY of the race however anyone that knows Philly at all knows Manyunk is a hilly place.  Luckily Main Street is probably the least hilly spot of Manyunk however it's enough on tired legs during miles 18-21 to really kill a person's momentum.  This is precisely what happened to me.  It was hard to enjoy my beer and the craziness of the crowd on this stretch when I was really feeling like I was going to die.  My legs all the sudden just felt like lead.  I knew my pace was slowing significantly and no matter what I did, I could not go faster.  By the time I left Manyunk despite my GREAT appreciation for the beer and the fantastic crowds, I have to admit I was feeling down.  I knew going in to this race that it was more than likely that I would not be able to do some amazing time given I just busted a gut two weeks ago.  However being on pace through 30K to sub 4 felt great to me.  I had gotten in my head during the first half that sub 4 would be my goal and how awesome to do 2 races in 2 weeks sub4?!  But as I exited Manyunk I was hovering very close to the cutoff to make it under 4:00 and I just knew based on how I was feeling that it wasn't going to happen.  After sulking to myself for probably 1/2 mile to a mile, I was like "ok focus!  you are still doing something great here!  This is your first time RACING two marathons so close together.  That itself is amazing.  Now get it together and finish this thing!"  I'm not going to lie the last 6 miles were HELL!!!  My legs just kept getting heavier and heavier.  I just felt so spent like I had nothing left in the tank.  However I had perked up my spirits and enjoyed the people encouraging us along that ending stretch of Kelly Drive.  I love that Philly puts your name on your bib.  It was so nice to hear people cheering my name and telling me that I had this thing.  With names on the bibs, spectators are way more apt to cheer for people they don't know.  It's really an awesome feeling to hear your name about a thousand times throughout the course of the marathon when really I only saw maybe 2 or 3 people that I actually knew.  I sped up as much as I could a few times but it would only last a minute or two.  I literally would start to feel like I was going to just collapse.  As much as I wanted to go faster, I just couldn't.  The weather was not helping me at this point either.  At the start it was overcast and probably low-mid 50s, perfect.  At this point it had really warmed up and now the sun was beaming on me, ugh.  I had rolled my arm sleeves down but didn't help too much.  The last two miles felt so long and that I literally thought they must have taken me at least 20 something minutes.  I had stopped looking at my watch the last few miles because of how I felt and just wanted to enjoy (well survive) my last few miles.  I really thought my watch was going to say at least 4:05 when I saw the finish line.  As I crossed I looked down to hit the stop button and it said 4:01.  At the time I wasn't sure if I was happy that it was not 4:05 or that I was disappointed that I was close to going sub 4 but just couldn't pull it off. 

Challenge Completed!
After I finished I received my medal, got water and food in less than 5 minutes, YES!  And I was allowed to hang around and wait for Emir to finish.  I chugged 2 full bottles of water in like 2 seconds.  I don't know how I could possibly have been so thirsty.  I drank my whole hydration pack of Tailwind and stopped at numerous water stations.  Maybe running 2 races so close together, my body requirements were much higher than usual?  I did also take 2 gels during the race as I felt hungry a couple times.  I guess something to think about for next time I run 2 marathons in 2 weeks ;-)  I will have to consult our friend Jenny at Tailwind!  Just FYI not only do they sell an awesome product but they are very knowledgeable and always more than happy to help plan fueling for a race.

Emir finished at 4:16.  I know he was and still is disappointed but really I'm so proud of him.  He has many reasons in his head about why he's doubting whether he should run road marathons or not (which I'll let him describe if he wants).  But really he has had a nasty foot injury since mid October.  There was a couple weeks where it hurt him just to stand around for a bit, not walking, not running.  He persevered, rested it and treated it with various remedies.  He gave it his all both in NYC and Philly.  I think it's pretty damn amazing for someone who's marathon PR is 4:07 to run 4:26 and 4:16 in a 2 week span dealing with an injury.  I really hope he will try a road marathon again, I just know he will get his sub 4!

Overall I'm feeling pretty proud of all of us.  Cindy smashed her goal with 1:52.  I've already told you why I'm proud of my husband.  And myself despite my few moments of despair, I have a lot to be proud of.  If it was so easy to PR every race then there would be no challenge and no reason to keep working so hard and it wouldn't be nearly as much fun.  The ups and downs are what keep it interesting.  I've had a great fall.  I had fun and enjoyed every single race we ran, Blues Cruise 50k, Runner's World Half and Festival, NYCM and Philly Marathon.  I set PRs in 10K, half marathon, marathon and 50K.  And now I have a new goal, run 2 marathons in 2 weeks and sub 4 in both ;-)  So I guess I'll just have to do this again! 

I will have to find a different race though since I'm committed to not running NYCM again but would run Philly every year in a heart beat.  I love my city and I love this race (and not just because it is in my city although being less than half of what NYCM costs helps!).  Everything was well organized and runner oriented.  The volunteers knew what was going on and super friendly and wonderful at the aide stations.  If you were a runner, it was easy to get in to the start area and out of the finish area and it was no problem to have a hydration pack.  Unlike in NYC we were back at my sister's house before noon.  I love that even though there are over 30,000 people between the half and the full, everyone is able to start within the first 30 minutes of the race no one has to sit around waiting for hours.  I didn't check a bag myself this year but at the finish I saw the UPS trucks and people were able to easily walk up and get their bag within 2 minutes.  So many people had talked up NYCM to us about how you have never seen anything like it.  So many people, so much cheering, such a fun course that Philly doesn't even compare.  Last year was our first time running Philly and like I had said I did have some residual negative feelings about the 2nd half of the course.  I also was thinking hmmm maybe people are right, I can't remember exactly how Philly was at this point so maybe I just thought it was pretty good since I didn't really have much to compare to.  Now having done the two races so close together, in all honesty, Philly is freakin awesome!  People are out (definitely less than NYC but there are less people that live in Philly!), they are enthusiastic, energized, tons of great signs, people shouting your name, handing you beer, fruit, water.  Despite the out and back nature of the second half, I still think it's a fantastic course showcasing our beautiful city and it's diversity.  Nothing against NYC, it was a great race too (nice course, great crowds) even despite the waiting game in the beginning and an hour walk to the exit at the end.  I will always be glad that I was lucky enough to experience the NYCM.  But I'm still left wondering, why is NYC considered the best marathon?  What exactly is it that makes it SO much better than other races? 
My forever bad toe

Never ending battle with chafage!
Also found more chafage later on my low back

So what's up next?  Why it's the Rocky Run 50K!  It's taking place on Dec 7th and being put on by our #ultrachat pal Rebecca.  We will be following the footsteps of Rocky himself around Philly.  This of course is a Fatass style run so we won't be racing just running all in good fun ;-)  So if you are in the Philly area come join us!! I also am testing 3 new pairs of shoes that will be coming out in the Spring so you can look forward to my reviews of them coming soon!!!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NYC Marathon--Race Report

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
The first mile is up the Verrazano Bridge.  I thought it was going to feel much harder and steeper but I guess since it's the very first mile and we were so fresh with tons of adrenaline, it really didn't feel very hard at all.  Emir, Dino and I ran this first mile together.  Emir said his foot was "ok"  Then the 2nd mile was downhill.  If you read my blog, you know how I LOVE DOWNHILLS!  I didn't gun it as much as I could have but I know I was going fairly fast.  By the time I reached the bottom of the bridge I knew Dino and Emir weren't really with me anymore.  We had all agreed that we would start together but then we would just go however we felt and no one would be upset.  So while I was a little disappointed to separate already, I just kept going.  I felt pretty good and was just cruising through the halfway point.  At 13.1,  I was at 1:54 and still feeling pretty good.  I just hoped it would stay that way.  The crowds really were pretty cool.  It was wall to wall people the whole length.  People screaming, playing music, very energetic.  I was also very inspired by all the people I saw running for charities and by all the people with disabilities I saw with aides helping to accomplish this huge feat.  Despite how many people were running, I did feel like I had my own space for the most part.  However, there were times that I felt like I got boxed in and had to change speeds or swerve really far to the outside to get around people.  However it was not as often as I had envisioned.

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. 

Mile 16!

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. 

reunited finally!!

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!!! 

So proud!!!!!!

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!!!  ;-)