Yoga, running, fitness and life
Yoga, running, fitness and life
Let me start by saying I never thought I’d EVER run this race. Ever.
The race org, NYRR, offers its members an easy way for guaranteed entry to the marathon: 9 + 1. Run nine of their qualifying races, volunteer for one. I completed the requirements in 2016, never sure I would register for the marathon. Long story short, talking to many people who have run it, they convinced me to pull the trigger and register… so I did.
When I ran the Steamtown Marathon last year, I enlisted the help of the Run S.M.A.R.T. coaches. They developed a customized plan for me. I took that same 16-week plan and made some minor tweaks to it. While I kept the workouts and targeted goal times the same, I added in extra mileage (which also meant adding in more running days. I went from 4 days/wk to 6 days/wk). It totally worked and I felt pretty darn good throughout.
Despite early concerns about my back problems being obstacles for a strong training cycle, everything turned out pretty much to plan. Training was almost 100% on-point. I felt strong, I put in the miles, I was serious about cross-training (in addition to a daily yoga practice, I also swim, spin and do mat Pilates)… it just all seemed to work.
I stayed over in the city the night before to give myself an advantage of not having to stress over how I was getting in to the city. I mostly slept well, almost 9 hours given the time change. I got up at 5a and took my time getting ready and stretching/eating. I could tell I was excited/nervous because I had trouble eating; I never have trouble eating. I ate as much of the oatmeal and Greek yogurt and washed it down with coffee and some OJ.
About 6:55a I hailed a cab and was on my way downtown. The driver was good…the ride super quick. But… it was already getting crazy with road closures and cops directing traffic. I had to get out 2 blocks away from the ferry. I made it in time to catch the 7:15a ferry (I was assigned 7:45a), but I needed a bathroom run. The ferry terminal employees were already cheering the runners, the atmosphere was alive and energetic.
After leaving the bathroom, I lined up for the next ferry (7:30a). I got chit-chatting with a young woman next to me and we spent the next 90 or so minutes together. The outside areas of the ferry were closed (Whaaaaat???) so we were all indoors where it was really, really warm. I started stripping off outer layers. I attempted to nibble on my bagel.
We arrived on Staten Island and were greeted with an unending sea of people before us. We waited easily another 30 minutes, maybe more, to get on the buses.
There was no real delay after that point. It took a few minutes to get there and I want to say, after going through security and getting into the park, it was about 9:15a – just about the time I figured I’d arrive if I’d taken the 7:45a ferry.
The NYC Marathon is a well-oiled machine. Everything was clearly marked off and there seemed to be plenty of space and P.O.P.’s. In some ways it reminded me of being at the airport: they made announcements in several languages. I’m not even sure some of what I was hearing.
I bee-lined for a P.O.P. and tried eating more of my bagel (I ended up tossing it). I walked around for a bit and found out from a volunteer that I could head to my corral. I knew there’d be more P.O.P.s
When I got there I saw a huge crowd waiting around the entrance to the corral, and I discovered that until Wave 2 was officially off and running, Wave 3 had to wait. I was Wave 4. When they finally called Wave 3 into their corrals, I tried going in early. I would have been fine except I was still holding onto my plastic bag of stuff (the only bags sanctioned by NYRR). I went out to drop my stuff and take only what I could carry.
When I went back, they blocked me from getting in because I was Wave 4. The problem with that was, I couldn’t use the P.O.P.s inside the corral – and I was unable to leave my waiting area to go back where I came to use the first ones – there were so many people filtering in to the corral area I couldn’t physically make it back. Urgh.
When my Wave was called, I got in easy-peasy and headed straight for a P.O.P. Knowing I wouldn’t be waiting long before moving up, I just joined the crowd…instead of trying to go again (not sure if I even had time to do so).
Everyone I met was from somewhere else. The gal I met at the ferry terminal was from Seattle…we got chatting with another guy on Staten Island from Manchester, England. And when I was waiting in my corral to get moving along, I was surrounded by Germans. Surrounded.
I tried stuffing one of the two pieces of crumb cake into my face, but I ended up tossing most of it. I carried with me only 2 things: a half-full water bottle (I dropped at the 1st aid station) and an emergency rain poncho (gave to hubby at Mile 7-8). It started drizzling when I first made my way into the corral.
The move to the bridge was quick. I turned on my GoPro in advance of the Start line. It was raining.
I put on my headphones but I could still hear everything. In those first few moments, I remember thinking, “ohmygosh,ohmygosh,ohmygosh,ohmygosh…ohmygosh…”. And then I recalled how my Dad and I were watching the news years ago and we saw the runners coming over the Verrazano Bridge and he said, “Look at all those stupid, stupid people.” I had to laugh to myself. If he was alive now, he would have definitely tried talking me out of running it! Hey Dad, I’m one of those stupid, stupid people!
Mile 1: Everyone says you never feel the first hill on the bridge. It’s the largest hill of the course and they’re right: I never felt it. Also… I was going so ridiculously slow, I had no choice but to walk most of it, so that too made it easy. Many people in front of me were running so slowly I could walk behind them and not lose pace.
There were many runners who climbed on the dividers to take pictures, videos or selfies. Not annoying at all (heh). I did my best to hug the line and not move around anyone. I went around one guy, then realized what I was doing, and stopped weaving.
On the left side of the bridge was the view of lower Manhattan. I only know that because I live here and know where to find the views. Unfortunately, with the rain and low cloud cover, compounded by some serious fog, there was ZERO view of the city skyline.
My paceband had me running Mile 1 at 12:30 pace. I ran it in 12:26. Mile 2 was the downhill of the bridge and the band had me running it at 9:59 (!). I was in no way feeling the need to pick it up so much. I ran Mile 2 at 10:57. Basically, I never looked at my paceband again.
Mile 3 we followed the expressway into Brooklyn, 11:03. I was finding my legs and feeling pretty good. Still raining.
As far as I could see ahead of me, it was just PEOPLE. Everywhere. I only paid attention to my music, tuned out the crowds and watched where I was running. I still had to stop a lot because so many people kept stopping in front of me or again, were going so slowly I had to jog easy or walk. Crazy.
Mile 4: 11:14 I walked through every aid station.
Mile 5: 12:06…I slowed/stopped to change out my GoPro battery.
Mile 6: 10:48 Now we’re talking. My actual run paces were good throughout, it was just that I kept slowing down/stopping throughout as well.
Mile 7: 10:47 Feeling just fine. I saw my husband between miles 7-8. I stopped to chat a little, drop off my phone charger, Go Pro battery, he gave me a banana and I started having an asthma attack. It happened just about every time I stopped. Grrrr. Luckily, it went away as soon as I started running (although I used my inhaler a couple times here).
I was off again.
Mile 8: 12:28 (because I stopped to talk to hubby)
Mile 9: 11:09 Ok, I think I have to pee… (are you kidding me?!?)
Mile 10: 10:45 Feeling good, but the bladder is filling up. I REALLY needed that extra pitstop before starting. “If only” I’d been able to get in early to my corral for an extra P.O.P. visit!
Mile 11: 15:04 I finally stopped and waited in line for a P.O.P. It was unavoidable. I really needed to go.
It’s raining consistently. Water is dripping off the brim of my hat. The streets of Brooklyn are strange; the neighborhoods are so different from one another. We’re now on Bedford and the spectators are in the street, narrowing the way for runners to move through. I have to walk. Patience, everyone said. It’s true, you really need patience running this course!
Mile 12: 10:58
Mile 13: 12:01 We’re approaching the Pulaski Bridge crossing into Queens. It’s officially halfway. Again, I’m slowed down to a walk because SO MANY PEOPLE are walking. I’m stuck. But now in Queens, I’m on familiar turf.
Mile 14: 11:51 I’m reunited with my volunteer pals at the aid station. They all come out for hugs and cheers. I turn a corner and another friend is there with his brass band (they weren’t playing). He comes running out, takes a pic, gives a big hug and sends me off.
Mile 15: 12:21 I’m getting close to the 59th Street Bridge. A couple yoga teacher friends of mine from Astoria cheer me on. Unfortunately, they’re on the opposite side of the street from me so I miss a beer opportunity. Just at the base of the bridge is my PT, Andy. He’s a Team for Kids coach and he’s out with the coaches for the charity runners. He gives me a big hug, a big High-5 and scoots me off to the bridge.
The Queensborough Bridge. I hate this bridge, normally. This isn’t a normal day though. I put my headphones back on and select The Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men”. It’s a fun song. I can’t not sing and run to this one. I chose to run/walk the incline. Mostly I was stuck walking because everyone was walking up.
Mile 16: 14:20 - from walking the bridge. I’m starving like, my stomach is growling. I decide to use this opportunity to eat the RX bar in my pocket. Chocolate Sea Salt. It’s perfect. In the distance below 59th St. I see dump trucks filled with sand barricading the streets. (This was a new development given last week’s terror attack. I saw it throughout the course.)
I take off the headphones as I approach 59th Street and 1st Avenue. I’m expecting crazy, roaring crowds. Everyone says THIS is worth the price of admission. Maybe it was the weather, they just weren’t there. A little bummed, I put my music back on.
Mile 17: 12:48 I see hubby a second time. I take off the Go Pro and hand it to him. The rain and moisture are so bad, that even with the anti-fog inserts, the camera keeps fogging up. Bummer. He gives me the bone broth I made plus an orange. Only, the orange isn’t peeled so I can’t take it. He thought I could peel it while running. Um… No. Thanks though.
I run up another block towards 79th Street and people are all over the sidewalks, hanging on the barricades, drinking beer. “I want a beer too!” I called as I ran past. One woman held out her cup and offered it. I grabbed it and chugged as the crowd chanted, “SNAIL, SNAIL, SNAIL”! I dug into my pocket to hand her a soaking wet $10 for the beer, but the nice woman wouldn’t take it. I move on.
Mile 18: 12:19 I come up on a group of young guys with a pitcher full of beer and waving a sign that says: “DO YOU WANT BEER?” I stopped and said Yes! They poured me a cup and off I went again.
Mile 19: 13:23 A yoga teacher friend of mine is exactly where she said she was going to be with a bottle of Heineken. It doesn’t matter that it’s not my kind of beer, it’s beer and I want it. She’s about to give me the bottle (Are you kidding me?!?!), but I had her pour it in a cup, she gave me a bear hug and again I was off.
Somewhere back at the halfway point I stopped caring about my time. Good thing too. My pacing was all out the window. But, I was still feeling pretty good.
Mile 20: 11:53 We’re on the Willis Ave Bridge into the Bronx and I’m feeling fine. But, there are lots of walkers. I’m stuck again.
Mile 21: 11:28 If you blink, you miss the Bronx. It’s quick.
Mile 22: 12:00 I grab a few bananas, I’m hungry again. Like, really hungry. I’m starting to hurt and I can feel I’m slowing down.
Mile 23: 12:18 It’s 5th Avenue. Is this the “hill” everyone complains about? I’m not so sure… I’m not even sure where we are anymore. I keep asking people what Mile we’re at. I’m run/walking and people are still in my way.
Mile 24: 12:00 We’re in Central Park, baby! It’s funny, it seemed like an awful lot of downhill. I don’t remember so much downhill on this path that I’ve run countless times. I guess I’m used to running it going the opposite direction? I’m running, everything hurts and is that my stomach bubbling? I promise myself I WILL NOT stop to use the bathroom at MILE 25! Are you kidding me? I stop eating bananas and just live with the hunger.
Mile 25: 12:08 I am almost there. I’m questioning the presence of a few toenails, the metatarsals on my left foot are shooting up sharp, vibrating pains with every single step, my hamstrings are on fire and my butt cheeks feel like they’re twisting into knots. I’m really unhappy, but I convince myself that I’m well-trained and have this totally in-hand (of course I did). If I walk now I’m only prolonging this intense suffering.
Mile 26: 10:57 We’re out of the park and crossing over on 59th Street, Central Park South, and the smells… oh lordy… the things I was thinking… it smelled like a cross between stale urine, human excrement, horse manure and vomit. I’m trying to hold my breath and run so fast to get out of this awful, awful spot. I’m imagining how great it will feel to cross the Finish Line, only 200 meters ahead now.
Mile 26.2: 11:28 We’re back into the park, and I can see the lights of the Finish. I don’t see hubby, but I kinda don’t care. I ran it the whole way in, I couldn’t believe it.
It took some time to walk the way out and meet up with my husband. I was fully wrapped in a heat blanket and my insulated race poncho. But my hands were pretty cold, which made eating the apple they gave me and anything else in my recovery bag hard to do.
When I finally met up with hubby, we hopped the subway back to Penn Station. We had enough time before our train to grab some shakes at Shake Shack (my final one of the training cycle!). We were home within the half hour and I was soaking in a hot Epsom salt bath. After all that time and energy, the marathon had come and gone.
P.S.: When I stopped in Brooklyn for a bathroom, I stopped the Garmin, then restarted it as I continued running... these are the deets.
Yesterday I went to the Expo at the Javits Center to get my race materials:
And I did some shopping...
I got my race singlet race-ready...
I have my course-specific pace band...