Ten days ago I ran through the five boroughs of New York City.
I still can’t believe it. I am a New York City Marathoner.
I wrote about my experience last week for work. I don’t want to create a carbon copy post for y’all, so I am sharing a tweaked version.
I arrived in Manhattan bright and early Friday morning and I was a disorganized and anxious mess. Normally, I’m quite organized and plan far ahead for my trips.
I forgot what airport I was flying into. I forgot to call my friend to tell her what time I’d be arriving at her apartment. I forgot my umbrella. (Oh, and I needed it. It poured. POURED.) I forgot band-aids and some other needed gear.
But alas, as the weekend progressed, I checked tasks off my to-do list.
– Go to the race expo and collect race bib without spending too much money. Check.
– Visit several NYC-based friends, hydrate and carb load. Check.
– Stay off feet and avoid walking miles at a time. Nope. Didn’t follow that rule.
I was thrilled to meet some fellow Oiselle runners at the team brunch Saturday morning. Many of the women were running Sunday and others were local and planned to volunteer at a water stop late in the race. It was so nice to meet ladies I’ve been chatting with online for months. What an amazing group of women! I can’t wait to reunite with them.
My quads felt pretty tight the day before the race as I had walked about 5 miles on Friday. I logged another 3 miles Saturday. I stretched as much as possible. I sat in front of a diorama of a forest in the Natural History Museum to meditate for about an hour and then I read in a nearby park, ogling the stunning fall foliage.
As Saturday went on, I grew more and more anxious. A knot had formed in my chest, at times making it difficult to breathe. I was worried. I was nervous. I repeatedly questioned myself and my training. I wondered why I wanted to run such a difficult course with even more challenging logistics to get to the starting area. What was I thinking?!
I wondered how my leg would hold up, considering I had fallen down the stairs the previous week. I even considered a last-minute deferral. I quickly rejected that idea when I thought of all the months of training and all of the people who supported me day after day, run after run.
I knew adrenaline would see me through the race. I knew I would finish. But I wanted more. I wanted to run my best.
I slept fitfully the night before the marathon. It came in waves, the longest being about 2 hours. I actually got more sleep than I expected but was still wide awake when the alarm sounded at 4 am.
I rose, ate, dressed, chatted with my friend Kyle who was kind enough to come to Manhattan for the weekend to cheer me on.
I cabbed it over to the New York Public Library in mid-town where I caught a bus to the starting area in Staten Island, on the Varazzano Bridge. Runners have to make their way there before dawn. I arrived around 6 a.m.
About 3 1/2 hours later, I was finally running.
I had brought along many disposable layers and looked as though I was bundled up for a blizzard. I shed most layers just before I started running, though I quickly exchanged my hideous oversized sweatshirt for a running jacket that smacked me in the face after someone failed to toss it over the bus I was standing near.
I chatted with several other runners as we all tried to calm our nerves. One man was running his 5th NYC Marathon and had clearly over-caffeinated. He was a wealth of knowledge and advice, which he gladly shared with us first-timers.
Once the starting cannon (YES!) sounded – and scared the stuffing out of me – I was off running over the bridge. I didn’t want to start off too fast, so I kept reeling my legs back in.
To my left, I saw a beautiful view of Manhattan’s skyline. I told myself I’d be there soon. I moved forward among the masses, even encountering and chatting with a few folks I met while waiting in Staten Island.
I felt the bridge move with each stride as it carried only runners from Staten Island to Brooklyn. I shed my top layer.
Around the second mile, I realized something was off with my right foot, so pulled to the side, took off my shoe, adjusted my sock, retied and ran.
If something was wrong, I wanted to fix it early on.
The next few miles were uneventful. I tried to stick as close as I could to a 10-minute-mile pace. I didn’t want to go too fast, even though I felt strong. I knew I would pay for it later if I started out with a sprint.
Around the 5K point, much of the crowd had thinned out. I saw some runners I recognized – a few ladies running for Every Mother Counts, an organization that supports safe pregnancies and childbirth for mothers worldwide. Among the women was supermodel Christy Turlington Burns, who was clothed by Oiselle, the same label I run for! Such a small world! I grunted a hello to the ladies – we had chatted earlier while waiting in our corral – and ran along. Several miles later, we greeted each other again. The group came up from behind me and cheered for me as they zipped past.
That’s one thing about runners – we motivate each other to do our best. We cheer for each other when we need it most.
The miles ticked by.
I waved to firefighters, police officers and cheering fans.
I smiled as I ran. That knot in my chest was long gone. It was just me and the road.
I reached the half at 2:08, the same time the winner crossed the finish line. I was thrilled with my pace, which to me seemed only possible because of the incredible crowd support.
I crossed the Queensboro Bridge, leaving Queens for Manhattan. I was loathing this part because I knew it was hilly and the crowds wouldn’t be nearby. You could hear runners’ feet slap the pavement and cars whiz overhead on the upper deck.
A faint buzz grew louder. I ran down the bridge ramp to the crowd, and nearly tripped as an overzealous runner cut me off. The volume was deafening as they welcomed us to Manhattan. I was grinning ear to ear.
We turned onto First Avenue and headed north for five miles. Around mile 18, several teammates screamed my name. I turned my head and waved, thrilled to have support when I needed it most.
I ran through the Bronx and back south toward Central Park. I was on pace and moving forward.
I slowed down on Fifth Avenue around mile 22, not far from Central Park. Those last four miles were the death of me.
I wanted to stop and walk. Badly.
A short time later, I saw several more teammates, all ladies I met the previous day at brunch. They screamed my name and told me I could finish, exactly the words I needed to hear. I picked up the pace and moved forward.
The park was on my right as I struggled uphill. The hills were small, but with 23 miles behind me they felt mountainous.
I passed two runners guiding a disabled runner along the course. He stopped to walk. They grabbed his hands and told him he was a star. The trio warmed my heart.
I turned into the park – where I unknowingly ran past my training partner for the second time. Two miles to go.
I’m not going to lie, those last two miles were the hardest. They were hilly and I only wanted to walk. I knew if I stopped, I wouldn’t start again.
I paused for water one last time, and only started running because someone shouted words of encouragement. I didn’t know that person. I didn’t turn my head to see who yelled, but I will forever be grateful that he (or she) cheered for a complete stranger at the moment I needed it most.
I pushed to the end, running past a screaming Kyle near mile 26 and rounding the bend at Columbus Circle into Central Park.
I sprinted uphill to the finish, grinning ear to ear. I did it – and with a personal best time of 4:26:04.
More than 50,000 people ran the 26.2 mile course on Nov. 3 and I was smack dab in the middle as finisher 26,594. I couldn’t be more proud.
Have you ever run a big-city race or marathon? Were you the kind soul who cheered me on? (thank you!) What’s your l0ngest race distance? Tell me in the comments!
Congrats! What a huge accomplishment! I’ve never tackled a full, but crowd support has definitely gotten me through tough half courses!
Thank you, Amy! I am still on a marathon high 🙂 The crowd support in NYC was phenomenal! The bridges were the only spots not lined by cheering spectators. Just incredible! Crowd support is just the best.
I am SO proud of that picture of us at 4:30am. Because it is actually the most accurate representation of what that experience was. LOVE YOU!
haha, right? I love that one too! Thank you again for coming out to support me – you made my life work that weekend. I will be cheering from afar for you on Sunday! You’ve got this! LOVE YOU!
That picture really is the greatest. Good luck this weekend, Kyle! I’ll be cheering from Florida.
Thanks for sharing your experiences about the marathon! I’ve been waiting to run this for the past three years! Have not gotten in via the lottery 3 times in a row… So, hopefully they will stand by their word and I’ll be “in” for 2014! I’m excited!
You’re welcome 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Yes, if you have entered NYC’s race lottery the last three consecutive years, and were rejected all 3 years, you should be on NYRR’s guaranteed list for the 2014 marathon. This will be the last year they honor that process though. (and that’s how I got my guaranteed spot for 2013 – I was a three time lottery loser as well.) If its anything like last year, you will get an email in the spring telling you you have guaranteed entry and to register if you want to run. Good luck! It’s an amazing experience!
Even though you couldn’t hear me I was home in front of the TV cheering for you the whole way. Seeing all the runners waiting to start the race over the bridge was very emotional for me. So may people with hopes and dreams of running and finishing brought tears to my eyes. And then they were off. Group after group running up and over the bridge through my city, born and raised in the Bronx. What an amazing sight. This year was the best ever because you were there running. Thanks to your magical little chip I was able to follow your progress online as you ran your nice steady pace. Only about one mile through my Bronx, but finishing in central park. I have so many wonderful memories of that park and now you are one of them. First, last or smack in the middle you are a WINNER! <3 Meri's Mom and yours by love.
Thank you, Mom2! It was incredibly emotional as well. Police officers and firefighters were everywhere, which made me smile as well. One of my fave moments was my first view of the Manhattan skyline from the Varazzano. Thank you for your love and support. I felts your vibes those last few miles, when I most definitely needed it most. xoxo
Vic I am so proud of you!!! You prepared and trained for it, I knew you would be amazing. Congrats NYC Marathon Finisher!!!!
Thank you Heather! I loved the video you made for me and I kept repeating the Disney quote to myself when I felt low. THANK YOU!!
The only thing that I hate about this recap is that I wasn’t there physically to support you! We’ve been talking about this marathon for what seems like FOREVER and I’m so proud of you for finally being able to run in the city that never sleeps (I guess Kyle didn’t get that memo! heehee!) and for PRing! I was checking my phone constantly for the updates and was so happy to watch your progress. xoxo
Kyle likes to buck the trends. xoxo
YAY, VIC! Such a great accomplishment! So great, I didn’t mind reading about it twice! Love it!
haha! Thanks Megan. I tried to make this post different, I hope I succeeded for the most part 🙂 It was an incredible day!
So awesome!! Congrats! NYC is definitely a marathon I would like to run but it’s so close in timing to Chicago and well, Chicago is local for me. Not sure when it will happen but I’ll eventually get to NYC!
Thank you! I ran Chicago last year and LOVED it! The crowd support in Chicago is also phenomenal, so running in NYC is a similar experience, though I found the course (with hills and bridges) to be more challenging. This year – because of the events in Boston – the police support was unbelievable. I thanked so many officers for coming out. They literally lined the streets at times. Unreal.
Great recap. You’re amazing, and I had no doubt that you’d have a great race. I know how hard you trained for this race and I’m thrilled it paid off. I hadn’t really thought about trying to run NYC at some point just because of the cost and the difficulty of getting a spot, but everything I’ve read and heard about this year’s race from you and others has definitely put it on my wish list.
Thank you Ben! I thought of you and our half several times as I ran along! The NYC lottery is always a way to apply to get in. It’s a minimal cost to apply and if you get in, then there you go! If it moves up on your bucket list, there are ways in (but it may involve lots of fundraising!)
You are amazing! I loved tracking you- and I was so thrilled to be able to see you cross that finish line (on my computer). I’m with Mer- I wish I could have been there to cheer you on!!
Thanks Anya! I love that you tuned in to watch me finish 🙂 xoxox
seriously those hills right at the end really shocked me. I thought I had trained myself for hills at the finish, but I guess not cause you are right it was HARD. It was crazy to see so many people lining the streets everywhere!
Those hills at the end were rough. I also thought I was prepared for them, but alas, I was not. All I wanted to do was walk at that point. I slowed WAY down, but kept going thanks to the crowds. How was your run otherwise Amanda? Were you happy with it? Had you run NYC previously?
Go Victoria! It was great to meet you at brunch and cheer you on at the race. Loved your recap!
It was so great to meet YOU, Gabrielle! And thank for cheering me along. I REALLY needed to see the team around mile 22-23. You all really kept me motivated to keep pushing! Thank you! And I can’t wait for you to experience it all next year! xo
I’m still so happy that you PR’d in NYC. All the high fives from me!
Thanks B! (and me too!) I loved running with you last weekend as well and cannot wait to run with you again SOON! xoxo
Congratulations!! Judy and I are so very proud of you!!! When I ran the New york Marathon in 1980 & 1983 there were only around 17000 runners. I remember how terrific the cheering crowds were all along the route handing out oranges etc. one time troughout a rain and another on a clear day. At the start one time the man in front of me who was from Africa took of his work boots and ran bare footed. Yes, the New York Marathon is a never to forget race! Judy made a collage for my 50th birtday. I am emailing you a picture of the part re: the NYC marathons.
Thank you so much John!
I thought of you as I ran, and marveled at how many such races you have tackled over the years! I’d love to hear all about your NYC experience and see some pics 🙂 (I still have some of your old race shirts, but the way….) Looking forward to seeing you both soon.
Much love, Victoria
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