Another year, another NYC Marathon in the books. Race day came and went like the holidays seem to every year (can’t believe it’s about that time of year either). This year’s race was as good as last year’s, if not better. Despite the rain, I had nothing short of a blast running though the five boroughs. Here’s how it all went down that day…
3:30am-Wake the Heck up
With the gift of daylight saving time, an extra hour of sleep was granted to us runners. I was in bed shortly before 9pm Saturday evening (I was shooting for 8, but scrambled to change my race day outfit at the last minute. I do NOT recommend this, although the weather forecast kept changing). When my 3:30am alarm had gone off, I woke up feeling pretty good. This year, instead of opting for the bag check bag, I chose the post race poncho. As a result, I could not check a bag, so anything I decided to bring to the start village would be discarded before corral line up, if I was not running with it. With rain being in the forecast, and no change of clothes for me at the finish line, I was being extremely careful about what I wore. I ended up wearing my light orange Fila jacket with orange tank underneath, accompanied by black and orange shorts (decided to go for the orange theme). After a last minute gear check, I was out the door by 5:15am.
I arrived at Giants Stadium around 5:30am, where buses were already transporting runners to Staten Island. After I got on the bus, it was quiet until the turnpike. I got to ride with a good group of people, who talked about everything from previous race experiences (NYC Marathon, Ironmans, etc.) to what to expect during the NYC Marathon. As we approached Fort Wadsworth, some pointed out the Verrazano on the horizon. The sun was just beginning to come up, but it was cloudy and looked as though rain was coming soon. After arriving and getting off the bus, the excitement began.
7:00am-Fort Wadsworth/Start Village
As I made my way to the green village, a few volunteers took my picture (I also stopped to take pictures as well.) When I found my village, I walked over to the Dunkin Donuts truck, grabbed a cinnamon raisin bagel and coffee, then searched for a place to sit. After locating a spot, I took out my spare TCS NYC Marathon heat blanket (they gave them out at the Fred Lebow half earlier this year, so I had two) and lay it on the grass. There, I sat for an hour or so, eating my bagel, drinking my coffee and stretching. When they called for corral one to line up, I got up and decided to walk around a bit. I pet a few of the therapy dogs they had for the runners, and used the porta potties. Right before wave one set off over the bridge, I caught the ABC broadcast on the big screen in the start village. My wish was to have met the great Meb Keflezighi this year sometime around the race and although that didn’t happen, I was proud to be able to share the course with him, even though it was for a short while. I saw him up on the big screen, getting ready to start. The women had already gone off. My money was on either Mary Keitany, or Shalane Flanagan winning for the elite women. After watching wave one begin, I sat down for a little while once again. I had discarded my heat blanket at that point so I had nothing left to sit on, except for concrete curb. Before I knew it, they were calling for my wave to line up.
For the last time, I used the porta potty, then headed over to my corral. I got rid of my sweater and threw it into the Goodwill bins they provided for us. It had warmed up a little, and I knew once I started running, I was going to be warm anyhow. Once in my corral, they began letting us over to the foot of the bridge. This year, I got to experience the Verrazano’s lower level. After the Nation Anthem, the announcer gave the all clear, then ON YOUR MARK, BOOM! Overhead, Frank Sinatra sang “New York, New York” and it was go time.
11:00am-The Race Begins
Running over the bridge, there was no view of the Manhattan Skyline. It was cloudy and rainy, so you couldn’t really see anything. After getting off the bridge and arriving in Brooklyn, the rain became slightly more steady, and I realized the lower level runners didn’t meet up with the upper level until a certain point in Brooklyn. I had to keep wiping off my glasses because of the rain, and throughout the race, it became very frustrating. Otherwise, the rain kept me cool in the humidity. The first ten miles seemed to go by so quickly, and that was where I noticed my first mistake; I had not used a porta potty since I started the race. Dehydration had already beganto set in.
At mile ten, I did finally stop, but a headache creeped in. I thought if I replenished as much as I could between water and Gatorade, it would go away, but it didn’t. It got worse, and I grew increasingly frustrated. Oh, and I was still cleaning the rain off of my glasses. I kept checking my phone from time to time to see where the elite were, and somewhere between miles ten and sixteen, I saw that Shalane Flanagan had finished first. I remember saying out loud, “Oh my God, Shalane won!” so other runners who didn’t know, could hear me. Shortly after, reality set back in and when I got to the Queensboro Bridge, the headache had become unbearable. For most of the bridge, I walked (as did most of the runners here at this point.) I just wanted to be over the bridge already, I was miserable. When I arrived in Manhattan, I felt nausea, and that’s when I decided to make a pit stop at the medical tent for a Tylenol at mile seventeen. I popped that, thanked the volunteers, and was back out on the course. A half hour later, I caught my second wind, and suddenly felt terrific (thanks, Tylenol?)
Mile twenty was awesome. I felt like I had just started the race, with my headache and leg pain now nonexistent. I ran the later miles better than some of the earlier miles, and wondered where the heck these superpowers came from (I still think it was the Tylenol.) Nevertheless, I took advantage of it and enjoyed the race once again. The toughest miles, 23-25, felt pretty good to me. I smiled a lot, and realized that once again I was going to finish a marathon. I was just thinking how lucky I was to be here, to have the opportunity to run this again this year, and I was kind of upset it was almost over. After arriving in Central Park, I picked up the running again, until I decided to stop at the bathroom for the last time. After that, I ran again, and exited the park. At this point, I had reached the homestretch. Right before entering the park for the final time, a man stood before the park entrance in the middle of runners handing out hi-fives. It wasn’t until I got closer that I realized it was the race director, Peter Ciaccia! I smiled, shook his hand as he patted me on the back, and I thanked him. Now, it was time to bring it home.
I was so elated to be at the finish line. Although this was my second New York City Marathon, there is just something so magical about this finish line. The emotions I felt are hard to explain, it’s more or less one of those things you have to really experience for yourself. This year, I heard the announcer say my name as I crossed the finish line, and that made me feel like a superstar. After officially crossing the last timing mat and finishing, a volunteer congratulated me and placed the medal over my head. Another gave me a recovery bag that included a protein shake, apple, pretzels, and a Gatorade. Now, where do I get the post race poncho? I didn’t realize how far of a walk it was until twenty minutes later, I found the poncho people, and a volunteer placed it around me. Wow! I didn’t realize these things were fleece lined! I told the lady I was so glad I chose the post race poncho option this year, it was so worth it. After exiting the park, I painfully walked down the subway steps to the platform. One of the workers in the subway saw me, and asked me what place I came in the marathon to have received a bronze medal. I smiled and said, “Oh, we all got one of these.” She laughed, then congratulated me. After catching the subway to Port Authority, I took the bus home.
Another year, another NYC Marathon done. I just love this race so much. From the training, to race week, and race day, it’s a tough journey, but well worth it. As far as my time, I could have done better, yes. But as Fred Lebow once said, “In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, “I have finished.” There is a lot of satisfaction in that.”