12-12-2016

2016 New York City Marathon Race Recap

It’s here – it’s finally here!!

Took my long enough but I really wanted to finish my recap video (which will be below) before I wrote this. It’s been over a month since my mom and I ran the New York City Marathon, but I still feel a runner’s high from that day.

You’ll be able to take the journey with us in the video, beginning with the Staten Island Ferry ride and ending at the finish line.  I have so many thoughts about this race – I don’t even know where to start. This post might get a little jumbled!

Here’s me 2011 recap and my 2013 recap.

Leading Up To Race Day

It was weird. I expected to be nervous but didn’t really feel anything. I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing. I’m always nervous before big races, but this time I felt pretty at ease. I think I was the most mentally and physically prepared I’ve ever been, so that helped. 

About 2 weeks before I did get a bout of nervousness, but in order to get past that, I read through my training logs from this cycle and those from 2013 and realized I was in pretty good shape. Also, my shin pain had gone away for the most part thanks to physical therapy and custom orthotics. I’ve never been able to train this consistently AND be pain free.

I went on a shakeout run the day before and felt great. I felt ready.

The Expo

We headed to the expo with my mom’s friend and my sister. My mom’s friend has never done a half marathon or marathon, so this experience was all new to her. She loved it and is thinking about doing her 9+1 next year to get into NYC Marathon…another one on the marathon team! :)

I love race expos and know I will want to walk around and explore, so we always try to go on the first day. We picked up our numbers and then it got real. My sister filmed this part for my NYC Marathon Expo vlog (below) and said, “Wow that even made me nervous!”

New York City Marathon Expo

New York City Marathon Expo

We walked around and I sat in on the course strategy session. Even though this was my third time running it, it helped to get a refresher on the course and what to expect. PS – totally forgot about that long climb at mile 23ish. That killed me.

Race Day

We were running the race with one of my mom’s friends. This was her first marathon so she was a bit nervous and didn’t know what to expect. I told her to just take it easy in the first few miles, but she could leave us at any point if she wanted to (we split up with her around the half way point).

We opted to take the Staten Island Ferry although I’m not sure I will do this again in the future. We also took the ferry in 2013. I don’t mind the process of getting to the city and on the ferry; the problem comes once you get off the ferry and have to wait to get on the busses. That part probably took 45-60 minutes itself and my feet were starting to get tired which made me nervous. Then you get on the bus and it takes you to the starting area, but there was a ton of traffic so that also ends up taking 30-40 minutes. I overheard a few people saying they missed their wave.

In 2013, NYRR placed us on the 7:45 ferry and ensured we’d make it on time for the 10:55 wave. Well, we barely did and legit were the LAST ones running to the start corral. So this year we got on the 7:30 ferry and although we made it on time, we were still a bit rushed.

The starting area is very well organized though with plenty of port-a-potties. We picked a spot to get our numbers on and do last minute things. We headed to the corral at 10:45 and there were also bathrooms in the corral which was good because I always need to pee RIGHT before I run :-)

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Ok let’s get into the race itself!

Miles 1-8

We started on the Verrazano Bridge which is the steepest and longest hill of the whole race, but as everyone always says, you barely feel it because you’re so amped up.

Mile 1 was slow, like around 12 min/mile pace, which was fine with me. By mile 3 we were in the 10:45-10:50 range that I wanted to be in.

Time out, I forgot to mention I forgot my freaking watch and my mom’s didn’t work because the memory was full. So we mainly ran by feel. I turned on RunKeeper for a mile just to see what our average pace was, and then turned it on later in the race when I split up with my mom. We also meant to join a pace group but forgot that as well on race day. Moral of the story, write a to-do list or something because you will be all over the place on race morning.

Anyway, so we were cruising along in Brooklyn and knew we’d see my family (dad, brother, sister) at their first stop at mile 6.5ish. I took my GenUCAN around mile 3, and that would last me for 2 hours.

The Brooklyn crowds are always awesome. Everyone is screaming your name (if you have your name on your shirt) and high-fiving…it’s easy to get lost in the noise and speed up but don’t! Maintain control here.

We saw my family at mile 6.5 and I always feel bad because we stop for like 5 seconds to say hi and then run off. But they have been to each of our NYC Marathon’s and are pros by now at navigating the course and cheering us on :)

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My dad, sister and brother around mile 6

We kept trucking along and my mom filmed at times with her GoPro (where a lot of footage from my video came from). In 2013 my family went to mile 14 next, but this time they made another stop in between at mile 8ish. Around mile 8 is also an awesome spectator scene. It’s full of crowds and music. 

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Selfie with my dad (and a stranger filming me lol)

I was feeling awesome but I could tell my mom was not herself. In previous races she was always talking to me, smiling, filming, running ahead of me to take pics, and this time she was just silently running next to me. I didn’t want to say anything and get in her head, so I tried to be motivating with things like, “Ok we got this, almost at half way. We are at a good, steady pace.”

I also said I would be the one to take more pics this time to let her just run her race, so I ran ahead and took some pics.

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Miles 9-16

Remember in my short recap of NYC Marathon how I said I felt the best I’ve ever felt? Around miles 9-10, my body felt like it could start speeding up, but I held back. I  was too afraid and wanted to conserve energy. I think if I had just done what my body felt like doing, I could have PR-ed. More on that later.

Around mile 10 I said to my mom, ok after the halfway point we will speed up a tiny bit. Again, once we hit 13.1, I was afraid, and decided I would wait until after Queensboro bridger (mile 15-16).

Why is mile 13 (and halfway marker) on a bridge?? This was around when my mom stopped to walk for a bit. She said her knee was hurting, and that she was hungry. She also was using GenUCAN, but I think she hadn’t fueled enough in the week prior. We walked for probably 30 seconds then kept going. I said, ok we will go easy until after the bridge, then it’s time to turn it on.

The Queensboro Bridge, for me, is the toughest part of the race. Mentally, I was preparing myself for this almost mile-long incline. I felt like everything after that would be a piece of cake…well as much as it can be in a marathon.

We got on the bridge, and I was still feeling good. Like I’ve said before, the best I’ve ever felt, and best I’ve felt at this point in the race. In 2013, this was about where I was getting close to hitting the wall. This year, I was running up this bridge not even feeling like I was working that hard.

However, this was where my mom and I slowly started to split. I had to stop and walk a few times to wait for her to catch up to me. Some of my friends have asked why we don’t just run our own races…yeah, we could, but I love running and experiencing the race with her, especially the finish. So I stopped to walk and wait, and tried to give her a pep talk.

We knew we would be seeing my family again just off the bridge, a little past mile 16.

In the video, you’ll hear me say to my sister, “I feel good, I gotta go!” and she looks into the camera and says, “she feels good…for now…” lol. 

Miles 17-20

At this point in the race, I was like wow less than 10 miles to go! When you’re regularly doing 8-10 mile weekday training runs PLUS your weekend long runs, having 8-9 miles left in the race feels totally doable. I was having fun…I’ve never felt like this! It was amazing. In my past 3 marathons before this, these miles were a struggle, mentally and physically. Now I was running as if I had just started a run and had to run 8-9 miles.

Around mile 18, the crowds start to thin a bit. And then your mind starts playing tricks on you. You start to feel the fatigue. You start to think “Uh oh I’m getting tired…” So I put in headphones and put on the marathon playlist I made.

At this point, my mom was slowing down. I stopped again a few times to walk while I wait for her. She kept saying just go (she said this around mile 15) and I insisted no.

At mile 20 she said just go without me it’s fine. I said, yeah but what about the finish?!? She said we’ll meet after the finish line, it’s fine. I asked her if she was sure and she said yes. So at mile 20 we split up, and I felt so guilty about it for the next few miles. I called my dad to let him know. I kept thinking what if something happens to her and I left her?? Thankfully, nothing did.

It’s funny because my friend who was tracking me said she saw a spike from mile 20-21 and was wondering if there as a glitch in the app lol. I went from an 11:30-12/mile because I was with my mom, to 9:50-10:00/mile. 

I saw my family again at mile 22 and my dad yelled, “Only 4 more miles!!” I was like yeah!!

Miles 21-25

I maintained that pace for miles 21-22…and then the dreaded incline at mile 23. It doesn’t look like much, but I swear this incline is NEVER ENDING. I tried to keep my pace but stopped to walk twice and catch my breath. My music was what was helping me push myself at that point. If you need motivation in a race, put Work B*tch by Britney Spears on your playlist ;)

I turned into Central Park and thought to myself, ok NOW I have to turn it on. And I tried, as much as you can, at mile 24 of a marathon lol.

There are some undulating hills, and I tried using the downhills to my advantage. I remember I kept thinking, “WHEN are we getting out of Central Park??!”

Around mile 25 you finally get out of the park and onto Central Park South. This was also where my playlist ended but I wanted to take in the finish line crowds anyway. You run on Central Park South and then turn at Columbus Circle before entering the park. I didn’t see my family at this point because I had split up with my mom and they waited at the last checkpoint for her. 

I tried to pass as many people as I could, or hold on to those who were passing me. I tried to stick to them as long as I could (not very long).

Then you start seeing signs like 800 meters to go…

I was like ok TWO laps on the track that is easy, let’s do it!

Finish Line – Mile 26.2

You turn back into the park and then you see mile marker 26. I couldn’t believe it! I had 0.2 left. I thought, that is less than a lap on a track. Pretend this is a track workout and run 1 lap as fast as you can.

Well, I could barely speed up but it’s the thought that counts :)

I saw the sign that said 200 meters to go and really tried to kick it in.

I raised my arms, and crossed that finish line.

And it was bittersweet…because I was alone and had no one to celebrate with. 

I teared up and couldn’t believe it. I just felt SO good and had the best race ever.

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My finish time won’t reflect that (it was 4:56), but my body felt great, my energy levels were stable throughout, I had no shin pain…like I said, I couldn’t believe it. This was the first time I’ve teared up crossing a finish line. It was an emotional moment.

I started shuffling and stretching while I waited for my mom. She came in about 15 minutes after me. We hugged and got our medals and then it was time to make our way out of the park (another half mile UGH) and to see our family at our meeting spot, which is always the West Side YMCA.

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At this point I could barely walk right (and we had to go down subway stairs…went down the stairs backwards lol), but other than that was feeling good. 

Ok, enough of my writing, do you want to see the course and race for yourself? Here’s my race video!

Overall Thoughts:

  • I really liked Jason Karp’s Running a Marathon For Dummies plan. I felt super prepared for this race mentally and physically.
  • I need to figure out how to pace myself and “race” a marathon. I felt like this was too “easy” (whatever that means after running 26.2) but I’m always scared to push the pace and end up bonking.
  • This is still my all-time favorite marathon. Chicago was cool too but I just don’t think anything will compare to NYC Marathon.
  • I’m still on a runner’s high like I said – I have never felt so good in a race. Now after writing this I’m super pumped up to train for NYC Half!
  • Thank you for all your comments, well-wishes, etc. and thank you to ALL spectators that come support runners at the NYC Marathon/any marathon/any race! You have no idea how much that helps, even if you’re a total stranger to me.

Well that was long! :) Until next time NYC Marathon…perhaps 2018?

Did you run the New York City Marathon this year/in the past? What are your favorite parts of the course?

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11-07-2013

Best Race Ever – 2013 ING New York City Marathon Recap

Ok, this may get long…so bear with me :)

The 2013 ING New York City Marathon was amazing. I don’t know how words can do it justice but I will try to describe my day!

First, I want to thank everyone who wished my mom and me well, commented or tweeted with advice and support, and to those who were at the race as spectators, especially my family and friends. We couldn’t have done it without your support, especially me since I was freaking out about my whole shin problem…

So where to begin…

We woke up at 6 am because luckily we didn’t have to get on a ferry until 8:30 am (though this actually would turn out to not be so lucky).  I was so nervous. I was nervous about not having run over 5 miles in the last 2 weeks, I was nervous about the wind…I was really scared it wouldn’t be my day. But having a bright, fun outfit did make me feel better ;)

marathon outfitWe got ready and drove into the city. We waited for the 8:30 Staten Island Ferry, though in hindsight, we should have just gotten on the 8:15 one that was there right when we walked in. I didn’t know they wouldn’t be checking your bib to see your boarding time.

Anyway, we got on the ferry around 8:40, and I attempted to eat my breakfast. I had a piece of toast and 1 egg before leaving the house, then had oatmeal with PB, honey and a banana/1 more egg on the ferry. I was so nervous it was honestly hard for me to get this down!

Once we got off, it was a long wait to get on the buses to the start village.  It took probably 30 minutes to get on a bus, at which point we had to stand because there were no seats. Now I was worried about my feet/shins from standing so long. The bus ride took an additional 30 minutes. This was probably the most annoying part of the day.

on the bus

on the bus

We finally got to the starting area at 10, and needed to be in our corrals by 10:40. We sat down in the starting area and started putting on socks, numbers, taking our jackets/sweats off etc. and the next thing I know it is 10:30!!! We had 10 minutes to get our bags to the UPS trucks and go to the bathroom, then run to our corral. Now I was really cursing myself for not signing up for the 8 am ferry…why did the man at the expo say we’d have plenty of time?!

The UPS truck literally started pulling away and saw my mom running after him so he took our bags. We ran to the porta-potty, then started running to our corral. We looked behind us and we were actually the last runners going in lol. Oops!

Whatever, once we got there it was fine. We relaxed and made the walk to the base of the Verrazano Bridge. We actually got there when they were singing the national anthem, and were quickly trying to set our watches, put phones away, make our fuel belts comfortable etc, last minute. Then the cannon went off! I had to pull to the side before crossing the starting mat because I was having issues with my Garmin…but after a few seconds we were finally off!!!

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Miles 1-2: Like they always say, you really don’t feel the incline of the Verrazano Bridge. It’s a mile uphill but you’re too busy feeling excited! Mile 2 is all downhill so you have to make sure to rein yourself in. Once you get to the other side, you start hearing the crowds and bands and know that your journey is about to begin.

Miles 3-6: Last time I ran, I wasn’t a big fan of the Brooklyn portion of the race, because it seems never ending (you run about 13 miles in Brooklyn), but this year I loved it! As soon as we got off the bridge, there was a marching band playing and people screaming your name. Mile 3-6 few by and we were averaging about a 10:30 pace. I got my first comment about the back of my shirt :) A girl came up to me and said, “We’re following the leader!”

Miles 7-10: Seriously, the crowd support in Brooklyn was phenomenal. It felt like everyone was screaming out “PATTY!! TINA!!” to us and we loved it. I high-fived people, waved and fist pumped…it was great. Our pace had dropped to 10:35 but I was okay with it. I wanted to say in the easy zone until after mile 15. We met up with my family and Dan around mile 7.5. Dan surprised me with a sign that said, “Run Like This Wind.” :) We took a quick pic and then continued on our way.

Waiting for us to arrive

Waiting for us to arrive

Miles 11-13: There was a good thing and bad thing about being around mile 10. The good thing was, we ran this portion of the course twice in practice (mile 10-finish), so we were finally in familiar territory on Bedford Ave. The bad thing was it was pretty narrow and we were so crowded at one point I was forced to stop and walk to try to get around runners! I know there were 50K runners this year but this was not fun. I was glad once we got closer to the Pulaski Bridge because it opened up. The Pulaski Bridge is at mile 13, and I remember this being challenging in 2011, but this year we cruised right on over it. I was so happy to be in Queens!

Miles 14-15: I don’t remember much of running through Queens because I was mentally preparing myself for the Queensboro Bridge. Around mile 14.5, we saw my family and Dan again, yay! Though this threw me off here…my dad was supposed to hand off some GUs to me, but I forgot! So I waved, kept running, then remembered and sprinted back to grab them. Thankfully my mom remembered, but I think this is where my pace got all wacky, because once we got onto the bridge, my breathing and rhythm were off. The bridge wasn’t bad at all, and once again I was happy we had practiced it in training. We were still feeling strong!

Miles 16-20: People talk about the crowds on First Ave. but I definitely prefer Brooklyn. The road here is really wide so it doesn’t feel as if you’re running through a tunnel of people like on Fourth Ave. But don’t get me wrong, there are still a ton of people. We were feeling good though our pace had dropped to around 10:45 after the bridge. Around mile 18 I told my mom we could probably pick it up a bit. I was just looking at the street signs, counting them down (or up?) until we could get to 126th and cross into the Bronx. I got another comment here about the back of my shirt -this woman came up to me and said, we are following you because you’re such a nice girl! Then wished me luck…put a smile on my face.

Mile 20-22: We crossed into the Bronx and finally got to mile 20! I vividly remembered in 2011 how much I was struggling here. It felt so good to be feeling strong and going steady. I asked my mom how she felt, and she was fine too, so we tried to speed up a tiny bit, and even though it felt like we did, according to splits, we actually stayed the same haha. After mile 22 we saw my family and Dan again! I told my mom I couldn’t stop for a pic or anything because if I did it would be too hard to start again. We just waved and gave them a thumbs up.

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Mile 23: Uh oh…the pain has set in. Here, my hip flexors started feeling really weak. It was such a weird feeling. It was weak, or tight, I don’t know but I felt like if I ran faster, my legs would give out. I slowed down to what felt like a crawl, but according to the splits, it was only a 10:59 pace at this point. I felt guilty for holding my mom back yet again, because she was totally fine, just like in 2011, but she stuck with me.

I think this is where the hill on 5th Ave starts? It’s almost a mile uphill, and in practice I remember thinking, OMG this hill will be killer on race day! Actually, I was so thankful for the hill. I wanted a hill at this point because I figured it would take pressure off my hip flexors and allow me to use different muscles. It kinda did…

Mile 24: We’re in Central Park! This is the one and only place we stopped the whole race! I stopped to stretch my hips for 30 seconds then we continued…albeit slow. I started to play a game where I’d speed up from light pole to light pole and slow down in between. Right before miles 25, I pulled over to stretch real quick again and spectators started chanting PATTY! PATTY! PATTY! Once I got up to run, they cheered so loud and a woman put some grapes in my hand. I smiled and went on my way. PS-why is it taking so long to get to mile 25 at this point?!

Mile 25: Ok, the last mile. I CAN DO THIS. I told my mom, Let’s go, and we sped up. I kept repeating to myself, “Ignore the pain. Pain is temporary. You want to finish by 4:50.” I knew 4:45 was out of reach but I really wanted 4:50. I looked at my Garmin and it said we were going around 10:45/mile (as opposed to the almost 11:30 I was doing at mile 24).

We ran up Central Park South which seemed neverending, but I knew my family and Dan were waiting at Columbus Circle to see us one last time. We were actually passing a bunch of people here which felt great! In 2011, I was walking this part, I was dead. This time I still had all the energy in the world and was waving to people who were screaming my name. We saw my family and I gave them the thumbs up and a big smile, and kept running.

nyc marathon mile 25

Mile 26 (!!!!!!): We saw the sign and it felt surreal. My mom was like we finally made it! I said ok let’s pretend this is a track workout and speed it up! We went as fast as we could (after 26 miles), and were all smiles. Someone yelled, only 400 yards to go, you got this!!! We threw our hands up in the air and crossed the finish line: 4:50:49. A 33 minute PR!!!

nyc marathon finishWe hugged and were so happy. I was cherishing this moment, because the last time I crossed this finish line, I immediately ran to a bush and threw up, and then ended up in the medical tent. Seriously, this race was a far cry from 2011…look at this picture that says it all…

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Now, I honestly felt like we had just done a long training run. My energy levels never waned. Our fueling was spot on…and I’m glad I discovered S!Caps which helped regulate my electrolytes and salt…especially since my face was covered in dry salt at the end!

We picked up our medals and heat sheets, and started walking to the UPS trucks. I had to sit on the curb for a little to stretch because my legs got so stiff, I couldn’t bend my right knee. I also stopped and sat in the truck for a bit, though it was hard to get back up…

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We got out on West 88th, and my family was on West 63rd, so there was NO WAY I was walking that far. We hopped on the subway (well, slowly walked down the stairs with a bunch of other runners lol) and finally met up with them around 2 hours after finishing. This part of the race sucks too but it is what is is. I’ve read people say that they will never run NYC again because of the long march after the finish but come on people, there are 50K runners, NYRR does what they can!

We finally met up with my family, Dan and my best friend Nicole :)

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I couldn’t walk Sunday night (actually almost cried trying to go up the stairs, not gonna lie), or Monday…but I am finally back to normal now! My dad said, “Hey you did this to yourself,” and I would do it all over again!

Here are our splits, in case you’re curious. I’d say we stayed pretty steady the whole race until around mile 23-24 when my hips got all weird. I’m really proud of our pacing!

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My Garmin was pretty spot on too…so glad I invested in one finally:

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Although our A goal was 4:30, we are so happy with our performance. I knew going in that 4:30 may not be feasible due to the time off I had to take because of my shin. Our B goal was 4:45, and our C goal was anything under 5…so we’re pretty happy!

It was truly an amazing day. We had a perfect race…PRed, and the spectators made us feel so special. I have been thinking about the whole day since Sunday, and replaying it in my head. I can’t believe it is over! I definitely have the post-marathon blues, but I’m already thinking about what spring races to do :) I wish I could complete 9+1 for 2014 NYCM, but it’s too late. Oh well, we’ll be coming back in 2015, New York!

Did you run NYCM? Is it on your bucket list? What’s the best race that you have ever had?

Read my 2011 NYC Marathon Recap here.

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