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!
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.
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!”
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.
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
Ok let’s get into the race itself!
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
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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!
- 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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