I woke up at 4:30am nervous because I wasn't sure if my phone had actually registered the time change (I knew it did, but I was still nervous). I laid around for about 45 min and then got up for my pre run shower. Diane and Alex stayed asleep until about 6:15 am, which was perfect because I really needed to be with my own thoughts. This was a big thing I was about to do and I had no idea how the day would play out. I just wanted to think and find peace and quiet.
Alex got up and drove me to the subway (only 5 blocks, but it was dark and he didn't want me walking alone) at 6:30 and I headed down to the platform, fully ready to see other runners......but I didn't! Still nervous that I had my times messed up! Then another runner showed up and another one, so I felt more at ease. We all stood around in silence, mentally preparing for the day. The R train pulled up and we were greeted by many more runners on their way to the South Ferry station.
When we got off the train, there were mobs of runners, all headed up the stairs, up the escalator, and into the ferry terminal. I then stood shoulder to shoulder with hundreds or more runners waiting for a ferry to pull in and take us to Staten Island. I was able to get on the 3rd ferry to pull in and was on my way to Staten Island by 7:50am.
I could just feel the excitement building!! I met a woman named Regan, who was born and raised in NYC and had run the marathon 11 years ago. We met in the terminal and stayed together until we headed into our separate start villages. I also met a man from S. Carolina who had run 10 years ago and a woman from N. Carolina who was a first timer like me! I took pictures as we went by the Statue of Liberty and I was reveling in the fact that it was the most beautiful day I have ever experienced!! Not a cloud in the sky, perfect sun, and 40 degrees. I couldn't ask for a better day to run!
We arrived in Staten Island and waited to get on a shuttle bus to Fort Wadsworth and our start village. When we got off the buses, we passes numerous cops making sure only runners entered the start area and were asked many times to show our race bib. Regan and I parted and I headed to the Orange start village to drop my bag and get some coffee and a bagel and just relax before my start time. I made it in time to hear the canon for Wave 1 and watch them start over the bridge....how freaking cool!!! I stood in awe when I first arrived, just looking at the Verrazano Narrows bridge and thinking about running over it....amazing.
After quite a bit of a wait, they called Wave 3 to the corral staging area. As we were walking, the Wave 2 cannons went signaled the 10:10 start. We lined up, waiting to be let into our corral and I met a few more people who would be starting the race with me at 10:40. We were in corral 53 in the Orange group. At this point, I was just getting more and more excited and started thinking that I could actually do this!
We entered our corral, walked to the start, met some more people, and then the cannon sounded our 10:40 start!! Frank Sinatra's New York, New York was blaring over the loudspeaker and everyone started singing. So awesome!! We were off and running!
As we crossed the bridge, I couldn't help but feel like I was having an out of body experience. I felt suspended in time and space and totally free as I ran along. Reality set in just before the 2 mile mark when I realized I was running at a pace 2 min faster than my planned and practiced marathon pace! Yikes!!! I just felt so good!! I checked back into reality as I came off the bridge and headed for 4th ave in Brooklyn. I slowed my pace for fear that I wouldn't be able to finish if I kept it up!
Brooklyn was amazing! The crowds and cheers were amazingly helpful! I had my name where I was from on my shirt, so people were calling me by name and yelling encouragement. Loved it!! Totally kept me going!! I saw my family at 7.5 miles and gave them my baselayer. I had already shed one layer b/c I was starting to feel overheated already. After some quick hugs and kisses, I continued on to complete my journey. It's funny, I remember the whole day, but the memories are fragmented and fade in and out. I think I really spent a lot of time in my own head and while I was taking in all that was around me, I wasn't fully present for that part of the day. Strange....
Anyway, Brooklyn pretty much rocked and the people were incredible! I saw the Bishop Loughlin HS band performing the Rocky theme, the hasidic jews going about their day (pretty much the quietest part of the day), and all the people of Brooklyn lining the streets for 13 miles to cheer, support, and help us on our journey. Lots of high 5's and lots of cheers!
The bridge to Queens was not too bad, sharp incline but otherwise not a bad trip over the bridge. Amazing view of Manhattan as we crossed the halfway point of the marathon! Clearly I wasn't in a competetive section because we all were stopping to take pictures! We were in Queens for a short 2 miles and then up and over the Queensboro Bridge. Seriously, this was by far the most difficult part of the run.
Queensboro Bridge was a 1 mile gradual uphill between 15-16 miles and was insanely tough! Everyone around me, including myself, dropped to a speedwalk. I started feeling a calf cramp and pulled off to the side to stretch and try to head it off. I knew if I didn't deal with it, there was no way I would finish. I did have 1 fleeting moment on the bridge where I felt I was done and over it......pretty sure I could have just stopped at that exact moment, but, I pushed that through out of my head and reminded myself what was waiting on 1st ave in Manhattan!
1st ave was incredible...although I was insanely jealous of all the people cheering with beers in hand! :) It was a tough go at this point for me, gradual uphill AGAIN!!! Ugh, I swear, NYC is the town of gradual uphills! One foot in front of the other all the way up 1st ave. Headed for the Willis Ave Bridge, I speed walked the sharp incline onto the bridge and ran again once I crested the top. Trotted right into the Bronx to loud cheering crouds and a jumbo screen where we could see ourselves running. Through the Bronx for a hot second and some seriously soulful cheering, then up and over the Madison Ave Bridge back into Manhattan for the final stretch of our journey. At this point, every step is further than I've ever run....WOW! I think that though re-energized me! Insane.....
On our way down the bridge into Manhattan, a large crowd was waiting, cheering, and blasting Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z. It was the perfect way to start the last leg of the trip. I ended up with a group of people that were just having fun running.....and one asked "is it possible for your hair to hurt right now?" Which we all answer a resounding YES! So we continue......Just keep running, just keep running....don't remember much of this part, except that the miles seemed to start ticking off a bit faster and I was still in disbelief that I had actually made it 22+ miles. I saw my family at this point, they surprised me with big hugs and big cheers! Just what I needed to finish this thing!
The last 4 miles were kind of a blur.....of gradual uphills!!!!!! Seriously!?!? I mean, I knew it was coming, I had read all the books, studied the course, I knew right where it was.....but still, it was tough. I'm pretty sure I started focusing on what I was going to eat b/c my stomach started growling and how yummy that beer was going to taste!
I remember lots of cheering as I came down 5th ave, but that's about it. Lots of people calling my name, which helped, but I don't remember smiling too much b/c it took too much energy! My thumbs up even became half hearted b/c lifting my arms was becoming challenging. As I entered Central Park, we were greeted with more crowds and encouraging onlookers, again, helpful because we were all pretty beat at this point. We had been running for well over 5 hours!
We exited Central Park, wrapped around the street for a minute and then re-entered for our final trek to the finish line. At this point the sun was just about down, and I swore I would hit that finish line before it was completely gone! As we re-entered the park this last time, we were greeted by a large screen that showed us running and a fantastic band. As we turned the corner, we could see the 26 mile sign and knew that just feet beyond that was the finish.....although, you couldn't actually see the finish until you were on top of it!
When I finally saw the finish and realized I would be making it in barely under 6hrs, I pushed my legs to the finish to make sure I made it! I can't even describe the feelings that were whipping through me as I approached the finish line. Pure elation, relief, disbelief, shock, joy......and on and on......
It was an absolutely incredible moment. I crossed the finish line in daized disbelief, and was becond by the woman holding the medal to come over and get my bling. My eyes started welling up with tears as she said "congratulations!! You did it!!" YES I DID!! I stopped to take my finish picture with my medal and then headed over to get wrapped in the heat sheet. I was then handed a bag with food/water/recovery drink and then started walking to get my bag with a change of clothes. Once I retrieved my stuff, I stepped to the side to try and slip my clothes on and warm up.....and just stop moving for a minute.
Official Finish Time ~ 5:59:02
All I wanted to do was stop moving at this point! I called my husband to let him know I'd crossed and figure out where to meet. It was after dark, so I didn't want to have to go far by myself. I then sat on a stone wall at the corner of 77th and Central Park West and dug into my bag of goodies to begin my recovery and reflect on the day. What an amazing day!!
I met up with my husband and friend Diane and began the quest to find food and beer! What a day, what a day......as I ate and drank and talked with my family, I just couldn't stop thinking.....I actually finished a marathon today! AND....I would do it again! :)
What could be next.........