Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The "Good", The "Bad", & The "Why Am I Doing This?!" {TCS NYC Marathon Race Recap}

I have a ton of emotions surrounding the NYC marathon so it's hard to figure out where to start. I guess starting at the beginning is as good an option as any, but before I do that let me just say that (regardless of what I felt during and in the immediate aftermath of the race) I'm proud to be able to display this badge...
I was well rested for the event thanks to Daylight Savings Time and the fact that I didn't have to leave for the race until 7am. I took my time to get ready, met my friend Will (who was also running), and walked to the Staten Island Ferry Station well before my 7:45am ferry departure time. The race staff encouraged everyone to take the first available ferry so Will and I (along with half of New York) shuffled our way on board...

Once on board I spent my time trying not to focus on the fact that I have motion sickness and unwisely boarded the ferry without my anti-motion sickness bands (not my finest moment), and taking pictures of the Statue of Liberty...

Once we reached Staten Island, we bought breakfast at Au Bon Pain and then made our way to the shuttle bus that took us to the race start...

On the shuttle bus I nibbled on my breakfast sandwich. The concept of smoked salmon and egg whites on a skinny wheat bagel sounded reasonably good when I ordered it, but wasn't actually very tasty. The coffee was worse. But by the time we got to the Runners Village it was after 9am and with only two hours to go before my corral started I figured it was time to stop eating. 

Once we cleared security we walked toward the "welcome gates"...

And then went to our "Color Start Villages". Just in case you need the breakdown: The TCS NYC Marathon had over 51,000 runners this year..
In order to coordinate an event of this magnitude the runners are divided into 4 Waves. Each Wave has 3 Color Start Zones. Each Color Start Zone is broken down into Corrals. Your Wave assignment determines what time you start, and your color zone and corral assignment are based on your pace and projected finish time...

I was in Wave 4; Green start; Corral C...

And I kept my eye on my "secret" goal time...
(I quickly lost sight of that goal time but I'm going to tell you all about it soon)

The actual start line for the "Green" runners was on the lower level so we had the pleasure of seeing the Verrazano bridge looming on our right as we approached...

But before that became too overwhelming it was time to start the one mile journey up the bridge and away from the first borough...

The first mile is up the bridge and mile two takes you down the bridge. Then finally there was this...

Once I entered Brooklyn my picture taking frenzy took a nose dive. I started focusing on my intervals and trying to pick up my pace. But... that didn't quite happen as I hoped it would...
(how I looked and felt for most of the race)

Around mile 6 my knees started to bother me and I had a slight roll of my ankle on a discarded shirt (not enough that I needed to stop, but enough to feel it). Then I saw this sign and for the first time in several miles I was able to smile...

I started having pretty bad knee pain around mile 9 but by the halfway point I really wanted to stop...

I found the energy to make it to (just after) mile 17 where I met up with Kai and Kenesha. I was barely hobbling along [the video may not play if you are viewing this from a mobile device]...
video

I completely hit the wall between mile 18 and 19, so by mile 20 I felt like the wall had fallen on me...

The rest of the race was a bit of a blur. I wasn't able to see Kai or Kenesha again so I tried to stay focused on just getting through the rest of the race. My Garmin died at mile 23 (fantastic) so my intervals became more of a run until you can't: walk until you regain sensation in your legs process. At one point I was texting Kenesha and giving her an update on where I was and this guy running past me said "You know it would probably hurt less if you just ran faster". I wanted to punch him. I don't advocate violence but in that moment, in the depths of pain, hunger, and despair, the mere suggestion to run faster ignited thoughts of bodily harm and a few choice words. He happened to actually be following his own advice so he was able to sprint past me unscathed. 

Once we entered Central Park I knew the end was near so I actually did find the energy to "run faster". It was more of a hobble and it wasn't very fast but it got me to the finish line...

I opted for the post-race poncho so after I got my medal I embarked upon the long journey to get out of the park...

I spent my walk calling Sanya (twin sister) crying; calling my mom so she wouldn't worry; calling Kai to ensure she was fine; and responding to messages from family and friends. 

I was a complete emotional mess. I was relieved it was over; disappointed with my time; upset that I hadn't trained enough for the hills; hungry because I hadn't had anything to eat all day (except for the few bites of my breakfast sandwich and a piece of bread earlier that morning); in pain everywhere; and just... sad. 

I love running. I love half marathons and I loved my first marathon experience. But in that moment, as I was walking by myself through the crowd of blue ponchos, I felt incredibly sad. It was the worst, loneliest feeling ever. I swore I would never run New York again. And I even contemplated never running again period. 

Thankfully most of the lactic acid build-up has subsided and I'm no longer having those crazy post-maarthon thoughts. "Never run again"? Seriously? Who was I kidding? I have a marathon in January!

I don't plan on running New York again though. This was one of the World Marathon Majors and a definite Bucket List race for me. Now that it's done I'm checking it off the list. I have other Bucket List marathons that I want to do and I figure if I don't take up a lottery entry spot then that give someone else the opportunity to torture themselves run it (you're welcome). 

Seriously though, if you train for the bridges and hills the route can be enjoyable. But if you don't, it may not be as fun as you hoped.

But while the race itself wasn't great for me, there were some really amazing things about the entire marathon experience, and it wouldn't be a good race recap if I didn't talk about them a bit:
1. The race is extremely well organized. It was probably the most organized race I have ever participated in. The volunteers are amazing, friendly and helpful. There was more than enough water and fuel along the route. And the staff genuinely seemed interested in helping you. 

2. The Race Expo and Marathon Pavilion had a nice variety of activities. If you can, I suggest that you visit both areas on the same day and take advantage of the shuttle that will take you from the Expo to the Pavilion. And if you do that on the same night of the Opening Ceremony you can stay for that as well!

3. The post-race poncho was perfect for keeping me warm after the run. It's also a really nice quality so you can definitely use it again if you select that option.

4. And the medal is beautifully designed...

Now that New York is over, it's time to look forward to what's coming up next on the Bucket List...

4 comments:

  1. You are amazing. Congratulations and thanks for sharing your journey!

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  2. Congratulations!!! I admire you so so much for doing this!!!! This is the ONE marathon in my bucket list but even then I don't know if I'll ever get to do it. Even though it didn't turn out quite like you hoped, you still have the experience under your belt and now you will always have done the NYC marathon!! And you still learned stuff from it too which makes it a valuable experience (I know it's easier said than done lol... I need to take my own advice haha).

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Jenny!!!! If NYC is on the Bucket List you definitely need to go for it. I would recommend hill work (at least to some degree) with every training run (especially the long runs). As the days go by I'm less disappointed about the race and more motivated to ensure that I'm never underprepared for a race again!

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