I am back from NYC and an exciting marathon weekend. Typically, I do not post about running on this blog, but I hope you’ll allow me a brief departure from my norm and indulge me with this marathon scrapbook. Also, please excuse the sub-par photos. Using my phone, I snapped most of them hurriedly moving at a brisk NYC pace. (One NYC step equals three regular steps.) Distortion was also a problem. Rest assured, all of the buildings in NYC are not falling inward.
Friday, I flew into JFK early. My friend T. met me at the airport. After we dumped my bags at the hotel, we headed right out for some sightseeing. The last time I had been in Manhattan was over twenty-five years ago. I was anxious to see it with fresh eyes.
My first observation was that Manhattan is so much cleaner than it used to be. I mentioned that to T., and he said it was an ongoing effort. Times Square was light, bright, and energetic as expected.
That day, we walked over 15,000 steps without even trying too hard. We shopped, ate fish tacos at a tiny little restaurant barely large enough to turn around in, and took in the sites.
Empire State Building
T. and I made a race day plan for Sunday, and we parted ways that evening, after carbo-loading at a nice restaurant near Brooklyn.
On Saturday, my friends Holly and Ed arrived. Ed was running the race, and Holly flew in to hang out with me and cheer for us. (Andy stayed home to hold down the fort at BHH.)
Holly, Ed, and I met for lunch and walked to the expo to pick up our race packets. The expo was when it all started to feel very real. (I have no idea why I am holding this Gatorade bottle like an awkward spokesperson. I never know what to do with my hands during photos.)
Something I only shared with my mother and my running group, is that for the first time, I was heading to the starting line with an injury. Running a marathon with an injury is not smart, but my IT band flared about three weeks before race day, and there was no way I was dropping out. All of the walking was exacerbating the problem, and my only goal at the expo was to get a leg massage.
Sadly, there were no humans giving massages, but I did find this crazy vibrating massage thing that looked like a cordless power drill or industrial stapler. It felt wonderful, but the price tag was $550! The nice people at the booth let me stand around and use it for about twenty minutes, which is approximately $25 worth of time.
After the expo, Holly and I made our way back to our hotel.
The Theatre for Hamilton
A Cute Coffee Shop
Later that night, we met back up with Ed and his wife to enjoy a pre-race dinner. (In my mind, I always jokingly refer to this as my last meal.)
Me, Ed, & Holly
Before bed, I laid out my race day supplies with my gloves artfully arranged in jazz hands.
Marathon day dawned early. Ed and I met at 5:00 am to meet the bus at the midtown library. (I took this photo on Friday. It was dark on race day morning.)
We rode the bus to the start line, and by 6:15, we were drinking coffee and settling in at the start village.
If I were writing this race report on my running blog, I would go very in-depth about the race. However, today, I’ll go easy. I could yammer on about running all day.
Miles 1-9: The first mile took us across the Verrazano Bridge, and it felt amazing. I immediately got tears in my eyes because I am a sappy, emotional runner. During these first few miles, I realized that the buildings were wreaking havoc on my GPS signals, and I had no idea whether or not I was going too fast or too slow. The word I kept repeating to myself was restraint.
During mile eight, my left leg started hurting from my IT problem. I had a weird plan to deal with a flare-up. In my head, I said, Thank you for the message left leg, but it’s not time. You can hurt at the end. I know that this technique is nutty, but it worked. The marathon is such a head game, and by staying positive, I could do my best. If I let the pain consume me early on, there is no way I would have made it comfortably.
At mile nine, I saw T. (from Friday) cheering for me, and I grabbed his arm like a crazy person. Seeing him was a great boost. I expected to see him at mile 18 also.
Miles 10-15: I have no idea where I was during these miles. The route was point-to-point, but I only memorized the starting line, Brooklyn (where T. was waiting), and Manhattan. We’ll call this part the middle bits.
My leg was still sending me messages, and my pace looked as if it was bouncing all over due to GPS problems. I decided to dial in on perceived effort vs. pace. It was at this point that I realized that NYC is full of rolling hills and false flats (slight inclines over a long distance.)
Miles 15-22: During these miles, I noticed that it had been drizzling rain for a long time. I was soaked, and my shoes were pretty waterlogged. I looked all over for T. at mile 18, but I did not see him. (It turns out that he was running late and missed me.)
My pace was slowing, but I was in a good head space. My injury, crowded water stops, and congested turns contributed to my slowdown, but a steady diet of hills was also a factor. I decided to run strong on the uphills and charge faster on the downhills. I was about four minutes off my aggressive goal (3:52) by this point.
Miles 22-26.2: The neighborhood in Harlem looked like the set from Sesame Street. Then suddenly, we were back in Manhattan. Good lord, mile 23 was a trudge! Who made 1st avenue uphill anyway? I’d like to talk to that person. (Hush! I know it’s downhill in the opposite direction.) Only one of my earbuds was working.
My left leg was talking, and my right big toe was angry. Positive mantras and paying attention to the supportive, smiling crowd helped me stay in the right frame of mine. I felt like a rock star. Approximately every five minutes, I got tears in my eyes. I am never sad during a marathon. I am just grateful that I can run and happy that I’m healthy and strong.
This was my 12th marathon, and almost every time during this point, I contemplate retirement. Just past mile 24, I was doing that when I saw Holly and Ed’s wife on a straightaway, and Holly took this photo.
That happens a lot.
If you look closely, you’ll see that I’m soaking wet and the KT tape on my leg is flapping around instead of adhering to my leg. I was having a blast.
The last two miles were a blur of cheering crowds and drizzle through the bright fall colors of Central Park. Again, I teared up when I saw the finish line. With a giant smile on my face, I crossed the mat with a time of 3:58:32, off goal but very satisfied.
What a day! Recovery is going well, but I will be backing off running for a few weeks to rehab my leg and let my poor sore right toe heal.
Monday morning, I arrived home and got right to work on the breakfast nook for the One Room Challenge. I’ll have a fresh update for you tomorrow.
Thank you for the supportive words on social media and the behind-the-scenes cheerleading. It was a weekend to remember, and you were part of it.
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