This is Part 2 of my New York City Marathon recap including our last Team Determination ACS run on Saturday morning, morning of race day experience, race experience and post-race recovery and celebration!
Saturday Morning Last Determination Run
On every Saturday morning, my Determination ACS team meets in Central Park to train. The Saturday before the NYC Marathon we met to discuss the race and run the last 1.5 miles of the course.
The day before the race is always very exciting and nerve-racking and it is fun to meet with your friends to talk race plan and about things that are making you nervous and excited. We all trained many hours together for this day and we were ready for it to be there!
I had the opportunity to coach this season with the wonderful coaches of ACS and had a blast. This was a great training season and all the participants worked hard in their training and in their fundraising!
The head coach Ramon gave last minute race tips and logistics of the race to all the participants.
I met the ACS Team Determination buses at 5:45 am on Sunday morning. I half expected to see Ramon running up and down Central Park South. But he was already in Staten Island at the charity tents waiting for us. Central Park South had dozens and dozens of buses lined up all for the different charities running the race. I was nervous when I first didn’t see anyone. I saw a familiar face in a participant Michael and breathed a sigh of relief. I was a little nervous, but I was ready for the race. I was ready for today. I was ready to celebrate. My chariot to Staten Island was about to take off. Somehow I managed to fall asleep on the bus to Staten Island.
I was lucky enough to be with all the ACS participants in the team tent! This was a way more calming pre-race experience then I had last time, where I aimlessly walking around awaiting the start of the race and waiting on porta potty lines. Maybe it was less time for me to wait because I was in the first wave (we arrived at about 7/7:15 or so and my wave had to be in the corrals by 8:40) or maybe it was being around everyone, but the time went quick and it was time to line up before I knew it!
All the participants are divided into different villages based on their start time. There were four start times this year instead of the usual three because of the additional people who were supposed to run last year, but never had the opportunity. The first wave (which I was in) started at 9:40 and I believe each wave left each 20 minutes after with the last being at 10:40.
The part I loved about being in the first wave this year was hearing the guns go off, the national anthem being sound by a children’s public school in Staten Island and all the pros starting (I had watched the beginning of the marathon coverage the next day)! The thing I did not like (but I guess you get this in every corral and in every race) was all the pee on the ground. Right before a race starts, men and women alike like to “empty their tank” and there are no portaporties around … guess what happens. I happened to be all the way to the right locked in by a row of buses. This apparently was the best spot to “empty your tank”. It was too late to move to the left so I looked up and to the left and prayed for the start of the race! This was also the place where everyone threw their throw away clothing as the time to start became closer. Mental note to start on the left of the start-line next year!
And we’re off…
I made the decision to stay to the right of my corral area. I knew I wasn’t as fast as the others in my corral, so was hoping to just go at my own pace and settle into a pace eventually. My watch said I was at about 8:45/9ish for the first 3 miles – I kept thinking wow maybe I am feeling better and can do the whole marathon at this pace. I was feeling decent and kept telling myself to hold back and spread my energy out throughout the race. I always have to remind myself that as awesome as I feel at the beginning is as horrible I will feel at the end. I didn’t feel incredible/invincible as I usually do during the first 10 miles of a marathon – I approached this race as an okay nothing really hurts, no injuries rearing their ugly head, go at a decent pace but hold back (especially in the beginning). Usually I am sucked in by the race spectators and how great I feel after a few miles that I fly through the beginning and can’t imagine feeling horrible.
I had different people who I knew would be at the race written on my pace bracelet, which was very helpful. So my plan was to keep the pace, watch the miles increase and look forward to seeing each person.
First up was my family at mile 8. I knew my boyfriend JP would be there, with my sister and her husband Pete, along with my father. I had to jump over lanes because I was in the orange corral and there was a divider in the middle with a different color corral. I though the colors merged after 6, but they were not merging. So when I was approaching 7, I crossed over.
I ran on the right side looking at each person along the way searching for familiar faces. I prefer to run on the left side because I keep on earphone from my ipod in my right ear. (I love listening to music when I run. I don’t have to and can run without it, but prefer it especially for a half or full marathon). I listen to music with the right ear and listen to the crowd with the left. I knew I would be doing this on 1st avenue so thought it was good to switch it up early on in the race.
Also what a difference jumping over lanes made. For the first 7 miles, I was in a quiet focused mentality with my right side to a divider. I think I really need this in retrospect to focus, get into a groove and be with myself and my music. I wanted to make sure I was feeling okay. When I jumped over and had the spectators on my right cheering my name – it was great and I was ready for it. I loved having that quiet time to myself in the beginning.
Then I approached my family. I hugged each of them and kept going. I was so excited to see them. First check point hit! I knew I just had to get there feeling good. The first half of the race is all in Brooklyn. Yes 13 miles of Brooklyn. My plan was to hold back in Brooklyn and focus on getting to the Queensborough bridge at mile 16.
It was super windy race day, and my eyes were watering throughout Brooklyn. Queensborough wasn’t that bad windwise because it is covered but the bridges after were pretty brutal! I was even cold at some points later in the race. I ran with a tank and shorts, which is pretty standard for me. Even in the winter, for races and runs, I am in a tank, and don’t get cold during a run. I always tie a long sleeve shirt around my waist in case I do get cold. So the fact that I was cold was surprising to me.
I had some friends I knew would be in Queens, but I didn’t get to see them. I was pretty much focused on getting to the Queensborough bridge feeling decent.
The Queensborough also is a pivotal part of the race. You have made it to mile 16. You know it has a slight hill in the beginning, is very quiet and you are with you own thoughts, but then goes downhill at the end when you are approaching Manhattan. You also hear the rumbling of cheers when you get toward the end of the bridge, which is very exciting.
I liked that the bridge had signs counting as you progressed. That always helps me know I moving forward and closer than I was before. I found it helpful to see signs count 1 – 5 with a timemat in the middle to click in your time.
I did it – I made it to 1st avenue. I knew there was an ACS group cheering there. I was searching on the left and right for them – I found them on the right side. I waved and kept moving!
Next goal was to get to 18-20 miles, where I had run up to during training. I knew it started hurting around then, but I knew what to expect. I ran on the left side of 1st avenue. I knew I had friends along the way and that I would see many familiar faces that I didn’t even know would be there! I loved seeing everyone – waved and kept it moving! I listened to my music on the right side and waved/listened and smiled at the crowd on my left.
One of the ACS coaches (the awesome Lesley) gave a great tip to the participants the day before the race. She said that no matter how much it hurts during the race, just SMILE. If you smile, the person you are looking at will smile back at you and you will feel better. OK I thought – but I always smile. I always forget this until I am in the actual moment, but sometimes you don’t want to smile! In the midst of your legs hurting and people cheering for you, you want to crawl under a rock where no one knows your name. However, when you are hurting, during the New York City marathon with your name on the shirt, the last thing you want to do is smile. I think I have had many nightmares like this. So smiling and waving at the crowd, when it started to/and continued to hurt was a big challenge for me.
I carried this with me throughout the race. My automatic response to pain would be to tell myself it is okay, breathe and smile. I had every reason in the word to smile. Life was great … I was running the NYC Marathon (which I had been training for since last summer) with all my friends, as a coach and part of the American Cancer Society team raising money to fund a cure for cancer, with everyone cheering for me and yelling my name, with my family running throughout the boroughs to see me, on a beautiful day where I had the physical ability to run – just SMILE I thought!
I saw some Physique 57 friends in the 90s and 1st and was so excited! I got a hug and kept going! I saw alot of random friends along the way on 1st that I yelled and waved when I saw – so awesome seeing everyone so excited to see me!
Then I saw my best friend Michele, NYC Running Mama http://www.nycrunningmama.com/, out of the corner of my eye with Michelle Roos! I gave them hugs, took a picture and kept going!
I hate stopping for portapotties during the race. I knew I had to at around mile 20ish. Darn water and Gatorade. I have a tendency to grasp my water bottle that I carry when I am nervous/focused/running. I train with having it so tend to consume alot of water.
I was looking for my boyfriend again in the upper 90s and before hitting the bridge out of Manhattan and into the Bronx. I couldn’t find a portapotty anywhere. JP ended up not being able to make it up there, but thinking that he was going to be there and looking for him helped so much! I made it over the bridge and was on bathroom alert. Plus I knew squatting hurt at about mile 20 – so that worried me a bit.
Then I was off again. There was the jumbo-tran where I finally saw the message me and JP recorded out of the corner of my eye as I passed by. I saw the rest of the ACS coaches right around then who cheered as I went by!!!
I was around mile 21ish and my goal was to get to 5th avenue! I knew it was straight down once I got there. I remembered from training that there were lots of turns in the Bronx. It broke up the straight forward running, but I hate turning at that point in the race. All I wanted to do was get to 5th. I was feeling okay but my legs were definitely feeling it.
I didn’t REALLY start hurting until 5th avenue. 5th avenue was not my best moment in the 2010 marathon. I was going to beat that feeling if it was the last thing I did. I ran on the right hoping it would be a bit quieter. I ran on the left in 2010. There were still plenty of cheers, but I concentrated on getting to the next water station. Before I knew it, I was at 110 and 5th avenue. 90th street is what I kept telling myself. I knew that the race turned in at 90th street at engineers gate … just get there.
This is when my legs really started to hurt and I had to switch into marathon “this is what you were waiting for” mode. I had to silence my mind and keep pushing forward. I told myself not to look at my watch at this point and just keep moving forward and that I would be at 90th street before I knew it.
I turned into 90th street (around mile 25) and in my mind I was home. I knew I would pass Cleopatra’s needle, run down Cat Hill and exit the park, get to Central Park South and turn back into the park and to the finish.
I just kept smiling and waving to everyone on my right. I got a second (or hundredth) wind running down Cat Hill. I knew JP would be at the park exit right near Central Park South. My goal was to get there. It hurt but I knew I only had a ways to go. THIS is what I was training for and what I knew it was going to feel like – no surprises there – “just keep going” I told myself.
Then I saw JP. I was feeling okay at this point. I wanted to stop but knew I had just a bit more to go. At this point I knew I was going to make it. I didn’t have any doubts beforehand, but I didn’t know how I was going to feel during it, or when I got there or how long it was going to take me. I knew no matter what the moment brought, I would push through. But I was relieved to be in that actual moment knowing the finishline wasn’t that far away and I was about to finish the NYC Marathon 2013!
I LOVE running on Central Park South for the marathon. The crowds are insane on both sides. You are running toward Central Park West where you re-enter the park and there is a jumbo-tran you can wave to and you are on the big screen. I remembered right about there, the small incline everyone always jokes about right before the finishline. “Just keep pushing up it and it will be over in no time”, I thought! There is Mile 26. Only .2 to go – yay! The rest is a blur! I hit the mat and sighed a breathe of relief while I tried to calm my breathing.
I received my medal and searched for the early exit area. This year if you had a bracelet and choose no baggage you were able to leave the park early. I was hoping that this would be 72nd. But this was blocked off. I felt like I was going to pass out. (I did last time too at this point.) Then they gave us a finisher bag with water, Gatorade and pretzels. Just eat – I knew I needed salt and that I would feel better. I force-fed the pretzels and just kept chugging water. It was so crowded too and everyone was at a different walking pace because they all just finished a marathon! Finally! They were letting us out at 76th street!
Once we exited 76th street, they sent us back down south along Central Park West. This was perfect as I was on my way home! Also as part of the no-baggage benefits, was an orange poncho. They had volunteers there wrapping you in them and adjusting them for you. They were fantastic. The ponchos were warm and comfy.
Onward and upwards to home I went…
I even took the stairs when I got home (up only to the 5th floor, but that’s how much I hate the elevators in my building which always get stuck… thank you Brodsky Org).
I got home, took some pictures and tracked my friends!
I was so happy to see that I ran a pretty consistent race. My watch was set to average pace so at some points I was in the 8s, 9s and 10s and some times I didn’t even have satellite. But when I looked up my time when I got home, my average miles were all between a 9:05 and 9:52! I’ll take it!
I showered, finished my pretzels and was ready to rock and roll! I was going to eat with JP and my sister and her husband Pete and then stop by my ACS Determination after-party! With my new purple Asiacs marathon jacket and orange Sparkly Soul headband, I was ready to celebrate!
We went to Island Burger on the UWS! Best place ever – you should definitely try if you have never been. I was so excited to see that every marathoner that showed their medal received a burger, beer and fries on the house! That was very nice and very exciting – plus I didn’t even need to think about what to have! Best burgers ever by the way. I usually have the grilled chicken and a baked potato – it is my favorite there!
We stopped by the ACS party then grabbed some frozen yogurt from the awesome Yogurtland on the UWS on the way home!
I slept HORRIBLE. For some reason after running that long, my legs don’t turn when my upper body turns over. I was sore, but oddly not as horrible as I felt after my 18 miles in Staten Island.
The next morning, I met my friend Melissa and we headed to the Marathon Monday Pavilion to pick up the New York Times (which had all the marathon finisher names in it if you finished under 4:45ish) and some finisher gear.
I picked up a long-sleeve t-shirt in a charcoal color that said finisher on it. I bought a men’s small, because the female ones were all cheapy material and I didn’t like them. I also picked up a hooded dark blue sweatshirt that had the marathon logo from that year with the city outline that said NYC Marathon 2013. And lastly I picked up an orange running hoodie with some hints of hot pink in it saying NYC Marathoner finisher.
I hung my new medal and unpeeled my Timex magnet with my new time. It was a NYC PR for me, as I had run my last NY in a 5:07! I love keeping these on my door at my apartment, as a reminder to be awesome!
The way I see it is last year (November 2012) I finished Philly in 3:50 when my previous Philly time was a 4:43 in November 2009 and this year I finished NYC (November 2013) in 4:18 when my previous NYC time was a 5:07 in November 2010. Anyway you look at it and whatever course it is, all that matters is that I am getting faster, better and stronger.
Time has never been my goal. I have only ever competed against myself and my past times. My goal has always been to stay fit, feel healthy and to enjoy myself. Goal accomplished in my book! I am looking forward to running for fun in the next few weeks and doing SHORTER races! Yes, I can’t wait for shorter races.
I have gone from sore (Monday), to stiff (Tuesday) to achy (Thursday).
I went back to my morning Physique classes yesterday (Wednesday). The amazing, fun-filled Chad Levy was teaching and I figured if it hurt that bad I could go home. Even though I couldn’t walk up and down stairs yet, I somehow survived his class. The stretching in between workout segments felt amazing! Then I went to spin last night at Equinox to flush out my legs.
I have pulled back for a few months now in preparation for NYC Marathon to ensure that I would finish. I have focused more on yin and stretching and recovering after long runs. So….. I am very excited to get back to my regular scheduled activities including running for fun, spinning, Physique and any other classes I want to try out! I am looking forward to getting back into yoga – I miss it! I am planning on adding it into my exercise routine on a more regular basis. I used to take a lot of yoga and loved Bikram. I can’t wait to take some Exhale, FlyWheel and Soul Cycle classes. There are also many other classes, teachers and studios I can’t wait to try!
Thursday is here and I am feeling almost 100% again. My calf muscles ache a little, as my normal leg feeling has come back! But now I don’t have to pull back and I can take classes according to how I feel that day again – which is awesome and the way I like it.
Tonight I am taking a Beyonce themed Physique 57 class and plan on writing a full recap! Stay tuned….