Another 18 weeks of marathon training complete! During this time, I ran a 5K P.R. (19:34, 6:19min/mi), a 5 miler P.R. (33:55, 6:47min/mi), a 10K debut (42:19, 6:50min/mi), a 10miler P.R. (1:09:13, 6:56min/mi), a ½ marathon P.R. (1:30:08, 6:53min/mi), and a marathon P.R. (3:16:02, 7:29min/mi). As I was completing my eighth marathon, which was by far one of my most anticipated marathons, thee New York City Marathon, I did a lot of reflection of the accomplishments that brought me to the start line on Staten Island. Some people express themselves through art, music, dance, etc. It wasn’t until I was gliding through the streets of NYC that I realized that running is the expression of who I am. How the heck can running for hours and hours possibly be a mode of personal expression??? ? Well, here’s my best attempt to explain this realization I came to in my 8th 26.2 adventure: I am insanely goal driven, hyperactive, a challenge-lover, personable, energetic, analytical, driven to perfection, a teacher, a learner, extremely hardworking, flighty, intellectual, anxious, loving, shy, hopeful, focused, determined, type A, sporty, and girlie. Some of these traits may seem a bit contradictory, but somehow, one way or the other, running has helped fuse all of these different features that make me who I am. And, I can honestly say, I’ve never been happier! Running, like nothing else, helps me be the best me I can be. :-)
After my 26.2 victory in Columbus three weeks prior to NYC, I felt energized and relaxed. No matter what the outcome in NYC, I was earning a medal that I’ve been yearning for for 2 years. I was officially knocking off the final big marathon off of my Running Bucket List, and I could not wait for the experience! I just wanted to run a comfortable pace and enjoy the scenery of one of the greatest cities in the world!
When I get to NYC on Friday, I was in complete awe. I haven’t been their since I was 10 years old, and my memory totally cheapened the splendor of NYC! There’s no city I’ve been to that expresses the beauty of diversity and culture like NYC. I LOVE it there!! I spent Friday and Saturday doing a bit of wandering around, but nothing excessive. My biggest mistake in big city marathons is attempting to see everything AND run a successful marathon. Some people can do this with no problem. Not me. I was happy to have had the opportunity to hang out with my cousins and enjoy some awesome NYC cuisine!
|Picking up my bib at the Expo!|
|My tour guide, AKA, my cousin Ashley!|
Sunday morning, my cousins volunteered at the Staten Island Ferry loading dock and were out at 3am. I awoke at 4:15am with a text alerting me that the subway, which was supposed to be a quick 10 minute ride to the ferry, was an HOUR. Immediately, a crazy chip was activated in my brain and I became frantic. I was rushing around trying to throw everything in my suitcase so I could check out, pack my carry on bag for the race, and get all of my race gear on. I was like a mad woman…not the way I like to start race day! Then, my lovely training buddy and good friend Jen and her hubby Sam met me at my hotel to head to the subway. As soon as they arrived, I realized I could not find my Garmin clip that had my Road ID information on it. Again, I was frantic. A super nice gentleman offered us his cab to the ferry which calmed my nerves quite a bit. Once we got to the ferry, I found my Garmin clip and calmed WAY down. Jen and Sam were such patient, calming forces…I’m so grateful!!
We hung out at the ferry station for a bit, said goodbye to Sam, and then Jen and I floated over to Staten Island. We had plenty of time to enjoy the food we packed in a warm, relaxed setting before heading on the buses to Runner’s Village. Plus, we made some international friends intrigued by my O.C.D.! I always pack my pre-race food with me (yes, I carried orange juice, jelly, a loaf of bread, and bananas with me hahaaa). I guess I didn’t realize how weird it was until those guys pointed it out. Unfortunately, one of the guys turned out to be a SERIOUS creeper and managed to find me around mile 8 in a sea of 48,000 people. WEIRDUH!
|Czech Republic friend/stalker|
Time literally flew by after we left the ferry station. We hopped on the buses to Runner’s Village and as soon as we got there, we were checking our bags and heading to our corral! Jen and I were both in Wave 1, and a really nice volunteer let me drop back a few corrals so I could start with Jen! We, along with about 15,000 of our closest friends, moved up to the start line at the apex of the Verranzo bridge leading to Brooklyn. Mayor Bloomberg said a few words, Frank Sinatra’s “ New York, New York!” was played, and the National Anthem was beautifully sang! Jen and I waited in anticipation and in complete awe of the truly amazing journey we were about to embark on. I felt so blessed to be there at that very moment, with people from all over the world, to run in the streets of one of the greatest cities in the world!
The gun went off, and we scooted towards the start line. I’ve NEVER run a marathon more jam-packed with people. We literally walked across the start, and did a light shuffle across the Verranzo bridge. I really had no goal time in mind coming off my 3:16:02 at the Columbus Marathon a few weeks prior, so I wasn’t sweating the slow initial mile that I had absolutely NO control over. We ran the first mile in 8:50, which I didn’t want hanging over my head for the next 25 miles. So, Jen and I ran quick 2 and 3rd mile to make up for the time lost on the bridge. We were running through Brooklyn, which was LINED with spectators like nothing I’ve ever seen! The amount of crowd support was AMAAAAAAZING!
I did a lot of reflection as I was running. I thought about how far I’ve come, how much I truly love this sport, and how much running has changed my life. I can’t imagine where I’d be today without it. It really has helped synthesize all of the crazy traits that make me who I am, and has made me the best me I can be! I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to have had all of these amazing experiences!!!!
We ran through Brooklyn until mile 13. Jen and I were feeling great, and I was just loving the company! I always take on my 26.2 adventures solo, and so it meant a lot to be able to share this experience with her. We trained together and have become pretty good friends through the process. The journey of the marathon is hard to put into words, so it’s great to be able to share it with someone that knows exactly what it is!
As we crossed the bridge from Brooklyn to Queens, we knew it was about to get tough. The bridges are a steep, steady incline with NO crowd support. You have to really dig down deep into yourself get through them. As we circled through Queens, Jen and I were awaiting the most notorious part of the entire course: the Queensboro Bridge. We were approaching mile 15, and hopped onto the bridge. We were running on the bottom of the bridge, with wind burning our faces, and nothing but the pouncing of runner’s feet, accompanied by heavy breathing, to get us through it. It was truly painful. But oddly enough, somewhere in this pain was beauty. And, not really a masochistic kind of beauty. Something different. In no other marathon, or experience in my life for that matter, have I ever really felt the power of the human spirit. All of us runners, from all over the world, trained for this very moment and with the end goal in mind of conquering one of the most phenomenal marathons in the world. The spirit was tangible. At one point, I glanced to my right and saw an old man putting out everything he had. I stared at him to get his attention, and gave him a HUGE smile to help motivate him to keep going. He said something to me in Italian, I think haha, and he smiled right back at me. He lifted his head, and kept pushing! It was an awesome feeling. Maybe if I had a time goal I would have had a different mindset with the challenge of this bridge, but since I was out there to enjoy the experience…that’s exactly what I was doing! As soon as we came to the end of the bridge, I had chills down my spine and was just OVERCOME with joy! We were coming into mile 16, and the countdown was ON! We rolled onto 1st Avenue in Manhatton, and the crowds were ROARING! I felt like a just earned the gold medal at the Olympics!! I was cheering and jumping up and down. The exhilaration at this point, as was the challenge of the bridge leading into it, was like nothing I've ever experienced. TRULY AMAZING! Jen and I made a pact at that point to finish together. We had come so far and wanted to make it count!! I was so thrilled to be able to share this entire experience with her.
We ran through Manhatton and circled around the Bronx. The Bronx was EXACTLY how I expected it. HUGE hair, lots of VIBE, and Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” BLASTING! I LOOOOOOOOVED this part!!! We were at mile 20, and just had 6.2 miles to get us home to Central Park. We circled down into Harlem, and rounded into Central Park. These last few miles were rolling hills, and Jen and I kept pushing each other to stay strong. We were good to break 3:30, and we just needed to maintain a sub-8:00min/pace to make it happen. I knew we had this! The HUGEEEEE crowds were just a blur at this point, and I was in admiration of the beautiful scenery. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, NYC is truly BEAUTIFUL for so many reasons!!! As we rounded mile 23, I could see Jen hurting and she told me she had to go to the bathroom and wanted to stop at a port-a-potty. I yelled ‘NOOOOOOOOO!’and she said, “KIDDDDDDDDING!’ hahaaaaaa Thank God!! Then, mile 24 came around and we just had two miles to go. People were lightly shuffling through the park, and Jen and I kept our stamina and pushed through. Then, eventually, mile 26 should up. Just .2 miles to go!! There were signs in increments of a 100 meters and the finish line was in sight!!! We pushed, and pushed, and crossed the finish line TOGETHER!!! 3:27:23, 7:55min/mi! By far one of my most moving, and amazing 26.2 experiences yet!!
So, what did I learn from this 26.2 experience? (1) Life is filled with endless possibilities. I began my running career as a little college freshman jogging through streets of JCU. Had you told me that someday I’d be running the NYC marathon, I would have never believed you! God has given us the ability to have passion, and the potential to seek out whatever passion we may have. If you listen to your inner spirit and believe in yourself, you have the ability to do some truly amazing things. (2) Life is short. Don’t wait for it to come to you. Go out and get it!!! (3) Share your experiences!! Blogging has been one of the most liberating experiences. I’m so glad I’ve been able to inspire others, while simultaneously reflecting on how I can become a better runner…and person while I’m at it! Plus, this is the first time throughout my years of training that I’ve run with someone else. Running with Jen throughout my training and the NYC Marathon was so much fun and so motivating. Her drive for success and perfection has definitely rubbed off on me, and helped keep me focused through my 18 weeks of training. Thank you, Jen, for everything!!!! (4) Enjoy life! You don’t have to race every marathon…and you don’t have to feel bad about it when you don’t! I’m WAY proud of my 3:16 at Cbus, and WAY proud of my 3:27 at NYC. Both were different experiences with different goals and AMAZING because I ENJOYED the experiences! (5) As my experiences prove time and time again, DON'T STOP BELIEVING!!! If you believe in yourself, the world is yours!!! Never give up on your dreams! :-D
So, is this the end of my blog? For now, yes…L As with all things, it’s good to take a break. I am in recovery mode right now, and won’t start training again until the end of December for Boston. Maybe I will blog again…maybe I won’t…we shall see...
Life is filled with endless possibilities!!! J