Running the New York City Marathon is truly an amazing experience that is hard to put into words. The love and support of the crowd along the race course is like nothing I ever expected and really carried me through the entire 26.2 miles.
A year ago I decided I wanted to run the NY Marathon and to be honest I never thought I would have the desire again in my life. I ran 3 in my twenties (2 NYC and 1 LA) without much thought, and I always seemed to struggle through them. But as I started running again last year I felt strong, empowered and young – all great reasons to motivate me to continue. 🙂 I had a great 20+ week training cycle and I felt more prepared and excited than ever.
You know how there are weeks, days even hours where everything goes perfectly?! It’s like the sun, the moon and the stars are all aligned in your favor. That is exactly how my NYC Marathon weekend went. Everything from the little things like no traffic getting into the airport, no lines at security, our checked bags were the first ones off the airplane to a super quiet hotel room on the 32nd floor, spontaneously meeting up with an old running friend for coffee I hadn’t seen in 20+ years and being able to sleep the night before the race!! And then to awaken on race day to sunny skies and temps going up to mid-50’s – yeah things were lining up perfectly!
I opted for the bus option from NY Public Library over to Staten Island. The lines were long but the NY Road Runners knows how to move over 50,000 runners and within 15 minutes I was on a bus! Once in Staten Island, you head over to your assigned runner’s village and there are bagels, water, bananas, Dunkin Donuts coffee and most importantly tons and tons of porta potties! 🙂
Finally at 10:30 I shed my “throw away” clothes into the Goodwill bins and went into my corral for my 11 am start. There are 4 starting waves and 3 different groups – it is all overwhelming but as long as you just worry about your own wave and corral it all takes care of itself. The national anthem played as we began our walk to the starting line and then the infamous New York, New York song was blaring!
The first two miles are across the Verrazano Bridge, it’s uphill not that you really notice and it is one of the only two places in the race that there is quiet and just runners. And then we came off the bridge into Brooklyn and it was game on with the crowds. Signs welcoming us to Brooklyn, people cheering, and music blaring – bands, a gospel choir, DJ’s. Strangers were handing out orange slices, tissues and were constantly cheering my name. I am so thankful I wrote my name on my shirt because that was the motivation that carried me through to the end.
I saw my husband and son between mile 8 and 9 which was such a treat. The people of Brooklyn and Queens were simply amazing. And then I hit the Queensboro Bridge at mile 15 I was heading into Manhattan! But I had to get through this 1.5 miles of bridge incline I felt was endless and the incredible silence of runners just trying to get to the other side of the bridge. This is where I began to see a lot of runners walking but I kept on going – my goal was to not walk so shuffle I did up that endless bridge because I knew there was a whole lot of goodness on the other side.
There is a wall of sound as you come down the ramp of the Queensboro bridge and turn onto 1st. ave. People were standing 3-4 deep along the race course and the noise is deafening. I saw family and friends at mile 16 and mile 18 which completely energized me and the icing on the cake was seeing my high school senior prom date who I hadn’t seen in years and was totally unexpected!! First Avenue is so special and just what I needed to know I could keep going even though I was having some pain on the side of my right knee.The wall can come anytime after mile 19 and for me historically I have always mentally broken down and the self-doubt has arisen. This time was so different! This time I powered through, I kept positive thoughts and as others around me were beginning to walk I kept on going!!
Mile 23 is an uphill climb up 5th ave that ends with a turn into Central Park. I could feel myself getting stronger, I sped up slightly knowing family and friends were going to be at mile 24 and heck if I picked up the pace a little I would be at the finish line in less than 25 minutes. No stopping for hugs or high fives I had a finish line to get to!
It feels like those last two miles are the longest of the race but as I turned onto Central Park South the crowds were off the charts. My face hurt from smiling so much and I felt like I was flying – how could running at mile 25 feel so good?!!! I turned back into Central Park and could hear the finish line announcer and I took off. The last .1 mile of the course is lined with grandstand seating and tons of cheering and there is nothing better than hearing your name being said as you cross the finish line of the New York City Marathon!
The flood of emotions didn’t really surprise me. All day I felt like I was on the verge of tears or my face hurt from smiling with so much love and support. It’s a slow silent walk from the finish line to the park exit. I had my medal, my mylar blanket and bag of food as we slowly made our way to get the coveted “parkas”. It was late in the afternoon and the temps had dropped – that parka felt warm and cozy as I made my way to family and friends. It was simply a perfect, perfect day!
The marathon itself and the training leading up to is challenging and at times feels impossible but then I got to experience a city that embraces all the competitors – the elites, the common folk and those with disabilities or other struggles – they cheer for everyone, they stay out on the course for hours, it is a party full of love and life. #IloveNY
A special thanks to everyone out there that supported me. I felt so loved with the texts and social media shoutouts! There will be more marathons. I am hooked. 🙂