Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New York City Marathon 2013

I have not updated this blog in months (OK, nearly a year) and this entry has nothing to do with Riley or Rett Syndrome or really anyone other than me but I wanted to write it down, and the next marathon I run WILL be for Riley and the fight against Rett Syndrome!

This past Sunday, November 3rd, I ran the NYC Marathon.  What an amazing experience!

A goal – sub-4:30
B goal – to PR (previous PR 5:04:39)
C goal – to finish

NYC was my second marathon, my first one was Chicago in 2010.  Training went well this time, I followed Hal Higdon’s Intermediate I plan and got all my training runs in.  I felt ready.  My only issue was my feet.  They were tired and sore during my runs and as my training progressed my feet got tired sooner into my runs. After my 8 mile run a week before the marathon the bottom of my left foot hurt on and off, even when walking.  I was worried it would be an issue during the marathon so I took it easy that week and hoped for the best.

Mitch and I arrived in NYC Friday evening, after our flight was delayed a few hours.  Par for the course when flying, I guess.  Our taxi driver took us over the Queensboro bridge which I'd be running over in a couple days and from the car it didn't look so bad, although I figured I'd feel differently after running 15 miles first.

Friday night we met friends out at an Italian restaurant called La Masseria (delicious!) and then headed to the Broadway show Rock of Ages.  Loved it!!  Afterwards we headed back to our hotel to check out the Minus 5 Ice Bar - an entire bar made of ice!  Even the cups we drank from were ice.  They gave you a parka and gloves to help with the cold.  It was pretty cool, although I don't think I'd ever want to work there!  I was thinking it might be a good place to go to ice up my sore muscles after the race.

Saturday was expo day!

After that, walking around NYC a little, grabbing a slice of pizza (it's New York, how could we not?) and then dinner out in Little Italy with friends.

Race day morning I got up and went to Starbucks for a coffee and bagel, which I ate with almond butter I had brought.  Got ready,
took the (very crowded) subway to the ferry, took the ferry to Staten Island.  All went pretty smooth despite the massive amount of people and I was just thankful I got seats on both the subway and the ferry.  I wasn't really nervous all this time, just excited!  The line for the buses to the start looked pretty long so I waited in a long line for the bathroom first since I didn’t know if I’d be able to wait until I got to the start.  It was freezing and windy!!  In line I heard 2 women talking and one said that your mind will try tell your body to stop well before your body is ready to stop so just remember not to listen to it.  This little piece of advice would come in handy after mile 20 during the race.

I finally made it to the bus, thankfully got a seat and just enjoyed how warm the bus was.   The ride took a little longer than I expected but I told myself not to stress, it wasn't worth wasting energy over.  I was starting to feel a little hungry so I ate half a Clif bar I had brought with me.  I made it to the start village at 10:15 but unfortunately my wave closed at 10:10, 5 minutes earlier than I thought it would, so I had to start in Wave 4.  I was bummed at first but decided it wasn’t a big deal and just went with it.  Several other people missed Wave 3 too, so I wasn’t alone!

My original plan was to stay near the 4:30 pacer but since I had to start in Wave 4 and was near the 5:00 pacer instead, I stood in front of him and made it my goal to never see the guy again.   I had also wanted to take a gel right before the start but I didn’t have water with me, only Gatorade, so I drank a few gulps of that instead.  It was sunny and not windy waiting for the start so I ditched my leggings and 4 extra shirts and was down to my t-shirt and skirt.  I carried my iPhone and headphones with me but ended up not listening to my music at all.  The bands and the crowds were plenty to listen to the entire way!

10:55am and we were off!  My pacing goal was to go slow the first 2 miles over the Verrazano bridge, nothing faster than 10:30 miles.  I thought I would have no trouble since I was starting with a slower group but lots of people ran by me.  I was surprised and questioned if I was pacing right, but just ran my own race and tried not to worry about anyone else.  My Garmin was all messed up on the bridge so I didn’t know what pace I was running.  At times it said I was running an 18-something mile (um, I think I was running?) and other times it said I was running a 4-something mile (yeah, I don’t think so).  It was SO windy on the bridge I couldn’t get a feel for how fast or slow I was running and it was SO cold I just wanted it to be over.  Garmin said I ran the first mile in 12:13 and 2nd mile in 9:07 but I’m not sure that’s accurate.  In any case I averaged about 10 minute miles the first 5K which was a little faster than I meant to go.

After the Verrazano bridge I just tried to enjoy the relatively flat miles and the crowds, holding onto just over a 10 minute per mile pace.  I looked for my friend’s sister, who was supposed to be at mile 5 or 6 holding a sign with my name on it, though I never did see her.  I carried my Gatorade the first 12 miles and took sips from it every mile except for the miles I took gels.  I took gels at miles 5, 10, 14.5, 18.5 and 22.5 and drank Gatorade at every water stop in between and it seemed to work well.  I ran through most of the water stops during the first half but then I spilled Gatorade all over myself and got some up my nose, and then choked on another so I decided I could start walking while I drank.  The walking was really brief though.

I crossed the first half in 2:12:51 and was bummed at how tired my feet already were.  I thought if I could hang onto my pace I could still finish around 4:30.  My knees were kind of hurting and I thought what the heck?  My knees haven't bothered me throughout my whole training, why are they hurting now?  My foot felt fine though so I was happy about that.  I was starting to pass more and more people, and when we came up on the Queensboro bridge at mile 15 I felt really strong going up and passed a lot of people.  I didn’t look at my pace and just tried to maintain an easy effort.  After the bridge I made one stop at a porta potty since there was no line, and then I set off down 1st Ave looking for Mitch.  The crowds were phenomenal!  I finally saw him at mile 17 and it was SO good to see someone I knew!  I stopped and gave him a hug and a kiss and then kept on going.

The run down 1st Ave got to be long and I was getting tired, but I kept telling myself that this was a warmup for the marathon that starts at mile 20.  I could feel a knot in my calf and I briefly stopped to massage it and just prayed it didn’t seize up on me.  My feet were screaming.  According to Garmin I started slowing down around mile 19 to about a 10:30 pace.  I pretended I was going to see Mitch again a couple miles up to try to give myself something to look forward to.  Having 7 miles left to go seemed way too long.  I started playing the mind game where I’d look at my watch and think “if I walked the rest of the way what would be my time”.   People were walking everywhere and I was weaving my way around them to get by.  Water stops were especially congested.  I tried to tell myself I was having fun even though I was in pain.

Look at me!  I'm having fun!

Miles 20, 21, 22 were 10:36, 10:35, 10:33.  I grabbed a cup of Gatorade around mile 23, walking while I drank it, and my knee protested when I started running again so I told myself no more walking.  Just a 5K left, I could finish it.  I thought of how fortunate I was that I could run at all.  I thought of 9/11, I thought of Sandy Hook, I thought of Boston.  I thought of my kids and I knew they were tracking me and I wanted them to see me running even though my feet hurt and my lower legs felt like they were going numb.  I told myself this is what I’ve been working towards the last 2 years.  I may never run the NYC Marathon again, I wanted to enjoy it.  Miles 23, 24, 25 were 10:14, 10:21, 10:25.  Central park was beautiful, people were cheering everywhere and they were cheering for me!   My name was Jessica, my name was Tina, my name was Dave, my name was whatever they were shouting.  Leaves were falling down all around me and it was gorgeous.  

 Half a mile to go I see the 4:30 pacer.  I had no idea when he crossed the start line so our start times probably didn’t match up and I wasn’t going to break 4:30 even if I stayed with him but I made it my mission to catch him and pass him.  I started running as fast as I could, I felt like I was sprinting.  Mile 26 was 9:50.  I’m nudging and elbowing my way through all the walkers and slower runners and there’s 400 yards to go.  I pass the 4:30 pacer.  We’re going uphill but I feel good and I’m smiling, 300 yards, then 200, then 100 and then it’s over!  My last half mile I ran at 9:27 pace, though it felt like I was running much faster.

My finish time was 4:32:04.  A personal record by over 30 minutes a strong finish, I could not ask for much more.  Afterwards I was moving around OK, though slowly and a bit stiff.  Thanks to no humidity and Lululemon I have no chafing and only one small blister on my toe where I always get blisters.  My quads aren’t sore at all and I can walk downstairs pretty normally which is a big change from Chicago where I could only walk downstairs backwards.

As a side note, from looking at my race pictures I apparently run like I’m giving everyone the “thumbs up”.

After the race I met Mitch and his friend, had a celebratory beer and then went on my very first rickshaw ride where I was quite sure we were going to die.  Our "driver" was crazy!  Mitch and his friend were loving it, but I was going to be pissed if I ran the NYCM only to die in a rickshaw accident an hour later.  Sorry for the blurry picture, hard to take a good selfie when you're being pedaled around!

Monday morning Mitch wanted to go out to breakfast which happened to be in the same building where they were doing free medal engraving so I definitely took advantage of that!

I'm feeling a little lost since it's over now.  The last couple of years running the NYCM has been my goal and I'm not sure where to go from here.  I guess we will just learn how to get through the Minnesota winter and then set our sights on another race to run for Rett Syndrome!