Just before we took off for Orlando, the Captain came on the PA system and asked how many ran the NYC Marathon and a loud cheer erupted. It turns out he himself had ran the race in 2007.
A couple of days ago, Facebook reminded me of what I posted last year after watching the 2017 NYC Marathon. It turned out to be providential. On Nov 4, we ran the 2018 NYC Marathon.
“It Will Move You!” This is one of the bylines for the TCS New York City Marathon. And boy it did! It moved me enough to run my personal best. It moved me because the energy from the crowd that lined up from mile 3 to 26.2 was extraordinary. It moved me because the thousands of volunteers who manned the water and fuel stations, the medics in tents and on bikes, and those who handed out medals and placed our ponchos over us were supported and cheered us on with a smile. It moved me there were over 50000 runners from all over the world who came to run their first or 100th marathon. Whatever the case may be, everyone came to run their best. These moved me!
It took us three years of putting in our names for the lottery to run this race. On our third try this past February, the streak broke but I was the only one picked. Ralph ran through a charity, Water for People, so we can run the race together.
Preparing for the marathon started back in July when our 20 week training started. Fast forward to marathon morning, and we were ready to go.
6 am. Our wave didn’t start till 11 am. This was a relief because we are used to early morning start. We could at least sleep a bit longer. However, with the time change and with Howard having to wake up early to prepare to catch the ferry at 6:30 for a 9:50 am start, we were all up by 6 am. The night before we laid out all of our running gear. This was not our first marathon but our first New York Marathon. This was my 7th marathon but first majors. Thus, Ralph and I have our routine. Ralph packed all of his fuel (Jelly Belly Beans and Honey Stinger) in his U-Shake running belt. I ran in my Stellar SwingStyle Sparkle Skirts. I used the waist zippered pocket for my iphone and a charging cord. I planned to record videos as I ran and was not sure my phone battery life will make it for a few hours. I purchased a cheapo portable Poweradd Slim 2 battery charger and placed it in here as well. I stuffed the short pockets with 2 packets of Salted Caramel Gu Nutrient Energy Gel, 2 pkgs Honey Stinger Waffles and 1 Black Cherry Flavored Cliff Blok. In a Ziplock bag, I placed two tablets of Nuun Hydration and 2 Tylenol tablets. I was asleep by 8 pm!
After a quick shower, we methodically put on our running gear, laced our shoes, pinned our bibs, and took our mandatory pre-race photos and videos. I also taped my knees and hamstring as a precaution. We decided against taking the subway for fear that we will not make it in time to the 8:45 ferry to Staten Island. Quick check on our ETA on a Lyft and we had 5 minutes to run 4 flights of stairs to make it. Got into a car driven by a gentleman from Mauritania. We had a very interesting and uplifting chat for 20 minutes as we drove to Whitehall Station. As we got off the car, Ralph and I said, “today will be a good day”. And it was!
We quickly beelined to the ferry as we heard someone yell that the ferry was in. It was about 8:20 and we had an 8:45 schedule to take it. From a Facebook help group, I found out that we didn’t have to wait for our scheduled ferry so we ran and boarded as quickly as we can. Soon we were on our way, accompanied by an armed tugboat on our way to the Start Line on Staten Island. The ferry was not full. I guess since we were on the last wave, most of the runners were already on SI or the others maybe waiting for the 8:45 run. We passed by the Statue of Liberty and had an awesome view of the Lower Manhattan Skyline. I chatted with some runners while Ralph took a nap. We had a couple of siopao from Florida and we split it at this time. We planned to eat the other half just before we were to line up at the corrals.
Twenty minutes later we arrived on Staten Island and I could feel the excitement. We slowly filed out of the ferry and was met by hundreds of runners waiting just outside the doors from the terminal. We couldn’t even close the door behind us. Apparently this was the “line”, 10-12 person across, to the buses that will take us the to Runner’s Village. It was slow. We edged forward a foot every few minutes.
I was starting to get worried because at 10:00 we were still waiting to get on the bus. It took 15 minutes for us to get in one and our start time is at 11 am. It felt like ages before we arrived in Runner’s Village. Upon getting off the bus, we were wand checked by armed guards and off we went. We followed signs to the Green Corral and made a quick pit stop at the Portalets on the way. This part was like a blur because by the time we got out of the Portalets, we heard the call for runners to head to the Corrals and soon after that we were heading to the start line. As soon as we started heading to the start line, we heard the PA come to life and we sang the national anthem while we were still walking towards the start! Before we even got to position ourselves at the bottom of the bridge, the gun went off and off we went! We didn’t actually cross the start line until at least 5 minutes after the cannon went off! Frankly it was a very unceremonious at the start!.
Check out the elevation below. We literally started just before the bridge and climbed up and ran down for the first mile and half! We were the wave that ran on the bottom level of the Verrazzano Bridge so it was not really bad but I could still feel the elevation on my hamstrings! Ralph and I trained using a 30-30 run-walk interval and we settled into our groove. We were doing well running between 11 and 12 min/mile pace.
The temperature at the start was 42 degrees so we were both dressed up in layers. Ralph runs faster than I do so were were going to split at mile 3 after we dropped off our extra layers of clothes with Erin and Megan. Just before the mile marker was the first water stop. There is typically a bottle neck at these places. As we approached Ralph stopped on and got water on the left side of the street and I went to the right. That was the last time I saw him until we reunited after the race.
Here I was at Mile 4. Still going strong. From the race info I knew that we were going to be in Brooklyn for the first 13 miles. I knew that if I made it through Brooklyn in good time, I may have a chance to finish the marathon in under 6 hours. I have never finished in this time. I shelved that thought momentarily because the streets were alive in Brooklyn. There were church choirs and bands lined up along the route. The noise was so loud and the crowds were so enthusiastic that it just made me keep running and waving and sometimes even singing with them. This one church below must have just finished with their services because it appeared that the entire congregation was out and their church choir was singing. This was the one place that I approached and slapped hands with all that had theirs stretched out. It was simply beautiful.
Two hours and 49 minutes later, I crossed Pulaski Bridge into Queens. I was pumped. At this time, I knew I can make it to the finish in good time. Around mile 12, I stopped at a medic tent to get some BioFreeze slathered on my hamstrings. I could feel them tightening from mile 8. I didn’t realize that Brooklyn has hills! I eyed a row of Portalets with no lines and decided to make a pit stop before I ran up the bridge.
Three miles later and we were heading up the Queensboro Bridge heading to Manhattan. This was one of the tougher portions of the race. It was long, it was quiet, and I was cold. My left hip started to hurt here. We had never trained on hills in Florida so the elevations up to this point were taking their toll. It hurt more to walk than to run so I stopped following the 30-30 walk-run interval. I just ran and walked when I got tired. We hit mile 17 at the bottom of the bridge and it was quiet. From all the comments by previous runners of Facebook, the roaring noise from the crowd can be heard before we even get off the bridge. But, crickets! A few yards later, as we turned into First Avenue – there they were. The noise was so loud I forgot I was hurting. The noise was so loud I forgot I was cold. In past marathons I would be walking more than running, I would also be talking to myself and arguing why i signed up for the race in the first place. Instead, the crowd powered me. Before I knew it I was at the bottom of Pulaski bridge just before mile 20 and heading into Bronx, the forth borough! I thought this was the “Last Damn Bridge”. Damn, it wasn’t. At this time, I took out my phone to check for messages and battery life! I got excited to see a text from Megan! I had not seen anyone I know since Mile 3. I got excited to know that she is waiting for me on the left side of the street just past the 35K mile marker. This gave a bit of a push to get to the marker faster.
But first, BioFreeze! Mile 20 was set up as the Biofreeze run-through zone! There were tables with pumps of BioFreeze and volunteers willing to slather these heavenly substance on your legs. I stopped for a couple of squirts on each leg and off I went.
There was a “celebrity” in the running community and I was lucky to see her. This lady holds this “Last Damn Bridge” sign between miles 20 and 21! This photo was taken by another runner on the Facebook group. This spectator apparently has been on this bridge for a few marathons and evokes emotions among runners knowing that this was the last one to climb up! When I passed by, she was sitting on the side of the bridge with her sign propped behind her. She was on the right side of the bridge and I was so tired to get to her. I just wanted to get off the bridge and see Megan.
Me after mile 35K in the Bronx
Ralph at mile 35K in the Bronx
What a sight Megan was for sore eyes! At this time, the sun was starting to set and I kept looking at my watch. Could it be that I could actually finish in under 6 hours? I took off my long sleeve shirt and set up to run, or more like, jog, or shuffle. I thought I was done with hills. But it wasn’t meant to be. As we hit mile 24 in Central Park, we had to climb one more just for kicks and I wasn’t happy. However, I was laser focused to finish sub-6 so I just bared the pain in my hips and kept running. The crowd was awesome. They lined up inside the park and just kept cheering us to keep pushing toward the finish. On the last turn to the Finish, and knowing that I was about to meet my goal, I became emotional. I may even had shed a tear. I wish my family was there to see me. I raised my hand and crossed the finish line tired but happy!
I limped to to get my medal and recovery bag. I grabbed a mylar blanket and slowly walked towards the exit to get my poncho. I wish they had a walking escalator at this time. The recovery bag was heavy with apples, water bottle and gatorade. After a volunteer put on my poncho, I headed out of the park to meet my family. It was a great reunion!
Overall, I was pleased with my performance at this race. This was my first majors and what a race to run a sub-6! I attribute it first and foremost to the optimum running weather. We started at 42 degrees and finished at 51 degrees. It was sunshine and slight breeze from beginning to end. I could not have asked for a better race temperature. The uproarious crowd noise from mile 3 to mile 26.2 moved me to run more than walk. New Yorkers came out to cheer on over 52000 runners through the five boroughs. The volunteers who handed out water, energy drinks and gels and the medical personnel were first class. This was well worth the wait. If there was a guarantee of the same weather conditions every year for this race, I may run it every year. For now, I am going to bask in my little running personal glory and enjoy the moment.
NYC Marathon 2019
If you would like to put your name in the lottery, check out the New York Road Runners information here. The application will take place on will be held on January 14–February 14, 2019. The drawing will be on February 27, 2019. You will add your bank or credit card info with your application and if drawn, it will be automatically charged the registration fee. If your name is not drawn, check out the list of charities as soon as you can. I found that they get filled up very quickly. In fact, for the charity, Water for People, that Ralph ran with, they already have a list for 2019.