Today’s Happy Note: Almost everything about today was/is happy. One of the most happy days of my life!
Today was one of those rare days of pure happiness. I am so grateful that I have the ability to run and move. That I have access to one of the best marathon’s in the world. I am proud of myself for the way I pushed throughout the race, but especially in the final miles. Despite the fact that I had done two ultramarathons prior to this (one of 33 miles, one of 34 miles) I never really felt like a true marathoner. Now I feel like I have proved myself. And on a tough course no less! I haven’t felt this sort of pride in myself in a long time. For today, it does not matter what I look like or how much I weigh. It doesn’t matter what color my hair is or what my GPA is or my LSAT score. It doesn’t matter if I am the most popular girl or the geek. It doesn’t matter if I suck at science or am no compassionate enough. What matters is my endurance: my ability to persevere. The fact that I am a marathoner. A New York Marathoner.
I left my room a few minutes before 5 am this morning and did not get back until 3:30. The funny thing is, I didn’t start running until 10:10 — because so many people run NYC, and the start area is so awkward (but let’s face it, they have to fit poor Staten Island in somewhere), you have to get there hours and hours ahead of time. My bus pulled in around 6:45, which meant three+ hours of chilly standing around. I got a free fleece hat from Dunkin’ Donuts, but I tossed it on the bridge anyways. I didn’t know anyone in my “color” start village (green), except Ashley, but we never found each other! I met up with Ada and some other runners from my school in the orange area. This is the only picture I have from the whole day! Race photos aren’t up yet and I did not want to carry my camera. I promise lots of pictures soon!
Photo credit goes to a random runner next to us who took the picture. I am second from the left (and yes, I know I look ridiculous) and Ada is on the far right.
We waited around, had hot chocolate and gatorade and power bars. There was so much free food and I am a poor college student — I definitely snuck some extras into my bag.
Around 8:50, I dropped off my stuff at baggage check — they use hundreds of UPS trucks, with real UPS employees! Then there was more waiting, and at 9:30 we headed to the corrals. I was having that weird hybrid nervous-excited feeling. I went to the bathroom no less than 8 times between 6:45-9:45. No joke. I was just so nervous that I would have to go during the race, and I did not want to stop!
Since I have done mile-by-mile timelines in the past, and found those useful in terms of ordering and processing my post-race thoughts, I am doing another today. Enjoy!
- Mile 1: On the lower level of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Boring. But I am so excited that the nervous energy makes up for the monotony. Too bad I wasn’t on the upper level.
- Mile 2: This isn’t so bad. I thought I was running eight minute miles (which would be way too fast), but apparently my calculations were off? Yay, the bridge is ending!
- Mile 3: Entering Brooklyn. First water/gatorade stop. Lots of people running, not a lot of spectators yet. Goodbye warm, fleecy hat.
- Mile 4: This is fun, but 22 more miles of it? I’m bored. How is it that I don’t get bored on long runs, or regular everyday runs, but I’m bored at mile 4 of one of the most exciting marathons in the world? Hopefully the scenery picks up soon.
- Mile 5: Fourth Avenue! There is a woman in a full-out ghoul costume next to me. Sweet. I hope I’m not last.
- Mile 6: I also hope I didn’t go out to fast. I calculated my 10k as 55:00. It ended up being about 60 flat. I have no idea why my calculations were so off. I need a watch. Look! There is my boss and her cute baby. Yay!
- Mile 7: I’m over halfway to the half-marathon mark. Crap, that means I’m like, a quarter of the way overall.
- Mile 8: Nervously checking my 4:20 pace band. I picked up this one on a whim, even though my goal was really more like 4:30. I’m six or seven minutes ahead of schedule.
- Mile 9: Only four miles to the half! I feel pretty great up to this point — like I’m flying. Unfortunately, the tendons behind my left knee start hurting a lot here and don’t let up for the rest of the race. I keep repeating to myself “compartmentalize the pain.” It kinda worked.
- Mile 10: Hmmm, ten miles done. That’s nice. It means I only have 16 more miles of fast (for me) running. WAIT WHAT? I have 16 more miles of this? Oh well, at least the spectators are enthusiastic. It was really fun noticing the subtle differences between spectators in the different burrows. Queens and Brooklyn were doing some serious smack-talking of one another. Almost forget to eat my first gu.
- Mile 11: I see a sign that says “In our minds, you’re all Kenyans”. Makes me feel better.
- Mile 12: Running through a nice main street in Brooklyn and then this weird industrial area up to the Pulaski Bridge. It’s sort of eerie/creepy. I want my mommy back. I wonder if all these police officers are being paid overtime. That would be a lot of money for the NYPD. So probably not.
- Mile 13: I am basically at the half! Hallelujah! I think I can do another half, although probably not quite so fast. Damn these stupid uphill bridges.
- Mile 14: At least there’s a nice downhill! Queens, I will admit, was a bit boring. I did hear one spectator say “you guys all look amazingly attractive right now!” which made me laugh.
- Mile 15: Screw you Queensboro bridge. You suck. You’re all dark and there aren’t even any good views. And your downhill is too steep to be helpful; it just makes my quads hurt. Screw you.
- Mile 16: Manhattan! Three boroughs down, two to go! Not feeling so hot at this point. Excited to see Joanne on First Avenue though (she was there but I didn’t see her :().
- Mile 17: Blast, why can’t Manhattan be flat like Brooklyn? the hills on First (and later Fifth) Avenues are subtle but killer. Also, I was convinced that I had missed the 17 mile marker and was near 18 when I saw it. That was not nice. Stupid Poland Spring false advertising for the energy gel zone.
- Mile 18: Gu! Hooray. I have swallowed so much gatorade and water and gu at this point that the prospect of any more is mildly (okay, maybe severely) disgusting, but I am in desperate need of an energy burst. I accidentally grab a strawberry banana, which makes the idea of consuming it even worse. I hold onto it until mile 20, when I am desperate.
- Mile 19: Just get to 20, then you can take a walk break. You’re doing really well! If you pick it up and run under 4:30 you can use mom’s credit card to get a massage later this week.
- Mile 20: Hello, Bronx. I honestly have no idea if the Bronx portion was nice or not because I was just thinking about getting one foot in front of the other. It seemed okay, although it had too many turns that slowed me down. I passed the Chilean miner, who started walking at this point. Poor guy. He finished though!
- Mile 21: Keep it up and you can have a walk break at 22! Does anyone else lie to themselves to get themselves to go faster? Is that weird? I am so weird. Oh my gosh, I bet every spectator thinks I am the weirdest looking runner on this course.
- Mile 22: I’m counting blocks at this point. If I go five blocks without counting, I give myself a little mental reward. You are awesome. You are a warrior. You are an ultramarathoner. You WILL finish this. You have not come 22 miles to stop and walk or slow down.
- Mile 23: Central Park. I can handle this. I know these paths like the back of my hand. Fifth Avenue is really rowdy, which is nice, except for the parts where the crowd narrowed down the runway, resulting in a tunnel only about ten feet wide to run in. Seriously, NYPD. It”s called crowd control.
- Mile 24: Pace is really slowing down. Ugh. 10:30, roughly. But I know that I made enough of a deficit at the beginning that I can still be under 4:30. But then I misread a clock and thought I had only 27 minutes to do the next 3.2 miles, and I was devastated because I knew that wasn’t going to happen.
- Mile 25: I realize my timing mistake and figure out that if I really push, I can break 4:20 too! The hill at 72nd on the East side of CP (both down and up) is evil. Pure evil. I hate how that panther statue is totally glaring at me.
- Mile 26: I start counting slowly at this point to keep myself focused and distracted at the same time — it is a technique that really works. Okay, so maybe I’m a numbers geek, but still. I got up to 300 very slowly and then started “sprinting” (i.e, running a 9 minute mile pace).
- Finish (Mile 26.2): You are so f-ing close! Do not slow down at the end — you’ll regret it! Go go go! I break out into a giant smile and fly over the finish line.