I know I have been bad and it has taken me a while to post about my experience with the NYC Marathon so here it goes….
First off I have to tell you that I am very anal when it comes to checking everything is in order before I leave for a trip so you can imagine how surprised I was when my daughter called to let me know she needed some paper work for college and I started to place them along my plane tickets and entrant registration for the marathon, I come to find out that I am leaving on Wednesday not Thursday. Thank God I checked on Monday instead of Wednesday when my plane would have already landed at LaGuardia. I would have been so angry with myself after all that training and charity work to miss out on such an experience.
So with that said we were off to NY and filled with excitement to be back in my hometown. Thursday evening I met up with my cousin’s wife, who is an amazing runner and has even ran Boston! In the midst of rush hour traffic on the Long Island Expressway we managed to get to the expo with 20 minutes to spare. It was nerve racking. I wish the New York Road Runners would take into consideration that not all the runners work or are staying in NYC. The expo’s hours were from 10-8 on Thursday with the last bib pick up top be no later than 7! They should at least have kept it open until 9. We were lucky that it went smoothly with no lines. Just look at what her corral was compared to mine LOL!!!
We walked around the expo and I was really disappointed. The majority of the expo was filled with items by ASICS one of the largest sponsors of the marathon. It was in a nutshell an overpriced running store and really nothing stood out that I really wanted to buy. One jacket in particular was priced at an outstanding $120!! We continued on through and it seemed bare. I had expected more. Maybe because NYC is considered one of the 5 major marathons and being NY we always do things in a big way. There was a kiosk where you could video tape a message to be played on a certain mile marker on the course to support your marathoner. With 47,000 runners you can see why this didn’t exactly work. The only items I purchased were Gu Gels and a car decal that says 26.2 (hey It was about time already!!)
Saturday evening, I went out to dinner with my family to Carmines in the theater district. For those of you who plan to visit NYC this is the best Italian restaurant. Love it and of course I filled myself up with pasta. If you would like to eat here you need to make reservations at least 2 months in advance and it is well worth it.
That night I bid my family goodnight and they wished me luck as I headed over to the Doubletree Hotel in Times Square to spend the night with my friends who were also running and we kind enough to let me stay with them. Just look at the view from our room..
Times Square all lit up below
I tried to sleep all night but you all know how we toss in turn all night worrying whether we will wake up in time and not miss the bus. Well I might have gotten a couple of hours of sleep but we did manage to get up at 4 with about 3 alarm clocks going off simultaneously and even a wake up call.
I was so excited to meet Dayna, who I met on our RunningJunkies facebook page. We met her downstairs in the lobby and we all walked over towards the Plaza hotel to catch the Galloway bus at 6:15. We were finally on our way to Fort Wadsworth, the starting line at the World Famous Verrazzano Bridge. The atmosphere was buzzing with runners from all around the world. Our Galloway rep Elvira, held balloons all the way to our village so we can met up and speak to other Galloway runners from different states. She was so funny and made newbies like myself feel at ease.
As we were waiting for each wave to start we saw many celebrities being interviewed by CBS. Here is a picture of Ethan Zohn, the winner of Survivor below..
Dayna and I got to know each other and shared laughs and just rambled on about the race. She was just so sweet and I am so happy we finally met!
We were both in Green Wave 3, which starts on the bottom of the bridge. I was filled with emotion when I heard the cannon go off and hear the song “New York New York” as we started on our long journey. I took my time running the Verrazzano which has the highest elevation on the course. It felt so surreal. I just couldn’t believe I was actually doing this and there were times when I said to myself “What the hell do you think you are doing!”
The transit workers under the bridge got us going with the words of encouragement. Before I knew it I was in Brooklyn and was taking off my arm warmers. The day was beautiful and the weather perfection. The crowds in Brooklyn went wild. The music and signs along the course were so amazing. Brooklyn rocked the house . Entering Queens it got a little quieter. Maybe because the course is situated in the industrial part and not so much in a residential area like Brooklyn, could have been a factor. Ahead I could see the dreaded Queensbourough bridge. To be honest we you, I walked the entire span of the bridge. I knew I still had a way to go and as everyone says “The real marathon doesn’t begin until mile 20” so I was conserving my energy.
Now the big let down..everyone has told me that the biggest thrill is running down first avenue and listening to the roar of the crowds.Well we got off the bridge and you could hear crickets. What a let down. Along first avenue I did pass a couple of pubs with inebriated college students who shouted at us along the way to keep going “You are doing great” I thought it was really funny and thank you college co0eds for sticking around for the slow pokes LOL!!!
Up to Harlem and the Bronx the madness begins! I loved the crowds and again the music was fantastic. Thank you to everyone for all your encouragement and for waiting around yet again for all the runners!
This is where it gets bad for me. It wasn’t the wall. I made sure I was hydrated and not hungry plus my pace was purposely kept slow. Being that this was my first full marathon my goal was to finish and not burn out. So along the course I saw many runners that had prosthetic legs, were blind, deaf, heart attack survivors and many others with disabilities. Many of these runners were aided with the help of the Achilles Club. I was so proud of them and gave them words of encouragement along the way. What bothered me was that as we hit mile 20-21 a U-Haul truck starting coming up along the course. I didn’t know what was happening until I saw a man exit the truck and started to take down the mile marker! I couldn’t believe it. We were still within the time limit. I felt so sad and felt so sorry for all the other runners that were behind me. I kept going and now I saw that water stations were being disassembled. Tables were overturned with cups filled with water and Gatorade. Now I was angry. I hit my wall alright..with both my fists!!
I was so determined to finish at this point. It was getting dark and now I was getting cold. I was tired and just wanted a hot shower and a warm bed. I was done. I was now heading inside Central Park so I know I was getting close I just wish I knew what mile I was at. I finally found some people from NYRR and they told me I was at mile marker 25. Out of the park I was now on my way around Central Park towards Columbus Circle. Now the police were taking down the barricades and we had to run on a cobblestone sidewalk!! Do you know what you feels like to run on that kind of a surface after 25 miles!!!? I felt like crying but at that point I heard my name and saw my sister running towards me. I was so happy to see a familiar face. My sister along with my daughter held my hands along with my younger son and my brother-in-law. They ran with my down the finish line. With 20 yards left to go security told them that it was time to let go and let me finish. I ran as fast as I could to the finish..elated, exhausted and laughing with joy. I finished!!!
A sweet girl placed the medal around my neck and now I had to walk a good mile to find the UPS truck that had my bag. I finally found the bag and my family at 77th and Central Park West. My brother-in-law, who I love but can be a smart ass , suggested we walk to Penn Station which is a good 40 blocks away. I could have killed him! He kids with my all the time so I was so happy that we took the subway. At Penn Station there was a sea of mylar blankets and tired and weary marathoners proudly wearing their medals. It was surreal. Strangers were coming up and congratulating us. Our train finally arrived and I could not wait to sit down and pass out..which I did!
Would I do this race again? If you asked me that night or even the next day I would say no way. Now almost a month later I would say most definitely. I wasn’t happy with my time so I would strive to beat it next time if I am lucky to be chosen in the lottery.