November 29, 2013

2013 ING NY Marathon Part 3 - The Race Recap!

I parsed my NY Marathon experience into a 3-part series. This is only the race recap (Part 3).

To read Part 1 (The Expo and Marathon Eve Dinner), click here.
To read Part 2 (Getting to the Start on Race Day), click here.

This recap is going to be a little different than the way I've presented race recaps previously. Most of the story is told in pictures interspersed with my thoughts as opposed to a play-by-play narrative. So if it seems like I'm jumping around a little, I probably am! I've tried to capture the highlights as best I could. :-)

Before I start, I had some hamstring weirdness on Thursday before we left CA. To the point where I almost had to end my final taper run after only 20 minutes because of the pain. I decided there would be no running Fri or Sat for me and tried to put it out of my head. The last thing I needed to worry about was some random taper pain BS.

Race Strategy: I usually use 3 min run/1 min walk intervals when I run marathons, but on race day, I had this strong desire to RUN (plus it was freaking freezing). I didn't question it. This was my NY experience - just go with it! I ran straight through the first 3 miles although I slowed considerably a few times depending on the density of runners around me and some short purposeful slow downs to keep my pace in check. Hamstrings were cold and cramping right from the Start. There was a moment around mile 5 where I thought I might not get through the first 10K because of the pain, but it was really just a fear I was having. I kept working with it. Staying positive. Reminding myself to stay relaxed.  Once the water stops started appearing in Brooklyn near mile 3, I slowed to a walk for 30-45 seconds every mile (which is how often there were water/Gatorade stops on the course). Around mile 8 or 9, I had a little freak out about how little walking I was doing and thinking maybe I was just asking for trouble later on but I didn't let those thoughts bother me. Whatever Vera. Look around you..... you're running the NY marathon!

"You don't have to train tomorrow".
I really want to take a moment to acknowledge the spectators! The crowds were absolutely amazing. They were 3-4 people deep for miles and miles and miles. They don't care that you don't know them. You're running and loving the city they live in with pride! Woo hoo!  I saw some really funny spectator posters. Many of which ended up on this hilarious post from BuzzFeed: The 35 Best Signs From the NY Marathon. I wish I would have seen the Breaking Bad ones! I distinctly remember the Poops Only sign (#23 on the list) because it was early in the race, around mile 4 I think (I remember thinking "oh it's going to be one these kinds of crowds - GOOD!" I felt old when I saw all the Ryan Gosling posters and thought "why would anyone care about that guy?" Haha.

It's been hard for me to describe to people who ask just how much energy and power the NY crowds were giving out to marathoners that day. It's nothing like I've ever experienced in my life, race course or other setting. There is a sense of togetherness or maybe it's oneness and the most unbelievably inspiring and joyous spirit.  Like everyone is there to hug the runners as they move through the crowds. Seriously. There is nothing like it.

Something I was not prepared for was the impact of the long straightaways on 4th St through Brooklyn and 1st Ave (Upper East Side to Harlem). Endless mass of runners for miles in front of you. It really wears on you to run straight for soooo long. It's funny because I didn't give it any thought or consideration. Lesson learned! :-)

Brooklyn here we come!
View of Manhattan (left) from Verrazano Bridge
Coming into Brooklyn was amazing! I can't wipe the smile off my face and I'm already choking back tears. There are cheering crowds EVERYWHERE! Live bands are playing in several locations along 4th Ave. Security was so so so heavy. There must have been at least 4 or 5 police officials every block or so. All of the side streets are taped off and the intersections are loaded with security.

Brooklyn, Near Mile 3 at 87th St/4th Ave.
A random memory I have of running through here: Girl in front of me asking a street cop where we were. "Brooklyn Heights" he says in a classic Brooklyn accent. I remember hearing the subway from the street. The brown median in the pic below here covers the subway. It just struck me as something different that I definitely don't hear on a regular basis. Probably not even a second thought for people who live here! :-)

Near 4th Ave & Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn (just before mile 8)
Mile Marker 9.
There were quite a few porta-potties just before the halfway point (Pulaski Bridge) so I took a quick 90 second break here.This bridge crosses over the Long Island Expy, landing us in Long Island City.
Mle 13. Pulaski Bridge towards Queens. Halfway done already????
47th/Vernon in Queens, approaching mile 14.
Hitting Mile 16 on the Queensboro Bridge.
The Queensboro Bridge was tough. Asphalt is pretty tore up. A bit of an empty feel to it made more difficult by the fact we'd been running through with thousands of spectators cheering us on for 15 miles by this point. Runners are starting to get tired and breath heavy. Lots of people walking here. Runners stopping to take pics of the East River. It was a gorgeous view to the South, but my phone and my camera were almost dead and I wanted to be sure I had enough juice for a few pics through Central Park and maybe a couple more at other places closer to mile 20. I wondered if I might regret not taking pics for the blog and maybe I do a little but I really just wanted to get off the bridge. I could feel it draining me mentally.

This is one of those unexpectedly taxing long turn-less stretches I mentioned. You can literally see the sea of runners for 3 miles ahead of you from here (1st Ave). Fuel stop along this stretch around mile 18.
1st Ave in Manhattan, coming up on the Upper East Side
The spectators along 1st Ave give no indication of letting up or even that they've been standing there longer than 30 minutes. I'm in awe. You guys are out here just to cheer on the runners? F*ck yeah, Spectator Supporters! Maybe that's the sign I'll run with from now on!

Random memory: Couple with shirts announcing they are running in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary at the end of the Willis Ave Bridge as we were entering the Bronx. This was also my first sighting of a runner down. I also overhead a cop encouraging a woman to continue. "You've gone 20 miles already! Ya' gotta keep goin' now." Agreed!

Jumbo screen at Mile 20.

I typically struggle between miles 19-22. This race was no different. My legs were feeling pretty tired so I kicked on my interval timer and started using 3 min run/ 1 min walk intervals regularly. I knew it would help my physical and mental state to start taking regular walk breaks. There are no pics of Harlem but I thought the parts we ran through were beautiful. The volunteers and spectators were super friendly and supportive through this section. There was a small choir singing for us at the corner of 138th St/5th Ave as we were coming off the Madison Ave bridge.  The wind was really starting to kick up as we ran up 5th Ave through Harlem towards Central Park.

Overhead a runner near here yell out "I can smell the horses. That means we're almost there!" LOL. She was right. It did smell like horse manure all of a sudden. So if you find yourself running the NY Marathon and you smell horse crap, the end is near! ;-)

I turned my phone back on at Mile 24(I had to turn it off to save the battery around mile 8) to see if Hubby made it to the Finish. I had a text from him earlier that said no one was being allowed near the Finish so he was going to try and find a place along the course where he could see me. Our original agreement was that I would text him at mile 25 so he would know when to look for me. His newest message said he thought he was at Mile 25. I get to Mile 25 and I don't see him. My spirits drop a little. Damn. What if I missed him?  I keep scanning the crowds, hoping to catch him. Finally, after what seems like 3 miles but was really only 1/2 a mile, I see him, yelling out enthusiastically to runners as they passed by him.  He doesn't see me yet (but I know he's looking for me in a yellow shirt and I never got rid of my red long-sleeved shirt).  "HEY" I yelled out as I ran up to him. "You're so busy yelling at everyone else, you're going to miss your wife!". He finally sees me. Our eyes lock and I'm instantly in tears. I want him to run the rest of the way with me but that is obviously not possible. And I have no idea how long it's going to be until I see him again since I don't really know what's waiting at the Finish. A quick kiss and I'm off.

And now the moment I've been waiting for for 4 long years.... The Big Finish!!! The camera battery was basically dead by this point so I was frantically trying to snap as many shots as I could. Only a couple came out with any clarity but here it is!!!!

I snapped this selfie once I crossed. I promise I did not actually carry that woman in pink in my hat for the whole race. ;-)

And here's my submission for cheesiest freaking post-race picture ever in the history of finisher photos. LOL  I distinctly remember thinking "Vera, don't crinkle up your face. Hold back and take a normal picture". As you can clearly see, there was no holding back here. It just wasn't physically possible to contain my happiness and excitement.

Getting out of the Finishers area is a LONG HAUL. We were given a pretty nice recovery bag with fuel and hydration and a mylar blanket to help keep us warm but damn, I was SO COLD. So now my muscles are tired, I'm shivering like crazy and my feet hurt so bad all I can think about is getting to Hubby and getting off my feet.

While the Finish line is at 67th St in Central Park, we had to walk all the way down to 77th before we were permitted out of the Park (runners with checked bags had to walk even further). Runners who chose the No Baggage option had pink bracelets we were told to wear on race day so Race Officials knew to let us out of the Finish area "early". Much to my displeasure/dismay, "Early" did not mean "Soon".  By the time we got to 77th where we could exit out onto Central Park West, I had already stopped to sit down for about 5 minutes. I had to get off my feet. This meant sitting on the ground because there was no place for us to sit. Hubby was at the Family Meeting area which started at 67th St so I knew I had almost another mile to go before I'd get to see him.

Once we were on Central Park W heading back towards the Family Meeting Area, I was hearing volunteers announcing something about warm parkas up ahead. Then I saw some other runners wearing these big orange things. My first thought was "I didn't see anything about those during registration so I probably don't get one because I know I didn't pay extra for it". Luckily, these parkas were being given to all the Finishers (I just wish they could have been handing them out earlier in the Exiting process).  I saw the tables where they were handing out the jackets, walking up to a volunteer who was so so so sweet....she wrapped me up tight and secured to velcro for me and pulled up the hood. Instant warmth. OMG. This is exactly what I needed. I think I stopped at a bench to sit down for a couple more minutes. Hubby was texting me to just take my time but I just really wanted to get to him so I didn't let myself sit for too long.

Image Credit

Finally, I get to the 67th.....but the Family Meeting Area starts here with the letter Z. Hubby is standing at L. I told him later that night that had a I known they were going to go backwards with the alphabet that I would have asked him to stand at Z!  I'm not sure how much farther down I had to go, but seeing the "L" sign was like finding Nirvana. Our journey of course was not over because we still had to take the subway and walk back to the hotel!!

We snapped a quick pic in the Subway station before the train got there. It was fun to see all the other runners walking around the city that night in their bright orange parkas!

The walk back to the hotel from the subway station was long and cold but we made it. And enjoyed a vegetarian version of our first ever NY Pizza!

So there you have it! My first NY Marathon experience. All I can say is.... I LOVE NY!

1 comment:

D. Landry said...

Wow, what an experience! I'm so happy for you that you were able to live out one of your dreams!!