Every time I cross the finish line of a marathon, I always say "NEVER AGAIN". The toll marathons take on the body is seriously no joke. 16 weeks of crazy training all comes down to one day- praying for ideal weather conditions, hoping to run the race you trained for, not being sick or injured, and making sure your head is in the right place. Marathons are freaking HARD but they have taught me so much. They've helped train my mind to keep pushing when things get hard and they've helped me realize that sometimes things do not always go as planned no matter what. Running a marathon is a lot like living your life, just condensed all into a few hours. If you've never run one, I encourage you to do so. Tell me it won't change you.
After running OBX with bronchitis in late 2017, I decided to take a much needed marathon break. It's exactly what I needed to recover from the distance and build my confidence in gaining a few PR's that year in shorter distances. But after some time and on a whim, I put my name in for the NYC Marathon for 2019. My best friend Amanda and I both got in (I'll be honest, my hubby wasn't as excited about this at first-bless him. He puts up with so much of my racing nonsense), but I knew I had a different goal for this. A different mindset. I had always heard this was a bucket list race and I had never even been NYC! This one was going to be a race that I ran for ME and nobody else-not worried about everyone looking up my splits, judging my pace, or picking my finish time apart.
We arrived in NYC on Friday before the race. I'll be honest, it was a major culture shock for this small city girl. It was like a whole other world, but I absolutely loved it (although, I certainly couldn't live there). We went to expo that first day and let me tell you- it was so overwhelming and crazy! It was so ridiculously crowded and I swear I got stepped on at least 50 times while we were in there. I guess what was I supposed to expect with 53,000 people running this thing?! Seeing Des Linden run right past me on the streets of NYC certainly made up for the expo nonsense. I just hate I didn't have my phone out to take a pic of her! She ended up being the 6th female to cross the finish line of this years marathon!
Marathon day was a bit hectic. I was up at 4 am, out the door by 5, and on my way by 6 to the start line in Staten Island. The sunrise that morning was seriously unforgettable. Pictures don't even do it justice. I almost felt a sense of peace and anxiety relief as we crossed over the bridge. While on the bus, I made friends with the sweetest man, who was just as chatty as me (I mean, I think I met my match!). The runners village was nuts, but super organized. They've got that down to a science-I was so impressed with how methodical the whole process was. They even had food, coffee, and water for the runners. The icing on the cake was that I was able to find Amanda in her wave group and we were able to do our ridiculous running ritual before we split off. Love sharing these awesome, crazy race adventures together!
The start line of this marathon was one that I've never experienced. The view of the bridge we were about to run, the wave color confetti, the planes flying overhead-all of it gave me chills. Standing there in the 3 hour wave group (that I was not even going to try to attempt), I tried to remind myself not to go out too fast. That's so hard to do when you're feeling really good. I didn't really have a set goal pace, but I knew I needed to run smart. As we the gun went off at 9:40, I made my way up the Verrazzano Bridge. It honestly was not as steep as I had expected-maybe that was the adrenaline pumping. The weather was perfect and I was feeling pretty darn good. I was averaging around 7:20ish something and then I got to mile 10 in Brooklyn and had to make a pit stop- UGH (8:46 for that mile). Got back on pace for another 3 miles and then another pit stop around mile 15 (clocked about a 9 min mile for that one) before I started the Queensboro Bridge climb. I was making pretty good time (3:15ish or so) until I got to the 19-20 mile mark. That infamous 10k and stomach cramps killed my overall finish time. BUT- gosh, the crowd support was seriously like no other. The people of NYC were there for us, cheering every step of the way. I made sure to thank all the volunteers handing out water and high fived all the hands out there in the crowd. Central Park the last few miles though, were seriously the most electrifying. When people talk about coming into the end of the course and how loud and exciting it is, they mean it. I finished with a time of 3:32:59, and soaked in every minute of it (even in the porta potties LOL). My sweet hubby was there to cheer me on at mile 8, 16, and 25. It was fun to get a text from him telling me where he was going to be so I could look forward to seeing him! That made for a super special day too- I'm thankful he took the time to plan my route, jump on subways, and cheer me on. He ended up walking more than 12 miles that day zooming around the city to get to me!
Although my pacing wasn't perfect for this race, I still enjoyed the hell out of it. Marathons always teach us something. Each one is unique and special. I'm beyond grateful for my healthy body that allowed me to show up uninjured and feeling well, the beautiful weather we had that day, the amazing crowd support, and for a happy heart (despite not doing what I knew I was capable of). I would do it all over again, the same exact way. This one changed me. It was liberating. I ran this race for me, for once. And for that, I am mentally stronger, happier, and an extremely proud NYC marathoner. I'll never forget this amazing experience.