After a decent night of sleep, the alarm went off at 5:30AM. I like to wake up early, so even though I was starting at 10:30 I wanted to be there early. I also wasn’t sure how long it would take to make it to Fort Wadsworth. We ate our breakfast and got everything ready to go. About 6:30AM, we headed to the subway station near our hotel to begin the journey.
We waited quite awhile for the first train to come. Trains were supposed to run every 10 minutes, but it was after 7:10 when the first train arrived. And it was packed. Everyone had to go in the first few cars, as the stop at the ferry terminal only accommodated shorter trains. And with each stop, more and more people got on the cars. We were packed in like sardines and I was miserable! We finally made it to Whitehall, only to wait in another crowd for the next ferry to Staten Island. We originally planned on the 7:15AM ferry, but it was already after 8. I felt bad for everyone with wave 1 and wave 2 bibs. Y’all were gonna be late!
The ferry ride was uneventful. We didn’t see much, instead talking to people around us. Once you get to the Staten Island side, you walk outside to line up for buses to take you to the last stop in the journey: Fort Wadsworth! By the time we got there, they were announcing that the bag drop for both wave 2 and wave 3 was closing at the same time. Um, that wasn’t right! Again, I felt bad for those people who were missing their waves. We walked over to our area (green) and settled in for a bit of a wait. I waited until a bit before corals were set to close before I ditched my pants and walked over. I was in coral F, the last coral in wave 3.
And with that, the race was set to begin for me. We were herded around and got on the bridge. I missed “New York, New York” because of how long it took to start, but oh well. The race was on!
My strategy for the race was to take it easy over the bridges, maintain as close to 11 as I could, take in nutrition every three or four miles, and walk through every water stop, alternating between water and Gatorade. I’d say I was successful with one of those points.
The Verrazano Bridge sucked. The wind was howling and whipping around, and everyone was miserable. The bridge goes up for one mile, and then down for the next mile. I kept it easy, with Garmin saying my first mile was 12, but my second mile was in the 9s. Oops. I chalked that up to being downhill and said I would slow down. I did, but not enough.
The first half of the race is basically Brooklyn up to Queens, before hitting the Polaski Bridge. My miles here alternated between 10:20 and 10:40. Way too fast! I wanted those to be my splits for the final miles, not the first. But I was actually feeling good, so I decided to stick with it and see how long I could go. This was mistake #1.
Mistake #2 reared it’s head around mile 3, when I was supposed to take my nutrition. For some reason, I decided I would take it every four miles. Except I skipped it at four, and took it at mile 5. As you know, once you get behind in nutrition, you can’t catch up. This would hurt me later on.
I hit the 13.1 mile mark at 2:20, so I was well on pace to hit my sub-5:00 goal, and even on pace for a 4:50 if I held it together. Everything was fine, right up to the Queensboro Bridge. This soul-sucking part of the race is notorious for how quiet it can be, and it definitely got to me. I ran up it, when I should have taken it easy. This basically killed the rest of my energy. By the time I came around to 1st Ave and the insanely awesome and loud crowds, I was getting very tired. I knew it was time to start taking some walk breaks.
I told myself I would only walk for a bit, and I did manage to keep going. I would take walk breaks through every water stop, but I slacked on my nutrition again. After taking it at 5, I took it again at 9, then 15. And that was it. My energy went out around mile 20, right after getting to the Bronx. I didn’t just hit the wall, I got ran over by it. The walking become longer and longer, until it became more walking than running.
With 5.2 miles to go, I still had 75 minutes to make my sub-5:00 goal. Totally manageable, right? Except I was defeated. I was tired, I was cold, my back hurt, and mentally I became very weak. Despite the encouragement of the crowds along 5th Ave and into Central Park, I just couldn’t get things going again. I saw my time slip away, until finally, it was gone. No goal time for me!
It became a quest for survival at that point. I just had to finish. I started running after passing Columbus Circle, and managed to run the whole way to the finish. Final time: 5:12:41. Not close to my goals or my potential, but still a PR by over 5 minutes.
OK, I just want to say that NYC is not runner-friendly after you cross the finish line. First, you can’t stop moving. You can’t sit down, or lean up against something (or someone). If you do, then medical will come and yell at you to keep moving, or you’re being sent to the med tent. Second, when you line up for your picture, they refuse to allow you to take one with your cell phone. Look, I get it, you’re paying for MarathonFoto to be there to take pics. But I saw a photographer yell at someone for handing their phone to a fellow runner to take their picture. Ridiculous! We just ran the friggin’ NYC marathon, let them take whatever pictures they want!
I followed the crowds, got my heat shield, my medal, my picture, my box of food, and shuffled along the no-baggage line until I got my poncho. I love this thing! So big, so warm. We both saved ours and will use them on future cold weather races. I was free of the scene on 74th St., and headed to the FedEx Office to pick up my warmer clothes. They were kind enough to let me change in the store and hang out there while waiting for Ro to call when she finished.
It took us quite awhile to walk back to our hotel, which was on 49th St. and 8th Ave. As soon as we got back we showered, got into comfortable clothes, put our feet up on the wall, and ordered room service. It was very hard to sleep that night, as our legs hurt so bad it was hard to find a comfortable position! Plus, we were happy we finished and could cross this off our bucket list! We spent the next two days walking around NYC (probably not wise to walk 8 miles the day after running a marathon) before coming back to Memphis on Wednesday, just in time for my birthday!
Finish a marathon, and the first question people ask is “Would you do it again?” While I will definitely do the distance again, I don’t think I would ever run NYC again. The cost and logistics of the race are an absolute pain in the ass. Basically, anything you’ve read about it is true: amazing crowds, awesome race, terrible logistics and not friendly at the end. I crossed it off, and that’s that. On to the next one.
From a race perspective, I failed pretty hard at this one. During MCM, I just wanted to finish and pace Ro so she would meet the cut-offs. This time, I wanted to hit a sub-5:00 and hopefully better. I wanted to take all that I had learned over the past year and nail it. Instead, I made just about every mistake a runner can, and blew up in spectacular fashion. And for that, I must atone for my running sins.
I’m taking 2015 off from running a marathon. Instead, I’m going to focus on building up speed and strength while increasing my mileage while not training. I’ll do some half marathons, assorted 5ks and stuff like that. I’m still working on my goals and race calendar, but I need a bit of a break from the long grind of marathon training right now. I hope to come back and nail it in 2016 at a different race, perhaps Chicago.
Thanks for following along!