Rusty and I had such vastly different marathon experiences that I feel like we should both do a write up. His is HERE . He used most of the pictures, so I won’t make you look at them twice 🙂
We left our hotel at like 5:20 in the morning and headed for Times Square to meet our bus at the Crown Plaza hotel. It was so awesome to drive through the mostly empty streets of Manhattan and see only two things: buses and marathoners. I have never seen so many buses in my life! They lined the streets for as far as my eyes could see.
Getting to Staten Island was super painless and our bus pulled up about 7:05. We made our way through security and found a place to sit on the grass. All the runners are assigned to different Corrals. There was hay laid down on top of the grass to protect it and Rusty said that it all made him feel like he was a cattle being led to the slaughter 🙂 We had several hours until our start time so we kicked back and tried to relax. I’d gone through a similar “Big Ordeal” start in Boston so I was mentally prepared for what it would be like and I didn’t mind it too much. The weather was PERFECT. It was about 56 degrees and slated to stay that way for the entire day.
Finally, after drinking an incredibly gross rendition of Vega, going to the bathroom a bunch of times and shedding our throw away clothes, it was time to head to the start line.
The entire way was lined with clothes people had shed on their way to the start line. I’m not sure how those buses are ever going to get out of the parking lot. There were some clothing piles that were probably 3 feet high!
I was feeling sooo good. My legs felt fresh, the sun was shining and I was so excited to run this race.
After a beautiful rendition of God Bless America and the firing of an actual cannon, we were off! Frank Sanatra’s New York New York was blasting through the speakers and the energy of all the runners was incredible.
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was everything we expected it to be. Crowded, slow, but beautiful views of the city. When we crested the top of the hill and could see down the other side, it was just a sea of marathon runners. What an inspiring site.
Image credit: ESPN.com
Then, into Brooklyn. I had a side ache from mile 1 to mile 9 (That always happens when I run later in the day) so that’s mostly what I remember about Brooklyn. Despite the side ache, my legs felt great and it was soooo easy to breathe. Thank you, sea level! There were 2 things I really loved in Brooklyn. 1. The church choir that was out on their steps performing as we went by. It was beautiful and such a fun showing of support for their local community. 2. I had my name written in duct tape across my chest and hearing people cheer for me and shout my name in their NYC accents was the best thing ever.
Now on to Queens! I hit the half feeling great. I could already tell Rusty was struggling a bit, but he was doing his best to keep up and keep positive. We new we’d be seeing the kids within the next few miles and that put a big smile on our faces. We saw them close to mile 15. It was so much fun to give them a kiss and hear them cheering for us. It definitely got me jazzed for what I knew was ahead: Queensborough Bridge.
My lungs were still feeling amazing at this point and my legs weren’t too bad either. They were starting to feel tired, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I didn’t think Queensborough Bridge was quite as bad as it’s made out to be. But it was super crowded and that made it hard to find any sort of good running rhythm. The hardest part of this marathon was all the speeding up and slowing down we had to do in order to fight the crowded streets.
And then, the glorious moment: Turning onto 1st Ave in Manhattan. The streets were packed with spectators and all the glorious skyscrapers loomed above. It was a spectacular site. The road here got waaaaaay wider and finally, after 17 miles, I could actually run! But this is where Rusty’s cramps got worse. We tried slowing down together for awhile but that wasn’t working. It was a hard decision to make, but we decided I would go on without him. It was a disappointing moment for sure, but I was still feeling pretty good and very positive.
The next miles are a blur. I put my headphones in for a bit and just focused on running. Around mile 20 I crossed over into the Bronx and it was a party up there! So much fun music and a very energetic crowd. After 20 miles my legs were starting to feel the fatigue but I new I would finish. Ran down 5th Ave and into Central Park. When we made the slight turn into to park about mile 24 I was overcome with emotion. I had been thinking about Jim and about my own family and about this beautiful city that I love so much. There were definitely a few tears shed here. But, it’s hard to cry and run, so I wiped those tears away and focused on that finish line.
I still felt pretty good, all things considered and I crossed the finish line strong. But the moment I stopped it all caught up to me. My legs were immediately BURNING and I felt a little light headed. It was so crowded that there was no place to stop to rest or sit down for a minute. So I just kept on going. Everyone around me was in varying stages of shock and fatigue but we all just kept shuffling forward. Heat blanket, check. Shuffle on. Medal and obligatory finish line photo, check. Shuffle on. Snack bag and ravenously eating an apple, check. Shuffle on. And on. And on. Until finally I reached the ponchos. It felt like I had walked forever to get to this point. The poncho was so warm and soft and felt so good. Then, I realized I had more than 10 blocks to walk to get to the family meeting area. And that made me want to cry again. As soon as I got out to Central Park West I found a bench and sat down for a few minutes. I swear, I had to be more mentally tough to get out of that finish area than in the entire marathon. FINALLY, there they were! My parents and the kids. YAY! This instagram post very accuratley describes the scene:
While we waited for Rusty, we saw the best thing ever. A pink chicken. This chicken had her own carrying case with big sparkly pink letters that read, DIVA. Oh how I love this weird city.
After Rusty finished and we snapped a few photos it was time for the moment I’d been dreaming of for 26.2. Halal Food!!!! We hopped on the subway and headed for Halal Guys. We were all pretty freezing by this time so we took our food over to the Hilton Lobby at ate there. It was delicious and totally hit the spot. By this point I was beyond done. We caught an Uber back to the hotel and I had a nice long bath. Heaven.
Rusty and I are both disappointed that we didn’t get to finish together. It was a hard let down and we’ve both been sad about it. But I am so grateful for the opportunity we had to set this goal and work hard together to achieve it. I am proud of the work we did for James Blake Foundation and I really felt Jim’s spirit of positivity and optimism in my run today. He is never far from our thoughts. NYCM, this was a once in a life time opportunity and you didn’t disappoint. XOXO