Running Against The Wind: My NYC Marathon Recap

Here it is: My 2014 NYC Marathon Recap!  If you’re in a rush, you can just scroll through my pics and I’ll give you the short version:  it was hella windy, I wore a lot of pink, ran 26.2 miles, it wasn’t as magical as I thought it would be, but I got my medal and drank this beer.  🙂

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NBD, I’m a marathoner.

The longer version is going to be much longer, so let’s get to it.

I left work early on Friday and went right to the expo to get my bib, shirt and Sparkly Soul headband.  I knew I didn’t want to hang around the expo long, so I made boyfriend take my obligatory expo photo and we were on our way!

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We kicked off Saturday with almond oatmeal pancakes and I spent the day foam rolling and getting a bright pink mani.  You know, priorities!  Boyfriend and I went out to a fairly early dinner at our favorite Italian place, where I had lots of bread, pasta with marinara sauce and a side of sauteed spinach.  I spent the rest of the night pacing my apartment making sure I had everything organized for Sunday morning.  I’ve never felt this much anxiety before a race before, and all of it was related to the travel involved, not the actual race.  I was worried about having to take multiple modes of transportation and that I wouldn’t get there on time.  I did an excellent job of hydrating on Saturday, as I was up multiple times throughout the night to pee.  At about 3am, I also felt my stomach grumble, so I went into the kitchen and ate an apple cider donut boyfriend had made. 😉  While I was up, I couldn’t help but notice the howling winds.  The forecast was calling for a cool and windy day and NYRR had sent out an e-mail about the strong winds.  Awesome.  We can’t control the weather though, right?  I was just thankful it wouldn’t be raining all day like it was on Saturday. 

My alarm finally went off at 5am and I ate a big bowl of peanut butter oatmeal with chia. Boyfriend brought me to the LIRR station and I hopped on a 6:10 train to Penn Station.  I spent the entire train ride trying to meditate and relax.  I had no trouble catching a cab down to the ferry, but there was some delays and confusion at the ferry terminal, so I caught a ferry around 7:45-8am instead of 7:30.  No big deal, I figured I still had plenty of time to get to the start.

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The ferry ride was easy and I was thankful to grab a seat and chill out.  Once on Staten Island, we had to wait in huge line to get onto a bus to the start village and that’s when I noticed how brutal the wind really was.  You know that Bob Seger song “Against the Wind“?  (If nowhere else, you’ve heard it on the Forrest Gump soundtrack) Well I had put that song on my playlist, because it’s actually one of my favorite songs to run to.  What I didn’t know was that it’d become the theme song of my first marathon.  As I stood in line for the bus getting assaulted by the wind, I snapped this picture of Manhattan and tweeted it out.  See you in 16 miles!  

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It took a very long time to get from the ferry terminal to Fort Wadsworth, which was good in the end because I was sitting on a heated bus vs. being blown away and cold in the start village.  As we sat in traffic, I nibbled on my english muffin with peanut butter and took a few sips of water.  When we finally got off the bus, we had to go through security (super fast) and I stopped off in the first porta potty I found.  I made my way to the Orange area and struggled to get myself ready.  I had waited to pin my bib on (I’m crazy about it being straight and not crinkled) but it was nearly impossible to get it pinned on in the winds.  I was terrified it was going to blow away!  I didn’t even have a chance to sit down before I heard the announcement that my wave would be closing soon.  Again, I think it was probably good that I didn’t have a lot of time to sit down or even think!  

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Despite having maps, signs and volunteers helping all over Fort Wadsworth, I found the start area sort of confusing.  I was rushing to get to my corral before it closed and thought I was already there, so I stripped off all my layers down to my shorts, tee, arm warmers and gloves.  Big mistake.  I ended up just missing my corral and was told I’d have to wait to start at 10:45 vs. 10:30!  What?!  I know it’s not a huge deal and Kara & Beth had warned me and said I’d be fine and just start later, but I was frustrated and now really cold!.  I just wanted to start already!  In the end, I somehow got into the 10:30 wave and started as planned.  People around me were telling me how brave I was for already tossing my layers, but I assured them I was just stupid for not realizing I wasn’t already in the corral.  Oops!

Before I knew it, the cannon went off and “New York, New York” was playing.  I waited to become emotional but it didn’t really happen.  I was excited to get started and determined to start slowly and not get caught up in the excitement of starting my first marathon.  Turns out it was pretty much impossible to go too fast.  

Mile 1-2:  The wind was soul-crushing.  Every time I picked up one leg, it would kick into the other.  I struggled to not fall over.  People around me were getting knocked around by the gusts!  Bibs were violently flapping in the wind, and again I was scared mine would go soaring off into the wind.  My ponytail was whipping into my eyes and making me tear up.  I wanted to look toward the gorgeous skyline and take it all in, but I just couldn’t face the wind.  So I kept my head down and put one foot in front of the other.  Looking back, that first mile was hands down the hardest mile of the entire marathon for me.  It totally threw me off my game and put me in a bad place mentally right off the bat.  Not good.  But coming down off the bridge felt great and I was hoping things would turn around in Brooklyn.  

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Already struggling somewhere in Brooklyn

Miles 3-8: These miles were all about trying to flip my mindset.  My whole body felt tight, probably because I was cold and didn’t get to stretch or do any kind of warm-up before the race.  I fought back negative thoughts.  It seemed like forever until I crossed the 5K mat, but was so thankful when I did because I knew my people would start getting my updates.  I told myself once I hit the 10K mat, I could start keeping an eye out for Leticia and Brittany who would be around Mile 8.  Seriously? I couldn’t believe I was already bargaining with myself.   These were supposed to be the easy miles! If I was counting down each mile now, what was going to happen when I got to Mile 20?  Finally, I told myself to shut up and just run.  Don’t think.  Soak in Brooklyn.  The crowds truly were awesome and helped to distract me from my negativity.  I teared up seeing Marines out along the course high-fiving and cheering everyone on.  I thought back to the stories in “A Race Like No Other” and reminded myself to be thankful for running and all that is has brought me.  And just when I needed it, I found Leticia and Brittany at Mile 8!!! I remember yelling “MY PEOPLE!!!” I stopped for a quick hug, then ran maybe a quarter of a mile more before finding my next cheer crew!  Steph,Liz and Kevin were out in Brooklyn also and it was just what I needed.  All the spectators in Brooklyn were great, but there is just something special about having YOUR people there!   

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This is my “I’m running a marathon!” face

Mile 9-15: I definitely can’t call these miles (or any miles really) painful, but they definitely weren’t fun.  My only real goal for the race was to finish, but I also had a race plan and I was nowhere near those paces.  Every time I looked at my Garmin I felt disappointed.  Eventually I pulled my arm warmers down and covered my watch so I wouldn’t pay attention to my pace.  I WAS RUNNING A FREAKIN MARATHON!  Who cares that I wasn’t on target?  I’m not winning anything!  I still hadn’t put my headphones in (and wouldn’t until Mile 19), so I was really able to hear all of the cheers and the bands along the course.  Somewhere in Brooklyn, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin” started blasting and it felt like a message from my running buddy.  “Believe” is my mantra and Beth had encouraged me to put “Don’t Stop Believin” on my playlist and I had forgotten.  A guy I had been leapfrogging during the race came up behind me and said “Girl, this is your song!”  “It really is!”, I said and started crying!  That was the kick in the ass I needed to stop being negative and start enjoying this race.  How many people get to run the NYC Marathon?  Pain-free and with SO much support?  

As the miles ticked on, I focused on fueling properly, taking my salt tabs and purposefully walking through every other water stop even though I had my handheld.  When I passed the halfway mark on the Pulaski Bridge, I knew I would definitely finish and that got me excited.  I was so pumped to see (and hear) Mrs. Miller cheering near the Queensboro, but I somehow missed her! I did get to see my cousin, her husband and Liz again and they pushed me to get over that Queensboro and into my 4th borough!

Mile 16-23:  The bridge was quiet as it’s rumored to be, but I know that beast like the back of my hand and I was ready for it.  I dug in and powered up the incline.  About halfway over the bridge, a man passed me wearing a shirt that said “Beat Cancer: check!, Train for 26.2: check!, NYCM: check!” and I started tearing up again.  Oh the emotions of running a marathon…Coming down off the Queensboro Bridge was exciting, mostly because I knew my family and friends were waiting for me.  As Gabby mentioned in her post, I never noticed that wall of sound that everyone talks about from spectators on 1st avenue.   People were definitely out in full force, but not that loud vs. Brooklyn and Queens.  My bladder felt a little full, so as I turned onto First Ave and saw empty porta-potties, I took advantage.  A quick pit-stop was totally worth not feeling uncomfortable for 10 more miles.  And then, just past Mile 17 I saw my family! 

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Pretty sure this pic is actually from Mile 8, but it describes how I felt EVERY time I saw my cheer crews!

I grabbed a quick kiss and another pack of Honey Stinger chews from Boyfriend, got a fist bump from my nephew and told everyone I wasn’t feeling as great as I was expecting to.  They told me I looked awesome, to keep it up and that they’d see me again somewhere along Central Park South before the finish.  I told them I’d see them there!  A teensy bit later I saw more friends and stopped for hugs.  Then I saw Liz and grabbed another hug.  And then, before I knew it I was at 100th street and saw Beth, Steph and the Oiselle ladies screaming their faces off!  Beth and Steph jumped in to run a few blocks with me and I told them I wasn’t doing as well as I’d hoped.  They reassured me I looked great and that I WAS GOING TO BE A MARATHONER!  When they left me to conquer the Bronx alone, I popped in my headphones and cranked up my music.  A lot of people started walking when we got to the Willis Avenue Bridge, but I knew if I walked I would struggle to start running again.  I focused on my music and ironically the second song that came on was “Against the Wind”.  Perfect.  It was all about putting one foot in front of the other at this point.  Nothing hurt, I just didn’t feel like running anymore.  I knew the incline of 5th Ave was still ahead of me and I was thankful for more strategically placed cheerleaders along the course.  When I saw my cousin & co at 105th and 5th, I said “Oh thank goodness, I have a reason to stop for a second.”  I stretched a little, thanked them for coming out and after a few minutes, kept on.  

Mile 23-25: At 100th and 5th, I saw Beth, Ashley, Leticia and Brittany with a new cheerleader: coach!!! I gave the girls my best thumbs up as I passed, and Abby & Beth jumped in to run with me, puffy coats and all.

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I remember thinking they were too peppy for me at mile 23, but they were MY peppy people and I needed them.  They distracted me by telling me how the elites had done and reminding me that I knew every inch of this park.  As people yelled “You got this, Kim”, they would yell back “Hell yeah she does!” and make me laugh.  They ran with me as we went down Cat Hill (thank goodness) and then back up that little bitch hill!  They made me run faster than I felt like running, but I didn’t slow down.  Before we exited the park, I tossed Beth my handheld and headphones. I thanked them and they sent me off to finish on my own.  I can’t say enough how perfect it was to have them with me for those two miles.  If they hadn’t been next to me, I know I would’ve slowed down, walked and raged (silently, of course) at spectators telling me I was “almost there”.  😉  They had energized me and I was feeling fantastic heading out of the park.

Miles 25-26.2: As I turned out onto Central Park South, I thought about my dad.  A piece of his marathon advice popped into my head.  He’d told me to look around in that last mile, to take it all in and remember this feeling.  Oddly enough, I was looking around for him (and the rest of my family).  I was so excited to finish and felt so strong that I actually almost missed them!  They spotted me before I saw them and were cheering like crazy. I threw them a thumbs up and sped on (felt like speeding, probably crawling…).  All I remember after turning into the park is how good I felt.  I was ready to attack that uphill finish.  It seemed like everyone was cheering just for me and telling me how close I was. “Almost there!” and it was true this time!  I passed so many people who looked like they were miserable and struggling.  I was so glad to not feel like that!  I saw the finish and gave it all I had.  I locked eyes with a cameraman and gave my finish thumbs up.  Official finish time: 4:43:48.

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After crossing the finish, I felt a little delirious and almost immediately cold.  My brain was not processing what I had just accomplished.  It wasn’t until after I had grabbed my medal and was waiting in line to get a finisher photo, that I felt emotional.  I watched a man get his medal placed over his head and he burst into tears.  He put his head down and quietly said, “I did it!” to no one in particular.  I don’t think anyone heard him but me, but I started crying with him.  I did it too!   

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I wrapped myself in a heat sheet for the walk out of the park, but it didn’t do a damn thing to keep me warm.  I had selected the no-baggage option, but we didn’t get our fleece hooded ponchos until we completely exited the park and were down around 74th street.  Ridiculous, in my opinion!  I had grabbed the post-race fuel bag and snacked on the pretzels and took a few sips of the Gatorade Protein Shake (yuck, tasted like chemicals).  Boyfriend was meeting me at 74th and Amsterdam with my warm clothes and I couldn’t get to him fast enough.  I knew the walk out of the park would be long, but it was ridiculous and I was SO cold.  

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Where is my damn poncho? Can’t you see my lips are purple!?

After I warmed up, I celebrated with pizza and beer with my cheer squad.  And then, ice cream with the boyfriend.  Duh!

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Even after more than a week, my marathon experience doesn’t seem real.  I don’t think I have post-marathon blues, but it is a lot of training and buildup for one day that simply flies by!  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely relished sleeping in last week and not running at all.  It took me a very long time to write this recap because I felt guilty for being disappointed.  Disappointed that this race wasn’t the magical experience for me that it seems to be for everyone else.  Disappointed that I didn’t run a time that I know I am capable of running.  I have now realized that’s silly–I’m allowed to feel whatever I feel about the race!  Even Kara Goucher was disappointed.  I am still a little disappointed, but I’m also so proud, inspired and excited. Proud of all the hard work I put into my training.  Proud that I crossed the finish line feeling so so strong and happy.  Inspired by all of the runners, of all abilities.  Inspired by the passion of the people on the sidelines, supporting not only their runner, but thousands of us out there.  And finally, I’m excited to see what’s next!  I ran a freakin marathon.  What else am I capable of?  

People have asked if I got bit by the marathon bug and if I would run another.  Well I think I knew before marathon #1 that I’d run marathon #2, #3, etc. as long as my body allows and as long as I enjoy doing it.  I know I’ll be back for NYC one day, maybe even as early as next year since I plan to enter the lottery, but I’m certainly not dying to do it again.  For me, this race is a lot of work, money and stress.  Despite being my “hometown” race, getting to the start line and getting away from the finish line were like mini-marathons in and of themselves.  I actually joked with the guy I was sitting next to on the way to the start that my “next marathon” would be one where I can drive up to the start, hop out and start running.  So for now, I CrossFit.  And I run whenever I want, for however long I want, at whatever pace I want! 

 

 

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4 comments on “Running Against The Wind: My NYC Marathon Recap

  1. Congratulations, Marathoner!!! I agree that getting to the race and getting out of the finish were mini marathons in and of themselves. I love your finish line photo!

  2. I don’t know where to start with this comment. I could read this over and over again. I’m so incredibly proud of you, MARATHONER! This post brought me to tears (no surprise or shock there I’m sure). I 100% understand your disappointment. Wind can definitely be soul crushing and the wind on marathon Sunday was NO JOKE. But regardless of what you think, you CRUSHED your first marathon. Finishing strong is a HUGE part of first marathon and not many people can say they did (myself included). That alone should be celebrated. You have no idea how incredibly strong you are and an inspiration to so many people, especially me. I can’t say enough how proud I am of you for becoming a marathoner. You never give up! I’m so thankful I got to run with you that day. I hope you realize how amazing you are! Everyone else does. Congratulations again, marathoner!!!!!!! I couldn’t be more proud of you!

  3. love. Love. LOOOOOOOOVE! You’re incredible. I did a half marathon with those conditions (35 degrees yippee!) and I nearly lost my mind, but you toughed it out for 26.2! Congratulations. I can’t wait to see what your marathoning/crossfitting/trail running/amazing future holds. And your medal moment with that dude made me cry. Like seriously cry. It’s in that moment with the bling that you realize yup, I did it. For months of training and for 26.2 miles at once, I did it. XOXOXO

  4. Wow Kim, you ran New York City as your first marathon? That’s so amazing, congratulations! That’s one race that’s definitely on so many people’s bucket lists, including mine. You go girl!

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