It’s taken me a while to write about this….but I did it. I actually did it. I ran the 2013 NYC Marathon. It was a wild and not always pleasant ride but I achieved my goal and boy was it amazing! The saying about getting to the starting line is the hardest part of the race is very true. It took me over 20 weeks to get to that starting line…20 weeks.
I’ve posted all about my training so I’ll get straight to the good stuff. The days before the race I was not in a happy place. I was stressed out, felt more pressure than I ever had and loads of doubt in myself filled me up. Everyone in my life was so encouraging and lovely that my fear was letting them down. I didn’t know if I could do it.
I WAS NOT A SLEEPING BEAUTY: The night before the race I did not sleep. Not one wink. Actually, make that the night before…andddd before that. I knew I had to get lots of rest, but my mind did not let me! The bad thing about living on the course of the NYC Marathon is I did not get a second to get away from it. The signs and flags were up. Two days before, I saw the barriers go up. There was no escape. I couldn’t get a chill moment in. It didn’t help that I didn’t have a giant glass of wine in hand to help the nerves a bit. I gave up alcohol the week before the race…no sleep, no wine, just carbs!
CARB IT UP: Carb loading was a joy. Although I felt so odd about eating so many carbs when I had been focused on eating pretty balanced meals. But hey, Bring it! I deserved it! Pasta was my best friend. My delicious and loving friend.
MORNING SUNSHINE: Speaking of food, the morning of the marathon I could not eat a thing. I was so nauseous that I was scared of throwing up anything I ate. But I still managed to eat breakfast and pack a big bag of snacks to eat along the way to Staten Island. I got on the subway with all of my fellow runners from the Upper East Side. The train was packed with runners. Some were on a pre-race high speaking loudly, laughing and having a good time. I was the total opposite. Grim, quiet and really just wanted to see my running pal Johanna. I would force food down just as a distraction to pass time and because I knew I needed to if I wanted to finish.
PARTNER IN CRIME: I was lucky to have met my friend Johanna this year. She was going through the same journey as me and running her first marathon. She was one of the very few people that I completely related to. I met her at a long training run and the first thing she said to me was “I’m sooo scared!” FINALLY, someone who is feeling the same way as me! We spoke about challenges, our constant roller coasters of feeling like we couldn’t do it then saying we could the next day and just relating on the fact that the marathon was a goal…but not our life. We both worked hard, enjoyed our down time and trained when we needed to but balance was something we both spoke about throughout training. I loved that I could tell her about a training run one day and a fun night out the next. She never preached about what I had to do in training and was always humble about her accomplishments. We freaked out a lot together but then it clicked…we had to embrace the experience. By the time we got to the ferry station, both of us forgot about embracing the experience. We both hadn’t slept and were nauseous but we had one another. We sat together quietly on the bus ride to the start and although no encouraging speeches were shared, I knew she was supporting me as much as I was supporting her.
FACING MY FEAR: Nope, my fear was not the marathon. It was the porta potty! I mean it’s just nasty. I would rather pop a squat on the street to pee then go in that tiny, smelly, don’t look down, hell box!!! But I got to the marathon village and of course the nerves and all of the liquids I had downed all morning gave me no choice. I had to go in there. And it was awful. I can’t handle it. I start gagging and have to focus on looking up, holding my breath while balancing the perfect squat that hovers over that evil toilet contraption aka the hole of evil. But I survived. And I actually survived two other trips during the marathon. No I did not get over the fear. That fear will always be with me. That hell box is not normal.
GO TIME: The starting line was amazing. To be in a crowd of athletes from all over the world was humbling. So many conversations in so many languages but we all understood one another. As I stood by myself, the look of panic that I thought I was hiding so well was pretty obvious to the man next to me because he did not say a word, just put his hand on my back and gave me a nod. That was all I needed. Well that and knowing there was no turning back. I mean…thousands of people were behind me and the only way out was jumping off the Verrazano Bridge! The most magical part of the starting line was when they played Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” Here I was, about to run a marathon…on my turf. A dream that only 2% of the population achieve in their lifetime…and I was going to do it in my home. The starting canons went off and off I went!
TWERK FOR A BANANA: Well I started running and there was no turning back. But I looked around and everyone was enjoying themselves. We were “woo-ing” as we ran the first few miles on the bridge. The nerves were gone. I started to embrace that I had 24 more miles to run and I better make it enjoyable. I remembered my original goal of finishing the marathon. It wasn’t about a certain time. It was about seeing my friends and family..loving my city..and being super nice to myself instead of being the high pressure asshole I had been to myself throughout training. And the first few miles that I ran in Brooklyn made all that happen. The people were amazing! The crowds were mind blowing! The DJs and bands kept me going. I high-fived anyone who offered. I smiled like a goof as people yelled “Tutu!” and waved like I was a big deal. Because for those moments…I was! I text my friends at water breaks so I was sure not to miss them on my route because their support and positivity kept me going. It was so hard to leave when I saw a friend because I just wanted to hang out with them…but they would yell at me to GOOOO! I read every supportive message that was sent my way as I would struggle to give me extra steam. I ate halloween candy and fruit that strangers offered me….not knowing where on earth it came from. I did selfies with strangers that cheered for me so I remembered every moment. So basically, I broke every “rule” of running a marathon…but I’d do it again and again and again! Oh did I mention that I twerked for banana? Well…the sign said so and I was getting hungry. And well…I may not have mastered running, but I can move! YEPPPP.
UPPER EAST SIDE’S FINEST: I had made it through Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens…and as I hated every second of going over the Queensboro Bridge…I knew it was my time! I was coming home to my borough-Manhattan! Even better…it was my street…1st Ave! I ran like a beast on 1st ave. The excitement took over. This was when I’d see my friends and family and run past my parent’s home as well as my own a few blocks down from them! I loved every second of seeing my friends. They were such troopers standing out in the cold but I got to hug all of them and embrace every well wish they threw at me. A few blocks more and I finally got to my family! Seeing them look so proud and prideful with their signs made my heart happy! It’s no surprise that my favorite hug of them all was my niece, Layla. I didn’t think she would really understand what the marathon was…or that it was a big deal that I was running it but seeing her tiny smiling face, I knew she did. And I knew she was proud of me…which really made my run.
ANGRY WALL: I saw a few more amazing friends as I headed through the Bronx then it hit! THE WALL! It was awful. That smiling face that held on for 20 miles was now the complete opposite. My legs felt like I had 40 lb weights on, every injury revealed itself and all of the encouragement from the crowds was nothing but jumbled nonsense in my head. I was so angry. This was the homestretch and I couldn’t move! I looked around to see a lot of people in the same boat as me. Even worse, I saw that the medical tents were packed with folks and many would not finish. That was heartbreaking to see because I knew those runners had worked so hard and in a second…their race was over. I kept going because I knew I was close to finishing but nothing in me could go any faster or harder.
MARATHONER: The second I got into Central Park the tears started rolling down. They were tears of frustration. Here I was in a park that I had ran so many races and nothing was working. I knew that route so well…but knowledge was not power at that point. But one more friendly face was what I needed. I went from shuffling my legs to running again and I saw that I was a mile away. That’s when I just went from tears of pain to sobbing! I had no control and although I thought I’d have a glorious photo of my hands in the air at the finish…I was holding my mouth in shock, wiping tears and catching my breath! I was given my medal by 3 amazing folks that all gave me hugs, cheers and love. I made my way to the family greeting area and was finally reunited with my family. On the subway, with my medal around my neck, body shaking and mind going in circles…I asked my niece what her favorite part of the marathon was. She said, “It was seeing you running. And my second favorite was when a runner gave me a lollipop.” Seeing me was better than a lollipop. Like I said…it was worth it.
Carb Loading Part I with my running fam!
Day before the marathon…en route to the Marathon Expo with my sis.
Marathon prep the night before!
The Staten Island Ferry Station
Freezing & Waiting for our transportation to Marathon village
Start Line! NEW YORK, NEW YORK!
Nope, don’t know who they are but we danced!
View of Manhattan from the Queensboro Bridge
1st Ave….my Ave!
My amazing friends & fam! Only wish I took photos when I saw them all…but I stole hugs instead
The tear fest begins…but ends with a smile
A victory kiss!
Layla & I celebrating on the subway