Saturday my family came in for the race. I ended up seeing Cookin' down in the Village (2 for 1 ticket booth). Pretty enjoyable. Dinner was at Tony's Dinapoli's in the Times Square area to CARB UP! It was amazing how many people were there...an absolute zoo between runners and theatre people. After, I said goodbye to my family and went back to my place to pack and get ready for the big race. I slept about 2 hours Saturday night...not so easy to sleep when you know what's going on in a few hours;0)
Sunday morning I woke up around 5AM. It really didn't set in that I was finally doing the race...no more training runs! Around 6:15 my running friends called to say they were in the cab to come pick me up. We took the cab to the NY Public Library where the buses were being loaded to take people to Ft. Watsworth, Staten Island. It was unbelievable!! The line stretched from the front of the library around 42nd street, down to sixth avenue, and down a full block to 41st street! Fortunately, they kept things moving and buses continued to come by. My mom volunteered to help with the buses so she was able to get some before pictures of all of us. I'll share those once I get them from her. As we were waiting in line, it was amazing to look around and see who was participating in this race. All kinds of people! All sorts of nationalities, ages, etc. I even saw a girl running in some kind of pink dress with wings...I can't imagine the chaffing after wearing that for 26.2 miles! We finally boarded the bus and began the trek out to Staten Island. It was pretty cool because police shut down portions of highways for us to get to the start. It took forever though....we got there around 8:45 and the race started at 10:10.
Before the race started, we needed to check in our plastic bags, get a bite to eat, etc. It was a bit rushed for my taste...so if I do this next year definitely would leave earlier. Anyway, around 9:50 everyone started to head to the starting line. We tried to maneuver closer so we wouldn't get blocked by a wall of walkers. No offense to the walkers out there but many times they don't move out of the way! The national anthem is performed followed by speakers and then the cannon! The journey has begun to the tunes of Frank Sinatra and New York, New York. Isabelle was impressed I knew all the words. I guess that is what happens when you hear the song so many times in the past year and a half! Running over the Verrazano-Narrow Bridge was nothing short of amazing. It was an absolute SEA of runners. The bridge was actually shaking from the pounding of all the runners. I've heard that the bridge takes the most force during the marathon! I guess 35,000 people would do it! It was a tough way to start a race as it inclines a good amount...never easy to just start running on an incline! We joked as we got to the end of the bridge to enter Brooklyn "one borough down, 4 to go!". Hey it counts....we did Staten Island, sorta;0)
As we entered Brooklyn, the streets were lined with people screaming for us. I've never felt such a high like I did then because it was the first time I've had so many people just out to cheer for anyone! Sure there have been races with people out, but not just for the sake of cheering. The best part of this marathon is the diversity of neighborhoods you run through....you can't beat it! In Brooklyn, we passed through various neighborhoods: Hispanic, Hasedic Jews, Asian, etc. People would line the streets and have their hands out to slap as you run by. I had my name taped on my shirt (fell off by midway) and people would yell for me:0) Mile 7 was the first time I spotted my family. It worked out well because Susan had a cell phone to coordinate where to look, not to mention she's 5'10" and I was wearing a bright pink shirt! She would wave her hands and I was just the pink flash;0)
Anyway, mile 7 it was just my mom in Brooklyn before we hit Brooklyn's Academy of Music. She was so excited to see us and snapped some pictures! I'll share once she sends them to me. Anyway, still feeling pretty good...still feels like a 1/2 marathon at this point. After seeing my mom, the crowds started to thin out and you hit a little low. Kept on going, making sure to stop at as many water stations as I could because I knew I'd need the Gatorade/water for later on in the race. The water stations were an experience in itself...with all the cups on the road and people trying to get over...it was pretty dangerous! You had to be a bit defensive to keep from getting knocked over. It was around this point that all 3 "color" starts merged onto one course. And the true zoo has begun;0) Mile 9 we ran through Bed-Sty....the crowd picked up again as I would find out is the largest African-American community in the city. They were definitely into it as there was music blaring out the windows and people again lining the course. We kept commenting and looking in awe...knowing that they were all here for us. Absolutely awesome...I kept saying thank you because they really helped make the full marathon experience!
Mile 10 we hit Williamsburg and the Hassidic Jews. There was not a lot of people out here....it was still OK though because at this point I'm still feeling pretty good....I can definitely do this;0) Next we pass through Greenpoint and I just remember how pretty the houses were...pretty neat neighborhood. Finally we hit the halfway mark at the Pulaski Bridge to cross over into Queens. The bridges definitely made this race extremely difficult. The inclines are steep and continuous....not that bad now but later on...not so fun;0) At this point, Susan's cousin and sister join us to run a portion of the race with us. She had her Boston Red Sox hat on and I found out she's living in the same neighborhood my mom grew up in! She was definitely instrumental in keeping the energy supply up. At this point I was eating my energy snack...sharkies! What can be cooler than eating sharks in a marathon;-)
Mile 14. Long Island City and my mom is there with my brother's g/f to greet us. Snapped some more pictures and even ran ahead of us to get another picture. Something about living in a marathon family.. This is when it started to sink in...hey legs keep on gong...you've got a second half marathon ahead of you! Things started to get bare and a lot less people as we headed towards the Queensborough Bridge. This was a HUGE FREAKIN' incline. It was one of those climbs that you felt never ended. The one encouraging factor was knowing that 1st Avenue was straight ahead. I had heard so much about how it goes from quiet stomping of runner's feet to a fantastic roar as you exit the bridge. And no they weren't kidding! As you exit the bridge, you see lines of people 5 deep! People with signs, drinks in red cups (aka alcoholic;0)), etc! You don't even need to know anyone here because it's just amazing. That and I was entering my neck of the woods. As I ran by my street, I looked around for people from my building and even spotted a few people! Yay! The energy felt here is unbelievable. People drinking at the bars and looking out the windows.
We got to the 18 mile marker and this is when you need to prepare yourself to try and not hit the "wall"...the runner's term for the part of the marathon you hit that psychological barrier. This is when I was happy I ran the end of the course last weekend! Stopped and got a sponge....spongebob squarepants too and a power gel:p Susan's husband joined us to run at this point...which was great! He was so energetic and kept trying to pull us along...a lot easier to do when you haven't run 18 or so miles at that point;0) Kept running up 1st Avenue into Harlem where the crowds started to disappear which is something I did not want at this point. Unfortunately, one of our running buddies fell behind around here and honestly I didn't want to hold back. I wanted to finish this damn thing strong! Things are starting to ache and get mad at you for doing this!
We hit the Willis Avenue Bridge to hit our 5th borough...the Bronx. I was pretty pleased to see a lot of people out to cheer us on....I remember seeing signs such as "Don't Give Up" and "Keep Going...You're Almost there!"...it was nice to see people knew that this was a very tough area for runners. It's a bit demoralizing because you're running away from the finish line. I remember seeing a sign hanging from an overhang saying something along the lines "Run right through the wall"... This is when my right foot on the top started to hurt like hell. I kept saying "I don't care if I have bloody stumps...I am finishing this damn marathon!". Before hitting the Madison Ave bridge my mom was stationed with my brother and his g/f. They were so excited to see us! Over the last bridge we went and it was a relief to hit Manhattan again. I knew I didn't have to leave the borough and pretty soon I was going to hit very familiar territory: Central Park! Things started to pick up and a lot more people were lining the streets.
As we got closer and closer to Central Park Susan and I just got this makeup of "we're doing this....I know you're hurting like nothing before but we are doing this together!". What a wonderful feeling to start heading into the 90s along 5th Avenue...the park was so near yet so far away. Susan's family was right before we entered the park and they even made a sign for me! At this point Susan's sister joined us again. We entered the park at 90th Street...where I always meet Susan for our early morning runs. We looked at each other and said "it's just like our morning runs now." The energy I began to feel and the determination to finish....unbelievable. I was definitely happy I had run in Central Park before...many people do not think that it is hilly. I definitely know...I probably know every incline in that loop!
As we got to the 72nd Street Traverse her husband and Lisa cut off and it was up to us to get the last bit. I knew I could do this.....soooo sooo close. I couldn't even hear the crowd at this point...it was just concentration of putting one foot in front of the other. We got to the lower loop of the park and finally exit the park. It was sad here because some people were unfamiliar with the course....and thus got demoralized from not finishing there. Thankfully I was prepared to exit the park and head down to Columbus Circle for the final stretch. Susan and I both kept pace and kept saying "don't go too fast"...like that is a problem at this point. Everything was hurting by now....my foot was throbbing, my legs felt like huge boulders....but this all didn't matter.
We get to Columbus Circle and turn into the park to so many screaming people! We turn the corner into he park and I see the finish line! The feeling at that point was unbelievable...I had no idea what to feel. It was so exciting...and I just remember tears starting to form in my eyes. All that training for this moment in time....to get to that finish line. Susan and I crossed together with our hands up in the air together.....I can't wait to see that photo! At that point nothing hurt because I had done it...26.2 miles. I had accomplished one of the biggest goals of my life to this point. My time: 4:06:33. I didn't break 4 hours this time but not too shabby for a first marathon performance. A very tough course....but a very exciting marathon!
We walked and got our finisher medals. What a feeling! Susan and I got our picture with the medals....and then the aches started. We both asked what hurt...both responses "everything!". haha. I thanked her for all her help and support because I know there would be no way I would be doing this without her! What an amazing experience and it is something that will be a part of me forever. I picked up my stuff stored on the UPS van and went to find my family. I finally found them and there was kenkomachi as well:0) Thank you so much for coming! Having friends there makes it even more special. My mom ends up telling me that she cried everytime she saw me pass by..oh moms! She was so happy for me.
So what now? I've finished my first 26.2....but I didn't break 4 hours. You know what that means.... Not to worry though...I'm taking a few days off to let my body recooperate. Then it's time to set new goals. Today I am off from work and plan to mosey on over to Tavern on the Green and pick up a finisher shirt. I also plan to hang up my poster: "At 18 miles you wonder why you do it, At 26.2 it all becomes perfectly clear." Oh how true! I did a full marathon and that can never be taken away from me!
Oh and pictures from Susan: