Thanks so much for all your well wishes & congratulations, they’ve meant so much! After 20 weeks of training, sweat & tears, I finally ran a marathon — the ING NYC Marathon — my very first.
This marathon was a rollercoaster: from denial to excitement to breakdown to pride — I don’t even know where to begin. I originally thought I would post a mile per mile recap but have decided against it because the marathon was so much more than miles for me. It was an emotional journey; I feel different after the fact not just physically (I did the marathon shuffle for the past two days) but emotionally. Here’s how it started…
I picked up my stuff at one of the busiest expos I’ve ever attended. With over 47,000 runners checking out gear, energy supplements & momentos, the expo was buzzing with excitement. I took a walk around the expo, bought some keep sakes & headed out to dinner (watch for a later post, awesome food!).
Saturday I took it easy, did my best not to be on my feet, drank enough water to cure a desert drought. I went to bed early, laid out all race essentials, said a little prayer & was ready to tackle the marathon the next day.
After getting all my gear on I was on my way to the Staten Island Ferry to the runners village. The runners village was huge: runners as far as the eye can see. The runners village was fully stocked with coffee, bagels, power bars, energy drinks & plenty of bathrooms. While I waited for my wave to open I sat down & made friends with the runners around me. One of my favorite things about this race was the people I met from all over the world. There was the couple that ran the entire marathon together from Barcelona. The German woman who had trained so hard to qualify she was virtually in tears before anything even started. The 55 year old man who had run NYC 8 times. The college roommates who were terrified of running that morning. It was amazing to hear everyone’s journey, how they trained, why they run, what they were feeling.
The closer we got to the starting line the more butterflies I felt until finally we were off! We crossed the Verrazano Bridge & left Staten Island for beautiful Brooklyn. As soon as we got off the bridge we saw the streets lined with expectations — they were amazing! Drums, noise makers, signs, treats, the people of NYC encouraged us from the get go. Brooklyn was my favorite part of the run, the brownstone buildings & Fall foilage lined streets were everything I pictured them to be. We were lucky enough to have perfect running weather, the sun was shining, the air was crisp & I felt good. I soaked the crowds in, thanked them for cheering & finally saw my friend around mile 8 with a huge sign, cheering her bootie off (seeing a familiar face in a huge crowd was incredible). Around mile 10 I saw one of the messages a friend had left for me play on the big screen and smiled so hard it hurt — so awesome!
Williamsburg came & went, we crossed the Pulaski Bridge into Queens where I was greeted by my friend again, still feeling good, right on stride with the 5:30 pacer (my expected finish time, based on my training times). We were in Queens for about two miles then hopped on the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan. The bridge was quiet, all you could hear was the sound of feet hitting the pavement, making a strideful melody. Coming up on mile 15 I stepped into a pot hole & immediately felt my knee roll on itself & I knew I was in trouble. I immediately felt a sharp pain & had to slow down….I saw the 5:30 group pass me & knew that goal was now out of reach.
After a mile of running on my now injured knee I made it to Manhattan & the crowds on 1st Avenue — wall to wall people cheering loudly, drinking & being merry. I made my way to the medic tent at mile 16, rubbed some numbing gel & kept going; there was no way I was stopping. This where the mental breakdown began because I really wanted to finish strong & now that wasn’t going to happen, I knew the knee will bother me the whole way through.
I saw my friend at mile 17 where I began to run intervals in an effort to withstand the pain (numbing gel only goes so far). At mile 19 I was walking, running hurt too much & my knee was swelling with every stride. At mile 20 it hurt so bad I went to the medic tent & had a volunteer look at my knee to make sure I didn’t break anything. He said he had good news & bad news. The good news was that I didn’t break anything, I rolled my knee a bit out of socket when I stepped on the pot hole & it should heal on its own. The bad news was it would hurt & swell for a few days. He asked what I wanted to do & I told him I needed to finish, I HAD to finish, and had him rub more gel on me before continuing down the Bronx.
As we crossed Madison Ave Bridge into Manhattan I began to cry, I just couldn’t believe I had trained all those weeks only to get hurt on race day. A woman around mile 22 saw me & told me that I was doing great, to keep my head up. Those words pushed me to keep going & I began thanking my body for carrying me through. Sure, I was walking but I was still going. I realized how hard I am on myself, not only with goals but in life in general & told myself I’m allowed to have some slack. We all have bad days. Bodies are fragile. I could let this break me or I could do my best to put it to the side & keep going…so I kept going.
I saw a couple of more friends at mile 23 & with just 5K more to go I got a little push. I picked up my walking pace & focused on beautiful Central Park, the Fall leaves, the crowds that were still out there giving it all they got. I felt a huge sense of gratitude — how many people get to take part in the biggest marathon in the world? To explore the streets of NYC? To walk alongside a double amputee? Here I was struggling with knee pain & the man next to me didn’t have his two legs! He gave it all he had, was smiling the whole time & I could do the same…
At mile 25 I saw another friend & I was smiling, still in pain but now the finish was within reach — I was going to finish this thing. At .2 to go I did my best to do a slow jog across the finish line, hurt like hell but I had to give it the last bits of energy I had. I crossed the finish line to a crowd cheering me on & I couldn’t help but cry. It was over an hour later than I thought I originally would finish but I didn’t care, I was done. I didn’t give up. It was then that I realized I can do anything I set my mind to, including overcoming pain, injury & mental breakdowns. I’m stronger than I give myself credit. And I’m a marathoner.
Another medic tent visit, pain pills, ice bath, compression socks, heating pads, braces & doctor visits later, I’m finally walking somewhat normal. Though part of me is not happy with my finish time the greater part of me is happy I finished & gave it all I had.
More revelations & confessions to come. If you made it all the way down here you’re a trooper cause this was a long post. Again, thanks for all your support!