Nine years ago I went on my first cruise. It was on the Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas and left from Bayonne, New Jersey and visited four ports of call over a nine-day period. Leaving from Bayonne, the boat travels underneath the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. This was the first time I had ever seen this bridge, and at the time I certainly did not know that it marked the starting point of the New York City Marathon.
The Kim I was those nine years ago had only started my running journey (if you could even call it that), on the treadmill at my gym. Typically those runs were a couple miles while watching some game show or rerun of Friends on a TV. If Kim in 2004 knew that Kim in 2013 would one day run across that bridge, and travel 26.2 miles through the boroughs of New York City, I wouldn’t have believed it.
My journey to run the New York City Marathon began in 2010, when I first entered the lottery. I applied on a whim because I had recently began training for my first marathon, and thought if I got accepted, it would be good encouragement to keep up my marathon fitness. I did not get in that year. Or in 2011. And again in 2012 I was not picked. Because I had consistently entered the lottery beginning in 2010, I was grandfathered into NYRR’s old rule system of three times declined, fourth time guaranteed. With the cancellation of the race in 2012, I wasn’t sure if that policy would stand. At the same time, I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to be part of it if I would be guaranteed, because the circumstances surrounding its cancellation last year were so controversial. Eventually, after sorting out which runners from 2012 would take a place in this year’s run, NYRR released news that the policy granting guaranteed entry to 9+1 and four-time lottery entrants would stand. After deliberating about it for a couple weeks, I decided that ultimately I had to take this opportunity, because if I didn’t and later decided I wanted to run New York I’d be taking a chance entering the lottery with no guarantee ever again.
I began my training cycle in the middle of June, coming out of Ragnar Canada and a spring that had me running in DC (Cherry Blossom 10-Miler), Fredericksburg, VA (Marine Corps Historic Half) and Philadelphia (Broad Street Run). As with previous training cycles, I had aspirations that I would stick stringently to my training plan, get in speed work and cross training, and shoot for a PR. As per the norm, I didn’t follow my training plan consistently, cross training would come and go, and I managed to do some speed work a few weeks toward the end of the summer. My long runs were behind schedule by the middle of August, and I 100% acknowledge that some crucial ones just did not happen. I told myself that these missed runs were ok, that I’d make up for it, that having done previous marathons compensated because my muscles would know what to do.
Ultimately, the last four weeks of training, when most runners are in taper, I was cramming miles in. I found some mojo in my weekday runs, which I consider to be pivotal in being able to get long runs in on the weekend. I got my 20-miler in only 11 days before the marathon. Fortunately, I avoided any injuries, and miraculously my IT band didn’t flare up as it has in the past.
On race day, I knew I could have done a lot more work, but I also knew I could make it through 26.2, and possibly PR. After spending a night in the Doubletree Hotel on Stone Street in the Financial District, I walked to the Staten Island Ferry terminal with my hotel roommate/coach/friend Melissa. We were able to get on the 7:45 am Ferry and arrived in Staten Island a little after 8 am. We followed the crowd and eventually got onto a bus to head to the start line at Fort Wadsworth. The runner village was like nothing I’d ever seen, and the wave starts and corrals made it never seem too crowded. There were ample porta-potties and space for runners to convene/relax/meditate before starting.
I was in the Green corral, with a start time of 10:55 am. I picked up oatmeal at Starbucks outside the hotel and had a Panera pumpkin bagel. With such a late start time, I ate my oatmeal at around 9 am, and the bagel around 9:40am. Melissa was in the 10:30 am start so we said our good-bye’s and good-lucks at 9:45 am and as I waited I chatted with a few other runners. Time flew by, and eventually it was time for the 10:55 am start time runners to head into corrals. I felt good and not nervous at all. Next thing I knew, the cannon was shot and Sinatra was singing!
Being on the lower level of the bridge, my Garmin got wacky, and I knew right away that the mileage on it would be off the entire way. I decided to keep it running for the time only, and relied on the mile-markers to know where I was and gauge how I was doing.
I’m not good at a mile-by-mile breakdown, so here are some highlights:
- “Welcome to Brooklyn” – loved those signs and the awesome support all through the streets of Brooklyn. Now I understand why people love living there
- My new signature fist pump debuted around mile 4
- bathroom break between miles 8 and 9; also known as, that time I really didn’t get my compression shorts situated right, and they bothered me from that point on…
- “This is no time for Walken” sign (with Christopher Walken’s picture) around mile 10
- started feeling kinda woozy/panic-y between 12 and 13, and from that point made the decision to stop taking my Peach Tea Gu Chomps. They have caffeine, and I think that may have been my issue. I had pretzels, and knew there would be fruit ahead. I also opted to not drink any Gatorade Endurance from that point.
- Queensboro/59th St bridge – meh, felt like a good time to walk…
- 1st Avenue – five miles of people, EVERYWHERE. Looked for my friend Rob at 17, because he said he’d have beer, pretzels and Glide for me. Sadly, I did not find him :/
- Power Bar Gel (orange flavor?) at 18 – because I knew I needed it
- Orange slice at 18.5 – what?? The “Too Slow For Oranges” blogger got an orange slice??
- “One Moment in Time” a la Whitney Houston as I approached the Wills Ave Bridge to head into the Bronx; queue the arm-sway overhead, and lump in throat
- Welcomed into The Bronx with some Outkast Hey Ya, followed by Naughty by Nature Hip Hop Hooray. Not too shabby
- As requested, spilled some water in The Bronx in honor of my friend Mike
- Took advantage of bananas at a couple aid stations from 21 to 24
- Came to the realization that a PR wasn’t happening at mile 21
- Repeated mantra “No Turning Back” as I made my way down Fifth Avenue, and into Central Park
- Hit mile 25 and looked for the beer – uh, hello? No on-on???
- High-fives to NYPD officers on Central Park South
- Saw the finish line, and that I could finish in under six hours
- Medal, space blanket (with a sticker to hold it on!), and free hugs at the Finish
- LONG-ASS walk out of Central Park; put Phillies beanie on as soon as I picked up my checked bag
- LONG-ASS walk down Central Park West to get to Columbus Circle to meet Melissa
- Awesome volunteers giving fleece lined ponchos
- Beer and a burger before heading home
New York wasn’t the run I had wanted it to be, but it was amazing to be one of the 50,000+ runners to finish that day. Kim from nine years ago would have been proud.
Do you ever look back at moments in your past and reflect on what your former self would think of you now?