Anyone that knows me, knows that I love running, I never miss an opportunity to travel and I am always looking for the next big challenge.
After running my 8 state, 8 race challenge back in June, I was taking the rest of the year a little easier. I didn’t sign up for any races during the month of July, and then August and September say limited events (just a few Ragnar relays) as I trained for the Bellin Women’s Half Marathon in early October.
Then on September 10th I received conformation that I was selected as one of about a dozen BibRave Pro’s that were invited to run the TCS New York City Marathon! I always had a dream that I would one day run this race, I never thought it would be now! 16 months ago, when I finished my first Marathon (Cellcom 2017), I had no plans to run another marathon. Over time, that bug did sneak back in, but I still was making no plans for when that next marathon was going to be. Friends tried to convince me to enter the lottery for Chicago or sign up to run Cellcom again, but the desire wasn’t there.
Until September rolled around and this opportunity was staring me in the face.
After figuring a few things out (like will this fit into the budget), I knew that I couldn’t pass up this amazing opportunity! I contacted Nate to let him know we needed to make some changes to my training plan… and it was time to get running even more than I already was!
I had 54 days to prepare!
Fast forward to November! The day was finally here and I was on a plane to New York City!
First order of business was to head straight to packet pick up and the expo! I had several people tell me packet pickup was crazy and would take a while, but within 10 minutes after we walked in the door, we had our race packets and bib numbers in hand – and 5 minutes of that was getting through security! Everything was well organized and volunteers were very helpful. Then again, when you have been doing this for 49 years, you learn a thing or two!
We spent the next few hours wandering up and down the many aisles of booths, checking out samples of all kinds of products, picking up other goodies to take home. When they say “if you forgot anything at home, you can just get it when you get to the expo” they are right! If you need anything for your marathon, you can find it here! Clothing, fuel, body glide, shoes… it’s all here!
My first stop was at the New Balance store set up with in the expo. Here you can find everything and everything that is branded with the NYC Marathon name and/or logo. I looked at a great deal of the race merchandise online but there was only one thing I wanted to check on here… how did this years jacket fit? I looked at it online and was seriously considering ordering it, but I wasn’t sure what size I was going to need. I tried on my jacket and then headed back out before any harm was done to my credit card!
OH yeah, we also stopped and grabbed beer samples… a few times! LOL
My credit card would not get out completely without harm tho. My favorite find at the expo? My New York City Marathon Oofos!! I tried ordering these online but by the time I attempted to order them, all they had left were sizes 11, 12 and 13. Sorry, that’s not gonna work. So my only hope was finding them at the expo. When I walked into the booth, the young man that was working asked what size I was looking for. I told him Size 9 and he started chuckling as he started reaching for a pair of shoes. He had ONE pair of size nine shoes left!! They were now mine!
The last stop that we needed to make before we left the expo was to catch up with the rest of the crew that I was running with from BibRave!
We spent the rest of the day and most of Saturday exploring New York City. (That was a whole different adventure, I’m going to summarize that in a separate post). Before we knew it, it was time to get some sleep so that we could get up before the crack of dawn to get to the start line.
Rick was out the door before Tracie and I, since he had to be on an earlier ferry. (he was starting about an hour before us) After grabbing some breakfast (instant oatmeal is my favorite thing to pack when I travel for races!) and triple checking what we had packed in the gear check bag. At promptly 6:10am, we were out the door, heading to the subway. The adventure officially began.
After a few block walk up the hill to the Subway, we hung out and waited for the next train heading to the city. About 6:30, we were on the way! We spent some time on the train chatting with a few other runners and the next thing we knew, we were pulling into the station just outside the Staten Island Ferry! We were on the 7:30 ferry to the island, at 8:45 we boarded a bus and then at 9:30, we took a short (ok long) walk to the start villages! Now I understand why ferry times are 3-4 hours before your scheduled start time!
With 50,000 runners, there is a lot of logistics that goes into organizing a race like this! With 3 separate waves of runners, and each wave containing 6 corrals, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle! Don’t worry tho, there are plenty of signs and volunteers to make sure you get to where you need to be. Since Tracie was in different wave than me, and we wanted to run together, she opted to drop back to my Green Wave to start (I couldn’t move UP to the orange wave to start with her). We hung out in the Green runners village for a while, getting ready to run, having the rest of of breakfast (I packed a PB&J Sandwich so I could have a little something more to eat before we started since I had breakfast at 5:30am!).
We had a soft goal for time (which would give me a marathon PR) but this was simply a guideline. We were heading out to enjoy the city, the people and the energy of the race! We headed to the start line and the next thing we knew, we were on our way!! In order to control congestion a bit and get everyone on the course in a timely manner, there are technically 2 start lines! Since we were in the Green Wave, we headed out on the lower level of the Verrazzano Bridge. While I would have loved to have been on the upper level of the bridge, enjoying the sunshine, the views from the lower lever are just as amazing!
Since Tracie is naturally a faster runner than me, she was my pacer for the morning! She would run her pace for a while and when she would get too far in front of me, would slow down or stop to wait for me. Then we run together for a while. We set a goal to run sub 12 minute miles for as long as we could. Some miles were closer to 11, some 12, but we kept cruising! We were both feeling good. We were high fiving kids, stopping to play with puppies and just enjoying the morning. The energy around the race was amazing! Unless you experience it for yourself, it is really hard to describe. Several of the neighborhoods bring the part to the street! Food, fun, DJ’s and so much more!
Sometimes you have all intentions and goals and life has other plans for you. After running a great first half of the race, our race changed. Tracie ended up dealing with some leg cramps and we changed our goal to just keep moving. We walked when we had to, we ran when we could. We enjoyed the sights and sounds of the city.
I stopped along the way and took pictures when I could and we kept each other going. It was a long afternoon, but we were determined to make it to the finish line. By about mile 20, my feet were ready to be done. Together we kept each other going and did what we could to stay positive. Finally we made it to one of the best signs on the course…. the LAST BRIDGE!
We has spent the day winding our way through the 5 Burroughs of New York, enjoying neighborhood parties, and running one of the most iconic races in the world. Called one of the most difficult marathons in the world and one of the 6 World Majors in the world of running. We just covered those miles!
Turning the corner into central part was one of the best feelings EVER!
After 22+ miles on the streets of New York, we were running through the beloved Central Park! We were in the home stretch! One of the downfalls of a marathon that starts later in the day (remember that 11am start time we had?) and on the same weekend of the time change (darn Daylight savings!) is that it gets dark much earlier! When we entered the park, the sun was just starting to set. 2 miles later, we were running in the dark!
They say that there are several moments in your life that you will never forget. It might be graduating from college, getting married, having a child… so many moments, each different to each of us. Crossing the finish line of the New York City Marathon just became one of those moments for me. The marathon I dreamed of one day running, just became one of the best moments of my life. The day may not have progressed the way we would have planned but Tracie and I made the most of the cards that we were dealt, stuck with each other and did something that most people only dream of doing.
After we gathered up our stuff after the finish line, Tracie and I made our way back to the subway to start our journey back to the apartment. We chatted about the day and more importantly, we started trying to figure out where we were getting dinner from. After a full day, it was time for pizza and finding someplace to get delivery from!
Huge thanks to BibRave for giving me this opportunity and to all my friends and family that supported me on this crazy adventure! This day will forever be one of the best! At some point, I’d love to get back to New York to run these streets again. Until then, it’s time to focus on the next goals and hold strong to these amazing memories!
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