Wednesday, November 09, 2011

NYC Marathon wrap-up

**Warning, this is a long post as I wanted to write everything down for my own benefit.  Feel free to just skim it if you don't care about all this stuff. :)

I don't even know how to begin to sum up the NYC Marathon that went down on Sunday.  It was an incredible journey with a lot of amazing personal experiences, both before and during the race.

Kate and I met the buses down at 45th between 7th and 8th at 5:30 am.  From there we had a nice long drive to Staten Island, got off at Fort Wadsworth and headed to the Robin Hood tent.  Kate ran for charity and they had a heated tent that she was able to get me into.  It was so wonderful not to have to shiver in the cold for hours before we started running.

Thankfully it was an absolutely perfect day for running.  Cool and sunny but not too cold.  When the gun went off at 10:40 (I was in the 3rd of 3 waves), some guy sent us off with a live rendition of New York, New York.  I thought it was quite fitting.  It was pretty slow going at first because there were so many people, but it soon thinned out enough for us to be able to keep a steady pace.  I was surprised though, the streets were pretty tight throughout the entire race.  I felt like I was dodging other runners the entire time.  But I much prefer that to a sparse running field that kind of makes you feel like you are at it alone.  Anyway, we stayed with the 4 hour pacer for the first 13 miles or so, but we really should have gone slower than that.  I don't know if it was my chest cold, or what, but I never really felt great from pretty much the beginning.  I had a cramp that would come and go throughout the race, and by about mile 10 my legs were already feeling really tired.  I knew at that point that I wasn't going to be able to sustain that pace for the whole race.  Somewhere around mile 13 or so, Kate had to stop to go to the bathroom.  I was going to stop but didn't really need to, so I used that time to slow down and go at whatever pace was comfortable for me.  It was at this point that I decided that I had to just run my own race, and do whatever I needed to do to be able to finish, even if that meant slowing down.  It made me think about trials in life, and how sometimes in order to get through them, we have to let something go, and just be ok with the best we can do.  I never thought that I would be ok with less than the goal time that I wanted for myself, but at this point, I honestly was.  From that point on, I didn't look at my watch once.  I didn't care what pace I was going, and I didn't want to know what mile I was on.  Sometimes I couldn't even see the mile markers, which was really nice.  It's harder for me mentally to keep such close track of my miles.

By the time I got to the Queensboro Bridge, I had slowed down a lot, just in time for the hill.  I kept a steady pace up the hill and was so thankful when the downgrade came.  There is a point on the bridge where you can see down into the course in Manhattan and the streets were just packed with people.  I got really choked up at that point because I had been looking forward to getting into Manhattan since the beginning of the race, and it meant that I had finished the hurdle of the hill on the bridge.  I had to stop the crying shenanigans pretty fast though because I literally could not breathe.  It was so amazing though, to come into Manhattan and feel that I was that much closer to finishing.  The crowds were amazing.  I hugged the west side of the road because I knew friends were waiting on that side, and it was so great to hear people shouting my name, which was way more energizing than I thought it would be.

A little past mile 18 our friend Marilee and Kate's husband Jed were waiting for us. I stopped there for a minute to stretch and chat, and seconds later Kate came up behind me, and I was so happy to see her.  My stomach was not feeling great so Marilee gave me part of a bagel to settle it and it helped a little.  Jed jumped in at this point, and I was really struggling.  Going up 1st avenue is pretty much continuous rolling hills.  The good thing is that whenever there was an uphill, it meant there was a downhill on the other side.  When we got to mile 20, I honestly thought I wasn't going to be able to go any further.  My legs were so fatigued and hurt so bad, and my stomach was just not great.  I decided that I had to utilize the water stations to walk for a bit.  Right before I would stop at each mile, I felt like I was going to barf, so it was perfect to stop and walk and get something to drink, and then I could start back up again and be good for about another mile.

I knew that Nate and my boys, my parents and sister, and some other friends were waiting for us at 111th and 5th Ave, and I told myself I couldn't stop until I got to them.  I first saw our friends from the ward and then a couple blocks later I saw my dad standing up on a lamp post and then I saw everyone else.  It was seriously amazing to get to see them and hug and kiss them.  Asher and Sayer were so smiley and happy to see me, and I was SO happy to see them and Nate, and everyone!  The thought that I was going to get to see them again after I finished really helped motivate me to the end.
Coming up to the fam.  My face is so funny in this pic.  I was squinting cuz we were running into the sun.
Saying hi to the boys.  They were so happy to see me, I loved it.

Giving hugs and kisses
And one for Nate too!!

Heading back down 5th Ave
 After we said goodbye, we headed off to the horrible hill up 5th Ave.  This was seriously the point that I was dreading the whole race, I was so afraid of the pain I knew it was going to inflict.  About halfway up the hill, all of the sudden I heard Nate's voice in my earphones.  It caught me completely off-guard, but it could not have come at a more perfect time.  He said "surprise! it's me, Nate...." and then went on to tell me how proud of me he was and how much it meant to him that I was doing this, and so many other wonderful things that I needed to hear at that exact moment.  I wanted to cry, but knew I wouldn't be able to breathe, so tried to hold back.  But that definitely pumped me up a lot and put a smile of my face for the rest of the race.  The hill was brutal, but we kept on trucking and it was a glorious moment when we turned west into Central Park.  Central Park is a lot of rolling hills, but I knew we had a nice stretch of flat before we hit them so that was a life saver.  I felt the strongest over those last few miles (well, strong is a relative term, lets just say I felt stronger than I had since about mile 17) and I'm not sure where my bursts of energy came from, but I am so glad they came.  We were actually keeping pretty good pace in the park, but we did stop to walk at the water stations, so that slowed our split times quite a bit.  I saw a friend from Asher's preschool on the west side of the road and that was a fantastic little surprise and boost of energy, and then about a mile later I saw a good friend from the ward on the east side which was a wonderful surprise as well.  I actually can't believe that I saw her, as I was hugging the west side and she was on the east, but the stars aligned, and it made me so happy to see a familiar face.

When I hit the 25 mile marker, I stopped for my fluids, walked for a minute, and then told myself that I couldn't stop again until I crossed that finish line.  I also happened to notice the clock right around this point, and right then is when I wanted to be crossing the finish line to get my 4 hour time.  I felt totally ok about it though.  I was actually surprised that I wasn't further behind.  Right after mile 25, we came out of the south end of the park and turned west onto central park south.  It was still totally packed, and such a wonderful sight.  I hugged the north side of the street where there weren't as many spectators, but there were still plenty of people shouting my name which was wonderful.  About half way down CPS, I came up behind Jennie Finch who was running for Timex... she is a two time Olympic medalist for women's softball, and was the very last person to cross the starting line and Timex was donating $1 to Team for Kids for every person she passed along the way to the finish.  She and her team had Timex shirts on and I heard someone call her Jennie.  I was running right beside her and asked her if she was Jennie and she nodded yes.  She looked like she was barely hanging on as well which made me feel a little better.  Is that bad? ;)  She is truly amazing though, she just had a baby 4 months ago and was out there kicking that race's trash.  I passed her just as her team was enthusiastically saying they were going to be at Columbus circle in 45 seconds. Maybe a little too enthusiastically for me. ;)

It was also at this point that the inside of my quad on my right leg felt like it was going to give out.  I've kind of already forgotten how miserable I was feeling at this point, but I know that I thought I was going to throw up and completely collapse.  But I kept going as I turned north back into the park.  The crowds were still totally packed and amazing, with people shouting my name at pretty much every step.  I couldn't believe that I could actually still smile and wave a little to them.  As soon as I came up that last hill and saw the finish line about 50 feet away, I just about lost it.  I was SO incredibly happy that I had made it, and that I had pushed myself as hard as I did, when I honestly felt like I had nothing left to give, all the way back at mile 20.  I thought Kate was right behind me and looked back to make sure, but she wasn't there. I was hoping she wasn't far behind, and she wasn't. :)  Honestly, I couldn't have done it without Kate.  There were so many times that I just wanted to keep walking between miles 20 and 24, but wanting to stay with her kept my legs moving. 

About 2 steps before I crossed the finish line, Jennie Finch came up on my left and passed me.  I was probably the last $1 that she earned for Team For Kids. :)  I crossed the finish line and was euphoric.  It was very similar to how I felt after Bart was born... I was almost giddy with happiness that the whole ordeal was over, and that I had accomplished what I set out to, and that I had pushed myself harder than I thought I could.  I have to say, that I wasn't expecting it to be this hard.  I thought for sure the first 20 miles would fly by and then maybe by mile 21 or 22 I would have to start fighting.  But that was not so.  Not by a long shot.

I am completely thrilled that I reached my first goal which was to finish under 4:20.  I am a little sad that I didn't reach my ambitious goal of getting a sub-4 hour time, but not nearly as sad as I thought I would be.  I am pretty darn proud of myself and I know that I gave it my absolute all.  It just wasn't the day for that time, but I know it will be someday. :)  My official finish time, which was printed in the New York Times on Monday, was 4:12:25.  That is a PR by about 53 minutes people!!!  Way to go me!!  It really was an incredible experience to run in the city that I live in, having friends come out to see us on the course, to be familiar with the streets.  I know I will think about it every time I am in the neighborhoods that I ran through, and every time I run through Central Park.  I love that.  I don't know if I will ever run NY again, hopefully someday, but I am just so happy that I got to experience this crazy huge race at least once, and while I was living here.  That's really all I wanted. :)

Post race was a whirlwind of back and leg pain mixed with bouts of severe nausea.  We walked for a while to find a place to eat, and then decided to take the subway to a restaurant a little more north.  While we were waiting for the train, I asked if they would mind going to celebrate without me, as I wasn't feeling so hot.  So they all went out to dinner while I made my way home, collapsed on my bed, only resurfacing to finally barf up all my insides.  I felt a little better after that.  5 hours later, I re-emerged from my room and felt like I could eat something. 

The week of the marathon, the subway station at 59th (Columbus Circle) was decked out in all things Marathon.  There was a wall of names of all the runners which made me feel like a rockstar.  47,000 runners!

The Friday before the race, Kate and I went to the Expo to get our bibs, etc, and we happened to be there just in time to see Apolo Ohno who was also running, and Jared the subway guy who ran it last year.

On Saturday I went with the fam to the finish line.  It's crazy to see how much time and work go into the making of this race.
The back view of the finish line

The front view

View from the finish line of the final stretch
Thank you to everyone for all the love and support and prayers.  And thank you ING and NYRR for an amazing race!!!
A few more pics from the official photographers... 
last few miles in central park


last stretch into the finish line

crossing the finish line!  just pretend that clock says 4:12 (i started an hour after the first runners started)

half marathon point

Verezano bridge from staten island (the start)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Let the countdown begin!!!

Well folks, we are here.  The NYC marathon is in 3 days!  I am both excited and nervous, but mostly excited.  NYC is a pretty tough course {it's got some good hills} so I am trying to mentally prepare myself so I am not too disappointed if I don't reach my goal time.  I know in my heart that it doesn't matter how fast I run the race, it is about finishing and giving it all that I've got along the way, and I know that I will do that. And I know that I will be completely thrilled to just be running the course, enjoying cheers from the many, many crowds, and crossing that finish line in Central Park, no matter what the clock says.  

Whether I reach my goal, or whether the clock is 5 minutes or even 30 minutes later than my goal time, it won't have been a wasted journey.  Running has become an important part of my life.  I love that my kids know that I run.  They ask me if I'm going running and when I come home they ask my if I'm "all fweaty".  {Cute side story: Yesterday I was looking over the course map, and Asher was looking over my shoulder, and so I told him that this was the map of my marathon and that I was running it on Sunday!  He got all excited, then counted the miles and told me it was 26 miles, and then told me, "ok mom, if you are the first person that crosses the finish line, then you will be the winner, and you will get a gold medal..." he then went on to describe what that gold medal will look like.  Well, I will most definitely not be the first person to cross the finish line, but I will get a gold-ish medal!  I'm so glad that Asher will think that that means I won!}  I'm happier after I run.  Energized.  I feel strong when I run, and that definitely carries over into daily life with my kids.  I feel like I've become a whole new, better version of me since this time last year.  Last year I was about 25lbs overweight, I didn't like the way I felt in my body or in my clothes.  I felt lazy and just gross.  Running has made me fit, healthier, and more disciplined.  It's hard to measure success when raising kids, it's hard to know if anything I'm doing even makes a difference.  I know it does {even if it doesn't always seem like it}, and that's why I do it, but sometimes it's nice to go running, and to be able to see results right then, for the hard work I put in the week before.  It's nice to have that in at least one aspect of my life. :)  Anyway, enough of all that.  I just finished my last training run {3 miles!}, and am hoping and praying that I get over this very untimely cold by Sunday.  I can definitely use all the prayers and positive thoughts I can get!  

Which, I know it might sound silly to some people, because really, it is just a race, and in the grand scheme of things, it's not that important. But a few weeks ago my friend Breanne bore her testimony about how Heavenly Father cares about the things that we care about... if something is important to us, it is important to Him.  I believe that.  Running this race through the streets of NY has been something that I've been dreaming of doing for several years.  It is important to me... to make it to the starting line and to run well to the finish line, and Heavenly Father knows that.  I honestly feel like I've got Him on my side, rooting for me, just as much as {if not more than} all my friends and family that are cheering me on and that have supported me SO much throughout this process.  It feels good. Really good!  It makes me feel empowered and unstoppable.  I feel ready...  I've trained well, I've listened to my body and taken time off when I needed to, and I know that I've put the time and miles in that I needed to, and now I'm excited to get out there and see what I can do!

So wish me luck and we'll see you back here in a few days for the race report!