Monday, November 17, 2014

New York Marathon

Despite being dangerously under-trained, under-prepared, exhausted and injured, on November 2nd I ran the New York City Marathon.  I did my best to suicide the mission by going out way too hard on Halloween night (I blame NY for being so fun), not sleeping more than 3 hours the night before the race and running in shoes that should have been thrown away months ago.  Despite all my best efforts to sabotage, I crossed the finish line in 4:38:11, my second fastest marathon to date (by two seconds.)

As it should be in that city, the 4:38 did not come easy.  New York makes you work for it.  30 mph winds, 40 degrees and a mini-marathon just to get to the start line.  Usually when I cross the finish-line of a marathon, my first thought is: I am never running again and I want to collapse.  This one was different.  I had a huge smile on my face, I felt energized and I would have run it again the next day if someone had offered.

I am not a talented enough writer to put into eloquent words what it's like to run the New York Marathon.  Nor can I explain what makes it so different than every other marathon.  All I can say is if you have running a marathon on your bucket list, then New York should be it.  It's not only the worlds biggest marathon, 50,000+ runners, the entire city shuts down and comes to cheer you on.  It's a runners high I've never experienced.  It's truly indescribable and something everyone should witness in one form or another.

I'll spare you every little detail of my trip but here's a few of the highlights leading up to the race:

Wed. night the Giants won the world series, we got covered in champagne and then I had to get on a 7am flight to NY.
I arrived late afternoon on Thursday, went to dinner with some great friends and then promptly fell asleep on their couch after watching Scandal.

Friday morning was a 3 mile shakeout run with Nuun in Central Park followed by coffee and bagels. Then we hit up the expo and the Nuun booth to pick up individualized goodie bags for all the ambassadors.  Have I mentioned how much I heart Nuun?  Such an awesome company, filled with the coolest of cool employees.  In fact this is a good reminder that I need to restock, my stash is getting dangerously low.  We checked into our Airbnb which we definitely scored with.  Very nice two bedroom apartment blocks from the finish line and way more affordable then a hotel!  I'd definitely use Airbnb, or even the same apartment next time I am in New York.

New York in the fall is hideous
I have no idea what is wrong with me in this picture but I am posting it anyway b/c I love the Nuunies so much!
The evening then kicked into high gear with some Top Gun costumes and getting rowdy in the village.  Should I have done this two nights before a marathon? Absolutely not!  But you only live once and how often am I going to be in New York with great friends on Halloween on a Friday night?  Exactly.
Mav & Charlie 
Saturday we brunched at took it easy which actually worked out since it was raining most of the day. We had a great pre-race dinner at OTTO, watched the Duck game and set up for the next morning. There were some last minute outfit changes since I had not come prepared for 40 degree weather with 30 mph winds.

Recovery breakfast at Jacob's Pickles

Being the idiot that I am, I had a shot of espresso at dinner because I wanted to stay up for the whole Duck game.  Mission accomplished and then some.  I think I only slept 2-3 hours on Saturday night. I woke up feeling anxious and exhausted on Sunday morning.  The first thing I read on my phone was the wind warning:

Just adding to the anxiety at this point

We had no choice but to put on ALL the layers on and get out there.  AT 6:45 AM we navigated our way to Starbucks, on multiple subways (with some help from the locals) and on to the Staten Island Ferry. As soon as we stepped foot onto the island, the wind picked up and you could feel the chill in your bones.  One long shuttle ride later, we were at the start line.  I thought that we'd be sitting out there forever but the commute to the start line is no joke;  all of sudden it was 10:30 AM and time to run.
It was really nice of New York to let these two homeless people run in their marathon.
After some mis-communication about where we were supposed to line up and frantic dash to strip off layers, tritreats and I toed the line ran frantically across the start line.  Because I didn't really have a time goal for this race, I purposely ran without a watch so I don't have any splits or data.  On top of that the entire race was a blur so I don't have tons to report but I'll breakdown what I do remember.

The two mile Varrazono-Narrows Bridge was brutal.  It was so windy I was worried about blowing right off the top deck.  Once we survived death by wind, I looked up and we were in Brooklyn!  I was so distracted by the crowd, the music and the energy that the next 10 miles flew by.  Brooklyn's got marathon cheering locked down! All of a sudden there is a one mile stretch through a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood that is so quiet it's almost eerie.  You go from thousands cheering you on, to nobody on the sidewalks.  It's only a mile and luckily the crowds come back once you hit Queens.

It was right around this time that I started to realize something was wrong with my left ankle/shin.  I had started to feel it as early as mile 5 but I thought my foot was just numb/tight and it would loosen up.  Around Mile 11 I discovered that wasn't the case and this was a pain I had never felt before.  It felt like a really bad shin split in only the lower half of my shin that was shooting pain down into the top of my ankle and foot.  I had taken Advil before the race and it had started to wear off at this point and the pain was getting worse.  I was frustrated since the rest of my body was feeling good.

Apparently cold weather running is my jam.  I hydrated at every aid station like I normally would but since it was freezing, I wasn't sweating nearly as much. The entire race, I never felt dehydrated or had any stomach issues, even post race.  For me that's a huge win and very uncommon. However, this ankle thing wasn't going to allow for an easy race.  I kept thinking I should tell Leslie but realized that wasn't going to help anything.  I knew that once I started talking about it, then it would be on my mind, I'd wallow in my misery and start to get defeated.  So I ignored it as much as I could and just kept running through the pain.  Not the healthiest approach but it worked for me.  Don't tell my PT.

The crowds

Around Mile 16 you go over the Queensboro Bridge and into Manhattan for the first time and the crowds are electric!  We saw our cheering squad, who nailed it with the signs and high-fives. I concentrated on that and getting to mile 20.  Even with the pain, I just kept thinking, this is the most amazing race I've ever experienced.

Happy faces despite the pain.

The energy boost I needed at this point
At mile 20, a lone man stood on the bridge with a boombox blasting Jay-Z over his head, Say Anything style.  We had made it to the Bronx.  I asked Leslie how we were on time?  My plan had been that if we were not on pace for her to PR, I'd let her know I was hurting and start walking.  If we were on pace, I didn't want anything to bring that down. When she said 3:33, I knew I just needed to suck it up for 6 more miles.  I had taken more Advil at 18 which helped. Turns out this was a blessing in disguise because post-race I realized it hurt way more to walk then to keep running.

Miles 21-26 are a total blur. The crowds were unbelievable, Central Park was beautiful and I felt a surge of energy knowing I was going to finish the NYM in a time that I could be proud of given my current conditions.  I felt like we sprinted (we didn't) the last few miles as we were dodging around a bunch of walkers.  I tried to soak in the entire experience.  We passed our cheering section one last time and all of sudden we crossed the finish line (5 min PR for Leslie).  I had a huge smile on my face and despite immediately limping, I felt like I had run a good solid race and had the experience of a lifetime.  We waddled our way through the finishers chute and got our ponchos, snacks and medals before heading back to the apartment where our support crew was waiting with a six pack of IPA and a giant bag of cookies.  Told you they were the best.  After showering, we went immediately to Shake Shack which tasted like heaven in burger form.

Worlds best cheer crew, including MFR taking the photo and not including the dude in the green hood, he might be great I just don't know him
 I flew home Monday and by the time we landed, I could barely put weight on my left foot.  I've since self diagnosed myself with Extensor Tendonitis, which you get from overuse or poorly fitting shoes....ding, ding, ding.  I've taken almost two weeks off from running and instead I am focusing on spin, barre and yoga classes.  I think it's getting better but for now every night is spent like this:

Someone needs a pedicure

It was totally worth it to experience the wonder that is the New York Marathon!  I can only hope that I get to do it again some day.

Best signs and my new favorite medal.
And if I still don't have you convinced, just watch this.....