Monday, November 8, 2010

New York City Marathon Recap

I've heard a lot of great things about the NY marathon.  Many people told me it was whimsical, dreamy and magical.  And I really do want to agree, but it was still a MARATHON.  And I'm not sure I can use those adjectives in describing running 26.2 miles. I tried to enjoy the race as much as possible but the pain you feel while running that far is intense and insane.  But I will tell you it was an experience I will never forget and it was very, very different from my first marathon. (45,000 runners vs. 3000- big difference!) Since, I might lose some of you on this long post, I will tell you I ran the marathon in 4:24:08, a 4.5 minute PR.

Now lets start from the beginning.
We got to NY at around 1pm and drove straight to the Expo.  

 In tow we had my husband Dave, my mom, my brother and my new friend Tara.  Tara is my old interns friend from college and we have both been going to Jake at Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy.  We decided to start the race together.  We met up with my friend from college Theo who I have not seen since our friend Lindsay's wedding.  Meaning, I have not seen Theo since she lost all her weight (50+ pounds) and wow she looked fabulous!!!
The expo was overwhelming and we didn't stay long.  Because we got there late, we got size L shirts.  Sad!!! I left the expo with two pace bands- a 4:20 and a 4:10.  If everything went well, I was fairly confident I could run 4:20 or faster.

After the expo, we drove over to Brooklyn to scope out a good first meeting place.  Then we drove on the marathon course until Mile 16.  There were two parts that worried me.  The first bridge (Pulaski) at the half-way point (13.1) and the second on the Queensboro Bridge between 14-16.  I know my pace generally slows after Mile 15, so a long incline at that exact place worried me, a lot.
 After driving around for 8 hours, we rested at my roommate from college Debbie's place then got ready to go to dinner.  We had 6pm reservations at a nice Italian place on the Upper East Side called Academia di Vino.
 My family, Debbie and her boyfriend and my friends Dana and Chris joined us.  I was trying my best to remain calm, but inside I was so nervous! For dinner, my brother and I spilt the Pumpkin Pizza and the Butternut Squash Ravoli with a Sage Butter sauce. 
Everyone at our round table enjoyed drinks and I downed water.  At around 9, I got into bed.  Debs was gratious enough to let Dave and I stay at her apartment while she stayed at her boyfriends.  What a friend!!!  I fell asleep for good around 10 and slept straight until 3:15 and then woke up every 15 minutes.  My alarm went off at 4:30 and I got out of bed, made coffee and watched TV while trying to get food down.  I really REALLY struggle eating before running but I knew I had to. This is how I felt.  If you look closely, you can see Dave still sleeping!  Debs lives in a Studio apartment!
 I probably ended up eating a half banana, a cup of dry cereal and some shot blocks before the race. At 5:45, I took a cab to the Upper West where I met up with Tara and her stepdad who drove us to the start.  This is what I looked like all bundled.  And I still had another sweatshirt to add on!
Our ferry was at 6am but we heard they weren't monitoring your time so we got there around 6:30am. 
(I did not have my camera during the race, all pictures below were taken from other blogs, google images- click the pics for the links or look for links, ones without links were taken by my husband)
There were tons of people just waiting in the terminal. We got on the ferry and it was a really pretty ride. 
It was very peaceful and we saw views of the entire city. 
I tried to just take it all in. Once we got to the Staten Island, we took a bus for 20 minutes to the village.  Inside the village, we put down our blanket and hung out for an hour and a half, alternating going to the porta-potties.  (Which the porta-potties were my biggest fear but because there were so many, it wasn't that bad!) 

Around 9:40 we made our way to Wave 2 of the Orange Corral.  We were the first Corral in Wave 2 so we had good positioning. As we walked towards the bridge, we stripped off clothes and then the Cannon went off and we were running.  Our plan was to run the first mile REALLY slow and then get into OUR pace by mile 3.  

The first mile was breathtaking.  It is a steady incline up the bridge for a mile, but the views of the city are amazing.  Tara and I just gossiped and enjoyed it being very cautious to go out SLOW.  
 Mile 1: 10:17
Mile 2 was a steady downhill.  You know cause it's a bridge. We wanted to run slow here too so we felt like everyone was passing us.  But we had a race plan so we stuck to it.
Mile 2: 9:35
Mile 3 we were in Brooklyn and the crowds were insane.  Both Tara and I wore shirts with our name on it and we really felt like people knew us.  GO TARA & LIZ!!! We heard that 1000X in the first 5 miles.  We were both just taking everything in.  The crowd support was really amazing.
Mile 3: 9:34
Mile 4: 9:17
Mile 5: 9:22
Mile 6: 9:20
I was running with Dave's phone (it was much smaller than mine) and I could feel it vibrating.  I didn't want to waste any energy by checking it but around Mile 6, I decided to look.  It was Dave saying they were at Mile 8 on the RIGHT hand side.  We were running on the left so it was good I checked!  We would have never found them otherwise. 
Mile 7: 9:28
Mile 8: 9:34
The tracking device my mom paid $4 bucks for didn't work so they had no idea I was coming.  Tara and I saw them and my brother quickly jumped in the race.*

*My brother ran with me for the rest of the race, the plan was for him to run with me until he got kicked off course, but he never did so he stuck with me until Mile 26.*
The crowds were even bigger when the 3 color corrals merged at Mile 8 and Tara and I started to feel really good.  The first 8 miles we were taking it all in and not talking much.  Once Mike joined us and told us how amazing this marathon was, we started feeling better. Mike has run a ton of marathons including Boston 3X.
Mile 9: 9:33
Mile 10: 9:19
Around Mile 10, there is a huge Hasidic population and it was just really cool to see the diversity on this course. Around mile 10.5, we saw Tara's family and Tara's sister jumped in with us for a half mile. 
(I took this picture Saturday)
Mile 11: 9:45
I started feeling a little tired at Mile 11 with the slight inclines getting towards Queens.  But nothing like how bad I felt at my Providence Marathon. 
Mile 12: 9:39
Crowds were still insane going through Mile 12.  Almost at the halfway point!
Mile 13 was our entrance into Queens on the Pulaski Bridge.  I definitely started to fade up this hill.
Here are a bunch of pictures I found online from this website. And this one. When we drove on this bridge the day before, I didn't think it was that bad... but it was tough for me!
 So anyway, right at the halfway point, I told Tara to go on without me.  My goal was to stay with her until the halfway point and thats what we did.  I could tell she wanted to push it and I didn't have it in me. 
Mile 13: 9:25
Mile 14: 9:47
Around Mile 15, we entered what was the worst part of the course for me, The Queensboro Bridge.  I had heard this part was hard because its quiet and a long steady incline.  (There were no crowds inside and the incline lasted a mile and a half). Almost everyone around me was walking, but I was determined to not walk.  However I was practically walking with how slow I was going! 
Mile 15: 10:04
Mile 16: 14:07
Yep, I ran a 14 minute mile without walking.  Sad huh?  It was a bitch of an incline but I didn't stop.  My Garmin also got all f@$# up inside the bridge.  I think i may have lost satellite there so maybe it wasn't that slow?  My brother was so supportive here even though he could tell I was dying.
  Here are some pics of what this bridge was like taken from here,
And this blog.
Going into the bridge...
 What the bridge looks like from the outside, pretty huh? Yeah but not fun to run in!
Lots of people were walking in here, I didn't stop.
Then at Mile 16, we go under the bridge and turn on First Ave. 
I picked it up here and felt better, and saw my friends and family.  Four of my bridesmaids, their boyfriends and my mom and husband were there.  
 Mile 17: 9:57
First Ave was surreal.  It was super crowded with fans and everyone was super supportive.  But after Mile 17, I totally zoned out and was just trying to focus on finishing.  I kept repeating Jess's mantra- "Running is a privelage".. don't stop... (and Kimmys) "one foot in front of the other..."
Miles 17-20 were hard for me.  First Avenue seemed to go on forever, I really didn't think we would ever get into the Bronx. We got on First Ave at 59th Street and didn't leave it until around 130th.  That is a LONG time on one street.  And it didn't help that I started staring down the streets starting at 80th! I saw Theo at Mile 17 and she snapped this photo.
(I'm wearing green)
 Mile 18: 9:55
At Mile 18, my hips and my quads were in A LOT of pain.  I wanted to quit.  I remember thinking to myself, "Liz, remember how hard this is right now and promise you won't sign up for another marathon- it's time to retire from the marathon, this is too hard for you..." My brother kept saying, "Just think, you can get pregnant after you finish this.."
Mile 19: 10:13
Then I didn't want to give up that easily so I tried to stay tough but we hit another incline into the Bronx.  (Pics from here, again)
Mile 20: 11:03
Mile 20 was an incline into the Bronx onto Willis Bridge.  I was tired here but knowing we were turning around made me feel happy.  
When we took the left into Harlem I started feeling really good.
Mile 21: 10:27
In Harlem, there was a woman on the loud speaker who said "Welcome to Harlem Liz"  That got me moving.
Mile 22: 10:17
I thought we were supposed to get into the park at Mile 22.5 but I feel like we didn't get in until Mile 23.  A lot of people were walking at this point, I just kept moving forward.
Mile 23: 10:36
The sun was shining brightly in my eyes here and my contact was hurting.  Turns out I think I got sweat salt in it and I ended up taking out my left contact.  So I couldn't see all that great.
Mile 24: 10:44
Mile 24 I saw my family again and they snapped this picture. 
 I wasn't smiling much.  Too bad the cop blocked me below!
 I was seriously in the zone, focusing on just moving forward.  They said I didn't look too happy.  I was trying to concentrate on finishing.  I wanted to break 4:20, but I wasn't sure I had it in me.
Mile 25: 10:26
Central Park was no joke.  I really LOVED the downhills and hated the inclines.  My brother said it had many more uphills then downs but I could barely see so I didn't notice much.  I just wanted to finish.
Mile 26: 10:09
Mile 26, I tried to push it.  Around Mile 26, Mike got kicked off course.  I continued on the ride until I finally made it through the finish.
.25: 9:34
Official time: 4:24:08. 26.25 miles
I'm proud of myself and I do want to run another to break 4:20, but I'm in no rush to sign up for another marathon.  I think I'm going to concentrate on shorter distances for now.

After I crossed the finish line, I felt pretty good.  I got my finishers medal, my tinfoil blanket and walked with the crowd to get out of there which seemed to take forever.  I think it took about an hour before I finally met up with my family on the Upper East.  We met at 81st and Fifth Ave and then had to walk back to Debbie's apartment.  I think the long walk helped me though.

I quickly showered and then we headed home.  It was a short SHORT trip to NY but was really fulfilling.  I feel VERY VERY fortunate to have so many friends and family who supported me on this journey.  My friends and family met me at Mile 8, Mile 16 and Mile 24 and the finish.  My brother ran 18 miles with me.  I am very very lucky.  And I also want to thank all my blog friends for your support as well.  I finished this 26.2 journey without walking once and I couldn't have done it without you guys! If I come back from my marathon hiatus it will be to run the only other marathon that could compete with this one: Boston.  But I'm in no rush.  There is plenty of time for me to run marathons! Overall NY was a fabulous experience and I recommend everyone who runs do it at least once.  It's not easy with all the bridges but its also no Boston with the hills either.  It was SO cool to go through 5 different boroughs and to see the diversity of the fans!

I leave you with this quote that I just received from Runner's World:
Before your next marathon, think about a person who helped make your marathon possible. Then consider showing your appreciation by dedicating the race to that person. -Joe Henderson
THANK YOU Mikey! I could not have done this without you! And honestly, I probably would have never started running without you!


  1. great post!!! congrats on finishing! I am just starting to train for my first and love reading the race recaps for motivation!

  2. Awww, great recap! Congratulations, you did awesome! So cool that your bro jumped in and ran with you for so much of the course, I love that!

  3. Awww your post made me want to cry! You did SO well. Thats amazing!!! You rock!! Rest up now. Since this is my last week of "freedom" and you are done with the marathon, let me know if you are around to grab coffee or dinner or lunch or whatever.
    Enjoy the day! You did it!!

  4. Wow, what a great detailed post. Many, many congrats!!!!

  5. Awesome... and thanks for the honesty... doesn't matter how "pretty" and "Magical" it is, it's still a marathon and it's hard work. Congratulations!!!

  6. What an amazing accomplishment!!!!! Great job girlfriend!

  7. Aww, that is seriously awesome that your brother ran with you for most of the race - what a good guy! Congrats, too. You made it through NY! :) I couldn't agree with you more about the Queensboro. It was a neverending climb! I'll be ready for it if I ever run NYC again.

  8. Lizzy, I am beaming with pride for your amazing accomplishment! Running a marathon is a feat that not many can say they've done in their lives and you've done 2! Your post was so vivid, I felt like I was there...I'm sorry I wasn't! I would have cheered really loudly for you. Looking forward to seeing you soon now that you are back in "normal" life mode. LOVE YOU!

  9. I am SO proud of you! I loved your recap. I cannot believe you ran the whole race without stopping. Amazing! I'm also glad to hear you'll do another marathon! Cough...National... cough :)

    And your brother is beyond awesome for running 18 miles with you!

  10. A huge congrats to you! You ran an amazing race! NYC is definitely on my bucket list - what an experience!

    I know you're in no rush, but...I'll echo Jen...National...

    Now that the marathon madness is winding down, let's plan to meet up!

    What an awesome race recap, I felt like I was there. And what an awesome brother - he ran 18 MILES with you!?! AMAZING.

    Great job! Now take yourself out to Neptune Oyster and feast!

  12. Congratulations!!!
    I love your opening paragraph. Thank you for keeping it real. You inspire me so much!! You're a rockstar!!

  13. I LOVED reading this!! Every word :) Congratulations on your PR, and for not stopping once. This sounds like an amazing, yet tough race. I do think it's funny how people glamorize things -- yes, I'm sure the race is magical and dreamy but you ARE still running a marathon, and running a marathon is hard work! :) I'm sure as the days pass and the soreness wears off, some of the negative memories will fade away too. And then you'll be ready to tackle another (i.e. National!! ;) hahaha)

    It's awesome that your brother was able to run with you for so long! What a great guy!! :)

  14. Congratulations baby, I am so proud of you! And happy you are so appreciative of your brother.

  15. congrats on finishing and running the whole race! thats so rad that you got to run with your brother.

  16. :) Congratulations, Lizzy, on an awesome PR! Your pictures and appreciation for the friends and family cheering you on made me think of my own marathons and what a wonderful feeling that is. I'm sure you will hold on to those memories forever.

  17. Congrats on finishing the race, I can't believe all the people! :) Great pics!!

  18. This post made me so happy. I hope I get in next year. congratulations =)

  19. Huge, huge congrats!!! I'm so glad you had such a great experience and PR'd!! Friends and fam along the course make all the difference :)

    Hooray!!! Hope you're recovering well!

    P.S. my Garmin got totally screwed up on the Queensboro bridge too!

  20. CONGRATS LIZZY!!! Isn't NYC amazing? I'm so glad you loved it...I wish I could have been there along side you. Next time!! :)

  21. Love your recap! Congratulations on your race! It is so awesome your brother ran with you.

  22. Thanks for your comment on my blog, LOVE yours and CONGRATS to you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Great recap!! Congrats on a great finishing time and loved quote you included.

  24. It looks like you ran a great, consistent race! Way to keep moving!

  25. i read every word and am so so incredibly proud! The whole time i kept thinking how lucky you are to have all this tremendous support. Also, the scenes in the city and those bridges are breathtaking! congrats lizzy! you are such an amazing runner.

  26. I love reading marathon recaps. You did great!

  27. i'm just eating it up reading everyone's nyc recaps!! i want that experience one day!! :)

  28. Yay, Liz. I'm so happy for you! I can definitely feel your struggles but you never gave up. Amazing. Don't sign up for one next year though!!! lol

  29. I was at Mile 8 on the right side too!!! And it's crazy, but I think I remember cheering for a Liz and a Tara who were together! (Don't ask me how I remember that!)

    No wonder it was so crowded - I didn't realize the corrals merged there!

    CONGRATS on your PR - what an accomplishment!

  30. Congrats Lizzy! What a great recap. I am so happy for you!

  31. Good for you! I loved reading your full recap and am impressed with your time. NY is hard! I am with you on focusing on the shorter distances for now... :)

  32. Hi Liz,

    I just found your blog via Beck on the Run - congrats on the race! I ran the NYCM this year too and totally saw those orange 'Go Liz" signs on the course. My name is also Liz...while I know they weren't for me, they provided an incredible boost - many thanks to you and your family!

    Great blog, I've added it to my blogroll:)