This past Sunday, November 06, 2016, I ran my 14th marathon. It was my sixth marathon in 2016. And it was the best day of my life.
Spoiler Alert 1: It was not easy.
Spoiler Alert 2: It was so worth it.
I don't have the words to express how amazing this race was, but I will certainly try. I feel every marathon I ever ran up to this point is always an experience. Some were really difficult. Some sucked. Some were great. Some I PR'd. Others I didn't. Some I ran with friends who were running their first. But New York City Marathon.. It was the most incredible experience. The biggest marathon in the world with close to 52,000 finishers. Can you believe that? It was a mix of everything- energy, joy, exhaustion, humbling, meditative, challenging, happy, painful, the most difficult thing I've done, but the most rewarding thing at the same time.
Michael & I had a 6:15am ferry to Staten Island, but our friend MaryAnn said we would be fine if we took a later one. We decided to rest a little more and caught the 7:30am one. I must say, once we landed in Staten Island, we had to wait in line for what seemed like forever for a shuttle bus. We finally got on, and of course, we sat in traffic, but made it just in time for our start which was close to 11am. We had separate waves, but Michael was able to sneak into mine. We were lucky enough to run on top of the Verrazano Bridge, which we heard was way nicer compared to starting on the bottom. We started our Garmins, crossed the start line together and then we went off and did our own thing! The bridge itself was beautiful. The day was clear, weather was perfect and the runners were pumped! I knew from this point it was going to be a great run.
After the bridge, it was straight to Brooklyn. Man, all I remember was hearing a roar of people cheering and holding signs "Welcome to Brooklyn." We ran through Brooklyn for a while and I mean it when I say the crowd was REAL. It was filled with smiling faces, cheers of "yes you can", whooos, and just so much love. I felt relatively good running through Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Queens. That crowd kept me going because all I wanted to do was interact with them, give high fives, scream with them, sing along and dance to YMCA. We then left Queens and ran up onto the Queensboro Bridge. Zero cheer zones. The incline was very similar to the Bay Bridge, so I cruised right up it with ease. Cruised back down and turned the corner into Manhattan where we were greeted with another huge roar. WOW. Just Wow. First Avenue. It was like a parade. The energy was so present. I ran by my cousin Jamie's work right off 1st & 86th so that was nice. That was a straight shot, so I people watched. I started to notice all the runners who fundraised, the guides leading the blind, the wheelchairs, the visitors who came from all over the world. I took it all in. It was just beautiful to me. I'll admit, it's tough to not run all of First Avenue, where the crowds are so intense and they really want you to be running. I remember I saw some folks walking and hearing the crowd yell "Start running again, you can do it!" And boy, let me tell you, First Avenue sure is long! We were finally in the Bronx where I remember seeing a sign that read " This is Mile 20. This is the Wall." I remember grabbing half a banana from someone and eating it. I remember hearing all the music, getting confetti shot at me. People were out BBQing. Ugh, the food smelled so good. Somewhere between mile 20-22, I was reunited with Michael. We finally made it into Central Park! Tons of high fives, tons of times I yelled "fuck yeah!" to the crowd to keep myself in the zone. I heard spectators say how strong and happy I looked... But I'm not going to sit here and lie to you guys. I was hurting. But when I'm hurting, I know how to push through pain with a smile. I had side-stitches throughout since mile 10. My legs were heavy. I was chafing. We kept going and finally saw the finish line. I remember thinking to myself, man... this is the longest .2 miles I have ever ran in my life! Of course, we crossed holding hands. That's the way to do it right? Start together, finish together. We grabbed our medals and felt so wonderfully victorious. We shared a hug and a kiss at the finish line. I swear, there's nothing better than a hug after you finish running 26.2 miles.
Gosh. To all the spectators who rooted for "Run NYC" since that's what my shirt said, to the group of girls who chanted "booty" as I ran by (LOL) and to all the volunteers. The marathon couldn't have happened without you guys. I felt so supported and so blissfully psyched the entire day. I thought a part of me and a part of Michael might be disappointed with our finish time (04:40:18) but I'm completely unfazed by those details. I hoped for a good day, and I got a great day. I was so proud of Michael for running his second marathon. He ran his first four weeks prior in Chicago! The amount of respect and admiration I have for him and his determination is immeasurable. He truly is an inspiration to me. And I’m anxiously excited to do this again with him in the future! Proud girlfriend <3
After we grabbed our medals, we headed to the post race area. Man, was that a walk! Everything was very well organized though, so I didn't mind. Like I said, the volunteers at this point were so sweet, literally putting the heat sheet on us and making sure we were okay. They congratulated us every step of the way, reminding us that we just freaking ran a marathon! I got the post race poncho and Michael did bag check. Gosh, that poncho was everything. It was seriously a blanket. We were so exhausted after getting our stuff that we were going to call an Uber, but of course, an Uber to Queens at that time of day during the marathon would cost us over $100. So we hopped on the subway with all the other runners. BTW, Subway was free for marathoners! It was kinda hilarious how everyone was doing the Frankenstein walk. Waddling down the stairs to the subway. We were all obviously so tired in every sense yet there was also this wild look everyone had in their eyes. The look of "holy shit, I did it." Michael and I met the cutest three girls visiting from Poland who ran their first marathon on our subway ride home. One of the girls told us she didn't run more than a 3k! It was quite amazing what people can do yeah? We finally got to our friends place in Queens. Johnny had a hot dinner ready for us. By the way, big shoutout to MaryAnn & Johnny for hosting us the whole weekend. It was a home away from home and we love you guys unconditionally for taking care of us!
So there you have it. That's that marathon magic people talk about. Some might think I am completely nuts for doing six marathons in a year. But I like pushing my limits and I like seeing what I am made of. They haven't been my best times, but I can say I did that. I am so grateful for what my body let me do this past weekend. Next on my running calendar is The North Face Endurance Challenge 50k December 3, 2016! It will be my last race of the year. My first ultramarathon too! Go big or go home right?