My Favorite Quote:

"There is an inner beauty about a woman who believes in herself, who knows she is capable of anything that she puts her mind to. There is a beauty in the strength and determination of a woman who follows her own path, who isn't thrown off by obstacles along the way. There is a beauty about a woman whose confidence comes from experiences; who knows she can fall, pick herself up, and move on."

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Marathon #12: New York City Marathon

Sunday, November 2, 2014
Today is the big day.  The day I waited 4 years for.  I didn't know what was going to happen with my foot pain, but I was excited to be here.  It's pretty cool to be in a city this big with over 50,000 runners all heading out to accomplish the same goal at the same time.

I woke up very early, because I had no idea how to get to the start line.  I had somewhat of a plan, but I was nervous how it would all turn out.  I had to walk to the subway, then take the subway to the ferry, then take the ferry to the bus, then the bus to the start line.  I didn't know how long the subway ride would take and that alone had me stressed.  If I missed the ferry, then what?  I had signed up for a specific ferry time, but what I didn't know is that it really didn't matter at all what time you had.  Everyone just showed up and hopped on!  Whew!

Ready to go, with layers to ditch at the start!
On the subway!
Only runners at this subway station!

Eric woke up with me and stayed with me for the entire subway ride and walk to the ferry.  We started my journey to the start line at 5:30am (my corral was scheduled to go around 10am).  It was really great to have him with me, since I was so nervous!  The subway ride took over 30 minutes and I barely made it to the ferry terminal on time.  We ended up running so I wouldn't miss it, but learned that you could get on any ferry at any time so it didn't really matter if we were late.  Once at the ferry terminal, we waited for the doors to open and then I boarded the ferry to Staten Island and Eric took the subway back to the apartment.

Staten Island Ferry Terminal
Waiting for the ferry doors to open.
A lot of runners!

Once I was on the ferry, I started to see all of the signs of police and security for the event.  They were everywhere.  This was the first biggest marathon event since the Boston Marathon bombings earlier in the year, so security was very high.  It made me nervous for a minute, but I was able to shake it off and soak it all in!

Ferry selfie.
Police everywhere.
Police boats on the sides of the ferry.
View of the statue from the ferry.
View of Manhattan.

The ferry ride took another 30 minutes or so, as we headed toward Staten Island, which was where the start of the race was.  One docked, I had an opportunity to use the restroom and stay warm.  It was very cold that morning, so I didn't want to be outside any longer than I had to.  I got into the line for the ladies room, which took well over 20 minutes, and then camped on the floor for a long time until the race volunteers started shouting that the last buses were leaving for the start line.  I headed out to line up for the buses.  Once I was on board, the bus ride took well over 30 minutes.  The entire trip from walking from the apartment to arriving at the start line took around 4 hours (which I can run a marathon in) and that didn't even include the race itself.

Runners staying warm in the ferry terminal.
Ferry terminal on Staten Island.
Line for the buses to the start line.

Once our bus arrived at the start line, we were dropped off, frisked, wanded with a metal detector and then finally allowed to start a long walk to the corrals.  Each corral was color coded.  I was in the blue corral and that came up first.  I threw my gear on the truck for gear check and then got into line for the porta-potties.  I wore a trash bag to keep me warm.  It did the trick.  I was very warm inside of it.  As I stood in line, I realized how international this race is.  A lot of the runners around me were from other countries.  Some didn't speak english and some did.  I met an interesting woman from Russia in line. 

Walk to the start line.
Trash bag selfie.

I didn't have much time to spare after using the rest room.  I started to walk to the corral when I heard an announcement that corral E was about the close.  I didn't understand, since the gate hadn't even opened yet.  This sent a great deal of panic through the crowd.  We were packed in like sardines and people started pushing.  I started to panic.  I'm pretty little at 5'3" and 105 lbs.  I was starting to get pushed into a fence and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  I started to have a panic attack, when they finally opened the gate and let people through.  It was single file, and with thousands of people, this was ridiculous.  Once inside the corral, people could move freely.  We waited for the signal to start walking to the start line, which was a ways away, and we were on our way.  It was a rolling start, so I had to shed layers as we moved.  It was insane the amount of people.  I've never seen anything like it. 

Inside the corral (fenced in) and starting to move toward the start.

Once we hit the start line, it felt like hours had passed, LOL!  It took me 4 hours to navigate there.  Unreal.  I was excited to be running finally.  We immediately crossed over a bridge into Brooklyn.  The only thing we did on Staten Island was start!  The bridge was extremely windy and cold.  I still had on some layers and was reluctant to shed them.  Once I descended the bridge into Brooklyn, the first thing I heard was "Welcome to Brooklyn" with the stereotypical accent.  I smiled big.  This was real.  I was finally here and it was really cool. 

Brooklyn baby!
More Brooklyn.

Brooklyn was very crowded, since the field hadn't separated much yet.  In fact, it was crowded from start to finish.  I had a hard to time finding my pace and had to weave in and out of all of the runners.  Finally, I felt like the flow of the group felt right and I looked down at my watch and saw an 8:30 pace - finally I could settle in. 

We were in Brooklyn for several miles.  I was very happy, until the pain on the top of my foot started around mile 8.  I was surprised I hadn't felt anything up to this point.  I wasn't sure what this injury was yet, so I kept going hoping that it would work it's way out.  I started to feel it get worse during mile 9, but was able to push through to the half split.  I did stop to use the rest room and compose myself right before the split.  I normally would have waited until after the split to use the rest room, but at this point I knew that my race was over.  I was incredibly saddened that it had to be THIS race.  I looked up to the sky and said out loud, "Come on!  This is New York!"  I would have been happy to exchange this injury for any other race. 

I hobbled over the bride into Queens around mile 13 and was able to walk/run until the Queensboro bridge into Manhattan.  Eric and Paul were waiting for me at mile 16 (near the apartment).  I texted Eric on the bridge as I was trying to re-lace my shoe to relieve some of the pain and pressure.  It didn't help :(  Eric was bummed for me.  He knew how long I had waited and how much this race and city meant to me. 

Bridge into Queens
View from the bridge.
Queens - still packed!
We were only in Queens for 3 miles or so.  It didn't take long before we started up the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan.  I knew Eric was waiting on the other side of the bridge.  I was brought to a walk by this time.  I tried everything I could think of to help my foot and nothing was working.  I knew I would be walking this one in.  I hobbled across the bridge to find Eric at mile 16. 

Queensboro Bridge
The view from the bridge.

Mile 16 couldn't come soon enough.  I stopped to use the porta-potty again just before finding them.  They had to make their way to the front of the crowd to see me and then only got a couple of minutes to stay there.  They said it was very difficult to spectate due to the hundreds of thousands of spectators crowded on the narrow streets.  They had to negotiate their way to the front of the line when they knew I was coming. 

A very busy mile 16.
Managed to run up to them!
Quick picture with Eric!
My brother Paul.

As soon as I left them, I was brought to a full walk.  The pain in my foot was so bad that I could no longer put the pressure of running down on it.  I was so bummed.  It was New York!  It couldn't of happened at a worse time.  It was a reminder to me that my strength training and power lifting was extremely important and I shouldn't have let myself get so relaxed with it. 

I started the long walk to the finish line and tried to enjoy the remainder of the race.  The only problem was that the streets were packed with runners, and if you weren't running, then you were a huge road block that would be elbowed and plowed into repeatedly.  I understood that it was crowded, but it was really hard on my ego to get run into every couple of minutes because I was the only one walking :( 

The next borough was the Bronx.  I walked the entire thing.  I tried a few times to restart running and it just wouldn't happen.  In fact, I had to stop a couple of times to relieve the pain in my foot because it got so bad that I could hardly walk on it anymore.  I started to fear that I would not be able to finish the race at all.  Not only that, but my cell phone was dying and I didn't have a back up plan to find Eric at the finish. 

Heading into the Bronx.
Walking, but still enjoying the experience.

The Bronx was nothing exciting.  It looked like Minneapolis to me.  Wider streets and fewer buildings.  It was a chance to breathe and spread out a bit.  Once we got through here, we headed back into Manhattan and into the final stretch through Central Park to the finish line.  I was pretty beat up by now, both physically and emotionally.  The weather was windy, a little rainy, and very cold.  I had kept my wind breaker with me the whole race, since I knew that I would be walking and would be colder as a result.  My body was very tired and in pain.  I had to keep stopping to relieve the pressure in my foot, in order to proceed forward. 

Once we were back in Manhattan, the streets became crowded and narrow again.  I started to get elbowed and pushed around again.  I couldn't wait for it all to end.  I just wanted to see the finish line.  The time had already passed when I should have finish and I was looking at another hour of walking ahead of me.  It was hard to keep going, but I didn't have a choice. 

Back in Manhattan.
Finally inside of Central Park.
Rounding the curve to the finish line.

And then my phone died.  About 200 feet before the finish line.  I officially had no way to contact Eric to tell him I finished or where to find me.  He had texted me earlier that he would be waiting at the runner's exit on 60th street.  Turned out that the runners with gear check had to exit at 80th - twenty blocks away. 

I crossed the finish line at the same time as about 30 other people.  It was still packed, even at the finish.  I've never been a part of an event of this magnitude.  It was amazing, even through my disappointment.  The finish line was feeding a ton of people in every minute, so the volunteers had to work really hard to keep the crowd moving so that it wouldn't back up into the race.  We were quickly handed our metals, then directed to our food bags, and then onto the gear check. 

I found a volunteer at the food table to let me use her phone to call Eric.  I told him I was done and I'd meet him at the runner exit.  Little did I know there were 2 runner exits!  The runners with gear check had to walk another 20 blocks to the gear trucks.  This was unfortunate for me, since I could hardly walk at all at this point.  The trucks were so far away, and Eric was at the wrong exit waiting for me.  It took what felt like an hour to get my bag and get to the exit.  I looked at the street sign and read "80th" street.  My heart sank.  I asked a park patrol to use his phone to call Eric.  We started walking toward each other and planned to meet at 70th street.  I was in so much pain, but I had no choice since I would freeze if I didn't move. 

I started to notice runners wearing these really cool fleece rain ponchos.  I didn't understand how I missed getting one of those.  After some investigation, I learned that you only got one if you refused to gear check.  Lesson learned.  My ego was bruised over and over again during this race.  Geez! 

I finally found Eric and my brother Paul at 70th street.  I was SO cold and in a ton of pain.  I had been on my feet solid from 5:30am and now it was 5:30pm.  12 hours of this race.  I begged them to find me food and a place to sit and get warm.  They found me a sit down restaurant within a block with beer and tacos.  It was awesome.  I didn't want to move.  I wore my metal proudly.  I think it was the hardest earned metal I've ever received.  I sure had to work for it, holy cow! 

Tacos, beer, and this baby!

After my short recovery at the restaurant, we walked the several blocks back home to the apartment.  I saw a pic was sent to me from my little niece, Meadow, wishing me luck for the race.  It was hard to have had such a rough day and not be able to report a good race to everyone.  After I showered, we all took a short nap and then headed out for an evening in Times Square for more beer!  What a day! 

Night on the town with Paul and Eric.
Meadow and her sign!
My medal.

After all was said and done, I was glad I made it to the finish.  I've had a few races of walking to the finish and it doesn't seem to get any easier.  I wasn't trained for this race, and as I age I realize that the training is more important than it used to be.  Just because I "can" show up and run a marathon without training, doesn't mean I "should". 

The next few days, we did walk around the city and see the sights.  It was Paul's first time to NYC, my 5th time, and Eric's 2nd.  Eric and I spent our honeymoon here :)  My foot held up for the remainder of the trip.  I had to wear my shoe laces all the way loose, so that there was no pressure on my foot.  Before we left, I ordered an aircast walking boot on so that it would be at home when we got back.  I self diagnosed myself with a stress fracture.  I wore the boot for a month and returned to running during the Minnesota winter.  It is was it is. 

Grand Central Station
World Trade Center fountains.
The only surviving tree from the original World Trade Center site.
Times Square

And the happy ending to this story?  Well, it's July 2015 as I write this... I entered myself in the NYC Marathon lottery in March.  Only 15% of people that enter the lottery get picked.  Since it took me 4 years the first time to get into this race, I never thought I had a chance.  But the universe had other plans...I'm in BABY! My second chance :)  I have officially started training, which includes Crossfitting, and I'm excited to give it another try!  I even declined the gear check so that I can have that warm poncho at the finish and not have to walk 20 blocks!  Let's just say I've learned a few things!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Marathon #12: Pre-Race Thoughts

Saturday, November 1, 2014 (Pre-Race Thoughts)

It took me over 6 months to write about this race.  At the time, it felt like a great disappointment, but magically it has a wonderful ending.  Sometimes you have to wait it all through to see the big picture and what the future truly holds - even when it's hard to see it at the time.  In other words, "Stay the course."

It started back in 2011, the year after my first marathon.  I got the bug and decided I was running a marathon in all 50 states.  I saw the registration for NYC marathon and knew that it was very difficult to get into.  I had heard from friends that you had to register and get denied for 3 years in a row, and then on the 4th year, you would receive a guaranteed entry.  I knew this would be a long wait, so I started the process.  I was denied in 2011, 2012, and 2013.  In December of 2013, I received an email from the NYC Marathon committee stating that I had guaranteed entry for 2014!  I cried, seriously.  I was sitting on my bed reading emails at the time and there it was!  I love New York City and have been there several times before.  I was excited to go back and run this time!

At the time I officially registered, I was in my first year of owning a gym.  I was overworked, sleep deprived, and fighting for a paycheck.  I was very happy, but very tired.  Training for a marathon was not in the cards, but I did get to run frequently with all of my runners that I was coaching.  It just wasn't my distance or my pace.  I failed to get in long runs, but I also didn't believe in the long run anymore (that is, if I was properly strength training - which I wasn't).  I ran the Mankato Marathon two weeks prior to this race, hoping to use it as my long run prep.  I ended up with unexpected foot pain the day after and didn't know what I was in for in NYC.  I went into this race with foot pain and not much training, but I was excited to be there FINALLY.

Eric and my brother Paul were my companions for this trip.  Our flight out was on Saturday, Nov. 1.  We headed out early so that I would have time for packet pickup before the race expo closed.  I found a cool pic from Paula Radcliffe's tweet of a view of Manhattan Island from the plane.  She is now a retired elite.  It was really cool to be in the same race as the elites that I followed so intensely over the years.

We had a pretty comfortable flight, mostly since the kids were not with us ;)  They stayed with both sets of grandparents while we were gone.  We landed at JFK airport.  I had never flown into New York via that airport, so it was fun to do something new.

Paul and Eric at JFK airport

We headed from the airport over to my Uncle Denny's apartment.  It was a pretty sweet apartment located at 845 United Nations Plaza (across the street from the United Nations building).  His apartment was on the 59th floor, so we had quite the view!  It was extremely generous of him to let us stay there on our own.  Pretty cool.

Outside of my uncle's apartment.
Inside of my uncle's apartment.
The view from the 59th floor!

After we settled in at the apartment, we headed over to the race expo to pick up my packet.  We took the subway over and had a long walk.  It was chilly weather outside and was rainy.  The expo was huge and extremely packed with people.  I had heard that there was approx. 55,000 runners in this race!  It was insane. 

Heading over to the expo via subway!
Outside of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center,
Yeah Baby!
In my hands, after 4 long years :)
The 5 borough course map.
Our Starbucks stop!

Once we got through the expo and learning how the heck I get to the start line (which is a story in itself), we headed out for dinner at a restaurant near my uncle's apartment so that I could carbo load.

We aren't in MN anymore, LOL!
Eric and I at dinner.
Tweet from a client.

After dinner, we headed back to the apartment to get some sleep for the big day ahead.  And little did they know, but Eric and Paul were in for as big of a workout just spectating, as I was running it!  Crazy!