WARNING: LONG & with photo overload! For the Marathonpalooze Part 1: MCM recap, click here.
Wow, where do I start with this one? The entire weekend was such an experience and I know I won’t be able to do it justice. The marathon consumed the entire city for the entire weekend – it was so cool to be a part of it, and to travel specifically for this purpose. I love Marine Corps Marathon, but since it’s a hometown marathon, a little of that excitement doesn’t exist (for me).
Brian and I flew in on Friday night and stayed at one of the host hotels, Sheraton Times Square. The location was pretty convenient for all marathon-related (and tourist-related!) activities; there were shuttles to everything we needed!
We spent Saturday morning at the expo, which was HUGE and so well-run. It was in the Javits Center which is basically all windows, so it was a bright, open venue. We got there pretty early, and even though it was crowded, we had tons of room to move around and wander. The guy who handed me my bib ran Marine Corps Marathon the week before previously, so it was sort of fun to chat with him about how hard the race was due to weather and other factors. MCM should really take a page from NYCM’s book and ditch the Armory in favor of a larger, airier, and more well-lit location. Another super fun aspect of this expo was that I could pick up my Asics mini-marathoner! Asics customized a limited number of mini-marathoners, and I was lucky enough to be chosen! The mini-marathoners were also spotlighted on a billboard in Times Square!
After the expo, we wandered around Broadway and Times Square a little bit where we carb-loaded & went to see my mini-marathoner on the big screen before heading back to the hotel for an early bedtime. Thank God for the extra hour of sleep that weekend because the next day was a long one.
I joked with one of my friends that there needs to be a manual written about the down & dirty of NYCM (and I’m sure there is something out there) because people only see the exciting parts of it, but not the parts where you sit outside in the freezing cold on Wadsworth Island for four hours before you start. My start time was 10:30am, and my bus was scheduled to leave at 6am. We got there at 6:30am, quickly made it through security, and did a whole lot of waiting in that now infamous wind. I am glad I wasn’t putting much pressure on myself for this race because I don’t know how people keep their heads in the game after a wait like that. It was a good time to make lots of new friends, including people I’d “met” on message boards (hi, Abbie!). Despite the long wait times, everything was organized perfectly and logistics were a breeze.
When it was finally my turn to start, I started getting really excited (and nervous!). Standing at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge surrounded by other runners and listening to “New York, New York” was amazing! It was hard not to get into it after that…in fact, it was a little TOO hard because I went out a little too fast and had to keep telling myself to reign it in. I’m sure part of it was just me wanting to get off that bridge and away from the wind ASAP. By now, everyone knows that the weather for NYCM this year left a bit to be desired because of how windy it was. Well, everyone definitely felt the wind on the bridge, and even though the view was beautiful, I think we all missed it because we didn’t want to expose our face to the brutal wind. It was so harsh that I kept tripping over myself just because my foot would crash into my other leg. You could feel yourself being pushed over by the wind, and everyone’s throwaway clothes were swirling and flying all over the place. Despite treading carefully over the bridge, I hit my first 5K at around a 9:40 pace.
After the bridge, we hit Brooklyn, where we’d spend a good part of the first half of the race. Brooklyn was so fun, and there were people everywhere. There was even a church that had all of its members outside cheering us on. SO MUCH FUN. I hit my 10K at an hour on the dot, so still a sub 10 pace, but I consciously tried to slow it down here. I hit my 15K at 1:36, so still a good time, but definitely slower than I started out which is what I wanted.
Unfortunately, it was around that time (miles 9-10) that it all started going downhill. After MCM, my left ankle bothered me a little bit, but I didn’t think anything of it because it wasn’t the foot that bothered my during training, so I thought it just needed rest. By Tuesday it was swollen, so I iced, elevated, wrapped, & rested it for the whole week in preparation for NYCM. It seemed to get better enough, and even though it was still a little sore on marathon morning, I thought it would be something that would dissipate after a few miles (like so many little pains do). If only that were the case, but it wasn’t! I ended up at a medical tent right before the halfway point because it started becoming so painful that I couldn’t put weight on it while running. At that point, I really didn’t know if I’d finish the race, and told Brian so via text.
The second I walked into the medical tent, they asked me what was wrong and I just burst into tears. It took me a minute or so to finally get out what was wrong, and they sat me down to look at it. It was swollen, so they iced it and inquired whether I was going to go back out there (duh, yes I was). They told me that after looking at it, I shouldn’t really put too much hard effort in to finish. One of the aid attendants came up to me and said, “Are you wearing new shoes today?” I seriously almost slapped her for asking me that question, and I know I gave her the biggest side-eye before saying, “Of course I’m not wearing new shoes to a marathon…” After sitting for what seemed like forever and being ignored by everyone there, I decided to have them wrap it and be on my way because they clearly weren’t going to be of any more help to me!
From then on, the rest of the marathon was just a massive struggle-fest. I ran until I couldn’t stand the pain anymore, and then I walked…rinse, repeat and alternate with some tears. I tried so hard to enjoy what I could, but it was cold and windy and I was hurting. I was counting down to mile 16 when I’d finish crossing the Queensboro Bridge, get to Manhattan, and see Brian. Except that it never happened. I did successfully cross the bridge & made it to Manhattan, but I didn’t see Brian, and that was a downer. Eventually he texted & we planned to meet up at mile 22 before heading into Central Park. Okay, something else to look forward to!
The next 6 miles when pretty much how the last few had gone: run, limp, walk, cry a little, try to high five little kids, etc. The crowds were awesome, the other marathoners were pretty awesome, the volunteers were awesome (seriously awesome)…I just wish I could have enjoyed it more instead of wishing so hard for it to be done! And, after counting down from mile 16 to mile 24, I MISSED BRIAN AGAIN. I’d like to think it was because I was moving too fast for him, but HA HA, that was not the case this time around! I wasn’t as sad about it this time around because I knew I only had TWO MILES left! Even though I was really struggling at that point, there was no way I was going to backtrack once I suspected I had passed him.
Everyone was struggling during these last two miles in Central Park (which felt so so so long), and there was a lot of camaraderie. I was still crying off and on because I was in so much pain, and ended up next to a tall Dutch man who just looked at me and patted my shoulder in solidarity. It was so nice to feel like we were all in it at once. The crowds at that point were cheering loudly too but a lot were saying things like, “don’t give up!” or “run, everyone!” Well, I am a HUGE proponent of finishing strong the last mile or two, but sometimes you are injured and just cannot do it, so those cheers were pissing me off. I did make more of an effort to run more than walk in those stretches, but I thought my ankle was going to fall off my leg.
The second I finished, I burst into tears again (not just the passive, pathetic crying that I had done ohhh, the entire second half of the marathon), and a guy right after the finish said, “YOU ARE HAPPY, RIGHT?!” I mean, I guess so, but mostly I was just in pain and so relieved to be done…or so I thought. The walk out of Central Park to get to your non-baggage ponchos (awesome, by the way) was SO LONG. I finished in the daylight, and didn’t meet up with Brian until the sun had set. Unlike after MCM, I wasn’t disappointed in myself, but really just in so much pain that I wanted to find him and leave. After the mile or two walk out of Central Park, we got our ponchos and had to walk another 10 or so blocks to get to family meet-up. My ankle was killing me at that point and I wanted to go to the medical tent again, but it was still in a restricted access area, so I opted to bypass it and head straight to Brian…well, I had to take a lot of sitting breaks, ha.
I finally got to him & made him snap a picture through tears before walking another mile and a half to the hotel (which took forever because roads were closed and I was hobbling and stopping for breaks the whole way).
I was so so so so so so so so so happy to get back to the hotel to rest, eat, ice, shower, & thaw out because it had been the world’s longest day. The situation sucked, but I was proud that I had powered through. The orthopedist that I visited this past week, though, may not agree with that! He sent me for x-rays of my ankle which showed tenodonitis for sure, and because my ankle was still swollen (even a week later), he prescribed anti-inflammatory meds and sent me for an MRI this past Thursday to see if it’s a stress fracture or ruptured posterior tibial tendon. Oof. We’ll see what the prognosis is tomorrow (Monday) morning. It’s still a little swollen, even after a week on anti-inflammatories. I am just ready to run again and am getting antsy!
The rest of our weekend in NYC was so fun! We went back to Central Park (via taxi, ha ha) the next day for Marathon Monday, hung out in Times Square more, went to the 9/11 museum & memorial, and GOT TO SEE JIMMY FALLON. Uhhh, SO AWESOME. And we got home just in time to vote :). The only thing I am sad we didn’t get to do is to see a show on Broadway. Next time, because even though I had a really tough race, part of me is so determined to make it back to NYC next year to do it all again!