Words will never be able to explain how amazing this day and race were. It all started with the NYRR 18-mile tune up race a few weeks earlier. I ran it 16 minutes faster than last year and I knew that meant good things for this year’s NYC Marathon. From there, I had more support from family and friends than I ever had in the past, I had finally figured out my nutrition/hydration needs and I felt strong.
My mom flew in Friday night and on Saturday morning we ran the inaugural Dash to the Finish 5K race. She got to cross the actual marathon finish line and she even set a 5K PR. Seeing her excitement and being able to share this part of marathon weekend with her meant so much to me. The inspiration that we get from each other is irreplaceable and I went to bed on Saturday ready to race.
Sunday morning I woke up, ate my english muffin with peanut butter and a banana, and started chugging water. The taxi to Staten Island was quick and the process of getting to the starting line was seamless. The ferry was filled with energetic runners and the weather was perfect. Since I arrived at runner’s village early (three hours before my start time), I had some time to reflect on my training and how I got to this day. Since moving to New York a little less than two years ago, I really realized at this moment how extremely lucky I was. My friends and family are amazing, my job has been beyond supportive of my running and I could not be in a better place. However, all this meant that I was more nervous than ever. For the first time in my running career (about three years), a lot of people really cared and they would all be watching. I had shared my goal time (between 4:30 – 4:45) and now I really had to meet that….not just for myself, but for them.
At 10:15 we finally lined up at the starting line and at 10:40, we were off. I listened to the wise advice of past NYC Marathon runners and made sure to pace myself over the first bridge and down 4th ave. The crowds in Brooklyn were amazing and at times it was tough to slow down, but I’m glad I did. At about mile nine, I was jogging along and all of a sudden my amazing friend Kamari was at my side running, cheering and giving me high-fives….dressed in her Sunday’s best of course! Kamari was one of my first friends in NYC and I ran the next mile as a thanks to her for all of the lessons she has taught me. I honestly don’t know where I would be without her. Along Bedford Avenue the crowds were loud, filled with hipsters and extremely motivating. I saw my cousin AJ and his girlfriend Catherine and was re-energized to continue out of Brooklyn. I knew that in just a few miles my largest cheering station ever would be waiting…and they were!
As I arrived in Long Island City I immediately heard my wonderful friends woo’ing, cheering and shaking their cowbells. Seeing the faces of my mom, Becky, Laurie, Alex, Teresa, Striker, Abby, Jenna and Kyle was one of the most amazing moments of my life. All of them were there in support of me and I knew they really cared. Holding back some tears, we all embraced in a group hug and I was on my way. The next few miles were dedicated to all of them and how thankful I am that they are in my life. Not only have they helped me to be a better person, but they have become my NYC family. I don’t know what I’d do without them. As I arrived at mile 16, I was feeling great and ready to take on the crowds on first ave.
First avenue was packed with people but definitely not the highlight of the race. To me, Brooklyn and Long Island City were filled with so much more energy. Was sad to miss my friends Jessi and Julie on first avenue. They are some of my newest coworkers and already very important people in my life! Running up first avenue was quick and I was still running a pace that would get me within my goal time. Harlem and the Bronx were great and filled with a renewed energy. Coming back into Manhattan I finally started feeling the pain of the marathon, but it was nothing compared to what other people seemed to be experiencing. I pushed along and knew my loudly cheering friends and mom would be right ahead at mile 22 and they were!
Like in Long Island City, they were all there and still cheering as loud as they could and shaking their cowbells. I picked up a Snickers bar from my mom and kept up my pace into Central Park. Entering Central Park I was still on pace to reach my goal time and was feeling very minimal pain. The crowds were thick and the inspiration strong and I couldn’t believe it when I was already at mile 25. Just a day earlier I had ran that last mile side-by-side with my amazing mom and that was all the motivation I needed. I ran that last mile for her, for us and for all we have accomplished together. As I approached mile 26, I held back some more tears, silently thanked my friends again and crossed the finish line to complete one of the best days of my life.
My official time was 4:36:55, which was a personal best by 29 minutes! I had reached my time goal and felt amazing. After a grueling, slow and long walk to baggage pick-up, I took the subway to Rio Grande to meet up with my friends and mom. As I entered the restaurant there they were….cheering, screaming and still ringing the cowbells. The whole restaurant joined in on the applause and once again I was reminded how lucky I was. Denise, another one of my best friends and an amazing person, was also there. I was so happy to see her and am so thankful she is in my life. We drank margaritas, ate mexican food and enjoyed the company of my NYC family.
Like I said, I couldn’t have asked for a better day!
Quick advice to people running next year:
- Go to the expo on Thursday – lines are way shorter and all of the apparel sizes are still there
- Take a taxi to the ferry – it’s quick, easy and cheap (plus you don’t have to get up as early as for the bus)
- Set up a car service to pick you up in the finish area – it’s impossible to get a cab and you just want to sit down
- Listen when people say to focus on pacing the first few miles – it’s really easy to get caught up in the crowd/other runners
- Bring food/drinks with you for before the race. The buses/ferrys may get you to the starting line really early, so you’ll need a snack
- Plan to meet friends/family somewhere outside Central park. I suggest a restaurant, your hotel or back at your apartment. The finish line area is very chaotic and it’s hard for spectators to get in.
- Enjoy every step of the race – it truly is the best marathon out there!
Below are a few more pictures from the experience…