Here is my 2014 TCS NYC Marathon Race Recap and my experience in officially becoming a MARATHONER!
The Start Village:
Sunday morning, I met the rest of Team Asics to take the bus to the start together. My teammates chatted and calmed me down so I could eat my oatmeal and banana as we at on the VIP bus and got a police escort to the start. Seriously, the police stopped traffic so we could drive through all the lights! Talk about feeling like a badass.
After we arrived at the start, we got a quick Team Asics photo and pep talk before all heading to our start villages. I waited around and finished my breakfast and met up with my sister when she arrived. She was in orange and I was in blue, so we hung out in the neutral zone, talked about how nervous we were and how cold it was, and tried to keep warm while wearing 20 layers and wrapping ourselves in blankets. One of the biggest stories of the day was the cold weather and the insane winds. Sustained winds of about 25 mph with gusts between 35-40 mph, resulting in temperatures with a “real feel” in the low 30s. Yeah, I didn’t train with this kind of wind thats for sure but unfortunately we can’t control the weather. So I packed my gloves and brought ear warmers and sucked it up!
Eventually, I heard the announcement for wave 2 runners to go to their start corrals so we shared some hugs of good luck and I headed to the blue section, corral E. I think wave 1 had a little bit of a backup because they didn’t let us into the corral right away, resulting in a HUGE traffic jam, stressed out people, and less time for everyone to stretch out and warm up in the start corrals. I definitely felt rushed after getting into the corral and wished I had stretched more earlier. We made our way to the start and I threw my warm layers into the donation bin before I finally saw the Verrazano Bridge, heard the wave 2 gun go off, and heard “New York, New York” being blasted!
Miles 1-3: Luckily, the blue group got to start on the top right of the bridge so I got to live my long-standing dream of running on top of a bridge I’ve driven over a million times. The view was incredible, but unfortunately so was the wind. The was the point in the race where the wind was the most insane and the most noticeable. Strangely, it blew in all directions–side to side, towards you, behind you. There didn’t seem to be a rhyme or rhythm to it at all which made it harder. I was pushed from side to side and saw a TON of hats flying off peoples’ heads during the big gusts. People were still running in their garbage bags, and I had kept on a long sleeve layer for the first 2 miles before dumping it. It was cold on that bridge!
The bridge was one point where I may have messed myself up a bit. I was so excited to run the bridge and the marathon (I mean I waited for this for 3 years!), nervous in general about everything, and had a difficult time finding my pace that I started out WAY too fast for the first 3 miles before I realized what I was doing. I really think this came back to bite me at the end because, as you’ll read later, around mile 20 I felt way more tired than I had in any training runs. Lesson learned.
Miles 3-8: These were some of my favorite miles of the race. I just loved the amazing crowds in Brooklyn, I felt strong, and just enjoyed taking everything in. At this point I started to sort of warm up and wasn’t as cold as I was waiting in Staten Island. Along the course I saw some funny signs on the road and communities cooking food for each other because the marathon is a special event for them! Everyone comes out to cheer.
As I approached my own neighborhood in Brooklyn around mile 8 (near BAM), the crowds were INSANE! I felt like an elite athlete because there were so many people screaming for us. And at this point some of my own personal cheering section was waiting too. Karl, Katherine, Jesse and Dennis were waiting for me with support and love. I was so happy to find them, it really gave me a burst of energy and mentally put me in a good place mentally to continue. There is nothing like seeing your family and friends along the course.. its the best!
Heading towards Downtown Brooklyn.
Miles 8-14: Actually from mile 3 until 14, the miles seemed to fly by. The crowds and volunteers really made this the best part of the race for me. I barely even had to use my headphones because of all the cheering and music along the course. In Brooklyn I heard everything from reggae to rap to gospel to pop music blasting through the streets, with people turning it into a dance party. I also loved the random guy who read my name on my shirt and yelled out “Megan, there you are! We’ve been waiting for you. Go Megan!” That made me laugh and kept me smiling for a few miles after. The wind was blustery at this point and was pretty much blowing right at my face, and I was so cold I even left my gloves on (which I never do). But luckily there weren’t too many big wind gusts. Somewhere in these miles I also stopped to use the bathroom quickly because I drank WAY too much water in the morning!
Mile 15-16: Queensboro Bridge. This is no joke. My legs were already tired but I was happy actually to see the bridge because it signaled the move into another borough. But be careful what you ask for! This incline was a challenge mostly because of when it appeared in the race, not because the incline is so terrible on its own. Its really more of a mental hurdle than anything. Luckily, I trained on bridges though so I ran the whole incline (slowly, but I ran it) even though so many people were walking. I sort of wish I stopped to get a photo on the bridge because there was a nice view, but I figured if I stop my legs might realize they don’t want to run anymore!
Miles 16-18: Made it to Manhattan! Coming off the quiet of the Queensboro Bridge to the boom of the spectators on 1st Avenue was incredible. Thousands of people cheering as loud as they could for the thousands of us running, although it felt like they were cheering just for me. I started to get tired around this point and made the mistake of reading all the streets as they went by, “61… 62… 63..” Let me tell you that’s a bad idea, because the miles go SO slow when you do that. Eventually I realized that wasn’t helping and just focused on meeting my cheering section again at mile 18. At mile 18 I saw Karl and Dennis again and I stopped to give Karl a hug and kiss.
Mile 18 was the point where I realized I wasn’t feeling my best today. I wasn’t feeling as strong as during all my other training runs and my mental game wasn’t 100%. During my 18, 19, and 21 mile marathon training runs, I felt like I could run for days. But that was not the case today. This was more of a struggle and way more of a mental game than any other run I’ve ever had. Plus my legs felt sore in places they didn’t in the past. So I decided to try to use the crowd and feed off the support of my cheering section for all the motivation I could muster. I knew though that I had to finish no matter what, and kept running uptown.
Miles 18-25: The hardest miles of my life. There were hills and small bridges that I didn’t anticipate being there, that made this incredibly hard. During these miles, somewhere in the Bronx, I also developed some random shoulder pain that ended up forcing me to stop and stretch. Everyone was stretching their calves but not me.. I was stretching my shoulder. It bugged me for about 5 miles which was kind of dejecting because I never had any shoulder issues before!
Aside from the shoulder issue, these miles were tough overall. There were times where I questioned whether I could finish and I wanted to quit about 50 times. I saw a sign eventually in Central Park that said “Remember why you started running” and it got me thinking about all the injuries, the deferment last year, the months of training, and I realized there was no way I could quit. My whole running career has led to this point.. to this race. And I couldn’t give up now. The crowds during these miles kept me going. Every once in a while I’d stop and walk but every time I did I’d hear tons of people shouting my name telling me not to give up but to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And so I did. I listened to all those amazing people who got me through the most mentally challenging and exhausting miles of my life. I want to thank them for getting me through those miles… really, the crowds were my fuel.
Mile 26: The last mile. I wanted to cry. I was so close to the finish but it felt as though my body could go no further. Central Park South seemed like the longest road ever. But I pushed and pushed, and convinced myself to take one more step, one more step.
I came back into Central Park and saw the countdown signs. 800m to go. 400m to go. 200m to go. I don’t remember running those miles but I remember thinking that I was almost there. I felt like I could collapse but I kept pushing and talking myself into continuing to run. Every step seemed like I was running a mile and the finishline seemed like it was getting further and further away. But eventually my long-awaited dream became a reality and something happened that I will never forget: I stepped across the finishline, put my arms in the sky, and let everything go. I did it. I ran a marathon. 26.2 miles, three years of anticipation, overcoming injuries, and hundreds of miles run. I AM A MARATHONER!
I crossed the finishline in 4:48:51, which was slower than I planned but I have no regrets. My goal was to finish and that’s what I did. At that point, every emotion I’ve ever had hit me and, as they placed the medal around my neck, I burst out into tears. I couldn’t stop crying for a few minutes and on top of that I could barely breath from having run for almost 5 hours. Every emotion showed up, combined with the pain and soreness my muscles felt.. suffice to say it was something I can’t put into words. I cried with happiness for having overcome my mental struggle and finished, sadness that it was all over, relief, joy, thankfulness to the crowds and everyone who helped me along the way and every other possible emotion. I had set a goal years ago and finally it happened. And here’s the photos to prove it!
Crossing the finishline
I’ll explain this in photos:
Got my blue poncho!
Karl got Jen and I flowers!
2014 NYC Marathon: Finisher!
And then there was a big Shake Shack burger..
Congratulations to everyone who ran the 2014 NYC Marathon! And read my last post for all my thanks.