Not Any Given Sunday: TCS NYC Marathon Recap

That’s it.  Marathon Sunday is over.  I think about my experience and feelings and thoughts last year and how so much of that has changed while other things have stayed the same.  An estimated record 51,338 out of 51,995 runners crossed the finish line yesterday, myself included.  Not too shabby.

I was in a daze all last week with just having gotten back from school and the onslaught of homework and projects due.  I couldn’t think beyond the 24 hours ahead of me, and couldn’t even figure out when I was going to pick up my bib.  It didn’t sink that I was running this again.  Not when I finally got my bib.  Not when I  made post-marathon arrangements.  Not on the ferry ride to Staten Island.  Not while I was waiting (and waiting and waiting) to get on a bus to the start line with everyone else.  Not when I missed my Wave 2 start (again), but this time, thanks to the NYC DOT.  Not when I got to my corral.  Honestly, I didn’t realize that I was actually running till we were grouped on the Verrazano Bridge and a woman started singing God Bless America before the cannons went off.  I thought, oh shit – this is about to happen.  It was sunny yesterday, a bit warmer than I would’ve liked, and slightly breezy.  A beautiful day… what could I complain about?  Crossing the lower deck of the bridge this time, I paced myself and it hit me.  This may or may not be the last time I run this marathon as a citizen of this city.  I have no idea what the future holds, and I wanted to soak it all in.

Something about these marathons makes me emotional.  Maybe it’s a lot of somethings.  So many people come from all over the world to run this race; all sorts of languages were heard in my corral before starting.  Different languages are printed on runners’ shirts.  Running through the streets of this city, from borough to borough, so much personality and individuality shine through.  From bagpipes to hip hop music, from salsa to taiku drums, from alternative rock to gospel, and from marching bands to school orchestras, everyone comes out to have a good time.  And dammit, I was going to have a good time, too.  That was the only goal I had.  No target times.  Not trying to PR (but if I did, I wasn’t going to be mad at it).  Instead of a pace band, I had a wrist band reminder of when to fuel and which of my friends was going to be where.  It’s been an emotionally challenging year.  Why not make it physically challenging, too?

I felt pretty damn good!  Running down 4th Ave, passing my friends from the track club was energizing.  Unfortunately I missed V at mile 8, but somehow ran into another friend T about 1/3 mile later.  Total surprise!  I was actually looking for my Ride or Die on Lafayette.  I didn’t see him but ended up seeing T instead so that made me happy.  I kept going.  Even though my quads were starting to feel tired, I blasted through last year’s wall at Mile 13.

After seeing T, I knew I was on my own till Mile 16, just turning up 1st Ave in Manhattan after having crossed the 59th Street bridge.  That’s where DD was going to be, with two bottles of water and some energy gels.  This is a hugely important role that my sister was more than happy to play last year.  This time around, DD took on the responsibilities, although I think he was quite reluctant.  Later, he would say that he was surprised I trusted him to be such a player in this, and that he was afraid he would let me down.  He was right there, as discussed.  When I saw him, he was looking at his phone, and talking to the people around him about whose runner was going to show up first.  I stopped in front of him and said, “look up!”  I passed him my sunglasses and earbuds, he gave me the water and gels, a kiss, and I said I’d see him at the end!  Almost a mile later, I was on the lookout for another friend who I thought was going to be on the east side of 1st Ave… turns out she was on the west side.  Thankfully she shouted my name and I heard her!

After this, I knew I was going to be on my own again till close to Mile 22 where my BFF and his GF were going to be.  Unfortunately, the pee that I’d been holding in for over an hour couldn’t stay inside me anymore and I had to make a pit stop.  My quads were talking a bit louder to me at that point, so I rubbed them quickly and got back out there.  Up into the Bronx and back down into Manhattan, I saw them right before Mile 22!  I stopped and chatted a little, told them that my quads didn’t feel great, gave them hugs, and kept it moving.

I was looking for one more friend at Mile 23 but couldn’t find her.  She was my last scheduled familiar face before hitting the final stretch… till I saw my uncle walking with a guy.  My uncle told me his friend is a cross-fitter and this is his first marathon, and would I be good “taking him home”?  We were less than three miles from the finish line, and my quads were feeling better, with the help of some adrenaline for sure!  I offered to run the last few miles with him but he said there was no way he could run anymore.  So my uncle and I agreed to meet up after the race to catch up and I took off.  Through the park, across 59th Street, and back up into the park all the way to the end.

I knew that I wasn’t going to beat my time from last year, but I came very close!  Had I not waited on that Port-A-Potty line, I would’ve beat my time!  But it’s ok.  The goal was to have fun, to run because I enjoy it, and yesterday, that’s exactly what I did.  I have no regrets about my time.  DD loves my time because it’s 4:20:00 exactly, hahaha!  I texted my dad a photo of my medal today.  He congratulated me and asked if I beat last year which he knew was slower than what I’d trained for. When I said that I didn’t want to set any time goals this year, he replied that probably made it a lot less stressful.  He knows me well.  He said I don’t have anything more to prove so stay cool and cut down on the stress!

In any case, me and the rest of the walking dead grabbed our medals, foil blankets, and recovery bags and made our way out of Central Park.  One of the volunteers even reprimanded me for not wearing the foil blanket and that I could catch a cold.  I was still hot!  But I did as I was told because the temperature did drop and because I just ran 26.2 miles and still had 1/2 mile more to get the hell out of there.  When the ponchos came out, those were a hot commodity.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with two of them now, though, haha!

At 73rd and CPW, my other very good friend H saw me.  I was in a bit of a daze but so happy to see her.  We walked up to 74th and met up with DD so I introduced them.  They walked and I glacially moved with them towards the school that my track club rents out on Marathon Sunday.  I introduced them to some friends while I went and changed.  I got DD a beer and chatted with some other folks, and then we bounced.

I went home with DD to consummate our post-marathon Netflix and Chill agreement which ended up being Football and Chill – perfect.  I took a long shower and spent the rest of the evening next to him on the couch with my feet up.  He did a very good job tending to me and we ordered dinner in and watched football, me with eyes half shut.  I think we fell asleep by 1030pm.  It was the low-key evening I was looking for.

I got several texts and messages from friends and family leading up to yesterday and then afterwards.  On Saturday night, I got a message from Hot Aussie.  He’d asked for my bib # a couple times, so I finally gave it to him on our last team video call.  He was really tracking me because within 10 min of my crossing the finish line, he texted me again!    I didn’t mind this communication at all; he is a fierce competitor and an athlete, so we certainly have that in common.  He also ran Boston some time ago, so he knows what it’s like.  We had several exchanges before I realized, I don’t want to slow down and text you when I could be walking faster and getting to DD.

At the end of Marathon Sunday, I found myself smiling.  It was a beautiful day, electrified by the city’s biggest block party supporting thousands of runners.  I’m convinced I have the greatest personal support network that could ever be, and I think that’s a large part of what makes marathons so emotional for me.  It’s overwhelmingly flattering and I am so incredibly thankful and humbled by it.  I don’t know what I did to deserve such a strong corner of people in my life, but I’ll take it any day.  It makes my heart smile.  And last night, I got to fall asleep next to someone who makes that smile even bigger.

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