Yesterday I wrote all about my NYC trip BEFORE the race. We had been on our feet so much all weekend that I’d actually gotten a little sore and achy- NOT a good sign just before a race… We woke up at 5AM, threw on our clothes (layers and layers of them), grabbed our bags and hopped on the Race Director busing. The bus ride took about 45 minutes, as the sun came out and we made our way across the Verrazano bridge. When we arrived we hopped off of the bus and walked through the masses of people in sleeping bags, on tarps, camping out in the villages.
There were 3 start-line villages- Green, Orange, and Blue (these were also the Wave/Corral Colors). Each village had its own bag check, bathrooms, coffee, food, water, entertainment, and other amenities. We waited for about an hour in the Race Director’s Gym to prepare and chill out before heading to our corrals. We made it just in time before they closed- 8:55AM! BUT we still had 45 minutes until the start. Pam and I wrapped ourselves in her heat sheet from Flying Pig and tried to keep ourselves busy/warm. Our corral finally started the slow walk up to the start line and Pam and I started chanting “Go Meb Gooooo”, and got more than a few weird looks. The further we walked, the more runners peeled off their extra layers, and the cheering got louder. I tried to turn on my Garmin, but even though it had been fully charged, it was dead. So it was going to be my first full marathon without it, but for some reason I just didn’t really care. Pam and I decided that she would count dogs on the course (as she always does), and I would count people in mascot costumes.
When the gun went off, we walked for a few minutes before getting to the start, and Pam and I split. Running over the bridge was beautiful, with the Manhattan skyline on the right. BUT the wind was piercingly cold so I hurried along to warm up. Once we were across the bridge, the masses of spectators were waiting for us. The streets were packed with supporters and runners. We spent the majority of the first half in Brooklyn, where I saw my first mascot- a huge white bunny. We crossed over a smaller bridge into Queens, where the masses of volunteers, spectators, and amazing bands continued. I’d been running with the 3:40 pacer just to have some sort of idea what time I was making. But the pace felt pretty easy because I was so excited to see what was coming next.
After a short stint in Queens, we crossed another bridge that dropped us in Midtown. I had been running with an ipod, pulling earbuds in and out, but once I got to Manhattan, it was so loud I almost couldn’t hear my music anymore. In some areas, the spectators had to be barricaded off because there was so much enthusiasm. Around Mile 18, I was starting to drag a little, but the station with nice little green sponges brought me back to life. I started to lose track of the 3:40 pacer, but kept running at my own pace. Another bridge later, we were in the Bronx, but only for about a mile before heading back for the final stretch.
The one thing I’d heard from past runners of the race was not to be fooled when entering Central Park, you still have a couple miles to go. So I paced myself as I made my way to the Engineer’s Gate. By the time I was in the park, I was ready to be done, especially with all of the rolling hills. But running through those last few miles was so beautiful on the sunny fall day, with spectators covering every inch of the route that I didn’t really care that my IT Band as pulling and my body wanted to stop. As I approached the finish line, I spotted my sister who tossed me my cell phone (thank goodness or I’d never have found her), and ran through the finish.
Instantly after finishing, I scrambled to get reception to find out who had won the race! Sadly, Meb didn’t place, but my sister DID get a picture of him finishing for me. The big news of the day was Shalane coming in 2nd place for the women, running legend Haile retiring from running after dropping out at Mile 16, and the inspiring Chilean Miner finishing the race. Our team was especially proud of Robin Quivers for finishing her first full marathon- we’re excited for her to join us in July at The SF Marathon for Gotham to Golden Gate.
My final time was 3:50:17, less than a minute slower than my marathon PR. Although I wasn’t running this course for a time, I have to credit my pace to the thousands of New Yorkers out cheering and the sights to see, the excitement kept me going in those painful last miles. It was the perfect ending to my 2010 racing year. Now, for the first time in probably a year and a half, I don’t know what my next race will be. Time to start drafting my 2011 racing calendar! Any suggestions?