NYC Marathon 2018

New York City Marathon – Marathon # 58 (5th NYC marathon)  

I had been seeing so many NYC marathon posts the week before the race. “It will move you”, “It will inspire you”, and “It will remember you”.  I couldn’t wait. I love this marathon.  Not only because NYC is my favorite place or that I just got married there 2 weeks prior, this race has so much energy and to me it’s a life changing experience.  I had a few friends running this race for the first time and I was so excited for them.  Even though this is my 5th time running NYC I still experience the same anticipation leading up to the race.  I couldn’t wait for them to have the same experience!

Two night before leaving for NYC it was pouring rain so hard it woke me up in the middle of the night. I feared our ride in the morning would be tough.  We set out to the train station and the rain never let up.  The forecast was rain 100% and then fog.  I have such a hard time being a passenger already but throwing in horrible driving conditions and poor visibility made for a hyperventilating anxiety ridden drive.  At one point I looked over at Kim and he was white knuckling the steering wheel leaning forward trying to find the white lines as trucks were passing us and leaving us blind from the water pouring off their wheels.  This is when I wasn’t sure if I was close to passing out because my heart beat was in my ears.  We finally arrived at Purdy’s train station. Before we got out of the car we both leaned back, closed our eyes and exhaled.

We met Rosanne and Angie at the station and took our first selfie excited to head to the city! We got on the train and started to plan our arrival; drop our bags at the hotel, eat and head to the Expo.  As we exited Grand Central, it was still lightly raining and the NYC 5K was underway.  We got to the hotel and dropped our bags and headed out to the expo on the #7 subway.   

The Expo was as to be expected for a large marathon. There were so many different runners from other countries.  We were pushed, shoved and squeezed as we looked around the different exhibitors.  It was so great to get to the Fleet Feet booth and see Stephanie and Anna from our local West Hartford Fleet Feet store. We were greeted with big hugs.  JUST LOVE THEM! We also say our friend Katie the CT UCAN representative.  We seem to see her at every expo and we are always greeted with a hug.

After trying a bunch of different samples of different nutrition, some great and some HORRIBLE, we headed back to the hotel to check in and get lunch. 

I had made pre-marathon dinner reservations at an Italian restaurant called Nino’s.  The poor waiter had to remember our modified “no sauce”, “dressing on the side”, “no cheese”, orders.  We explained the marathon the next day and he was fine.  Although he did mess up Rosanne’s pizza the food was excellent.  The basil salad dressing was spectacular.

We parted ways that night and went back to our rooms and set our alarms.  Of course this race is the eve of daylight savings time it which made for a sleepless night of worrying we would not be up at the right time.  I woke up at one point and smiled with relief.  I thought I already ran the race and it was the night after.  Then reality set in and I realized I still had to run!  I had crazy running dreams the rest of the night and woke up ready to go!  We had our usual pre-race business we took care of and packed a ton of food for athlete’s village.  I packed a couple of Kim’s old jackets I found in the basement closet for throw away clothes.  As soon as we walked into the lobby of the hotel to meet our friends they looked at me with my black leather jacket and I recited the famous Fonzie quote “Ayyyyy”.  Kim had on his MC Hammer jacket and did a little dance. We were all smiles as we headed out onto the streets of NYC to catch the bus to Staten Island.

There was some dude on the bus that was jumping into our conversations and telling Rosanne she’s never going to find her family at the family meeting location and said a few other comments.  That was a bit annoying but the worst was when a woman went to use the bathroom that was behind me and wacked me in the head pretty hard and said “oh I’m sorry”.  I was like WTF!  It hurt!  She was in there pretty long too.  When she finally reappeared I leaned over in Kim’s seat to avoid getting smacked again. Kim said "Do you want me to trip her for you?"  The drive went by pretty fast.  When we were finally on Verrazano Bridge where the view looking back at Manhattan was pretty spectacular. We could see Athletes Village ahead!  We got off the bus and went through all the security check points. There were NYC police in full gear with AR-15's and police dogs.  I know that this is for our safety but it’s a bit unsettling.  When we got into the village I was on a mission to get one of the NYC Dunkin Donuts hat that I missed the last couple of years.  When we pushed though the crowds I saw them handing out hats.  I grabbed mine and I felt accomplished!  I GOT A HAT.  Then one of our practical friends commented “you’re going to end of throwing it out when you start the race”, “you’re not going to carry that for 26.2 miles”.  I said “I will have this hat when I finish! I put it on and headed to a sunny spot on the grass.  We pulled out our heat shields and blankets and sat and ate MORE.  This is where we took our homeless honeymooning spooning photos.  We had our conversations of how much weight we gained training for the marathon and how chunky we felt.  I said “I am going to run until I don’t giggle anymore, and it’ll take about 26 miles for that to happen!

It was finally time to get to our corrals.  We parted ways with our friends that were in different corrals and did a big group family hug. 

Kim, Suzy, Rosanne and I arrived at our orange corral.  We heard a huge blast and saw black smoke and panicked.  We didn’t realize at the time that this was the start of the wheelchairs racers. Having the Boston marathon etched in our memories hearing the blast was pretty unsettling.  We got into our corrals and waited for the start.  We ate some more snacks and then finally it was time to get up and head to the staging area on the bridge.  Runners were stripping and peeing publically as we waited with anticipation.  The Star Spangled banner was sung by a local NYC resident so beautifully.  It makes me cry every time.  I closed my eyes and prayed for the best.  The announcer this time warned us that we would hear the cannon for the start.  I covered my ears this time and as we started to run and we listened to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, NY” playing

We started up the incline of the Verrazano Bridge.  I didn’t want to start out too fast so I tried to keep my pace slow and steady.  There were people in front of us that were running slower so we weaved around until we eased into a comfortable pace. The bridge is just incredible to run over.  There are helicopters hovering and there was a tug boat in the water with water spraying out on all sides. The coolest part was there was a huge rainbow visible over the boat. The view of lower Manhattan were absolutely incredible!  We exited the bridge and I remember looking up at the street sign 90th street.  Even though I’ve run NYC 4 times there are so many things that I forget.  I didn’t remember being in Brooklyn so long. The crowd support is incredible and the music was plentiful!  As soon as one song would fade as I passed, another band or DJ would be playing. There were even people in their homes that were playing music for the crowds.  Pretty cool.  I looked up a few times and realized that were counting down the streets from 90th street and we were on 40th. The other corrals had started to merge with us.  The street was separated with tape to keep the waves separated on both sides of the street.  Our friend Angie’s daughter was going to be at mile 7 ½ at Angie’s diner - How appropriate!  This was on the opposite side of the street of our wave.  We ended up crossing the median to get over to look for her.  Kim spotted Liv and yelled to her. I started high fiving little kids and was enjoying the crowd support.  Kim yelled to me to go back to the other side of the street in case there was timing mat we would need to run over.  We talked about our nutrition plan which consisted of eating every 6 miles and to start salt around mile 11. Brooklyn is one of my favorite parts of the race.  This section is filled with crowds on both sides of the street. I loved the Gospel singers.  The music seemed to be different as we approached each intersection.  There was a guy dressed as Captain America running and getting the crowds all fired up.  He put a smile on my face and I watched him running sideways and crowds were reacting to him.  This was good for a couple of miles.  I was still felt bullet proof.  I was thinking how I was still feeling strong.  It’s great to have so much entertainment as a distraction of what I was putting my body though.  The miles were flying by.  The water stops were every mile and we made a point of getting water each time.  I was in the groove and running strong and some woman decided to cross the road and stop in front of me like a large buffalo.  She nearly knocked me over. I was pretty pissed off! She was obviously not thinking what she was doing was wrong.  It makes me wonder if anyone behind me knocked her over.

We finally got to Queens after crossing the Pulaski Bridge!  Kim pointed in the distance and said “there is the Queensboro Bridge.  I said “It’s like waiting for a root canal.  I recall that bridge from previous years as being long and tough.  It is about a mile long with a pretty steady incline.  The best part is exiting the bridge down into Manhattan is you can hear the roar of fans as you turn onto 59th Street.  I love this part.

Next we turn left onto 1st Avenue for our 4 mile trip north to 140th Street into the Bronx. We headed over the Willis Bridge that seemed to only go up and up.  After we exited there was few turns and then there was one more bridge.  It was pretty cool that the woman on the bridge had a big sign that read “LAST DAMN BRIDGE”.  She was yelling it too!  I was pretty happy it was the last damn bridge.  I knew what I was in for after the last damn bridge too. It’s a steady uphill for quite some time.

It seemed like forever before we would enter into Central Park. This is the part of the marathon that I remember to be the most difficult.  My legs felt like they were going to collapse.  I starred ahead and focused on the farthest street light I could find and started counting my steps in groups of 10 until I reached 100 and started over. I repeated this until the last 4 miles of pure hell.  Even though the crowds were relentlessly screaming for you to keep going it took something deep inside to keep me from stopping.  Kim was starting to get further and further away.  We got to a water stop and I was almost taken out by the guy behind me and I missed getting water.  I started to pick up my pace and I couldn’t find Kim.  I looked for him not knowing if I passed him or if he passed me.  Finally I spotted the back of his project purple shirt.  I stepped up my cadence to a millions baby steps and I finally caught him.  We entered Central Park at 90th street and finally had a downhill.  I was relieved to get a break from the uphill but the downhill seemed to hurt just as bad.  I said to Kim “Marathons are Hard” and he agreed.  He said we are going to exit the park onto 59th street pretty soon right in front of the Park Lane Hotel (where we stayed when we got married).  When we did I thought “oh dear lord, not another hill”59th Street is a gradual uphill to Columbus Circle where you enter back into Central Park.  My legs were beyond toast at this point.  I really felt like they would not carry me anymore.  I thought to myself “your mind will carry you Jeanne, when your body quits”.  I was banking on this to get me to finish.  I turned the timer on my Fit Bit for a minute and just focused on that minute to go by and then I started it up again. I did this the last mile until I saw the sign 400 meters to go and I yelled for Kim and put my arm out for him to hold me up.   He grabbed me and started to tow me into the finish.  I could hear the announcer yelling out our names as we crossed the mat.  Our arms went up and I thought of Kim’s wedding vows he promised to cross the finish line holding my hand and I smiled like I never smiled before. I finished so relieved and I grabbed his shoulder and hugged him.  We looked at each other with relief.  We got our medals and took photos and Kim said “Jeanne look, there’s Ladies Pavilion.  This is where we got married 2 weeks ago.  I looked and my eyes filled with tears and I looked at Kim and noticed his eyes were tearing up too.  I just love him.  Our bond and love for each other is what has gotten me to run strong and be fearless for the first time in my life.

The volunteers are just amazing.  They all kept congratulating us as we walked by. I pulled my phone out and started to look up my friends statuses.  I heard someone yell “you dropped your card”.  My credit card fell out of my phone on the ground.  I turned and picked it up so thankful.  Runners are pretty honest!  We got our warm fuzzy poncho and headed out of the park.  We kept walking and saw families waiting for their loved ones with balloons and bouquets of flowers.  It’s such an incredible experience to see all the support.  Before I exited the park I was already thinking “God, I can’t wait to come back next year. Funny how that happens.  The pain is temporary, but the memories will last a lifetime.  I walked out onto the street with the biggest smile and felt so accomplished – oh, and I still had my Dunkin Donuts hat!