Oh man, I love this race. There has been so much going on in my personal life lately that I never really had a chance to get excited about the race this year. In fact, I even considered sitting it out, especially after the crazy weather the previous weekend. Thanks to some good friends’ motivational pep talks, I showed up yesterday morning with my running sneaks on. I’m so glad that I did.
I rode down to the SI ferry with my same friends that I ran Chicago with. There was some drama with the car service. But that was really the only setback of the morning. By the time we arrived in Staten Island and boarded the buses for Verazzano Bridge, the sun was already coming over the horizon, and I could tell the weather was going to be phenomenal.
My friend Becca agreed to run with me. Which was very gracious of her, considering that She tends to totally crush the NY Marathon. She PR-ed in it a few years ago with a faster time than I have had at any marathon, which is super impressive for such a difficult course. Anyway, it was so great to have her there, to chat with her in the staging area, because it gets so boring waiting and waiting for gun time.
It is always so exciting when you finally get up onto the bridge and can see the start line. Bloomberg gives his little good luck speech, and the cannon goes off. There is suddenly a sea of bouncing heads that begins pouring onto the bridge toward Brooklyn. It is the most amazing sight, ever. On my way across the Verazzano, there was a Coast Guard Black Hawk on my left side, along with a TV news helicopter. On my right hand side was an NYPD helicopter. They would fly right up next to the bridge. Coast Guard was waving through the open side door. I waved back, of course. Hehe.
Becca and I kept a nice comfortable pace just under 8 minute miles through all of Brooklyn and Queens. We even tackled the Queensboro Bridge with a pretty good pace (mostly thanks to Becca). Once we made it into Manhattan and started to charge up 1st Avenue, I began to struggle. Thankfully, Becca was really good about not letting me slow down much (even though I really wanted to). By mile 17, I was really wishing that I had brought some energy gels with me. Thankfully at mile 18 they were handing them out. But, by the 20k mark, I was really losing steam and thankfully Becca didn’t let me slow her down anymore. I watch her fade into the crowd of runners in front of me. Around mile 20 the energy gel started to kick in, and I was feeling a little bit spry again.
As I was coming off of the bridge into the Bronx, without warning, my left hamstring cramped up really hard. Like, so hard, I was worried that my race might be over. I hobbled over to the sidewalk (without tripping anyone, thk gdnss), and stretched it out for a few minutes. It ended up costing me. That mile was a 12 minute mile, hahaha. From then on, I knew that I wasn’t going to get any sort of amazing time, so I just settled in at a 10 minute mile and enjoyed the home stretch. It was almost existential. I stopped looking at the pace clocks, and my watch, and just enjoyed the crowd. I crossed the finish line at the same time as Jack Waitz, husband of the late Grete Waitz.
Thank you so much to everyone who provided encouragement to me about this race. Also thanks to everyone who tracked me, and came out to cheer. It was pretty awesome. Can’t wait to do it again next year. Here is a link to my Garmin stats.