I’m extending on my previous post and giving a bit more in-depth coverage filled with pictures and more thoughts. Since I ran for over three hours I have a lot more to say.
Time to begin then.
We stayed in a hotel in Flushing, NY. For me personally, I don’t do well with big cities (que social anxiety) and I like to have my own personal time. It doesn’t even make sense of why I was dead set on NY being my first marathon because I hate big, crowded cities. So I woke up at 3:50 took all the trains to the city (led by my train savvy brother). We made it to the ferry around 5:30. I waited for a while and ended up taking the 6 am ferry followed by waiting in the terminal, riding a bus and getting to my orange corral. It was very organized and streamline.
Like I said before, I didn’t do my research on the NYCM course like I should have. I knew it was a “hilly” and challenging course but I didn’t anticipate how hilly or challenging. I ran this watchless. My watch broke the day before the race completely then the new one I purchased wasn’t working correctly so I had no other choice. I wish someone would have said “Hollie this is one of the harder marathon courses you can do”…but no one did. Honestly even if they did it was where my heart was dead set on this being my first marathon so I wouldn’t have taken their advice
Windy beautiful morning
Before the race I was utterly freezing. I had disposable clothing, drank coffee and hot water but it didn’t seem to help. The wind was piercing through my jacket. Next time I plan to wear multiple layers because waiting around for 2 hours chilled me to the bone. That was my first lesson learned. The wind was my only nature complaint but you can’t control weather.
I talked to Adam and Susan at the start which made the time go by super quickly. It didn’t feel like we were standing on the Verrazano Bridge for close to an hour.
The Actual Race:
Once we started the cannon went off, I took into account what everyone told me. Make the first mile your absolute slowest, don’t waste time and energy weaving through people. So I didn’t waste energy and didn’t weave. While the clock said I had done a 9 minute mile I later found out this was 7:10. Thank you mom for buying the text tracking for my splits.
The first two miles were up and over the Verrazano bridge. The helicopters were swirling by and I tried to get myself on TV. I kept yelling Tyra I am America’s Next Top Model but for some reason they didn’t pick me out of a crowd.
After mile 2 I focused on getting to the 5k…then 4 miles. I knew my brother and dad as well as the Oiselle team were going to be standing around 8 miles so it gave me my first point of interest to look forward too. It was also when the other bib colors converged so it was one big mess. I never saw my brother and dad but saw the Oiselle team. Seeing them made me girl cry all emotionally. From that point on, I continued to keep a certain mile or mark in my head to get too. Once I hit that mark I would think of the next one.
After mile 8 I focused on making it to mile 10. I like the number 10 and thinking in terms of double digit runs so it was the next step. There were quite a few gradual mile long uphills that started to take their toll on my legs. As with the half marathon 10-11 is my least favorite mile. I can say it ranks in the least favorites here too. I don’t know why but it felt neverending.
Mile 12 I focused on getting to 13 then 13.1. In my mind the second half would go by quicker than the first half. That is how my training runs go and most races right? Wrong the second half didn’t even start for me until mile 16.
Mile 13 was on a bridge and I started to think about my next gel at 14. Then I saw Laura and Heather with sweet signs at 14.5 and that was cheerful, especially when we were going into the queensboro bridge.
I could write an entire post about the mile span on the Queensboro Bridge. That single mile goes down as my least favorite mile ever ran in my entire running career. (including miles in middle and high school gym class).
Mile 15 went over the Queensboro Bridge and I can say this is where the wheels started to fall apart. My quads and inner thighs were on fire. I thought to myself again, how the hell will I get through 11 more miles? The first half of mile 15 was up the bridge. It took so much out of me I don’t remember going down the second half. Then I began to feel my quads. It was the only thing that bothered me throughout the entire rest of the race. By bothered me,I mean I mumbled every word under my breath about it the rest of the time. I haven’t been doing any hill work after leaving Oswego so I felt and suffered through it. I felt my quads with every single stride for the next 10.2 miles.
After rejoining the real world of NYC I focused on getting to mile 17. The crowds were going wild and louder than anything I have ever experienced. Around this point was when I first got a glimpse of Granato racing. I tried to pull myself together, seeing them lifted my spirits for the first time. Between seeing them and Ashley (thank you for the awesome photos) I was able to be slightly less in pain mentally.
Mile 18 was a bit of a blur and once I got to 19 I concluded that I only had about an hour to go. I saw my pace was starting to rise and people were passing me left and right. I just wanted to finish.
At mile 20, I started my quest for the bathroom. (I also took another gel around mile 20). Since I didn’t see a single girl using the restroom on the side of the bridge at the beginning I didn’t want to be that girl. Dozens of males were just peeing on the side on the bridge but no females had. (Keep in my mind we were lined up for the corral 45 minutes without a restroom before the race.) My quads had been burning for the last four miles and now I was physically exhausted too. I contemplated stopping and walking but I knew I would never start running again.
So around mile 21 I found an open bathroom. Lucky for me I was in and out in about 1 minute and I felt like the wall had been lifted for a mile. The rest of mile 21 felt decent from my brief break and my quads had temporarily stopped hurting. I don’t regret stopping at the bathroom and honestly the time I lost I am positive I gained back because I felt a lot better afterwords. Unless I become a sub 2 hour marathoner I think I will always need to stop and restroom because my bladder is tiny.
The rest of mile 21 went quickly since I was looking forward to the Oiselle water stop at mile 22. After the water stop, my pace slowed again and I just felt like dog meat. After this point, I only focused on one mile at a time. Mile 22 was focused on getting to mile 23. Mile 23 was focused on getting to 23.1 (5k left to go).
Mile 24 was when I saw the most amount of people (well most amount of people not hitting this wall and passing me) but most amount of people watching and cheering. Seeing the whole #GranatoRacingteam made me smile to the power of 10,000 suns (both times!) as well as seeing Laura, Heather, my dad and brother did. I tried to muster up the energy and wave and it was hard. People told me I looked strong afterwords but I really didn’t feel that way. My brother knew how hard I was riding the pain train though. He was the only one who told me “Hollie I knew you were in some serious pain when I saw you”. For everyone who told me you looked strong at mile 23…false.
This is 100% how I felt. There are quite a few beautiful photos like this.
The final two miles in Central Park were the hardest. The hills weren’t over and it felt like the longest 15 minutes of my life. I contemplated walking at least 15 times (once per minute).
After seeing the ½ mile to go and thinking it was the 26 mile marker…I cringed. Then seeing the 26 mile marker and thinking it was the end…I also cringed. The last 4 minutes of the race felt like the twilight zone.
Then I finally crossed the finish line and had absolutely no energy. I didn’t pick it up, I didn’t smile for any race photos and I just zoned into the finish line. I didn’t even wave to the finish line photos because I just wanted it to be done. I ended up finishing 210th female overall and 10th in my age group. A side note but the 100th US woman finished in 3:16. So close! A lot of people have said due to the 20 mile winds it was a slow marathon year. I looked back at 2011 and the top 100 US woman finished in 3:10. That is a huge difference!
When they handed me a medal, I smiled and took a few official race photos.
The next part was the hardest and most frustrating part of the entire day. After the race we had to walk nearly 2 mile out of central park to get to the family reunion area. The 2 mile walk took me close to an hour. I was alone, had no cell phone and freezing. It didn’t help that I was in rougher conditions then most people around me. I was walking a lot slower then everyone else. It got to the point where marathoners finishing 20 minutes after I did were walking by me. I was asked a few times if I was okay because I was pale and I assured the volunteers that I was just cold and wanting my pants (which were with my brother and dad).
After meeting up with Matt, dad, Laura and Heather I chatted for a while and got some coffee and food. I managed to eat 2 recovery powerbars and drink the recovery Gatorade right after the race. I actually really like those power bars so I was happy they were giving them out in the recovery bags.
So that is the play by play of the entire race. I enjoyed seeing everyone on the course and the cheering. I have another 2000 word post of my thoughts regarding training as well. For a brief heads up, I spent roughly 6 months focused on this race so I’ll have about a weeks worth of posts.
Questions for you:
Do you eat right after a race?
What is your least favorite mile marker?
For half marathons, it’s 11, and for the marathon, it was 15 (but I think that was course specific).