New York…New York.
This recap will be long. It hasn’t been a secret after my last marathon I said I was tired of them and had no interest in marathoning. So for over 3 years, I didn’t. Then the opportunity to run New York in the sub-elite corral presented itself, and I knew I would kick myself for not taking it. I was nervous, and I knew, and I would be the slowest person in the corral, but I decided to go for it. Spoiler, I have no regrets.
The morning itself was just as great as the marathon, if not better. I got to be around the best of the best. We boarded the bus and were off to Ocean Breeze. Initially, I thought being at the Ocean Breeze track would be ideal because if it rained or was inclement weather, I would stay drier. The weather was beautiful, and I spent about 3 hours just hanging out and watching elites and other sub-elites warm up. Not every person warmed up, and I was on the team no warmups (Running 26.2 miles is enough for me). It was very relaxed and peaceful which made it hard to think…I’m going to run my 3rd marathon soon.
Since many people asked, I ate a waffle at 5 am, and then a bagel around 8 am. I get hungry in the morning and starting a race at 9:50, I knew it was the best option for me. It’s probably a lot of food for most people, but I don’t like running on an empty stomach.
When I went to go pin on my bib, I realized OMG my pins had fallen out of my bag. So like a goon, I had a race bib but no pins. I hung my head in shame and asked one of the volunteers (who was actually talking to Jared Ward) if they had any and they were able to get me some.
By 9:20, we were off to the Verazzano Bridge. We got back on the bus, and when we got off, I felt like I had entered a whirlwind. People were shouting, get to the bridge, drop your stuff off now. NOW! The excitement finally dawned on me, that yes I was about to run 26.2 miles.
The professional men stood in front of us, then us, then about 30 feet behind corral 1. Since I was the slowest person in the corral, I stood at the back. It felt kind of cool to say; I am the slowest one here. I chatted with several other women, many of whom, were going to attempt a sub 3. I knew that could be me someday, but New York was not that day.
All of a sudden, they were filming us, and the gun went off. The first mile is up over the Verazanno Bridge. It’s 100% uphill because you are climbing a bridge. I ran a 7:28. Many people from the first corral were flying by me, which was fine. I just stayed in a straight line and did my thing. I don’t really ever feel pressure anymore when people run by. They do them…I do me…
The second mile was my fastest, as it was down the bridge, and I ran a 6:36. I knew it was downhill but seeing a 6:36 made me feel a bit better. I didn’t have a time goal and I knew with the constant climbs, my miles would be everywhere.
For the next few miles, I settled into a groove. My goal was to make make it to mile 8. I knew that was where I had the highest chance of seeing friends, although I didn’t. The next several miles of New York are also the flattest. I averaged between 6:45-6:55. I could see the 3: 00-hour pacer up ahead but I knew I wouldn’t be running 6:50s up the Queensboro Bridge and in Central Park. I briefly thought about joining the group, but then ultimately decided it would probably cause me to blow up.
So I just kind of trecked along. I took my first Maurten Gel around mile 5. I have a stomach of steel, so most gels do the same thing for me. I felt the same as if I had taken a Gu. I didn’t need a gel at mile 5, but I planned to take them every 5 miles which seems to have worked for me.
Around mile 6, I felt my shoe untie a bit. I also had to use the bathroom, and some people will pee on themselves, but that is not me. I decided when my shoe finally came untied I would tie it.
When I hit mile 8, I saw no one I knew. I wasn’t really surprised, but the crowds gave me life. I wasn’t bad, and I maintained miles in the 6:50s.
Somewhere around mile 9, my shoe came untied, even though I had double knotted it. I am a clumsy bafoon, and I won’t run any race with an untied shoe and hurt myself. I found an opening on the side and tied it. It took me a little longer than I had hoped because the double knot got wedged in there but I told myself, the more you “panic”, the longer it will take. I dropped my gloves as well.
I had planned to use the bathroom too but there wasn’t one so I just continued on and never did. With my stop, I logged a 7:22 mile. I asked NYRR to pause the clock for me while I tied my shoe…but they didn’t so I didn’t pause my Garmin either.
I hit mile 10 in just over 1:10. The next two miles, were two of the quietest from the crowds. I took another gel around mile 10. I grabbed Gatorade at every mile I didn’t take a gel, and water when I did. I was mentally struggling for the next two miles, thinking about how far I needed to run.
Around mile 12, I snapped out of it because I knew the half mark was coming up soon. I reached 13.1 in 1:32 which was only a minute slower than the Air Force half marathon. I knew I wasn’t going to negative split and I would probably struggle to run another 1:32. I decided that maybe somewhere between 3:05-3:10 was probably doable. It would be a PR, but also it would be on a much more difficult course than my PR in Pheonix.
After 13.1, I began mentally prepping myself for the Queensboro Bridge. I stand by the thought that during my first marathon, mile 15 was one of the hardest miles I’ve ever run in my life. I needed to mentally prep myself to know, it would hurt.
Mile 14 clicked off in 6:55 and then I saw the Queensboro Bridge ready to be conquered. Ok…here we go. Mentally in mind, I just blocked off the Queensboro Bridge as being “almost done”. My mind just thought, when I was there, I was essentially done…which is dumb because after you still have 10 more miles.
We began climbing…and climbing. It was quiet because there are no crowds on the bridge. Suddenly, I looked around and realized I had begun passing people. It reminded me of when Des Linden said about the Boston Marathon: Well I wasn’t feeling great, but no one probably was, and I was feeling better than other people. It was true, and I passed a lot of people up the bridge. I hit ran the mile in about 7:30 which I was pleased with.
As we came down on 1st avenue, the crowds were incredible. During the downhill, I felt my inner thighs and quads locking up. It reminded me of my first marathon, but also my second. I never really felt good during either after mile 16. Was this it? Was I done?
But as I continued, I realized I felt decent. Both miles 17 and 18 were relatively flat, and I saw Danielle who was motivating. I ran both in 6:52 and 6:56.
From then on, I began mentally counting down. First I counted down to mile 20. I reached mile 20 and said: “just a 10k to go”. I knew last time, it was a very long 10k.
This time I didn’t feel as bad. The next couple of miles went without much note. I didn’t feel awful, but I didn’t feel like the beginning of the race either.
Somewhere around mile 22, I saw some friends including Hayley. I waved and it’s where this photo was taken.
One of the prouder moment is that I was able to see and wave to so many friends from 20 onward. I couldn’t do that and in fact, I don’t remember the last 10k of the race from 2013. I guess I had tunnel vision.
When I reached 24, I thought, just another 5k to go. Hollie you like 5ks. Although one of the hardest and longest climbs comes around mile 24 and I ran a 7:27. I knew friends would be between miles 25 to the finish, so I gazed along Central Park looking. My legs burned as the neverending climb in central park continued.
I saw my dad around mile 25 and even waved to him too. I’ve never been that coherent to wave to someone at mile 25 so I felt good about it.
The last mile felt as though it took forever. It was my slowest mile, and I ran a 7:34. I saw the sign “800 to go” and began sprinting (or what I thought mentally was). I passed a man who was wearing too short of shorts which weren’t covering…anything. :O
OMG, that is two laps around a track. I begin powering through. Then 400 to go. Then I crossed and averaged a 6:34 last .2.
I crossed in 3:07.15 which is my fastest marathon by over 7 minutes. It’s 10 minutes faster than the last time I ran New York. I’m proud of it. A few days later, I’m not all that sore and I feel like I was sorer after both of the trail races I did this summer.
Now that I’ve run a marathon and I had a positive experience, I do believe I could run faster at some point. I don’t foresee myself running another marathon soon, but I do know eventually I’ll run another one. Yes, I have qualified for Boston and I don’t take that for granted, but that isn’t a race that interests me right now. I can barely plan 2 months ahead, let alone a year and a half.
I still like the half marathon and 5k better, but I am glad to have started and finished a marathon training cycle healthy and with a PR.
Questions for you:
Have you run New York before?
What is your favorite race distance?