Running 2013's ING NYC Marathon definitely wasn't easy. But it sure was worth it. Here's what I learned.
Woke up at 5am jumped up out of bed, lifting my hands in the air screaming, “It’s Christmas!” After multiple years of trying to gain entry into the NYC marathon, followed by Hurricane Sandy canceling last year’s marathon, it was finally Christmas for me. I already had all my race gear laid out and put everything on and was out the door. Only a 20 minute walk to the New York Public Library to board the bus that would take me and my new friend, Naty from Miami, to the starting line in Staten Island. The bus ride took about an hour, which I had no problem with, but it was cooooold and windy outside. I had piled on the extra clothing with a heavy sweatshirt and sweat pants to stay warm that morning.
Once we arrived, it took another 40 minutes to enter Fort Wadsworth because everyone had to be scanned with a metal detector! The NYPD wasn’t playing around. I personally didn’t mind. I knew it was for safety.
I went to the bathroom four times in the 2 hours leading up to my 9:40 first wave start. Boom! A real canon went off, then a mass exodus up the Verrazano Bridge. I was charging up and looking out at the Manhattan skyline, which was smiling back at me while I could hear the loud humming of a NYPD helicopter overhead. I thought “here we go, let’s race home!” The crowd and spirit of New York City was overwhelmingly emotional for me. School kids lined the street, sticking out their tiny hands so that they could give me a high five. I always write my name on my shirt… that way strangers will scream my name and, boy did they ever!
Brooklyn, where you run half of the race was flat with massive crowds. I found some of the streets to be a bit narrow, which is a little annoying because you are doing your best to get through runners. When you are 5’2 and 100 pounds, like me, you have big and tall burley men who don’t like a little Cynthia whizzing by. I really had to use my elbows and, sadly, some men used their elbows on me!
The most difficult part for me was the Queensborough bridge. A slow, steep incline that felt like eternity with no spectators to cheer me on. An internal mental battle where I was listening to “Lose Yourself,” by Eminem.
Coming into Manhattan was a rush! The crowd let out the most thunderous roar. It overpowered the music on my headphones. I enjoyed going up First Avenue because of how wide the street is. When you stare down that gigantic NYC block you feel like a tiny ant in a sea of people and balloons. There, I saw my favorite running partner and fellow runners from my running team, the Henwood Hounds. Seeing them really helped give me the extra boost that I needed at the time.
My last 6 miles were a blur; my legs felt extremely heavy, but I knew I needed to make up for lost time if I was going to make my 3:35 goal. They say you run the first half of a marathon with your head and the second half with your heart…and believe me, I was flying with my heart those last 2 miles holding about a 7:20 pace. I had been practicing those last 2 miles all week during my taper. Mentally preparing how strong I would need to be. The last 200 meters are all uphill and you have to fight. So how did I finish?
An omission… my goal has forever been to qualify for the Boston Marathon, every fanatical runners dream (well most runners.. I am not speaking for everyone because I know not everyone has the desire to run Boston).
It is no easy task. For women ages 18-34 you must do a 3:35:00 marathon and it can’t be just any marathon; there is a list. NYC is one that you can make the BQ. Sadly I missed the qualification by 34 seconds. I’m not talking minutes people, I’m talking seconds. Yes, missed it by 34 seconds. 3:35:34 was my finishing time. Rules are rules, you either win or you lose, and although I had a personal record and my best race, the BQ slipped through my hands. I’ve been devastated the past few days wrestling with doing a Spring 2014 Marathon. Most likely I will. No this isn’t a sad story. It’s a victorious one! I’m 31 years old and I’m in the best shape of my life. I ran a fast marathon on one of the most difficult marathons to BQ on. I placed 6,248 out of an estimated 50,000 runners. Today I am healthy and I am strong.
- Wear LOTS of extra old clothing that you won’t mind donating to Goodwill. It’s super cold and you will be waiting hours before you start.
- Bring an extra roll of toilet paper, the port-o-potties are disgusting.
- A large trash bag that you can sit on while you wait for 2+ hours
- There is plenty of water at the start, so you don’t really need that.
- Write your name on your shirt even if it’s with a black sharpie pen.
How did your NYC Marathon experience go? Have you tried to BQ? Please feel free to share your thoughts or ask me any questions if you are reading and you think you want to run NYC.