I try to keep things light on the blog, but today I cannot be silent. I woke up today with a pit in my stomach and lots of sadness, disbelief and disgust. I have no clue what the next 4 years will bring, but I do know that as an African-American female, I am terrified. I am also terrified for all of my Muslim, LGBT and disabled friends, and many others as well. America, I don’t know what happened, but we MUST and CAN do better. That is all.
…and now for something more positive – my New York City Marathon race recap! I’m linking up with Annmarie from The Fit Foodie Mama, Jen from Pretty Little Grub, Michelle at Fruition Fitness and Nicole from Nicole from FitFul Focus for Wild Workout Wednesday.
I ran and completed my first marathon on Sunday. I don’t even know where to start with this recap and my thoughts are all over the place, so just bear with me!
The Night Before
I’m a firm believer in not trying anything new on race day (or the night before), so I opted for a simple dinner of pizza. I have stuck with pizza or pasta for pre-long run meals, so I was confident that this would be okay. I also took an epsom salt bath and tried to relax. I went to bed a little later than I would have liked, but because of Daylight Savings Time, I actually felt okay when I woke up at 5:15 in the morning.
Luckily Abby, my running coach, was staying at a hotel a few blocks away from me. We decided to meet up at 6:15 to walk over to the New York Public Library to catch our 7am bus to Staten Island. Good thing we left when we did because the line for the buses was already pretty long!
After about 20-25 minutes we were on the bus and on our way to Staten Island. Things were going well and then all of a sudden the bus stopped. Yup, that’s right. Our bus broke down on the way to the start of the race. See Abby’s IG post below.
Luckily we were on another bus within 20 minutes, but I had to think if this was a sign from God to not run the race, lol. I asked Abby if this is how most first marathons start off. We had to find the humor in it. The only good thing was that this meant we would have less time to wait in the Start Village.
After we got off the bus, we had to wait in yet another line to go through security to enter Start Village. This line seemed to take a pretty long time. I would say at least 30 minutes, but I’m all about having a safe race so I’ll wait as long as possible. Finally we were in the Start Village!
There are three different colors for the Start Village – Blue, Green and Orange. I was in Blue so I had to walk another 10 minutes to get to that area. Honestly I felt like I had been awake all day and walking forever at this point. I think I already had logged 4,000+ steps. All I wanted to do was sit and rest before the race. Luckily there was plenty of water, bananas, bagels and Powerbars in the Village. I made sure to stay hydrated and also ate a bagel. This was around 9am, so I still had two hours for the food to digest so I wasn’t worried about tummy issues.
Abby and I chatted some more and then it was time to get loaded into our corrals for the race. We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.
So…as I’m waiting to get into the corrals, I noticed we’re delayed. I’m not sure what happened, but a volunteer asked security to escort a runner out of the crowd to get into the corral. Because of this we entered the corrals late but I don’t think this affected our start time. I also ran into two IG runner friends, Samantha and Simone. Hi ladies! It was awesome to see you both before the race start! Soon it was 11:00am and we were moving, but I didn’t cross the start line until 11:15. So at this point I’ve been up for 6 hours and just started running. I don’t know if this affected my race, but I do know it’s a crazy long time to wait to start running!
The Race Experience
Let me first apologize by saying I did not take any photos during the race. I rarely run with my phone in my hand, and I was worried about my phone battery lasting during the race, so I didn’t use it. Apologies in advance for the lack of photos!
The race starts in Staten Island and we run the first two miles on the Verrazano Bridge. The first mile is uphill and the second mile is downhill. I tried to make sure that I was keeping a steady pace for these first 2 miles since the race really doesn’t start until mile 3!
Now everyone had told me to get ready for the “wall of sound” coming off of the Verrazano Bridge entering Brooklyn. Well I’m not sure if this was because I was in the last wave, but there were way less spectators than I thought. Don’t get me wrong, there were still lots of spectators, but I guess I was expecting deafening sounds. Overall I liked Brooklyn, but this was the part of the race where I knew I was in trouble. Brooklyn had a good amount of rolling hills and inclines. My IT band was SCREAMING at mile 8 and I had to start walking. I was crushed, but I knew that things would only get worse if I kept running. By mile 10 I was already exhausted and knew this was REALLY bad. I somehow regrouped and made my way to the Pulaski Bridge at the halfway point. I finished the half in 2:37, so at this point my 5:15 was still in reach if I hauled ass.
The Pulaski Bridge sucked (actually ALL of the bridges were hard). It wasn’t cold, but it was windy on the bridges and they all had a pretty good incline. Friends had told me about this bridge being awful, and they were right. After we crossed the bridge we were in my hometown borough of Queens! I managed to run walk and a good pace for this section. Around mile 14-15, I started to feel off and then I got dizzy. I decided to take my Honey Stinger gel and it helped so I was back in business.
At this point you leave Queens and enter Manhattan to run down First Avenue. This part of the race was LIT! The crowds were amazing and I gave out a lot of high fives. I was starting to have fun in the race again. I also popped a piece of Run Gum and it gave me a good boost. I was still run/walking at this point and knew that my 5:15 time goal was out the window. Oh well, things happen. I was upset but didn’t let it ruin my race. I was running the freaking New York City Marathon so how could I not be happy?! Once I saw Mile 18 I got uber excited because I saw my cheer squad. I sprinted to my parents, sister, my sister’s boyfriend and my friend!
I also stopped to chat with my family for a few minutes to let them know how I was feeling and I did a mini photo shoot as well, lol.
After crossing the Willis Avenue Bridge (again, all the bridges were hard!), you enter the Boogie Down Bronx for a mile. At this point I was nervous because I had never run more than 20 miles in training, but it was fine! The Bronx was SO MUCH FUN. Although you’re there a short time, there were really energetic spectators and lots of music. As I was running I heard one of my favorite songs so I stopped to dance for a few seconds. My legs appreciated the short break.
After the Bronx you enter back into Manhattan. This part of the race SUCKED! This part of the run takes you up Fifth Avenue and it’s a false flat. The incline is killer at this point in the race and my legs couldn’t take much more. Luckily I saw my cheer squad again at Mile 23 🙂
YES!! The finish in Central Park. The last 5K of the race is in beautiful Central Park. Even though the sun was starting to set, there were still awesome crowds at this point. I was still doing my run/walk and just trying to hold on until the finish line. I was utterly exhausted and everything hurt. When I saw the finish line, I was ecstatic!
After the race I received my heat blanket and goodie bag with water, gatorade, protein drink and a Powerbar. Then I walked about 10 minutes to grab my poncho. Runners had an option of doing either bag check or getting a poncho. Since my family and friends were at the race, I opted for the poncho, and I’m so glad I did! It was really nice and fleece lined so it was warm. I was really impressed with the quality!
As you all know, I trained hard for my first marathon. I never missed a run and nailed the pace for most of my long runs. Based on my long run pace of 11:10-11:20 per mile. I was hoping for a 5:00 (awesome!) to 5:15 finish (maximum) finish time.
My finish time was 5:42.
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. Granted my actual moving time was about 5-6 minutes less than that since I stopped to talk to family at miles 18 and 23, and I ran the course long (26.68), but still, I was super bummed. I know it’s my first marathon, and the overall goal was just to finish, but when you train for a certain time and you are WAY off, it hurts a little bit. But I do know that I did the best that I could on that tough course and with my stupid, annoying as hell IT band. I know that rolling hills and steep inclines are my nemesis when it comes to my IT band and unfortunately this course had a lot of those. Most importantly I did have fun and that’s REALLY what it’s all about!
What I would do differently
The Marathon was actually my last race for the NYRR 9+1 program, so I automatically qualified to run again in 2017. As of now, I am planning to run again to see if I can get a better course time, and to also experience it again.
Hills – I think I would definitely do more hills in my training. I ran a few of my long runs on hilly courses, but I don’t think that was enough. Maybe I need a dedicated weekly hill workout?
Strength Training – I would also try to do more strength training. Sure, I did a weekly boot camp and spinning class, but I really don’t think that was enough.
Nutrition – I would get my nutrition under control sooner. Even though I didn’t gain weight (I actually lost 5 pounds) during training, I didn’t always make all the right choices.
How am I feeling and What’s next?
I think all of my stretching, foam rolling and epsom salt baths are paying off because I don’t really have any more soreness today. I also had a great massage earlier this afternoon. However, I am having an issue with the side of my left foot. I’m not sure what happened but it didn’t start bothering me until after the race. I’ve been icing it and using KT Tape but it’s not 100% better. I’m supposed to run the Remix Challenge for Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas this weekend. Of course I’ll still be going even if I can’t run, but I hope that I can at least do the 5K race. After Vegas, I’m planning on taking about a week break from all exercise.
In addition, this morning I entered my name for the Chicago Marathon lottery for 2017. I will not know the outcome until December, but I’m hoping I get in because I have heard nothing but awesome things about the course.
Last but not least, THANK YOU!
So I couldn’t end this post without thanking so many awesome people that encouraged me on my marathon journey.
To my running coach, Abby, THANK YOU for all of your wisdom, words of encouragement and designing a plan that worked for my schedule (and thank you for my new Mizuno sneakers!). I am honored to call you a friend.
To my family and friends, you guys are the real MVP. THANK YOU for supporting me on this crazy 16 week journey and for cheering for me during the race. It means more than you’ll ever know!
To my blog readers and social media followers, THANK YOU! I felt SO much love in the days leading up to the race, during the race and after the race. You are all so amazing, supportive, nice, loving, etc. THIS is just ONE of the many reasons I love the running community!
That’s it! Sorry this post was a little long, but this was 16 weeks in the making so I had a lot to say!