NYC Marathon–The Race
My alarm went off with the clock reading 4 a.m. thankfully with the time change happening over night this still felt like 5 am. I crawled out of my hotel bed and quickly and quietly got dressed in my NYC marathon race day outfit complete with Team Clarke (Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech) singlet and then layers of cozy throwaway clothes.
I loaded up my bag with my race day fueling and kissed everyone on the head before silently sneaking out the door. The hotel provided a buffet for all runners starting at 4 a.m. which I gladly took part in since I wouldn’t actually be starting the race until 10:15. I knew fueling for a race starting that late in the day would be tricky for me. I tend to struggle with low blood sugar during long runs so I wanted to be sure that I had adequate fuel before the race. I loaded my plate with scrambled eggs, a banana, a bagel with cream cheese and also ate a giant bowl of oatmeal with honey. Despite my best efforts at fueling well I would be hungry again by 8 a.m., my tummy growling. The restaurant was buzzing with the energy of excited runners and a lot of it was in French. There was a huge team of French runners staying at the hotel which was fun to see and hear . . . I was a French major in College and even spent a semester living in Paris!).
Once my breakfast was done I readied myself to find a taxi to the Staten Island Ferry. I was excited to take the ferry but antsy to get there as I had never done any traveling around the city alone before. Thankfully it was easy to find a taxi and the ride only took about 20 minutes or so and I was able to relax. I knew we had reached the ferry when I spied many other people clad in the strange uniform of marathon runners before a race . . . throwaway clothes, extra layers, compression socks, warm hats, all descending upon the ferry terminal with one goal in mind. The finish line of the New York City Marathon.
Although there were a lot of runners there we quickly got on the ferry and headed for Staten Island passing the Statue of Liberty along the way. I sat with two kind runners on the ferry and we chatted about racing, how we got into marathoning, running for charity and anything to calm our nerves. After reaching Staten Island we transferred to buses which then finally took us to our final destination. Getting to the race start was much easier than I anticipated!
Once we reached the Athlete’s Village I texted a few running friends (and bloggers) who I knew would be waiting around to start as well. I was excited to be able to connect with Laura from Mommy, Run Fast! We sat and chatted for quite a while sharing running stories and talking about our recent races. We talked a little bit about our race plans and tried to stay warm. Laura was in an earlier starting wave then me so eventually we had to part ways.
I still had more time to wait which passed fairly quickly waiting in porta-potty lines (of course) and trying to get a little bit more fuel back into my system. At this point I gobbled down a bagel, a banana and a Clif Organic Apple Oatmeal Energy Food Pouch. Finally it was time to line up so I ditched my warm layers into the donation bins keeping only my gloves. It felt a bit cold as we stood in the race corrals but thankfully as we moved towards the starting line we moved into the beautiful warm sunshine. It was a great day to run a marathon! I felt relaxed and excited to be there.
Before I knew it the National Anthem was over and we were off! Since I was in corral B it actually didn’t feel like it took too long to actually cross the starting line which was great. The race started off over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the view was just spectacular and that included the view of all of the runners.There is always such power in seeing so many people out running togetherI was stoked to briefly see Jen from Running With The Girls who was on the other side of the bridge divider. As I ran I also felt so enthused to be running for #TEAM Clarke in honor of my nice Shaw and my Aunt Susan. There were so many people running for charity during the New York City Marathon. It makes the whole race quite powerful.
I felt quite jazzed for the first half of the race. My energy was high and I was just loving the whole experience. I was trying to keep my pacing under control to run in the 8:00-8:15 range which seemed quite manageable but the energy of the crowds and the music and the fast course had me running faster than I should have been and of course I would pay for this later. I ran the first half in 1:47.27 but my pacing was not consistent. I kept telling myself to be disciplined but then my legs would get away from me and I’d check my splits and I would have ticked off another mile at sub 8:00 mile pace.
I went into this race without a totally clear pacing strategy as I had been sick for two weeks and really wasn’t sure how I was going to feel once I started running . . . this was not necessarily a good plan. The best marathons that I have run have been the ones where I kept splits consistent and conservative in the first half allowing for negative splits in the second half. I definitely got caught up in the energy and emotion of the race experience and wanted to enjoy the crowds. There were so many awesome spectators with adorable kids looking for high fives. And the music along the course kept me feeling fresh.
I continued to feel great until about mile 18 or 19.The New York City Marathon course is deceptively hilly. Every time there is a bridge you get a hill as you go up and over. After awhile this gain in loss of elevation from crossing bridges was starting to deplete me. I had been alternating between drinking water and gatorade at the hydration stations but was feeling a bit dehydrated. There were wind gusts and the temperature was on the cooler side so I don’t think I had realized that I might have been having more rapid fluid loss. I was also probably slightly dehydrated going into the race due to being sick.
I was also rapidly blowing throwing my GU. I had brought along 6 pouches and by the end of the race had consumed my 6 and two Power Gels that I grabbed on the course as well as two banana halves and a salt packet. Fueling was not going well and I was feeling like I didn’t have a lot in the tank at this point. Running from mile 19-20 felt incredibly long. The Willis Bridge crossing into the Bronx was tough. It was incredibly quiet, a glaring difference from the wild crowds leading into the bridge. At this point I knew that faster time goals had past me by and my body was feeling heavy. At this point I began to remind myself about all of the muscle strength in my legs, core and arms from bootcamp becauseI knew I would need this strength to push through to the finish.
The next few miles passed in a bit of a blur as I was not feeling particularly good at this point. You can see it in my race photos that I was beginning to feel somewhat out of it. I ran and pushed my pace as hard as I could keeping it fairly steady just about 9 minute/mile pace. I focused on the runners ahead of me and looked for runners who looked relax. I did not want to focus on my own discomfort. This strategy worked pretty well to keep my mind on running and just moving ahead one foot in front of the other. My running form had gone to sh#! When we finally reached Central Park I was looking around for Organic Runner Dad and the kids but the cords were so thick that I missed seeing them. They saw me run by though which was awesome!
There is a slight incline as you wind your way into the point. My calves were feeling a little crampy but I ran through and eventually the feeling went away. I actually don’t remember much of the race at this point and was just wanting to finish. I managed to pick up the pace into the finish and was so glad to be done. I crossed the line in 3:49.16, missing Boston qualifying time by a little over 4 minutes.
Somehow I was able to get my medal and a finishers space blanket have a few smiling pictures snapped before I rapidly started to feel really bad. I felt dizzy and nauseous every time I started to walk. A medical tent volunteer grabbed onto me and brought me to the fence allowing me to try to regroup and asking me questions to make sure that I was ok. I managed a few texts and a call to my husband and mom at some point during this time period.
I continued to feel worse so was guided to the med tent and given a cot to lay on. The Medical volunteers immediately assessed me by listening to what was going on. I was feeling nauseous, like I might pass out and was having tingling in my lower legs and feet, hands and forearms and in my face. They took my temperature and my body temperature was 91.5. Eek! That’s not good! I was moderately HYPOTHERMIC. They quickly changed me out of my wet shirt and wrapped me in more blankets and then brought me several rounds of warm chicken bouillion to drink. It was the perfect storm of conditions for me that caused this. It was a gorgeous day with temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s but the wind was gusting dropping the temperature at times. I tend to be a heavy sweat-er so have difficulty with rapid fluid and salt loss even when its not very hot outside. I also get hot very quickly so usually shed my layers quickly. In hindsight I should have dressed differently for the day.
I had only worn a tank top with arm sleeves, a running skirt, and compression socks. This was definitely a huge part of my issue because once I got sweaty my body began having a hard time regulating its temperature and that coupled with the wind gusts and the sheer depletion from running 26.2 miles sent my body into a hypothermic tailspin. Here is a great article from Fleet Fleet Columbus that details more about what happens when you get Hypothermia when running a marathon. Thankfully my body responded fairly quickly otherwise they would have needed to put me under warming lights or perhaps I might have needed a trip to the ER which wouldn’t have been good. I have so much gratitude for all of the volunteers who help out at big marathon events like this and especially thankful for the volunteers who had helped me.
Finally after a chunk of time had passed the medical volunteers deemed me healthy enough to leave the med tent. With release paperwork signed I exited the tent feeling much better but totally wiped out. I still needed to claim my finishers poncho and was so thankful for the extra warmth. I wrapped up in the poncho and wrapped the space blanket around my waist joining the hordes of blue poncho finishers looking for the exit to Central Park and a ride back to a warm shower at my hotel. Not having anticipated a stop in the med tent I was now desperate to get off my feet but to my dismay there was not an available taxi or über to be found in the city. There were just too many runners and spectators. So I began a long, slow 30 minute shuffle back to my hotel in Time Square. On the way I jokingly texted my husband that I might ride back on a CitiBike since I passed several rows of bikes along my walk. Even though walking was not at all what I wanted to be doing at this point in the end the walking helped my legs to recover faster. I finally reached my hotel room and my family and a warm shower.
Looking back on the New York City Marathon I am proud of my race. I ran my heart out even when the race got tough. I was there running for the purpose of celebrating The Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech and am so proud to have been a part of giving back to help others with hearing loss and hearing impairment just like my niece Shaw and Aunt Susan. I am so thankful for all of you who helped me to smash my fundraising goal by bringing my fundraising total to $3101. In total our team raised $17,243 for The Clarke Schools For Hearing and Speech! My race was more about the experience this time than trying to achieve a Boston Qualifying time. I have a hard history with the marathon and although I have had several incredible races and some amazing fast finish times I often struggle and have ended up in the medical tent almost half of the times that I have raced. I plan to run my 4th Boston Marathon this spring but after that we’ll see. I am not sure at this point if there are other road marathons in my future. I need to be careful as far as my health goes and I know that the important people in my life don’t want to see me get hurt doing marathons. Don’t worry though, there is plenty of running and triathlon fun coming up for this girl. I do have plans to meet with a sports nutritionist to work on fueling.
Now I’ve had two weeks to let my body rest and recover from the New York City Marathon. For me recovery is all about allowing my mind and body to refresh. Much of marathon training is mental and so after a marathon it is nice to enjoy some time without the pressure of thinking about training and time to not worry about time goals or race paces. During race recovery I work on getting a ton of good sleep and also eating well. Even though I am tempted to hop right back into running I have learned from previous races that taking two solid weeks off from running is great for my body. I finished this marathon training cycle and the race itself without injury (knock on wood!) which is great. Next up for me is the official start of Boston Marathon 2017 training so I want to make sure that I am in tip top form, recovered, rested, healthy and free of injury.
Tell me about your most difficult racing experience or your best running experience.