Last Sunday was my fifth New York City Marathon, and my eighth marathon. Everyone was constantly saying to me, "Oh, a marathon? 26.2 miles is nothing to you." I disagreed with them before, during, and after the race.
I like ultras better because you can stop and that's fine (even normal!), you meet tons of people because you're talking, you get to run slow, you see amazing nature, dirt is soft your feet, changing terrain is interesting.
However, as far as marathons go, I adore New York. The diverse neighborhoods, the people, my friends, family, coworkers (even boss) are all out there cheering me on. The communities really give so much of themselves and you understand why NYC is such an amazing place.
I had a tough race -- mentally and physically. I was aiming for 3:22, though I really wanted sub 3:20. I started out running strong. My first mile was slow because somehow all these 9:30 milers were ahead of me (!) and I had to shove through them all to be able to run a decent pace. I held strong, passing my parents and boss at mile 8 exactly when I was supposed to.
At one point early on, I felt pain, but ignored it -- I drew my energy from the crowds, from my fellow runners. I had a HUGE smile on my face -- nearly the entire time. It is such an amazing race -- even if you don't run marathons, do NYC once. You will be blown away.
Williamsburg was nice, and I saw all my friends from my running team, North Brooklyn Runners, at mile 12. Mile 13 was right by my house, and I felt good. I pushed over the Pulaski Bridge, and saw Megan and Kesha (coworker and former coworker) just past the bridge. I was struggling and starting to feel out of it but kept pushing.
Before we turned onto the 59th St Bridge, I saw these people with a table of food. I found I could no longer eat. (Part of my problem I later see is that I woke up too early, ate breakfast before 5am, and only had a gu and started running at 9:40. Not enough food...) "Please, food! Do you have pretzels?" I ate a bite of apple spice cake and a handful of pretzels. I was able to focus and pick it up.
On the bridge, well, I think if I jumped into the East River I might have felt better. My pace drastically slowed and everyone passed me. Ugh.
On 1st Avenue, I picked it up. How could I not? Like an idiot, I put my name on my shirt, and people would not shut up. Okay, I'll run faster.
After I passed my parents at 91st St, I was still on target for a PR, but not a 3:18.
The Bronx. I stopped to pee. I stopped in a medical tent for pretzels (yes, I eat like an ultrarunner). I hated the Bronx. I always fall apart in the Bronx.
In Manhattan again. WTF? How was I so far north? To run all the way DOWN to 59th St, crosstown, and then up to 68th St? Is there a bus I could take? At least in an ultra, I can munch a brownie or pretzels and walk for a few minutes and there's no shame. In this race, the crowd will not let you walk.
I looked down and saw Nelson's legs -- his red tribal tattoos make him stand out. I ran up to him, and we both admitted we felt hellish. I gave him some jelly beans.
I had a smile, though. At 97th St, I saw my amazing coworker who had a homemade pink pompom and a sign with glitter and my time: 3:22 (which I told her I wanted to break). I was bummed.
Into the park. Thank god. The crowds would not stop screaming. Stupid hills. I've run in this park more than anywhere else, yet it seemed so foreign. I pushed, but wanted to do. "Don't give up! Cherie!!!" I ran on.
Running along the bottom of Central Park takes forever. When I heard the band at the bottom of the park, I felt relief...but then I had to run UPHILL to the finish. The crowds would not shut up. I pushed, I struggled...
3:46. Far from my goal time, but I finished. I finished in the city of my love, NYC.