2017 NYC Marathon Race Recap - A NEW PR!
Marathon recaps are so hard... mostly because it's such a long race, how can I remember every moment??? But I want to relive this race over and over because it was the BEST RACE EVER!!!!!!!!
I never put together a post with my goals for NYC, but I will tell you I was not really looking forward to this race. After coming off of Boston, another big city race with a huge field and a logistical nightmare that left you awake for almost 6 hours prior to the gun, I didn't really want to do that again any time soon - especially since NYC was bigger and well known for being a difficult course. My time goal for NYC was a 3:15, the same goal I had for Boston. This training cycle started out rough, but after nailing my goal at the Long Beach Half Marathon just 4 weeks prior, I knew I had a good fight in me.
Ricky and I got to NYC on Friday evening with no time left to go to the expo, so we ate and went to bed so we could be ready to tackle the city the following day. If you've read my Boston recap, you know I don't like to do much the day before a race and meeting up with people kind of overwhelms me, so I usually say no to everything. This time, I didn't, so we had a pretty packed day on Saturday. First up, was going to the Brooklyn Bridge to get some photos and shake out my legs a bit. I'm not sure how this happened because there were so many people on this bridge, but we got a photo with just me in it!
The Expo and Meeting Kara Goucher
After the bridge, we went to meet up with my athlete, Sue, who was in town from London. It was completely random that she was here on the same weekend as the marathon, but it worked out and I had to take advantage of the opportunity to meet her! We had breakfast together and got to chat for a bit which was so nice. This is one of the best parts about not only coaching, but running in general - meeting all of these amazing people I would never have met without this sport!
After leaving Sue, we made our way to the expo. I was expecting it to be as big as Chicago, but it was just ok (probably a good thing so I didn't spend more money!). The New Balance gear was insane though and I caved and bought the jacket - full price! Agh! We were only at the expo for about 90 minutes and we were starving. We had just enough time to stop for lunch before making our way to the Oiselle meet up.
I signed up for the Oiselle meet up a few weeks ago - they host lots of amazing activities on big race weekends and I never made it to anything in Chicago or Boston, so I wanted to make it to this one. Crazy enough, Kara Goucher was going to be at this event and I found out a few days before leaving for NYC! It was amazing meeting her - she's so candid and honest and emotional about running and I loved listening to her talk about her career. She gave us a great pep talk. I asked her for tips on running in the rain (at this point in the day, rain was still on the forecast for Sunday), and her advice was spot on: just ignore it. Everyone else is experiencing it too. It probably won't slow you down or make you faster, and its really just there to annoy you. Basically, get over it!
After that we made our way to Central Park and the finish line so we could see it. It was blocked off which was kind of a bummer and took away our photo opportunity, but it was nice to see what I would be looking for the next day and I started to get pretty excited. By this time, it was after 3 pm and we were pretty pooped. I got to meet up with one of my local NY athletes, Maria, in the park though, so we chatted for a bit. Such a good day overall and I'm happy I made all of that happen.
We found a tiny little Italian place in midtown to grab dinner around 6 pm. Timing for these larger races is difficult. Normal start time would be 6-7 am, so a 6 pm dinner would be great, but with a start time of almost 10 am, I knew I'd have to make every bit of nutrition count to get my carb stores up. When we got home, I drank some beet/orange juice from Trader Joe's and ate an apple. Bedtime came at around 9 pm and I was so ready for it after such a long day walking around. I had a feeling my legs were going to be very mad at me when I woke up.
4 am on race morning came pretty quickly after waking up several times in fear that I missed my alarm (literally happens to me before every race). My legs were jacked from the day before. My IT band and hamstrings were so tight from walking up and down subway stairs. I regretted everything for a moment and then realized, it didn't matter at this point, so I might as well get over it. I still had to run 26.2 miles no matter what my legs felts like.
I ate my oatmeal and banana and waited for my belly to get into gear so I could hit up the bathroom before leaving. I woke up Ricky so he could take the subway with me to the Ferry building. The weather on race morning said cloudy until about 1 pm and then a 20-30% chance of rain. Temps were in the low to mid 60s. The clouds were a blessing given the temps. I picked up some throwaway pants and other gear at the expo, so I was well prepared. Once we got down to the ferry, it was much colder. The ride over to Staten Island was quicker than I thought it would be, but once you get off the ferry, you wait in a huge line that takes about 25-30 minutes to get on a bus to the start. After finally getting on the bus, I dozed off for a bit.
By the time we got to the start villages, it was almost 8 am. I walked to the Green Village where I would be and picked up a plain bagel (by this point, I'd also eaten an apple and Honey Stinger waffle), and some coffee to give me one more shot at the bathrooms. We didn't have much time to sit around. I was in the first corral and first wave for my village. They open your corrals on a rolling basis. Mine opened at 8:20 and closed at 9 am. They had restrooms in the corrals, and I proceeded to hit them up about 8 times. I avoided over hydrating like I did at Boston because my goal was to NOT STOP on the course to use the restroom. You could hear the cannon going off for the wheelchair start and the elite runner's start and excitement was starting to rise.
Just after 9 am they released our corral to head to the starting line. I had thrown away almost everything except the medical blanket and gloves I'd brought. I had picked up a 3:15 pace band at the expo the day before, but couldn't see any of the pacer's signs. Finally, a 3:05 sign pops up in the crowd and makes its way to the front. The weird thing about NYC is that the Green Village starts on the lower part of the bridge (less wind and less of a climb makes this a plus), and the Blue and Orange Villages start on the top of the bridge. We all reconnect just after mile 3, but each village should have their own pacers. The next pacer I could see was the 3:30. I started to panic a bit. My entire strategy depended on the pacer. Knowing this was a difficult course with lots of hills that could ruin you, I was relying on a pacer to guide my effort up and down the hills. A few other runners were also looking for the 3:15 pace group and I sort of held out hope that he'd show up, but alas, the gun went off and I was on my own!
Going under the bridge was calming. The Verranzano Bridge is so LONG. We hit the first mile somewhere in the middle, but my watch was reading 0.88 miles and a 9:xx pace. My GPS obviously lost the signal so of course, a little panic struck. I hit the lap button just so I could know my splits. First mile was a 7:47. I knew the first mile would be slow, and the second mile coming down the bridge would be fast - clocked mile 2 at 6:24. Prior to starting, I noted where I needed to be at the 10 mile and 20 mile mark on my pace band so I could just focus on overall time since the GPS was a bit wonky. 1:14:00 was what I needed for 10 miles and 2:28:00 at the 20 mile mark.
As soon as you come off the bridge into Brooklyn, the crowds just eat you up and THEY. ARE. AMAZING. You all know I don't train with music for a variety of reasons, but I usually take music with me to a marathon. I will pop it in if I get overwhelmed or I need to stay focused. YOU WILL NEVER NEED IT AT NYC. OMG. I cannot even explain to you how much they carry you through this race. Brooklyn has the biggest straightaway in the course. I kept checking down and my watch was shoing 7:05, 7:10 - way too fast, J. Slow it down. Ok now we're at 7:20, 7:25, 7:30 - nope, speed it up a bit. The first 10 miles were like this. I hit the 10 mile mark at 1:11:58. Sweet - 2 minutes under. Now, I had a buffer, but I knew I needed to get my pace under control. The 3:05 pacer came up around mile 11 and I just let them go by.
At mile 15, we headed over the Queensboro Bridge. I stopped looking at my watch at this point because I knew the only thing that would get me through this was going by feel. I focused on effort up the bridge and clocked a 7:50 and 7:41 for miles 15 and 16 on the bridge. This was a quiet time before you enter Manhattan for the first time. I talked to myself a bit and kept telling myself I felt good and strong and ready to fight. The roars coming from Manhattan you can hear when you're halfway over the bridge and they welcome you with open arms coming down. We had another straightaway before climbing into Queens on the Willis Avenue Bridge. This was mile 19 and I still felt great. Something surreal was happening to my body and I thought, "If I still feel like this at mile 23, I'm going to get a sub 3:15." I hit the 20 mile mark at 2:26:28, 90 seconds under goal.
Everyone talked about the hill at mile 21 or 22 leading into Central Park and how cruel it was, but I didn't notice it (all of that hill training paid off big time for me). Mile 22 was my last good mile. Just after mile 23, my left quad started to cramp a bit. Nope - pushed that thought out. I only had a 5K left to go. I knew this was the time to fight and I was going to put up a good one. This entire time, I was sort of looking for my parents and Ricky. Ricky said he'd be on the course at mile 8ish, 17/18, and in the park near mile 23. My mom was going to be wearing a bright pink jacket so I tried to look for it at each of those points on the race, but never saw them. Just after seeing mile 24, ready to break down because the cramps in both my quads were taking over, I hear "GO JESSICA GO! WE LOVE YOU JESSICA!!" *Omg I'm tearing up thinking about this point in the race* I looked over and my Dad is like, falling out on the course trying to get my attention and I started to tear up. I couldn't really talk at this point because energy was zapped to the max, but I threw him a kiss and it was exactly what I needed. I threw down everything I had left because I knew I would get to see them quicker if I did.
Mile 25 was still rough and my slowest mile at 8:03, but mile 26 was at 7:28 - my goal marathon pace. Midway through mile 25, you exit the park and follow it along the outside to cut back into it at mile 26. There is a straightaway and I heard someone yell "Sugar Runs - GO!!!" and it helped. Whoever you are out there, thank you! I entered the park and finally seeing the finish line was amazing - as any marathon finisher knows, this is the sweetest part of the race. As soon as I crossed, I started bawling my eyes out. I couldn't stop. My body had given all that it could and that was good enough for a 3:14:29 finish.
I grabbed a medical blanket and my medal and was in dire search for water. The finish shoot is extremely long and you have to choose a poncho or gear check (choose the poncho if you ever do this race, it is so worth it + its a shorter walk out). The finish chute is like the march of death after we've all run 26.2 miles. All of these runners are just trying to reconnect with family and you have to go another 2-3 miles to get out - its insane! I finally met up with Ricky and my parents almost 45 minutes after I finished and it was so SWEET! It was a madhouse trying to get home too, but I was on cloud 9. I finally got my phone from my mom and had so many messages, Instagram messages, etc from people tracking me and my coach. It was so amazing to see and hear how many people were supporting me and I cannot begin to express how meaningful that is.
We spent 2 additional days in NYC. My parents hung out with us on Monday and we went to the Statue of Liberty and 9/11 Memorial. Ricky and I spent Tuesday at the MET and we got to see Book of Mormon. I AM BEAT! NYC was a dream - I had my "perfect" race day and I am so satisfied knowing I hit my goal and excited for what's next. But first - time to enjoy all of the things I've been giving up the last few months before the next training cycle begins.