People always talk about NYC being a really tough course because of the hills and the bridges (which are hilly). Compared to Boston and San Francisco marathons, I never thought that NYC was hilly. I guess my problem with the course is the monotonous stretches of flat sections that seem to go on forever...especially if you know the city and know how much further you have to go.
Miles 1-8 I felt really great, in fact, probably too good. The beginning of the race is so magical, that it's really hard not to get caught up in the adrenaline of the crowd. I started out way too fast (like 7:25-8:00 range) and I knew it, but I just figured I would "bank a little time" so that I could afford to slow down later if I had to. I've heard people say that before and also heard them say it doesn't work, so maybe not such a great strategy after all, but whatever.
My sweet hubby met me at mile 9 and jumped in to run a few miles with me. We had a nice time chatting about the weather, making fun of other runners, looking for friends on the sidelines and before we knew it, we were crossing the halfway point. I still felt good at that point and hit the half somewhere around 1:46, so on target for a decent time if I could keep it up. We kept trucking through Queens and finally got to the bridge that leads into Manhattan, right around mile 15. The bridge is over a mile long and has a nice steady climb for quite a while. It's a really lonely time because there are no spectators on the bridge, so all you can hear is your belabored breathing and heavy footsteps. This is the point that my head started going mental. I was just tired of running and kind of over it all at that point...a little earlier than normal for me.
The bright spot in my day was knowing that I had friends waiting for me at mile 17 with a PB&J sandwich. Because the race starts so late (9:40 for the first wave), I'm always so hungry throughout the whole race since we run right through lunch. GU gels and chomps just don't do it for me, so my lovely friend Flora made me a lunch to go! I've never been so excited to see anyone in my life when we picked Sam and Flora out of the crowd. She handed me my sandwich and Sam handed Doug a Dunkin Donuts Glazed Donut! We were quite the site running up 1st Avenue having a veritable feast...people were so jealous! Unfortunately, peanut butter is a little hard to eat while running since it just sticks to your mouth, I was breathing like a pug in heat. Perhaps the donut is the way to go next year!, because Doug was as happy as a clam.
Doug's original plan was to run with me until about mile 18 and then peel off to go try to see me one more time before I finished. But, he saw the look on my face when he said he was going to head off the course and decided to stay on with me through the Bronx. I was hurting pretty badly and my head was not in a good place. I usually get stronger as I go along, but not on Sunday, it was a mental struggle after the half way point right up until the end.
Once we got ourselves out of the Bronx (which is hilly and not a lot of fun), I knew that my company's cheering section was coming up pretty quickly, so I put on a fake smile and a nice strong gait for 2 blocks before we got to them, you know, just for pictures sake. Once we passed them I slogged along (like, 9:20-9:40 slogging) for a bit and then Doug jumped out and left me to my own devices and crazy voices in my head. I put my tunes in my ears, pumped them up, said screw it (or something like that:) and just gave what I had left. Somehow I got my pace back down around 8:30 for the 24th mile and then down to about 8:12 for the final couple of miles. I have no idea where that came from, but I guess my body wasn't done even though my mind had been retired for a while. I crossed the finish line in 3:39:59 according to my Garmin and 3:40 flat official time, round numbers are much nicer anyway.
Once I finally waded through the crowds to get my bag, I beat feet (ed?) it to meet Doug at our car to get the hell out dodge. For our late lunch, we went to Chili's to load up on chips and salsa and then headed home for a little relaxation. I was quite happy lying in bed at 6pm and could've gone to sleep, but I was already getting hungry again and knew I would wake up starving in the middle of the night, so we started thinking about dinner plans. Amazingly, I had the biggest craving for Taco Bell...I can't remember the last time I went there. I just needed a bean and cheese burrito! Doug agreed and so we went on a quest to find one. About an hour later of driving around, we were stuffed with the dinner of marathon champions...fake beans and who knows what else!
I'm happy to have #7 in the bag and am looking forward to running for fun and gearing up for ski season in the next couple of months!