Monday, November 7, 2011

NYC race recap

Josh and I are on the plane on our way home. It definitely was a whirlwind trip! I don't have the pictures uploaded yet, but since I know I won't have much time to blog once we are home, I want to get my recap done while it is all fresh in my memory and while I am stuck in a seat for five hours anyway. :) I will get the rest of the trip pics up as soon as I can.


- On race morning I got up at 4am and showered and got ready to go. Josh and I left the hotel room by 5:25am and after walking just a block or so we got a cab to the NY Public Library, where I had to get on a marathon bus to Staten Island. We had a really fun cab driver who was very excited I was running the marathon and even put the weather on the radio to show me what a nice day it was going to be. I was feeling excited and happy but pretty calm overall. I knew I still had hours before I was going to be running.

The line of buses going up Fifth Avenue was amazing. I couldn't believe how many buses there were! There was a line of runners waiting to get on the buses but things moved along like clockwork. There were TONS of volunteers and they were all super cheerful, excited and encouraging. They were awesome and it really helped build an incredible atmosphere.

- I got on the bus and ended up sitting next to a super nice guy from Wales. He was in the 45-49 age group and has a 3:07 PR. It was his first time in NY and he was really great to talk with. The bus got to Staten Island as the sun was starting to come up, and it was a five minute or so walk from where we got dropped off to the start villages.

- At the start villages I had to split ways with my friend from Wales because he was an orange bib and I was a blue bib. It was pretty chilly but I was bundled up. I did like lots of people were doing and found some grass in a little bit of sun and sat on an old race mylar blanket I had brought and just tried to relax. Sitting there, it was really cool to just listen to all the people around me. There were SO many different languages being spoken!

- The starting villages had plenty of portapotties, food, drink, etc. I drank a bottle of my Hammer Perpetuem and that is all I had pre-race (Perpetuem is made to be fuel for long distance events) and this worked out GREAT for me and my sensitive stomach. I wasn't hungry at the start and was fueled, but didn't have any solid food in me to upset my belly. I was really impressed with how well organized the starting area villages were, as was everything else race morning. NY does an incredible job.

- At about 8am, I checked my gear bag at the UPS trucks and started walking over to the corrals. I found my corral and got in easily (where again, there were plenty of portapotties). We waited in the corrals for half an hour or so and then we started walking. It finally felt like we were getting close to running!! I shed one of my throw away hoodies and my throw-away sweat pants, and held on to the gloves, one hoodie and the mylar blanket while we walked. Right before the start I spotted Keri from the Blue-Eyed Runner and her Dad, and said hi, and it was cool to see a familiar face.

- The atmosphere was crazy fun. I talked with the other runners around me and everyone was excited and fun. Runners are just cool. We worked our away until we were standing on the Verrazano Bridge. We were back a bit from the start, but close enough that we could hear well the introduction of the elite men, the national anthem and the announcements. To our left was a long line of buses that had spectators on top and they were all cheering and yelling fun things which added to the excitement. I got rid of my hoodie and the mylar blanket and after the countdown we heard Frank Sinatra singing New York, New York. It was awesome. We started inching forward and then we crossed the start line and were running up the bridge!

- I wore a cool back bib from Races 2 Remember that said "Mom of 12" and had a pic of the kids, and that got lots of comments. :)

- IT WAS CROWDED. It was really, REALLY crowded. I expected it for the first couple of miles, but it just never let up. The crowds slowed me down more than I wanted the first two miles, but I tried to just focus on the beautiful view, relaxing, and enjoying the race and not getting frustrated/tense.

- At mile three I saw Josh! He had managed to take a train to Brooklyn and was on the lookout for me. I wasn't expecting to see them that early and I missed my Dad and Pam, but I saw Josh and that was really cool. I saw him again (and my Dad, Pam, Mark and Mel) after the 59th street bridge and then again shortly before the finish line. They were awesome spectators!!

- The crowds were insane. SO MANY PEOPLE, so much energy and so much noise. There was so much to look at and listen to. It was crazy cool and fun, and at times it was almost overwhelming. Spectators, bands, signs, cheers, other runners, course signs, etc. etc. etc. I can't imagine another race having this amount of spectators, music, fans, volunteers, etc.

- I was warm right away. The temps were GREAT (low to mid 50's), but the sun was out and on us most of the time. My gloves and arm warmers came off right away, and I dumped water down my back several times to cool down. I knew I wasn't "hot" because the temps weren't high at all, but the sun was strong and I am used to much, much cooler temps when I run. There was a lot of wind on the bridges and on certain streets but not for the whole race and I guess it wasn't nearly as windy as it can be.

-I was told a lot of times by a lot people before this weekend that NYC Marathon is a tough course, and is not a fast course. These are very very true statements. I was prepared for the hills. I was sort of prepared for the crowded course (47,000+ runners!). What I wasn't prepared for what how mentally challenging this race was for me.

There was not a single time in this race where I was able to get in a groove and just run. I was constantly focusing on the ground in front of me to watch my step to avoid garbage, cracks and potholes (and I did have a slight ankle twist around mile 18 thanks to a small pothole, but after a quarter mile or so it felt fine). I was constantly focused on the runners in front of me and finding the right path to get around slower runners without too much zig-zagging. Every time we went up a bridge or hill, the "pack" would slow, and it was almost impossible to maintain a faster pace and get through the crowds. Every corner was a bottle-neck and slowed me down a lot because of the crowding. And every water station slowed me way down, even when I wasn't getting anything. The course narrowed a lot and it wasn't possible to just run through the middle unaffected, and the course was littered with so many cups and spilled drinks that you really had to watch your step.  And on top of that, I was trying to scan the crowds and keep me eyes out for Josh, Dad, Pam, Mark and Mel, as well as my friends Kelly, Chris and Tal. There was so very many faces and signs though, and when you didn't know exactly where to look for someone it was really hard.

Mentally it would have been really nice not to have to always be focusing on the ground, my path through/around other runners and the crowds.

- I had to make two portapotty stops, and lost about 4 minutes and change. The good news is that I didn't stop at all until after mile 12!! That is by far the furthest I have made it in a full marathon and my stomach felt really good. I could have/should have waited and not stopped at mile 12 and if I had waited another mile or two I am confident I wouldn't have had to stop again at mile 17 and would have saved 2+ minutes, but it was hard to know when you would get to portapotties again.

- I fueled as usual with my Hammer gels every five miles, drinking Perpetuem, and grabbing sips of water at some of the aid stations. It worked very well and I was not sick at all and did not hit the wall.

-By mile 17 (after the second pit stop), I knew I wasn't going to hit my goal of 3:20 and knew I probably wasn't going to PR. Nothing was hurting, but I was just TIRED. My brain was tired, my body was wasn't the dreaded wall because I was able to keep running at a good pace and I didn't start out too fast, it was just hard.  I told myself to keep pushing but I stopped checking my Garmin often and went into survival mode. I still smiled and enjoyed the race. I kept telling myself, "You are running the NYC Marathon!" But it was TOUGH.!

- This was the first race I have ever run when I had real thoughts about stopping and walking. I never did, but man did my brain try to talk me into it! In fact at one point two women were walking at my left and a man stopped without any warning right in front of me causing me to stop short. In that split second I had to decide to give in and also walk, or to take off around him. I took off around him.

- I actually ran almost exactly even splits. My half time was 1:44:12 (and I lost just over a minute in the portapotty quick stop at 12 1/2 or so). Even splits with that half time would be a 3:28:24 marathon, and since I lost just about three minutes in the second half at  the portapotty stop and finished in 3:32:40, I ran a very even paced race.

- I have never, ever been so happy to see a finish line in my whole life. I saw Josh, my parents, my brother, Mel, Kelly and Chris just about a mile before the finish line and that was great. Those last two miles were killer... knowing you were so close yet still having to grunt out two miles up and down the hills of Central Park was really tough. I crossed the finish line with big smiles, but instantly felt BAD.

- I have never felt bad at the end of a marathon before. And I couldn't even really tell you what felt bad. My whole body just felt awful. I didn't have any specific cramps or pains, I think I was just completely out of energy. I was spent. I was done. I was on empty.

AND, I had to keep walking. At the end of the NY Marathon they have you walk (and walk, and walk). You get your medal, then keep walking. You get your picture taken, then keep walking. You get a bag with food and drink, then keep walking. You get a mylar blanket, and then you keep walking. And walking. And walking. And then you finally get to the UPS trucks and get your checked bag, and then you keep walking. It was really rotten and was the one part of the race I was not impressed with.

I understand that you can't have 47,000+ runners all stopping in the same place, but we were in Central Park! Surely they could have found a piece of grass that runners could use to sit, get a drink, stretch a little, etc. before they were forced to walk and walk and walk. People were collapsing, throwing up, cramping up, etc. and it was really icky that we just kept getting prodded along like cattle. I wasn't cramping or barfing, but I was shivering like crazy (even with my blanket). All I wanted to do was stop and put on my fleece but at that point I was carrying two bags, still didn't feel very well and was trapped in a see of runners with people everywhere telling us to "just keep moving".  I did get the Gatorade recovery drink open and was sipping that slowly. It didn't taste very good but I knew it was good for me.

- I got out of the park and turned on Columbus and started heading towards where Josh and my Dad had told me to find them. Josh  had walked ahead and got to me just a few blocks from the park. It was SO good to see him and hand him all my stuff to carry. We got to everyone else and after lots of hugs. I sat down on the mylar blanket, got my fleece on, ate some salty pretzels, finished the Gatorade, stretched, and started to feel much better. We chatted there for a little bit and then started walking back to the hotel. It was a long walk but I felt pretty good. We finally got back to the hotel 2 hours after I crossed the finish line (and all but 15 minutes or so of that was spent walking!)

 -I went in to this race healthy, strong, injury free, well tapered, rested, and ready to race. I have no excuses for not making my time goal of a 3:20 just wasn't happening for me in NYC. I did have a German running coach talking with me in the hotel. He asked my time and when I told him I ran a 3:32 he thought for a minute and then said, "You know a 3:32 in this race would be like running a 3:20 on a flat course that wasn't so crowded." I hadn't told him my goal time so that made me feel pretty good.

- I gave this race all that I had on Sunday, and for that I am proud. This was definitely the hardest race for me that I have had, and I feel the most beat up I ever have after a race. I don't have any true aches or pains but my whole body sort of just feels like it was hit by a train today.

- The ING NYC Marathon experience is amazing. Over the top. One of a kind. Crazy cool. Awesome. Incredible. Huge. I loved it!!!

I will have one more post soon with a recap of the rest of our trip (hockey game,  run in Central Park, lunch with friend, trip home, etc.)  For now I cannot wait to get home and be with the kids. It was so good to have the time with Josh and to see my family and we had a truly great time, and yet it is very hard for me being away from home and the kids.

i want to say THANK You to everyone who sent messages, comments, Tweets, etc. with words of encouragement, good luck wishes, congrats, etc. They all meant a very great deal to me. Thank you!!!!

Here are my stats one more time. :)

Official time - 3:32:40

Overall - 6047 out of 47,438 starters - Top 12%

Gender placing  - 921 out of 17,272 - Top 5% of all women finishers!!

Age group place (30-34 Female) - 208 out of 3068 - Top 6%

More soon!


AndreaB said...

You are amazing and such a great inspiration Erin!! I started running last week, and while I am just trying to get to the point where I can run for 30 minutes without stopping, seeing how far you come gives me great inspiration and hope that maybe someday I will be able to (and want to!) run a marathon!

Well done!


Tina @GottaRunNow said...

So glad you were able to push through the tough times and keep running those even splits. Congrats on finishing with a fast time on a tough course!

Teamarcia said...

Congrats again girl! YOU DID IT! You'll do the walking thing at the end in Boston too--I thought that was so weird my first year there.

Meaghan said...

Congrats congrats congrats!!! How incredible, what an inspiration! I want to experience the NYCM first hand in the next couple years, so this post was incredibly helpful!

misszippy said...

Erin--Awesome race you ran! I can't believe this is the first marathon you ever felt bad at all, mentally or physically! Now you've had that and know how to move through it, which is really a good thing to have in your arsenal.

Your 3:20 is out there, you just need to right race/day. I have no doubt it will be SOON!

So glad I got to see you and be a small part of your experience. Have a safe trip back!

Jen said...

So happy and excited for you!!! I hope you are enjoying some well-deserved down-time with your babies...I'm sure they will be happy to have you home! Congrats and thanks for sharing :)

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

What an awesome time!!
I am loving reading everyone's race reports! After reading them last year it was definitely a reason why I wanted to do NY!
I'm sure you'll get that 3:20 but when races are that crowded unless you are with the elites you will always have to run around or get bunched up with people.

Joanne said...

Congratulations! What a wonderful experience. Too bad you didn't get to see the sights but you did run a good race and can be so proud of such a terrific accomplishment.

Jill said...

Congratulations! So glad you had such a great time in NY. Hope you recover well. You are amazing and you have come so far!

Lacey Sue said...

Congrats!! So glad you were able to push through the wall and beat down the "just walk" demon!!! I can't imagine how crazy crowded it would have been, and I am completely in awe of how well you did with all that stuff coming against ya! Well done Erin!!! Your amazing!!!!! Get home, love those kidlets, and get some rest!!! You've earned it!

MotherRunner said...

You are so speedy! Congrats on a great race!

Becky said...

So amazing!!! Well done! I watched the marathon on TV and thought of you. It looked like a tough race course, and it would be very hard to run in such thick crowds. Congrats!

Penny said...

Your amazing girl. That guy is right if it wouldnt of been so crowd you probably would of reached you goal of 3.20. You still did awesome on such a tough course. So proud of you for pushing through the rough spot and getting to that finsh line. You rock girl


You did awesome. It was definitely a tough course with less that ideal conditions. I so wish we had run into each other! Congrats!

Meredith said...

I was tearing up before you even crossed the start line! Great recap and amazing race!!

Samantha said...

Amazing job on a tough course! Congrats - you should be proud of yourself. And your finishing stats are phenomenal!

Molly said...

Whoo hooo! You did fabulous! I was so annoyed with the crowds, they slowed me down big time, but it was an Amazing Day! So sorry we didn't get a chance to meet up, but Congrats!

Natalie R. said...

You are my hero! What a wonderful experience, and still top 5% of all female finishers is AWESOME! My friend has done the Chicago twice and said the same thing. Literally she was running shoulder to shoulder the whole time. That takes a huge amount of mental energy. You still rocked it.

Terzah said...

I remember that walking thing after the finish. My issue was that I needed a bathroom, like, five minutes ago--and when I *finally* got to the port-a-johns (after all the walking) there was a long slow line full of people in the same boat as I! Yeah, the post-finish isn't so great. But the rest of it is, and you captured it in your race report. I felt like I was there. Congratulations!

Jeannie said...

You did awesome! Amazing you pushed through even though you felt like walking. Congrats on the placements!

Keri @ Blue-Eyed Runner said...

It was SO GOOD to see you! I know it was just in the beginning but you looked so strong and focused. Congratulations on an amazing race. Top 5% of women?!?! Are you serious?!

Andrea H. said...

You are still the best. What really stood out to me is what the German guy said to you that you would have averaged about a 3:20 with less crowds. That I truly would take to heart because you would have been much faster had it not been for that.

Samantha said...

Congrats on your race! I had a lot of the same complaints as you did---the end of the race was BRUTAL. That walk..oh my god. I would have rather run another mile then done that walk.

Sheila said...

You should be REALLY proud of that time. I just completed the Marine Corps in DC and had never run in such a big marathon. I shared your frustration in not being able to run the pace you wanted due to the sheer number of runners and my finish time was off as well. Hope the PureFlow worked out!

lindsay said...

oh i totally remember the post-race walk just to get your bag. and then another mile to get out of the park. and then it's at least 4 more miles to a subway stop ;) it was ridiculous, but honestly, walking any distance after a marathon is rough!

way to tough it out! i bet you inspired a lot of people with your mom of 12 bib :)

Kristine said...

Congrats on a great race! I finished within a minute of you and I particularly like the comment part about 3:30 something being equivalent to a 3:20 on a flatter course:).