Monday, November 5, 2012

New York City Marathon 2012: Part II

As you all most likely know, the New York City marathon was cancelled on Friday due to the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.  I've never lived IN that sort of loss and can't pretend to know what all the victims are going through.  I feel like being in Manhattan, where everything seemed to be "up in running", casted a shadow over what was really going on.  Looking back now, I wish I would have taken the time to volunteer my services to those who were really in need of help.  I guess I just didn't know how to go about it and so I did nothing.  I'm not really proud of that to be honest, and I don't know that I'm proud about the decision I made to run my marathon anyway among so much misfortune.  Nevertheless, here is the story of the Run Anyway Marathon-- 26.2 Miles through Central Park.

If you read my first post about being in New York, then you know I spent the whole day on Saturday sightseeing.  We walked and stood for over 6 hours.  Since it wasn't my intention to run a marathon on Sunday, I took advantage of being in New York City and took in a LOT including topping off my evening with 3 glasses of wine.

I had toyed with the idea of running the marathon anyway when the cancellation was announced on Friday, but decided I had nothing to prove to anyone.  I knew I was trained and I could go out and run 26.2 miles.  What good would it do me to sit around in my hotel room on Saturday while Val, Bianca, George and Nicholas had all the fun?  So Bianca, Val and I decided we'd run 13.2 miles on Sunday.  Half the distance, but ending in .2 of course.

I woke up on Sunday feeling VERY dehydrated.  I hardly drank anything on Saturday as we spent most of the day on the go.  Drinking the wine at dinner, didn't help the matters any.  I really wasn't concerned, however, because I knew I could do 13 miles in less than stellar conditions.  I ate a Zbar for breakfast (120 calories) took 2 sips of Gatorade and hurried out the door to meet the girls.  I hadn't packed my water belt as I planned to use the water offered on the course so I took a water bottle with me as I knew I wouldn't survive without water.

We left our hotel and started heading toward Central Park.  My Garmin wouldn't load due to tall the buildings, but Val had her run keeper going.  I could tell we were running a quicker pace. I know my body at this point and I'm figuring we were running a 9:45ish pace.  By the time we got to Central Park it had been 13:57, but Val's run keeper said we had run 2 miles or something.  Clearly we were NOT running a 6:00 pace. Still in 13:57 I'm confident we had run OVER a mile, but we decided we'd give ourselves credit for a 10:00 mile.

Val was attempting to run her farthest distance to date.  13.2 would be 3.2 miles over her longest distance thus far.  My goal was to just jog along and take it all in all while supporting Val.  She contemplating running a FULL marathon in February and having a half under her belt would help boost her confidence.

When we started running, it was clear there were PLENTY (as in THOUSANDS) of people at the park running.  It wasn't apparent what distance everyone was there doing.  I figured most everyone was just out for a stroll like we were.  We were about 2 miles into the run, when suddenly I heard a conversation going on behind me.  Two ladies were talking and the one was telling the other to leave her.  Lady A told Lady B she didn't want to leave her during her first marathon.  Lady B replied that she was confident she could do it, she just had to take it slow and encouraged Lady A to go along.  Lady A finally conceded and gave Lady B her well wishes.

I don't know what it was about hearing that conversation, but it motivated me.  It reminded me that I had set out to do a marathon on November 4th, 2012 and by God I was going to run it.  I looked over at Bianca and Val and told them I was going to do it.

I started playing over everything in my head:

I had walked over 6 hours yesterday
I hardly drank at all the previous day
I only had 1 bottle of water
I only had 2 Gus
I didn't really eat breakfast

Yep that sounded like the perfect recipe for a GREAT marathon.  Ha!  For whatever reason, however, I was determined.  I knew I could get through it if I just did it slowly.  I knew I could push myself beyond all the adversity and just do it.  After all, people just a few boroughs away were dealing with something far more challenging than 26.2 miles.  If they could make it through the challenges they were facing, I could make it through mine.

I might have wavered in my thoughts over the next mile or so, but from mile 4 on, I was ALL IN for this marathon.  The only problem was my body was clearly NOT in it.  I was struggling and I had 22 miles to go.

I was trying not to think about the BIG task at hand.  The loop at Central Park was just over 6 miles and so I was taking them all one by one.  I was trying to just take in everything and not worry too much about the miles I had to tackle.

By the end of the first loop, I swear I feel like I had been running for twice the amount of time and distance, but I was still in "support Val" mode.  I really wanted to see her complete her first half marathon.  I know, however, at this point that both she and obviously Bianca were going much slower thanks to me and NOT Val.

Pretty soon, we made it through the second loop and Val completed her very first half marathon.  I was so proud of her although I'm sure I wasn't too good at showing it.  Bianca decided to stop at this point too.  She was going to sit out the 3rd loop and rejoin me for the last loop.  I told her I rather have her there at the end.

Knowing I had to tackle the third loop on my own (no music either because I didn't have my headphones) was kind of scary.  The good thing is there is no pressure.  No pressure to keep up.  No pressure to smile.  No pressure to pretend like you're enjoying it.  It was just me and the thousands of other runners out there.

I'm not sure if you're aware but Central Park is hilly.  There aren't GIANT hills but they're there and they're a bitch.  One goes up and then comes down and it just repeats.  No matter which way you run the loop you're faced with either side of the hill.  There is one pretty significant hill and when I hit it on my "alone" loop, I decided to walk it. I was so hungry and had taken all my Gu at this point.  Someone along the course had handed out something called "One Square Meal".  It was kind of a cross between a rice crispie treat and a nutritional bar.  I don't know what it was, but I ate it all the way up that hill.

I was about a mile away from finishing my alone loop and someone else handed out a banana.  I took the banana and ate that too.  FINALLY my hunger seemed to be under control and I had the appropriate amount of energy I felt like I needed to complete this marathon.

As a matter of a fact, as I was heading in to "pick up" Bianca, I was actually happy and smiling.

Before Bianca and I set out for the final loop, I took one more Gu that George had brought out for me (my third) and grabbed a second bottle of water (from George).  I was in good spirits, but not overly enthusiastic about completing those last miles.  Even though my hunger was under control, my body was starting to hate me.  My hips, butt and oddly enough my tailbone were all aching.  My feet didn't feel good either.  I knew it was going to be slow going.

Bianca is a great cheerleader.  I hadn't been talking for MOST of the miles we ran together.  I was just quiet and focused on the task at hand.  She kept reminding me to focus on the 2 feet in front of me and not on anything further.  She reminded me that I was strong and that I had prepared to do this.  I told her it wasn't easy and I was really struggling.  She pointed out that running a marathon isn't easy.  That's when I told myself that I shouldn't expect this to be easy.  It was going to be painful, but it was how I managed it that would change things.   I tried really hard to have a good attitude.

The last loop (which we finally turned in ran in the opposite direction) seemed to go on forever.  I wasn't as familiar with the loop going this way and I swear I thought we were at the 25 mile mark from mile 22 on.  Wishful thinking I suppose, but this loop just drug on forever.

But the finish line did come. I stopped my garmin at the EXACT moment that it hit 25.2.  (Remember I had run the mile to Central Park).  We were about .4 miles away from the actual finish line where George, Nicholas and Val were waiting.

I walked some and it hurt and I really just wanted to call George and tell him to walk to us, but I really wanted to finish in what would have been the true Marathon finish.  So at the 26 mile mark we started running again and ran the .2 miles to the finish.

It was anticlimactic, but I was finished.

When I stopped my Garmin it said 4:50.  If you add in the 10 minutes for the first mile, I'm giving myself credit for a 5:00 finish.  It may have been a bit less, but it really doesn't matter.  This marathon clearly would have been a lot different if it had taken place they way it was meant to be run.  I'm just glad I did it.  I'm glad I completed the 26.2 miles that I trained for on the day I trained to do them.

I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Val and Bianca for running with me.  I know I would NEVER as in EVER would have run the 26.2 miles if I had been in New York by myself.  It's because of the two of you that I have this experience.  Thank you so much for all of your support.

I'm now a THREE time marathoner!!!!

For whatever reason my Garmin is completely messed up and won't
 show me my splits.  That's pretty disappointing, but maybe it's better not to know.  
I know I started off faster and then just slowly but surely plummeted.   


GKNEE said...

Great that you ran, I'm just surprised you went anywhere near that banana! Nice job!

Kortni said...

Whoever took all the pictures did a great job and you do look happy! I think 5 hours after a day of touring and little nutrition is AWESOME! You should be proud of what you did and not worry about what you did not do. If it is still in your heart to help, there are ways to do that. Great run and I hope you have a wonderful week of recovering!

Susan Tirch said...

Thanks Kortni, you always know the right things to say. George took all the pics except the ones Val, Bianca and I took of each other.

acspartan said...

wow, what a memorable weekend!

Courtney Tobin said...

So amazing. I've been following all the news on the marathon and what the runners were doing. So awesome to see you and so many other still out there and doing your thing, w/ little support other than some nice spectators!!!!! So inspiring!

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