The alarm went off at 4:45am. On a Sunday. My body gave me angry signals as I forced my way out of bed for a quick brush of the teeth and change into my already laid out running gear. I called an Uber because it was 5am, on a Sunday, and it felt like the middle of the night outside.
The train ride was uneventful. When I made the Manhattan transfer, I found myself in good company. Hundreds of runners with bibs stuck to their midsections sleepily headed uptown on the six train until we all disembarked at 102nd st.
When we exited the subway after 6:20am, it was still annoyingly dark outside. I had no idea where I was going, so I followed the bibs. There was a vendor on the corner so I bought a cinnamon raisin bagel and nibbled while I walked.
As I approached the park I was met with more runners, more marathon training athletes that got up early on a Sunday to run 18 miles. Three complete loops of Central Park to be exact. I was so nervous. After missing my long run last week, I was worried that third loop wouldn’t happen. I started to rationalize in my head like I always do when it comes to long distances.
This wasn’t a race. It was a tune up. It was a really great way to see how you feel, to test the fuel waters, all the while having port o potties, water, Gatorade and powerade gels at your disposal. No pressure. Just you vs. 18 miles.
The tune up started with much less drama than the races do, I was crossing the start line in 8 minutes (usually it’s 25-30 minutes after the gun goes off). I had forgotten my Garmin at work so it was up to Nike Plus to keep me informed of my time.
My strategy was to breeze through the first six miles, concentrate on the middle and pray through the last six. Fortunately that strategy worked perfectly. The third loop is where I felt it the most–not physically but really mentally. By that time it was after 9 am and the tourists had flooded Central Park. Since the park is wide open the run continued through walkers, tour groups, bikers, strollers–you name it. With so many people in front of me I had no idea who was still racing with me and who was just running for fun. I had a few ladies around me and kept my eye on them as much as I could.
My body was super cooperative. Somewhere inside I thought I’d have to walk the last few miles and I didn’t! There was still gas in the tank!
When I crossed the line, even though I was in the very back of the pack, the announcer was still there and announced my name as I crossed the line. Which is why I will always be a fan of NYRR. Even though I was at the very end, there was no shortage of water, Gatorade or portopotties. I am so grateful for that!
As I crossed the finish line, I was incredulous. I couldn’t even believe it. Then it hit me, and I cried. I called my husband in between tears and he told me how proud he was of me. I had just ran 18 miles and I didn’t want to die afterwards.
Marathon strategy/Lessons learned
- I will drink at every station, hydrating at every station was a really good move. I think that helped me a lot.
- With that said, I MUST bring wet wipes with me. I had to go three times. THREE!
- It is a bad move to consume a clif gel shot, followed by Gatorade, followed by water. Immediate gastric distress!!!
- The flipbelt worked well. So did the glide. Minimal chafe for the the first time in weeks(!)
Did I have another 8.2 in me? I’m not sure. What I DO know is that I could have kept going. The wall hadn’t arrived.
This was a huge huge huge boost to my confidence. I was beginning to wonder if I could really do this, really step off with 50,000 other runners and believe I will finish.
Now I do.
This weekend is a beautiful cutback weekend. I will be running the Bronx 10 Mile race for the very first time. I’ve heard it’s super hilly but I’m still excited run this race because it’s a part of the 5 borough series which is a premier race in the city.
Next week I tackle 20 miles. I’m ready. So. Freaking. Ready.