It took me a long time to call myself a runner. I have always run... even in high school I would get up at 5:30 to run before school... rain or shine, snow or heat. I was very serious about soccer and played year round, using running to supplement my fitness. I didn't run my first competitive race until my last year of college. It was a 5K and I placed second of the women. Although I ran for fitness every day, it took a couple more years for me to join New York Road Runners, start training properly, and start racing regularly. I think a couple of years ago when I ran my first half marathon with ease, I started to think hey... I'm a runner.
Yesterday I ran 26.2 miles. Today I am most definitely a runner.
I will not be in the New York Times, as my time was... OMG... I just took a break from writing this and went to check my race time... I finished in 4 hours and 9 minutes. (and 43 seconds). I felt so slow... I thought I had finished in 5 plus hours. I didn't even check... I was just happy to finish. And I just started crying, because that is about an hour better than I thought I did... and only nine minute slower than what I wanted to finish at.
So... I will be in the New York Times Marathon edition. My mind is so blown right now... the writing of this entry is about to severely deteriorate. ha. I am so emotional... I feel like a different person after having conquered that. To run... and I ran the whole thing, save a few slow down/walk at the water stations... 26.2 miles, is amazing. Yesterday, as we were shuffling to collect our baggage (they make you keep walking for like an hour, which is a good thing as far as recovery, but it certainly doesn't feel good at all), as my body was racked with excruciating cramps, and I felt, no lie, like I was going to poop my pants, I thought, no f'ing way am I ever running a marathon again. This morning, I am like... bring it on. NYC 2011. I would go as far to say and ultra wouldn't be out of the question... in the far future. heh.
Yesterday I sat next to this woman on the ferry who I ended up spending the morning with. Her name was Annette... German... actually lives in my neighborhood. Incredibly articulate and intelligent... a beautiful woman really... had just run the Marine Corp marathon last week, so... hard core as well. We were sitting facing the windows and the sunrise was one of the most beautiful New York Sunrises I have ever seen... there was an air of quiet excitement... it was amazing.
The excitement continued in the marathon village, as we waited for our wave starts... I was thankful I had bought a huge men's fleece sweatshirt at K-Mart the day before... it was plenty chilly, but I was plenty warm. I was glad to have Annette to hang out with, especially since she was a seasoned marathoner. My friend Sophie popped over from the blue village to say hello and wish us luck... It was really nice energy to start.
There was a screen set up, so we could watch the elite runners start... we were below the bridge in the porta-potty line at that time... seeing the likes of Meb and Haile embarking on the run we were about to do, was quite emotional... as their little heads bobbed by on the bridge above us, everyone cheered.
Unfortunately we missed the call for our wave and corrals and by the time we got to the start, our corral was closed and they wouldn't let us in. So we missed our start and had to start with the last wave of runners. It was tough for me, because I was fueled for a 10am start... I had just drank my pineapple/wheatgrass shot... eaten my grapes and almonds, gone to the bathroom... I was ready. And I had told everyone when to expect me, and I figured by the time I ran by, they would already be gone from their designated cheering spots. So I was a little thrown. And in the last group there are no options to run with a pace group under 4:20, so that kind of sucked... luckily, we squeezed our way to the front of the pack... there were a few other first and second wavers who has missed the start as well...
Walking up to the Varazano bridge I completely lost it and just started sobbing. I was so overcome with emotion. The bridge is such a symbol of the marathon, and to be there, after all this time, was amazing. I have tried for the last 3 years to get into this marathon... I ran 9 + 1 (the New York Road Runner qualifying race process), and was denied entry by NYRRs due to a technicality... I have been rejected from two lotteries... so to finally be there, was... there aren't words. Annette got a little teary too... they are contagious, tears. heh.
So I pulled it together... we started... and there was just this quiet awe... going over the bridge, the course laid out in front of us... the energy so positive... hopeful... anything could happen...
The cheering through Brooklyn was amazing... I put my name, well my initials rather, in masking tape on the front and back of my shirt and the constant yells of "KK!" "C'mon KK you got this!" "Lookin' strong KK," is probably 75% of the reason I even made it through. My advice to anyone running a marathon, put your name on your shirt... the personalized cheering is amazing and makes a huge difference in what you are able to do. Every time someone says your name, it's like a little shot of energy... which is definitely needed come mile 20! So anyway, Brooklyn was amazing. I would say they were even better than Manhattan... but maybe that is just because I was close to death at that point, and in BK I was still fresh and alert. Fort Greene. They get the neighborhood award for best cheering. The energy and sound was insane! I have always loved Fort Greene... good food... nice park... beautiful black people (lots of natural hair)... but the hood endeared itself to me forever yesterday. There weren't a lot of black people running, so in the predominantly back neighborhoods, I got a lot of shout outs... even a few group chants. It was amazing.
The Hasidic section of Williamsburg was virtually silent... no surprise there, but it picked up again as it got more hipster. Sara and Ron were waiting for me at North 9th... I almost lost it when I saw them... It made me so so happy and gave me so much fuel. Michal popped up two blocks later... uh-maz-ing.
By Queensboro Bridge I was feeling it... that gradual hill was one I had been thinking about from the start... I have run it in training... no bueno... I ran to the beat of the Jai Ganesha chant I was reciting over and over again just under my breath, my feet running to the cadence of it... It seemed like an eternity to the downhill portion of the bridge, but it came and I welcomed it by picking up the pace. I have never been so thankful to see first avenue in my life. I have run first avenue a lot in training, which is good, because I know that is a tough spot for a lot of people... the gradual hill and the extreme expanse can be tiring. I ran close to the spectators to get the most out of the KK action... at that point I really needed it. I knew Gregory was cheering in the 61st street area, so I felt good energy running past... After the marathon he met up with us... he had been cheering from his office window and took a video from above. In the video I am running quite quickly... when I saw it I was like, 'woah! I was really moving'... but then you see there is a water station just ahead, thus the reason for the speed. haha. At that point, I was living for water, gatorade (which I never drink), orange slices... whatever I could get into my mouth. I even had some gels, which I hate.
Queens was a blur. As was back down into Manhattan. I actually left my physical body a few times. The cheering became a hum and the pain of my body almost took over. My injured knee actually held up quite nicely... I wore the cho-pat and it seemed to do it's job, but I found that I was overcompensating on the right side of my body, and my lower back and hip were in extreme pain. I felt almost delirious and I all I wanted was to stop and walk. But again, each time I heard "KK!" I got the slightest jolt of energy and was able to drag on. A few familiar faces in the crowd really helped me in my last miles... (thank you Brandon!!)... There were times I cursed myself out loud for ever starting this endeavor.
By central park I was completely disoriented... I know that park like the back of my hand, and I had no idea where we were, what hills were coming... I just knew to run... if for no other reason than to keep my pride in front of the vast audience.
We passed under mile 26... I could see the finish. I sped up... I was hysterically smiling... 26.2. I was crying.