Monday, November 7, 2011

26.2... again.

(click to enlarge and see the downward trend of my splits!)

ok. so this marathon was not like last year's. starting in the green start actually took a lot of the magic away from the run (for me)... there are three colours: blue, orange, and green. blue and orange start the marathon running over the verrazano and down onto fourth avenue. as i wrote last year, running the verrazano sets the tone for the whole marathon. it is absolutely magical... i remember crying when we got to the bridge last year, and just being in awe the whole way across... like 'i am really doing this! i am really here!' it was magic... and i have never looked at that bridge the same way again. it is a sacred place to me now. so anyway, the green start runs UNDER the varrazano... on the lower level... swathed in the exhaust of the buses and the ups trucks heading back to the city from the marathon villages. it's dark... it's dingy... it's smelly. hardly the romance and glory of the upper level. and then... while the other runners are greeted by the roar that is the fans of 4th avenue, we proceed onto what i think is the belt parkway. the. belt. parkway. an empty expressway. no fans. no cheering. an uphill grade. and then, once we exited, we came out out on 7th avenue and had to take a series of mostly empty side streets to reach 4th. after last year's experience this all made me a little grumpy. i mean, i am thankful i was able to run, and it was interesting to have a different kind of nyc marathon experience, but...

once we finally got to 4th ave, i was thankful for the crowd. i started the race feeling a bit off, and the cheers helped me find my momentum. i will say again, as i did last year, that brooklyn is the best borough hands down, cheering wise. they are amazing! and this year, most of my friends were cheering in brooklyn, which made it all the more special. my first familiar face was george, whom i missed last year (when i missed my start), followed by peter near the prospect park stop. in williamsburg i was refueled by cheers from sara and ron, stephanie, ana and sean, and michal.

my fastest miles were in brooklyn. coming up on queens, my hips started to cramp, making it painful to take a normal stride, and extremely uncomfortable on downhills... and thus started the downward slip of my splits. the uphill of the queensborough bridge (or any uphill for that matter) was actually welcome, as uphill climbs did not hurt as much.

i was refueled by the wall of sound that is first avenue. when i got to 1st and 61st, i remembered to look up and saw gregory perched in one of the windows. i was so happy to see a familiar face in manhattan... and by a water station no less.

the water stations became my way to push on... i would allow myself to walk a few steps with water at every station... it was my reward for running the miles in between. the pain in my hips was so severe that at times i felt like crying, and lost the ability to get a good inhale. i tried to open up my stride as much as i could, but it was tough.

i thought of all the love and support coming from my friends and family... even those who couldn't make it to the course... i thought about everyone waiting at the finish line... i thought of my appointment with my acupuncturist today (thank god!)... there were times i seriously considered dropping out, but the phrase 'pain is temporary, pride is forever,' played in my head, and i kept going.

the last mile or two through the park brought the magic back... there was a woman with a 'honey badger don't care!' sign (my favourite of the day... besides the sign in fort greene that cheered on vegans)... a guy waiting for his girlfriend, with a huge sign with her face on it asking her to marry him (i hope she said yes!)... a woman who had hurt her knee earlier in the run, and was bandaged up but limping towards the finish on crutches... and most importantly, another girl with natural hair who ran by me, tapped my shoulder with a smile and told me to 'get it, natural.' by the time i came around that corner and saw the finish, there were tears in my eyes and for a moment, all the pain was forgotten. i finished, i finished, i finished! i blew a kiss to the sky... and collapsed into my cramps.

from the finish line on, my hips were almost excruciating. i would have been ideal as a zombie extra in the walking dead. i had to stop and lean on a medic because again, the pain was so much, that i couldn't take a proper inhale and was heading towards black out. when i finally got my bags, i limped, verrryyyyy slowlllyyy out of the park, and sat down on the first curb i came to.

my hips didn't let go until sometime in the middle of the night last night. and still, i am contemplating next year. i have a lot less excitement about it, and a lot more doubt, but we shall see. i am one race away from qualifying, sooo... and if i do run next year, i may train and run with a pace group...

regardless of how the physical run went, i am again, so thankful for all of the love and support i received from my friends and family. thank you all so much... i am so so so so soooo lucky to have you. me and my aching hips love you.

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