Last year, when I finished Ironman Cozumel and I noticed that I had done so much better on the run than any previous Ironman, I said to Felipe, I think I want to run a full stand alone marathon. As weird as it sounds, up to that point we had done 4 full marathons but none as stand alone ones. They were all after riding 112 miles. We had made an attempt in 2014 when we had signed up for the Dallas Marathon which I couldn’t do because that’s when I got my orders and became a Commissioned Corps Officer for the U.S. Public Health Service so I had to be in D.C. for basic training during that time, and on top of that, Dallas was hit with a major winter storm and they had to cancel so even if I had been in town, I wouldn’t have run it.
We entered the NYC Marathon lottery earlier this year, of course, not even thinking we were going to get in. We had already entered the lottery on 2015 and didn’t get in, so we entered again this year. For those of you that know about it, the chances of getting in are very slim. The NYC Marathon has 3 pools for lottery entries, local to NYC (60 miles radius), out of state, and international. Those account for a great majority of the entries, others are the different charities, secured entries and/or the 9+1 method which is the one where you run 9 NYRR races and volunteer 1, it turns to be a really expensive method to get a secured entry to the marathon, but it is a good one if you are local to NYC. For us, it wasn’t a good option, as it would have been about a $2500 at the end of the year when it comes to entry fees, transport to the city for each race and on top of that you still pay full price for the marathon entry. Anyways… .so we both entered the lottery, to our surprise we both got in at the same time. So needless to say we were super excited to get in. On top of that, 2 of Felipe’s co-workers and one of our teammates from Texas got in as well, so we knew it would be a fun one.
From the beginning we knew that running it to kill ourselves wasn’t an option, we still had Ironman Cartagena 70.3 as our A race for the season on December 4th so going too hard at the marathon would hinder our last block of training and our recovery for it. Also, didn’t want to risk getting any injuries prior to Cartagena. Those are little things that you learn season after season, the more races you do, the longer you race, it turns to more recovery. We didn’t want to sacrifice Cartagena so we decided that we were going to enjoy the 5 boroughs and take it all in. Of course, we didn’t want to walk it, but we weren’t going to break any records. Also, because of our A race, our training wasn’t focused for a marathon. We knew what the distance would entail, but needless to say, we respect the distance, knew we still needed to train for it, and little to no slacking was allowed.
Our logistics started with us staying in the City. We made our trip to the city and planned it as a weekend trip. We knew we could do the drive the morning of but we didn’t want to stress over all that on that morning. Our weekend started with our friend and teammate, Jenny, arriving on Friday to the city. We met each other around 3 pm, and we went to pick up our packages at the expo. That went pretty quick, then our adventure started by going to rescue Jenny’s cell which she left in the Uber that took her from the airport to meet us, so a few hours later we were ready to get on our way home. We were pretty tired, Felipe had just come back from Arizona that morning as well so it was a long day for all.
Saturday morning we left our place at around 8. Jenny wanted to go to the Statue of Liberty but we couldn’t get tickets from NYC to get there, fortunate for us, we managed to get tickets from NJ. It was a nice day, so that helped a lot, and I think the crowd was probably better from the Jersey side than from the NYC side. We explored the Statue and then headed back to the city so we would settle in at the hotel. We wanted to put our legs up early as it is so easy to let your self get all excited about the city and not rest. We did about 17 miles between Friday and Saturday walking, so we were pretty ready to get our legs up.
We got back to the hotel by 8 pm, set up our race stuff for the next day, and by 9 pm lights were out. We were so tired, that it was easy to fall asleep. Since it was daylight savings that day, we had an extra hour to sleep so it was great. The wake up alarm went off and we were ready to go. We had a 24-hr bagel place downstairs from our hotel so we got breakfast there and picked up our Uber to go to Whitehall Terminal. Then the fun begun. There were so many people, it was hard not to soak everything in. From there, the ferry takes you from Manhattan to Staten Island, then you get on the buses that take you to the start. We camped at the Staten Island terminal for a little bit before heading to the start since we had late starts. We didn’t want to just sit at the park waiting in the cold. Once we waited for a little bit, we then got on the buses which is a good 30-40 min ride to the start, traffic is heavy due to all the buses going back and forth. We got to the start and sat amongst 50,000 of our running friends to wait. Cell reception wasn’t the best as so many people were all killing time on their phones.
Before we knew it, we were in our corral ready to go. Being surrounded by so many awesome people was great, but the nerves were starting to kick in. I was surprised they hadn’t knocked earlier in the day as is usual for me on race day, but the overall feeling of this race was different. I knew I was going to have fun with my hunny running through the streets of NYC. As a young kid, I remember seeing the marathon on tv and thinking how cool for so many people to be freely running through NYC, but never in my mind did I ever think I would be standing here about to run the streets of NYC. We were able to get warm, and shed our layers off before we got to the actual start. We were getting really excited as we were getting closer to the start, tons of people, the energy was amazing, the Star Spangled Banner performed by one of the runners and then the cannon went off. Those things give me goosebumps just remembering them. We had one goal for our run, we wanted to run a 4:30 marathon. We were able to keep the pace and stay on for 15-16 miles, until we hit Queens and got into Manhattan. The Queensboro bridge was a beast as it was a straight incline into Manhattan. My legs were definitely feeling it at that point. The Manhattan rollers slowed us down and by the time we hit the Bronx we were starting to fall off pace.
Our walking intervals were more often and longer and it was mentally draining. The crowds definitely helped to distract the pain and keep carrying us to the finish line. Once we got into Central Park, the last couple of “hills” which seem mountains at that time, came up and we looked at our watches, by that point our 4:30 goal became the “let’s make it under 5” so we did our best to run through the crowds and forget the pain to come in under 5 … mission accomplished 4:59:59. Such a great feeling to be done, but unlike other races where you get most of your things right at the finish, 26.2 miles became more like 28 miles. Since so many people run the marathon, they have to make room for all who still are coming in. It is another good mile or 2 (or seems like that) before you get your pictures taken, your bag with food, your blanket and your poncho. We didn’t make it out of the park until about 45 minutes after we finished, we were cold, stiff, and tired, but super happy to have been part of this epic marathon. They gave us our well earned and long awaited NYC ponchos, which are amazing. They have a fleece inner lining and it felt great wearing them as we were slow walking through NYC. An Under Armour rep had been standing outside of a building and he was inviting marathoners inside a pop up store where they had set-up a stretching area with food for athletes. Since we were waiting for Jenny, we ventured inside to check it out. It sounded great until they told us it was downstairs and we had to maneuver stairs. LOL it was a sight to see as going down stairs wasn’t the prettiest after having done a marathon. We walked into a room with all kinds of goodies including foam rollers, stretch bands, yoga mats, and Normatec boots. The best part of all was a delicious carrot cake they had for us. Needless to say, Felipe and I took advantage of everything. The mere thought of stretching wasn’t the best, but I knew I would quickly get stiff and then it would be even harder to move around. So I made the effort and braved the foam roller, which actually didn’t feel too bad especially a high-tech vibrating foam roller. Best thing! 🙂
Felipe then jumped into the Normatec boots and once he was done, I used them too. By that time, Jenny had finished and met up with us, where she also took advantage of free stretching area. As we hobbled up the stairs and back onto 72nd, we went to grab some food. Burgers, fries, and beer – can’t beat that. We took an Uber back to the hotel and got some rest. Medal Monday came and Felipe went off to work, accidentally taking both of our medals. Worked out great though
because he was able to capture an awesome picture of them on his work terrace with the NYC backdrop. Jenny and I had went for brunch and enjoyed some mimosas and delish breakfast. We walked back towards the hotel and went to do some shopping. You can’t be in NYC and not get some retail therapy in with a good friend. It was a great cap to an awesome weekend and I can’t say enough how I love this city and all it offers.