TCS New York City Marathon – New York, New York (November 2, 2014)

Me crossing the finish line of the TCS New York City Marathon - New York, New York

Me crossing the finish line of the TCS New York City Marathon – New York, New York

Race: TCS New York City Marathon

Place: New York, New York

Date: November 2, 2014

Time: 3:50:32

There is just something about New York City!  I have always loved this city. Seriously.  And that was only reaffirmed two weekends ago when I was there to participate in the TCS New York City Marathon!  Talk about an exciting, overwhelming, and interesting adventure.

Interesting, you say?  Well…yes.  Because this adventure started off with quite a few hiccups.  And the first one was the flight there.  For one thing, without being told, our American Airlines flight was changed.  Yep.  Changed.  In fact, it was now a USAirways flight.  Which, for reasons dating back to Ireland 2010…pissed me off.  But, I guess it was a good thing I sent my roomie over to their site to check us into our flight, or we would have been 2 full hours late to the airport.  Instead of leaving at 6 p.m., our flight was changed to 4 p.m.  I never got word of this change…so…thankfully we checked.  YIKES!

Now having to leave work earlier for the airport, we had to tie up things at work sooner.  But the fun didn’t stop there.  Our flight was delayed.  And when the call came through (at least they let me know this time!), we found out that now we couldn’t make our connecting flight at Charlotte to get to LaGuardia, where we’d be meeting up with Heather to get to the hotel together.  UGH.  Cathy got on the phone and finally got to talk to someone who managed to get us on a flight that would get into Newark.  Now we needed to get from New Jersey to Manhattan.  So…now Cathy had to call and hire a car.  I was stressed out.  Very much not a zen runner at this time.  So, that afternoon, we left work earlier than planned to get to the Louisville airport.  We arrived…checked my bag (I had to…I actually had foam rollers, water, and even a protein shake)…and got through security without a line.  The TSA agent was cracking me up.  He asked where I was traveling to and me, wearing my TCS New York City Marathon pullover said, “New York City.”  And he did the old Pace Picante Sauce commercial where he said, “New York City?…Get a rope.”  I giggled.  At least TSA was in a good mood on Halloween.

Now, we had time to kill.  So, Cathy and I began our endless meandering between the two terminals at the Louisville airport.  And on one of our circuits, we ran into our boss from the office and her husband, who were supposed to have left earlier that morning for London.  Turns out their flight got cancelled and they had to come back to catch a later one…which was also flying to Charlotte (like ours!), but it was the flight following us.  I have never run into anyone I know at any airport, so this kind of made my day.  We talked for a bit and then we went to charge my phone and wait on our plane.

Me with the Horse Head Guy at Charlotte Airport

Me with the Horse Head Guy at Charlotte Airport

It arrived late.  We boarded.  We got into Charlotte and noticed that one of the passengers on our flight (I said he looked like he was in the mafia), was now walking around with a horse mask on his head.  It cracked me up for some reason.  And the double takes he would get on the moving sidewalk was priceless.  Seriously.  When he paused to look at the connection screens, I went up and asked if I could get a photo with him.  He kindly did so.  God, I love Halloween.

Anyway, while at Charlotte we got something to eat.  I devoured a protein bar and a fruit cup I went and bought at Starbucks.  Cathy got Burger King, something she hasn’t had in awhile.  I think it was a good choice for her.  After we ate and relaxed, we headed over to our gate to fly out to Newark.  We boarded, we took off, we landed.  Cathy called the car people while I snagged my bag from baggage claim.  And then…we were picked up and taken to The Manhattan Club in downtown Manhattan, our home away from home for the rest of the weekend.

Heather got there about 4 hours before we did.  They were nice enough to let her check into the room.  She went out exploring and to grab dinner while we were still on our way.  But, we arrived.  Cathy switched the credit card over to hers and Heather came down to take us up to our room.  Second floor.  No long elevator rides and the option to take the stairs if needed.  We talked for a little bit, but it was very early and we needed some rest.  We all got ready for bed and I set an alarm to wake us up so we could head over to the expo in a couple of hours.

The alarm went off too early for my liking, but I got up, shut it off, and we were got dressed and headed out into the windy, chilly, and damp New York City morning.  The shuttle to the expo was picking up not too far from our hotel.  We were early, and happened to stroll past a Fresh & Co.  We noted the gluten-free and vegetarian offerings, so we ducked inside to eat some breakfast as the shuttle was about a 30 minute wait and we had the time.  The breakfast was good.  Not great.  But good.  And filling.  And as I had no lunch plans, that was the important thing.  I ended up getting the Zen Quinoa Bowl, which had 2 eggs over easy, with chickpeas, kale, portobello mushrooms, and onions.  I topped it off with hot sauce and…yeah…it saw me through.  Cathy got one of their breakfast wraps and Heather got a Nutella Croissant.

Now fortified and with the shuttle scheduled to arrive at any time…we headed out to hop aboard and get to the Javits Center and get our expo on!  I had heard amazing things about this expo…and being New York City…you just know it’s going to be HUGE.  I was hoping to have a chance to catch a couple of the elites, but it was the day before the race…so it wasn’t happening.  It was nice, however, to get out of the rain for a little while.  We arrived via shuttle bus and disembarked, heading inside and following the crowds to the escalators that took us up…to a camera/photography expo.  Walk around to another set of escalators and BAM…marathon heaven.  And immediately you see the official merchandise booth.  I had to hit this up.

Me with my race bib...#11415 - Orange - Wave 1 - Corral C!

Me with my race bib…#11415 – Orange – Wave 1 – Corral C!

For one thing, I was dedicating my race to a very brave young lady battling her second bout of brain cancer.  I wanted to get Cailin something from the expo and my friend (her mom), Joanne, said that she loves hats…and they would keep her head warm during the winter as she went through treatments.  Perfect.  So, I purchased a hat for her…then arm warmers, gloves, and a t-shirt for me.  Done.  On to the rest of the expo.  Packet pickup.  Smooth and easy.  No problems at all.  And no line!  Back to exploring.  No BondiBands…so no purchasing of those as is tradition.  But I got to sample a few products and know (for 100% sure) that I want a Yonana machine.  I avoided the Newton tent…because I knew I’d purchase shoes that I didn’t currently need (I have a pair in the box still!).  I did purchase a couple flavors of GU for the marathon, as I was in need of fuel.  Aside from that, we strolled the aisles, sampled things, and then…went upstairs to do the passport thing to get a free poster.  I love race posters.  So, we traveled through the different boroughs of New York via the expo, got this little booklet stamped at each one, took pictures, pretended to cross the finish line…and then…then…

I met a legend.

Kathrine Switzer.

Heather, Me, Kathrine Switzer, and Cathy at the TCS New York City Marathon Race Expo

Heather, Me, Kathrine Switzer, and Cathy at the TCS New York City Marathon Race Expo

If you do not know who Kathrine Switzer is…shame on you.  In case you are living in shame…she is the first female to run the Boston Marathon as a registered number.  Albeit, she was registered under the name of K. Switzer and race officials thought she was a man.  When they saw her running, they tried to forcefully remove her from the race.  She slipped from their grasps and went on to finish the race.  What an inspiration to women everywhere.  Especially women runners.

I wanted to meet her.  So…I got into her line.  Her time was running short, as she was about to go and give a talk, and we were warned that she might not get to us.  But…we decided to at least try.  And…we were the last people to get to talk to her.  She was very kind, giving all three of us hugs.  And as she called me over to sign a copy of her book…this man from Mexico came over and tried to talk to her.  He said he didn’t understand English, but her assistant spoke Spanish.  I don’t think he expected that.  This kind of shit always happens to me.  I was having a moment…and then…someone sort of…ruins it for me.  Kathrine, being Kathrine, indulged him and signed his book and snapped a photo with him, but now she was feeling even more hurried.  She apologized so many times.  We took a picture and then she insisted that Cathy and Heather get in the shot too.  It has always been a dream of mine to run under her Boson number: 261.  She told me to “be fearless” and to have a great marathon.  Such a wonderful woman.

And then…we were done with the expo.  Just like that.  We hopped back on a shuttle to head back to the Manhattan Club, after grabbing some Starbucks.  Mmmm…much needed caffeine.  Upon returning, we went to Walgreens to purchase umbrellas and some water to have in the room.  Hydration is very important!  Heather had plans to meet up with her cousin for lunch, so she hopped into a taxi and went to do that.  Cathy and I decided to go exploring.  I know…the day before the race is not the time to be on your feet, but my time in NYC was so limited as it was, I needed to get out there.  Even if it was pouring rain on us and just windy and gross.  Off we went.  First stop…Times Square!  And from there…wherever our feet took us.  And we literally pounded that pavement for hours.  We went up Broadway…and I spotted the Phantom of the Opera in a window of a theater showing…Phantom of the Opera.  He waved…and I waved back.  We hiked around to various stores, ducking in to wherever looked interesting.  We took in some famous sites.  Cathy went and got cannoli from The Cake Boss store…something she had been dying to do.  And then, we reconnected with Heather, and went to Rockerfeller Center.  The ice rink was up, but I couldn’t justify paying $30 to skate…and that was without the skate rental fee.  We went to the Lego store.  We grabbed chocolates at Teuscher Chocolates (to have as dessert that night).  And then, we finally wrapped everything up and went back to the hotel room to drop things off and head off to dinner.

Me in Times Square, New York, New York

Me in Times Square, New York, New York

Night before a race means…gluten-free pizza!!

And we had originally planned to go to a place called Nizza.  But, the only reservation slot available was 4 pm.  WAY too early.  So, around 6 p.m., we went down to Don Antonio by Starita, a few blocks down from our hotel, instead.  They didn’t take reservations, but said that there was never more than a 45 minute wait, even on weekends.  We took them at their word.  Upon arriving, I went in to put my name on the list.  I was told…45 minutes.  So we waited.  Inside.  This tiny little restaurant.  It. Was. Worth. It.

Cathy and Heather actually got their first sample of the food as, because of the number of people, a sample pizza was sliced up and sent out.  Cathy was impressed by what she tried.  And soon after, the very Italian man (whom we nicknamed the Italian Adam Levine) called out my name.  And he could have said it a few more times and I would not have minded at all.  *DROOL*  We were seated and given menus to browse.  Because it had no cheese on it at all…Cathy and I opted to split the Gluten Free Marinara Pizza.  She also decided to try one of their famous fried dough balls…opting for the Montanarine Genovese, which is a fried dough puff topped with onion, pancetta and pecorino romano.  Heather ordered a pizza as well (she needed meat and cheese and took half of it back to the hotel, although we never got back around to it) and also tried one of the fried dough balls.  Order in.  Order out.  I actually had to look VERY closely at the pizza to make sure it was gluten free.  It actually had a CRUST.  No cracker crust here.  This was a substantial, real pizza crust.  The only difference between it and the regular crust was that this was obviously cooked in a pan as the edges were very clean.  It was fantastic.  And filling.  And after eating…we returned to the hotel, ate our chocolates, rotated through showers, and got to bed.

Underneath that fashionable robe is a girl ready to run the streets of NYC

Underneath that fashionable robe is a girl ready to run the streets of NYC

THANK GOD FOR DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME.  We fell back that night.  Extra hour of sleep.  Which was good, because the alarm at 4 a.m. for me to get up and get dressed for the race came earlier than I wanted.  I turned it off, went into the bathroom and started to get ready.  And then I heard the alarm go off again (appropriately it was “New York Groove” by Kiss).  I had only hit snooze.  Whoops.  It did that twice more…so by the time Heather and Cathy were supposed to get up…they were already up.  They went to get ready and soon I was pinned up, donning the toss-away bathrobe to keep me warm at the start for hours, and we were heading out of the room to make the walk to the subway to get to the New York Public Library where I would catch a shuttle bus to the start.

We stepped outside and were immediately battered by a strong wind gust.  I mean, it practically knocked us over.  Very high winds.  As we headed to the subway I said, “And I’m supposed to run in this?!”  It would be interesting if nothing else.  The underground subway terminal was a nice reprieve from the wind and soon we found ourselves on a train with other runners heading to the same place.  We got off the train and headed up to the street to the library.  We were all guided into this little chute, which we walked until we hit the security checkpoint where only people with a race bib could enter.  I gave hugs to Cathy and Heather, and sent them off to get their breakfast…a NYC bagel…while I got into the madness of the bus queue.  Oh…wow…this was insanity.  So many people…all trying to get on their shuttles.  WOW.  It was…an adventure to say the least.  But I picked a line further up and climbed into the bus to make the drive from the library to the start camp at the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge.  I only had with me a change of shoes (I heard the grass could get wet so I was ditching an old pair in my corral and putting on my race shoes then), a banana and some cereal.  My fuel belt was around my waist…and that was it.  I was bundled up in a robe and gloves…but it was no match for the bitter wind that morning.

Heather, me, and Cathy in the subway waiting on the train to get to the New York City Library shuttles.  We are very sleep deprived.

Heather, me, and Cathy in the subway waiting on the train to get to the New York City Library shuttles. We are very sleep deprived.

The ride over was uneventful.  It was super early…my shuttle departed at 6 a.m.  Everyone was I think just…sleeping or dozing or looking out the window.  I did a lot of looking out the window on the ride to the bridge.  I was in a calm place.  I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck, especially since I wouldn’t know anyone at the start line.  But I was as zen as could be expected…because the unexpected awaited.  I will remind everyone…my training for this race fell to pieces back in July…when what was thought to be the start of a stress fracture turned out to be…inflammation…that still is rearing its ugly head.  So, I knew this race had the potential to be…really, really, really bad.  But I was going into it with my foot feeling…okay…and a lot of support.

The bus parked on the side of the road with a long line of other buses.  And here, we all disembarked.  There were volunteers out, directing all runners toward the staging area of Fort Wadsworth…where I would now have a 3 hour wait before my wave and corral would be sent off.  Three long, cold, and windy hours.  It was during this slow procession to the staging area and start villages that I realized my banana had fallen out of my robe pocket on the bus.  Now…all that I had with me to eat…was a serving size of my cereal.  And my GU packets for the run.  I knew the start villages were going to have some items for runners to enjoy, including coffee, tea, and bagels.  I was hoping bananas or something gluten-free might be there as well.

But first…I had to contend with the security.  All runners had to show their bibs as they entered the staging area.  Then…metal detectors.  I had my clear starting area bag with just my shoes in it (and in hindsight, should have put my snacks in there as well!) so I was ushered through.  I handed my stuff off to one of the officers, went through the metal detector, and then proceeded to get wanded because I was wearing my long robe.  Ah well.  No biggie.  The wind was already brutal.  In fact, race officials had to reduce the number of tents at the staging area because of the strong wind gusts.  This meant, when I made it to the orange start village…there was one tent…and a lot…A LOT of people.

Me sitting in the tent for the Orange Start Village before the TCS New York City Marathon...rocking the free Dunkin Donuts Hat.  I was, honestly, freezing!

Me sitting in the tent for the Orange Start Village before the TCS New York City Marathon…rocking the free Dunkin Donuts Hat. I was, honestly, freezing!

Entering the staging area for my color was an experience.  Lines of people were everywhere.  But, by the grace of the running gods, Dunkin Donuts was there and they were passing out these hats to all the runners.  Thank goodness, because the winds were not only gusting, but they were chilling.  Down to the bone.  And my head was cold.  I immediately threw it onto my head (as so many others did as well) and made one circuit of the start village offerings.  Tea, spring water, coffee (supplied by Dunkin Donuts), Gatorade Endurance products, bagels and PowerBars were all there were.  I went up to the PowerBar people and asked if any of the bars were gluten-free.  None of them were.  I was about to have a mild panic attack.  I had yet to eat something…because I didn’t want to eat too early…but I knew it would be impossible to go very far on just a serving of my gluten-free cereal.  Yep.  Panic.  Not much I could do about it though…so taking the advice of my friend, Courtney, who ran New York City last year, I made my way to the one tent that they had up in my start village and ducked inside, spotting somewhere sort of near the middle and settled in.  Maybe I could make friends.  Maybe someone would have an extra banana.  Maybe…

But…no one around me spoke English.  No joke.  Not very well, anyway.  So, making friends was not going well for me.  I finally just gave up, decided to eat bits of my cereal intermittently until I had to get to my corral, and just…try not to panic.  I had one extra GU pack on me, which I would take 20 minutes before the run.  It had to be good enough.  So I began reading through Dean Koontz’s “Frankenstein” and would every now and again nibble on a bit of my cereal.  My nerves were now way up.

After awhile, I started hearing some announcements over the loud speaker…but couldn’t make any of them out.  I decided to risk losing my spot in the tent to step outside and see if I could get a clearer idea of what was being said.  I am so glad I did.  Because Wave 1 was being sent to their corrals and we had 20 minutes to make the walk there and get inside before we would be cut off and forced to start in the second wave instead.  That was not going to happen to me.  I made my way with the masses toward the corrals, now traipsing over a field with hay laid out on the ground.  And I made it to the Orange Wave…Corral C.  With only a few minutes to spare.  Whew.

I admit…I think I was expecting something closer to the start corrals of the Chicago Marathon.  But I was on a little side street, alleyway of some sort…with port-a-potties lining one entire side and the masses of runners in the Orange Wave Corral C all huddled together or in line to pee.  It was…not glamorous at all.  I made small talk with some people around me…a woman from Australia who commented on my dressing gown…a freezing guy who was dressed in shorts and a long sleeve shirt…not at all prepared for all the hours spent at the staging area in this kind of weather.  And others.  As the time got nearer, I changed my shoes and ditched the robe…to now freeze.  Soon…the corral strings were dropped and we were all marched forward, up toward the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge.

The view of the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge from my corral on Staten Island

The view of the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge from my corral on Staten Island

It is a beautiful bridge…but it is intimidating for sure.  I saw a Marathon Maniac walking only a few steps ahead of me, so I called out to him and we were talking on the way up near the bridge.  He asked where my Marathon Maniac gear was and I explained that my company sponsored me so I was wearing their uniform.  Then, the loud speaker booted up again and we were hearing the names of the elite men (my wave started with them!) and we would all cheer.  I mean…we were running with Wilson Kipsang, Geoffrey Mutai, and Meb Keflezighi.  Legends.  Then we were informed that was the dress rehearsal and the next time it would be live…so we were to cheer loudly again.  HA.  The magic of television.

They were announced.  Again.  And we cheered.  Again.  I removed the Dunkin Donuts hat and tucked it into my fuel belt.  If it stayed…free hat.  If not…eh…it was a free hat.  The National Anthem was played and then…cannons.  I knew that was how we were sent off…but it still scared the living daylights out of me.  My heart skipped a beat, my feet began to move toward the start…and up we all started, crossing the first sensor pad at the start line…and taking the 3.6% grade of the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge.  And that was when we got our first taste of the winds that we would be battling that morning.  No joke, there were gusts that made me feel like my feet were going to come out from under me.  We all put our heads down…our race bibs sounding like sails in hurricane force winds.  The helicopters circled us overhead.  The world was watching.  And we must have looked like we were on the biggest treadmill in the wold.

The first mile is straight up the bridge and the second mile…you come back down and hit the streets.  Everything is loud.  After the bridge…it’s just people.  So many people.  And they are out there…cheering…and if you had your name on your shirt (I didn’t)…they would shout out your name.  It was uplifting.  It almost made you forget you were cold.  And battling wind gusts between 40 mph and 60 mph.  So, we left Staten Island and were immediately welcomed into…BROOKLYN!

I won’t lie…I had the Beastie Boys song “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” drumming through my mind.  It was part of the music playlist I put together to get me excited for the NYC Marathon in the first place.  We honestly rounded that corner and heard “WELCOME TO BROOKLYN!”  Awesome.

The elite men on First Avenue around Mile 17.5. Meb is in the white arm warmers behind the second guy in orange.

The elite men on First Avenue around Mile 17.5. Meb is in the white arm warmers behind the second guy in orange.

Brooklyn is, honestly, the longest stretch of the five boroughs.  Staten Island…we’re there for the start village and the bridge…then…up until the halfway point…honestly.  And there was a lot going on for that first half.  Rows of people lining the streets.  Runners either pushing hard from the start or easing up to save it for the finish.  I knew running the entire 26.2 miles wasn’t happening for me.  I can’t run what I didn’t train for…but I was going to do my best.  I dedicated this race to a brave young woman who was fighting the hardest battle of her life…and I was going to honor her as best I could.  I was going to just give this race the best of me.

At mile 5…I ditched my gloves.

Brooklyn was interesting.  It is also where, around Mile 10, we enter Bedford Avenue…Williamsburg…where the Orthodox Jews reside.  While there were some scattered throughout this mile…watching…it was silent.  No cheering.  And hardly anyone out.  It made Mile 10 one of the more challenging to get through in the race.  The crowds carry you when you feel like you can’t take one more step.  Here…you just had to get through.  It was early though…and most of us still felt good.  I did.

I hit the halfway point…and then…”WELCOME TO QUEENS!”

Pretty much every borough had someone that would scream a fantastic welcome to you as you ran through.  LOVE.  The Queensboro Bridge was ahead…and as I started to make my way inside…yes…we ran a lower deck…I saw many a male marathoner pull off to the side to pee.  This was also the bridge where I lost my GPS signal for about .3 of a mile.  I didn’t know it at the time, but it happened.  I noticed as I came to Mile 16 and my watch didn’t beep.  It did…a little later after I passed.  I was now ahead of my watch.  That is okay…I wear that as a backup for my time more than anything else.  The zen runner does live on…sometimes.  Exiting the bridge, which was just a cavern that echoed and amplified our breathing and footfalls, we were once again greeted by the masses.  That rush you get when that crowd returns…when you get the shouting and the cowbells and the encouragement…it is the best feeling in the world.  And it was what started to carry me.

Me waving to Heather and Cathy at Mile 17.5.  Still smiling and feeling good!

Me waving to Heather and Cathy at Mile 17.5. Still smiling and feeling good!

Cathy and Heather had told me that they were going to try to catch me at Mile 17.  As I crossed the Mile 17 marker, I began searching the crowd on the left for them.  This was made even more challenging as we were now climbing another hill.  I didn’t see them and had all but given up.  The downside of the hill greeted me and as I crest it and begin my descent, there they are, screaming for me over the crowd.  I run by, throwing them a huge smile and a wave.  I love seeing my friends when I’m running.  It is just…uplifting.  It is.

I was running First Avenue now…and I remained on there through Mile 20 about.  But before leaving this street…I still had to go over the Willis Avenue Bridge.  The inclines were starting to get to my untrained legs, so I slowed a little.  I hated to do it…but if I was going to make that last 10K, I had to.  But I took the bridge like a champ, pushing myself through the strong headwinds and thinking of Cailin…wanting to finish this strong.  I came off the bridge…

“WELCOME TO THE BRONX!”

We weren’t in The Bronx for long through…and soon the streets wound us through Harlem and the crowds were loud and it was exciting.  I loved hearing people get called out.  I loved hearing, “You’re looking strong, girl!” Even though I knew I looked anything but strong.  It helped.  A lot.  This was around where runners hit the dreaded wall.  With the strong wind gusts that day, I was battling this run harder than any other.  I think this might be as close as I have ever gotten to hitting…”The Wall.”  I fought it though…because I knew…I was close now.  I was so close.

We make the turn onto Fifth Avenue and soon I hear the shout I’ve been waiting to hear…

“WELCOME BACK TO MANHATTAN!”

Love.  I could see the city.  I could hear the city.  And here, the runners were pushing themselves toward Central Park.  We get to duck inside the park around Mile 22, only to reemerge briefly.  But when we return to the park…we are two miles away from glory.  Just two miles.  The crowds inside the park are amazing.  They had to go through security checkpoints to be there.  They were loud and giving us the “You’re so close!  You’re almost there!” And you believe it…because it’s true.  Two miles…

My selfie after crossing the finish line of the TCS New York City Marathon

My selfie after crossing the finish line of the TCS New York City Marathon

The park is beautiful this time of year.  Still green, but shading to those perfect fall colors.  The wind…was brutal that day.  And I focused more on pushing through those gusts.  I could taste the finish line.  I could almost feel it with each step I willed myself to take.  I was on my way.  I came up hill at Mile 25…and I knew…I was close.  Pushing on, the crowds became louder.  I could hear the announcer at the finish line.  And there it was.  These arching towers…those little blue mats at our feet.  I pushed with what I could find left in my tank.  I pushed.  And I crossed that finish line feeling like I just won the damn thing.  My time…was my third fastest, although I felt like this one beat me up the most.  I was tired and drained…but I felt so alive.  There were no tears at this finish line.  Smiles.  Just smiles.  I did it!  I took a moment…and snapped a selfie.

From here…the long walk ensued.  We were funneled through the finishing area, our medals placed around our necks and mylar blankets wrapped around us.  There were people out there who attached stickers to hold the mylar in place as we continued up through Central Park.  Finisher’s photos were taken…and the food goodie bag was passed out.  Water and Gatorade were offered.  I took some water.  I was in the group of runners that had a bracelet on because I didn’t check a bag.  This meant I got a free TCS New York City Marathon poncho.  But my trek there was long…I had to get to 77th Street.  Here, volunteers would wrap and secure the lined and heavy-duty poncho around the runners and send us up toward 72nd Street.  This…was where we were out of the race zone.

I had through I’d be going straight up 77th street to rendezvous with Heather, Cathy and my friend Marisa…but now I was 5 blocks down.  I checked the printed map Cathy had given me and this worked out better.  The hot dog place they were grabbing lunch at (Gray’s Papaya) was closer to 72nd Street.  So, I headed up that way.  I was handed some tea and congratulated.  Many people who walked by congratulated all the runners making their way up there.

Marisa, me, and Heather after the TCS New York City Marathon

Marisa, me, and Heather after the TCS New York City Marathon

And then…there was Heather.  She hurried over and gave me a hug.  She said, “You finished in 3:50-something.”  I was beaming.  Then…Cathy and Marisa were there…hugs all around.  I wanted to get back to the hotel to shower because we had some things to do before dinner that night, and our reservation was at 6 p.m.  So, we made the short walk back to The Manhattan Club.  We went up to the hotel room and I took a nice hot shower.  Nothing in the world felt better than that.  After I was changed and my hair was dried…I gave another attempt at consuming a protein shake post-marathon.  It didn’t sit well.  Not one bit.  I ended up throwing it up.  But I felt better.  We headed out…to walk to Tiffany’s because I needed to get a pendant engraved and do a bit of shopping.  On the way, Cathy ducked into the place we had breakfast on Saturday morning and snagged me a bottle of Sprite Zero to settle my stomach.  It helped.  A lot.

We had a great time at Tiffany’s…but it took longer than anticipated.  Back to the hotel to change for dinner. Then a fantastic and

Me, with Cathy, in my fancy dress, compression socks, and heels...because this is how a marathoner dresses up for dinner!

Me, with Cathy, in my fancy dress, compression socks, and heels…because this is how a marathoner dresses up for dinner!

celebratory dinner at Red Rooster in Harlem.  For any non-foodies…this is Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant.  Usually we do pubs…but I requested this.  I think the most epic moment of the night was as we were heading down to the subway, some girls were just coming up the steps with their mylar wrapped around them.  They looked at me and said…”She’s in heels.  She just ran a marathon…and she’s in heels.  With compression socks!”  Their eyes met mine and they said…”You’re my hero!”  It made me laugh.  I tend to recover well and fast after a marathon.  I hope it stays like that.  So…dinner in Harlem and then…we parted.  Marisa had to return to New Jersey and the three of us went to retire to the hotel.  Heather and I decided to head back out (I move as much as possible after a marathon) and see Ground Zero.  We saw the new tower, which was opening the following morning.  It was still bitter cold out and we ended up having a snafu with one of our trains back to Manhattan.  So, we got in really late…and had to all get up super early to get a taxi to the airport.  But every moment of this trip was worth it.

My official time for the TCS New York City Marathon was 3:50:32.  I was 9984 out of 50,875 finishers overall.  I was the 1970/20,414 female to cross the finish line.  And I was 403/3740 in  my age division to finish.  When I look at the overall results…I am beyond impressed with my performance.  This still wasn’t the race I wanted.  But the winds…they were relentless.  I heard on the news that all but 6 miles of the marathon were with a headwind.  I believe it. It sucked.  A lot.  But, you can’t change the weather…you just adapt.  That’s what I did.  I would LOVE to run this one again, believe it or not.  Minus the wind trying to take my feet out from under me.  As a side note, the wheelchair racers were started at Mile 3…due to the heavy winds on the bridge.  The race officials were afraid they would be blown over or off.  It was honestly that bad.  I had a fantastic time and a fantastic race given the circumstances…and I was once again reminded of the many reasons that I always have and continue to love New York.

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