This year, I spent Halloween a little differently than usual. For starters, I was in NYC, and instead of indulging in candy or heading out to the bars in an adorable couples costume, my focus was elsewhere. I was preparing for the NYC Marathon where I’d run through all five boroughs of the largest city in the U.S.
I flew in on Wednesday and spent my time exploring the city and catching up with old friends from different places and parts of my life. Take it from me, New York is an incredible place to be before a marathon. Everything and everyone is buzzing with excitement, it’s amazing and completely contagious. I even got to take a yoga class from one of my favorite yoga teachers (with some of my favorite Houston yogis), Katie Richey, at Lyons den Power Yoga. A major pre-race highlight was meeting and talking running with Kathrine Switzer, a running heroine and overall incredible person. Check out her organization, 261 Fearless to learn more about the inspiring things she doing to help and make a difference for women in the running community.
One of the things I learned about racing in NYC is how hard it is to taper! Staying off your feet is tough when there is so much to see and do–from the expo to sightseeing and simply just getting around! Even though I tried to avoid walking as much as possible the day before the race, I still logged almost 13,600 steps according to my Fitbit.
I doubt that anyone will argue against the “fact” that the best part of pre-marathon prep is the carbo loading. In NYC, Italian restaurants are plentiful and absolutely delicious. Per a friend’s recommendation, we dined at Isle of Capri, a small authentic Italian eatery. The portions were huge and really tasty, if we ever go back we’d probably share! I loved the old school style of the restaurant, down to the details of serving Italian cookies with coffee at the end of the meal.
Race day was long, exciting and fueled by adrenaline. I’ve been spoiled by races in the past, primarily the convenience of running hometown races. The logistics of NYC were astounding, shuffling 50,000 nervous runners from the Manhattan to the start line can’t be an easy feat. I was impressed by how smooth the entire process was, even the waiting on Staten Island wasn’t bad. My dad and I stayed entertained by people watching (a guy smoking a cigarette before the race…really?), waiting in bathroom lines, listening to the announcer continually warn about fines and DQs for urinating off the side of the bridge and for good measure…warming up.
Although I had a wave 1 start, I opted to start later so my dad and I could run together. Wave 2 was definitely crowded, especially the bathroom lines in the corral. Pro-tip: push your way further into the corral, the bathroom lines are way shorter than at the entrance!
My dad and I started the race together with a solid 11+ minute paced crawl over the Verrazano Bridge…slowed by the crowd, including many selfie takers it was a slow start. We picked it up as soon as we hit Brooklyn, seeing the hoards of runners ahead of us was a spectacular sight. Around mile 7.5, we decided it was time to say goodbye and I continued the trek through Brooklyn, into Queens, over the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan where I was greeted by my cheerleading mom, then onto the Bronx, and back into Manhattan. I started feeling a bit queasy around mile 21 and took a couple walking breaks to wait the nausea out. At that point, I knew a sub 4 race was out of the question, and chose to focus on getting to the park and finishing strong. As soon as I entered Central Park, I felt energized by the crowd (even saw my mom again!). The finish, like most marathon finishes, was painful and tough especially with the lingering nausea (which then reared its ugly head a few hundred feet past the finish).
I love the togetherness and bonding that happens at the finish line of a marathon, and with the thousands of people who run NYC it was even more crowed and full of emotions. It’s a special thing to see people celebrate their accomplishments, cry over missed goals and share their experiences with complete strangers. It’s one of the main reasons I love this sport so much.
By the time my dad and I finally reunited, we hobbled to the subway in our ponchos with medals showing. People all over the city wished us congrats as we made the trek back to our hotel. After a quick shower and a bite to eat, it was off to our next adventure…my first Grateful Dead concert. Technically it was Dead & Company (guitar by John Mayer), but it was pretty great and the perfect way for my dad and I to celebrate completion of the race.
While my time goals were completely off base, it was a once in a lifetime experience that I’m fortunate enough to have shared with my dad. Thanks for an unbelievable experience, NYC!