At the end of this year, I would have covered at least 7 marathon distances for the year Watchung Ultra (31 mile), 2 marathon training runs, Bear Mountain (31 miles), San Francisco marathon, New York City and now NYRR 60k (~38 miles). I’m still in awe. Well, I haven’t done the 60K as yet so let’s talk about NYC—my 5th official marathon.
Windy—but first let’s talk about this journey.
Training for this marathon was a journey within itself, as you can tell from my last post. In the end, it was mostly psychological obstacles that I had to get over to get to this point and the results but I enjoyed every bit of it. I’d always been a technical runner (if there’s such a thing or a data-driven athlete)—Data drives me. It might not be fun for some people but I love how everything adds up to the moment you’re at the startline: the amount of sleep, the way you train, the food you eat, the strides, your cadence, how you drive your arms, lift your legs, breathe, relax, distract, and use will to reach the finish. I know it’s a great deal, and probably not what all runners think about but that’s how I’ve come to enjoy getting better, stronger, faster and built for that distance. I’m a marathon, life’s a marathon…
However, let me not get ahead of myself.
Parade of Nations
I started off Marathon Weekend (Oct. 31) by representing Dominica at the Parade of Nations (it was broadcasted on ABC News 7). There were only two of us from the Commonwealth of Dominica and one of the people representing the UN came over and asked whether I’d like to hold the UN flag and walk with them. I talked the other Dominican girl into it and was so happy she said yes. We basically felt like stars because immediately after the walk we were rushed by foreigners to take photos with us. I think it’s because we had the most colourful traditional wear.
This was an honour because it was now creole weekend leading up to Dominica’s own Independence Day so it felt nostalgic. I was also pretty damn happy with how my outfit came out. I sewed the entire thing thanks to suggestions by my high school sewing teacher, Ms Anderson, and my friend Ibeliz, who I knew from junior high who works in the fashion industry.
After the parade and photo ops, I made my way home artfully avoiding the Halloween Parade. I spent that night sleeping close to 10 hours and did a shakeout run as soon as I woke up. Then I tossed and turned into the night to wake up on Sunday.
Today’s the day!
On marathon morning using a completely different means of transportation than what NYRR had provided for me. My 6am ferry ride was replaced by the 6:30 Honored Guest bus provided by Airbnb and Mary Wittenberg from NYRR. I still had to get up super early but I figured a bus ride would be more ideal than a ferry ride with over 2,000 people. I was allowed to bring a +1 and while I reflected over the year that I had contemplated running the marathon, the perfect person I decided on was Stalina. I tracked her last year when she ran NYC and remembered her running the 60k (which I signed up for this year) a couple of weeks later and got very inspired. It was around the time when I was training for my 3rd marathon and didn’t even contemplate on running an ultra. She was an idol. I’m happy that she had the same transportation arrangement of the Ferry when I reached out to her.
The journey started off that morning with me leaving my place on time for the train. Although the time went an hour back thanks to DST, I tossed and turned all night. When I got to the train, I was surprised that anyone else from my neighbourhood would have run. I ran into a woman who had recently moved to the city from Dallas, she was running under Team For Kids. She told me that her name was Tameika and I promised that I would look her up. She was here for college after finishing 5 years in the military. We discussed strategy and how our training went. It just so happened we were both taking similar bus arrangements. Our train kept being delayed and she got worried, I had left super early to get there at 5:30 because my bus started boarding at 6. However, she had to be on her bus to leave by 6.
By 6, after jogging from 42nd street, I was at the bus on 52th street waiting for Stalina. She contacted me via IM and I gave her a call. We boarded and started chatting about how we felt. We were both really excited. I have so much respect for her as a runner because we both definitely have the personality of “overachievers (her words).” We expect great things from our training because we put in the time and effort. We have high standards. That’s actually what I expect from my running mates: people who always strive for their goals.
We took some selfies and by 6:30 the police detail was off and the bus followed (the sun had already started coming up).
I was a little worried already because of the temperature and winds that I had seen from the weather report the night before. I was hoping it was one of those days when the weatherman was wrong.
When we got to Staten Island we joined the “runners refugee camp.” We had to go through security (like the airport) and once we were scanned and let through—It was amazing! So many languages were sounded off speakers. We walked around and it was cold so I was thankful for my extra warm hoodie and windbreaking pants (R. I. P. they were donated along the beginning of the marathon route). Stalina grabbed some coffee but I was already concerned about food intake and all that. I already had coffee at 4am and had cornmeal. So I didn’t want to have any other liquids besides my Poland Spring water and the Ucan that I mixed into another bottle.
At 8:55am, Green Wave 1 Corral F was being closed (and they were strict about it) so started my way in. I drank the Ucan mixture at 9:10, used the bathroom one more time after seeing fellow runners that I knew and came out in time to make my way out to the start. I wasn’t sure how this was going to work because the crowd was massive. It didn’t look too bad once the gun went off and the runners made their way out.
Ready, Start Garmin, Run!
I played the strategy in my head as I started my Garmin… don’t go too fast this is going to be the most difficult and slowest mile, don’t tire yourself out by zigzagging. Ugh. As soon as I started, I was being blown away by the wind in a diagonal direction. I was so happy to have had my sunglasses. In order to not run into other runners or run into the dividers, I tried to keep strong. I was thankful when we got off the Verrazano bridge. It was game time. I tossed my hoodie and continued to hit the miles on target. I was pretty happy with myself. I went over the map in my mind like Coach Simon went over that previous weekend and saw the landmarks and route changed to match.
I eventually fell into a pace group but somehow lost them while I also kept ensuring that I hit my goal pace. By the time I got to mile 15 I was shocked because the energy of the people around us gave me great momentum that I completely forgot the miles. I did want to stop and dance in Brooklyn but I was caught between wanting to hi-five everyone and run at the pace that I had trained for. I saw my running team, The Dashing Whippets Running Team
, at Long Island City and was so happy to! I continued on running strong before I started having doubts in my head about not making it. I tried to zone out.
I kept running, and then I stopped on the Queensboro bridge. I turned on my iPod.
My legs had been so cold, even if they warm up when running, in regular conditions, I’d never run for this long in shorts. I felt like walking, so I did. Then I started out again. I felt fine while running down 1st avenue, managed to turn my iPod off again since I saw people and I wanted to listen for my friends. I also pulled off a small mixture of Generation Ucan and water that I had prepped as a gel earlier and started having it.
I had run this route the Sunday earlier so I knew what to expect. However, I didn’t expect to stop and start so much. I was still on target however. Then I saw it slowly drift away as I got to mile 20 right around the time when I glimpsed another running team-mate who gave me some pretty good advice a few days prior. He took my photo. Then I met some more of my team’s dedicated photographers who took some photos of me as well (I’m happy that I managed a smile).
When I got to Willis bridge someone tapped me. I looked around and I saw a fellow running friend. I was shocked because he’s a stronger runner and I expected him to be way ahead. He said he got cramped up and did look a little bit in bad shape. I told him I was in the same boat but it’s from my legs being cold. I wasn’t hungry and my energy seemed ok it’s just fatigue at this point. I was digging deep to ignore it so I told him, “Well, let’s take this all the way home.”
When running a marathon with your goal in mind, you pretty much have to do it yourself. So when I lost him along the way I figured he would be ok and kept running. I had to run own my race
or I’d be unhappy with myself. Even if I knew I wouldn’t reach the time goal my new goal was to see how well I could do under the conditions and I wondered what my Garmin would say about my run and the runscribe
device that I was given at the TCS NYC
Marathon Expo (didn’t get the results in time for this post however, I’m sure I’ll post it on Instagram).
I ran through the Bronx like I had trained and turned the corner then saw familiar faces—other fellow runners that I knew! I didn’t even think I had enough energy to wave but I did. Then moments later I was walking again. I had to have more in the tank. I dug deeper back to lifting my legs…
Then I prepped for “shitty hill” on 5th. I couldn’t even remember exactly where on the route it was going to be. Then, there it was. I can do this. Nope. I walked again and again. A coworker of mine called my name out after another super fast ultra marathoner beast of a friend passed me by. This was his fun run (he can BQ anything).
It was like 90th street was nowhere in sight. I dreaded this. I was certainly not looking forward to Cathill. I started running again, got in the park and proceeded to walk. A woman tapped me—thanks! I started running, made it over to Cathill and had gravity do the rest. I coast a little and can’t believe it was only up to mile 25. When we finally made it out of the park and again around 59th to the Central Park West I just wanted to die—Ok, fine—I liked the crowd but I kind of just wanted the route to end. The 800m sign didn’t help either. Didn’t you know that’s twice a track!? I had run at a 10′ pace at that point.
I finally saw the finish line in sight. I couldn’t even speed up. I coasted into it. There’s nothing I could do now. Then, I noticed Kino (this was his 180th marathon) dressed as Dino, I laughed and hugged him and his friend. I crossed, saw a familiar face who gave me a medal and looked for the runscribe guys to hand over the devices. I had no baggage at the finish so I made my way out of the park (what a nightmare). I was given a foil, thankfully, and attempted to get warm.
It was a long wobble all the way for another few streets and then out of the park for another block and a half to get a poncho. Then I made my way to Jack Rabbits where I dropped my bag days earlier (two blocks away), went to my gym two blocks back, showered and met with my Running Team for the after party.
My official time was 3:48:33, it wasn’t a PR. Infact, Space Coast Marathon was (3:47:27). I had run my best for both marathons according to how I trained and I realized that NYC was a much tougher route and, the windy conditions is only a testament of how strong of a runner I’ve became. I’m really fortunate to have kept training with my team and watch as I transform myself into a better fitness level. My body has been through 5 official marathons and 2 ultras. Nuts! It’s so crazy that the human body can do that. Out of the 50,000 runners that day: I placed 9284 overall, 1785 in my gender and 357 in my age group. I’m happy with the results. I’ll train for BQ next time.
Also, running NYC marathon is a super great honour. The energy from the crowd support is exhilarating. I’ve yet to experience anything like it. San Francisco has been my all time favourite because of the views but NYC is my favourite for the support. I’m in love.
Anyway, more highlights from great week… selfies with Boston Marathon American Winner: Meb Keflezighi:
He also signed my medal which I got engraved and I got an autograph! He’s one of the nicest people ever! After my team had breakfast and a talk with him, his brother was rushing him off to Physical Therapy and I just happened to be in the same elevator. The elevator almost closed on him and he had to squeeze his way through… my words: “I can’t believe I’m riding the elevator with Meb.” His brother, “The unbelievable part is how he got in.” So I went down with them.
All in a great week so far! NYC Marathon crossed off the bucket list and another sub-4. I’ll take it.
My 3dSelfie loves it!