The fall edition of Race Pace Training Diaries follows Brittany, a Race Pace Runner, on her journey of training for her first marathon, the New York City Marathon on November 3rd. Learn more about Brittany here or follow her daily adventures on twitter.
It still doesn’t seem real, but I’m a marathoner. The New York City Marathon was everything I could have hoped for!
I honestly don’t even know where to begin! It all went by so much faster than I expected.
I didn’t feel “real” until I picked up my bib on Thursday night. I was trying not to let more experienced runners psyche me out. I felt like I was the only person that was running their first marathon!
On Saturday, my main focus was staying hydrated, since one of my marathon “fears” was getting dehydrated and/or cramping. Saturday night I laid everything out and prayed for a good night of sleep!
I woke up well before my 6am alarm and was able to take it slow. I was relieved when I checked the weather and saw it was in the 40s.
My friend Sarah was staying with me and we left my apartment at 7am and easily got a cab. We picked up my friend Beth on our way down to the Staten Island Ferry. It was really quick and I was glad we didn’t have to deal with the subway. As soon as we walked upstairs we ran into friends!
Waiting on Staten Island went much faster than I expected. I heard so many times about sitting around for hours, but I was only sitting for about 15 minutes before my corral was lining up. I hurried and went to the bathroom one last time, stripped off my extra layers, and suddenly the Verrazano was in front of me.
Initially I was standing on the right side, but at the last minute I bolted to the left realizing I wanted to be able to see over the bridge. As soon as “New York, New York” started playing, a rush of emotions hit me. I started screaming and fumbling for my phone, wanting to capture this amazing moment!
As I started running up the Verrazano, I just kept thinking “Holy crap, I’m running a marathon!”
I was so glad I moved to the left because the view was without a doubt my favorite part of the marathon. Knowing that I was about to run through this amazing city was such an incredible feeling.
I don’t usually take pictures while running, but I had to have a picture to remember this view!
I’m not sure if it was because I was near the front of Wave 3, but I didn’t find the Verrazano to be crowded at all. I had plenty of room to breathe compared to the start of other NYRR races I’ve done.
Once I got off the bridge it was time to start focusing on what I needed to do during the race. These were my priorities while running:
1. SLOW DOWN!
2. Fuel every 3 miles (Honey Stinger and Shot Blocks).
3. Look for friends that were spectating.
Miles 1-9: I just kept telling myself that I was out for an easy jog. I was trying so hard to go as slow as possible. My plan was to stick to around 9:45 as best I could. Looking over my official splits, I was shocked at how well I stuck to this!
I was so excited to see my first friend in Brooklyn! I soon realized spotting people was going to get much more difficult as the crowds picked up. I ended up missing 4 coworkers, all in different locations. I can’t complain though, because the crowds were such an incredible part of the experience!
At mile 8, all three bib colors converged and I got my first taste of how congested this race was going to be.
Miles 10-15: My plan was to start dropping the pace at mile 10 if I was feeling up to it. I felt great, so I dropped it down to around 9:35…or so I thought. My Garmin showed that I was running much faster than I actually was. My Garmin splits are totally different than my official splits. I guess overrunning the course will do that!
After crossing into Queens, I started preparing myself for the Queensboro Bridge. I kept telling myself that the race wouldn’t start until I got into Manhattan. I was so nervous about the bridge that I definitely held my pace back more than I needed to.
My favorite part about looking at my splits is trying to figure out where the bridges are. How did I not slow down AT ALL on the Queensboro?! I have no idea if this is a good or bad thing. Ideally you should keep the same effort level right? I’m guilty of always wanting to charge up to get them over with!
The Queensboro felt like it lasted forever, but I don’t remember it being difficult. Seeing so many people walking and pulling over to the side made me thankful for all the Cat Hill repeats Jess made me do!
Miles 16-19: I was so excited for these miles because I knew I’d be seeing quite a few friends. The energy on 1st Ave was just as wild as everyone said it would be. This was the first time my legs started feeling like they were running a marathon, but a few butt kicks helped to stretch them out. I was still feeling great and looking back, I’m not sure why I didn’t push the pace.
Miles 20-23: Hands down the most difficult part of the course for me.
When I came back into Manhattan I knew I had two friends that would be around mile 22. There were a few minutes where my brain felt completely fried. I got a little confused about where I was until I heard a friend scream my name and hand me water. I knew I needed to refocus and realized I hadn’t eaten anything in a few miles.
As expected, the 5th Avenue incline felt like torture! It was also extremely crowded and so many people were walking, which made it very difficult to speed up. I knew my best friend was coming up around mile 23 and I wanted to look strong, so I powered through.
Miles 24-26.2: I knew once I entered Central Park I would be home free. These miles were all about soaking it all in and smiling for the cameras!
The distance on my watch was off and I hadn’t been willing to do the math while running, so I wasn’t sure if I was close to meeting my plan of 4:10 or not. I tried to speed up without bumping into anyone, but according to my splits, that didn’t really happen. I was surprised that I didn’t even notice the Central Park South incline or the last little hill!
As the finish line approached, I couldn’t believe I was about to be a marathoner. Smiling across the finish line felt so surreal. I kept thinking there was no way it was over already. As soon as I was handed my medal, I started tearing up a bit. I couldn’t believe that after 16 weeks of training, it was all over. It’s crazy to say, but those 4 hours and 11 minutes flew by.
My only real goal was to cross the finish line with a smile on my face, and according to my MarathonFoto pictures, I accomplished that. Negative-splitting was definitely an awesome bonus! I’m sure if there’s a next time around I’ll worry more about a time goal, but I’m so glad I let my first marathon be about enjoying the experience and not stressing about time.
I shuffled out of Central Park as fast as I could to meet friends for a post-marathon celebration. My birthday was the next day, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate than with friends, beers, and a marathon medal around my neck!
Thank you to everyone that was cheering me on, whether in NYC or virtually! I’m lucky to have such supportive people in my life. And of course, a huge thanks to Jess! I honestly don’t think I could have been better prepared for that start line.
I think I might have caught the running bug, but I’m scared nothing will ever compare to the amazing experience I had at the New York City Marathon!