Thursday, November 10, 2016

New York City Marathon 2016 Race Recap

Hello dear friends. I know it's been a while. Great things are happening. We've been busy building From Fat to Finish Line into a business to help runners get to their finish lines and it's been awesome. I owe you a blog about all that but this post is all about The TCS New York City Marathon, baby!

Once again I had another imperfect (OK pretty pathetic) training regime going into the New York City marathon. But I managed to get in my long runs (more or less)  and while not ideally trained, I was super excited anyway. Thanks to the generous support of so many friends and family I reached my goal of raising $3000 for Organization of Autism Research and this race wasn't just about me.

The week of the event came and I was eerily not nervous or experiencing the "what if" fear and dread that I experienced before any really big race. Instead I was downright giddy and excited. While not normally a Taylor Swift fan her "Welcome to New York" song seemed to be on-loop on my playlist (which at times annoyed the crap out of me and other times moved me in a very corny way to being a little weepy) - It wasn't lost on me how special and momentous this was. I didn't have to run - I GET to run the greatest city in the world... I felt psyched all week.

On Thursday I made my way to the expo, enjoyed kicking around, getting my bib and reuniting with Bart Yasso.

Sunday came and I was awake for hours before my alarm went off - by 3:45 am I was getting dressed and ready. By 5:00 am I was on a bus from the Meadowlands and heading out towards the start in Staten Island! On the bus, I ran into a new FFTFL friend, Walter. It was a great gift to have company on the bus and at the village for the next few hours until the rest of the gang showed up. Once at the village, we rested a bit, drank some free Dunkin' Donuts coffee, took a few pictures and waited. Ann, who I trained with, Megan, friend Jeanine and Dominic all made their ways to the village.

While wandering about, Ann, Jeanine, Megan and myself got a special treat of seeing the one and only MEB who was the grand marshal of the race! Ann asked for a picture and he said yes! What a great way to kick off the day.

So after the long wait - it was finally 11 AM and time to run! Megan and Jeanine had started earlier and Walter was in another corral. Domenic, Ann and myself headed to our place on the bridge.

The gun went off and instead of the traditional Frank Sinatra's New York, New York song, they cut it about 5 seconds in and played "I Want to Dance with Somebody" from Whitney Houston instead. I was a little disappointed because the Frank Sinatra song is sentimental for me (it was my Grandmother's favorite song) but shook it away and got down to business!

We decided to try to keep the pace comfortable. Domenic had been doing a walk 30 second / run 1:30 second thing in training and I thought that sounded like a good approach. Domenic and I did that along with Ann for the first mile or two. We got a few miles in and of course I had to stop to potty. We waved Ann off and she was on her way.

Domenic and I soaked in Brooklyn which is just such a great place to run. All the cultures, all the people, the support amazing. Domenic saw his wife and mother-in-law out there and I got to see my friend Joe and Jess at mile 8 again which is such a blessing and treat. Once again they didn't let me down Their smiles, enthusiasm, and big-ass sign with my name on it - was just soooooooo uplifting. Words can't describe how much it meant to me. Loved that so much.

While out there, a few people recognized the film from my shirt. I heard a few times, "I saw you in that movie and loved it!" one even said "Oh my God, Jennifer Roe! Love you, love your movie!" That was very exciting and cool!

Right after seeing Joe and Jess (about 8 miles in) my legs already were starting to feel a little tight. Ugh. Lack of training on hills and in general was beginning to catch up and there was still 18 ahead. This was the type of  feeling that shouldn't have been happening until at least 14 in. But I had to just shake it off. There was no way I was going to quit or give up only way home was though the finish line.

Around mile 13 we caught up with Domenic's brother. He was a little younger and had a spring in his step. Domenic started to run a little faster (and I a little slower by this point) so the next few miles I was trailing them. I tried to keep up but I was tired and getting sorer and sorer. They were sweet, they would check up on me, encourage me on and tried to keep me in the game. Finally, around mile 17, I really fell behind on them. I was tired of trying to keep up the pace and felt it might be better if I just did this race my own way and at my own pace.

By this time we'd been out there for hours. I was nervous about how things were going, I was now on my own and I was FREEZING. I decided to run off course and go into a Dollar Store. I was hoping to buy a blanket or something I was just so cold. Well, the store was heavenly warm, and then I found fleece gloves. There were five people on line and the wait was annoying but I wasn't winning anyway, so I waited. The gloves truly made a difference.  So I guess this might've been 17.5 miles in or so. It was starting to get dark and I still had at least 8 miles to go. I figured I could drag my ass, freeze to death and be miserable or just put my head down, make the best of things and push. I hadn't come to New York to not give it my best!

So, I pulled out my music (Before even starting the race I only had 16% battery so I had kept it on airplane mode the whole race - I pulled it out and thought to myself, "well, I will get at least a little music out of this. If I'm lucky a song or two." By some miracle it hung onto 16% battery until the end of the race so I had music when I needed it!)

It was tough and I was slow but from miles 17.5 - 22 or 23 I pretty much ran and felt a new sense of purpose in the race. I listened to T-Swift's "Welcome to New York" a few times and "Raise You Up" from Kinky Boots which always puts me in a good mood. I was physically hurting and it was hard but I was determined. I repeated mantras, I told myself, "this might be hard but Autism is harder" I told myself that, "this is supposed to be hard - that's why you get a medal" and I thanked the universe and God for giving me the strength, the body, the legs and the courage to carry me to the finish line. Even though I struggled, I was proud of myself for moving forward.  I made a commitment to myself to get to that finish line even if it took me all night.

A big part of what really kept me going out there was all of you. I knew that so many of my friends and family not only supported me and autism to get there but I knew you guys were tracking me. From my parents, hubby and sister to my From Fat to Finish Line and Weight Watcher's families I knew I was supported. I thought of you guys looking at that app and seeing me cross miles and rooting me on from home.

There were some great spectators still on the course and hearing my name and encouragement also kept me going.

Finally, I was in the last mile and coming close to the finish line. I had done it. Once again, I became emotional as I approached the finish. It took 7 hours and 22 minutes. I arrived at the start line in the dark and I was finishing, once again, in the dark. I was so tired, so sore, but so proud.

You would think it would end there - huh? Well. After crossing the finish line - I still had to walk a good 3/4th of a mile to get my cape and get out of the park. It was then a journey across town by cab (got out when we weren't moving and I began cramping) subway and NJ train home. The NJ train home was a shit show of people! Gimme a break! lol - There was a lot of post-marathon walking. I really missed not wearing my fitbit that day! Ha.

Anyway so that was that. NYC Marathon 2016 in the books. While I swore in the weeks leading up to the race and during every minute of the race, that I would never do another full marathon again -- well. Let's just say never, say never. For now I'm sitting on my hands so I don't enter the 2017 lottery but that's all I can promise to for now.

Thank you for your love and support - without you, I would never get to the finish line.