2015 New York City Marathon, Part 1: The lead up

Well, I did it. I finished. I am a marathoner. I finished in… wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. We should probably start at the beginning. Actually, it would probably be helpful to know what happened in the last weeks of training. Set time machine to Friday, October 2nd, 2015.

Hitting the wayback button

It’s my last month of training and I am about to do my longest run to date the next morning: 17 miles. That day also happens to be my birthday. And I have a baby shower the following day. It’s going to be a busy weekend. The weather decides that I need an added challenge that day so it’s raining with blustery wind and mid-50s. The wind at times is strong enough that it is pushing us around. I planned a challenging course with 3 bridges and a finish that traces the last two miles of the course through Central Park. One of the women I am running with tells me the route is tougher than her longer runs. The run ends up being slower than I had hoped, but I feel great at the end and the last two miles are my fastest. I’m tired for the rest of the weekend as I celebrate my birthday that evening with friends and my friend’s new addition to the family the next day.

Longest long run
17-ish miles in the books! That’s the longest one!

The next weekend I took on the Rock n Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon as a training run and nabbed a PR running easy for the first 30 minutes then running the rest at marathon pace. I decide my marathon outfit which worked okay for the previous week’s long run is not going to be okay for the marathon. Only a few runs left to get that figured out.

RnR BK
Rock and Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon start. Ready to get moving!

The following weekend (10/16-10/18) I head to Runner’s World Festival in Bethlehem, PA. I shared my experience there in a couple of blog posts, but to recap I raced the trail race on Friday and had a great time. Was bummed the shorts I was testing out for the marathon weren’t successful. The next morning I woke up feeling a little sick and raced the 5K and 10K. The 10K was absolutely miserable. I spent the rest of the day in my hotel room sick as a dog. That night I got food poisoning and was sick all that night and next morning. The drive back to NYC was a bit of a challenge.

RWF 10K
Runner’s World Festival 10K. Struggling to the finish.

The weekend before the marathon, it was more travel. I headed to Baltimore on Thursday afternoon and had dinner with good friends. The next day I attended a wedding of one of my oldest friends. On Saturday morning, it was back to NYC. I got in 7 miles that evening and then ran the last 10 miles of the course the next morning. The weather once again decided that I needed an added challenge so it rained on us. I also almost got hit by car–full screeching tires and all. Yikes. I was super happy that I had finally settled on a race day outfit, though. That afternoon I got a 90 minute sports massage and felt great.

Wedding
A rare opportunity to dress up and witness one of my oldest friend’s embark on a new journey.
Last 10 miles run
A stop on the Madison Avenue Bridge for a quick shot of the crew during our last long run which followed the last 10 miles of the marathon course.

The last week

The massage left me more sore than expected on Monday and Tuesday.  And in the following days leading up to the marathon I had little nags here and there. Most concerning was that my right piriformis started acting again and I had thought it was okay. I had some pretty severe race anxiety on Sunday and Monday after using the NYRR race predictor in their NYCM app. I got in my last threshold workout on Tuesday and that workout felt good and was a confidence builder. That evening, a friend and I went to the New York City Marathon: The Great Race exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. It was a wonderful exhibit and great to spend time with my friend, Heather, who I planned to run the race with. After the exhibit we grabbed some Mexican food and I broke my stay dry for the week rule with a margarita. My other rule “Margs always win” won.

Race prediction
NYRR New York City Marathon app race predictor.
Museum of the City of New York
The exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York was a great tribute to the New York City Marathon.

On Thursday, I went for an easy 3 miler and felt a little tired. I think the cleaning the day before and wandering around the exhibit didn’t give my legs enough rest. Later that afternoon, I had lunch and a cocktail with my parents and then they joined me at the expo where I picked up my bib, shirt, a few NYCM souvenirs, and a sheddable shell since the forecast was now predicting a chance of rain. The expo seemed a little anti-climatic for some reason, but I was happy to pick up some cute stuff and be with my family. We had dinner at a cute Italian restaurant that night where I had chicken and a glass of wine then I got a good night’s rest.

At the marathon expo
At the marathon expo

On Friday, I woke up with some calf pain that had me worried so I opted out of fun in the city. I spent the day watching running movies, stretching and rolling my calf, and got my race day stuff together. I got a good night’s rest and felt ready for a relaxing Saturday to rest before the race. Saturday morning I got in 20 minutes of easy running, big GF pancake breakfast, and took some time to record my pre-race thoughts. My sister flew on Saturday afternoon and we got brunch then hung out at the apartment. My parents drove over from Jersey and we were going to go dinner, but I had crammed so much food in me earlier that day, I wasn’t hungry. They left around 6pm and I was left by myself. I tried not to be anxious, but there were was little else to focus on. I finally got in my GF pasta dinner around 7pm then some light stretching and Sienfeld before hitting the hay around 10pm. I needed to be up at 6am the next morning to get ready for the race.

Last run before the marathon
Last run before the marathon. 20 minutes easy. Feeling ready.

Follow my adventure on race morning in Part 2, Race Morning or read the race report in Part 3, The Race Report.

Runner’s World Festival Continued

Saturday evening after my race report I headed to bed ready to rest and optimistic that I would wake up on Sunday morning refreshed and ready to cheer my friends during the half marathon. I fell asleep for a couple of hours and then around midnight I woke up. I was sick. Food poisoning. It was horrible and it lasted all night. For the first few hours I was out of bed every 10-15 minutes. By 5am, I was able to sleep for 30-45 minutes at a time. At 9am, I walked to the lobby and asked if I could extend my reservation. I spent the next few hours until checking out at 1pm, sick, exhausted, sore, and very nervous about the drive back to NYC. My friend came to get me a little after 1 and I felt queasy the entire way back home. I was so happy to get home. I hadn’t eaten a meal since Saturday and it was after 5 when I got home. I was so happy to eat something and have it feel satisfying and not make me more sick. I was able to eat quite a bit and got 10+ hours of sleep last night. I’m still a little sore today, but I feel millions of times better!

Last night I was reflecting on the weekend. I didn’t get to do hardly anything that I wanted to do and the 10K was so traumatic that if you had asked me yesterday, I would tell you that I didn’t want to run the marathon. But there was light and success during the weekend. During the trail race, I started towards the front and held my position well until halfway through when I decided to back off out of fear of injury. I managed to finish 8th in my division, but still wondering how deep the field was there. The next morning for the 5K, I impressed myself with how easy the paces came. I was tired, felt sick, had run the day before on a challenging course plus some added mileage, I was on my 4th week of high mileage, 3rd weekend of tough runs (18 miler then the half marathon PR before this weekend), and somehow I managed to run that 5K easy at paces that I am not even sure I could run 4 months ago. The 10K was horrible and probably dumb, but I did finish and my pace without the bathroom break and pause before the finish (10:31 pace without breaks) was respectable given the circumstances. And even though I was sick for the next 36ish hours, I still managed to smile and joke with my friends on the way home which makes me proud that I didn’t let it get the best of me.

RWF 5K results
Proud of my easy paces during the 5K
Post Five and Dime
After the Five and Dime on Saturday morning. Forced smile, freezing, and sick.

I also got to meet or see again several of people from one of my online running clubs, The Sub 30 Club. I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time with them as I had hoped, but it was so wonderful to finally get to hug a few people that have gone from people that I look forward to posting in the club, to Facebook friends that we share glimpses of our lives. I never used to be someone who would “friend” someone without meeting them in person, but think I made the proper exceptions in these cases. 😉 And as I said, it was great even to just get to hug them and hear their voice.

The Sub 30 Club
The Sub 30 Club before the trail race. Was great to meet some of the “friends in my phone.”

I also got to meet Deena Kastor! Saturday morning before heading to the start, she was hanging out on the stage with Bart. I just couldn’t let the opportunity pass to say hello to her and congratulate her on her U.S. Masters Record that she just set last weekend at the Chicago Marathon. She was so nice and Bart was nice enough to take a photo of us together. Maybe some of her speed and strength rubbed off on me for that 5K!

Deena Kastor
Deena Kastor!

I skipped my run yesterday for obvious reasons and may take my run tomorrow easy instead of doing the planned threshold workout. My body is definitely healing and I feel so much better this morning than I did yesterday in regards to soreness. I’m really looking forward to these two weeks of taper. I can’t wait to see how I feel with a well rested body!

Race report: Runner’s World Festival

Figured I could at least get a blog post written while I’m laid up in bed. It’s been a crazy 24 hours. 3 races and a total of over 17 miles including non-race mileage.

Friday was the 3.8 mile trail race in South Mountain Park. We decided to run to the start which we didn’t realize would be uphill the entire way. My watch clocked 525 gain over the 1.75 miles. PA is known for being hilly and rocky and this course was exactly that. I haven’t been on trail in about 4 months so it was both a ton of fun and tough. I started towards the front and held my position pretty well for the first half. The loose rocks posed a bit of a challenge and by half way I had tweaked my ankle a few times. Nothing serious, but enough to make me concerned about really rolling it. So I decided to back off and not risk and injury before the marathon. The finish was great, all downhill to a nice grassy shoot where there were some awesome cheerers. Started passing a girl in the chute during my kick so she fired up and we had a little race to the finish. People screamed and the announcer was all “WHOA!!!” as we ripped around the corner to the finish. I was 8th in my division, but still not sure how deep the field was there. After the race, we waited around to get our backpack with our jackets back from someone who locked it in their car. We were freezing for like an hour. They took so long to come back that we missed all our opportunities for rides down the hill and ended up having to run back to the room. It was getting dark and part of the way back didn’t have sidewalks or walkable shoulder and it was a busy road. That was pretty scary. But we made it and when we finally made it back we enjoyed some bourbon and showers before heading out for and awesome dinner and drinks. I hadn’t eaten a meal since 10am that morning (there was pizza at the trail race, but I can’t eat it) so food was definitely appreciated. After dinner, we were pooped and I had two races the next morning so we decided to skip the club happy hour. I got to bed at a reasonable time, but tossed and turned all night.

Saturday morning I got up and knew it was going to be a tough day. I was exhausted and felt sick. I jogged a mile down to the race start and picked up my race packet, got a photo with Deena Kastor (EEEEEE!!!), dropped my bag, then lined up. It was pretty cold and I wasn’t sure how I would get both races done. I decided to just take it one race at a time. I could always decide to not do the second. Once I got going, I felt pretty okay. Definitely wasn’t racing, but was running at a nice pace. I was happy with the run and felt pretty okay directly after, though a little hungry.

After the 5k, I cheered finishers and ran a club member in to the finish. One of the club members forced me to borrow a hoodie for my own good which was much appreciated. Cheered some more then started feeling really sick. Went to the bathroom then hung out in the expo center for a few minutes. I was feeling really horrible and I guess it was apparent because an expo worker asked me if I was okay and if I needed to sit down. I assured her that I would be fine and headed out to start the 10k. I was freezing, felt sick and dizzy, and had no idea how I was going to get this 6.2 miles done. I wondered if maybe I should just call it, but I am too stubborn. (And probably a little dumb.)

The 10k started and as soon as I started running, I started feeling a little better. I was still out of it a bit, but I felt like if I went slow enough I could get it done. This course was hillier than the 5k which added significantly to the challenge. I ended up having to stop to use the bathroom at some point and wondered if I should quit. I just kept telling myself that if I can get through this 6.2, I’ll be good for the end of the marathon. So I pushed on and by mile 5 I was chanting to myself under my breath. “You are okay.” “You CAN do this.” “One more mile.” There is a hill at mile 5.5 which was also at the end of the 5k so I knew it was there. I just kept pushing. One foot in front of the other. Constant forward motion.

Coming down the other side, I was feeling dizzy and like when I stopped I may fall over. I just kept telling myself to get to the finish. There are friends there and medical. Just keep going. Just before the mile 6 marker I drifted and grabbed onto a fence. I squatted down and put my head down. I was there for about a minute. Runners going by kept saying “you got this!” and “almost there!” and I so badly wanted someone to just ask if I was okay. (I would have told them yes, but the ask would have been comforting.) I snapped out of it and got to my feet. There was about .3 miles to go. Once the finish was in site, I wanted to push but I was scared I literally might fall over. I did manage a tiny kick just before the finish when I heard some yell my name then got across the finish and immediately pulled over to the side and squatted. Took a minute to collect myself then headed to get my medal. Then to get my bag. I sat down in the middle of the parking lot and layered on everything in my bag. I was so cold and tired and sick and dizzy and I wasn’t sure I could walk. I wanted someone that I knew to walk by, but no one did. I stayed there for a bit, but I was cold. I decided to skip picking up my race shirt, used the bathroom, and headed straight back to the room. That mile long walk uphill seemed to take longer than race.

I’ve spent the entire day in bed, resting and eating. My head feels better, but my body is pretty banged up. I don’t think I will be getting in my 4 miles tomorrow. I did get in some gentle yoga which seemed to help a bit. I missed all my afternoon events though and will miss dinner with my club.

I feel like a big dummy for not fueling better yesterday and drinking a few drinks last night. (I never drink before races or long runs!) That combined with a sleepless night set me up for a challenging morning. I also should have probably forced myself to eat more this morning (I had a banana and Justin’s nutella packet) and should have grabbed my bag with snacks between races. I probably should have slowed the pace in the 5k given I wasn’t feeling great. And of course, running the 10k was probably a really, really, horribly dumb idea. But what’s done is done and my body should recover in time for the marathon. I’m hoping I can get good sleep tonight, but I typically have a hard time sleeping after races and when I am traveling. My body needs good rest, though. It needs to heal.

Read about what happened after this post in my Monday morning follow-up.