Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Marathon Man

It's been a couple of days since the marathon, and I am recovering nicely.  I am still sore, and my feet hurt, but otherwise I am in much better shape that I expected.  In fact, the entire weekend was just so amazing, I couldn't have imagined it better than what occurred.

The morning of the marathon started early for me, as I slept fitfully the night before.  I had my alarm set for 3:45, but was awake a little before it went off.  After getting ready and stretching, my sister and I left for Manhattan.  We dropped one car off near the finish line and used hers to get me to the buses at the midtown library.  I boarded one of the many buses around 7:15 and was off to Staten Island.  I sat with a group who were all doing their first marathon.  One of the group was from NY, the others from Montreal and Los Angeles.  A couple of others near us included a pair of brothers from NY who were doing their 9th NYC Marathon together.  They gave us some pointers as we approached the start village.

I met up with several from Team World Vision and we sat and chatted, waiting for our turn to load into the corrals to start.  After watching the first couple of waves start, we took a picture of the group with the Verrazano Bridge behind us, prayed, and did the Team World Vision rally clap.  We then split up to go to our start locations.  I was in the way back, loading in the last corral.

We walked toward the bridge and finally on to the bridge.  The cannon fired for our wave to start and after a few minutes of walking, I crossed the start line and started my GPS tracker.  The race clock was already an hour and a half in, as I started at just about 11:00AM.

We jogged slowly up the bridge and I looked to my left and enjoyed the unbelievable view of lower Manhattan.  It looked so far away and I was awed by the fact that I would be running 26 miles and through all of the boroughs.  The downhill of the bridge was awesome and we entered into the crowds of Brooklyn.  Miles 2 through 14 are now a hazy memory.  The crowds were awesome cheering for us and waving at us, but they weren't who I was waiting to see - I knew my family would be waiting for me a little after the halfway point when we entered Queens.

After crossing the Pulaski Bridge into Queens, I started to look for them.  As I approached mile 14, I saw a group with orange shirts on the left side of the course.  First I saw my sister Michele, then Angie, Cassie, my cousin Joe, and my Aunt Carole Anne.  The instant I saw them I started bawling.  I was so overcome with emotion that all I could do when I got to them was hug them while I cried. I hugged each and thanked them for coming, but I knew my break was over and it was time to get going again.  I challenged my aunt to run with me, and I think she tried to get her walker moving, but I ran off while they were still whooping it up for me.  When I thought they couldn't see me anymore, I stopped running, cleared my eyes and thought of them some more.  It was time to get a move on.  We ran through Long Island City and up onto the Queensborough Bridge.  It seemed to last forever, and even when we passed mile marker 15, I didn't get the pick me up that most mile markers have on me.  The down slope of the bridge was a nice respite, as was the large crowd of people that were at the end of the bridge's hard left turn.  With another left turn we were on the long 1st Ave run north towards the Bronx.

I don't know if the "wall" is physical or mental, and if it is physical, I don't know if it is muscular or cardio related, but I do know that I hit them all on the 1st Ave run, somewhere between mile 18 and 19.  I started to labor and began walking more than running.  It's here where I first started thinking about quitting.  I prayed for strength.  I prayed for the will to continue.  I prayed for the children that we were helping and I prayed for everyone who supported me this year.  I also thought about my running buddies, Robert and Kristin.  I thought about them telling me to "suck it up, princess".  I also thought about Team World Vision and how it's all about the kids...I continued to put one foot in front of the other.

As I came of the bridge, I noticed the police cars with their lights on were pretty close to me.  I thought, at the time, that this was the time cutoff and that the sag wagon would be with them.  I didn't want my race ended, so I worked hard to stay in front of them.  I was angered by them being so close to me, as I knew I was still on my pace target of about 9 minutes per kilometer.  This anger fueled my a little.  As I entered the Bronx, they got closer and closer...when I was crossing the bridge back into Manhattan, they passed me.  There were a lot of people behind me still running, so I realized that this wasn't the sag wagon, just several emergency vehicles, so I was relieved.  Unfortunately, I also lost my motivation to keep going as quick as I could.  As we came down 5th Avenue, we crossed the 35K marker and then the 22 mile marker.  By then, I started to think I might finish.  I still wanted to quit, but I figured I was so close by this point, that I would just keep going.  Then, my phone died and with it the GPS tracking, stats and my music.  I took my headphones off and just started to watch the remaining spectators.  There weren't too many left by this point, but they were all saying the same thing..."You are almost there!  Keep going!"  So I did.

Eventually, I entered Central Park.  Just a couple of more miles to go.  There were some hills which really hurt, but I could still jog the down slopes.  My feet hurt as I was starting to blister on my toes on my left foot.  My left knee hurt, too.  But, my calves were fine (they usually cramp when I race).  Unfortunately, my back was starting to really hurt.  I ultimately passed 40K and 25 miles.  You think it would be in the bag by then, but you'd be wrong...I wanted to quit more than at any point in the race.  I hit Central Park South and then Central Park West and the 26 mile marker.  I then saw my family for the second time.  I had the same emotional reaction, but didn't stop to hug...I knew if I stopped I wouldn't start moving again.  They "ran" with me.  I then left them and entered the park for the last 800 meters or so.  800 meters is far longer than I ever expected.  Finally, I hit the 400 meter sign.  I screamed, "DOES THIS COURSE EVER END?"  200 meters.  I'm dying here!  100 meters.  The finish line was in sight.  Although the stands were all lit up, there was no one in them.  I passed a line of photographers.  I heard the announcer say something, I think he might have even said my name or something about World Vision, I don't remember. I raised my hands above my head and crossed the finish line.  Surprisingly, I did not get emotional at the finish.  I might have been too tired.  I received my medal and my foil blanket.  I sat on a bench for about a minute.  I didn't want to stiffen up, but I had to give my legs a short break.  I got up, had my finisher picture taken and headed for the exit.

The race was done, and so was I.  But the fundraising continues.  My page will be up for the rest of the year.  I'd be grateful for any last donations...I'm still $300 short of my revised goal of $7,500 and our team is a little short of an amazing $210,000 for child protection.  Make a difference by making a donation.  Click here to go to my fundraising page.

1 comment:

Tracy Murphree said...

You are awesome. What an amazing story you have to tell. World Vision has a STAR!