Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today
I want to be a part of it
New York, New York
And that is how the 2013 NYC Marathon started – Frank Sinatra belting it out as thousands of runners stood on the Verrazano Bridge waiting to cross the start.
At 9:45am, I crossed the starting line and began my journey from Staten Island to Central Park. I knew the start would be an emotional experience, and let me tell you – it was. I fought back the tears then switched my focus to the 26.2 miles ahead.
The first couple miles were so cool (and quite windy too!). We were on the Verrazano bridge with one of the most incredible views of the city. Hovering next to the bridge were NYPD helicopters keeping us safe and waving to us as we ran by. We could feel the love of the city, and we felt safe.
Everyone told me that this race would be crazy crowded at the start and to expect a very slow first mile. While it was crowded, I don’t think it slowed me down too much. I think the main thing to slow me down was the incline. I ended up running an 8:07 first mile, which made me pretty happy.
Around mile 3, we hit Brooklyn. I could hear the music and the fans as soon as we got off the bridge. They were ready to welcome us to their borough!
My tactic for this race was to run a consistent pace for as long as I could. I didn’t really know what that pace would be, but I hoped it would be something under 8 minutes a mile (I really wanted to break 3:30). I knew that pace so well from all my training runs, and was hoping I could get into the under 8min groove and hang onto it the whole race.
The first half was all in Brooklyn. We saw a number of different neighborhoods and many different people and cultures. I tried to soak it all in and enjoy every minute. I wore my Garmin that doesn’t show overall pace, but just my overall time and mileage (to avoid over thinking and obsessing on pace). When I knew I was reaching a mile marker I would try to check and see what pace I was hitting. Pretty much everything I saw the first half was around 7:35-7:45.
I will say I did have a few moments of worry the first half of the race. From the minute I crossed the starting line, I had this annoying pain in my butt. I had been experiencing this nagging pain for quite awhile during training, and hoped my taper would force it to go away. Well, it didn’t. I kept hoping it would either go numb or go away (umm yeah it never did).
Another issue the first half of my race was my asthma. This was another thing that had been bothering me over the past few weeks and I was pretty worried it would affect my race. At mile 9, I had to take my inhaler. I NEVER have to take my inhaler that early in a race, so this was a reason to be worried. I told myself over and over again not to panic. I also told my asthma that I wouldn’t let it ruin my race. I would conquer the marathon even though my breathing wasn’t the best. Letting the asthma win was not an option.
Hitting 13.1 miles in this race was huge for me. The first half was over, and I could evaluate my pace and body.
I crossed the half point in 1:41:52, which was right on target for a big PR. And most importantly, I felt positive and knew my body could make it another 13.1 at a good pace.
The race tactic for the second half was to ‘keep on keepin’ on’ and continue exactly what I was doing.
When we hit the Queensboro Bridge around mile 14 I was a little intimidated. I had read a lot about this race and knew this was a hard part. You are all alone on that bridge and you face an uphill. This was one of the first miles when I felt like I had already run an insane amount of miles. I got myself up the hill and then made my way down. I knew that my family was waiting at the end of the bridge, and I wanted to keep going hard for them!
Exiting the bridge was very exciting, but I will say not as exciting as I had expected. While there were a TON of people down there, for some reason they weren’t screaming as loud as I had expected. It even took a couple runners pumping their arms to really get them going. After that, they got loud for us and welcomed us into Manhattan (anyone else that ran notice this?).
Turning onto 1st Avenue was awesome. The crowds were loud and you could see a sea of runners in front of you. This was also the first time I got to see my family – Ramsey and my soon to be sister Sarah! I LOVED seeing them and gave them a huge smile and huge thumbs up so they would know I was having a good day and felt great.
Right after seeing my family, I had to do few more hits of my inhaler. Again, this did not make me happy but I refused to let it screw up my day. Thank God for my Lululemon Stuff your Bra tank. Because of that tank I could keep my inhaler right on my chest and not have to fish it out of my belt. While it certainly looked a little odd bulging out of my bra, it probably saved me a few seconds on the day.
My mile splits continued to be consistent and on track for my PR.
Mile 18.5ish was crazy exciting because I got to see some of my NYC blog friends!! They screamed so loud for me and it was awesome. It was so fun to be in a city away from home and have people supporting you. Seeing them gave me an extra boost and another reminder that I could do it – and I was going to do it!
Aside from the 13.1 mark of the race, mile 20 was another BIG milestone. I was actually excited for mile 20 of this race. I knew once 20 hit, I could start picking up my pace and hit it hard to the finish. And when I still felt good at 20, I knew I was going to have a great day. I actually said to myself multiple times – “F the wall!!”
The support in the Bronx was pretty great. Everyone was cheering and yelling and was there to get the runners to the finish line. There were also some pretty great spectator signs.
When we left the Bronx and hit 5th Avenue, I knew it was time to get serious and focus on the finish. Only 5 more miles and I was done.
Mile 23 is when shit got real. I was starting to really hurt. My ass was ON FIRE (remember the pain in my butt, yeah still there), I had to take my inhaler AGAIN and I just wanted to be done. This is when having my name on my tank was the best decision ever. Everyone in the crowds was yelling “Go Ali!” and supporting me.
When I turned into Central Park at mile 24, I knew the race was coming to an end. At this point I was thinking, “one foot in front of the other. keep on moving. you can do it”.
At mile 25, I saw Ramsey and Sarah again. I struggled to wave to them and couldn’t really say anything back. I was hurting so bad. But I knew I was still keeping a strong pace and on track for a huge PR.
“Keep on going, you are almost done”
Turning onto Central Park South was another huge moment. I knew I had one more turn and then the finish would be there. I saw my watch beep Mile 26 (my Garmin was off about .4 from the real mile markers due to all the weaving I had done) and couldn’t believe my split – 7:16. I was booking it, and even though I hurt I was still staying focused and very strong. It was great to see that I was going faster than I had thought.
As we turned back into the park, I started giving it everything I had. I pumped my arms like I never have before and had quite the
mean face determined face going on.
I saw that finish and had my eye on the prize. I ran harder than I could have imagined possible to get my body across the finish.
And then I was done, and promptly hit my watch.
Holy crap. 3:21.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I DID IT!!!!!!!
As soon as I could think straight, I got out my phone and texted Ramsey. This conversation makes giggle and also makes me emotional. I was so tired I couldn’t even text a sentence. But I wanted him to know I was happy, and I was alive. I think he figured it out. (and yes, he is the most supportive soon-to-be-husband ever).
Then I called my parents. As soon as my Mom picked up the phone, I started crying. I told her I did it and she said, “I know you did! We are so proud right now!!!” Then she told me that my Dad and her were shocked at how perfect and smart I ran the race. My Dad got on the phone and swooned over my negative splits. Negative splits are ALWAYS a reason to celebrate!
As I hobbled through the park to the family meet up (longest walk EVER!!!) I called Stacy and Nicole to tell them I was ok and that I was so happy.
Seeing Ramsey and Sarah at the family meet up was amazing. They hugged me and helped me put on my warm clothes. Then we posed for a few pics before
limping hopping onto the Subway.
As I reflect on this race I am still in total awe that it worked out so perfectly. I did not let my booty pain slow me down, and I didn’t let my asthma mess me up either. I knew I had a good training and was capable of running great on Sunday, but an 11 minute PR and a 3:21 were not expected. I really couldn’t be happier or more excited. This also means that I get to go back to Boston in 2015!!
The NYC marathon should be on everyone’s “bucket list” and I hope to go back and experience this race again. A huge thank you to all the supporters (near and far) for all the love. I felt it the whole time!
Official time: 3:21:19
Overall Pace: 7:40