New York City Marathon

Some things in life come easily, and some don’t. Filed under the “don’t” category, would be my ability to come out successful in the New York City Marathon lottery process. Fortunately for me, the process was set up such that if lottery hopefuls miss getting picked three years in a row, they’d get guaranteed entry the 4th year. Note, they have since done away with this 4th year guarantee, but I was fortunate enough to be a part of that program. Another note: I was actually fortunate to NOT to get picked in 2012, as that one was cancelled in the final hours due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. And so, 2013 was the magical year that I got to run in the NYC Marathon.
To say that I was excited about this event would be an understatement.  It was hard (and still is) not to get all choked up when reflecting on the journey that brought me to the NYCM starting line. Especially considering that this was me only one month prior to the race:
Rocky Terrain-1   Jenny-0
Somewhere in there is a patella.
Because sometimes **** happens, I was forced to completely re-define my goals for the marathon. I was also forced to execute a faster-than-doctor-recommended recovery plan. Originally, I had hoped to train hard and run the best race of my life thus far. Post-tumble and after a lot of mental wrestling with the idea, I decided that I was just going to get myself to the starting line, and enjoy as much about the experience as I could. “Just finish,” was my new goal. I mentally turned the race more into a victory lap than an A race. People would ask me what kind of time I predicted I’d run and I honestly had no idea. 4 hours? 5 hours? I was just as curious to find out.
Starting with the flight out there, I was already getting giddy with excitement. I even stopped to take pictures with celebrities in the airport (It was Halloween).

How often does this happen? I got to put my feet up for the entire flight! Things were certainly off to a good start!

Once in Philly, I was picked up by my good friend Deeds, and he was kind enough to indulge me in my request to check out one of my favorite cities!
Aw man. I was totally looking forward to swimming in a fountain.
After not enough time of catching up with dear friends in Reading, PA, it was off to New York!
This dork rock star was headed to NEW YORK, BABY!
As usual, I completely geeked out at the expo. It was like Disneyland for runners! Although, I was a tad disappointed that they ran out of my size for my event shirt. I always thought that signing up seven months in advance and declaring your desired size at that time would guarantee you a shirt? Not always, apparently. That’s ok, if this was going to be the worst thing to happen, I can’t really complain!
I don’t understand why this photo didn’t win the Timex photo contest?
I was so excited to find that Vega had a booth at the expo! I love their products! I scored some good swag here.
After the expo, I was off to find a suitable place for my Final Real Meal. Not that it was all that difficult to do in the culinary capitol of the nation. My handy app Urban Spoon lead me to Blossom, all plant-based restaurant a short walk from the expo. I must admit, I was looking forward to this meal for a long time. Really, any chance I get to eat in New York I take full advantage of. What can I say, I like my food. Blossom definitely did NOT disappoint. I had purple yams and the Raw Zucchini Rolatini. You know how sometimes food is just so good you fear you’re going to wake up and find it was all a dream? This was definitely one of those times.
I’m not sure if the flower was edible or not, but I ate it anyways.
Things were looking up. Everything was falling into place. My marathon morning was focused on lining up the pre-race nutrition, and making sure I didn’t forget the 3 layers of throw-away clothing that would keep me warm while waiting in the starting corral for about two and a half hours. The plan to avoid the large crowds by driving to the start from the south of Staten Island worked pretty well. By now, I’d only paid about $60 in bridge and tunnel tolls, but I didn’t care!

What do you mean this isn’t how normal people drink smoothies?

Hurry up and WAIT! At least I was warm! Thanks Dunkin Donuts for the free beanie. I didn’t eat any donuts or drink your coffee, but sure I’ll advertise for you in exchange for keeping my noggin warm.
Since the NYM starts a lot later than most, I had a lot of time to kill before the start and I essentially filled said time with nutrition intake. I would not normally eat this much before a marathon, so this was kind of a first for me. I had my morning fruit/veggie smoothie, two gluten-free waffles, a Vega Endurance bar and then finally a Picky Bar (seen below). All of these things I have consumed prior to runs in the past, but not en masse.
Farewell, Picky Bar. You’ve been so good to me.

I don’t normally like to stand around waiting in the staring line corral, but with having to manage 50,000 other runners, I had no choice but to go where the loudspeaker voices told me to. In six different languages, I might add. Sometimes I find that striking up conversation with strangers around me can help calm the nerves, and that certainly helped at this event. But the thing is, at such a large international event like this one, It’s kind of hard to tell who speaks english or not! After we moved to the starting line, I had a guy from London to my left, and an Australian lady to my right. All of us were English speakers, though they were chattin’ about kilometers. Both had flown to the city for the 2012 marathon only to be met with dissappointment, so both were also feeling the excitement of finally getting to accomplish a goal. Ironically, the guy from London has been having similar luck (none!) with the London Marathon Lottery. He advised me that sometimes it’s easier to get in to international marathons. Noted.

Finally, with a rather large bang, we were off. I got to start at the same time as all the elites, so that was cool! The very first mile of the race was over the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge. Except, my wave got to run on the lower level, which was essentially a wind tunnel. It would ultimately take me about 4 miles to fully warm up. The vistas from the bridge were beautiful, though. Somehuman hurdles people felt inclined to stop in their tracks and take pictures! From the bridge, all 5 Burroughs were visible and the fire boats put on a magnificent water display down below. The crowd of runners was thick. I wondered how long it would be like that, as it was difficult to maneuver around people. So I just didn’t. My goal wasn’t to win, it was to finish and enjoy it. In retrospect, being slowed down in the beginning where I’m normally riding an adrenaline high and running too fast, paid dividends later on.

As the miles clicked by, the spectator crowd only grew. I am always entertained by reading signs, even if they’re for other people. Anytime I see a sign of encouragement for some other Jenny, I act like it’s for me and I get all excited. I’m such a dork.

I knew the security was going to be tight in the wake of what happened in Boston, but I still found myself amazed at how many police officers there really were. Normally I like to thank police officers for being there and for blocking the intersection or directing traffic, or whatever they’re doing to make the course safer for us, but with at least six per small city block, I needed to save my breath!

The plan was, I was going to meet Deeds at mile 16 just as we came off the Queensboro bridge onto Manhattan Island. And he was going to give me my final two gels so I wouldn’t have to carry them. YEAH. RIGHT. So much for that idea. I think there were about 15 million people there in that one spot, and despite him (and a few other people he recruited) screaming my name, I still didn’t hear them. I felt so bad about this! Logistically, it had to be so difficult for him to get to this one spot, and I blew it! Fortunately, I knew that there’d be Powergels at a water station ahead, so at least I didn’t worry about my nutrition. We texted, and he was going to meet me 6 miles ahead. Yay for subways.

As the miles clicked on, I was kind of surprised to find I was still clipping along at a decent pace. My knee wasn’t hurting, my stomach wasn’t revolting, and the fatigue that was setting in was expected and mentally manageable. The thought crept in that I should fight on, and give the race all I had. So much for my amended plan and for victory laps!

It was then that the beautiful scenery and beautiful day, and all things beautiful and wonderful that I was so grateful for faded away and the the suffering set in. But that’s ok, because now it was time to buckle down and do work. Except for one moment when running through central park in the final stretch, where there was this surreal small chunk of time where orange and yellow leaves were floating down over the course like slow-motion confetti. For a brief moment I pulled my head up and remembered where I was. It was so beautiful. Here I was, about to finishthe New York City Marathon. A dream come true. I was so grateful, so happy, even with the deep fatigue and two miles to go. But then the moment passed and I pushed on. This is what I looked like in those final miles:

Now the world knows how I deal with a runny nose.

And finally, the long awaited moment:

Wow, way to color coordinate, chic behind me!

I did it. While it was not my first marathon, it was definitely one of my most memorable. Given everything that happened leading up to it, it felt amazing to cross that finish line. It was also my 2nd fastest marathon! Go figure!

After breaking free of the massive crowd,
March of the Orange Penguins
Deeds and I met up and hopped on a subway to take us a few miles away from the chaos. For whatever reason, Mexican food sounded amazing. Once again, Urban Spoon didn’t disappoint. I was still looking like an orange penguin, and stuck out like – an orange penguin – when we walked in the restaurant. Guess what? Some random stranger saw me and sent me a drink! That was a first for me! How cool! Maybe I should wear my orange cape more often.
Deeds after an exhausting day of marathon runner tracking!

All said and done, I want to thank my parents for their support and and sponsorship and helping me accomplish this dream. They saw the disappointment in my face every year when I applied for the lottery, and didn’t get in. The city has a special place in my heart as it’s where my Dad took me for my 9th birthday. Fond memories of taking trains, walking tons of miles, getting a sore neck from looking up at the tall buildings, standing on top of the World Trade Center and eating food on the frozen sidewalk came rushing back as I was running the five Burroughs on November 3rd. I vividly remember we had talked then about someday coming back after I became an adult, and doing the father-daughter trip again. Now, that’s probably not going to be possible. But just know Dad, those 26.2 miles were for you.


Race Website:

Finish Time:  3:39

Overall Place:  7,612 / 50,134

Gender Place:  1,230 / 19,545

Age Group Place:  216 / 3,713

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