I am in love with marathon running all over again. Thank you 2014 TCS NYC Marathon, NYRR, all the fans, and especially my family, friends, and Alzheimer’s Association teammates.
When the weather forecast came out for this weekend, there was only one positive for race day… the cold. It was rainy, windy, and cold on Saturday and windy and cold on Sunday. Temperatures were in the mid-40s with winds about 31 mph and gusts up to nearly 50 mph. It was among the coldest marathons since 1995 and wind chill probably made it worse. It was also reportedly one of the slowest marathons since 1995.
I had no real expectations for this race except to finish feeling strong and good. Having come off Chicago just three weeks before, it was hard to predict how my legs would feel and given the wind, it hard to have a definitive time goal. Originally, I thought with the lackluster PR in Chicago that perhaps I may have been recovered enough to PR again but the wind held my optimism at bay. Days leading up to the race with all the skepticism and predictions about the weather, I too adjusted my goals. I knew to run a successful race, I would need to be conservative in the first half and push harder after mile 16 and the Queensboro Bridge since the second half is hillier.
I didn’t negative split the race and I didn’t break my Chicago time but I did set a new course PR by over 15 minutes and I ran a race that I was proud of. I ran a very consistent first half of the race averaging around 9:30 miles, and then a slower ascend on the Queensboro Bridge, followed by a strong three miles on 1st Avenue of around 9:30 miles (thanks to all the fans), then a slower next six miles and a final push for the remaining mile. The winds were blowing every which way possible. Even though I was excited to be in the blue wave on the top of the Verrazano Bridge for the start, I felt like I was getting blown into the river. There was no stopping the wind. It helped push me for a few spots but for the most part, it was blowing me sideways or backwards. Even running behind taller people (which is usually everyone for me) didn’t help. Instead of mentally breaking down in these conditions, which I have a tendency of doing in every single marathon, I pushed through. I never really hit a wall and in the parts that I did walk, I made sure it was only for seconds. I knew that I was stronger than this weather and strong enough to finish with my head held up high. Every time I hit a tough part, I looked up and thought of why I was running and knew my grandma was guiding me to the finish. I wanted to cry but knew that I would lead to more dehydration. I wanted to be excited at every cheering section that my family and friends were at. They deserved to see me happy, not suffering especially since they had been out in the cold and walking around all day for me.
In the end, I finished the race strong and happy. I was not in pain, and for the first time in any of my six marathons, I didn’t curse myself in the middle of the race, question why I was doing this, and vow never to run a marathon again. I finished with the runner’s high and excitement that I really wanted. My time was a 4:19:04, which is about 2 minutes off my Chicago time, and a 15 minute course PR from last year. I don’t know how much of my time was affected by the wind but easily 5-10 minutes. Even though yesterday wasn’t officially a PR, I knew in my heart that I ran the best I could and that I was strong enough to do even better under different conditions.
I am so humbled by this race and experience. The crowd support was incredible and I love the course even more the second time around. I have the best teammates and coaches in the whole wide world. Together, we raised over $522,000 so far for the NYC Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association this year! I have the best friends and family support one can ask for — all the texts, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram messages, everyone tracking me, and everyone in person. Despite some soreness in my quads, I feel like a million dollars (even more than Wilson Kipsang) and I have all of you to thank for this! Despite all my talk about pulling an Andy Pettitte for a temporary retirement, I am excited for my next marathon (still to be determined).
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