2017 TCS New York Marathon – Race of a Lifetime!

NYC Marathon 200M Pic

This is where the happy tears started!

I have been waiting, praying, and dreaming about this race for a very long time. My mother ran the 1987 TCS New York Marathon as her first marathon on her 40th birthday so it has always been a bucket list race for me. I was registered to run it in 2016, but had to defer to 2017, therefore I had to wait another year.

It was worth the wait!

From the start, the race organization was amazing. The logistics for this race seem so daunting, but New York Road Runners handle everything like pros. From the expo, to the start line, to the finish line, to the after party at Marathon Monday in Central Park, everything goes off without a hitch.

I came into this race well trained. My summer my training went great, with the most miles I have ever ran going into a marathon, the fastest and most consistent speed work I have ever done, no niggling pain or injuries, and the most positive mindset. I was so ready.

Getting to the start line was actually fun. I think most people dread the subway ride to the ferry, the ferry ride to the shuttle, and the shuttle ride to the start line, but I really enjoyed it. It gave me a chance to calm down, get focused, and go over my race plan.

The start line was so well organized. The staff was friendly, helpful and energetic. If you are where you need to be, there should be no problems at all.

The start line is exciting, with plenty of room to move around and do your pre-race warm up stretching. The crowd is energetic and in 2017, the weather was absolutely perfect!

I was in the blue wave, so I started on the bottom of the Verranzo-Narrows bridge, which I was grateful for. We walked up to the starting line and I didn’t even notice the initial race elevation. When the gun went off, it already felt like we were on a relatively flat surface. Going up the bridge was easy and effortless, with plenty of room to spread your wings and not feel too crowded.

Going into miles 2-3 was like going to the start of a long party. The crowds did not disappoint and stayed steady the entire race. Miles 3-10 in Brooklyn were absolutely amazing. Block party after block party! It started to drizzle early on, but it never poured and the rain was actually a nice way to stay cool. The water/aid stations got a little hectic and slippery with all the cups littering the ground, but the volunteers handled it well and I never had any issues.

Miles 15-16 up that dreaded Queensboro bridge were tough. People around me were slowing down considerably, and many were stopping to walk, but I powered up that bridge without stopping. As long as you keep a positive attitude and don’t get too annoyed with dodging and weaving, you are fine.

There were some challenges for this Florida girl, with the 5 bridges looming ahead, but overall the elevation changes didn’t seem too bad. For me, the eventual pain came from the downhills. Coming into The Bronx “entertainment” party was a fun way to settle into that last grueling 10K as the crowds were dancing and screaming like banshees! But this is where my quads started to revolt. The downhills had taken their toll and my legs were screaming. I was able to power through the small hills on 5th Avenue and roll into Central Park. Quads on fire is an understatement though. I would definitely train better on hills if I get the chance to do this race again.

If I had to pinpoint one complaint about the race, it would be the trek through 5th Avenue, but it was not related to the race organization. At this point, it is easy for spectators to get around the barriers, and in some places there were no barriers, so spectators were crossing the road like the were on a Sunday stroll. The worst possible place to cross the course, since at this point we are all just trying to keep moving forward and stopping a runner in their tracks can throw them off rhythm and even cause injury. I had several people walking right in front of me and I could have screamed at them if I wasn’t so focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Miraculously, I made it through without any collisions.

Central Park is a blur, as my quads threatened to lock up but I kept going. The screams were deafening, so I channeled the energy and just kept moving forward. Mile 24 was my slowest mile at 10:10 but I pulled it together and brought it back down under 10 for the last couple miles.

I kept looking for the mile markers at this point because I wanted to stop and walk but I just kept telling myself to get to that next mile marker. Then when I got there, I told myself to get to the next one.

Seeing the 200M mile marker was like heaven and I knew I was almost home. That right about when the happy tears started. I crossed the finish line and the dam broke. I bawled like a baby who just wanted their momma.

My original goal for the New York Marathon when I signed up in 2016 was a 4:30 so I was placed in Wave 3, Green Coral C. My 2017 summer training was on point so I knew I could do better. My new goal was a 4:10. I smashed it crossing the finish line in 4:05:22, a HUGE 30 minute marathon PR! One week later, I am still in shock and awe of my accomplishment on this tough course.

The near zombie like walk through the next mile+ after the finish line was HARD. During this walk, I was cursing the race organizers for putting us through this misery, but afterwards I was thankful, as it game me a chance to keep moving and let my quads and hips settle down. They know what they are doing. 🙂

I chose the poncho option instead of checking a bag and although it took quite a while to get to the poncho area, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the poncho. It was fleece lined and very warm. The volunteers even put it on us, which was a nice touch.

I rode the subway, then stumbled/walked the short 2 blocks back to my hotel thinking I would be ready to crash, but instead I had SO MUCH ENERGY! It was hard to contain my excitement as I started to reach out to the many friends and family who tracked me. Everyone was so excited for me and I was over the moon!

This is a race of a lifetime. I said it would be a one and done because of the cost, but I think you will find me at the TCS New York Marathon again one day!


Race Recap: Disney Princess Half Marathon

I had the BEST TIME EVER pacing the Disney Princess Half Marathon last weekend! I’ve ran lots of races…but it’s an amazing feeling to help others reach their goals and I can’t wait to do it again.

A lot of the time, pacers will “bank time” meaning they will go out a little faster than race pace to ensure they cross the finish line at their appointed time. I think this is a BAD idea.

In fact, it’s a recipe for disaster for the runners who are trying to reach a new PR by staying with you.

Instead of making this mistake, me and my fellow pacer decided we were going to use the best race strategy, negative splits!

Our goal time was 2:15 and our average race pace was 10:18 per mile. For me (and most people) the first mile always sucks. Your body is not warmed up and your legs are like “what the heck are we doing?” and for a half marathon, most people do not do a warm up. They usually just jump in and start running. When I am racing (even a half marathon) I always do a warm up mile or so to get my legs feeling ready…but in this situation it’s not really possible. We are in corals forever and well a lot of people don’t want to run a mile BEFORE they run 13.1. So…we needed a warm up.

Karen and I started the race around a 10:50 mile. We eased into the race and had a HUGE crowd with us wanting to tackle that 2:15 PR goal. We steadily increased our pace and by the 5K mark we had gotten it down to an average of 10:25. Well on our way to that 10:18 goal.

We were warmed up and ready to push it! We meandered through the streets outside of Disney chatting away and talking…telling our names and where we were from. The group was still together and everyone was feeling good!

By the 10K mark, we were right on point with our average 10:18 showing brightly on my GPS. The negative split strategy for the first half of the race worked…and now all we had to do was run steady and have fun.

We continued through the Disney parks, smiling for pictures and just having a great time. About mile 7-8 we had other runners join us. They had fallen back from the pace group in front of us…and guess why…yep the pacers had started out TOO fast. 😦

They had tried to “bank time” and lost runners along the way. These runners were not happy. They were tired and had reached their “peak” WAY too early in the race. We told them to jump in and hold on till the end.

We crossed the finish line at 2:15:47! My GPS said 13.36 so we were over…which almost alway happens in crowded races as it is very hard to run the tangents. So next time, I will keep this in mind and remember that the pace needs to be a tad faster than goal race pace in order to run the overage miles and still come in right at goal time. I know we still came finished within the 2:15 time, but those who were using us to break 2:15 needed that extra minute to come in under their goal.

Overall this was one of my favorite races EVER! We had about 15 people cross the finish line with us taking home shiny new personal records and feeling good! Racing for me is not just about beating my own PRs, it’s about having fun and helping others reach their goals. And the many sweating hugs and high fives after this race make it one I will remember for a very long time.

*Final thought: I paced this race fo Galloway and we used the run/walk/run method with intervals of :90 run and :30 walk. If you have not used this strategy before, check it out. It is awesome! I know a lot of people think it’s cheating to walk at a race. But let me tell you…the Galloway method has helped me knock over 30 minutes off my half marathon PR and I will keep using it to train and race in the future. Don’t knock it till you try it! It is a great way to run strong and injury free! Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions on how to make this strategy work for you!

Click here to read a testimonial from Erin Schovanec who crossed the finish line with me at the Disney Princess Half Marathon on 2/26/17

Erin is running next to  me in the picture below and wearing bib#22196.

#StrongtotheCore #GallowayPacer #Chasing2017in2017 (330 YTD)