Tuesday, November 5, 2013

MeriG #Actually Runs the NYC Marathon: Part 1

So much to say. So, so, so much to say. 

The past few days have been full of so much pure, raw emotion that writing can't really do it justice. Pictures do a bit better, so I'll tell as much of my story as I can with photos. 

Let's start with the main thesis of the tale: MeriG #Actually Ran the NYC Marathon. 4:24:45. It happened. My story began in May 2011 and culminated on one unbelievable experience on a crisp, windy, (but relatively running perfect!) in November 2013.

And I really wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

I had wisely taken the day off, and arrive at the expo (#again) with Roomie Jen and TFK Running Buddy Fo' Life Erica.

Walking in, I had crazy deja vu. I had done this exactly a year ago. We had been here before. That feeling was making my nerves act like crazy, and my anxiety level was pretty high.

But then, I got my bib.

And all the stress, all the angst, all the negative emotion...started to fade away.

They had this letter on the bib pick-up table.

I proceeded to said orange counter and was presented with this:

Wow. Just wow. Erica and I were tearing up and so excited. Of course we had to pose with our 2013 Bibs and our 2012 -- well-deserved -- medals. I'm keeping them somewhere safe to remind myself of my own strength to overcome adversity. And to remind me that, like the old adage says, somehow everything does happen for a reason.

We've been in it together since May 2012! And even though she lives far away, I know this isn't the end of running together for us :)

Roomie Jen and I posed as well. She has been such an amazing training partner this year. We went on so many wonderful runs, and I couldn't have asked for a more supportive running buddy (just as I couldn't ask for a more supportive friend from her for the other aspects of my life!) It's been fun connecting over this mutual hobby.

My running friends like Erica, Jen and so many others are the heart and soul of this experience for me. We help each other. We give advice and catch up on life. We laugh together. We cry together. And we inspire each other. 

They don't tell you about that when you sign up for a training program. But be it a 5K, a 10K, a Half or Full marathon...it's true. My advice to anyone considering running NY or another marathon? Find a group. Pay or raise the money. It's worth every penny.

You want me to run...where?

I woke up and my legs were itching to run. The taper had me at my breaking point and I literally couldn't sit still. I ran a very easy 2 miler just to not actually jump out of a window. This was followed by devouring a lovely brunch my friend Kelly so wonderfully treated me to at my favorite local diner. Hashtag #AllTheFood.

On the way home, we passed the port-o-potties on 1st Ave, all locked up and pristine and ready to go. As you know, the bathroom "situation" is always my main concern leading up to a race. However, there are other concerns I should have potentially had rather than this one....

That's called foreshadowing. FYI.

My parents arrived in the late afternoon and promptly ignored me in favor of spending time with Archie.

Um...spoiled much?

 We went to dinner with my wonderful Aunt, my sister, and her fiance at a lovely Italian restaurant in my neighborhood.

ALL THE SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS!!!!!!!!!!!! Hold the cheese.

I was asleep by 9:30pm (which promptly turned into 8:30pm for Daylight Savings). And I actually slept almost straight through until 3:30. 7 hours of sleep before a Marathon? Unprecedented!


The alarm rang. Luckily I had set it with a message to myself because I am clever.

A message from my past self to my future self

 My clothes -- in typical Marathoner fashion and as everyone recommends -- were all laid out and ready to go. There was nothing to do except get dressed, try to use the bathroom (#ugh), grab my bag and go.

My mom walked me out into the dark morning and helped me hail a cab. Adorbs.

Erica and I rendezvoused at the Team For Kids buses which left at 6:30

Quick plug: I HIGHLY recommend Team For Kids for a first marathon experience! The entire morning was so completely turn key. Amazing for first-time marathoners or first-time New York marathoners. You've trained to run 26.2 miles, so it can be a bit overwhelming to also have to deal with logistics at the start and finish. They were amazing making things as easy as humanly possible for all of us to just focus on our run and not have to worry about the rest of it. Plug over. Happy to answer any questions any of you inspired may have.

On the bus
While driving I took this photo as we were going over the Verranzano Bridge...which we would have to run back over just a couple of hours later. It dawned on me as I looked back at the buildings of Manhattan that I was going to run there shortly. Whaaaaaat?

We arrived at the starting village at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island. After a bit of a lengthy security process, we were ushered to our heated tent by about 8:15am. Yep. Team for Kids. Consider it.

Not cold! And food!

Think the heated tent was awesome? How about our own dedicated port-o-potties?! It was like all of life's kittens and unicorns and happiness when I saw this. I even got to use an unadulterated pristine potty before I started the race. Simply delightful.

I was starting in Wave 2 (10:05) and Erica was Wave 3 (10:30) so at about 9:00 I checked my bag, said goodbye and started the process to begin. 

TFK had separate bag check (so we could grab our stuff easily at the end instead of with the masses) and then stretched us out.

Then we were ushered to the entrance to the Corrals to wait a bit while Wave 1 began.

Once we were let into the Corrals, I found my friend Sam, who I actually ran my very first half marathon with back in 2008. 

Good luck omen
We shuffled out of the corrals and onto the bridge. A woman sang God Bless America. We stripped off our throw-away clothes and gobbled the last of our pre-race food and water.

The cannon went off.

And they started to play New York, New York. I had been waiting to hear that song, on that bridge, for two and a half years. Years full of pain, but also full of joy. In and outside of my running life, how much changed in that amount of time? Think about what you were doing in May of 2011...how much has changed for you?

I was considering that as the song began and I made my way from the back of my Wave to cross that starting line. The friendships I've made. The career I'm developing. The life I'm leading. 

And in terms of my running, these are months and years that developed me from someone with a bucket list goal to a runner. A marathoner even.

Courtesy NY Daily News

I thought I would cry. But no.

I just smiled. And started to run.


  1. If I hadn't seen you at the end of the race I would have been relatively upset, we were probably in the TFK tent together and the warm up and ohhhh our corrals were next to each other!!! CONGRATULATIONS again!!! NYCM!! You did it! It actually happened :)

    1. Yaaaaay! Hope you're feeling better now!!!

  2. Hi, this is Nicole's friend (from her bday HH last week), Diane. I just love your blog! Congrats on finally finishing! I'll stay tuned for part #2 :)

    I also managed to finish in one piece! What an amazing experience, I kind of want to do it again already...

    1. Thanks for reading, Diane! I'm glad you like it. :) Congratulations on your first marathon! Such an amazing accomplishment, and you should be proud! Now you have the itch...

  3. Oh my goodness - so, so wonderful and so different from last year (when we were basically crying at the expo.) Can't wait to read more, CONGRATS NYC MARATHONER! You are seriously awesome.

  4. So proud of you! Congratulations- you deserve both medals big time!

    1. Sorry for not responding sooner! Thanks, Kate!!!