Wednesday, November 6, 2013

PART II: MeriG #Actually Ran the NYC Marathon:

Start spreading the news, I am leaving today. I want to be a part of it, New York, New York.

Last I left you I was starting over the Verranzano Bridge for the first couple of miles of the race. The course would take me through the various amazing neighborhoods of Brooklyn, into Queens, over the long uphill drive of the Queensboro, up into Manhattan, to the Bronx, and back into Manhattan. 26.2 miles in my city.

If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere...

Rather than do a full mile-by-mile recap, in order, I'm just going to write what I remember. I'll randomly discuss things that stand out, feelings I felt, and the way things were from my 4:24:45 journey. 

Brooklyn is Where It's At.
Brooklyn, baby! I knew 1st Avenue would be amazing, but oh my god! Brooklyn! You brought it! Miles 2 through 13 were simply unreal. I grinned like an idiot the entire time.

You can see Sam peaking out from behind this gentleman. We ran together from the beginning through mile 8 or so. Surprise running buddy!

I Had a Fun Surprise Mid-Race Run In!
At the bottom of the Queensboro (mile 15 or so), I saw the back of my friend Mauricio! I bolted up ahead and we conquered that bridge together!

The Signs Were Truly Epic.
Y'all brought it. By now you've probably seen this Buzzfeed link to the 35 best 2013 NYC Marathon signs. I actually saw a significant number of these on the way, and they were amazing. Almost as amazing as the gems my amazing friends and family had for me! Here's a sample:

Cousin Erica held this for me at 81st and 1st!

Val and Robb made a PLYMOUTH! 
Betsy finally conceded to being impressed at 100th and 1st

My little cousins made this sign for me at 81st and 1st!
Frank and Mel with the cutest sign they had for me on 1st and 96th

Betsy's cat Buddy (left) and Archie (right) donned monocles for the distinguished occasion.

Jazmin BROUGHT IT in Williamsburg (~Mile 12) with this amazing display

Well played, all of you! A round of applause not only for your support, but for your lovely artistic and creative talents!

I Was a Little Excited:

These vagabond shoes, they are longing to stray, right through the very heart of it...

I was so happy.
Courtesy of my sister Allison at mile 14 in Queens. This is me rushing at her to jump on her with a big ol' hug. I was a little excited.

I was emotional at times.

From my Dad. This is me crying as I go to hug my parents at 81st and 1st (near mile 17 as I ran through my neighborhood). Also throwing sweaty clothes at my mom to hold. She likes it.

I was in near hysterics.
From my friend Rachel. This is me noticing the funny signs my friends made around mile 18 on 1st Ave. Laughter!

I was on Cloud Nine.
Also courtesy of Rachel. Can you tell 1st Avenue jazzed me up?

1st Avenue. That's where I live. To run through it and see my family and friends? Well, there are really no words.
My neighborhood on Marathon Sunday. View up 1st Avenue (Photo Credit: My Dad).

On that avenue alone, I had Diane, her mom, and her cousin (in from Massachusetts!), friends Jen, Eleanora, Frank, Kagan, Mel, Seth, Kelly, Jason, Rachel, Diana, Silvia, Nicole, Betsy, Karen, Patrick, Tammy, Sarah, my cousins and my parents. From now on that stretch from 60th to 100th will be thought of in my mind as the two miles of love. Because I felt it the whole way up. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, everyone!

And while I'm at it, thank you to everyone who came out in Brooklyn (Lisa, Amy, Mariah), Queens (Katie, Allison, Dan), 5th Ave (Kelly, Jason, Sonia, saw that hot 'ol mess), in the Park (Ben, Allison and Dan again!). I could not have done it without you. Could not. Thank you.

I know I've missed others. I know I have. I'm just so incredibly lucky to have such amazing people in my life who will come out in the cold and wind to watch me do that to myself. 

A Cool Action Sequence
From Seth (96th and 1st), I enjoy this sequence of me spotting my friends and then coming in for the high-fives:

I look better than Juan, that's for sure.

High five!
Could I BE any more excited?!
And there she goes! Run MeriG Run!
I recommend you print these out and make a flip-book. Fun for the kids.

My Glass Case of Emotion:
At mile 19 I felt like I combusted. I really did. I didn't just hit the wall. I slammed face forward into that wall and kept slamming for 7 miles. Into the Bronx on that bridge. Out of the Bronx on that other bridge. Back up (literally, it's uphill) 5th Avenue. Into the Park. Out of the Park. Back into the Park. I felt like crap the entire time.

That is a grimace. Not a smile.

And I actually was beating myself up over the fact that I wasn't smiling for those last 7 miles. I was literally upset...that I wasn't happier. Not only during the race did I feel this, but actually a little bit that evening as well!

Although when Allison caught this image of me in the Park at 25, I squeaked out a smile:

I guess I was hoping that euphoria of miles 1-18 would stick the entire time. But let's be real...I was running a marathon. Where in the rule book does it state that you must be over-joyed and grinning from ear to ear the entire time? Now that I think about it, I haven't seen that regulation.

I had tried to run steady at the beginning hoping I could pick up the pace slightly towards the end. Instead I wasn't sure if my legs were even moving.

My results -- which I didn't see the next day -- showed a very different tale:

This is why we train. I might have not had a stupid grin on my face, but my pacing was spot on. Even on the hills. Even with the wind. Even when feeling like total utter crap. I was steady, calm, and consistent. I'm proud of this.

...And find I'm king of the hill, top of the list, heap of the heap...

Let's Talk about Pooping:
So, I didn't poop while running. Yes! :::Fist Pump:::

But I did experience something totally new which I'll have to adjust for any (ahem) future marathon plans.


I completely ran out of energy. Completely. Utterly. Near disastrously.

Before I started I had eaten my normal breakfast / pre-run fuel. I had four Gus during the run itself and a little piece of banana. At almost every station I had water and/or Gatorade. And still, I had nothing left. I guess normal is simply not enough, and I have to up the ante with my fueling. And maybe worry a little less about the pants pooping. Nah...still keeps me up nights.

This is at mile 21 or so. A smile with a gu in my right hand and thumbs up on the left. LIES! ALL LIES! No thumbs up!! I need more food!!!!!

At Mile 25
I honestly can hardly remember it. I remember leaving the park and running by the masses -- screaming my name from my shirt -- on Central Park South. I remember the bomb-sniffing dogs when I entered the park again at Columbus Circle and had only about a quarter of a mile left to go. I remember that there were no spectators for a short stretch until we reached those at the security-laden bleachers.

Mile 26:
I could see the finish line up ahead. I tried to make my legs go faster, to sprint over that line as I did in Miami and as I do in other races.

I had nothing left. Absolutely nothing. I powered through, knowing that if I faltered even for a moment I would not start again. Could not start again.

I coasted in at a solid 4:24:45.

This is just about two minutes over Miami's time. For a second marathon attempt this 10:07 average pace is not so shabby.

For a second marathon attempt when the second marathon is sooooo hilly and the first marathon was completely flat? Not so shabby at all.

I thought I would cry then, as I had started to cry when I saw my sister and my parents. But I didn't.

It was when they put that medal around my neck that the tears came.

It's really an indescribable feeling, but I'll try. For me, it was a mixture of pride, pain, relief, and exhilaration. And a bit of wistfulness.

I have been working towards this goal for a long time. It's been a center in my life when I needed a center. And it provided much-needed balance when I was perilously close -- at times -- to falling over an edge.

So mixed in with the pure joy and raw feeling of accomplishment, is a bit of a sadness. I'll never not have run the New York City Marathon again. It will never be #allegedly. Ever.

I'm not a parent, but it must be a little bit like watching a kid go to a first day of school. Or walking a daughter down the aisle. Maybe it's like when the Red Sox won in 2004. We'll never have not won again... You're so happy, but there's a bit of sadness for the memories now passed by.

But wait.

After 24 hours I stood back, and I re-framed the situation. It took nearly a full day to really come to terms with this fact: I will never not have run the New York City Marathon again. I've done it. It's been done. I accomplished something truly spectacular.

I stuck with it through injury. I stuck with it through cancellation. I stuck with it through absolutely anguish for those last 8 miles.

I can do anything. I will continue to set goals and and achieve the things in life I want to achieve. There's no way I won't.

My little town blues, they are melting away, I'm gonna make a brand new start of it...

I may have not cried when I thought I'd cry, but thinking back now? Brings tears to my eyes.

Please bear with me for one more installment coming soon....what's next...foreshadowing.....


  1. I've enjoyed these so much! I Can't wait for installment 3.

  2. so amazing! felt like i was there :D
    - mcjlee

    1. Thanks, lady! I get excited again just re-reading my own post, haha!