Before almost all my races I have a goal or two. For NYC Marathon I had a double goal: I wanted to finish at 3:35 and still have FUN!
Training for a marathon usually includes a taper as well as taking it easy the couple days before the big day.
There was no taking it easy in New York! The Marathon was a whole New York experience. I wanted to make the most out of it with caution.
On Saturday Andy and I ran 5 miles and rode "CitiBikes" another 10 miles. I would pay for this little adventure in my marathon.
4:30AM alarm goes off
5Am out of the hotel into a taxi.
I was a ball of nerves. Andy was worse than I was trying to navigate me to the ferry. Together we were so wrapped up in our own anxiety we couldn't even enjoy the moment or one another.
We hardly spoke a word as we drove through the city to the South Ferry.
Once we arrived at the ferry we found coffee and food we both settled down. I was trying not to be a big baby but I just wanted to cry. I was nervous, excited, overwhelmed and a hodge podge of indescribable emotions. Many runners were filing into the ferry station. My hands were full with coffee, a banana, some banana bread and some trail mix. I needed enough fuel to equip me for the next several hours. I had forgotten my pace band and my sharpie. The sharpie was to write my scripture on me. These two items wouldn't sabotage my race but did bum me out a bit.
Before Andy left we came together through prayer. I needed God to calm me down.
Normally I am chatting it up. The language barrier was an obstacle when it came to communication. Even if runners did speak English it didn't mean you could understand them. 50% of the participants are international runners. There were 3 guys next to me on the Ferry that had all ran before. They gave me advice and tips.
|Shosh and I on bus!|
Transportations didn't end there. After arriving on Staten Island at 6am we were shuttled on a bus to our color coded corrals about 30 minutes away. This whole shuttling experience felt like you were being corralled into a secret bunker because of the lack of verbal communication. I felt like I was going into a secret Nazi camp and was being told I was running a marathon.
While trying to get on a bus I had made a new friend. He was a little guy. Very friendly and full of help. He was an older man who came equipped with everything. The buses were filling up quicker then we could get on them. I was getting nervous as we hopped towards the next one that was already full. We waited in the front of the line as a empty bus approached. We were the first to get on. I headed to the back of the bus.
The bus was packed within minutes. I sat inside of the seat and my new friend sat on the outside. I was asking people if they had a sharpie. I just couldn't let it go that I didn't have my scripture on my body. With my head up on one knee looking around I heard my name "ANITA?!"
I turned my head and couldn't believe it was "SHOSH". I met her at the Merrell Down and Dirty. 50,000 runners, Several busses, different ferry times and I am sitting directly in front of "SHOSH"?!
We chatted it up a bit but we were in different Corrals. I was in the Green Corral and she was in the Orange Corral.
Talk about having to be a big girl. I was alone again amounst hundreds of people I didn't know. It was 6:30 in the morning with winds ripping your skin off. I was freezing trying to figure out how I was going to last 3 more hours in the elements. As I cautiously approached my corral I looked around for coffee or a warming tent. The corral was as large as a football field. I saw people with Dunkin Donuts coffee and fleece hats. I needed to find Dunkin Donuts! I left my corral and headed to the Orange corral. I spotted them handing out the hats. Taking the hat I decide this was good enough so I headed back to where I was supposed to be. I am not a rule breaker.
After walking aimlessly around for 15 minutes I stuck my head in this tent. It was a warming tent. I just struck it rich. It looked like a concentration camp. It was eerie. Dozens of runners were huddled up together. There was not an inch of grass to be seen. With just my body barely in the tent I felt so much more warm. But I knew there was no way I could be on my feet for 3 hours. After 10 minutes I made my move walking through the center. I bootie bumped someone in the head, as I apologized I discovered a small patch of grass to sit on.
I chatted with the runners around me. Buenos Aries, Puerto Vallarta, Texas, S. Africa and NYC. Some of them had to have translators but it was incredible to be surrounded by so many different people.
|Inside the tent.|
"PHIL 4:13" "I Can do ALL Things Through Christ who Strengthen ME." I was complete.
My Wave closed at 8:55. You had to be in it on time or you were not going to be starting at your starting time. My starting time was 9:40am.
This is where it got CRAZY. Trying to find my proper wave was a nightmare. Although I had 15 minutes and it was within the Green Corral I was running all over trying to find my proper entrance based on my bib number! Time was ticking by and people were all confused. You didn't dare ask anyone because most of them couldn't understand you anyway.
I finally discovered my Wave entrance only the security closed it! I was standing outside the gates with about 100 other people. They're were officers inside wanding people and not letting us go in.
Suddenly, this man started yelling and cursing. "Open the F****** Gates." They closed the gates 10 minutes early and now I was in the middle of chaos. People were screaming and swearing at the officers. I was getting really nervous with the hostility building up all around me. "You F****** A**H****, OPEN THE F****** GATES!!" I am so small that I just tried to make myself even smaller in the middle. A guy next to me who was with another girl saw that I was nervous and he calmed me and his friend down.
I finally made it through the gate with some pushing and shoving. It reminded me of the riots you sometimes hear about on Black Friday, INSANE!
|Starting line for Green Start. I started on bottom of bridge. Other runners started on top of Bridge. We all meet at mile 8.|
THE STARTING LINE:
As I headed to one of the many part-a-johns I saw a familiar face. It was "Alexis"!! I recognized her from BOSTON! I met her in Boston this year. She is from Ann Arbor. She didn't recognize me until I sparked her memory. Again I find someone I know. Crazy Odds.
Alexis mapped the course out for me as we walked to the starting line.
I closed my eyes as they sang the National Anthem. It was just minutes after we were all crossing the starting mats. I started out running with Alexis. I knew she would not be running my pace due to the fact she just ran Chicago 3 weeks prior. But I thought I would see how long I could have her.
I saw the Queensboro Bridge. This is a 2 mile bridge. The wind was blasting. But I was completely enamored by the helicopters that were hovering parallel to the runners on the bridge. They were so close I could see through the windows. The half dozen helicopters lined up and down the bridge. I have never experienced anything like this. It was very surreal being that close to such a large moving object.
I couldn't feel my fingers as the cold was beating me up across the bridge.
As we began to see the exit from the bridge I couldn't help but laugh at all the men peeing off the bridge. I had heard NOT to run on the sides of the bridge unless you wanted to get peed on and this confirmed that as TRUTH!
I wanted to stay with Alexis but I had already lost time on the bridge. About 3 minutes and I didn't know how I was going to make that up. I stayed with her until about the 4th mile and I sadly pulled away.
This Marathon was like no other. Most of my races I chat it up. But this is the first race I have ever ran that the runners really didn't chat with one another. I think the reason why is
1. The spectators are so LOUD
2. The Language Barrier.
The only time it is quiet it when you are on a bridge. However, you are still hearing plenty of huffing and puffing even if you are not hearing chanting and cow bells.
I had pinned my name on my shirt "NITA". I loved hearing my name shouted a million times. The energy shot through your veins making you feel like a ROCKSTAR!
"NEEETTA!!!" "VAMONOS NEEETTA". My name sounded Mexican to the Mexicans and Italian to the Italians. It was said with passion that made me give thumbs up and high fives.
"GOO NEETA GOO!!"
"I am going" I thought "I am going!"
Andy said he was going to be at mile 8. I was really hoping he was going to be on my right hand side. I typically run on the right. Because I am right handed it is easier to get my water on this side. The were so many people that if Andy was not on my right I would not be able to see him.
The 8 mile marker came and went.
I was running without my headphones but it was still so loud.
"ANITA!!ANITA!" There he was. I couldn't believe he found me.
"How are You??" Andy yelled and ran along side me.
Smiling I replied "GOOD!" I was tongue tied with excitement. Andy continued to run next to me as I passed him my coat and my hat.
"Do you need anything?" He yelled still running along side me.
"No, Thank YOU!" I LOVE YOU!!"
Yelling between people Andy held up his fingers "14, mile 14!!"
I was so excited he was going to try to see me in 5 more miles.
I felt pretty good. I was warming up and trying to find someone to pace off of. There were just so many people that it was hard to stay with one.
I saw a man running and dribbling a basketball.
I saw another man running with sandals.
But I didn't see anyone for very long.
I crossed over another bridge. The bridges were so cold and windy. This marathon was not a flat course at all.
Now I really looked forward to seeing Andy.
I came up to mile 14 and began looking for Andy. It was even louder than ever. People were 2 and 3 people deep on both side. They had police officers everywhere. These police officers were much more serious than the ones in Detroit. They left me hanging when I tried to get a high five.
Oh well, I recovered quickly with a half dozen little kids smiling and begging for a high five.
I heard my name loud and proud on my left hand side. It was Andy. How in the world he found me I will never know but I was so thankful. H looked like he was even having fun!
I knew it was a lot of work to navigate through the city to even see you once and now I had just seen Andy twice and hope to see him at the 20 mile mark.
I dedicated mile 15 to Devon. This is Austins very good friend. I took the entire mile and prayed for him. I prayed for his leadership as he turned 15. I prayed for him to have courage to make good decisions. I just prayed and prayed for him.
As I ran past the 16th mile I was excited to have only 10 miles to go. I was already feeling the fatigue in my legs. Nothing was hurting yet but I was getting tired. I was trying to keep a 8:15 pace. I was trying to make up some of that time I lost on the bridges. I had already ran over 3 bridges and they hurt so bad.
I dedicated mile 18 to my nephew BRIAN. He is in the Marines and this mile was for Strength. I thought if the scripture down my leg. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I prayed strength and perseverance over my nephew. I prayed he would have the Strength to never give up. And always seek God.
As I came to mile 19 I began to question "WHY" I enjoyed this so much.
My legs were numb, the wind was chilly and I knew that I was not in a area I was getting peed on so it must be raining out too.
I Needed mile 20. I needed Ariel.
As mile 20 approached I clung to my beautiful nieces smile. I saw those big eyes sparkling at me. I held tight to her. LOVE. That is what I needed to get me to HER mile 21.
She represented LOVE. "Love Bears all." It was at that point I had a song that was on her playlist come through my ear buds. It came like a wave crashing down on me. The air had been taking right out from me. My gut seized with the words of her song. My welled up and my lips began to quiver. . It was then that I called not on my Ariel but rather on GOD. She was with Him. And I needed HIM to give me life again. It is crazy how grief can rip the wind right out of your sail. Love. Love. I repeated. Love Conquers All. "Breath Anita"
As I caught my breath I saw Andy at mile 21. I was so happy to see him. I felt like I was falling apart. I didn't want Andy to see me weak. I knew he would worry. I plastered a pretty convincing smile. But when he asked how I was doing I couldn't lie. "Ok" I replied.
"Your doing good, Your almost there" Andy said with a smile.
"I love you." was the best I had as I ran past him. I had wanted to get a hug but he was to far away. I needed a hug.
I was just trying so hard to maintain my pace in the midst of pain. Everything was hurting and I still had over 4 miles to go.
If I never saw another bridge again I would be happy. Mentally I was falling apart. I had been pacing off "DARRIN" for the last 3 miles. He had no idea that I was 10 feet behind him.
"Don't let him out of your sight" I told myself over and over again.
It seemed like he was going faster and I was hurting more.
He slowly moved farther and farther away. By the time we entered Central Park I could no longer see him. The crowds were full of enthusiasm as they shouted my name. I listened trying to gain a little more energy to get me to the finish. The park was a beautiful nightmare with all the rolling hills.
They seemed like they were just chewing me up.
With one mile to go I tried to count. 1,2,3,4,5, I continued to count trying to take my mind off the pain. 30,31,32,33..I tried to drown of the demons in my mind coaxing me to slow down.
My watch said 3:33. There was no way I was going to make a half a mile in 2 minutes.
I looked down at my watch and saw I was running 7:40. "Just hold it Nita" I attempted to convince myself.
"Run through the pain, No regrets, Finish Strong."
1,2,3,4,5, I found myself counting until I saw the "Finish" banner.
"Oh God, Please give me strength to Finish in under 3:37."
I picked my arms up and looked at the top of the final hill. I stared at the clock desperately trying to beat the time.
I crossed the finish mats with great pleasure.
I couldn't look at my watch.
They placed my medal around my neck with kindness.
I wasn't done yet. I still had a 2 mile walk to Andy at the family reunion area. The first mile was no biggie.
|Everyone looks the same.|
I finally made it to Andy. I saw him looking for me. He was searching everywhere. We all look the same with our blankets but when he saw me I noticed that big smile and felt refreshed all over again. I needed a hug.
I finished 3:36:59!
I didn't make my goal time.
But it was an Incredible race.
I am so Thankful for the opportunity to be able to run this. I feel spoiled. In 3 years I have ran 3 of the 6 majors. Chicago, Boston twice and Now NYC. (they just added Tokyo).
I get so choked up thinking how spoiled I am. How does a girl like me coming from Nothing. Being a Nobody. Not standing a chance in life. Having no Hope...
Have Dreams she could never have imagined come true??
GOD IS SOO SO GOOD. I Give him ALL the Glory.
He Never quits believing in me. He never quits supplying me. He never quits Coaching me.
Thank you to all those Encouraging words. I read every person that comments, hits "Like" and posts. It means so much. Small gestures make Large impacts. Thank You for the prayers and love.