A plane passed overheard flying a banner which read “Breathe. Enjoy the Moment.” I think that is the perfect saying for what lied ahead. And just like that the cannon blew and we we’re off (well after the 10 minutes it took for us to walk to the starting line amongst the crowd). I was lucky enough to be in the wave that was running on the lower level of the Verrazano (insert sarcasm here). No sun, decently strong winds, I was so glad I had kept me sweats and hat on.
It was a slow two mile span weaving in and out, passing and being passed by runners from all over. It’s amazing to me how many people from other countries enter the lottery to run in NYC. I couldn’t count the amount of different languages I heard in the starting village. On the bridge alone we passed runners from the CF Trust and a group from Ireland running in support of CF. How cool is that?! And speaking of charities, the NYC Marathon raised over $30million for charities in this years marathon. Team Boomer rose over $500,000 alone.
Back to running… as we passed the two mile mark at the end of the bridge we made our way up to the local streets of Brooklyn. I tossed off my sweats and hat but luckily kept the gloves. Here is where the race really began for me. The streets were lined with spectators cheering us on. The energy the crowd gave off was out of this world. People were blasting music from out their apartment windows, local bands were out on the street performing. Fire departments had their ladders out hanging banners and cheering everyone on. Signs were held in the crowd, some quite humorous… “hurry us, they are running out of free beer at the end.” Little children had their hands out hoping to get a ‘high five’ every now and then. Some were even passing out Halloween candy. And what I thought was totally cool was the few that stood before the port-o-potty’s holding toilet paper! Much needed, thank you! Most runners (including us) have their names written across the front of their shirts and when someone saw your name you would her “Come on Karen, you can do it, let’s go, you’re doing great!” What a rush! I didn’t even thing about running the first ten miles of the course. I literally “relaxed and enjoyed the moment.” And for those first ten miles the crowd never died. They were just as full of energy at mile ten as they were at mile 3.
As I ran up to the Gatorade station at mile 10 I saw Joan there waving at me. I stopped to stretch, took some salt tablets and off we went. Between mile 10-11 I could start to feel the energy slowly drain from my body. I didn’t expect this feeling to start until mile 13 but the weather conditions were much colder and windier than I was used to running in so it was taking more energy to keep my body warm. We kept running at a slightly slower pace though mile 13.5 when we hit the Pulaski Bridge into Queens. I had been running for just under 2.5 hrs at this point and I still felt great but started to feel my muscles starting to cramp. Nothing I haven’t felt before and nothing I couldn’t handle. We stopped to stretch and walked over the bridge. Then off we went again to the Queensboro Bridge.
Unfortunately my leg cramps were not getting any better by the time we got there (mile 15) and we had to go across the lower level of the bridge. The cold wind hit me like brick and I had no choice by to walk the bridge.
Here is where my memory is a little foggy. We started running again when we got over the bridge (mile 16) and I made it to mile 17 with much encouragement from my friend but I needed a break. We started walking, my knees didn’t want to bend, my muscles ached like I have never felt before and the cold air was hitting my lugs and making my entire body cold. I think it was somewhere around mile 18 that Joan knew I wasn’t going to be able to finish. My body was shaking I was so cold, I was physically and emotionally drained. I started crying, I don’t know why… because I was so cold? Because I hurt so much? Because the cold air was now preventing me from breathing in deeply? Because I knew deep down that I wasn’t going to make it 8 more miles