Friday, November 7, 2014

Mission Marathon

At the end of June, the family traveled to OBX for a lovely week with friends to celebrate life, each other and the beauty of the East coast, my paradise.  Vacation Monday kicked off my marathon training.  My weekly mileage had been at a steady 20-25, so the foundation was already there.  I last trained for a marathon in 2012, missing my personal goal of finishing in under 4 hours.  I struggled with training as I did all my runs solo and split most of those between the dreadmill and the road.  My 20 mile run was half 'mill and half road.  Talk about killer.  This time would be different: I was stronger, I was lighter, I was smarter and I was absolutely healthier.  I had a great support system of just-as-crazy women runners who could join me on most if not all of my runs.  The hubbs understood the level of commitment; he was on board to support me to the fullest.  Everything was staged for success.

On Saturday, October 25th, I logged my last double-digit run.  The following week leading up to race day (Sunday, November 2nd) would be my taper.  Normally, runners dread the taper; I think paranoia can set in along with pre-race jitters.  I welcomed this break by incorporating more yoga and rolling, getting a massage and making creative, yet smart, meals to increase my carb loading.  I don't eat a lot of carbs to begin with in light of my gluten/grain challenges.  I slowly incorporated rice into a few dishes and ate a daily breakfast of quinoa mixed with applesauce, honey and cinnamon.  Delish!  I scheduled vacation days for October 31st and November 3rd.  I needed the Friday before the race to get more organized around my packing (for both myself and the girls who would be spending the weekend at my parents') and the afternoon was peppered with a number of Halloween activities, parades and the eventual Trick-Or-Treat.  
My Favorite Ladybugs
The girls were more than excited to spend the weekend with Grandma and Grandpa.  They had begun packing five days prior — packing which including all the 'essentials' except for their clothing.  Marcus and I dropped them off mid-morning on the 1st, we grabbed a bite to eat and hopped the bus to New York City.  The ride, uneventful, took us to the Port Authority which was a few short blocks from the race expo.  With so much excitement inside, I walked briskly, with Marcus trailing behind, in the direction of the Javits Center to pick up my race packet.  

Cue the Chills
I took the above picture from the top of a bank of escalators leading to the entrance of the expo.  We entered the center from another angle, thankfully, which allowed us to avoid some of the earlier crowds.  Thank goodness for that.  Before walking across the threshold, I dropped my largely awkward backpack in search of my race registration.  This form, along with my ID would be presented to a lovely woman in return for my bib (number 27657).  I waited in another short line to pick up my shirt.  Done.  I wanted to putz around the expo, but everything was so overwhelming - the people, the merchandise, the buzz - I preferred to go eat lunch instead.  Just as I started to flee for the nearest exit, my eye caught the Runner's World spot.  I needed to stop by for a selfie with Bart.  

Two Cuties
After snapping this beauty, Bart and I briefly talked about the Lehigh Valley as David Wiley (Editor-in-Chief) listened.  David and I exchange introductions (I found it charming that he told me he was the Editor...OF COURSE I knew that) and he gave me a piece of advice that I held onto: "It sounds cliche, but don't go out too fast.  It's easy to do."  Point well taken.  I typically go out too fast.  I hoisted my awkwardly large pack over my shoulders, exchanging pleasantries on my way out.  

To the Five Boroughs

Hubbers and I met my brother Matt at a lovely Thai restaurant for a late lunch.  We spent over an hour eating and chatting.  The brief interruption in the marathon madness helped calm my nerves and relax my body.  Initially, I worried that my cuisine choice could adversely affect my race, but I reminded myself that I don't really have any challenges with digestion as long as I stay away from gluten.  I carried on.  

Following lunch, Marcus and I hailed a cab headed to downtown Manhattan's Marriott.  At check-in, the representative asked me if I was running the marathon.  With smiles, I answered, 'yes, I am!'  He gave me a stern look, took a deep breath and responded with, 'good luck.'  Everyone had been talking about marathon day weather.  Originally the forecast was set to be sunny with a high in the low 50's.  As the day approached, rain was introduced as a factor, until the meteorologists got their acts together and settled on a cold and windy day.  Crap.  Well, I couldn't let this bring me down.  I worked my ass off to get here.  Nothing would stop me.  We settled into the room and prepared to check out the 9/11 memorial, two blocks from our hotel.  The rain seemed to let up for our walk.  I had not been on that block in years - My!  What a beautiful and chilling sight.  

Around the corner from the World Trade Center block, we passed a memorial along side the FDNY Ladder 10 Company 10 house.  The bronze wall covering honors the firefighters "who fell and to those who carry on."  

"Dedicated to those who fell and to those who carry on."
The names of the fallen FDNY heroes line the bottom of the panel.  I walked slowly, scanning the names for someone recognizable until I found him.  I ran my fingers over the impression of Michael Cammarata.  "While others were running out, you were running in..."  RIP.

South Tower Reflecting Pool

North Tower Reflecting Pool

One World Trade Center
The sounds of the reflecting pools stifled the city rumbles.  We didn't spend a lot of time observing as the nasty weather begin to reappear and, like clockwork, I needed to eat.  I took a deep, cleansing breath and moved on.  Eventually, we made it to the Shake Shack.  In the words of Rachael Ray: Yum-O!  A tasty burger with tasty fries was exactly what my body craved.  We ate our meals in silence while eavesdropping on the ridiculous argument that had erupted between the couple next to us.  Ahhh, New York!  After dinner, we crossed the street to pick up snacks and drinks at a corner store.  The wind and rain forced us to put a little pep in our step.  We were thankful to be in the warm and dry hotel lobby.  
Before taking a hot shower, I unpacked my race gear and lined everything up.  

Race Day Outfit
In the most loving way possible, the hubbs asked me if my morning plan would be to fall flat on the floor before walking out the door.  I took comfort in having everything laid out.  That was one less thing for me to worry about.  I had packed throw away clothes that would be my warm layers pre-race.  I planned to ditch them at the start line.  

Testing out my hideous layers earlier in the week
During my taper week, the hubbs and I ran into Goodwill to scour the racks for throw away layers.  Thank God, I found this hideous sweatshirt (love the collar) that would complement a kid's pair of fleece pants (lilac works well with red).  I planned to zip that collar high; ya know, the forecast called for high winds.  Yay.  The surprise companion to this glamorous get up was a kid's long sleeved thermal shirt with a pattern of delicate flowers.  Surely, I'd be hit on, maybe be fortunate enough to get a few phone numbers. 

Back to the story...
I dried my hair and changed following a near-scalding hot shower.  I did a few stretches before massaging my legs and slipping into my pajamas.  Perhaps, it was for good luck, but I slept in the fabulous thermal shirt.  Maybe I secretly liked the pattern.  Maybe this is foreshadowing.  

I set two alarms, feeling confident that I didn't need a wake-up call on Daylight Savings Time.  My scheduled time for the Staten Island Ferry was at 7:15 am.  My plan was to walk out the door by 6:30 am.  I passed out as my head hit the pillow; I was exhausted.  

I happened to wake up before my alarms went off.