Monday, November 18, 2013

NYC Marathon!

So sorry I have not had the opportunity to write more recently! I ran the NYC Marathon on November 3rd for UNICEF. Thank you so much to all of my supporters-- I simply could not have done it without you! With approximately 90 total supporters of UNICEF/NYC Marathon campaign, I simply could not let everyone down! Let me give you a short play-by-play of the how the marathon went:
At about 5:30am my dad dropped me off at Central Park South in Manhattan to catch a Team UNICEF shuttle to the start village. We then shuttled down to Staten Island. Thankfully, the night before was when we turned the clocks back for fall so I had an extra hour of sleep, so waking up at about 4am wasn't the worst thing in the world. I watched the sun rise over Brooklyn on the way to the start. We arrived around 7am-ish at the start village and it took about 20 minutes to enter the area. There was a sea of people around me as we were herded like cattle into the start village. There were tons of foreigners and it got me thinking: wouldn't running a marathon be an amazing way to see a new city? I was astounded by the number of French people that were there-- the majority of foreigners I saw were from France! And, I would say the majority of people I saw were foreigners, not Americans.

The morning was freezing cold, but I assumed that once afternoon came it would warm up, but it didn't really. It stayed in the upper 40's all day! Yikes! Unfortunately, because of my start number & color, I began my run on the lower deck of the Verrazano Bridge. As a result, I didn't get that awe-inspiring image that I think people have when they think of the start of the run. Fortunately, being on the lower deck had the perk of less wind-- and boy was it windy! At the start of each heat they have a cannon go off and they play the iconic Sinatra song about New York, which was fun. The first ten or so miles are through Brooklyn, which was really fun. I had written my name on the front of my shirt, so as I ran by people were cheering for me. There were often bands playing and a few of them even sang out my name as I ran by! All the adrenaline had me flying, which is really bad when you have to run 26.2 miles. When I hit the halfway mark at 13.1 miles, I knew things would not be good. I reached the Queensborough Bridge, which is a pretty big incline, and my hamstrings tightened up. I thought I would try and push through and then feel good on the downhill, but when I hit the downhill the pain was much worse. This happened because I went out way too hard, didn't stop for water and didn't do my warmup drills in the first few miles like I planned. Woops! Well, I would definitely pay for my mistake!

The Queensborough Bridge ends at mile 16, with 10 miles to go, and I was in pain. Lots of pain. I tried to walk but my hamstrings felt worse. Then I'd try to run but my quads felt weak. Running down 5th Ave in Manhattan there was a sea of people cheering me on but I was walking-- pretty embarrassing! The pain was so bad I stopped at a medical tent just to get some reassurance that I would be fine and the trick would be to keep moving. The medical assistant asked if I wanted to sit down, when I responded that I thought it would be too painful, he grabbed me a Gatorade, dropped extra salt into it and told me to get back out there and just walk if I needed to. I pushed onward.

Being in the Bronx was actually fun. There was a lot of character there, many local grassroots organizations came to cheer on the runners, and some really eclectic music was playing. I started to feel optimistic. "I'm going to finish this run!" I told myself. Since I had decided just finishing was the most important part to this and I didn't care about my time, often I would stop and grab a banana or orange from people cheering us on. I made sure to stop at the water stops and sip on water and Gatorade for a little while I walked. Severe cramping can be horrible, leaving people literally writhing in pain on the ground. That was NOT going to be me. I was going to finish!

A few miles before the finish, you finally hit the hills. The hardest part of the marathon is right at the end, with uphill and downhills as you reach Central Park and get closer to the finish. It was hell. I decided to job the downhills and and walk the uphills. Suddenly, with just about 2 miles to go, I head people screaming my name! "GOOOOOO KRISTENNNNN!!!" I look up, pulling myself out of despair and smile at my family! For the first time in about 24 miles, I recognized someone in the crowd! I had gone over that moment in my mind prior to this. I envisioned breaking down in tears, saying I wasn't sure that I could finish, expecting hugs and reassurance that I could definitely finish. Instead, in my broken down state, I keep running. I couldn't stop, I had to keep going!

Throughout the run, I saw people that inspired me: blind people, deaf people, amputees, a mother-daughter team. But just as I was about 1 mile from the finish, I saw something that pretty much brought me to tears. A woman, who I assume was a paraplegic, was sitting in a chariot-like cart and around here were a team of firefighters wearing matching shirts. The team traded off pushing and pulling positions around the chariot. That kind of dedication to a friend, a teammate, there is nothing like that. There are no words for a moment like that.

The finish was a blur and I was so thankful it was over, I could have kissed the ground. It was absolutely freezing. If you didn't check a bag, you received a wrist band and could exit early. I didn't check a bag, but I had selected the option to check on when I picked up my number, so I didn't have a wristband. I had to sneak out the early exit (sorry NYC Marathon people reading this-- it was necessary!) and was able to beg someone to give me an amazing fleece poncho that they give wristband people at the finish. The temperature was plummeting and I was freezing. Finding a cab was impossible so I'm fairly confident we walked two miles to get to dinner. So that day I conquered 28.2 miles, I'd say. For dinner we stumbled on a beautiful and fancy Italian place and I had my favorite-- pasta!

What an honor to be able to say I've completed the NYC Marathon! Seriously, I would probably have quit when I stopped at that medical tent if it weren't for the 90 people counting on me to finish! Thank you to everyone who donated to my UNICEF fundraiser!!! Together we raised over $4600! So amazing! You can actually still give-- UNICEF is leaving the fundraising pages open and funds will go towards Philippines disaster relief, so if you haven't given, there is still time! Please donate by clicking the orange donate button on the right hand side of this website!