I woke up at 3:45 AM, silenced my alarm, and dragged myself into the bathroom, whereupon I brushed my teeth, looked in the mirror and began lubing up my body. My entire body. Somewhere in between the toothbrush and the BodyGlide was a groggy peptalk, prepping myself up for the day I was about to have. I was running in the TCS New York City Marathon, and I needed all the help I could get.
Before we go any further, I want to start with two things. First off: I’m not a runner by nature, but I do stay healthy and active by playing basketball and working out. So when Michelob Ultra, the official beer sponsor of the TCS NYC Marathon, offered me a spot to run in the marathon with TeamUltra, I was hesitant at first. I had never run more than five miles in one go, so giving myself three months to prepare for 26.2 miles seemed absurd at the time. But I did my research, found a 3-month beginner’s program, and completely committed myself. At first it was difficult, but soon I was running 30+ miles week.
The second thing I want to start with is that I did not finish the marathon this Sunday. It sucks, I’m upset, and I really wanted to go the distance, but I’m happy with my decision to quit at Mile 18 because nothing good could have come from going the remaining eight miles. My IT Band had completely locked up and I was finished. Going any further may have caused some damage I couldn’t come back from.
So there you have it. I’m not a runner and I didn’t finish, but I’m still writing this Marathon Recap because I think you’ll find the day was pretty amazing and exciting. Rather than write complete paragraphs, I think it’ll be a little easier to digest my day in a live-blog form (even though I’m writing this three days after Marathon Sunday).
3:45– Alarm Goes Off
Drag myself to bathroom, pump myself up, use the bathroom (one of the most important parts of running, I’ve found).
Begin applying BodyGlide to my entire body to avoid chaffing. Feet, legs, arms, nipples, everywhere.
Throw on my #TeamUltra racing singlet, white running hat, and Nike 3/4 compression leggings/shorts I bought for the marathon.
4:15– Foam Roller
Due to a nagging IT Band injury, I’ve been foam rolling my legs forever in the past few days. I hate foam rolling.
First time I realize that my body is not truly ready for the day. Pretty casual about it. Every run I’ve had thus far has started out poorly.
Recap things I need to remember today: Bring race bib, don’t miss the closing of my marathon corral, don’t start too quickly, try to finish.
Throw on my $35 Amazon sweatsuit I plan on donating at the start, make sure I have my racing bib, and take off to meet up with the rest of the #TeamULTRA squad.
5:15– Hop on Bus
Sitting by myself for thirty seconds on the bus before someone from Houston named Will sits next to me. We talk about the race, what he does, New York, Houston, a bunch of stuff. Very solid dude. Both excited for the day.
6:00 AM– Staten Island Arrival
We arrive at Staten Island and hop off the bus with our stuff. Only now does it finally begin to dawn on me what I’m hoping to accomplish.
As we approach the security line, I can’t help but think of how much reminds me of a music festival (albeit a crappy one you have to wake up really early, give away your clothes, and seriously hope you don’t poop yourself).
7:00 AM – 9:15 AM–Sleep. Eat. Drink Coffee. Use bathroom. Try to get some sleep. Repeat.
In between naps I talk more with Will and meet some other members of the team. Realize that everyone else here has run a lot more than me.
Pat myself on the back for bringing baby wipes.
Consider myself extremely lucky that we’re waiting inside a heated tent, unlike everyone else running in the marathon who has to do this cold and outside.
9:25–Here we go
This is it. We leave all our stuff we don’t need, use bathroom one last time, and head off to wait some more–but this time we’re standing outside.
Realize there’s a marathon of waiting before the actual marathon beings.
I decide I have time to use the portapotty before my corral closes.
9:30–I miss my corral.
I missed my corral, have a heart attack, and manage to beg and plead my way back into the race. No idea how that worked.
Realize that this day might actually go my way.
10:15 AM–Marathon begins.
Starting my Nike Running Coach app, I take it nice and easy up the Verrazano Bridge. Snap some photos along the way.
Notice that my Nike Running app is clearly off by .2 miles each time, giving me faster times than I’m actually running. Not a good start.
I finally dump my sweatshirt on the street, and get into my normal pace. The energy and the crowds in Brooklyn are great. Easily the highlight of the race in terms of location was downtown BK. Narrow streets, loud crowd. Smiling just thinking about it.
Around Mile 4, my leg starts acting up and I push through, concentrating on proper form. Remember that I’ve been here before and that I can do this.
Notice how many funny political signs there are. “If Trump can run, so can you.” “You’re running better than our government!”
Lots of ups and downs here.
The upside: I see some of my friends on the side along the way. Great seeing you!
The downside: I miss some of my friends on the side along the way. Sorry I missed you!
The good news is that I’m running through unfamiliar territory so I can distract myself with the great views, interesting places, and loud crowds.
The bad news is that the marathon really hasn’t even begun and already I’m dealing with aches and pains that should come around Mile 18.
These miles were the hardest for me, because it became wholly apparent that there is a legitimate chance I might not finish the marathon.
I’m walking for five minutes, jogging for fifteen, and walking again. These are bad signs, especially because I know I shouldn’t be walking right now.
Queens has a lot of spectators out and the energy is there, but I’m too head-down at this point to really enjoy the race.
Have to stop in a Medical Tent around Mile 15 for some quick leg magic. I have no idea how these medical volunteers are cool with massaging the legs of thousands of sweaty strangers. Bless them.
The Queensborough Bridge is said to be among the hardest part of the Marathon. Strangely, I’m looking forward to it, since I’ve run it to prepare for this marathon and it hasn’t given me any trouble yet. This would not be the case today.
My legs are stiff as boards and I’m dying out here. Tell myself that I have to make it out of the Upper East Side before I can even think about legitimately calling it quits.
On the downhill section of the bridge, I begin to jog again.
Mile 17–Friends and Family
I see my friends and family cheering me on at Mile 17 and I can’t tell you how awesome that was. I wanted to tell them how much I was dying but I sucked it up hugged them, and kept going.
After I leave them, I realize I need something to help take me over the edge. Rage Against the Machine. Full volume. It helped, not going to lie.
It’s now around 96th street and back to walking again. I go to the sidewalk to stretch my calves, and a French woman is literally crying because of the pain she’s in. I try to rack my memory for words of encouragement, but all I can come up with is “C’est la vie.”
Laugh to myself how awful those words of encouragement are as she limps away jogging.
Desperately look on horizon of 1st Avenue for Medical Tent where I can get some more treatment.
The angels of mercy (aka the volunteers) spend a few more minutes rubbing my leg with vaseline, before I tell them to stop because I’m going to call it. I realize that at this point, I’m possibly doing serious damage to my knees–which are things I need.
I call my family, tell them of my decision, and officially withdraw from the Marathon. I’m on 115th Street when I call it quits.
My Uber is going to take 30 minutes to get there. That’s not going to work for me.
I limp my way to 2nd Avenue, hop on an express bus downtown, and head home for a warm shower. I’m greeted by my family who’s there to help me deal with the disappointment I’m feeling.
I was definitely pretty down about quitting something that I devoted three months of my life to accomplish, but I felt better about it once I internalized two things.
- Marathons are a difficult beast, and that amount of distance can be unhealthy. Literally the first person who ran one died. So if you’re feeling like you’re hurting, try to push through it (a couple times). But don’t mortgage your future or your ability to play sports just for that one race. You can always conquer it next year.
- Plenty of people who’ve trained harder and longer than I trained have quit marathons.
I’m extremely grateful to Michelob Ultra for allowing me to join the TeamUltra this year for the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon. Even though I didn’t finish the marathon this year, the training allowed me to realize I can run 10+ miles at a time and not die of exhaustion.
Obviously I’m going to take a little break from running, but I’ll be back in no time. Or at least until the weather gets a little warmer.