I've been remiss in posting the last few weeks. After my 20-miler, my running taper kind of snowballed into a taper in all parts of my life, and at the bottom of the barrel was blogging.
In short, I was not a taper-hater, but really enjoyed putting in fewer miles. Even though it meant, oddly, that my shinjury was hurting more. My health insurance denied me any more physical therapy 3 weeks before the marathon. Granted, it's really hard to prove medical necessity when you are running 20-milers, but it still sucked. I went for a couple of out-of-pocket visits anyway, just for the peace of mind. (And because my PT is the best EVER.)
In the last weeks of my training program I became better friends with a group of girls and despite my complaints about the program, I wouldn't trade that running camaraderie for anything! (Okay, maybe a sub-3:00 marathon...) I also need to give a HUGE shout out to my Outward Bound running teammate and fund-raising partner, Jaimie. She is one the funniest people I've ever met and it has been a pleasure to make a new friend in her. All these gals really made training fun, and it was great to hang out at the events leading up to the marathon.
Okay, so the marathon. After all the fireworks and pasta parties, the day finally came where I had to wake up and run 26.2 miles.
For starters, a quick re-cap last year's NYC Marathon (and my first ever): I felt awesome in the beginning, nauseous in the middle, felt like death from miles 17-20, and then amazing for the last 6. So, with that in mind, I really just wanted to feel good on 1st Avenue this year- it's one of the most fun parts of the race, the strip where all my friends and family are- and I really wanted to enjoy it this time.
First of all, beautiful weather!!! A little warmer than I wanted, but it sure beat the snow we got last weekend. I started out with Jaimie, Angela and Sarah. Jaimie and I stayed together until mile 12, and then she stopped to use the bathroom. I was feeling good, and managed to hold on to that through Queens (where I started feeling awful last year). Although I tried not to run with my headphones on, I broke down and put on my emergency playlist to make sure I got over the Queensboro Bridge feeling strong. There were a lot of walkers to dodge on the bridge and my achilles on both legs felt a little wonky, but that subsided pretty quickly. On to 1st Ave.
I got off the bridge and onto 1st Ave feeling SO MUCH BETTER than last year. I couldn't wait to see my family. Some of them came all the way down from Boston to see me. (My family nickname is Danaburger, so they were holding a huge construction paper cheeseburger I could see from a mile away.) I gave them all hugs and took a few pictures. They gave me Powergel and water. It was great. I saw more friends on 95th and 105th, and ran into some more Jackrabbit people in East Harlem.
Unlike last year, I was aching. The soles of my feet were terribly sore, and my legs were feeling tired. The Bronx was nice and quick, and getting back into Manhattan Harlem was rocking as always :) I popped my music on again for the long stretch up 5th Ave. Some of my friends walked over to see me twice which was a great boost. Once we entered the park I felt a lot better knowing there were only 3 miles to go.
Saw my family again in the park right after mile 25 which gave me a great push at the end. I reigned myself in on Central Park South (it's much longer and steeper 25 miles into a run than walking it in 'real life.') But once I turned the corner at Columbus Circle, forget it—I tore up that last hill like it was my job, finishing strong. Afterward I met up with my mom and then went out later to celebrate with Nydia and Sarah! We rock! A complete photologue of my marathon shenanigans is here: Dana's 2011 ING NYC Marathon!
Overall, NY is a tough course but I love the bridges. For some reason hills don't bother me (and are especially a nice break for burning quads). I ended up running it 3 minutes slower than last year, which is a bummer. I could've not stopped to say hi to folks, but it was more important to me to take 30 seconds every so often and let them know I really appreciated them coming to cheer. I was also pretty conservative with my pace since my shin injury caused me to slow (and even stall) my training, and I didn't want it acting up on this run. I guess all things considered that's not so bad. I was still under 5 hours (and actually got my name in the NY Times this year! 4:57:38)
Last year I felt super depressed and aimless once the marathon was over, but this year I'm feeling good since I know there is another in my near future. I'm gonna take a few weeks off to let my leg fully recover, and then let the training for Paris begin!