Here it is, two weeks later, but it took me some time to wrap my head around this one. Plus, I wanted to wait until I heard from my doctor (more on that later in the recap) so that I could give you the full story all at once. I’ll try to keep this NYC Marathon recap short and sweet, but I feel I won’t be successful at that.
It was a beautiful fall morning for a race, with temperatures supposed to get up to the mid-50s (perfect race weather), I layered on the throw away clothes and meet Kim & Jodi (a new Instagram friend) for the walk to the buses. We made it to the buses at 6:30 for our 7:00 boarding time and I was amazed at how quickly the lines moved, they had it down to a science. Then, after a few minutes on our bus we broke down. I had to take a deep breath a remind myself it was only a little after 7:00 and our wave didn’t start until 11:00 anyway.
Around 7:30 a new bus came for us and we were on our way to Staten Island. We got there a bit after 8 and I was regretting how well hydrated I was because I had to use the restroom so badly and the line to get in through the security check point was really long. It moved pretty quickly, and we were inside in another 30 minutes, but when you are holding it that whole time it seems like forever. Once inside the start line village they had coffee, food ( I stuck to the gluten free fuel I had brought), and porta-potties. Though with so many people the porta-potty lines were 15-20 deep in most spots, and worse in some.
Because our wave didn’t start until 11:00 we had a long time to just sit and wait around. Very different than any other race I have ever done. I was so happy it was decent weather because I could not imagine waiting for hours on a freezing cold day. So, we just sat on a curb under the Verranzo-Narrows Bridge. It was nice to see fall leaves as I waited because we don’t really get those back home.
Then, at 10:30, I stretched a bit, stripped off all the throw away clothes, said goodbye to Kim and headed into my corral. It was crazy to think that I had already been up for over 5 hours and I hadn’t even started running yet. I am used to races that start between 7-9, so getting there very early and then waiting around for 11:00 to start was different. We were then held in the corrals for about 30 minutes before we started walking to the start line. Music was playing, people were hyped up. It was crazy. And then… we were off. The start of the race is straight up the Verranzo-Narrows Bridge, which is the biggest and longest hill on the course. I had to glance down at my watch occasionally to keep myself in check and make sure I did not get swept up in all the excitement of the race.
After coming off of the Verranzo-Narrows bridge you are in Brooklyn and I was surprised to see how many people were still out cheering. I had heard that there would be tons of people along the course, but remember we were the very last start group and the elites had gone by 2 hours earlier. Throughout the day, as it got later and later, less and less people were out and I felt like those who were still there deserved medals too. Some of them had been out in their spots since 9am to watch elites and were still there at 5pm when I went past.
I will be the first to admit, I was going into the NYC Marathon very undertrained, but I knew realistically that I would be able to run the first 10 miles no problem and then should be able to walk until 16-18 (from the work I had put in at home) before I started to slow down and my body started to wonder what I was doing. However, that was not the case. I kept my pace slow and tried to enjoy the views in Brooklyn, which included lots of little rolling hills. Around mile 8- 10 something happened and my left foot became extremely painful. There was a sharp pain on top of my foot and every time it touched the ground it was excruciating. I was in TROUBLE!
At mile 10 I stopped to walk because I knew that I wasn’t realistically trained to run more than that, but then it gave me even more time to think about my foot. With each step it hurt, my eyes started to water from the pain and I realized I had 16 more miles of this, the thought was terrifying. However, I kept moving on through Brooklyn and Queens and I slowly made my way into Manhattan. The views were gorgeous, but that is were my race got even UGLIER!.
The tall buildings in Manhattan seemed to block the sun as it was going down, it must have been near 3pm at this point and I started to get really COLD. See while I was running I felt perfect in my outfit, when I was walking along I started to get chilly, but now I was FREEZING. Goosebumps appeared all over my arms because I had a short sleeved shirt on and now in addition to being in extreme pain I just couldn’t stop thinking about how cold I was. I still had 10 miles left and I wanted to badly so be done.
I stopped on the side of the race course and had a big come to Jesus talk with myself. I really had to think about if I would finish this race or not. It was a really tough decision. I have never been in as much pain during a race as my left foot was in NYC. Constant pain on top of my foot, that screamed with each step I took, every time it touched the pavement. Trying to hold back the tears that were coming to my eyes. Covered in goose bumps, so cold I was looking for coats or jackets on the side of the road in hopes I could grab one (I never saw one). The only thing that kept me going is knowing this was my one chance at the NYC marathon – it is an expensive race and I don’t have the money to enter again, plus with the lottery entries who know if I would even make it again.
So I walked, more like plodded on, as people passed me on each and every side. The crowds thinned out until there were only a few, amazing spectators left. The course emptied until the crowds of people I had been running with before were gone and it was just me and a few others who were also struggling. I walked on convincing myself just to make it to the next mile and bit by bit 10 miserable miles ticked away.
I’m not going to lie by the time I hit mile 24 I was in so much pain, so cold, so done that I jogged the last two miles in. My foot hurt so badly that I couldn’t tell a difference between walking and jogging and I just so badly wanted to be done that I didn’t care if I should be running or not.
I finished in a time of 6:26:25, which for walking a marathon is not bad at all. However, when writing my marathon goals I forgot that the most important goal is and always will be – to finish injury free, which I did not do.
As I made it through the finish line and tried to walk out of the park (which is like a half mile walk after everything) I was stopped by a volunteer. I was shaking from the cold, limping on my left foot, and every time I stepped my eyes were watering. She was very sweet and personally walked me into the med tent to see the podiatrist. Another girl was there getting her foot looked at and her told her it was just some swelling and an angry tendon and to rest it, I was hoping for the same verdict. Instead, I was told that there was a high probability I had a stress fracture due to the location of my pain, my description of what was happening during the race, and what happened when he felt me foot and that I need X-rays ASAP! I was crushed. Not only was this a horrid race, but now I saw all my winter race plans – my big comeback – going down the drain.
I was told not to walk on it at all, but then I had to walk half a mile more to get out of Central Park, and another half mile to find a pedi-cab. It was probably the most painful mile in my life. I limped the whole time, eyes full of tears, body shaking and shivering, I am sure I was quite the site. All the normal cabs were stuck in traffic, but my pedi-cab was able to get me back to the hotel – to a hot shower and an ice bath pretty quickly. (I thought I was going to die about 3 times on the ride as we kept swerving in and out of Manhattan traffic, but I didn’t care as I just wanted to get there). Totally worth the $60 bucks for a 2 mile ride a that time, not even going to lie.
Post really long, very COLD, ice bath with a nice, long night of sleep and a great pair of Pro Compression socks my foot actually felt a bit better the next day. I wasn’t able to get the X-rays the doctor suggested right away since my insurance wont cover out of state, So instead, I went to the Walgreen;s across the street, found a special little foot boot, and took it easier than I had planned (I reduced walking by learning how to take the subway and spent lots of time sitting, people watching, and drinking coffee).
By the time I made it back to SC my foot was at 80% and feeling pretty good. I had an appointment to see my sports med chiro a week later so I decided to wait and get his opinion before paying for X-rays. By the time I saw him I had been back to teaching for a week, which means walking about 10,000+ steps around my classroom. He said there is no way I would be doing that and feeling 80-90% with a stress fracture. After looking into it, turns out I developed a horrid case of tendonitis. My ankle issues did not like the rolling hills of Brooklyn so my left ankle locked up early in the race making my left foot do work it wasn’t used to causing horrid tendonitis.
I will need to do lots of stretching and rolling and ease my way back into running, but I am so glad it is tendinitis and not a stress fracture.
So much for a short recap right?!?
Here is to hoping for a much better marathon at Run Donna, the marathon to support Breast Cancer Research, in Jacksonville, FL 12 weeks from today.