Logging the Miles
How Many Miles Have you Logged Today?
I can’t believe I did it! Months of training has brought me to the starting line of one of the greatest marathons in the world, and through to the finish. I became a first time marathoner on 11/6/16, and I feel I am going to be riding this awesome high for a while. My adrenaline has worn of since Sunday, and the pain has set in to my muscles. Easy tasks are a struggle, but pain is secondary to accomplishing a feat such as a marathon. Let me take you back to the events of race day.
Wake up- 3:30 am
I woke up at the crack of dawn at 3:30 in the morning to begin getting ready for the race. I gave myself enough time to eat, shower, get dressed and get out the door by 4:45.I arrived at Giant’s Stadium at around 5:15am, and lined up for the buses to Staten Island. When I got in line, it was less than 5 minutes wait time as we boarded pretty quickly (there were many buses coming and going from SI) and we were off to Staten Island. The bus was semi quiet of runners shutting their eyes getting that last minute rest before the madness, some chatting with others. As we got to Staten Island there was some traffic getting into Fort Wadsworth between bus & personal drop off. The Verrazano Bridge at dawn on the horizon caught my eye, and that’s when it all really started to hit me. Hours from now, I’ll be lining up at the foot of it and beginning my marathon journey through the 5 boroughs.
Arrival at Fort Wadsworth approx 6:30am
Security was thankfully high, as we got scanned and patted down coming right off the bus. After I left the bus I made my way to my orange starting village. For those not familiar with the race, there are four wave starts with 3 different color corrals. The three different start villages are according to your corral color (blue, orange or green). You have to find your color coded start village and remain there until your corrals open to line up. I arrived at my orange village and grabbed a coffee. They had so many things for the runners. Dunkin Donuts trucks were there giving out coffee, tea & hot cocoa. There was another truck giving out bagels. Some vendors were giving away Powerbars, water, bananas, & powerade endurance drinks. I grabbed a coffee when I got there and took a seat on a curb. Runners were seated anywhere they could trying to keep warm. I had a fleece jacket I used to keep my legs warm and an extra sweater to wear. I sat for a while drinking coffee before getting up to use the porta potties a few times. On my way back, I grabbed a bagel & a powerade drink. It was still hours before my corral line up, so I was still trying to take in solid fuel at that point. They had a nice big screen at our village for us to watch the live broadcast of the marathon on ABC7. We got to see the first few waves of runners go off and then see them go over the bridge which was to the right of us. As it got closer, I checked my post race bag at the UPS truck, used the porta potties a few more times and then;
“Wave 4, your corrals are now open”
Corral 4 Line up 10:15 am
I made my way over to my orange corral. They opened it up and let us through and we stood there as we heard the cannon go off to signal the start of wave 3 runners. After that, we slowly made our way over to the foot of the Verrazano Bridge. When we got there, we stood all together as one of the runners sang the national anthem.
Starting Line-Verrazano Bridge, Stated Island
The first mile was uphill over the Verrazano Bridge, and it was the largest hill of the entire marathon. People who had not discarded extra clothes in the start villages began tossing them on the bridge. So as we were trying to pace ourselves uphill, now we have to avoid the random clothes scattered around the bridge. The view was breathtaking, as on the horizon you can see the amazing skyline of NYC. I’d have to say that was one of my favorite parts of the race. Mile 2 was downhill on the bridge. Coming off of the Verrazano, we had arrived in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn was where the party was at. Soon as we were off the bridge, there were bands playing, loud drums, and seas of spectators. This is where we got a taste for what was to come for the next 10 miles. Beginning at mile 3, they had water and Gatorade stations (which are at every mile from this point on) as well as porta potties. I fueled up at every aid station to stay hydrated. It was sunny at some parts, but the further down we got, the more we felt the wind again. The crowds were beyond awesome as they had hilarious signs, people giving hi-fives, and if you had your name written on your shirt, they cheered you on. I wish I kept count of the times someone said “Yeah Caitlin!!!” It was very motivating. After reaching halfway, volunteers had vaseline for those who needed to reapply to avoid chafing. Luckily I was ok, but I did reapply my own body glide after stopping at the toilets. Just in case. Believe me, chafing is horrible and shower water on a chafed area is no less forgiving.
Queens-Queensboro Bridge-Mile 15-16
This is known as one of the tougher parts of the marathon. There are no spectators on the bridge, and it is slightly uphill. Everyone around me was walking it until we finally reached the downhill portion. The wind was also very high on the bridge and I recall a few times I nearly lost my hat. I took it off and ran with it in my hand in some sections. I remember looking over to my left hand side seeing the Empire State Building on the skyline, and that was just amazing. As we finally got off the bridge, we had arrived in Manhattan.
Manhattan Part 1- Miles 16-19.5
This section was the first part of Manhattan we were going to hit before making our way into the Bronx. The spectators were in hoards here as well, like Brooklyn. At this point in the race I felt my legs beginning to get slightly heavy so I stopped to stretch a few times. The most difficult part was trying to run again after walking for a bit. After I got running again, then I was able to go for a while before stopping again. After heading up the Willis Avenue bridge, we descended into the Bronx.
Bronx- Miles 20-21
Finally, down to the final 6.2 miles! I was still feeling okay at this point, despite the fact that my legs were like concrete. Going past the 20 mile marker, a sign above read, “Welcome to Mile 20-The Wall” But thankfully, I was nowhere near hitting the wall. My legs just felt heavy. The Bronx didn’t have too many spectators, and there was less music so it was difficult trying to muster up motivation to make it through those two miles. One spectator had Vaseline which some runners were extremely graceful (hadn’t seen Vaseline since mile 13ish). Up ahead I came up to the Madison Avenue Bridge, went up and over, and suddenly I’m back in Manhattan.
Manhattan Part 2- Miles 21-26.2
We have made it to the final borough of the race once again. The spectators were back and at this point really motivating us to the finish. I began breaking the race down mile by mile as my legs were really aching. Seeing Central Park for the first time of my life was pretty amazing, but I was unable to enjoy it at that moment. Mile 24 had to be probably the hardest mile of the entire marathon, because it was a real struggle to hit any sort of stride. Mentally you had to really dig down deep to physically move. Mile 24 was also the only mile in the entire race I had to strictly walk. I just could not run it at all. Mile 25 came around the bend, and I picked it up a little bit. At mile 25, you exit Central Park and come around to Central park south before re-entering at mile 26.
I was finally closing in on the finish line.
There were tons of spectators surrounding the point of re entry to the park, and I had to stop to walk. After I finally passed the 26 mile mark, I began to run again, even though I was in pain. No way in hell I was gonna walk across the finish line. My adrenaline kicked in with the rush of the crowds, cheers and s
eeing the great finish line. And then, I had done it. 26.2 miles later I finished the NYC Marathon. On the left side of me watching the runners finish was Peter Ciaccia, President and race director of the NYC Marathon. It was surreal seeing him as well. I walked a bit further past the finish line and walked toward the volunteers. I removed my hat as one placed the finishers medal over my head. I thanked him kindly and walked on and got my heat blanket. Another volunteer gave me a post race recovery bag which included an apple, bag of pretzels, Gatorade, Powerbar, and a huge bottle of water. After I got that, a Fred’s Team volunteer saw me and escorted me over to the team tent over on Cherry Hill for post race refreshments. And boy was it nice being in a heated tent!
The New York City Marathon was what I expected, and then some. I’ve heard a lot of people say that once you run a marathon, you can do anything. I certainly found a great strength within myself after this race, and the greatest thing of all is despite the pain, wanting to do it all over again. In a heartbeat(with fresh legs of course.)
I want to thank Fred’
s Team and that I was able to run with such a wonderful charity. Everyone was so wonderful and I would love to run with them again! Also thanks to my family and friends who put up with me throughout training, as it was certainly not easy. It’s nice to finally get to this point after working hard for months and seeing your dream come true. This time last year, I thought I would never run a marathon (at least no time in the near future) But eight 5k’s and 3 half marathons later, I faced the ultimate test and ran that 26.2. I am a marathoner.
What was your first marathon?
If you have never run a marathon, would you?