How I cried my way through New York Marathon
I knew New York Marathon will make me cry. I was expecting it.
This was going to be the first post baby marathon and I knew I will be super emotional. But I could not have imagined just how many times it will make me cry.
I cried at the start, I cried after the first mile, I cried when I saw the first people cheering, I cried when I read some of the signs which people were holding, I cried super heavily when I met Pepa and Kvido waving at me and I probably cried the most when I dropped out from the race.
Yup, I did not finish. And it was the best decision I could have done.
Let’s be honest. Am I in a marathon shape right now? No, I am not.
1) I didn’t train enough. In fact, I was sick twice during the 17 weeks training plan which I was following and thus I did not manage to run farther than 27k.
2) I am overweight and let me tell you, running with all the extra kilos is really hard work. (Am I ever going to loose the baby weight? Aaaa!)
3) Sleep deprivation! I am so sleep deprived. It’s been over one year and three months since I had several consecutive good night sleeps. Nowadays I celebrate when I don’t have to wake up every 30 minutes.
Not the best conditions to even attempt to run a marathon. BUT I had a start place so I knew I had to give it a try. What if this was going to be my “once in a lifetime” chance to run the New York Marathon?
We decided to make a holiday from this US trip and we spend five days in off-season Hamptons prior to travelling to New York City. It was brilliant.
As soon as we arrived to the City, it was obvious… there is going to be a marathon. The city was covered in commercials and everyone we talked to asked us if we are going to run. Well, they all asked Pepa. Not me. He definitely looks like the runner from the two of us. Haha.
On Thursday we went to pick up my start number. The expo! Big! Super well organized! Full of extremely pumped people who are all ready to help you.
And we needed help as Kvido managed to cut his hand running around and touching all the things he was not supposed to be touching. Kvido cried and I cried. Luckily the cut wasn’t too deep.
I got my number, found my name on the wall and suddenly it was REAL. I am running the world’s biggest marathon. I am running New York Marathon. A race which has been my dream for good few years. Yay!
Sunday morning at 6 am we met with Marketa who was also lucky to get a start place via the lottery and we took Uber to the Whitehall terminal where a ferry took us to the start on Staten Island.
The ferry ride was amazing. Sun over Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, excitement of all the other runners on the boat. What a brilliant way to travel to start of a race.
Once we reached the runners village we hang our in our dressing gowns (to keep us warm), then Marketa went to her starting corral as she was starting earlier than me and I enjoyed some coffee and bagel. And then 10:30 came and I had to line up in my corral.
My race started at 11:00 with Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York blasting out loud. This is when I cried for the first time. It was here! I am (again) running a marathon. OMG!
The race starts by running uphill but I really did not mind, I was filled with excitement and proudness. I was proud of me for doing it despite the lack of training, the tragic lack of sleep and all the extra weight I am carrying around these days. I was proud that I was running a race. Again.
I loved running across the bridge into Brooklyn where there were people shouting and cheering super loud. What an atmosphere! Lots of incredible signs everywhere. One of my favorite ones was in front of some church. It said:
“We told you. Only Jesus can save you now.”
Then I read this sign:
“I am proud of you and I don’t even know you.”
And I cried again.
On mile 6 Pepa and Kvido were waiting for me. Honestly, this was probably the best moment of the race. They were so excited to see me, Kvido was jumping on Pepa’s shoulders up and down. And I… cried. And cried. And cried some more.
When I met them again on mile 12 I cried even more. I also took this super hazy (sweaty pocket and sweaty hands) picture which I love despite the quality and the shitty looks on all of our faces. I promise you that Kvido was having a great time even if on this picture he looks like he is going to murder us :)
And then I continued running.
I loved it. I loved the atmosphere, the crowds, the volunteers, the fellow runners, the weather, all the water stations. I loved the whole thing. And I was sooOOOooOOo happy that I was able to run.
Then I got to half marathon. And from there it all went pear shaped. My lower abdomen started hurting. I have been experiencing some discomfort and pain where I have a scar from the c-section during all my long runs but I did not see it coming during the marathon. Silly me.
I started walking a fair amount but it wasn’t helping. I ran a bit more and it really wasn’t helping. I knew this was not good. I cried. I cried from disappointment and from the helplessness. My legs were fine, my head was fine but I had pains in my stomach? Not fair.
To cut the story short I decided, when I crossed over the bridge from Queens to Manhattan to quit the race. On 27th km. In the beginning of the race I told myself that I have to be smart and really listen to my body (something I am generally not so good at) this time around. At this point every step really hurt and running was impossible. My body was sending me a very strong signal that it is exhausted. So I decided to make the smart choice and quit.
I went to the aid station to tell the volunteers that I am going to withdraw. The guy who I was speaking with called the rest of the first aid crew. They all started clapping, shaking my hand, telling me that I did an amazing job and congratulating me for making it “this far” and that I should be proud of myself. I cried.
It took almost an hour to get a taxi because of all the road closures. When I got to the taxi I posted my “failure story” to my running group community Adventní běhání (and I cried some more). The ride was taking forever. When the meter hit 30 dollars the taxi driver turned around and told me: “Miss, I am going to stop the meter now as I would be really over-charging you. You don’t deserve this. You are the hero today.”
I guess I don’t even need to tell you what this did to me… a river of tears started to flow again. It then took another twenty minutes for me to get home. For free. Story like from some stupid American movie.
And when I finally reached our Airbnb in Harlem my crying reached its peak. I read some of the messages people started sending me via text messages, facebook and Instagram. Messages from my family and friends, messages from people whom I never met and who told me how I inspire them and that they started running because of me and because of Adventní běhání.
I was and still am overwhelmed by all the love I received. And I feel such gratitude I can’t even express it in words properly.
So… THANK YOU! To all of you who have send me a message, called me and who thought of me! Thank you for making my day! I am so happy that you are in my life!
I may have not finished the New York Marathon but I can honestly say that it is the best race I have ever run. The most emotional, the one I am most proud of (and not only because of starting it but also for recognising that I need to quit) and the one I will remember. Forever.
Also because of YOU.
All the amazing people I am surrounded by.
What has been the best race experience you have ever had?
P.S. I have to come back to New York. For now, I entered the lottery for United Airlines New York half marathon. So keep your fingers crossed that I get in.
P.P.S. What was also very cool was that my legs really did not hurt the next day. I was tired since 27k is not a super short distance but my legs felt nice and fresh. I would have been super pooped would I have finished the race.
P.P.P.S. New York Marathon is my second ever DNF. If you fancy reading about the first one, you can find it HERE.
Categories: my RUNNING