It has been a little over two weeks since the marathon and I am struggling to put my experience into words. This experience was truly amazing from start to finish. From the runners to the crowds to the views. It was amazing. Here is my recap:
The journey begins with a bus ride to Staten Island:
This is it!!! I made it!!!
The start of the marathon! Cold, super windy and amazing!
The Verrazano Bridge was rough. I couldn’t run in a straight line because the wind was literally pushing me toward the center of the bridge which I was staying close to in fear of being peed on since I was on the lower deck. I did not get peed on and I did not see any flying around because if someone had peed off the top of it was have been all over us. Hats were flying everywhere. I had to hold onto my scarf and bib because I was afraid they were going to be ripped right off of me. I was never so happy to see Brooklyn in my entire life!
I saw my brother and sister-in-law right before mile 13, hence me running the wrong way in the last picture. Right after that I hit the porto-potty, my third stop, and then I headed over a small bridge to Queens. The middle of the bridge was the halfway point and this beautiful view:
This was a big milestone! Hitting the halfway point meant that I could now start counting down the miles!!! Queens was only a couple of miles. The biggest challenge of the entire race was when I hit the Queensboro bridge right after mile 14. This bridge felt like it went on forever. No spectators, just the sound of feet and breathing. When I thought I would not be able to run another step I heard the sound of cheers. It was the runners hitting the down slope of the bridge. I had never been so happy to be going down!!! As you got closer to the bottom you started to hear the cheer of the crowds getting louder and louder. Coming off that bridge into Manhattan was amazing. I was nervous about the turn onto First Avenue, because I had read that it was the most intimidating view of the race. I found that view to be one of the most amazing views on the race, my eyes actually swelled with tears at the sight.
One of the few times I took out my phone to take a picture was for this view. This picture encompasses was what the NYC Marathon was all about: the runners, the crowds, and the energy of New York. I knew I still had a long way to go, but I had also come so far and I knew in this moment I would finish. The energy of the spectators was amazing. The cheers of encouragement carried me through those four miles up First Avenue, even when it was starting to get painful, I was propelled forward every time someone called out, “Go Toni!”
After First Avenue we hit the Bronx for about a mile or so and then we headed back into Manhattan for the last 5 miles. By this point I was pained, but I never hit the proverbial wall. The only times I really stopped to walk was when I hit the water stops. I would walk, take a sip of Gatorade and water, and then start right back up again. I thought I missed my family because they were supposed to be on Fifth Avenue and I never saw them. I entered the park and heard someone yell, “Go Toni Church!” It turned out to be Terry, one of my Long Island racing friends, I stopped and hugged him and then headed into Central Park for the last 3 miles of the Marathon.
Central Park was filled with cheering crowds!! Wearing my name on my shirt was the best thing I ever did, because it is so motivating to hear called so many times. At mile 24 I got a terrific surprise, my family.
Seeing them gave me the energy to finish. I stopped for about thirty seconds, hugged everyone and then headed to the finish. This was the last stop of the race, I knew I was almost there and I didn’t need any more water to finish. At Columbus Circle you exit the park and run down the street for a half a mile or so until you reenter the park and finish!!
When I took that turn toward the finish line my eyes swelled with tears, my emotions surfaced and I felt total joy that I had done it! I ran the NYC Marathon!!! I finished with a smile on my face!!! Despite the wind and stomach issues I persevered!!! I conquered the NYC Marathon!
The worst part of the entire race was walking the mile to meet my family. Heads up people if you race NYC and don’t have baggage be sure and choose that option early, who knew it ran out??!! When it does you are stuck with the baggage option and a longer walk to meet your family.
The marathon was amazing if I haven’t said that enough throughout my post, but I don’t feel I have adequately conveyed how amazing and I am not sure any words can, but I plan to write a follow up post trying. I am happy to have finished and thrilled with the time I achieved for my first marathon.
I even made it into the New York Times Marathon Section:
This was an experience of a lifetime! I have to say with the exception of the births of my children and my marriage, this was the most amazing day of my life.
I always said that when I finally ran the NYC Marathon I would get a tattoo to commemorate the achievement. I was all set to go the day after the marathon, but the Friday before I changed my mind and decided to get a Tiffany necklace instead. I was thinking about it the day after the marathon and I wanted something meaningful, something for me and then this happened:
I actually created the image on PicMonkey and then had it tattooed on my wrist the day after the marathon. This tattoo signifies the accomplishment of a goal that I have been working toward since I started running in 1997 and that anything is possible if you try!