In March 2011 I ran the Georgia Publix Marathon. Training for this was rough. My longest run was 19 miles and my legs felt like Jell-O by the end. I finished the race in 4:56:46. The time didn’t matter, what mattered is that I finished, and that was the goal. I NEVER thought I’d be a marathoner, and at this point don’t remember why or when I decided this distance would be a good idea. Crossing that finish line five and a half years ago was the best thing that ever happened to me. It lit that marathon spark and has kept me running and, most importantly, it’s allowed me to inspire others to run, and be inspired by some of the greatest people around!
Fast forward to October of 2014 and crossing the finish line in Chicago (my 4th marathon) in 4:37:34. My marathon training had improved greatly, but I kept getting injured so never training to my fullest ability. I knew in that moment I could do better, and that I also needed some time off from the distance to get stronger and faster.
What’s happened since then?
18 months of working with an amazing coach
32+ pilates classes
27+ races, including 3 half marathons and NO marathon
Personal Records in the 5K, 10K, and half marathon
1 minor injury (twice)
4 months of weekly physical therapy
1 killer 18 week marathon training plan
and now THIS:
The most FUN part of the TCS NYC Marathon this year was sharing it with my brother Matt and my best friend Misha. It was the first marathon for both of them. I was fortunate enough to do my 16 miler with Matt and my 22 and 10 milers with Misha. They both trained so well and had AWESOME races. I love them and am so proud of them! Anyways, Mom, Dad, and Matt got in town Friday night so we headed to the Expo Saturday morning. We spent a decent amount of time there doing some shopping and wandering around, and then grabbed lunch and headed home to rest our legs. By this point I was really excited for the race. I actually woke up Friday and Saturday morning quite nervous, but by Saturday afternoon I was feeling good.
I woke up Sunday morning and felt a sense of calm and peace, like I was going out for just another long run. I met Matt and we jumped in a cab to the Staten Island Ferry. We met Misha around 6:45am so had a bit of time to sit down and start munching on our bagels before our 7am ferry. We boarded the ferry and were on our way! From there things went down hill. Apparently a ferry broke down and there were issues with the buses. All I know is I was trying SO hard to keep my calm, and to keep Matt and Misha calm, but when we got off the bus at 9:30am (yes that’s an hour long trip that took us 2.5 hours including standing body to body in the ferry terminal on SI for one hour) and I heard them make the announcement our corrals closed I momentarily lost it. Then I took off running for the corral. Then I stepped on something and thankfully didn’t trip on it. Then I realized it was yogurt and I had yogurt ALL over my shoes. Then I finally laughed and wiped it off with Matt’s extra gloves (which thanks to the perfect weather he didn’t need!) Then I realized I was thirsty and picked up a half drank bottle off the ground and drank a stranger’s water. (Thanks!) Finally the cannon went off and Frank Sinatra started singing and things went from bad to much, much better!
Matt and I agreed we wanted to run together for as long as possible, and that if we needed to leave each other we would. Our paces all through training had been so similar and we had similar goals (4:10, 4:05, or maybe even break 4 hours) so it was easy and natural to run together. Ever so often we’d look at each other, “Are we going too fast?!” so we’d slow down a bit.
Brittany and Leticia captured this great picture of us around the 8 mile mark. Mom and dad were near here too. They had some fantastic signs for us which made it easy to spot them. We just cruised through Brooklyn. It was so much fun! The fans were incredible, more than I’ve ever seen our there as a runner and a cheerleader. THANK YOU everyone!
We really did our best to treat Brooklyn like an easy Sunday run. I think we did a great job! I was so excited as we approached the halfway mark to see Jeremiah and all of our friends! From there it was up the Pulaski bridge. But then, “Ahh, Matt! Where are you?” He’s so tall and in a bright yellow shirt but I just couldn’t find him! Even as I write this I get sad about losing him. I REALLY wanted to be with him across the Queensboro and into Manhattan. I kept looking back for him and then would worry I was going to trip over whatever was in front of me. Mattttttttt!!!!!! 😦
So I just kept going. I kept it steady through Queens, and took it easy over the Queensboro. Jess told me not to look at my watch on this bridge. I really tried not to but may have peeked a few times. The crowd on 1st Ave, ahhh! It’s so amazing. I did my best to pick it up a bit but not too much. This crowd makes you want to run as fast as you possibly can, and I knew it was too soon for that. I saw Beth (YAY) and Jess on her megaphone! When I saw Mom and Dad all I could say was, “I lost Matt!”
We did the first half in almost two hours even, so I knew if I could do the second half in under two hours I’d accomplish both goals: 1) Negative split 2) break 4 hours. Again, breaking 4 hours was an audacious goal of mine. When Jess and I discussed it we knew it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility, but that it’d have to be a near perfect day. I knew from my long runs that I needed to hit 20 miles by 3:05 at the latest, and then be able to continue to get faster. Honestly, I knew I could do it for a mile or two, but 6.2 more miles, I really didn’t know if I could do it.
As I saw myself averaging 9 minute miles and faster, it started to seem possible! I am so grateful Misha and I did the last 10 miles of the race during our training. It was nice to not be totally clueless running through the Bronx and upper Manhattan. I kept telling myself, “Just get to 125th street.” The glorious thing is it wasn’t about not hitting the wall, there was no wall. It was incredible there was no wall, and there was no walking. For the first time ever I was STILL running, and it was about getting faster, and KNOWING I could do this. Once I passed 125th it was, “Get to 110.” Then, “Get to 94/93rd where Mom, Dad, Brittany, and Leticia would be.” I waved at Mom and Dad as much as I could and then the most amazing thing happened!
Brittany and Beth appeared out of no where and jumped in with me! They gave me water (THANK YOU) and kept me moving up the rest of 5th Avenue and into Central Park. It seems like they were with me for quite a while, though I think it was just a few blocks. Either way, it was a life saver!!! (I was plenty well hydrated all week. The bright sun kept me thirsty the whole race!)
My friend Meaghan snapped this shot of me in the Park. The look on my face is great. A little pain, determination, drive. I was doing this! Some stranger called out, “Go Anne, you’re looking fierce!” This made me smile. To describe how my body felt- my legs weren’t hurting, they were dying. Every inch of them. I don’t know how to describe it, by no means unbearable pain, but something I’d never felt before. They were working HARD. As I went through the Park I kept reminding myself how well I knew this part of the course. I run it all of the time. All I had to do was get up that tiny hill before going down Cat Hill. But wait, I’m already going down Cat Hill. WOW! As I crossed under the Mile 25 marker I glanced at my watch. 3:48. “Ok. I have 12 minutes to run 1.2 miles. I can do that!!” “Right on CPW, get up to 6th Ave. Ahh Katy Perry’s ROAR, YES!!! 7th Ave. I’m almost there!!” I turned right and a quick left back into the Park. This is it. I had ultra tunnel vision to that finish line. Jeremiah was in the grandstands and I didn’t even remember to look for him. I was going to DO THIS!
Wow. A 1:57:56 second half, including a final 10K of 55:26. WHAT?!
I like this picture because you can see how I RAN through that finish line. I didn’t stop my watch, I didn’t slow down, I went through it with force. This was followed by immediate stiff legs and a body that said, “Keep moving” and a truly elated spirit!!! I made my way down the long path to the fleece poncho and found GB! He tracked Matt for me, who had just finished (4:25 woo hoo!) and I was able to grab him as he came out of the Park. We stumbled to meet the family for lunch and were so happy to see Mom and Dad!
A change of clothes and our medals!!!! Time for food. Matt and I enjoyed burgers and fries and Misha CRUSHED a ribeye 🙂 (She also crushed her race: 4:17!)
What. A. Day. The. Very. Best.
Matt and I got up early Monday and went to the Marathon Pavilion to have our medals engraved and buy some finisher swag. Marathon Monday is one of my favorite days! The Park was beautiful and we celebrated our accomplishments all day! The best news, Matt is NOT opposed to running another marathon. The fun has just begun!!!