Hi everyone!! I must warn you. This is going to be a very long post :)
For 3 years I was a spectator of The ING NYC Marathon. I didn’t know anyone running but I went out there, stood on my feet for 4 hours cheering every runner that passed by me. I would call their name and yell you look awesome, keep going!!! I always came back home with a sore throat and my heart full. For those 3 years I dreamed that one day I would be one of the runners. I cried every year watching them struggle.
In 2011 I discovered an easier way to get my guaranteed entry instead of trying the lottery. I became a member of NYRR and did the 9+1 program which is: you run 9 qualifying nyrr races and volunteer in 1 race in the year of 2011, then I renewed my membership for 2012 and that’s it, I got my guarantee entry for 2012 NYC Marathon! Wohooo! I started training, I had done a couple of 13 mile long runs but I got injured, I fell down coming out of the bus and twisted my right ankle and couldn’t run for a while so I decided to transfer my entry for 2013. Good thing I did that because the marathon was canceled anyways because of the super storm Sandy. Sad thing!
Lots of changes happened in 2013, I moved to FL, I stopped thanking my anxiety medication which caused me to put on some extra weight due to the withdraws symptoms and I was very discouraged to even run a mile. I thought about transferring my entry to 2014 because I felt I wasn’t ready and I wasn’t. Thankful I have the best husband by my side, Justin encouraged me to keep going and so I did. He would give me so much props for waking up at 5am on the weekend to go run that sometimes I only went running to get the compliments and make him proud. He thinks its hot! haha :)
Anyways, I started training very slowly. I was very out of shape (still think I am) and didn’t want to get hurt again. Running my first long run in the humidity of FL was a killer. It took me a long while to get used to it. Every weekend I thought about giving up because I was so slow compared to my last season of training but something kept me going. Justin and something stronger inside of me kept me waking up in at 5am and when I realized I was at the peak of my training. 20 miles all by myself. That was brutal. After an icebath I felt better but I was devastated mentally and emotionally. I never knew running could do that to me. I definitely don’t recommend running 20 miles by yourself.
After the 20 mile run it was time to cut down the milage and start recovering for the race. That felt good. I was never very confident that I was 100% ready but I was like, oh well, its my first marathon and I just want to finish it, even if takes me 8 hours. Its the experience that counts. As the race weekend got closer I started to get excited. I made sure to mentally prepare myself very well not taking on a lot of activities that involved a lot of thinking. haha The week before the race I took it very easy and took lots of naps and went to bed before 9:30pm. That was awesome as I love to sleep! The carb load also began – or continued :)
On Friday Nov 1st I flew to my parents in CT. The funny part was that I went to the airport at 7am and when I get there the guy says, Miss Bianca, your flight doesn’t leave until 8:55pm not am. Whaaaat? I looked at my JetBlue app to check my reservation and he was right. I was like, ohhhhh it’s true. How silly of me. He laughed at me and asked me if I loved JetBlue. I said of course, JetBlue is the only airline I fly when going to NY, NJ or CT. So he put me on the 10:20am flight. Yayyy! Despite my mind being on the clouds everything worked out smooth. My mom made some special homemade lunch, oh I’m so thankful for her cooking abilities :) Then I took a very nice and long nap. Again.
The next day we drove to NYC to go to the expo so I could get my number and tshirt. We also met my brother who lives in NYC and my uncle, auntie and friend that were visiting from Brazil. The expo was crazy. I got my stuff, my uncle bought me an extra marathon shirt and we got out of there as soon as possible. Too many people. After that we walked to Plataforma, the most famous Brazilian Steakhouse in NYC. I eat so good. I love that place. Plus I know a lot people that works there so we always get VIP treatment. Hey, thanks guys! :)
From there we went to the hotel in NJ – I strategically chose that hotel because is was close to the start line and I wanted to avoid the NYC craziness. I wanted everything to go very smooth and easy. I thought about staying in NY and take the ferry with all the other runners but then I decided I wanted my peace and quite. It was 9pm and I was in bed already. My mom was frustrated. She didn’t want to go to bed. I told her, Mom, I need to sleep, tomorrow will change my life. It’s going to be one of the most important days of my whole life!! She didn’t get it. She said, more than your wedding day? I laughed and said, after my wedding this will be pretty huge for me. I tried to remind her when we went for my brother’s first marathon, he was freaking out and driving everyone crazy. She said, you guys are all crazy. I don’t understand why you do this. On the other hand my dad was so nervous for me he was even shaking. Seriously, he was more nervous than me. So cute! Anyways, we all went to bed pretty early.
[me at the expo the day before the marathon]
Marathon day is here. November 3rd, 2013. I was calm and very excited. I couldn’t stop smiling. Dad drove me to the start line and left. I stayed there from 8am until my wave number 4 which was at 10:55 freezing!!! I ate my bagel with cream cheese, 2 bananas, my clif bar and drank lots of water. I seat there with all the other runners and we froze together. One lady next to me was running the NYCM for the 12th time and this other one for her 6th time. They gave me good advice. For some reason, thank God I was not nervous at all. Even thou it was cold I was enjoying every second of the waiting. Then we walked to the corrals and I started to get more and more excited!!!!!
[race preparation and ready to leave the hotel]
[race day - waiting at the Fort Wadsworth Park for my wave - runners leave all their warm clothes to Goodwill before the start]
At 10:55 they played New York New York. that gave me butterflies!!! Time to start running.
Here is a video of me at the start:
My attitude for this race was very straight forward: I just want to finish. I don’t care how long it’s going to take and if I need to walk I will walk. I just want to enjoy it. It took me 2 years to get here and I don’t want to get desperate about my pace and sabotage me finishing it. Even thou I trained, I’m still heavier than what I was last year and much slower. My muscles weren’t warming up because of the cold so I walked the Verrazano Bridge. Then I ran, then I walked. I made sure to pretty much walk all the hills. I had no idea this course was soooo hilly. I trained in Florida by the beach, flat. I wasn’t prepared for those hills but it’s all good.
[start line - when they played New York, New York]
[crossing Verrazano Bridge]
[view from Verrazano Bridge]
I felt like a celebrity. Since I had my name on my shirt, everybody was calling me out and cheering for me. It was amazing!!! That pushed me to keep going through the whole race. On around mile 5 I started to feel pain on both of my ankles because of the cold weather. I always had a hard time running in the cold. I didn’t really care thou, I just kept going. When I hit mile 13 the pain was more intense and I had to stop to stretch. I called my brother and Justin to say hi :) then I turned my phone off again.
[mile 14 - in Queens almost at Queensboro Bridge]
Queensborough bridge was a killer. I walked the whole thing and it hurts so much. At mile 16 walking was hurting more than jogging. Mile 16 to 18 was the hardest part. That’s when we get to Manhattan. I noticed that the entertainment people were leaving and there were not so many people cheering anymore like I saw on the years I went to cheer. I realized it was because it was getting late and people just left. It hit me that I was going way too slow and I started to freak out scared of being the last one to finish.
[1st Avenue, Manhattan - Mile 18 - family waiting for me]
[brother, uncle and mom waiting for me at mile 18 - brother wearing official marathon shirt][pictures by dad]
[mom and uncle at mile 18]
Then I saw my brother running towards me close to the mile 18 mark. My family was tracking me and I knew they were going to be at mile 18 waiting for me. I was happy to see them but a little disappointed for taking forever to get to them and making them wait in the cold. My dad took lots of pictures of me crossing mile 18. I saw people from church giving water, I stopped to give them a hug (thank you!).
[me passing mile 18 - finally]
[saying hi to the girls from church]
[brother giving me water]
My brother was in a running outfit, he was wearing the extra official marathon shirt I got and my tights. haha. He said, I’m going to run until the end with you. Amazing!!! At first my brother was pissing me off. I was in so much pain and he was like, come on B! Faster, push it. Lets go!! I hated him for a couple of miles and I said, let me run my own race, stop bothering me!!! Poor Gui!! To be honest I was afraid of not finishing so I was saving myself. I trained up to 20 miles, I had no idea what was going to happen after that. When we hit mile 21 something inside me started to burn, I gained confidence and felt in my heart that I’ve got this! Gui looked at me, gave me his arm and said, That’s it. Only 5 more, that’s nothing. You can do it. Come on, grab my arm and push it. You are going to finish it strong!!!
[passing mile 21 - when I start getting more confident]
I grabbed his arm and followed his lead. Then at mile 22 my friend Pam was there waiting for me and gave me a hug and that gave me more strength! The last 5 miles was the easiest part of the race. Gui was helping me but we were running pretty fast compared to the way I ran the other 21 miles. We were side by side, same rhythm, same pace, same breathing. That was AWESOME!! At that point I stopped looking at the spectators, people would call my name but I was so focused on my breathing, on my brother, on my feet hitting the floor that I didn’t even looked. I was in the zone, it was like it was only me and Gui and the finish line waiting for us. I didn’t feel any pain on those last 5 miles. Only at mile 25 I felt a huge sharp pain on my right knee. I said, please God, not now. And the pain went away. I had to stop for a few seconds then, I started to get too anxious. I couldn’t believe the finish line was only a mile away. Gui said, stop with that. Don’t let anxiety get in the way. lets go! I grabbed his arm and kept pushing it. Feeling strong.
[me and brother running together arm with arm - thank you irmão lindo!!!]
The way to get to Central Park again, less than .50 mile from the finish line was very narrow and full of cops checking for numbers. Gui didn’t had a number but he was wearing the official shirt. There were some people in front of us that the cops were blocking and me and Gui just kept going like it was nobody’s business, we passed 4 cops and they didn’t stopped us. Then I saw the finish line. My heart filled with joy and I smiled. I asked Gui to let my arm go only 400 meters before the finish. I wanted to cross that line by myself. He let go of my arm and went a little before me but looking back at me and smiling proudly. I couldn’t stop smiling back at him. I lifted my both arms and crossed the finish line with a huuuuge smile on my face and with my heart full!
[only 400 meters to the finish line - I was about to let go of my brother's arm to finish it by myself]
[wohooooo! crossing the finish line]
[official picture and instagram picture with medal]
It took me 6:38:58 to finish it but I finished strong!! (the clock shows the time from the first wave – mine wave was the 4th one) That was really one of the best feelings I have ever felt. A sense on accomplishment, I can do it!! I felt I was invincible, untouchable!! I didn’t trained the way I wanted, had a crazy year full of changes and I was in so much pain and I finished!!!! I was so proud of myself. Still am. I kept thinking, imagine if I had trained more intense the way I wanted and if I was on my normal weight. I would have killed it. Well, I killed it anyway and I couldn’t be happier. I got my medal and had to walk out of the park all the way back to Columbus Circle. That. Was. The. Worst. Part. Goodness, after the race we had to walk about 30 minutes to meet our family. It was freezing. Thank God for those ponchos. I could barely walk but had no other option. I thanked God for giving strength to push through the pain. I thanked God for the amazing brother I have. He was the one that got me into running and I actually ran my other 2 major races with him. When he was running his first half I ran my first 10k, when he ran his first marathon I ran my first half. Same races but different distances. We were together in all of them and NYCM wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for him. He was not only there to cheer me on, he ran 8 miles with me, arm with arm. I get goose bumps when I remember that. I ate about 5-6 gels during the race, got water from almost every water station and didn’t stopped to use the bathroom at all.
[at Columbus Circle with the family]
After the long walk we finally met the family at Columbus Circle. They were sooooo proud of me and Gui. They almost cried when I told them the whole story about him giving me his arm and us crossing the finish line together. Mom had a sandwich ready for me. That was yummy. Then we went to my uncles hotel in the city, I took a warm shower and finally peed. Then me and my parents drove back to CT. I was feeling the ‘runners high‘ big time until 4 days later, couldn’t even sleep that good of excitement and didn’t take the medal off my neck for 2 days. I recovered pretty fast. My amazing husband gave me a nice massage when I got home (he was a massage therapist before – lucky me). Poor Justin, I wouldn’t stop talking about the marathon for days. Now, more than a week later, I still get the ‘runner’s high” when I think about it. Now the plan is to start working on my speed, run a bunch of half marathons and loose weight. I will try to get into NYC Marathon again through the lottery every year until I get in but I don’t plan to run any other marathon that is not NYC. Everybody always says that NYCM is the best race in the world that I don’t see the point in going through all that crazy training if it’s not for NYC. But this is me. I’m sure that there are other cool marathons out there but I lived in and around NYC for 10 years so NYC is extra special for me.
Wow! That was a huge blog post! :) I would like to take this time to thank all of my family and friends from the bottom of heart for all the support you gave me during one of the best experiences of my life. This experience has pushed me to be a better wife, step-mom, friend, daughter, sister, photographer, business woman and overall healthier person. I look forward to the next journey. So until next time. tchau!