Wednesday, December 10, 2014

New York Marathon 2014 experience!

 This is it!  THE NEW YORK MARATHON, no other marathon like it from all the people who have ran it and I am about to see if that is true or just hype!  Unfortunately, the whole time I was in New York, I just couldn't get myself excited for this race.  It was unusual especially since it was a (BIG, BIG) race outside of the Philippines and thousands and thousands of miles away from home.  The reason:  I was injured!  I am still nursing a swollen ankle that happened a month ago at Run United Marathon.  Rather than quitting at that time, I stubbornly kept going and finished that race.  It was to complete the goal of finishing the Run United Trilogy, which I have never done before.  I thought it was a good plan but as New York Marathon drew nearer, I was having doubts for this particular race:  Will I be able to finish it?  Will I be able to run it at all?

Alvin saw my ankle the day before my flight to USA and he said that my ankle was still swollen!  I had to stop training for two weeks and had to resume because I was worried my fitness level would all but disappear if I kept on resting my ankle.  It was a balancing act for me:  To run and risk getting more injured or to rest my ankle but at the expense of cramping or hitting the wall on the actual race.  This was a true test and I didn't know what I could do but lift this up to God.  My wife knew what the stakes were and she also fasted from all her favorite foods and prayed that I will do well for this race.  To say that only God can control this outcome is an understatement!  Of course I did my own part too in trying to get healed properly:  visited a doctor, R.I.C.E. Treatment, eating some medicine, wearing ankle support, etc.  but time was not on my side for this situation.  But God has worked miracles for me.  Prayer is very effective in the past and one of the things I learned to do all the time.

Come Saturday, the day before the marathon, I didn't have any of the pre-race jitters.  There was no nervousness, but there was determination.  I need to finish this race!  Whether I get injured again or not is not something I am going to dwell upon.  Whatever happens after the race, I can deal with it.  The important thing IS THE RACE and nothing more.  For the next 24 hours, I did all the required things for pre-race: checking all the gears, re-reading the manual (for start time, ferry service, finish line, friends and family reunion), fixed my food for the next day, rested at the hotel, carbo loaded at night via pasta dinner and resting early to get enough sleep for the next day. 


We all headed out to take a taxi cab from the hotel to Whitehall Ferry Terminal, which we will then take the ferry to Staten Island.  Per (bless her heart), was there for me.  Blanche wanted to go too.  So all three of us rode the taxi and all the time, I was thinking, "this is where I am going to run later!"

My goal isn't just to finish!  It's to do the best that I can to finish.  Although there are a lot of ways to excuse myself from a fast finish time (sprained ankle, lack of training - long runs, speedwork), I know I would have already lost the battle if I let that get the better of me.  In a long distanced race such as a Marathon, the mind plays a vital role whether you will finish well or not even finish at all.  You have to will yourself to finish!

However I perform, this race wasn't just for me anymore.  It was for GOD.  And for GOD, will you give anything less than what you can?

Weather wise, this was one of the worst weathers for the New York Marathon (Hurricane Sandy from two years ago was worst for marathon week because of the devastation caused in the city, but on that race day, weather was perfect if they pushed through with it).  TV even said that this was one of the windiest and coldest NYC marathon in 10 years!  Very very chilly!  I went into the ferry wearing three layers of clothing and even that wasn't enough.  Good thing I had some blankets which I put over my body as well!

right on time for the 8:30am ferry

sooo coooolllddd!

seeing Statue of Liberty in NYC: CHECK!

There are two ways to get to Staten Island, where the starting line was:  via bus ride from Manhattan, or ferry ride from Whitehall Terminal.  Since ferry ride is free for everyone, that is what I chose.  Seeing the Statue of Liberty was a nice bonus as well!

Weather seemed to get chillier especially once we reached Staten Island, where there is nothing to block us from the wind!  Rather than going to the bus that would take me to the starting line, I decided to stay behind at the terminal and buy a cup of coffee (they have Starbucks here) and eat from the food I bought with me.  We found a spot near the stairs and positioned ourselves on the floor.  As my starting time drew nearer, I decided to get on one of the last buses at the terminal.  I gave my farewell to Per and Blanche as they will head back to Manhattan via the same ferry.

A good feature for this race was the runner's tracker App which allowed Per to see where I am in real time.  That way she would know how I was doing, where I was and more importantly, when she would leave the hotel and head toward the finish line.  That way, she didn't have to wait a long time for me.  I told her to leave the hotel once she sees that I am at 38km mark.  

This App also allows up to 10 runners for you to track, so of course you could put in elite runners like Meb (what Alvin did) or celebrities who are running this race such as Teri Hatcher (what Per did).  Based on your pace in the race, it also gives an estimate of your finish time.  Of course, this would adjust automatically once you go slower or faster (more on this later).

After 15 minute bus ride (which seemed forever), we were finally dropped off... somewhere.  Only a few runners were left behind.  Was I that late?  Good side to this though was the very short line at the portalets!  I slowly walked to my wave area, and did some final stretching there.  It was just 10 minutes before my gun start.  I had arrived just in time (and just the way I liked it).

As we counted down the clock, runners started cheering and shouting.  Now, I was finally excited to do this!  Whatever happens, God is in control of this and I put my faith in Him.  "Thank You God in advance for this race", I prayed quietly.

Then we were off.  I walked to the starting line, press start on my Garmin and started to run....

To be continued...

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