Touring New York City

Well, touring the city was definitely more enjoyable having snagged a PR. I had a little more pep to my step you could say ūüėÄ

We got started the day after. Yup, we weren’t wasting our time. I figured the walking would help with recovery anyway, right? Ja!!

The main things on my list were the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. An early morning alarm woke us up and I honestly didn’t feel too bad considering I’d finished a marathon the day before. We arrived at the ferry around 9 a.m. and it was nice beating the crowds.

14963149_10106978984830351_5560101825818089131_n

It’s been a dream to see this statue in person. I mean, I’ve read so much about it in school growing up and honestly–sitting in a desk, it just seemed like fiction. But up close?? Man… And then to go to Ellis Island and read/see what the people arriving to the United States felt about seeing the statue–it leaves you a different person, really.

14915287_10106978984725561_5884375772562027614_n

My parents are U.S citizens. My mom’s mom wasn’t (but became one late in her life before she died). My dad’s dad isn’t and lives in Mexico.

I’ve seen firsthand the emotions one feels not being able to be with family. I’m not going to turn this into a political post, but I do have to say, I wish the process were easier. And I wish people had more compassion to those who have family in America¬†and long to be with them.

We read and learned a lot during our visit to Ellis Island. The process was not easy then….and some things never change.

After our morning in the museum, we headed to the World Trade Center/One World Observatory. We went up to the top and just had the most breathtaking view of the city. It was another surreal moment as we looked out the massive windows.

14915189_10106979684692821_1549555876855029157_n

 

All in all, the day after the race totaled a whopping 10 miles of walking. I have no idea how I functioned, lol!

Tuesday, Election Day, was bittersweet. I was excited to be in New York City on a historical day but of course you already know in what capacity it was such.

We visited Central Park, a spot I had on my list I wanted to see.

14938337_10106983926152901_8586646921247577846_n

And then we made our way to the Hilary Clinton Block Party, which coincidentally was at the same place as the marathon expo.

at the expo

at the expo

at the block party

at the block party

When it started getting late and things were¬†not looking too good, we decided to call it a night. ūüė¶

Wednesday was the day I’d been waiting for……NEW YORK KNICKS DAY!!!

If you remember my sob story a few months ago, I was super sad that the only games playing while we were in the city were the day of the marathon and the day we were to leave. Well, my husband decided that this was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity so we extended our stay one more day!!!

I had breakfast with a blogging buddy (who sadly no longer blogs) and then in the evening, my husband and I had a pre-game celebration with the amazing Colby. It was seriously the best way to begin the night ‚̧

Me and the beautiful Colby--LOVE her.

Me and the beautiful Colby–LOVE her.

And then we watched the Knicks play at Madison Square Garden!!! Seriously guys, you have no idea how excited I was about this. Basketball was my first love. And while running has taken over, you never, ever forget your first.

HUGE check off my life list.

HUGE check off my life list.

We jam packed our New York City vacay and I absolutely had the time of my life. It was a stark difference from desert living but I think that’s why I loved it so much, lol!

In all, I’m so happy that whenever I think of New York, I’ll only have positive memories of a great race and a great vacation.

–Have you ever been to New York? If not, what would you want to see/visit there?

–What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of New York City?

–Do you tour a city when you go on a race-cation?

 

NYC Marathon: The Saturday Before

So I’ve already written about The Race, and I thought I’d share a little about what happened the Saturday leading ¬†up to the big day.

Saturday¬†morning before the marathon, I joined up with Run, Selfie, Repeat’s shakeout run. I “knew” a whole bunch of We Run Social and IG people attending and I was excited to finally meet some social media friends in person. It was a great turn out ¬†(i.e. a shit ton of people) so we broke out in mini groups; it was a perfect 2.5 mile fun run.

BL: Me with Kelly aka-Run, Selfie, Repeat; M: Me with Gregg aka-NYC Sweat; BR: Me with Carlos aka-Carlos the Runner

BL: Me with Kelly aka-Run, Selfie, Repeat; M: Me with Gregg aka-NYC Sweat; BR: Me with Carlos aka-Carlos the Runner

********************

Saturday night was my charity’s pasta dinner. This was quite different than when I ran Chicago for the Ronald McDonald House. The V Foundation was more private and close knit which was really cool. The food was absolutely amazing but the biggest deal were the guest speakers.

Andy Katz from ESPN was the main speaker and he shared his story for why he has chosen to run for the Jimmy V Foundation the past few years. He talked a lot about how much more meaning a race has when you’re running for something other than yourself–which is a big reason why I think a lot of us do this (run for charity).

Andy Katz, me, and my husband

Andy Katz, me, and my husband

Then, he introduced his friend Seb Bellin. Seb was a professional basketball player turned successful businessman. He was in Brussels during the horrifying terrorist attack at the Brussels airport and very badly injured. Seb shared what helped him survive his near-death experience and his story brought the room to tears.

Seb almost died. But, less than a year after, here he was standing right in front of me. He related to us that while he’s never run a marathon, he can imagine that there are moments during the race where we felt like quitting. Where we felt the pain was too strong for us to keep going.

Seb recounted how there were many moments when he felt like that in the Brussels airport. But because he remained calm and in the moment, he allowed himself a chance to survive. He didn’t hope for the impossible–walking out of there; his legs had been severely damaged. Instead, he focused on what he could do: see, talk, and move his hands. He used his strengths to help find a way to get out and get help.

First, he was able to grab something to use as a tourniquet for one of his legs. Then, he pleaded for someone to put him on a luggage cart and take him outside. Once outside, he told the rescue officials arriving it was imperative they put him in an ambulance; he was losing blood fast and time was not in his favor.

He did all of this in unimaginable pain.

As he was speaking, I couldn’t help but think that running a marathon felt so trivial compared to the very near death experience he was sharing. I simply couldn’t imagine being as strong as he was in that situation (and I thanked God I had never been close.)

But I thought a lot about Seb when I ran NYC Marathon. I thought about how lucky I was to be able to run, to feel pain. And his words definitely helped me. His words helped me to embrace the pain–to accept it and find a way to push through it.

This is the video he shared to us that night. There are graphic scenes, but you can see/hear Seb recount the awful moments of that day and how he was able to survive.

The New York City Marathon is a race I’ll never forget for many reasons, and his story is one of them.

Team V with Seb--the tall guy in the back :) <3

Team V with Seb–the tall guy in the back ūüôā ‚̧

–What thoughts get you through tough moments in a race?

 

2016 NYC Marathon Race Recap

I did it.

I still can’t believe it, but I did it.

3:58:40

3:58:40

I had prepared for this race for such a¬†long time and was just so ready for it; I honestly was not nervous at all. I had never felt so calm at the start line for a race as I did at this one–the biggest marathon in the country and up to this point, the marathon with the highest expectations. The goal was to finish under four hours.

I hoped¬†to reach the halfway point in under 2 and try and keep the halves as close as I could time wise. I knew the second half was “harder” but I was¬†intent on giving it my best.

First half–1:57
Second half–2:01

Really, I couldn’t have asked for better. Considering the second half had the infamous Queensboro Bridge and the hills of Central Park, I am ridiculously happy with those half splits.

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-4-05-11-pm

Miles 1-6

I knew the first mile was going to be all uphill and I knew that it was going to be cold and windy. It was all of those things. I started off slowly and with no rush or concern for passing people. The first mile beeped right as I passed the marker at 9:49.¬†I knew I’d be picking it up and I did as the second mile alert came in in at 8:26–except it came a ways before I reached the mile marker. I was little bummed to see that already my watch was not matching the course. But luckily, I had a 4 hour¬†pace bracelet that at the last minute, my friend had given me before we started.¬† So I didn’t panic and instead told myself to just use the elapsed time to keep track.¬†

On I went. I wasn’t obsessing at my watch, only occasionally looking down to make sure I wasn’t going too fast. I took in the crowds–it was exactly as advertised. There were soooo many people on both sides screaming, cheering, dancing, laughing. You really couldn’t help but smile yourself. The best was seeing people find their runner and squeal with joy. Oh my god, I loved that so much.

I reached the 10k mark with so much happiness. I felt good, I felt strong.

565090_242336640_xlarge

But I knew I still had a long ways to go.

Miles 6-15

I knew my friend Elle (A Fast Paced Life) would be at mile 8-9ish so I started to to look around for her when I approached the end of mile 7. The next three miles were a blur trying to find her and I was sad I didn’t, but I just pressed on.

With the exception of the first mile, miles 2-10 were all between 8:26-8:47. My watch kept beeping before the mile marks so I never really knew what the pace was exactly for each mile but I just kept glancing down at the pace bracelet and making sure I was under whatever it said for each mile.

I just concentrated on running by feel, and I truly felt great. Every now and then I’d do a body check and everything would¬†pass. My breathing was fantastic. I was seriously in disbelief with how great things were going. I’d never felt this way at this point in a marathon, lol!

565090_242108110_xlarge

Miles 15-20

Up to mile 15, I had been running unplugged, but I had my little I-pod in case I needed some musical inspiration. When I approached Queensboro Bridge, I decided that was the time.

There are no spectators on the bridge and I knew that this was going to be a rough incline, so I put my earphones in and put my head down. I marched on completely oblivious to my surroundings. Even though my mile split for 16 was 10:09, I passed so many people.

When I made the turn onto First Ave, I unplugged so I could relish the cheer from the crowd. I had heard so many things about the “sound boom” runners get coming out of the bridge and boy did I welcome it.

However, at around mile 19 I started to feel a little ball grow where where my ankle meets my foot. A cramp! I re-plugged and kept going. I knew that if I could just make myself keep going, it would either go away or I’d forget about it. One could hope, right?

565090_242510167_xlarge-2

Miles 20-24

Oh my gosh, these miles were tough. My breathing was absolutely perfect. There was no huffing or puffing or struggling on my part. But the cramps….oh, the cramps!!! My quads, my hamstrings, my calves, my toes–everything hurt and I was dying.

565090_242258086_xlarge

565090_242258089_xlarge

But you know what? I didn’t panic. I didn’t stress. And most importantly, I didn’t stop. I would ask myself how I felt, and I honestly felt fine–my breathing was good and my body didn’t feel tired or sluggish. It was just the cramps.

So I isolated them. I set them apart from the rest of my body and pretended they didn’t exist. I was in such a zone, so completely immersed in the moment. I was in the middle of Central Park at this point but I couldn’t see or hear a thing. I was *in* the race.

The cramps would come and go, but I kept on running.

Miles 25–Finish

I was still cramping pretty badly but at this point, I knew I had my sub 4 marathon and I was so ridiculously happy.

I kept thinking about my husband and my kids and my brother and sister and all the people who mean so much to me and all the people who donated to my charity. I don’t think I’d ever been so happy during¬†a race in my entire life.

565090_242922616_xlarge

565090_242132256_xlarge

565090_242683162_xlarge

I looked down at my watch to make sure I wasn’t crazy, but I’d done it!! I crossed the finish line in under 4 hours!

565090_241743247_xlarge

565090_242943848_xlarge

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-12-20-42-pm

I was absolutely giddy. And as soon as I stopped, the cramps dissipated and I looked and felt like I could’ve kept going.

565090_242601165_xlarge

I wanted to jump, I wanted to scream with¬†joy!! I wanted to hug everyone. I wanted to kiss the final race photographer and the woman who put the race sheet around me. I wanted to find my husband and tell him that I had just finished¬†the race of my life…

565090_242564143_xlarge

It was a long walk to the family meet-up where I knew my husband was waiting. I saw him before he saw me and my heart swelled. I was so happy that finally, finally, I was coming to him with good news.

His eyes locked mine, a nervous look as he searched for an answer…Choking back tears of joy,¬†I whispered:

I did it.

565090_242630292_xlarge

 

************There’s so much more I have to say about this race and I’ll be doing so in the next couple of days/weeks, but first–oh my goodness guys, thank you SO much for your words of encouragement and love on here and Instagram. Many of you have been with me on this long, long journey and really, you have no idea what your support means to me. I will never forget it. ‚̧ , helly