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 🙂 ❤

–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

 

 

Phoenix Marathon Ambassador and an Instagram GIVEAWAY!!!

13388866_10106336485733691_1519350609_o

Check out my Insta for deets!

Happy Hump Day!! It certainly is in HellyLand as I’m so happy to share with you that I was chosen to be a Phoenix Marathon ambassador 😀 If you’ve been reading this blog a while, then you’ll remember this was my very first marathon back in 2014.

Each year since, the race has given me some pretty special moments–my first DNF in 2015, and my current half PR in 2016. You’re probably thinking how my DNF could be “special” but it was. I learned so much from that low moment as much as learned from my high at this year’s race.

It’s a race I’m pretty certain I’ll do each year because I really do love it. I love the course–it’s not intimidating at all

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 6.37.04 PM

and I love that so many of my friends do it. It’s just a big running party. For it being *the* Phoenix Marathon, it’s not a huge race (yet) so it has a real homey feel to it. The start of the full has bonfires to keep us warm (it’s cold here in February! 50 degrees cold!) and fireworks to send us off.

It’s also a race many are finding out is a good course to BQ. Good ‘ol Suz killed the course last year and several of my friends have come out of there with qualifying times.

Because I want everyone to come visit me in Arizona and because I know you’ll want to escape your cold in Februrary, I’m giving away a FREE entry to the Phoenix HALF or FULL. The giveaway is on my Instagram only (sorry non Insta ppl). If you don’t have Instagram or don’t want to wait, you can use Helly10 for $10 off your registration for the FULL or HALF distance. Sign up and run with meeeeee!!!! ❤ , helly

–Do you have a local race you always participate in?

–How’s the weather where you’re from in February? (It’s bliss here.)

Linking up with Smitha and Erica for their Wednesday Giveaway Roundup!!

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 9.40.42 AM