Tuesday Topics: MARATHONER!

By | November 4, 2019

the 2019 NYC Marathon is officially in the rear view and I DID IT. Linking up with Kim and Zenaida to discuss. Apologies in advance for the all caps and exclamation points, but you’ve all been there and totally understand it. Oh, and it’s ridiculously long.

[bctt tweet=”#MedalMonday: my long thoughts on becoming a marathoner” username=”travellingcari”]

Spoiler, I finished: Marathon Monday with Fred

It’s impossible not to think of Fred Lebow while running anywhere in NYC, but especially true for the marathon. As Ron Rubin’s biography said, Anything for a T-Shirt. True when Fred started the marathon and still true now.

But rewinding…

I was originally going to bucket this as good/bad, but other than 26.2 being the challenge it is, there was nothing I’d really call bad. Just some wardrobe adjustments I’ll make for my next Half.

Surprisingly I was able to sleep Saturday night. I went to bed on the early side and while I woke up once or twice, I woke refreshed at my alarm. After adding some raspberry, because you can’t have grey roots in your first marathon photos!, I was out the door to get the train to NYPL. The line was long and moved quickly and efficiently. Darlene and I had boarded a bus and were en route to Staten Island by 7:05.

I never did plan and fully try out a breakfast, but I went with a tried and true for most of my nearly 40 years… PB&J. That was one of my errands Saturday as I wanted avocado on a bagel for dinner the night before. Yeah, never did get around to buying a toaster this training cycle. I ate half the PB & J on the bus as I sipped Science in Sport.

Priority #1 on arrival at the Fort

follow that truck!

While the starting area wasn’t exactly organized logically, it was relatively easy to follow signage. We were through security in 5m, tops, and wandered around to find our hats and hit the potties before heading to our respective villages.

Shoes’ last ride

so many clothes!

I’d brought a copy of Runners’ World, but by the time I hit the potties again for a nervous pee, finished the PB & J sandwich and switched out my shoes, it was almost time to go into the corrals. Yes, my first pair of 1080s that got me started with marathon training ran out of miles and I decided to donate them in the best way possible as I already have two pair of knockaround sneakers.

hanging out with a hashtag

I had to stop here on my way to the corrals. Dunkin also had plastic topiary but there were too many people around it. I followed some of the great advice to keep layers into the corrals, but had ditched the warm up pants by this point.

Battery Weed from the Verrazano

I’ve been to Fort Wadsworth before, but if you told me then I’d have seen it from the bridge I’d have laughed in your face. Verrazano, like the Henry Hudson, is the rare NYC bridge without a pedestrian path. Everyone talks about the emotion of New York, New York on the bridge, but I admit I didn’t hear it. Downside of corral F. We had Joan Jett’s I Love Rock and Roll , which really set the tone for the next 26.2 miles.

We crossed the start relatively quickly given the large number of runners in Orange Wave 4 and suddenly I was taking in the span of the Verrazano. This was when it hit me that I was officially running the NYC marathon and was going to be running for a very long time. There are almost no photos as I focused on running and taking it all in. I wanted to experience it in the moment, but did take this photo from the bridge because New York harbor is just stunning.

Everyone told me that you could hear the crowds coming off the 59th Street Bridge, but I could hear the amazing Bay Ridge crowds from the Verrazano too. The 2.62 mileage signs, DJ playing Beastie Boys. It was an amazing but LONG run up 4th. Like Ocean Parkway when you’re doing the alphabet, the street countdown reminds you how long it is. My amazing friend Rachel found me and ran with me for a minute or two and I just took it all in.

As we turned onto Lafayette, it was great to see BAM and this area of Brooklyn before turning into Williamsburg. Someone in the start village was warning others about the quiet zones of the 59th Street Bridge and Hasidic Williamsburg, but I didn’t find Williamsburg to be that quiet. Compared to the raucous earlier streets, yes, but the little kids out cheering were amazing.

Shortly after this as we headed through Greenpoint was my first supremely happy moment – someone handing out Swedish Fish. I opted for the theory that no one was going to try & poison the marathoners and took one. The actual nutrition was going well, starting with a Gingerade Gu in the corral,  but I already needed something different.

I was happy to find the “secret” bathrooms with no line just before the Pulaski Bridge and in the short stretch in Queens I was super stoked to find one of my Rogue coaches, Justin. I should have warned anyone within arms’ reach that they were getting a flying hug. Justin ran with me for part of a mile and took one of my too many gels off my hand. It was on the Pulaski that the 6:00 pacers caught up with me. They started before me so I’m not sure what pace they were relative to my start, but didn’t worry too much about it. I was enjoying it.

Mile 16 and still happy. Photo: Mom

I didn’t find the 59th St. bridge to be that quiet because we runners were making a ton of noise. Both celebrating a wheel chair coming through and generally whooping it up to make noise on the lower level. Not quite the CP tunnel noise with the open sides, but still loud. We could hear 1st Avenue coming off the Bridge and I knew Mom & Bob were watching from the New Balance party at Treadwell Park. The surprise lasted until Saturday night when Bob had to tell mom – I call that mission accomplished. I was looking for Bob since he’s 6’4 and mom is shorter than I am, but I was able to spot mom’s sign and started blowing kisses.

The most awesome thing that has changed on 1st Avenue since the last time I spectated there was the bike lane on the West side. It allows the crowds to be in close. Best decision I made was writing my name on my shirt. I had so many “friends” on the course it was awesome. I won’t lie — passing my apartment was a challenge.  The only real quiet zone was the charity zone, most of whom had gone home by the time we came through. Fred’s Team was out there though and amazing.

Willis Ave. Bridge headed to the Bronx. Photo: Jordan

While I was plotting to surprise Mom, my brother was doing the same with Bob to surprise me. Bob really enjoyed being the linchpin of all the surprises. Jordan texted me Sunday morning with a video of my nephew and telling me where he’d be. AMAZING. Did I mention that he lives in Albany?!? So I knew to expect him at Mile 22 – and as a marathoner himself he told me runners’ left. I didn’t expect him just shy of mile 20 headed into the Bronx. Loved this.

I was struggling by this point. It wasn’t The Wall-I don’t think I ever hit that. This was just tired legs. I never once thought about dropping out though. I knew I’d finish even if it was walking. I’ll be honest, part of the reason I never had nerves about NYC was not finishing was never an option even if i was crawling. I detoured into the Biofreeze spray station in the Bronx and that was great for my calves.

There were so many great signs on the course but my favorite might have been Welcome to the Last Damn Bridge on Madison Avenue. Luckily this one was just an overpass and was basically nothing. After we hit Fifth Avenue I was ecstatic to find my colleagues’ water station and flew into them for a hug. By this point they knew I was running (and it eventually made our Insta), but it was so good to see them. Shortly after this I saw Jordan again and unloaded a pace band I was mad at and a gel I’d taken but didn’t want and didn’t want to waste.

I knew Fifth Avenue would be hard. We ran it last week. But I didn’t anticipate how hard it would feel this late in the race. At about 110, I made a deal with myself that I could walk until the museums at 105th. I then ran a little until a water station where I walked under the condition that I would run the park. This was absolutely the right decision as I felt rejuvenated in the park. No doubt the downhills helped. The weirdest thing was a large screen suspended over Fifth Avenue at the Park’s entrance. It was cheer cards, I think, but so disorienting as there’s no TV there!

I knew I was feeling relatively good in the park as I didn’t even flip off Cat Hill which always happens in Lebow. We exited the Park and I was feeling strong. I knew the look toward Columbus circle was long from prior reads so I focused on the crowds and hugged a Santa. I didn’t do all the high fives I could have for stamina, but I got as many of the kids as I could.

The stage at the entrance to the park was a pick me up and I honestly did not notice the incline to the finish. Before I realized it, we were done. The actual finish is almost anti-climactic as there was a slight backlog of medical spotters, but we were done and I remembered to smile for the camera. Photos TK, I absolutely bought the MarathonFoto package because you’ll never have another first marathon.

I got my medal, had a couple of photos with the sideline backdrops and headed up the path to my poncho and meetup. This was absolute walking on adrenaline and it didn’t seem as bad as the recaps sound. We had a meeting place at the Starbucks at Columbus and 73rd and getting there was fine and relatively quick. The hardest part was holding the recovery bag with the heat wrap & poncho, neither of which had arms.

my original NYC running buddy, Mom & Bob

Utopia Diner medal shot. Photo: Mom or Bob

The best decision was asking mom to bring me flip flops because I wanted out of my shoes. She thought to bring me pedi socks and I may have laid the poncho on the ground to change into the flip flops and stash my sneakers in the recovery bag. Beth, who I first met in an NYC running meetup in March/April 2017, lives in the UWS and my question to her was where coudld we eat right there. I wasn’t hangry – and still haven’t really been hungry – but I just wanted to sit. She delivered with a recommendation of this diner.

All in all, a super successful day. Capped off by an epsom salt bath, Biofreeze and Advil.

On Pace:

I knew my idea of 6:00 was gone by about half way, but I was OK with that. I just wanted to enjoy it. Wasn’t worth pushing it and hating the race. I got mad at my wrist for telling me, so I ripped off the pace band in the Bronx, but didn’t want to litter so handed it to Jordan.

I actually didn’t know my finish time at all until we sat at dinner and Beth showed it to me. I never had an A/B/C goal, as I mentioned, but I was fine with 6:18ish. I really need to look it up.

On nutrition:

This went well. But by mile 20 or so, I couldn’t really chew the hardening margarita blocks and found the honey stingers too sweet. I was SO GLAD for the random Starburst and Swedish fish. Race nutrition by Cari. I hung on to a 20 oz water bottle for 25 miles and refilled it every / every other water station.

This wasn’t about weight loss, but my scale does all the data and I somehow lost 3.8 lbs between the first day of training and the NYC marathon. I’ll take it.

On wardrobe:

Capris were the perfect choice. I could have tossed my long sleeve on a couple of occasions but glad I didn’t as it was chilly as the sun went down. For future halfs, I’m going to get an SPI or Flip Belt. While I need the water on training runs, I do not need the heavy belt for a race. It was great to have the bib toggles but otherwise it mostly just annoyed me as it shifted around. If it didn’t have the bib on it and phone in it, Jordan probably would have taken it to Albany with him.

I was most excited by my epsom soak that nothing chafed. Literally nothing. That never happens! I brought extra body glide to reapply in the starting village and it was perfect. My favorites along the course besides edibles were vaseline and tissues.

On future plans:

Yep, still one and done. That was always the plan going in and nothing in the race changed that. I enjoyed the training – and as someone said in a comment (Marcia, I think?): I had a sparkly unicorn cycle. Weather especially. I made some sacrifices I was willing to make for my first marathon, especially travel, but I can’t see fitting marathon training in again. I loved almost every second of this. But I’m looking forward to a return to Half land. It’s my happy place.

I’m so glad I trained with Rogue. More to come on that in a later post, and probably things I’m forgetting in this post.

Marathon Monday:

by the boat house

Cherry Hill

by the Pavillion


I took the day off work not knowing how I’d feel and the only plans I made were a Rēcover session and lunch with Darlene. Surprisingly I was awake early and feeling relatively good save for some stiffness and decided to walk for coffee. That felt good so I extended the walk into Central Park as moving felt better than not. I skipped Marathon Monday in the Pavilion as I had no pressing need to have my medal engraved today or shop.


Friends! As Darlene said, we make her look tall

I did hop the subway as I was running late for my recovery session (officially in love with Normatec). After a quick gym visit to stretch and roll, I met up with Darlene and Lacey for lunch and a post-race debrief. It was great to see Lacey as excited after 22 as Darlene and I were after one.

After a trip to JackRabbit Union Square (more Normatec!) and Columbus Circle for the 30% off sale, which was 100% off as I bought nothing, I went to my hair appointment and came home to my couch which was very comfortable.

and an excellent “Dinner”

So glad I took the day off as it was beautiful day to play tourist and enjoy the finishers walking around.

So so glad I ran this. Best city. Best marathon

Other 2019 NYC Marathon Posts:

44 thoughts on “Tuesday Topics: MARATHONER!

  1. Liz Dexter

    THERE IS SOMETHING IN MY EYE. Lovely race recap and I’m so happy for you and so proud. You had a great, strong training cycle and a great, strong marathon. Really good going, and no beef with the distance to make you do another one. Well done!! And you have a medal shaped like AN APPLE, as I may have mentioned.

    1. cari Post author

      There is, no doubt, an apple in your future. Hopefully sooner rather than later for world and running reasons. That would be the one thing to get me running it again. But I cannot wait to run a race somewhere with you. Could not have done this without you

      1. Liz Dexter

        Ha, there’s a responsibility. I quite fancy that chocolate 15k with the fancy medal in Chicago … one day. I was so glad to help you along the journey I’ve been on and watched your little tracker blob with great pride!

  2. Coco

    YAY!!!!!! I love this recap. You are an amazing marathoner!! I love that you soaked it all in. And you had so many friends cheering you on! I think taking the Swedish Fish was low risk. We were handing out handfuls of pretzel sticks at MCM.

    1. cari Post author

      Thank you
      I had so much fun taking it in – it’s part of why it feels so vivid. And luckily some people have posted the amazing signs.
      I saw lots of pretzels too. Loved the idea of salt, but not sure I could have managed them
      My colleague got me hooked on sour patch kids wrapped in swedish fish, but wouldn’t try that in a race.

  3. Birchwood Pie

    Congrats on your first marathon! I’ve heard so many great things about NY and if I were going to run a major, I’d definitely run it.

  4. Erica A

    Thanks for linking me up! I love the wonderful detail and enthusiasm of your post! You caught a lot of things I missed by being in a later wave! Congratulations for having so much fun and savoring your success. You did it right!! I agree! Best marathon!!

    (I took off my arm warmers and gloves by mile 4 and gave them to a friend at 16! It was pretty warm the first few hours but I imagine cooler by the late afternoon.)

    1. cari Post author

      You’re most welcome!
      and thank you! It was an amazing day. I’ve just begun reading you so didn’t realize how many times you’d run it. Good to see it never does get old.
      If I hadn’t pinned my hat to the belt so well it also would have gone with my brother. Off loading was the name of the game.
      A friend of a friend found arm warmers with pockets – so she was torn between needing the pockets, but wanting to ditch them. It’s more art than science

  5. Shathiso @thegaboronerunner.com

    This is just awesome!!!! Whoop! Whoop! I start marathon training today. On the one hand, I am really excited but on the other hand, I’m worried about all the time that goes into it! Well done on getting through all the training, and finishing the marathon distance! That’s an amazing achievement. Whether you do another one or not, will never take away the fact that you are a marathoner! Yay!

    1. cari Post author

      Yup. That’s why I don’t want to rush it either.
      You are going to be amazing. My training started when you were somewhat offline due to your mom ‘s health and I need to clean up the tagging, but it’s pretty much the weekly run downs from 23 June forward. I put the Wednesday group workouts in if they’re helpful and you feel like “translating” from miles to KM. Can’t wait to follow your journey

  6. Pam Robbins

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! What a recap! I felt like I was right there with you!!

  7. Montana @ Pretty Lil Mudder

    OMG. What an experience. I had two girlfriends run this past Sunday. We are going to dinner tomorrow and I told them I want a blow by blow recap of every single mile. I cried when they crossed the finish line. It moved me and I wasn’t even there! I really want to do this race one day but I’m afraid it will ruin me for every other marathon because it’s sounds so damn awesome.

    1. cari Post author

      This is probably at least partially biased by the fact that it’s home for me, but I can’t imagine any other marathon being as good as NYC. I’ve spectated Marine Corps and love the London course, but neither city-‘although I love them – is NY. NYC is damn special though for anyone.

      I hope your friends had an amazing time. We had perfect weather

  8. Kim at Running on the Fly

    So incredibly awesome!!!!! Now, that’s the kind of first-marathon-ever experience to cherish! I’m so glad the day went well, and it sounds like you have nothing but happy memories to take from this. Well done!!!!! CoNgRaTs!!!!

    1. cari Post author

      Thank you! Absolutely. It was everything I could have asked for.
      I’m thrilled at having all of you as marathon resources, but so glad I didn’t go down the rabbit hole of all the reading and worry that mine wasn’t what a marathon “should” be.

    1. cari Post author

      Oops, missed this. Likewise. Wouldn’t have been anywhere near as fun otherwise

  9. Chocolaterunsjudy

    Congrats — you did great! I’m really amazed how both you & Darlene don’t even seem fazed by it. I’m sure the continuous (sort of) walking afterward was a great help. It’s so important to keep moving! How awesome that your family was there to share the moment with you — again & again & again. 🙂

    I have to say I’m envious of all the nice weather you guys had — while at the same time being happy for you — while I ran through one of the hottest & most humid summers last year. Grumble grumble grumble.

    I know you both said one & done & you know what? That’s what almost every first time marathoner says. Until a year later. 🙂

    Congrats on a great race! Very happy for you!

    1. cari Post author

      Yep, the walking helps. I truly believe everyone should take the day off after a race of anything 13+ if their job allows. Our bodies are meant to keep moving.

      I had enough wet races that I paid my dues. I was also feeling lucky that while it rained almost every Wednesday of training, we never had long run rain. Would you do another longer race like your 18 again in better temperatures?

      I always said I never wanted to run a marathon – and then the option to run NYC for my 40th came about. I would need something similarly special to choose another. That’s what pulled me through the training. I think if I did another it would be spring — I have zero interest in training through summer again, although I know winter has all of its own challenges.

      I don’t think I’d want to repeat New York – I’d forever be comparing it to my first, and it couldn’t be as special so why cheapen it. I have the easy opportunity (no lotto needed) to do NYC next year or Fort Lauderdale in January. Neither even remotely piques my interest. I know come marathon week next year I’ll be wishing I was a part of it – that happened last year too.

      1. Chocolaterunsjudy

        I’ve never said I don’t want to run a marathon — I have said I didn’t want to run for 6 hours, though. And it could definitely take me that long.

        Right now there is just too much stress altogether in my life. Not sure I really see that settling down any time soon, but maybe, now that my Dad is home & there;’s an aide.

        Still, there are some weeks I’m lucky if I can get a couple of runs in — much less three. If I ever run a marathon, I at least want a chance at being able to train properly!

        I think it’s really important to keep moving after a race — but to also take some time off running (no matter how good someone may feel).

        1. cari Post author

          Yeah. 6 hours is a lot.

          I think you’d be best suited not to do New York if you’re going to come in around my or Darlene’s pace, although she was fast enough to start half an hour earlier. The one thing that is “missing” from NY given the late start, time change is any post-race festival, and I think that would be fun. Granted, Marathon Monday is that and then some, but not everyone can stay for that. Finishing in the dark and just heading somewhere else is somewhat anticlimactic for me.

          My hope for 2020 or maybe 2021 is to be strong enough to run more for a good chance at a Half PR. I was so focused this year on not getting hurt before the start that I didn’t do as much as I could have and definitely missed cross training. So that’s a plan-ish

          1. Chocolaterunsjudy

            Quite frankly, if I ever ran a marathon, I’m not sure I’d be interested in an after party.

            Doing one of the calculators based on my half PR, it says 5 hours. Yeah, so not happening. Cause that also has me coming in at 20 miles at 3:40, which was basically my 18 mile race time.

            Anyhoo . . . cross training is always really good. Hard to do when you’re running more miles, of course.

  10. Zenaida Arroyo

    Congratulations on running your first marathon! Loved your recap. I love reading your experience and I felt like I was there with you.

  11. Wendy

    I am so excited for you! You are right, there is nothing like that first marathon! I’m sure it won’t be your last. You had the totally right attitude throughout the race and your finish time was great. I loved reading this! Congrats!

    1. cari Post author

      Thank you! I’m not sure if it will be my last, but I would need another reason like this milestone to make the training worth it. Maybe for my 50th. 🙂

  12. Marcia

    Congrats again Cari! I absolutely loved reading this. You captured all the reasons marathons are so special. The way the community comes together to support the runners feels like a hug from the universe to me and I can say it is this way all over the world, which is so incredible. In such hateful political times, I feel like the world needs more marathons! Haha!
    Indeed you had a sparkly unicorn training cycle and your marathon followed suit. I’m over the moon happy for you and I loved reliving the course through your eyes. xoxo

    1. cari Post author

      Thank you. And yes, I wholly agree. The running community and adjacent marathon support are the perfect antidotes to the ugly world we’re living in. One of the wonderful side effects of marathon training was that I was usually too tired to stay awake for the doom and gloom evening news.
      Sparkly Unicorns for president.
      NYC is magic. I’m sure Chicago was to you too with that home element. There are lots of great marathons, but the locals have such a pull. Thank you for all yoru support

  13. Laurie

    Congratulations!!! You are a marathoner! So cool!!! I have never done the NYC marathon, but I felt like I was right there doing it with you.
    Also very cool that you got to hang out with Darlene for her first marathon. I guess now you are planning your next one….:)

    1. cari Post author

      Nope, I’m honestly good. If the right special one came up for a milestone, maybe. But I’m so happy to return to Halfs.
      And thank yoU! It was amazing

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  15. Debbie @ Deb Runs

    I loved reading every word of your recap and felt like I was right there running with you (that’s the way it should be, right?)! Congrats on such a fantastic accomplishment! How fun that you got to meet Lacey and hang out with Darlene before the race and the following day!

    I never ran the NYC Marathon, but now I’m wishing I had! Congrats again, my friend!

    1. cari Post author

      Thank you!
      I would recommend that you enter the lotto for the 2021 NYC Half. It’s not the marathon – nothing is – but it’s a pretty awesome feeling to run through Times Square and into Central Park.
      It was an amazing, magical day. Couldn’t have asked for better.

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