So I ran the New York City marathon six days ago.
It was spectacular.
And the hardest thing I've ever done.
And unbelievably inspiring.
Never in a million years would I have dreamed of running (much less finishing) a marathon. Never mind that it is the largest and one of the most difficult marathons in the world.
No big deal.
Piece of cake. (Speaking of cake, I had every intention of eating 26.2 Magnolia Bakery cupcakes after running 26.2 miles. I was, in fact, in no shape to do so.)
So we spent a fantastic weekend in the city, complete with two Broadway shows, cronuts, tons of carbs, BFFs who flew in to celebrate with me, The Chief, more carbs, a West Wing Netflix binge the night before the race, etc. etc. The only real problem was that pesky little business of running 26.2 miles.
The Chief and I woke up at 6:00 a.m. on race day. Yes, I had new Lululemon gear for the occasion. Yes, I took a shower and put on makeup prior to running a marathon. There were just so many photographers. A girl has to be prepared.
I was scheduled for the 8:00 a.m. ferry to Staten Island. On our way to get bagels and coffee, I randomly found my Twin. We started running when a few blocks seemed like the most impossible distance, and we were insane enough to register for this marathon together. She is my family. God totally knew we needed each other on Sunday morning.
So we hopped into a cab with The Chief. The Staten Island Ferry Terminal is the easiest place in New York to find. You just drive until you can't drive anymore. The island literally runs out at the ferry terminal. So naturally our cab driver had absolutely no idea where it was. Imagine Twin and I giving directions down the length of Manhattan ("Just keep driving downtown... no seriously, just keep driving. Take the West Side Highway. No, don't turn here. Just keep driving, dude.") and The Chief dying laughing.
Ferries were a little delayed, so we spent the wait taking selfies and then the 30-minute ferry ride just catching up on life. It could have been a normal Sunday morning...
Until we saw this...
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. The first two miles of the race. There is nothing narrow about it. It is the longest bridge in the Americas and the 11th longest bridge in the world. Also, it is not flat. Look closely people. That's one gigantic hill.
So after a 20-minute cab ride and 30-minute ferry ride, we arrived on Staten Island. The best part of Staten Island is, obviously, the view of Manhattan...
But it's not that easy. We then took an hour-long bus ride to the starting village. Staten Island isn't that big, but there were 50,000+ people trying to board those buses. It took awhile. Plus, there was the whole counter-terrorism security screening thing. No big deal.
Not until we arrived in the starting village did Twin and I part ways. Twin was in the green group (running on the lower level of the bridge), and I was in the blue group (running on the top level of the bridge). There was also an orange group, but I don't really care where they ran. Now, I was prepared to wait in the start village for hours. Having read endless articles on the marathon, I packed for the occasion: extra hoodie and sweat pants, gloves, hat, scarf, extra socks, book to distract me, phone charger, banana, granola bar, water, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, kleenex, bandaids, lip gloss, etc. etc. I threw it all away. (No worries: the clothes go to charity.) After the ferry and bus delays, we only waited about 20 minutes before our 11:00 a.m. start time.
And just so you know, runners are hilarious. If you ever need good entertainment, just watch runners prepare for a race. So many costumes and pre-race rituals and strange customs. It almost distracts you from the idea that you're about to run 42 kilometers...
My pre-race ritual just involved praying that I didn't die and that I would have fun, too. It's a simple goal, really.
So then they lead you (and the 20,000 other people in that start wave) up to the bridge's toll plaza and play New York, New York. You know... It's the whole "if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere" mentality. And up until this point, it was all energy and excitement and possibility.
And then I was running a marathon...