After about a week of intense stretching, long romantic dates with my foam roller, and several hours of sleep, I am starting to feel recovered from the NYC Marathon on November 5th.
I cannot really put the experience into words. Running a marathon was an absolutely incredible feat to accomplish, and has always been something that has been on my bucket list. The special component of the New York City Marathon is the spirit with the runners, and through each borough that we ran.
I’m going to break down the race mile by mile, and add in how I managed my type 1 diabetes throughout the course in blue.
The night before the marathon, I had the philosophy to go big or go home. So I went big, and ate 3 slices of ginormous pizza and some salad. I started off at about 200, and bolused 8 units of Novalog for the pizza. For my Lantus (basal), I would usually take 19 units. That night, I HALF of my amount…9.
I woke up around 170 at 4:30am. My adrenaline was kicking into high gear, and I ended up being 160 when I got on the JDRF bus to drive out to Staten Island. I ate one half of a peanut butter & banana sandwich (2 pieces of whole wheat bread, one banana, LOTS of PB) at 6:30am. I was going up to about 230 when we arrived 90 minutes later to the Staten Island. I ate the other half of the sandwich at 8:45am. My levels were continuing to rise, but I didn’t bolus. I was also snacking on Starburst and coffee before the start. By the time that I got up to the starting line at 10:45am, my blood sugar was 285. I was high, and I felt it. BUT, I could also feel the adrenaline kicking into high gear.
Miles 1-2: The START. Frank Sinatra’s New York New York was blaring from the speakers as we all took off. I remembered tips from previous runners was “don’t take it out too fast”….so I jogged slow. I soaked in the beginning excitement and was able to really absorb the amazing environment that I was in. The views were incredible, despite the fog surrounding us. At this point, the rain began to fall.
Between Mile 1 and Mile 2, I reached my highest blood sugar, of 305.
Mile 2-6ish: Brooklyn. Lots of screaming spectators with signs and banners. Little kids sticking their hands out hoping for a high five. Friendly, kind, and enthusiastic. The course here was very flat, and I was settling down into my original pace. I found my pacer (11:15 mile) at Mile 2, and I tried to always stay within distance of her. I knew that this was one of the keys to success during the race.
Mile 4: Dexcom double arrows going DOWN…I didn’t panic because I knew that this was going to happen.
Mile 6ish-11: Brooklyn…the course was still flaaaaaat, and it was a little boring. I was able to feed off of the crowd for some support and motivation. I was feeling GOOD: legs were feeling great, and my head was in a good place. At Mile 7, I knew that I had to go to the bathroom, but I kept telling myself to ignore the feeling. MISTAKE… at Mile 11, I RAN to the bathroom and immediately felt 10 pounds lighter and 100% better. But, I lost my pacer and I freaked out….I knew that waiting in line for the bathroom took about 6 minutes, so I knew that I had to make that up. I picked up my pace and searched frantically for that freaking sign with the 11:15 plastered on it. I finally found her right before Mile 13!!! EXHALE.
Mile 6: I had furiously plummeted from 305 to 125, and was going slightly down according to the Dexcom. So, I resorted to my plan from the get-go. Take Gatorade at every stop to get some bit of sugar in my system (by the end I couldn’t stand the taste in my mouth, but I did it anyway), and eat 1 Clif Blok at every mile. When I saw the 125, I immediately ate 2 Clif Bloks and had Gatorade at the stop.
Mile 13.1: The Pulaski bridge was my indicator that I had made it halfway! I was still feeling pretty good at this point. My feet were hurting, but nothing too bad. I kept my cadence of my training pace, and I continued to maintain.
At this point in the race, my blood sugars were surprisingly stable because I was constantly giving myself sugar. I was always continually having ClifBloks, taking Gatorade, and taking water.
Mile 15-16: The Queensboro Bridge – AKA the scariest, soul searching, mentally challenging part of the whole marathon. There are no spectators allowed on the bridge, so all you could hear was the sound of everyone’s feet. I heard moans, saw people break down on the side wincing in pain, and the heavy breathing of hundreds of runners. This nervous energy gives a way to a lot of negative mental talk for all runners…and I was feeling it. My legs seemed to hurt more than before. My feet were barking, and my thighs were on fire. The the rain had completely soaked through all of my clothes and it was very uncomfortable. With all of that negative energy trying to seep into my brain, I acknowledged that it was coming, but I moved past it. I knew that I had a few more minutes left of the screaming silence.
Clif Bloks at every mile… staying between 110 and 140 throughout.
Mile 16-19ish: FIRST AVENUE – AKA the world’s largest block party…and I needed that. There were spectators (at least 5 deep) cheering and giving you high fives. It was encouraging to hear my name screamed by tens of drunken screaming fans…I’ll tell you that. At Mile 17, I saw all of my friends on 77th Street. That was an absolutely epic moment that I will never forget. I B-lined over to them all and immediately hugged and screamed in excitement. That moment pushed me the next couple of miles.
Clif Bloks at every mile… staying between 110 and 140 throughout…continued this way through the entire race!!!!!!
19ish to 20ish: We passed the Willis Ave Bridge, which took us to the Bronx for about 2 miles. I had read, been told, and watched people experience the “Wall”, but I finally got to feel it for myself. The Wall happens when your body runs out of glycogen. All of the dark thoughts flowed into my brain. I wanted to stop. I thought about how I could sneak off of the course. At this point, I couldn’t feel my legs, and there was no way of getting any sort of life back into them. I felt so nauseous, to the point that I thought that I needed to throw up. I was dry heaving. I knew that I had to continue to drink Gatorade, water and Clif Bloks, but my body felt like it was rejecting all foods and drinks. That wasn’t an option to stop eating and drinking. I needed those liquids and that sugar to get me through. BUT, my mentality shifted. If I walked, my legs were going to burn and feel as heavy as iron rods. If I ran, my legs were STILL going to burn and feel as heavy as iron rods…BUT I would be at the finish line faster. So, I kept going. I ran. I didn’t stop at any point of the race to be honest. I walked through every water stop and never wanted to keep my legs stagnant.
Mile 21-23: BACK in Manhattan. Still in extreme pain. I was struggling hard…but I kept on going with the mindset that the faster I ran the sooner I would be done with running. I kept going. 5th Avenue has a small incline for someone who hasn’t been running 22+ miles, but it literally felt like a MOUNTAIN to me. I might as well have been climbing Mount Everest. The crowds were thinning out, but there were many generous spectators who handled out pretzel sticks for cramps. I grabbed a few and stuffed them in my mouth, hoping that there was some magic ingredient to give me the strength to keep going.
Continuing on the ClifBlok routine, also had 2 pretzel rods that were handled out by a volunteer. 130.
Mile 23: Central Park – We entered Central Park at 90th and 5th Avenue (Engineer’s Gate). I had heard that were were some turns and downhills, but they seemed MUCH worse than I was told. I don’t know if I was delirious…or just out of brain cells at this point. Regardless, it was a beautiful few miles. It was, however, 3 miles of absolute adrenaline. At this point, it was my mind that was going to carry me to the finish line. I knew that for a fact. I was looking down at the ground, following a blue line that is the tangent. It was a great visual cue to set because I couldn’t think anymore.
When we hit Central Park South, we left the park and ran across 59th Street. This was it. The last straightaway. I saw the 25 mile marker and looked at my watch. I challenged myself. I knew that I could run a 10 minute mile, and I made that my goal. 10 minutes, 1.2 miles…YOU ARE ALMOST THERE. I literally ran with every fiber of my body. My legs were crying inside, but my mind was focused on finishing. I looked straight ahead and powered through. I ran along the side of the course and passed people. There was nothing stopping me from getting this over with.
800m left…400m left… and there was the finish line. Adorned with bleachers and screaming spectators. I crossed the finish line and felt the biggest sigh of relief. It was over. No more running. I could feel myself smiling from ear to ear as I received my medal and took the obligatory finish line pictures. At the time, my mind couldn’t really comprehend what an amazing feat I had just accomplished. Instead, I just wanted to get the heck off of the course and see my family. I felt sick, nauseous, and in excruciating pain.
Ended my blood sugar at 116 after I crossed the finish line!!!
Another hard part of the course was the 2 mile trek to exit. I swear, it was the Walking Dead. Hundreds of runners, hobbling, stumbling, and silent as we were corralled through the course to receive our ponchos and warm down. I heard some cries of relief, happiness, people Facetiming and calling their loved ones, but I physically couldn’t even bring myself to pick up the phone. I was mentally and physically exhausted. I had felt every single emotion along this race, and I felt absolutely drained.
My day was MADDDEEEEEE when I finally saw my family! My sister also ran the marathon, and finished minutes ahead of me. It was an amazing moment to embrace her and celebrate the fact that we had accomplished such an incredible milestone together. From the moment I was born, I always followed in her footsteps. We wore the same outfits, did the same sports, and imitated each other constantly. Years of love and friendship with my sister has made me so grateful for her.
The day ended with a quick shower, and a celebration at a NYC bar with my friends and family. It was amazing to see my all of the people who are important to me in one place, celebrating, laughing, and enjoying the night.
Overall, the marathon was AMAZING. 26.2 miles were conquered by yours truly. Will I run another one? At this point, I would say no….but I can be persuaded. 😉