NYC Marathon 2015: Finisher

7:00 AM

Disclaimer: I haven't blogged in months. When I have in the past 1+ year timeframe, it was on Snacks Sneakers Suitecases, which you can see, is no longer an active website. So let's just get that out of the way and get down to business.

You Have Been Chosen

In 2015, over 77,000 people from all over the world entered the NYC Marathon Lottery.

I was one of them.

In March 2015, I was notified that I was 1 of only around 10,000 people selected in the lottery to run in the NYC Marathon. The odds of making it in are slim; there are people who enter this lottery every year and never make it to The Big Apple's biggest race.

I was one of the "lucky" ones.

After being chosen, NYRR took a large amount of money out of my bank account and I began wondering how on Earth I was going to run a marathon. Mind you, I've done it before (Disney World) but while running the Five Boroughs I would not have photo ops with Mickey Mouse. No, this was going to be a different race in every way possible.

The Road to NYC

I won't bore you with details of training. I made it a point to sign up for a good amount of half marathons in the time frame of March - November, 4 in total, 2 of which were right in October. Additionally, I was eating super healthy and really hitting my stride working out... not only on the treadmill or on training runs. I made it a priority to wake up early each morning for a strength or HIIT workout, and got my cardio in at lunch. I also got involved with spin classes which I adored! From April through July, I became stronger, fitter, and faster.

When I began my new job at the end of July, I definitely put working out on the back burner. While I managed to get my runs in, I started slacking on strength training. Mix in a new home and longer commute and you've got yourself a recipe for slacker central! Luckily, through November 1st, I stayed on my game run-wise and was perfectly ready for the marathon.

Why it was so important to me

I will start off my saying November 1, 2015 was the most amazing day of my life. I truly don't think anything will ever top it. Yes, I can't wait to get married next year! I can't wait to have kids and see their achievements.   There are so many amazing days coming my way in my life... but this day? Nothing will ever compare.

A few years ago I could not have imagined running even a 5k. One memory sticks out clearly in my mind of accompanying my sister to the Self Workout in the Park event. We had taken a picture together and when I looked at it, I felt disgusting. I just started crying. I was overweight and try as I might, nothing seemed to help me lose weight. I've never been a person with low self esteem, but the way I looked had bothered me for a long time. Troubles and struggles in my life and in my mind did not help.

When I started running, I felt better. Though I didn't lose weight right off the bat, I knew I was stronger and healthier on the inside. Watching my progress through the years has given me unbelievable confidence in myself. I can look at a tangible goal, put effort towards it, and reach it. It has made me a happier person overall and I can't imagine my life without it. I have grown so much as a person and a runner.

The NYC Marathon was going to be my ultimate achievement.

The Start
Here's the best part of the story - race day.

You will never understand what I felt that day. I don't mean it in a rude way; but it was an experience like no other. Growing up in New Jersey, I have always admired New York City. I don't care how much it smells, or how loud and crowded it is. I love NYC.

The day before the race was Halloween. When Brian and I moved into our new home at the end of September, we soon learned that our next door neighbor hosts a blowout Halloween party every year. This includes a live band, which I learned while trying to get some sleep before the marathon, plays outside until around 2 a.m.

I woke up around 3:30 a.m. and had some breakfast, walked Cosmo, and got dressed. Brian, the good sport, drove me the hour to MetLife Stadium where I was set to climb the bus that would take me to Borough #1 where the race began: Staten Island.

After a quick snooze on the bus, I was off walking in the dark to my start village. Being that I am no Meb, I was not starting with the first corral. In fact, I wasn't starting until 11am. This was frustrating as I basically my wait from 5 a.m. to my start time was just as long as the actual race would take me to complete. I did not think this through well enough and did not properly eat, but that is now a lesson learned.

I grabbed a cup of coffee from the Dunkin Donuts table (who I have to give props for their little orange beanies!!! SO SMART) and sat my butt down on the concrete for the long wait ahead of me. I ended up striking up a conversation with a sweet girl from Hoboken. She had made it into the marathon through the NYRR 9+1 program (look it up) and was running her first full marathon. We also talked to a nice guy next to us whose wife had just given birth the week before. But, he had already fundraised for the marathon (that is how he gained his entry) so his wife and new baby girl, who had joined him from Massachusetts, were waiting in the hotel room for him to complete his race.

Apparently the spot we chose to sit was great. Amy Freeze from ABC 7 was doing her report and we managed to get on the news. I was asked about my finish time goal and I was just like YEA I AM JUST HOPING I MAKE IT TO THE FINISH LINE LOL. Typical, Alli. We also got up close and personal with Spike Lee and Ethan Hawke. Sadly no Alicia Keys sightings.

Finally, it was time to head to our corrals and start the race.

I journeyed to my start zone. They were playing "Welcome to New York" by Taylor Swift and I wanted to cry. That was one of my favorite training songs for the marathon and I was feeling such a mix of emotions at that time. Excitement, nerves, fear........ all of it. It got worse as the announcer started talking and led into the playing of "New York, New York".

Staten Island:
I am pretty sure I cried as the race began. Hearing that song play and feeling the energy and excitement of the runners got the best of me, what can I say. After the music faded in the distance and I got onto the Verazzano bridge, I put on my headphones and turned on "Why Not Me?" by Mindy Kaling. For longer races I feel listening to books on tape help me zone out and tune into my body.

This was the first 3 miles.

Once you're off the bridge, you're in BK. This is when I truly started to experience the race. There were people EVERYWHERE. Crowds, signs, babies, dogs. Spread love, it's the Brooklyn way? Yea, that is no lie. I felt so much love and was like finally feeling like I could do this! From that point on I took my headphones off and never put them back on.

Around the 15k mark, I saw a college friend and it made me so excited! Seeing a familiar face upped my spirits in the best way possible.

However, I also knew that I was not feeling 100%. I am guessing it was a mixture of the early morning, the waiting, and the hunger... but I was not feeling very energized at all. I had some energy chews and the water stops but that was it. By the halfway mark on the Pulaski Bridge, I knew I was a little slow but I also realized if I wanted to finish, I had to deal with it. (My half time was 2:45:22) So, I took my time and just made sure I kept it moving.

Crossing the Queensboro bridge was probably where I started to feel like lowest. It was around mile 15-16, so I was a good way into the race. The crowds were gone and it was eerily silent, minus the helicopters flying nearby and the police sirens in the distance. My legs were starting to cramp and I had to stop to stretch them out. The bridge was strangely uphill and my determination was going downhill. But on I went. At this time I also got a text from Brian letting me know his whereabouts and I knew I'd see him soon.

Coming out of the bridge, I was expecting to hear the "wall of sound" that I had read about. Once you turn onto 1st Avenue, it is even more people cheering than in Brooklyn. This is SO NEEDED at this point. I also read to put my name on my shirt, and as the race went on I realized how important it was to do this.

You are feeling low. You are feeling defeated. You are aching, you are hungry but also you kind of need to poop? You are thirsty but you feel like you might throw up. Okay, maybe I'm the only one who was feeling this way, but hearing strangers yell GO ALLI made me feel better.

Then, the best thing of all happened. I saw Brian! He and his bff Rob came to cheer me on. The funniest part was when I went to give him my headphones and he said "I don't want to carry them!" ... I was like, dude, are you serious? He realized his mistake and gladly took them back. It was great to get a hug and kiss from bae and then I was back on my way.


You're in the Bronx very briefly. One memory I have is someone letting me know the Giants were winning, as I was wearing a NY Giants hat. Sadly, they ended up losing the game.

Another memory is the "Last Damn Bridge" sign lady. She was such a bright spot in the race! I am letting you know the bridges were no joking matter. I swear they were all uphill and so quiet that it made me uneasy. Knowing I was crossing the last damn bridge made me feel much better.

Back to Manhattan:
So close, yet so far. I had slowed down and my body was cramping up. What kept me going was the crowd. I was very close to tears probably mile 20 onward.. but not because I was in pain. It was due to the lovely people who were still out cheering. Being in the last corral meant that many of the spectators were long gone. It was later in the afternoon and people had to get on with their day, after all.

But God bless the beautiful people who were still out. Making my way to and through Central Park was a challenge. I somehow dug deep within myself to find some strength and pick up the pace, and I know it was due to the words of those strangers. I made an effort to smile at anyone who called out my name because I was so very thankful. From the simple GO ALLI to YOU CAN DO IT, ALLI!!! I felt stronger every time. Some people even told me to keep smiling, which made me happy. I nearly started crying a few times but I kept it together pretty well.


Finally, after 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 49 seconds, I crossed the highly anticipated Finish line (FYI: I finished faster than Alicia Keys). I was a little delirious but once I got a banana and some water I felt a bit better.

The medal I received will forever be my favorite.

I hobbled over to meet my Dad and Kelley at a restaurant and had grilled cheese, mashed potatoes, and a beer. Brian and Rob met up with us and we made our way back to NJ. I was super exhausted and couldn't wait for a hot shower and bedtime.

The next day, I returned to work knowing I had accomplished the feat of a lifetime.

I will forever remember this experience as being the most challenging yet rewarding day of my life. I can't believe I got to run the NYC Marathon.

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