Thursday, November 11, 2021

26.2 Miles of Memories

It's over? Or is it just beginning? On Saturday, November 7, 2021 I ran my first full marathon. This was a two year journey and it was a wonderful experience thanks in part to Michelob Ultra for selecting me as part of #TeamUltra 4.0.


Me and mom at the Expo
Saturday I arrived in NYC and met up with my friend Bari who I hadn't seen since before all the shutdowns began. We walked to Hope Lodge and collected my American Cancer Society shirt along with some cow bells for the boys. Thank you again to everyone that donated to my fundraiser and helped me raise $3400 for this great cause.

By the time I said goodbye to Bari at the Javits Center, we had walked about three miles. I then went into the Javits Center to collect my race bib and check out the expo. Since my mom was in the area, she met up with me. Awesome because I had a photographer for some great pre-race pics. 

My gear, ready to go
After, I checked into the hotel and met up with Team Ultra. At check-in they gave me a bag of swag including my singlet for the marathon and some other awesome clothing items. Obviously I didn't want to wear anything new for the marathon but I can't wait to rep Team Ultra on future runs because this gear is awesome. After settling into the room, I met up with the team and we walked to dinner where Michelob Ultra threw a great pre-marathon party. We all got to know each other while enjoying a variety of pastas, cakes, and of course Michelob Ultra. We took team photos and just hung out.

Returning to the hotel, they sent a welcome kit up to all the rooms which also included an iron-on name for the singlet. I never realized how awesome it is to have your name on your shirt but people were cheering for me the whole way through NYC. After ironing my name onto the shirt and organizing everything I would need for the marathon, I went to bed.


The bus

The big day was here. I had to be in the hotel lobby by 5:15am but thanks to excitement and daylight savings time, I was up and ready to go. They had a basic breakfast available of pastries, coffee, fruit, and Kind bars. Then we all walked to the buses together. As a member of Team Ultra, we had VIP buses for transportation. I'm not positive but from what I could see, the regular buses were school buses but we had coach buses. I could be wrong though and they could have all been the same buses.

The drive from Manhattan to Staten Island took about an hour but it was a surreal journey. We had a police escort the entire way and looking out the bus' window you could see the police on motorcycles blocking traffic to allow the buses to continue without stopping at red lights.
Team Ultra at the start

When we arrived at the start village, we were led to a tent labeled Michelob Ultra. Here, we had more breakfast items provided and five porta-potties just for the team. The tent also had heat fans. A few of us decided to explore the start village and walked around. It was crazy to see people laying out on blankets and wrapped up trying to stay warm (it was cold). 

On the
Verrazano Bridge
Soon, we were heading to the start line. Team Ultra had our own start time and were not included with the general waves. This made for some amazing opportunities. Unlike the majority of pictures from the Verrazano Bridge, we were not overcrowded as only our team of 95 members were there. It also meant that until the next wave caught up with me (as a slow runner), there were only five or six other slow Team Ultra members on the course. Until mile 5, I was basically by myself.

Throughout the entire course, people were cheering "Go Cori" and "You got this Cori" because my name was on my shirt. See, Team Ultra giving us the iron on letters was just another small touch that ended up making the experience even better.
Selfie with Bari before
Queensboro Bridge

Right before I turned onto the Queensboro Bridge at mile 15, my friend Bari was there cheering me on. Although I didn't see him, my friend Jason was at mile 17. When I got to mile 19, my family was there waiting. Eric and Nathan made signs and they were all excited to see me. Jeff even ran for about a block recording me. While I took the long way around, they cut through the side streets to meet me again around mile 21.

Personalized bottle of
Michelob Ultra
As I entered Central Park, the enormity of what I had accomplished really hit me. I started tearing up as I winded through the final two miles of the course. When I reached the finish line, I couldn't believe I had made it.

I had heard jokes about mile 27, but it was no joke. After crossing the finish line, I followed the crowds to get my medal, finish kit, and poncho. By the time I actually exited Central Park, it probably was another mile. Then back to the hotel was another mile. According to my step counter, I finished Sunday with over 30 miles. The included the morning walk to the bus, walking around the start village, the actual marathon, and then walking back after. Yikes. 

After returning to the hotel, I headed to the Team Ultra after party to get dinner and celebrate with everyone. Here, there were even more surprises as they passed out more swag and personalized bottles. Although most of Team Ultra had finished hours before me, the party was going strong and I couldn't believe some of the energy levels. I was barely moving, yet there were people dancing like they hadn't just run 26.2 miles. 


Engraved medal
Marathon Monday as they call it is when the finisher village opens near the finish line. I returned to Central Park at 6:30am to have my medal engraved. It's a good thing I went early because there was already a line and it was growing fast. I returned to the hotel to have breakfast with the team before heading to Penn Station for the return trip home.

So what's next? I originally said I wanted to run one marathon to prove to myself I could do it. But now? I'm considering signing up again. Now that I know what to expect, maybe I can do better next year. I know that I can run slightly faster, but honestly I didn't need to. I was enjoying the atmosphere and experience. I even kept my earbuds out most of the time because the sounds of the city were exciting.