How do you recap so much pain and so much joy? My experience racing my first New York City Marathon was something I'll never forget. I actually wish I could keep reliving it over and over. It's funny to think that, because it was extremely hard and painful but also a total blast at the same time.
The morning was damp, overcast and a mild 58 degrees when we took off over the Verranzano Bridge in a field of 38 professional women. I started with gloves because it was windy up on the bridge and there was a chill in the air the first mile. The gloves came off at mile 3 :) I cannot express the deafening sound of the crowds and energy as we rolled through Brooklyn, Queens, and into Manhattan up famous 1st ave. The pace was pedestrian for what this field has run in the past and I had some decisions to make early on. My teammate Kellyn and I trained at an effort we felt we could sustain and we had decided, with Coach Ben, that would be around 5:38 pace for the flat and steady miles and we’d just feel out the tough ones. No one wanted to force the pace early so I felt it was best to stick with the pack and be unassuming until moves were made. The lead pack was made up of about 15-20 women for the first half of the race. Approaching the Queensboro Bridge at mile 16 was where the race took shape. It broke apart in what felt like a split second. I knew I wasn't in a position to fully cover that move, as I was running 5:20 pace and getting dropped. I gathered myself up the bridge, worked with Diane Nukuri and Kellyn as we hit 1st ave. So many “Go Steph! Go Steph Bruce!” that I had chills.
So many people have been part of my journey that it feels like I'm running for them out there. It helped me keep fighting the whole way. That's what I continued to do for the next 8 miles. I ran my fastest miles from mile 17 to mile 21 and then the wheels began to fall off. I never completely bonked or died, as I held on for the last 3 miles, passing two women on 5th Ave but I didn't have a lot of energy. I had the fight but my hamstrings were cramping, and my legs were shot. I felt like I was kicking to run a 5:45 mile at mile 25.
I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be healthy at the starting line, with nothing to lose and only to gain. This was my second marathon post babies and the second fastest of my career. I still have a lot of miles to run and work to do but it feels like I'm on the upswing. I'm eternally grateful to the people who have supported me, believed in me, saw me through the ups and downs. Without them, this would be meaningless.
So where now? We are looking for a vacation spot, but with 2 toddlers will it really be a vacation? There will be no running for 10-12 days, lots of wine, lots of movies, soda and popcorn, and of course dreaming about the next goal. Thank you for following and congrats to all who raced NYC and those that have their own races still ahead.
2.31:44 10th place