After months of training, I can't wait to revisit my old stomping grounds — with 50,000 other people

By Stephanie Emma Pfeffer
October 29, 2019 12:25 PM
Credit: Stephanie Emma Pfeffer

Stephanie Emma Pfeffer has two young kids and is training for the New York City Marathon. Follow her journey on the road to NYC.

“Are you ready?”

“What’s your goal time?”

“How are you feeling?”

Those are the questions I get now that the TCS New York City Marathon is less than a week away.

Being that it’s my first, I have allll the feelings!

I am feeling excited. I am grateful for this opportunity. I am beyond inspired by some of the team members I have met through Michelob ULTRA’s TeamULTRA.

Throughout the training process, I have felt strangely connected to people I don’t even know. Lacing up my running shoes at the crack of dawn every weekend, I was motivated — and even somewhat comforted — by the thought of other would-be marathoners near and far doing the exact same thing.

Of course I’m a little nervous. I have not been able to train as diligently as I would have liked. Whereas other people I follow on social media — friends, teammates, strangers — are able to run every morning or every evening, that’s just not my life. My runs were squeezed in when I had the time, when I had incredibly generous family members helping with child care and most importantly, when my kids did not need me.

While I have gotten in some great long runs, I did not manage an uninterrupted 20- or 22-miler, which is fairly standard race prep. My “speed work” mostly consisted of trying to hurry up and finish before having to do a hundred other things.

In fact, there were times I had to take mini-breaks from social media entirely to stop looking at every single post about the #nycmarathon. It’s impossible to not compare yourself to everyone else, and it occasionally made me anxious (and slightly obsessed/depressed). Here were all of these other people who seemed to be doing everything right, who were following their training plans to the letter, while I was only doing what I was able to do. Don’t get me wrong — it was still a lot! But was it enough?

To complement the virtual training through TeamUltra, I looped in with the local running community here in Boston. I joined the Heartbreak Hill Running Company team, the Heartbreakers. The Newton location is just one mile from my house, and nearly every Saturday I ran 10 to 18 miles through hills that include a section of the Boston Marathon course. In the words of Heartbreak founder and superstar coach Dan Fitzgerald (who is pretty much running royalty around here), I have learned to “trust the process.”

Credit: Stephanie Emma Pfeffer

Like so many others, I have had a few small setbacks along the way. I missed a big week of training because of a cold. My knee started bugging me as I racked up more and more mileage, so I made some choices to slow down, run on a soft reservoir path versus the hard pavement, swap in some extra cross-training and even take a few days off. I stretched, iced, foam rolled. I made amendments to my training plan so I was able to keep training, but also to arrive at the start line healthy and uninjured.

As for the finish? I don’t have a goal time. My long runs have been sub 9-minute miles but I doubt I will be able to maintain that for the entire 26.2. I plan to start slow and steady with the ultimate goal of finishing proud and happy. (And not limping. But that might be expecting too much.) Overall, I want to have a fantastic experience.

Having lived in New York City for so many years before moving away, I will probably be super emotional, especially if the day is as magical as everyone says.

My only true fear is finding a new itch to scratch when this is all over.

So am I ready? You bet.

See you out there.