I purposefully delayed my race recap of the New York City Marathon a bit because I wanted the experience to fully soak in before writing about it. But then I got sucked into binge-watching old seasons of Gilmore Girls before the revival came out last Friday, so it's a BIT more delayed than I had planned. Oops.
However, even after waiting almost a month to write this recap, I'm still kind of at a loss for words about the marathon. It was just SO huge. SO overwhelming. Words just can't do it justice. It is truly something that has to be experienced to fully understand the enormity of this race. If you are a runner and have any desire to do a marathon - this is the one to do.
We started our adventure on Friday with the Expo. (I learned my lesson from Chicago and made sure we had a few days in New York before the race to hit the expo and relax a bit. MUCH less stressful!) We had plenty of time for packet pick up and to do a little shopping, which was good because it was PACKED!! Picking up our bibs and shirts wasn't so bad, but the swag line for official gear was kind of a nightmare. It serpentined around and through the entire shopping area.
The line for the expo. Still about 20 minutes from checkout.
As you would imagine, the NYC marathon brings in all of the heavy hitters from the running world, whether they are running the race or not. We randomly saw both Kara Goucher AND Shalane Flannigan while wandering the expo. It was very cool. I missed Meb though. I would have loved to have seen him.
The next morning, we headed out to meet up with Team in Training for a little shake out run (THANK YOU again to everyone who donated to my TNT campaign). I was the only TNT'er based in Nashville for this race, but a group had been communicating online, so it was nice to finally meet everyone. Professional triathlete Linsey Corbin joined us for the run. I totally fangirled her and got a photo with her.
The rest of Saturday was pretty much spend resting and making sure we were set up logistically for the race on Sunday. The NYC marathon is the largest marathon in the world with over 50,000 runners. It has a lot going on just because of how huge it is. Additionally, it's a point-to-point race, stretching from Staten Island to Central Park, and you have to get transportation to the start. Fortunately, TNT had morning shuttle busses for us, and I was able to secure Dudley a spot on the same bus. Even though we had to meet about five hours before the race start, it was a relief to not have to worry about subways and ferries, which is what a lot of runners took to get to the start. I heard later that some of the ferries were severely delayed and runners missed their start times.
Sunday's alarm rang at 4:30 AM, but it didn't really matter as I was up anyway. Even though I wasn't really racing, I still had pre-race jitters. Funny how that happens. After getting dressed and eating, Dudley and I made our way to the shuttle stop. I based our hotel location on this stop, so I knew we weren't far. And we weren't. It took all of five minutes to walk there - which meant we had to hang out in the cold for a half hour before we could board the busses. Me and my Type-A personality! Oh well, at least we were in the right spot.
Just hanging out in the cold.
Hazzah for warm busses!
I don't recall how long the trip was over to Staten Island, but it wasn't too bad. We did get stuck in traffic for a bit with all of the other shuttle busses, but again, it was better than being out in the cold. Plus, we were off our feet for a bit.
The Verrazano Bridge! My next trip over will be on foot!
After disembarking from the shuttles, we had to wait in line to get through security. We did a lot of waiting over the weekend.
Security line selfie!
Once we were inside the Racing Village (the starting area) we had about three hours to kill, so we sat and people-watched for a bit. Dudley did bag-check for the race, so we were able to wear several layers of clothing and stay pretty warm while we waited. Some people took waiting very seriously and came prepared with blankets and pillows. Being first-timers, we didn't think about things that much. A blanket would have been nice though.
I was tying to not be obvious when taking this photo,
but the people directly in front of us came prepared!
Bummed because I left my spacesuit at home.
We got a little bored after a while, so we also did some wandering around the "Villages." Yes, this race is so big that there are villages.
THERAPY DOGS! They had therapy dogs for the runners pre-race!
Timeline of the various start times for the villages, corrals and waves.
Map of the Villages. We were green.
At about 10:20 AM, our village, wave and corrals (Green, Wave 3 and Corral D) were called to the start line. FINALLY - after five hours of waiting- we only had about 20 minutes before we were going to be able to run! This was also when Dudley and I split up. He was assigned a different Corral, and we decided that since I had trained and he hadn't (AT ALL), that we were going to run separately.
Hello, Corral D!
About to start!!
And we're off!!
While I was very excited to finally start running, I was little bummed when I realized that my Village was assigned the lower level of the Verrazano bridge. I wanted to run on the top level. It just seemed cooler, plus you didn't have to worry about anyone peeing on you. Apparently - that's a thing. But Green ran the lower level so I stuck to the inner section of the bridge to avoid any pee splatter. Being on the lower level also meant that I lost my satellite reception immediately, so I had no clue as to my pace or distance. Then, even when I regained satellites, my distance was off for the remaining 24 miles. It was a bummer, but since I wasn't really going for time, it didn't matter too much.
Post-Verrazano bridge, we headed into Brooklyn. The spectators were great. We had a perfect day for them to come out and cheer - around 55-60 degrees and sunny. One of those day where it got a little warm running in the sun, but nothing too bad. Pretty ideal conditions, actually.
Step by step we made our way through the boroughs. I wish I had some witty stories to fill up the page, but I don't. I pretty much just ran non-stop for the next 4:45 hours. It was extremely crowded, and I found that I ran with the same group most of the race. It was just too crowded to move around people unless you REALLY wanted to. I didn't want to expend the energy so I just went with the pace of the crowd. Every once in a while I would slow down and take a good look around just to absorb the experience. I was running the freakin' New York City Marathon!! How cool was that?
The course was relatively flat, though there are several bridges that hurt. I had an issue on the one bridge around mile 15 that led us into Manhattan. My left calf, the same one that tore earlier in the season, was giving me fits and it felt like it was going to seize at any time. I think it was because, while I had run hills in training, they weren't like running over mile-plus long bridges that just went on forever. Exiting that bridge was SO LOUD though. You heard the crowd way before you saw them. This might have been my favorite moment of the race (other than the finish, naturally). Props to the spectators (again).
I felt relatively good until the dreaded mile 20. While things didn't completely fall apart, I was READY for the race to be over. I was so happy when we entered Central Park and headed toward the finish. Again, the spectators were 4-5 people deep and yelling their fool heads off. Even if you wanted to stop to walk, I can't imagine actually doing it because of the crowd. They almost carried you to the finish. The only thing that was kind of annoying here was that the spectators seemed to be more inclined to walk on / through the race course in Central Park (pre-finish line barricades). I almost ran into two of them. Come on people! I know you want to see your runner, but we're TIRED and have been running for a really long time. Don't make us swerve to miss you!!
And then, there it was. The finish line. After almost 11 hours of waiting and running, I was actually there. I finished the New York City Marathon.
Finish line selfie!
After the race you are funneled through various lines for photos, food, mylar blankets and ponchos. (Sidebar - when you register for the race you are given the option of bag-check or a poncho for post- race. Choose the poncho. It is amazing! Weather proof and fleece-lined. But they only have 30,000 ponchos for 50,000+ racers so you have to choose quickly!!)
I ended up finishing in something like 4:47, which kind of surprised me because that's what I ran in Chicago and I felt terrible in Chicago. Even with the calf issue, I felt MUCH better in NYC. Dudley finished a just shy of 6:00 which is amazing considering he didn't train. I think the marathon was his fifth run of the entire year.
If you couldn't tell - I LOVED LOVED LOVED this race. Would it be something I'd want to run every year? Probably not. It's just too much of a "thing" logistically, plus it's a pretty expensive weekend. However, I'd love to run it again in a few years and I absolutely recommend it to anyone who wants to run a marathon. Or even if you don't - head up to NYC for the weekend and be a spectator. They looked like they were having a blast out there cheering and dancing!
As always, a huge thanks to Dudley for being such a good sport and supporting my crazy race adventures. THANK YOU to everyone who donated to my TNT campaign, which allowed me to participate in this race. And thanks to Andrew from FTP Coaching who got me (again) to another finish line upright and smiling.
BAM!! Thanks, NYC!!