I made it! I ran and finished the New York City Marathon and it was one of the most challenging courses that I’ve ever come across.
Going into this marathon I decided I would race it just to have fun and to enjoy the experience, and I have to say that I stuck to my guns 100% and had a great time…well as great of a time as you can have running 26.2 miles.
The crowds were amazing. The weather was perfect (60 degrees and partly cloudy). The course was fantastic, although challenging. The organization was spot on for the most part with the exception of the buses in the beginning.
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I started the weekend traveling with my family to New Jersey where my Aunt lives, just 30 minutes outside of the city. My cousin lives within New York City, so it was perfect that we stayed the night at her place Saturday night before the marathon and it was super easy to get around to the start.
We headed to the expo Saturday where I picked up my official bib and things started to get real…
After the bib pick up, we walked to Central Park and then back to my cousin’s apartment on the East side where we waited for her to get dinner. My goal for carbs for Friday and Saturday was 400 grams each day, so I ate a ton of pasta on Friday and two rounds of pizza on Saturday. It was glorious!
We hit the hay early to get ready for the marathon and enjoyed the extra hour of sleep! I didn’t sleep very well Friday night as I don’t sleep well in places other than my own home, so I was a bit stressed out about getting enough sleep Saturday. I ended up actually taking some melatonin which worked like a charm!
Sunday morning we got up bright and early at 5:15 am to get ready to catch the subway and then the Staten Island Ferry. Those two transitions were flawless and took me less than 45 minutes to do. I got some great views on the ferry…
After the ferry ride, I waited about 20 minutes in a giant crowd to get on the buses to get to the start. This was supposed to take us 30 minutes but ended up taking about a hour. I started freaking out that I was going to miss my corral start and asked the bus driver if I could get off the bus and walk the two blocks to the start and he said no, even though the other buses were letting people off. We literally sat in traffic, two blocks from the start for 30 minutes. Talk about frustrating.
We finally made it there and I literally ran to the village to get a bagel, use the bathroom and get to my corral before it closed. I ended up eating my bagel in the corral and just trying to chill out before my 10:15 start. Once we started moving up the bridge I started feeling better and ready to do this.
The start was amazing. Running across the Verrazano Narrows bridge was so surreal and there were SO many people. The first half seemed to fly by. I held about a 9:45 pace although there were two miles that were 9:00 and 8:00. When I saw those I about pooped my pants and told myself to slow down. I knew I wasn’t going to see my parents until after the Queensboro bridge which is a super hard and long 2 miles right around 15 miles, so I just put my head down and kept running.
I finally saw my family at 16 miles and just about cried. I was so happy. I was hurting a bit at that point and wondering if I could keep moving. I kept pushing down 1st Avenue and totally hit the wall at 18 miles. I just told myself to keep running, fuel and keep going. Luckily by the time I got to 20 I was feeling good and when we headed into the Bronx I got a wave of energy and just kept riding it until 22 miles. At this point, I was walking through the fuel stations and just taking it all in. The hill prior to entering Central Park at mile 23 was terrible, but I like running uphill compared to down, so I just kept my effort level the same and kept trucking. I knew I would see my family again at 24.5 and when I ran PAST them, my Dad shouted at me and I turned around to stop to see them. I told them I was struggling but they told me less than 2 miles to go and I knew I could do it.
Mile 24 through Central Park was painful. Mile 25 was painful, but awesome because I knew 26 was so close and the crowds were out of this world. Turning the corner back into Central Park, I could finally see the 26 mile banner and knew I was almost there. I saw the hill prior to the finish but I didn’t care. I just kept trucking and as I crossed the finish line I literally thought, “I can’t believe I just did that again.”
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After the finish, you are channelled through Central Park to get your medal, heat shield, recovery bag and poncho. THIS PART SUCKS. Let me repeat; IT SUCKS. After running 26.2 miles, the last thing a runner wants to do is walk another 2 miles to exit the finish area. By this time, the sun was setting and it got so cold, so fast. You wanted to walk faster but you literally knew that you couldn’t. And it was so slow to get a medal, recovery bag and heat shield. I downed a bottle of gatorade during the walk, a bottle of water, called my Mom to figure out where to meet her and just focused on anything but the pain in my legs.
I finally made it to the post race ponchos (which were totally LEGIT) and worked on walking to my family. I finally met up with them a few blocks away and kept saying, “I can’t believe I just did that again.” They were super proud as always, and I literally changed my clothes on Columbus and 72nd street. Sorry New York.
We then walked 10 blocks to catch the bus and finally headed back to my cousin’s apartment. We rode the bus for about a half hour and then caught a cab the 20 blocks to her apartment. I took my “ice” bath, a hot shower and then we headed to dinner to fuel up.
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Overall the experience was amazing. The past two days I have been super sore but today I’m starting to feel back to normal. New York is unlike any marathon I’ve ever been a part of. The course is HARD…no matter where you train or who you listen to. The bridges are steep, the inclines are subtle but long, and the course is actually pretty rolling. But the crowd support is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
I can’t say that I’ll be doing another marathon though for a long time. Before New York, I took about 2 year off from running to switch to Crossfit and right now, I’m ready to get back to Crossfit. I ran New York because I knew it was a once in a lifetime marathon and because I had a confirmed entry through my cousin, which I knew may not happen ever again. So right now, I’m super grateful for the opportunity to run it, and to have survived training without injury and the marathon without incidence. If you ever get a chance to run New York…do not pass it up. It’s totally worth it!