New York City Marathon

Where do I begin!

Well the NYC Marathon has come and gone, months of planning and training went into this race. The reviews from former racers helped a ton, and I will put together a video for yall on my youtube to show everything leading up to the race, but I will say, it was the experience of a lifetime. No other races can do it justice. NYC should be on everyone’s bucket list because of how incredibly well run it is, the expo, the course, everything was perfect! I ran my fifth marathon and did it in 3:49, super close to my personal best time, and I am incredibly proud of myself.

It has taken since 2011 to get back to that time. Hit by nutritional issues and not being able to prepare as much as I wanted, I came into NY prepped and ready. Even though I had some dietary problems on course, I still kicked ass! Not trying to gloat but when you run a marathon, jump up and shout it out loud! You are amazing! Congratulations to you! Now enjoy the offseason!

But with that said, here is my race recap, what you should know about going into NY and everything in between.

IMG_8713My husband and I took the train up to NYC from D.C. Friday evening which was super easy and relaxing. I booked our hotel reservation at the Doubletree in NYC as far in advance as possible to get a reasonable rate because all of the hotels jacked up their prices that weekend. However this is important, if you plan on going home the day of the race, you might have to pay an extra night if you want to shower. This is because most hotels don’t do a late checkout and with the race starting so late, you may potentially finish past your checkout time. For us, we had a location to shower after the race so checking out that day was fine but it is important to note for when you book your hotel. The Doubletree was also not far from the Central Park which made getting back after the race easy while also being close to the midtown pick up location.

IMG_1280On Saturday morning we headed on over to the expo at the Javits convention center. The expo was full of vendors and an entire NYRR New Balance section to buy some NYC marathon branded items. Bedgear was present and they gave out 500 pillows to lucky racers (I was not one of them), but the brand is fantastic and makes terrific sleeping products. When we walked into the convention center, there were security personnel and lines to go through for safety reasons. I then picked up my bib and shirt and made my way into the main expo area.

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There was plenty of booths to visit, but I knew we only had a specific amount of time we could shop for because I made a reservation for us to go to the World Trade Center observation tower and museum. After doing some walking around the city and sitting, we made our way to have dinner and back to the hotel to rest, stretch and salt bath. I knew I had an early wakeup call and then a few hours to kill in the morning, so I wanted to try and get to bed early, buttttt Miami was playing Va Tech, so I went to be a little later than I wanted.

IMG_1152Before we left, I read a lot of reviews about the race and tips to prepare for race morning. One of those suggestions was to bring extra clothes for the morning of that you don’t mind donating. This is because you will be sitting around for a little while and it gets cold at the start (no joke it does get cold), so I made sure to pack a bunch of options, bring a heat sheet and bag full of nutrition I would need for the morning.

Another essential bit of information was selecting your transportation to the start and baggage options. I highly recommend the poncho option vs. the bag pickup. Mainly because the poncho is super warm and you don’t have to wait in line after the race the get your bag. That and also the bag pickup is further away from the finish line, hence more walking. Plus the poncho is a nice keepsake and if you are someone who races the NYC marathon year after year, its what you bring in the morning to stay warm. So the point of the story, wear your layers and don’t bring a bag. img_1165.jpg

I set my alarm for 5:15 to aim at leaving by 5:30 and walk to the bus for my 6 am pickup. I selected this option rather than the 5 am bus or the Staten Island ferry options because the hotel was geographically closer to the midtown bus pickup. I also chose it because I could rest my eyes on the bus, that and I get seasick. You probably are wondering why is the bus pickup at 6 am when the race doesn’t start until 9:40. Well, the line to get on a bus takes a long time because there are SOOOO many people waiting in line and there are thousands of buses. It probably took a good 45 minutes to get on a bus finally. Then you have the drive to Staten Island which takes forever because of all of the buses dropping off racers at the start area. So moral of the story is, just be prepared to wait.

I finally got the start line staging area which was separated into blue, orange and green. I was designated blue (said so on the big) which meant I would be starting on top of the bridge rather than on the lower level. There were a lot of porta potties and food options, but of course I had issues finding the water, go figure. Now I will say that even though there were a lot of bathroom options, doesn’t mean that the lines weren’t long. In fact, they were, and the bathrooms were gross. So I would wait until you get into the corrals if you can because those lines were shorter and the bathrooms were cleaner.

I found a spot to park myself, get in my stretches and eat some food before I was called into the corrals at 9:40 am. Because I was in the second wave, my start time wasn’t until 10:20 am. At around 10 they started moving us towards to the start line, and that is when it began to drizzle. There were a few race pacers throughout each corral for your designated goal race finish time, but I couldn’t find them until I got to the start area.

The national them began, the gun went off and then New York New York started playing. After that, all that was between me and the finish was 26.2 miles. I started off going slow up and over the bridge because there were so many of us and you don’t want to go off to fast on an uphill. By the time we finished the bridge, it was mile 2, and we were in Brooklyn. At mile 3, we met back up with all of the other corral colors (they had all of us go in different directions because there wasn’t enough room to merge all three into one 2 lane road. From that point, I stuck with the 3:30 finish time group and kept on running through Brooklyn.

The roads were lined with people from start to finish cheering you on. It was crazy! I actually never even listened to my music because there was so much entertainment on the sidelines. There were plenty of aid stations fully stocked along the way everyone was having a blast. Brooklyn was super cool to run through because there were so many different neighborhoods. Queens was short but there was never a lack of people.

The course was challenging, but I felt prepared going into it for the hills. There were a good amount of gradual inclines along the way, but it wasn’t a concern for me because I practiced running on steep slopes the past few months. I highly recommend doing the same because climbing the bridges at the halfway mark and into Manhattan was a challenge but I didn’t stop, and that’s what mattered. Once you come off the 59th street bridge, the reviews are correct, you just have a tunnel of people out there screaming loudly. Even in the rain, they were out there in full stride. It was crazy crowded, but it was where I told my husband to look for me. From that point on, the course consisted of rolling hills up into the Bronx which climaxed with another bridge to climb up.

I had friends who lived along the race route in east Harlem come out and meet up with me, so that was a major treat and wonderful break in between the same road I was running up for the past 4 miles. Coming into the Bronx was really fun because there were bands and LED signs and people with rollers for stiff legs. The LED signs were broadcasting cheer cards for runners from friends and family. My friends sent a bunch in and of course, I didn’t know nor did I pay attention, so that was disappointing. Other than that, I was just focused on counting down the miles. Less than a 10K to go.

My legs were starting to get a bit stiff, but I kept running along. We entered Manhatten again and began the long climb up 5th avenue to enter Central Park. It was then that I was craving oranges and someone had oranges along the hill, so I grabbed two and thoroughly enjoyed them. NYRR, you need to have oranges on the course! By this point, I had about 3 miles to go, and we hit the park, the downhill part of the park. Note for future runners, this section killed my legs, not the uphills on the bridges or 5th avenue or the Bronx, but this part right here. I was crying out in pain because my legs hurt so bad from the pounding by running down a hill. I actually looked forward to running uphill! So much that I was so happy to see the last hill at mile 25. That was also where I saw my husband for the second time and he continued to cheer me on while running along the sidewalk with me as he could see I was in a great deal of pain. But I was only 1 mile from the finish and I could do it because it was uphill. I have never been so to run uphill before. He kept me smiling until I made the last turn onto the straightaway.

I picked up up my legs and gave it my all the last 800 meters of the race, up the embankment to the finish line. I threw my hands up in the air because not only was I done running but I ran the NYC Marathon in 3:49, not my best but pretty dang close. The volunteers hurried us out of the finish area but I relished in the moment, grabbed my medal, heat sheet and a bag full of goodies then made my way down the LONG WALK to exit Central Park and pick up my poncho.

As I was walking, all I was thinking was when am I going to leave this *bleeping* park. But then I saw the split sign and a fellow racer said: “I have to keep walking to get my bag!” So it could have been worse.

I finally made my out of the park, got my poncho (fleece lined btw) and keptIMG_1192 walking until I got to the family reuniting area. Found my husband and have never been happier. Well, that changed very fast when we tried to figure out how to get to the other side of the road. Note for future racers, go under the road by via the subway and pop up on the other side. We ended up going back to Central Park to the closest subway station where we could go under and to the other side of the road. As I continued walking (downstairs was not fun) everyone was congratulating me on finishing which was a very cool feeling.

I later showered/bathed, put on warm clothes, had the hubby pick out a spot for dinner (Italian) and enjoyed a nice pasta meal with a bottle of wine. This was the best way to finish my marathon day. We headed out to Penn Station, grabbed some magnolias bread pudding and cupcakes and made our way onto the train.

This was an amazing weekend, culminating with a goal and a dream coming true. I may not have gotten my BQ but I finished I am so happy. The NYC marathon was an amazing race, incredible experience, extremely hard but overall should be on everyone’s list of races to run.

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