I just got back from New York City where I was able to live a long time dream of mine- running the New York City Marathon. An extremely popular race, over 80,000 people pay $11 to try for one of about 14,000 lottery spots. Once entered, applicants wait anxiously on lottery day to see if the $255 fee has been withdrawn from their accounts. Yep, sane people actually pay good money for the chance to run 26.2 miles. Sounds crazy but I would do it again in a heartbeat! I entered the lottery for an entry last winter and was ecstatic when I found out in March that I won a coveted entry. Since Dave and I got engaged in New York, the city holds a special place in my heart and I couldn’t wait to run the big city streets!
Since Garrett was trying out for basketball and Dave had to work, they weren’t able to make the trip. But Sophie, Naomi, Maya and I had a blast over a 5 day visit. The logistics of a visit to a city as big as New York seemed daunting, but I didn’t need to worry as everything worked out perfectly. To start, I needed a place for us to stay that was big enough for all of us and wouldn’t blow our budget. We found the perfect vacation rental on Airbnb. A spacious 1 bedroom apartment in a beautiful Park Slope, Brooklyn brownstone with living room and full kitchen cost less than a budget hotel choice. And it was much more interesting to stay in a neighborhood and pretend to be a local too! We loved our apartment rental and everything about booking through Airbnb was simple so I won’t hesitate to book vacation rentals through it again.
Getting to New York City for the New York City Marathon
We also had to decide how to get to New York City. Since it is only a 9.5 hour trip from our house in Cincinnati (and I hate to fly) we decided to drive into the city. I stressed pretty good about how this would go, but even this worked out fairly easily. And now I know I can drive pretty much anywhere! Arriving early in the afternoon on Friday, we didn’t have to worry about rush hour traffic and we found our way to Park Slope without issue. We also found a street parking space pretty quickly and I eventually got my car in the super tight spot with the help of a local onlooker. I’m sure we were hilarious to him, but he couldn’t have been nicer directing me in to the itty bitty parking space. Phew! We definitely don’t parallel park like this in Ohio! Once parked, we dropped our things off at our apartment and headed to the nearest subway station to head into Manhattan. We decided to purchase unlimited 7 day Metrocards and for $31 we were able to ride the subways and buses as many times as we wanted during our visit. Click here for information about New York subway fares. For us it was nice to not have to worry about how much money was left on our cards while heading down into the metro stations. Since a single ride fare is $2.75, you can do the math to determine if the unlimited use card works for your trip plans. We used both Laminated Streetwise Manhattan Map and Laminated Streetwise Map of Brooklyn to help us get around which made figuring out where we needed to go easy. I also bought Fodor’s New York City 2016 which helped us decide what we wanted to see during our visit. Naomi read parts of it aloud to us on our long drive in from Cincinnati.
First stop was the Race Expo taking place at the Javitz Center. It was simple to get there on the new subway 7 extension which is just a block away from the convention center. With 50,000 runners, this marathon expo is HUGE. Luckily we were arriving on Friday at 3pm, an off peak time, and were able to bypass the velvet rope mazes set up for long lines. I was amazed how organized the New York City Marathon was throughout the weekend and the expo was easy and convenient to get through so packet pickup was a breeze. Divided by race number, there were dozens of kiosks for bib packets so there weren’t long lines anywhere. Friendly volunteers were everywhere helping direct traffic flow and answering questions. I love the long sleeve tech New York City Marathon shirt given to participants. There was tons of race merchandise to purchase as well, and I picked up a cute baseball cap with the marathon logo. I also really enjoyed the time lapse video they had of the marathon route. After perusing through the numerous vendors, we headed out to explore the city. Easy peasy.When my girls found out they were coming with me to NYC, they all begged to go see a show on Broadway, so our next stop was the TKTS Discount Booth on Times Square to score some reduced price Broadway tickets. Same day theatre tickets are sold for up to 50% off face value and we bought great seats to that night’s performance of Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theatre. Before the show, we had time for a delicious quick dinner of pizza and cheesecake at John’s Pizzeria. Absolutely scrumptious! The girls had never seen Phantom of the Opera and we all loved the show. I swear I woke up all that night hearing the music in my head. By this time, we were pretty wiped out so we decided to head back to our apartment to get some rest. I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.Waking up with the sun, I decided to take a quick shake out run with Sophie through Prospect Park which was a few blocks from our rental. A gorgeous city park, we loved running through the many trees bright with fall colors. The park was crowded with people enjoying the crisp sunny Saturday morning. From the lovely wooded paths to the weekly farmers market, Prospect Park is a treasure. We especially enjoyed the beautiful Grand Army Plaza. Enticed by the delicious smell, we stopped at La Bagel Delight for breakfast on the way back home. There’s a reason why New York City is known for its bagels and my everything bagel with cream cheese was yummy!Heading into Manhattan, we picked up crepes for lunch at a food cart and spent the rest of the day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The stated admission fees to the museum ($25 for adults, $12 for students) are a “recommended amount,” which I always pay since a visit here is worth every penny. When we purchased tickets, the salesperson did ask if we wanted to pay the full recommended amount, so I suppose you could pay less if you wanted to. It is impossible to describe how amazing this museum is. We spent hours meandering through the wings. Sophie really wanted to see Emanuel Leutze’s George Washington Crossing the Delaware, Naomi wanted to check out the Period Rooms and Maya was searching for Greek Columns to show her teacher since they had just completed a unit on Greece. Kids of all ages would enjoy this museum as there is something for everyone- even the youngest toddler would be amazed at the full sets of knights’ armor. Brochures were also available at the information desk for family touring. You could spend days and days here and still not see everything. It really is an amazing place.For dinner, we stopped at a Lenox Hill Grill in the Upper East Side where we all enjoyed our meal and I filled up on chicken and pasta. We decided to head back to Brooklyn since we were all tuckered out and I had the New York City Marathon to run the next day! Since it was Halloween, many of the shop windows were beautifully decorated and we liked checking them out on the way to the subway. Back in Brooklyn, we arrived just in time for the local Park Slope Halloween Parade where adults and kids of all ages walked the route showing off their costumes. Many of the costumes were homemade and they were awesome. This was a great way to end the night and we happily settled into our comfy apartment.
The night before the New York City Marathon:
Before bed, I laid all my stuff out for the New York City Marathon the next day. The weather was going to be perfect and since we set our clocks back that night for daylight savings time, I could sleep a little longer. Yay! I couldn’t believe it was finally here!
Next Up- Part 2- Race Day and Part 3!
Have you run the New York City Marathon? I’d love to hear about it!