My alarm went off to Taylor Swift’s Welcome to New York bright and early at 6:00 AM. It was finally race day and I was getting to run the New York City Marathon! I have been dreaming of running this race for years, and I couldn’t believe I was finally getting to do it. Having the extra hour of sleep from daylight savings the night before was perfectly wonderful too. I jumped up, got dressed and ate my typical pre-race breakfast of coffee, half a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter and a banana. Since the weather was chilly, I threw on my throw away coat that I had purchased at a local thrift store over my Run Crossroads team shirt and my favorite running skirt brand- a Sparkle Skirt. By 7 AM I was out the door and on the way to the 7th Avenue station near our apartment.
New York City Marathon
Getting there on the Staten Island Ferry
The New York City Marathon separates runners into corrals in order to have a wave start. The result is that even with 50,000 runners, the coarse never really jams up. So while the race was starting at 8:30 with the wheelchair division, my wave wouldn’t start until 10:40. Click here to see the race schedule. Runners have a choice of taking a bus or the ferry to Staten Island, and I was scheduled for the 8 AM ferry. After one subway transfer, I arrived at the Staten Island Ferry terminal around 7:40 to huge crowds of people heading inside. Even with the crowds, it was pretty orderly. Runners had to pass through a security line of police dogs, but we moved fairly quickly. Ferries were leaving from two separate docks and one line was already crowded with racers, so I after a quick bathroom break I headed to the other dock entrance where I was near the front of the line. I was relieved I had headed there when the people from the back of the other line rushed my line when they couldn’t get a spot on that boat. And now they were stuck at the end of this line. Just pick a side and stay there, people! Eventually I made it onto the boat for the pleasant 25 minute ride to Staten Island. Once we arrived in Staten Island, there was another crazy long line to catch a bus to the start villages. You getting the picture? It’s quite a process to get 50,000 people to the start line. I finally made it on the bus and nervously chatted with my seat mate who was from London and running her first marathon. At this point, you could feel the excitement in the air! By now it was after 10. It had taken over three hours to get to the start! When we exited the bus, we had to pass through yet another security line of metal detectors and bag checks, but again, the line moved fairly quickly. The start village was hopping with people everywhere- waiting in line for toilets, relaxing on blankets, stretching and generally milling around. While waiting in line for one last port a potty stop, I heard the announcement that Wave 3 corrals were closing at 10:20 which was in less than 5 minutes! Sh*t! I took off and sprinted as fast as I could to the corral checkpoint and made it in at the very last second. Sheesh!!!
The New York City Marathon
I settled down now that I was where I belonged and before I knew it we were listening to the National Anthem, hearing the cannon boom and the sound of New York, New York blasting to start our corral off. I was assigned to the Green Wave which runs over the lower level of the iconic Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Even though I had given myself plenty of time to get to the start, and even though everything was very organized, getting there had taken so long and been somewhat stressful so I was in a daze that I was actually running the New York City Marathon!And now started that fun part AND the hard part- I actually had to get through the 26.2 miles. What can I say? I Love Running, I Hate Running, I Love Running! It’s hard, it’s wonderful, and I will ever stop doing it. However, life has been busy and training is not at the very top of my priority list right now. So while I have been getting the miles in, they have mostly been slow junk miles. But since I am not a professional runner, and I have a very full life, that’s going to have to be ok with me. It’s all about balance, right? So I knew heading in I would not be breaking any personal records in New York, and I would just soak it all in and try to enjoy every last mile.I have been lucky enough to run several marathons that are known for awesome crowd support, including the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, and the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC, and NOTHING was like the crowd support in New York City! Throughout the five boroughs, the crowds were truly unforgettable. From the encouraging volunteers at water stops, the countless police officers keeping the course safe, the blasting music, funny signs and the cheering crowds, there was so much to take in. I also was so excited to see Sophie, Naomi and Maya who had come out to cheer for me in Brooklyn. It was just so great to have their love and encouragement! With all this supportive chaos, who needs headphones? I definitely didn’t and they stayed in my pocket the whole race. I was doing intervals timed with my Gymboss throughout the race of 2-3 minutes of running with 1 minute of walking, and this worked well for me. And the weather was perfect! It started cloudy and somewhat chilly and while sunny at the end, was still quite cool. Pretty much ideal racing weather. So the miles went by through the 5 boroughs- from Staten Island to Brooklyn to Queens to Manhattan to the Bronx and finally back to Manhattan. Click here to check out a quick time lapse video of the course. Each borough had their own distinct sites, sounds and smells, and it was awesome to see the city in this way. By the time I made it to the finish line in Central Park, I was relieved to be done, but still felt fairly good. My finish time was 5:17. No miracles occurred with my speed on the course and this was pretty much exactly the race I trained for. There’s no faking it in the Marathon, and you get what you train for which is one of my favorite things and least favorite things about running this distance. See how conflicting this crazy sport is?Once finished, I happily accepted my beautiful race medal and I began the LONG crowded walk to first get wrapped in a mylar blanket by a volunteer and pick up my finisher goody bag filled with a protein drink, pretzels, and whatever else. Before the race, runners had the choice to do a bag check or receive a poncho at the end of the race. Poncho runners had to wear a bracelet during the race showing our choice. I never check a race bag, so I picked the poncho. I now trudged with thousands of other weary runners in the direction of the ponchos, showed them my bracelet, and a wonderful volunteer wrapped me in the perfectly warm lined poncho. If you run the New York City Marathon, get the poncho! It is AWESOME!
Once outside the race gates, I hobbled over to the closest subway station and began the trip back to Brooklyn. My girls met me at the 7th avenue station and we headed straight to the closest pizza shop where I scarfed down a couple of slices and a coca cola. What a day! I LOVED every minute of the New York City Marathon. As I’ve said before, running in a race is the ideal way to tour a city. You just get to see so much! And while there is no doubt it was an expensive destination race, in my opinion it was worth every penny. The electricity of the city is felt throughout the entire course, and nothing I’ve ever experienced before compares.Once home, I stretched, showered and then took a short walk around Park Slope to move my car since we were parked in a street that gets cleaned on Monday mornings (thankfully that went easier than my first parking experience!) and to get a coffee and delicious cupcake from Cocoa Bar, a cute little cafe nearby. The girls had spent a fun day cheering marathoners, walking Prospect Park, and working on homework in Barnes and Noble so they were thankfully ok with heading in early for the night. New York City Marathon- you are simply awesome!
Have you run the New York City Marathon? I’d love to hear about it!