Wednesday, November 5, 2014

NYC Marathon (Race Recap)

New York City, New York
Sunday, November 2
Marathon #27
Weather - Sunny and WINDY

I first started entering the lottery for the New York City Marathon in 2010. I didn't get in through luck, I got in through the (now extinct) three strikes and you're in rule. I had been looking forward to running this marathon for FOUR years.

Daylight savings was the night before the race. I was really concerned about oversleeping and missing the race so I set multiple alarms so that didn't happen. As a result of the automatic time change I ended up getting up an hour earlier than I needed to. I tried to snooze, but I was too jittery and excited. I got dressed, said a quick goodbye to Ariel and headed out at 6:40. I stopped to get a quick cup of coffee before heading to catch the subway to the ferry. I also had my handy dandy pre-race beer ready to go:

Maybe because it was Sunday, or maybe because it was early, I had about a 15 minute wait for the subway. I was a bit concerned that I had gotten on the wrong line as I did not see that many runners. Not being sure what security was going to be like, I drank my beer on the train. However, the more stops we hit, the more people got on. I followed the herd to the Staten Island Ferry. We departed pretty much as soon as I got there (just before 8:00 am).

The ferry didn't take that long - maybe 15 or 20 minutes. I used the bathroom before I got of the ferry. It was super crowded on the exit and I wasn't quite sure where to go, but I was thinking - it's only just after 8:30, I have plenty of time...

I decided to get in the super long line for the bathrooms when a race official came up to tell us that the last shuttle bus to the start was leaving in 15 minutes. Shuttle? Man, I should have looked at some of my race information. I didn't know there was a bus?!

I risked the bathroom line and then got into a mass crowd to get on the bus. BILLIONS OF PEOPLE. Not even sure how long I was in line or how long I was on the bus, but by the time we got to the start area it was already after 9:30. My corral was supposed to be open only from 9:40 to 10:10...

There were a lot of NYC police at the bus drop off. We were all scanned with metal detectors and our bags looked through (if you had one, it appeared I was one of the only people that didn't). I found a set of bathrooms, and then I had to try to find my start. Due to the high winds, a lot of the signage was not put out, but luckily there were a lot of people telling you where to go (with three different starting areas, this was helpful).

I finally found my corral at 10:08. I tore off my throwaway thinking I would squeeze in. A few minutes went by and I thought I missed my start. For the first time all day, my bib was finally checked and I squeezed in. Another quick trip to the bathroom and we were immediately hustled onto the bridge. I had looked (briefly) at the profile and thought that the start was really the only hill. (LOLOLOLOLOLOL)

I had a bit of nervous energy as we surged forward. 7 months ago I had this elaborate plan to train and go for a PR. As you all know, that didn't happen. Not even a little bit. The first mile was rough. The winds were INSANE, and it was all uphill. My calves were TIGHT from not running all week. I gutted it out and the other side of the Verrazano Narrows ridge (the downhill) was pretty Great. I was already heating up so I took off and tossed my long sleeve thin shirt I still had on. (As a note: WTF runners, why were you tossing stuff where you stood? Move to the side? I tripped over shirts, trash bags and hats ALL DAY LONG).

The course finally all merged together around mile 3, where the first of the aid stations was located (and there would be an aid station roughly every mile until the finish). I still had hand warmers in my gloves but got hot and tossed them around mile 4.

Most of the race is really a blur already, but I vaguely remember that I really enjoyed the first few hours of the race. Running through Brooklyn was pretty great, and it was UNREAL to see the number of people lining the streets to cheer for the runners.

I was cruising along at a pretty decent pace. Not feeling GREAT, but not feeling terrible either. I had a plan to take a gel every 4 or so miles and only sip on water so I didn't get any cramps. The wind was awful and there were times I just tried to keep my head down. Somewhere maybe 10 miles in is when the chafing under my right arm started. That was painful and got gradually worse as I kept running.
Not sure where this was on the course - but really my only good race pictures

And then we hit the Queensboro Bridge. For all the other bridge crossings the runners were on the top and the cars on the lower level. Not this one. It was dark, windy and LOUD. I started to get a headache that would last the rest of the race. I don't know what it was with this bridge, but all of a sudden I was DONE. It was a reminder of the horrible tunnel we ran in during RnR Seattle marathon. My legs were tired, I was tired, I just wanted to be done with this race. I started to walk A LOT. Everything felt uphill.

We headed across the Willis Avenue bridge into the Bronx.  There was finally "food" on the course (due to the late start I was starting to get really hangry). I grabbed a bit of banana in hopes it would give me some energy. With no trash cans all the banana peels were just tossed in the street - VERY slippery.

I knew we would run parallel to the park before heading in, but since I hadn't actually looked at the map I didn't know how long it would be. It was starting to get colder. Between the sun setting early and the shade from the buildings, I was getting pretty miserable. I was really having a hard time. I was really trying to have a good time. I was really trying to enjoy myself. To be honest, I wasn't. I was suddenly super sensitive to the smells. The last 6 miles of the race I kept thinking "Did someone just vomit? Is that trash? What is that wretched smell??"

FINALLY, we entered the park. FINALLY. I knew we had about 3 miles to go and I was going to give it what I could. I assumed it would feel more downhill since practically the whole course had felt like a gradual uphill.

My body might have been exhausted, but for the first time all day I was really enjoying the scenery. The changing leaves in Central Park looked amazing. The sides of the road were lined with people. I was finally starting to feel the excitement of the finish line!

I was having weird aches, tightness and pain on the inner part of my thighs, just above my knees. Pretty much every step was incredibly painful, but I just wanted to be done and sitting down. My watch clicked over to mile 26 and I thought I could surely run it in for the finish. I gave it everything I had and for the first time in my life I barely could run across the finish line because my entire lower body just locked up. Thankfully, there are no pictures of me grimacing in pain as I crossed the line.

Official Time - 4:57:26
Official 5K - 31:23
Official 10K - ?? - must have missed timing mat
Official 15K - 1:35:56
Official 20K - 2:09:00
Official Half - 2:16:42
Official 25K - 2:44:44
Official 30K - 3:21:01
Official 35K - 4:00:55
Official 40K - 4:40:48
Overall Place - 35759
Gender Place - 12460
Division Place - 2175
Garmin Time - 4:57:31
Garmin Distance - 26.52 miles
Garmin Pace - 11:13
Miles 1-5: 10:49, 9:45, 9:50, 10:04, 10:23
Miles 6-10: 9:49, 10:07, 10:29, 10:57, 10:18
Miles 11-15: 10:39, 10:24, 10:58, 10:53, 12:50
Miles 16-20: 11:20, 10:57, 11:01, 11:57, 12:49
Miles 21-26.2: 12:28, 12:42, 12:16, 13:37, 12:04, 12:14, 11:10

Can you see where I completely fell apart?

Collected my medal, got my "food" bag and then spent the longest, windiest walk of my life out of the park. The finisher area was at 63rd and they had us walk all the way up to 85th (?) street to exit? We were not given our finisher poncho until we were closer to 72nd street, and I didn't meet up with Jessa and the kids until I got all the way back to 63rd or so. I for real had to walk about 2 miles just to get out of the race.

We then headed to the subway so we could get food before heading back to the hotel. I had a hard time getting down the stairs, and it was the MOST CROWDED EVER:

We spent some time trying to decide what to eat and finally settled on a cute Southern/BBQ restaurant "Southern Hospitality" - where I enjoyed some delicious BBQ nachos and mac & cheese. Oh, and beer. Sweet, delicious beer.

  • The expo is huge and crowded and the lines for official merchandise were INSANE. They could easily have expanded out into more rooms, but there were other events happening the same day.
  • I cringe even typing this. I would not run this race again. I personally do not think it lived up to all the hype. I looked forward to this race for four years and I was disappointed. I would run the NYC Half again in a heartbeat. This, all of this, was not the best for me. I loved my visit to NYC. LOVED IT. This race, this course, not so much.
  • Logistics: A bit complicated, and I am glad that I didn't go into the subway system blind on this. I felt comfortable enough with the neighborhood we were staying in (Hell's Kitchen) to get to the right line and get to where I needed to go. I just didn't realize HOW LONG everything was going to take. I thought for SURE four hours would be plenty of time. I barely made it to my start!
  • Aid stations: PLENTY. I think they had Power Bar gels (which I hate), so I am glad I brought my own gels. Plenty of water, plenty of volunteers. I think every other station had Gatorade, but only that icky lemon-lime flavor. There were NO trash cans for the athletes so the road was drenched and there was tons of cups/trash in the street. I don't know if it just doesn't make sense to have trash cans for a race of this size, but that bothered me a bit.
  • Weather: Yes, it was just as ridiculous as everyone makes it sound. I didn't find it cold (while running), but 30 mph gusts are no joke. It is hard to run against the wind, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It's draining and tiring.
  • There is an unbelievable amount of crowd support. The loud music and cheering actually gave me a headache (sounds so lame, I know). There were signs everywhere, a TON of energy, if that is something that you look forward to in a race.
  • The shirt is ok - I will wear it as a thin long sleeves.
  • The medal is AMAZING. Very cool.
  • Post-race food. WHAT. We were given a HEAVY bag with a Gatorade, bottle of water, protein shake, power bar, bruised apple and a tiny bag of pretzels. WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT. I was so mad when I finally was able to sit and open my bag hoping for a delicious snack to eat before I got dinner and that was all that was in there. 
  • The poncho (once I finally got it) was GREAT. No arms, more like a fleece-lined velcro cape with a hood. It was a bit awkward to hold anything or try to use my phone, but it probably prevented me from getting hypothermia.
With all that said:
  • No, I did not have the race I wanted. No, I did not feel as great as I wanted. 
  • Yes, I am disappointed in the event, and in my performance. Some of that is probably legit race-related, and some of it is because I just had a bad day.
  • YES, I am super glad I ran this race. Even if I did not have the best time, I really enjoyed the overall visit to NYC and I am so happy that I took extra days to enjoy the city, which is remarkable.
  • The volunteers are amazing. Every last one of them was appreciated!
I know my opinion is probably not that popular, but it is what it is!


  1. Hi!

    I felt bad too but I agree with you! I think I had such high the end I was running in and a guy elbowed me in the boob (on purpose) and I was soo shocked I couldn't believe it. I am glad I finished and can cross it off my bucket list. There were good parts for sure, but where I am at in my training and life I am ready for trail races!
    How do you take photos while running? I had my camera in my water bottle, but it was such a pain to get out.

  2. Bummer that it wasn't as expected. Your pictures are amazing though, so this is definitely on my bucket list (although also probably a one-and-done, just because of logistics/cost of NYC.

  3. Sorry to hear that you had a lousy experience. I figured it was going to be tough running on account of the weather. I was watching it on TV and saw the messes on the street as well as how hard it looked. I also saw the start clogged with castaway clothing and such.

    I also figured the logistics of getting to the race start were going to be challenging. When you have that many people getting into one particular area, it puts a strain on everything.

    It looks like an epic race, but I imagine the lodging, the race itself, and food must've been super expensive. I know New York isn't a cheap place to stay. I'd love to see what this race set you back. I've toyed with doing the race before but seeing your post and doing the mental math in my head makes me wonder if it is worth it.

    I still think it is hilarious to drink a beer before the race on the train. I wonder if any of the elites did that too.


    1. I will say that for as big of a race as it is, the organization is pretty amazing. Just plan for everything to take a REALLY long time.

  4. I appreciate your honesty. I don't see why some people love this race given the cost, logistics, and cluster. I get that it might be a "one and done" to say you did, but aside from that, it seems very stressful to me. I'll happily board a flight, tour the city, and run through central park on my own :)

    Sorry you didn't have the race you wanted but at least you can now say you've completed it!

  5. The IDEA of running this one seems pretty great, but all of the logistics just give me a headache. If I already lived in or near NYC I'd probably put it on my list, but your review makes me realize it's probably not gong to happen. It looks like you and A had a great vacation though, I enjoyed all the photos you shared of your experiences.

    I've been wondering where you keep your phone when you run. I have a flip belt, but getting my phone in and out is such a PITA that I rarely actually use it.

  6. I love love love your race outfit. Honestly, you have such a knack for putting race outfits together that totally capture the spirit of the race you're running! That outfit totally says "NY, urban chic, November, dreary weather, tough course". You should (in all your spare time) invent yourself into a running fashion consultant cuz I would totally use you to dress me for any race!

  7. i've struggled all week putting this race into words. i have a lot of disappointments, too. It's all a blur. I felt like i was miserable more than I was happy and I can only assume it was the wind? I just felt so focused and so freaking cold!!!! I still can't believe I didn't see you. such a bummer. hopefully in 2015. glad yall had a fun trip and hate it wasn't as amazing for you, either.


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