New York Big City Dreams, and Everything in New York Ain’t Always What It Seems–New York Marathon
I arrived Friday morning, but I made the mistake of staying up too late the night before. I am still not sure why I had all my clothes out on my bed a week before the race. So, I only got an hour and a half of sleep prior to my flight. I arrived in New York at 9am.
One of my running friends offered to let me stay at her place in Brooklyn. I did not realize the commute to the city is 40 min to an hour. I saved some money, but if I had to do again, I would probably get an AirBnb in the city or a hotel just for ease of commute.
Due to my lack of sleep the night before, I had to take a nap. I then went to the expo around 2:30pm. To my surprise they could not find my bib. Not sure what happed there. They assigned me another bib but it took extra time out of my schedule. I was supposed to go to the opening ceremony, but I was still at the expo. They had plenty of photo opportunities, and a few notable runners such as Deena Kastor. I then listened to the race strategies session–very helpful. The most important tip was don’t start too fast, the race starts on a bridge — a step hill. Also they mentioned the other hills in the race. I was so tired, although there were a meet and greets that Friday. I decided to get some food, headed back to Brooklyn and went to sleep.
I had previous signed up for 5k on Saturday before I sprained my ankle about 3 weeks before the race. Not sure why I got caught up. I never do a shake down run, and one of the cardinal rules of racing is never anything new. Well I decided to listen to my coach who said for those with minor injuries to take it easy and rest. Again there was another Meet and Greet and my charity dinner, but I stayed in Brooklyn. My running friend who I stayed with found me a Thai place. I carb load with Asian food. Pad Thai works, and I stick with it. I laid all my clothes out, and got a few things for camping out before the race especially if it did indeed rain at a local dollar store. I ended up going to bed about 10pm. We got an extra hour of sleep due to time change.
Sunday- Race Day
I woke up at 5:30am. I got dressed. I got my throw away bag. They gave runners an option of bag check or a keep sake–a poncho. I chose the Poncho option. They gave us a clear bag at check in. Everything we brought had to fit in the clear bag. Security was heightened due to the recent terrorist attack in New York. So I packed two flannel table clothes so I could rest while I was waiting for race to start. It rained the night before and the ground was most likely wet. Also while my Ferry left at 7:30am my wave did not start until 11am so I assumed I would be waiting awhile. My plan was to take a nap. I also packed a protein bar and some almond butter. My usually pre-race mean is a bagel with crunchy peanut butter. I bought bagels and peanut butter from home and packed them in my suitcase. I did not know if I would find a near-by grocery store and I wanted to make sure I had my typical pre-race meal. Also that was one less thing I had to do. I ate that around 6am, so I brought something to have 2-3 hours before I ran. I also had some throw away gloves. I also had a throw away outfit. Jacket and pants I bought at the Chicago Marathon Expo. Some people go to Good Will or look in their closet for items to get rid of. This was easier for me. I also bought an extra pair of shoes so if they got muddy due to wet ground my running shoes would be fresh. Some old shoes that I was going to get rid of anyway I also had duct tape so my socks would not get wet to prevent blisters.
So I walked to the subway stop and rode to Whitehall terminal. This was the location where we were to take the ferry to Staten Island — the start of the race. So I made friends with random people on the subway I saw with bibs to make sure I was headed in the correct direction to the ferry terminal. My time was 7:30, but they just give us a time so everyone would not show up at once. I get the terminal, and I meet some of my Delta Sorors I recognized from a Delta Facebook running group. They are from New York, and one of them has done the race. I talked to them, and they calm my nerve. Some people are camped out there versus getting on the bus to go to the race village to sit outside. We decided to use the public restroom versus port potties, but the line took about 30 minutes. It is now almost 9am then we walk to the bus line (allot of lines). We ride to the running village. We get to the Runner’s Village, and have to go through a security check point with metal detectors. Security again was heighten as last year there was not as much security per my new friend- soror. They had dogs snipping for explosives. We also had a small boat that rode beside our ferry with a machete.
After this I said good-bye to my new friends who were in a different color corral. I took a run for the porta-potty. Walked to my corral open area. It was about 10:15, and my corral opened at 10:30 so I basically threw away all my supplies I had for camping out. I took off my throw-away clothes, put on my running shoes and walked to the entrance to the actual corral start. I ran into some old run friends, and meet some new ones. One older man looked at me and said, you look so good. I said thank you. “Do you plan to look like that at the end” I said I hope so.
We then head to the bridge that would take us from Staten Island to Brooklyn. I take some pictures listen to the anthem. The gun goes on and it is on. So in the race strategy session the main mistake people usually make is start to fast up the hill. The speaker stated that expect to go one minute slower than goal pace, and that the downhill would make up for it. So that is what I did I was running 12:30 to 13 per minutes. On the downhill I was running 10 to 10:30 pace. I usally race with music, but I just wanted to seize the moment so I just ran. I listen to the bands, and music that some of the spectator had. I was feeling great. Brooklyn had so much energy, the people, the bands. I was in heaven. I decided to take my ginger chews ( my run fuel) early. I usually wait an hour. I started 30 min, and took one each 30 min. I had literally ran out of gas my last long run, so I was trying to prevent it. It started to rain, it was a drizzle, but not too bad. I had to watch my footing. I almost sprained my other ankle on a pot hole, and also almost slipped on a plastic bag someone has dropped. Thank God I didn’t. While I loved Brooklyn, one thing I would recommend to NYRR is have some aggressive course marshals. While spectator give me energy , some of them were in the way. They were too far in the street at certain points which caused a bottle neck. The Type A in me wanted to tell them to move back and give us some space, but I didn’t. I then decided to listen to some tunes. I choose some upbeat gospel as it was Sunday and thought it would motivate me. I was around mile 6 or 8 and still feeling good. I had to slow down, as I need not want to burn out. I was thinking save it for the end. Today would be my negative split day, I said to myself. I also want to have gas in the tank the monster hill at around mile sixteen. I keep running I see my running friend I was staying with cheering. She is also a running coach, and her group was cheering for their girls. I see my running friend Davon around mile 13. Mile thirteen I was starting to feel my quads, I was like what is going on. It is too early. I just keep running, trying to keep 11 to 11:30 pace. I run/ walk so – run 5min and walk 1 min. My goal pace is 11:30 to 12:00 so I run 30 sec faster and it evens out. I know I am close to pace if each 6 minutes run half a mile, so each complete interval is half a mile.
So I reached mile 14 and I realized it is hard for me to keep pace. My legs particular quads were cramping. I tried to keep running but it hurt so bad. I continued on until I get to the bridge that separates Brooklyn from Queens. It is about a mile long. I could not run up that bridge my legs could not do it. I figured it would be faster to speed walk, and maybe I my legs could run later. So I walked as fast as I could which was between a 13-19 mile pace depending on the incline. I see people passing me. I keep moving though. I throw away my pace bracelet as I knew that keeping my pace was not possible. My goal was to finish as fast I could walk, and maybe possible be able to run again. So I tried to listen to my music and zone out for the momentum to keep me going. I then got tired of music, and tried to enjoy the crowd. I make it through Queens, and then we got to Manhattan. Crowd support was awesome, I keep walking. I had my phone on airplane mode so my battery would last, but I turned in on to do a live video to let my family/friends know what was going on as I had slowed down significantly. As soon as my phone turns on I saw that my Eagles were beating the mess out of the Broncos. I shouted yes my team is winning, and laughed and said to some random lady–the little things. I looked around and I was not the only one struggling. There were plenty of people limping/walking with me. I tried to encourage them, because a few time during the process I was about to break down and cry I was hurting so bad. I made it to mile 20 and there was an awesome band. I stoped and made a video, and took some pictures. I keep moving. We go to Bronx, and then back to Manhattan. There were a few hills in Manhattan, then mile 23 my ankle started to throb. I had been wearing compression socks since I sprained my ankle to help with swelling to work, to work out, run. I ran the race with them. I think it may have been too much as I almost felt like I had a tourniquet around my ankle. Then my iliotibial band started to bother me, and well has my hip flexors. I had a moment and was about to shed a few tears. I got myself together turned some music on and trying to walk to the beat. The crowd was still there cheering. Mile 23, mile 24, mile 25. I only had 1.2 more miles to go. I tried to run but is was a fake run. I wanted to look good at the finish. I also made sure I smiled for each camera. At least my pictures would look good. I fake ran those last 1.2 miles. I had made it, I was so greatful. My 9th Marathon, and 3rd Work Major. I was grateful, because due to injuries it would have been a little over three years since my last marathon. Before that I had two year off due to knee surgery.
After I crossed the finish line, and got my medial. I did another video to check in. They there was a mile walk to get the keepsake poncho. Then I had to hobble to the subway which is another reason that staying in Brooklyn may not have been the best move. They let marathon finishers ride for free though after the race. I ride until transfer stop then Uber.
My take aways from New York
- Hiils, hills, and more hills which is hard for people from Chicago. One of the things I learned form my swim coach when she trained for it was she used the bridges and overpast on the trail to help train.
- Staying in Stanton Island the night before the race, would really help but I was told they do not have any major hotels there. Would just have to take throw away clothes. Would have to have hotel or place to leave rest of items in Manhattan for after race.
- Need to work on the cramp strategy. I never cramp, but I cramped my last long run and during the race
- Beware of potholes- if I would not have sprained my ankle and not have had to shut down for couple weeks maybe my race would have been better
- Don’t wear compression socks even with an ankle sprain
- Go to New York Running Company by Jackrabbit and get your medal engraved as it is free, and the pavilion charges $25. They say you need to have Nike app and use during race, but that is only if you don’t want to wait.
- The logistics is crazy, getting to Staten Island and the long walk to the Poncho and exit, but I would highly recommend it. I said one and done, but I was to conquer the boroughs versus them conquering me.
- Don’t let not getting picked via lottery stop you, find a cause near and dear to you and run for charity. It give extra meaning to those miles. People are more likely to give to a cause that you are passionate about
Loved New York, but Chicago is still my favorite
Running Really is Cheaper Than Therapy