NYC Marathon Race Report

New York City Marathon: A Day In the Crowd

I woke up at 4:00 AM Sunday morning at our hotel in midtown Manhattan, feeling excited and nervous at the same time. We choose to stay in Manhattan for access to work buildings, since the run was a part of a work organized fundraiser that also raised money for Ronald McDonald House.

I got dressed in my running gear, plus a layer of extra sweats that were picked up at goodwill the week prior. Standing in corrals waiting for the start in November can be quite chilly. We also heard that extra clothes left at the start would be donated. On the way out the door to the bus that the fundraising group had organized I grabbed a bagel, banana, a few breakfast bars, a fruit cup, and some water. With a few hours of bus rides and standing around ahead of us there was no need to make it a light breakfast. We grabbed the bus a few blocks away and headed to Staten Island.

The gun went off at 9:00 AM, and I started running. The first few miles were crowded, but I was able to find my groove and settle into a comfortable pace just the other side of the bridge. I passed through the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge and into Brooklyn still surrounded by the largest crowd of runners I had ever experienced. We overtook earlier waves and got passed by eager folks in later waves. Although everyone was moving forward, over that first 5k there was no flow to the group other than a single pace group leader that had a 3:30 sign and a few dozen folks around them.

The crowds in Brooklyn were amazing. There were people cheering on the side of the road every step of the way. I felt so motivated by their support. It truly is a spectacular way to see the city and the overwhelming population of New York Shows up. Other than a few block section, which was oddly sparse of any activity, the course was supported for almost 26.2 miles.

I ran through Prospect Park and into Queens. The sun was starting to get higher in the sky, and the temperature was starting to rise. Still feeling good the crowds continued to support and groups started to form at similar paces with a noticeable decline in the varying paces of people.

Just before coming over the bridge into Manhattan I stopped for a bathroom break. It was a short <2min break, but it along with the pace to that point made it hard to start going again. At the halfway point my watch read 1:43, a solid time and something that if I could keep up would lead to the stretch goal of 3:30 for the race. But as I left the bathroom climbing the bridge over the water it was clear my body was not going to maintain that pace.

Coming off the bridge, downhill and looping back onto 1st avenue was the last time I did what I would call running. My body was aching and, in retrospect, my nutrition plan of 1 gel every 6.5 miles was not enough. I was depleted and my pace slowed. I managed to shuffle all the way up 1st avenue and didn’t break into a walk until we hit the bridge to the bronx.

At the same time as I was hitting the wall my motivation from the crowd soared. There is nothing like running the Manhattan portion of the NYC marathon that I have experienced. While I walked, gave a few high fives to some well positioned friends, I tried to enjoy things.

Physically it was not going well and it was apparent even my moderate goals were out the window. At this point it was a matter of just finishing. There was no need to further punish my body, so a few miles wound up being walked at a 13-14minute pace.

At the finish, turning into the park, there were clouds emerging again. Crossing the finish line I was glad to be done, but bummed to see how poorly the wheels had come off in the 2nd half. I managed to positive split the marathon by almost an hour, finishing a total time of 4:23 after starting out in 1:43 (and closing in 2:43).

In the finishers chute they draped large orange parkas over everyone, which helped as I quickly got cold, and I made my way to the meeting point (a nearby whole foods). We grabbed a few quick snacks and made our way to the Subway to head back downtown toward our hotel.

On the Subway everyone was as nice as could be. Strangers were dolling out “good job” to anyone (myself included) visibly wearing a finishers medal or large orange parka. I got a couple high fives, and a handful of “your legs must feel terrible” type comments. Both were welcome.

At the hotel we showered, got warm, and changed. Although the finish was closer to noon it was 4pm before we knew it and time to go meet some friends at a nearby restaurant. When we arrived we sat in the lounge area with a comfy as could be couch and ordered drinks. The legs felt fine at this point and the food to that point had replenished the earlier bonk feeling. Real muscle soreness, sadly, wouldn’t set in until the next day just before boarding a plane home.

All in all the NYC Marathon experience was amazing. It felt like being a part of something the whole weekend, and was the most unique way to see parts of the city I would otherwise never check out.

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