For about 30 days every January/February the New York City Marathon lottery is open. So many runners enter the lottery with hopes that come March their credit cards will be charged $255 and they will be in for the biggest race in the world!
I’ve been lucky to have run NYC Marathon once before, although, I have yet to be lucky in the lottery. Both times I’ve run NYCM it has been with a charity, first with ING Run for Something Better and this year with the James Blake Foundation. My first time I was supposed to run in 2012 but unfortunately Hurricane Sandy changed that and so I ran in 2013 instead.
This year, both Sean & I put our names in the hat and he was the lucky winner, he found out really early that morning, while I was stuck waiting to see if I got in through out the day. I was so disappointed that I didn’t get in that he didn’t want to tell me he was in so as to not upset me. Such a sweet guy :).
In any case, originally we thought to have him defer until next year to see if I got in as well. But in May, when we found out that my brother-in-law David was diagnosed with cancer, I thought what better way to support him than run the race for him. So we looked for a charity that fit what we wanted to do and settled on the James Blake Foundation.
Long story short, we were able to raise $3,000 for the foundation that supports early cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital thanks to the generous support of our family & friends. We are so grateful for the generosity shown to us and the support for David!
Now to the event…I didn’t have this blog when I ran NYC the first time so this is my first NYC Marathon race recap.
We have had a very busy schedule, with the trip to the Venice Marathon, then Javelina before finally heading to NYC on the Friday before the race. To say it was a quick trip is an understatement. By the time we got to the city on Friday it was after 6pm which left us time to get in Sean’s streak run, visit Times Square and have dinner.
On our way back from our run, we happened to walk by a place called Grom, it’s a gelato place that we went to in Venice after the Venice Marathon. It’s so yummy & what a treat!
I wanted to go to the We Run Social event which was a part of a bigger event with Kelly Roberts, a blogger I’m not really familiar with, on Saturday morning so I dragged Sean out of bed early and to the subway so we could head down to Chelsea for the meet-up.
It was so great seeing Robin, my friend from SD, Carlos, Gina (who incidentally I met at Javelina the week before) & xtina ;). We got in a short run through the city, took some photos, grabbed a snacks (those new Vega Protein Snack bars are super yummy! and then headed off to the expo.
We were planning to take the subway to the expo, but after chatting about it we decided to just take a cab. It was just way easier :).
We made it to the expo and it wasn’t super crowded to get into like it was the last time I was there. We got our bibs, race shirts & our packet info and then it was time to head into the expo.
The Asics booth had a lot of cool Marathon logo’d gear, but the line was ridiculous & I just don’t have patience to deal with all those people so we skipped that section.
First thing we saw when we got inside was the awesome Altra booth! They really had a great NYC edition Torin and some sweet shirts too. Sean & I each got one :).
We ran into Heatherruns74 at the Zensah Booth and chatted with her for a bit. We were so sad to hear about her race. It sounds like it was a tough race for a lot of people.
We made bibs saying F*CK Cancer for David at the NYRR booth to wear on our backs during the race. They just asked for a minimum $5 donation that went to Team for Kids.
After walking around for a bit, we ran into some of Sean’s friends at the Nuun booth. We chatted with them for a bit, then got some fun stuff at the Aftershokz booth and a few snacks.
We then made our way back up towards our hotel and lunch. We went to this cool upscale food court for burgers before dropping off our gear and heading back to the park for another run. The first one was too much start & stop to count as a streak run for Sean so we needed to do a 2nd one. We ended up with 4.5 shakeout miles.
Dinner was super early at this yummy Italian place called PizzArte. We had a pizza Pulcinella with tomatoes, arugula & shaved parmigiano and a homemade pasta with marinara sauce & basil. Yum! Yum! Carb loading at its best.
We got back, each of us took our flat runner photos and then got some sleep. I normally wear my Lululemon Speed Shorts for most races and I was still wearing a lulu sports bra and swiftly tee but my awesome friends over at Running Skirts made the most perfect NYC skirt that I just had to wear for the race. It’s seriously cute and the twins are actually running on the streets on the skirt.
The time changed that night and I just happened to wake up a few minutes before the actual time change, I always get nervous but I saw it change so I felt better :).
We set our alarms for 4:45am to catch the subway down to the Staten Island Ferry at 6:15am. I’ve never taken the ferry before so it was a lot of fun! Although note to self. Either sit by the windows, so you are in control of it, or away from it. People were opening the windows for photos and there were 2 not so considerate peeps who left the window open & it was freezing!! lol
Once at the Staten Island ferry station we quickly made our way out and headed to the buses. We were lucky and got on a bus pretty quickly. The bus was kind of slow going and we found out why once we got a little closer. The police were doing security checks as you got off the bus. This was so much nicer then in 2013 when it was a madhouse with 50k runners trying to go through a tiny bottleneck. (After hearing from other runners, I think that may have still happened, but maybe with the buses from the city.)
Sean & I were in different colored waves but we had plenty of time so we just hung out near the blue village (my wave color). When we got there there were barely any lines for the port-a-potties so that was the first stop. Then we settled in for a few hours taking a few photos and a nap.
When we got back up, there were a lot more people there and Sean was freezing. He was wrapped up in our LA Marathon heat sheets like a burrito – it was really funny.
Eventually it was time for Sean to make his way over to the orange village to get ready to run!
I headed back to the blue village, I really wanted one of the cool Dunkin Donuts hats they were handing out but I seriously couldn’t find them. I ate a bagel and drank the rest of my water.
The worst part about this race is how long you have to wait until the start. My wave didn’t leave until 11:00am and I was up at 4:45am. I ate a croissant on the way there, a Clifbar filled peanut butter bar and a bagel about an hour before along with a bottle of water. I probably could have eaten more but I was a bit nervous too. I thought about it as we were on the bus, it’s interesting that at a marathon they wait until mile 18 to give you any food but in an ultra you could be eating from the first aid station, lol.
I hit up the port-a-potties one last time and then made my way over to the corrals. By this point it was getting hot so I shed my throw-a-way gear, put on my race bib and got my flipbelt situated. Unfortunately NYCM doesn’t allow backpack hydration packs although I did see a few others wearing orange mud, which made me a bit sad because that would have been so much nicer than the belt. I say that not because the belt was bad, it actually was quite comfortable, but once stuffed, I have an iPhone 7 plus and a few Glukos Energy gels and other gels, it looked pretty awkward around my waist.
I was in the orange wave last time, which was on the other side of the bridge, this time they staged us and then walked us over to the actual start line. I’m pretty sure we started a little late, but in the scheme of things it didn’t really matter at that point.
I was really warm as we were getting ready to start and thought wearing a black shirt, which I never do, was probably not the best idea. But I remembered it being a bit windy so I kept my sleeves on.
We listened to the National Anthem, the girl who sang, was also running the race then finally we were off! It was such a different experience from 2013 with the sun shining and barely any wind. I do feel like there were a lot more people. I’m not sure if that’s because I was in wave 4 vs wave 3 or just because adding an extra 2k runners made it feel that much more crowded.
I took it rather slow going over the bridge, it is the biggest climb of the race, I took a little video, and just enjoyed being out there.
It was a lot of fun running down the bridge but once we got to the bottom, I was expecting to see a ton of spectators but there were very few. Turns out that once we merged with the orange wave, that’s where all the crowds were. I was on the right side of the street scanning the crowds to the left to find my friend Lucia who lives in Brooklyn. I saw her and her family and started screaming her name! Eventually her husband heard me and they waved. It’s always exciting to see people you know.
I just kept moving feeling decent in the first few miles. And then I started to feel a sharp pain in my left ankle around mile 5. I had twisted it somehow and while it wasn’t horrible, I definitely could feel a serious discomfort. I just kept moving until a few miles later.
We were heading up a little hill around mile 8 when I passed a girl wearing the Boom socks from ProCompression. I said nice socks and she was like I read your blog, LOL. If you are reading, HI! Not long after that a guy named Terrance asked me about David and told me a story about a friend of his who had cancer and ran the race a few years ago. It was his birthday and we would run/walk with each other for a few miles.
I had an issue with one of my toes from Cuyamaca which was doing fine until a few days before the race. I was trying on outfits for the race and I made the mistake of just shoving my foot into my compression sock. Well big mistake because it pushed the nail backwards but not off completely. So instead of just pulling it off, I decided to put a band-aid on and wait for it to fall off on it’s own. Long story short, the band-aid started to come loose and I could feel the tape on the bottom of my foot. I ran for as long as I could with it like that until I knew I saw a med tent.
At just after mile 9 I rolled up to the med tent, asked them for a band-aid and had to take off my shoe & compression sock to do a repair job. I’ve stopped at med tents before, but this was the first time I’ve ever had my bib scanned upon arrival and departure.
They watched me change out my band-aid and gave me a little athletic tape to keep it together (band-aids aren’t super sticky) and then I was off. Of course then I started running and immediately thought, oh no, it’s too tight, but eventually it would loosen up, although I would end up with a massive blister on the 3rd toe from the tape. But it didn’t hurt and was gone pretty quickly.
After this I tried to keep up my momentum and just enjoy the race. I did pretty well until we got to the bridge, by that point, I was getting really cold and my ankle was starting to throb. I took a few photos of the city, texted my sister & Sean, saw that Molly Huddle was kicking butt and ran/walked as much as I could.
I remember the moments coming off the bridge into Manhattan differently than this year. It was a really nice with the sun shining. Running on First Ave there are so many spectators, it was like a huge party.
Around mile 17/18 I was just minding my own business heading into the aid station when all of a sudden this huge plastic garbage bag comes flying across the road. This girl in front of me got tangled up in the bag and went down. I helped her up, got her over to the sidewalk with the help of a spectator when a police officer came up saying that medical was coming and then I kept moving.
I will say that it was really nice having a lot of aid stations, but the aid stations got a little slippery and sticky from all the water & gatorade. I drank a ton during the race, I think I refilled my Orange Mud hand bottle at least 5 times.
When we got to the Bronx everyone was so nice, they were dancing in the streets and when we got to the last bridge there were a few people cheering us on saying this is the last bridge.
We finally made it to 5th Ave, which is slightly uphill, I ran/walked most of this section. And was so excited to turn into the park. This is one of my favorite parts of the whole course. It’s so beautiful and this year there was some sun flitting through the trees when I was going through this section.
If I remember correctly, after a few quick miles through the park, we came out of the park again around 59th Street & Columbus Circle. And then we were heading up the last small hill to the finish! I was so excited to be at the finish line! Arms up & all the smiles!
All in all, I’m happy with my time, I came in under 5 hours and I had a blast. In the end, that’s what matters most.
And then it was so so cold! I was freezing! I took a few quick selfies, made my way over to get my medal. I quickly walked over to get my snack bag and then a heat blanket. I walked as quickly as I could to get to the ponchos. I was so cold by this point. I was texting with Sean. He had finished quite a bit before me and was getting ready to walk back from the hotel to meet me.
I finally got my poncho and started walking towards the family reunion area. I thought Sean was there, but he was still coming up when I got there. I saw him coming towards me and was really happy.
This year it seemed a bit easier to get around, maybe because I was a bit later in the day, but we made our way back towards the hotel, stopping at a Starbucks (like so many other people) to get something warm. We finally made it back to the hotel and I was able to finally get warm.
While this wasn’t my fastest race or even my fastest NYC, it was such a blast. Even with the minor issues I dealt with, I had a great time. Marathons are never easy, but it was made easier knowing that I wasn’t just running for myself this time.
Pros: Amazing crowd support – NYC Marathon has the best spectators.
*Very organized expo & race in general
*Running over the Verrazano Bridge
*Taking the ferry to the start line
*The Ponchos are really nice
Cons: It’s very expensive at $255 + $11 entry fee
*NYC is an expensive city, we were fortunate that we were able to use points & miles to pay for our travel, but in general, NYC is not cheap.
*It’s a crowded race and as it grows its getting even more crowded.
*A very late start. When you are used to 7am or earlier starts, an 11am start is very late.
*The weather is unpredictable
*The walk after the finish is super long and cold
All in all, while I wouldn’t necessarily want to run NYC every year for a variety of reasons, mostly because of the cost (if I lived closer it might be different), I love the New York City Marathon and I think it should be on every marathoners bucket list to do at least once.