After we were placed into our corrals, it was a very quick 15 minute or so before the cannons sounded the start of the third wave of the NYC Marathon. Since I was in corral D, we were quickly ushered around the corner and onto the start mats. I was still wearing every piece of throw-away gear. This was my wonderful outfit:
I was also wearing one of those IT band things that is supposed to help keep the knee pain away, although it started slipping off just before the start mats, so I had to stop for two seconds to re-adjust it. Unlike other race where it takes 3-10 minutes to get to the start mats, we were running on them within one minute. Super cool!
KM 1 and 2
Although I will do most of this recap in 5KM sections, this first two KM deserves its own special section. Since I was in the green corral, I went on the lower deck of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. A bunch of us at the start hoped that meant we would be protected from the wind. WRONG. We were not. The wind was more intense than anything I could have imagined. You basically had no choice but to put your head down and suffer through it. From most NYC marathon recaps/pictures I have seen before: usually people try and take a selfie/picture or two on the bridge. I don’t think I saw a single person stop and even look at the view. I know I looked to my right and left once, and then just stared at my shoes for the rest of the bridge. I did like the view of the Ocean though. My garmin was also not working and therefore I have absolutely no idea how fast or slow I was running. At one point my pace said 2:00/km which definitely wasn’t right. I took a look at my Garmin connect stats later on and saw that according to my garmin, I ran in the bay for a good 500m or so – No, I did not jump off the bridge and swim a few laps….
The actual run up the bridge wasn’t bad at all. Maybe it was because I was being knocked around like crazy, but I didn’t notice the incline. I did see 10:00 time flash on my watch, which meant it was time for a walking break. As soon as I stopped, the wind really started knocking me over, so there was no choice: get off the bridge as fast as possible. I remember hearing people yell “OH Thank God that is over!!!”. Really, the only way I can describe running in that is imagine yourself either a) running in a hurricane or b) running with those super-duper strong hand dryers blowing cold air in your direction.
As soon as I got off the bridge, the winds died down. I noticed all the throw away gear all over the bottom of the bridge. Clothes everywhere! I stopped to ditch my hoodie and sweatpants – this took a couple of minutes. I also heard the 4th wave cannon sound, which meant more runners were on their way! After that stop, off to Brooklyn
As we made ourselves into Brooklyn, we were greeted by several people welcoming us to Brooklyn. At this point, only the Green Wave people were together and therefore we were not crowded together so much. We didn’t meet the Orange and Blue runners until past the 5K mark. So it was nice and quiet for those first 5K. Lots of people cheering though! At one point I noticed a whole pile of money on the ground (numerous $20 bills) and the runners behind me noticed as well. Not sure who brought that much money to a marathon (cab fare? Beer?), but someone was out some money. We approached the first water station at the 5K mark, and I also took my first GU gel as well. My plan was to walk every single water station as it would probably fit my usual 10/1 plan.
5K Time: 40:15 (that was all bridge….)
Once we met the Blue and Orange runners, the race suddenly became very crowded! Both for runners and spectators. The energy of the spectators was amazing. Lots of people had music playing, various drinks in their hands and having a great time. I didn’t really notice any funny signs this time – but there were many large posters of peoples faces? There was music, bands, kids running around – every single mile in Brooklyn was covered by people. I think my favorite part of the marathon was Brooklyn. It is also the longest stretch as well – Brooklyn did seem like the never-ending borough!
At the 1 hour mark, I noticed that I felt the need to go to the washroom. So, at roughly the 5 mile mark, I stopped to use the porta potty. This would mark the start of the every 2-3 mile stop at the portapotties. I have no idea what caused my GI issues, but I think I really need to eat some bread/bagel before taking in GU gels. I had no cramps or anything like when I take something with sorbitol in it. I just felt like going to the bathroom was probably a good idea. So, I did! Also, to make this even more TMI than it already is, I was also dealing with those lovely womanly issues too (hello male readers, I’m sorry….). So I knew that regardless, I was making a few stops along the way. BUT – neither of these issues really caused any issues when running, I just wasted tons of time either waiting in line or using the washrooms.
I also took a few pictures in Brooklyn
Lots of people were taking pictures, hugging people, walking, dancing or even stretching. After I took the first 5 minute break, the wave 4 runners started catching up to us. I saw a number of Wave 1 and 2 runners too.
10K mark – 1:21:35 (5K split 41:20)
The next part of the course continued through Brooklyn. The race was still fairly crowded, but because we were on a huge street (about 6 lanes across), it wasn’t so bad. I was looking for this huge building that would appear in the distance at around this point and soon I saw it. It took awhile to get to this part of the course, but it was still a fun one. Then we turned onto Lafayette Avenue which was very crowded as the size of the street was much smaller – BUT, the crowds were crazy during this section. I think this section was easily my favorite part of the course. I remember at one point just getting a whole line of high fives. I did have another bathroom break at this section. But, I wasn’t the only one. Almost every portapotty line in Brooklyn had lines. There was no shortage of portapotties though – lots around!
15K Mark -2:01:36 (5K Split 40:01)
At this point in the race, the running through Brooklyn was coming to an end. The last section was in more business style neighbourhood. There were a few smallish hills during this section. Just before we approached the bridge towards Queens, I hit up the bathroom another time. At this point, my GI issues seemed to finally be over. But, because of the nature of my potty breaks, I was making sure to take in lots of Gatorade and water so that I wouldn’t bonk/become dehydrated because if I did, that would mean cramping. The bridge to Queens had a slight hill – there were so many runners heading up the hill. Every time I was able to look ahead at who was in front, I just saw this massive group of people. It was just amazing! I kind of wish I took a picture. I crossed the halfway mark and heard someone yell “GOODBYYYYYE BROOKLYN” and everyone around laughed. Of course, the bridge towards Queens had an amazing view of Manhattan, so I stopped for a total of 4 minutes or so to take some pictures, along with another pile of runners. We helped each other out to take non-selfie pictures too. I think that was the nature of those of us in the 4:45+ range. Stop, take pictures and enjoy the race!
See how my bib was up – it did that for most of the race. If I saw a camera, I tried to move it down so the camera would catch the bib number. I was also nervous that it would just be torn off by the winds.
20K Mark -2:40:47 (5K Split 39:11)
Half Marathon Mark – 2:52:44 – slowest half ever, oh well!
This section of the course was in Queens. Fairly industrial, it wasn’t the most exciting. What we could see was the Queensboro Bridge staring at us at a distance. The Queensboro bridge is the second big bridge of the course, and usually at a point where people feel marathon pains the most. Just before we got to the bridge, there was this huge wall of people cheering everyone on. Then, when we got to the bridge: silence. Absolute silence. All you could hear was breathing of runners. I think this section was a little frustrating as I was fine to run up the bridge with little problems, but I would say 75% of the runners walked up the bridge. So, I did a lot of weaving. Once again, my Garmin did not like the bridge and failed at this point. I did stop one more time to take a picture. At this point, I also felt my IT band. I thought “ohhhh no” as I figured this would happen at 30K or so. BUT, I just improved my form and it went away. I also saw a guy running with no shoes. I started to recognize a few runners at this point who pretty much stuck around my area for the rest of the race. They included:
– a guy dressed in some sort of cow outfit
– a girl wearing a tank top that had “Id-a-ho” on the back
– a women who was wearing a foam Statue of Liberty Hat
– a younger guy with ‘Kyle’ or ‘Jake’ on the back of his shirt (can’t remember)
– An older runner who was really tall and wore an orange shirt.
KM 25 Mark – 3:24:51 (5K split – 44:04)
As we finished the Queensboro bridge, you could hear the cheering from the people in Manhattan. That part was really cool! Then we turned onto First Avenue. I really had to pee, so I quickly stopped just past the bridge, but luckily no line! This whole section was entire on one road. I’m guessing because it was starting to get later in the day that many people went inside. The crowds were still large, but the energy was disappearing a bit. Definitely not the same as Brooklyn! The problem with First Avenue, as I was warned, is that it is a very long stretch, at the point where people “hit the wall” and there is a small incline in the road. Although I didn’t “hit the wall”, I felt very bored and was all “is this over yet?”. I did have my iPod on me and thought about putting on the music but I didn’t.
KM 30 mark – 4:02:39 (5K Split 39:30)
I was still running on First at this point. I went for one longer washroom break and also stretched out at this point. Nothing was really hurting, but definitely getting tired legs. Soon, we were finally out of Manhattan and into the Bronx for a short trip. I didn’t find either of the bridges in and out of the Bronx that difficult. Just small blips and they were short. What I did find interesting was the banana section. In the Bronx, I hit the first “fruit” station and had to walk through it as I was slipping on banana peels! So weird! I didn’t take any fruit. Finally we were back into Manhattan for the last 10K. But first, another banana section! So slippery! I knew I would finish, so it was all about counting down the KM’s! The original plan was to run 800m and walk 200m, which is what I normally do when I tackle a new distance.
KM 35 mark -4:45:00 (5K Spilt 42:21)
Ok, so I thought First Avenue was long, Fifth seemed even longer! I kept waiting and waiting for the turn to Central Park, but it seemed like it would never come. I still saw the same people at this point – the tall orange shirt guy was a good person to keep my eye on. Lots of people were walking at this point. The crowds in this section were smaller compared to the rest of route. I took one very quick pee-break and went back on my way. There was a ton of people at the Central Park turn. As soon as we entered the park, there were way more people. Basically every inch of the route was covered! It was really cool. Another warning was that there would be rolling hills in the park. Definitely some hills, but nothing too bad – at least not to me. I kept on running and running – trying not to stop so much, because every time I walked and started to run again, it would just feel awful. Eventually, what also felt like a long few KM, we started heading towards the finish line!
KM 40 mark -5:24:19 (5K spilt 39:19)
The finish to the marathon is pretty sweet. You end up turning onto Central Park South and then going past Columbus Circle and then head towards the finish. Central Park South and the area just before Columbus was pretty busy, but because you need special access to the finish – the crowds there are not as big as one would think. There is one section in Central Park that one could go – but you would have had to go through security. The last 200m or so is for ticket holders only. Anyways, I did take a small two-second walking break to take in the view and then at 800m to go, I picked it up for a strong finish. I passed Idaho girl and a few other people. I high fived a few more people and finished strong into the finish. Yay!!!!
Total time: 5:40:11
Second half spilt (2:47:17 – Negative split!)
and then it was finally over – or so I thought
because after you finish you have a torture walk to the exits!
After you collect your medal – you have the long 10 city block walk to the exits. The walk is even longer if you had baggage. I tried to walk quickly as I just wanted to get out of there. They give everyone a heat sheet and a bag of food with assorted items in it. The ready-made bag is the way to go. There was water, gatorade, a protein drink, apple, power bar and pretzels in the bag. Much better than a bagel and banana! Since I had a no baggage wrist band, I also go the fancy poncho. Then – when I thought I was at 77th and could get out of the park, they made me walk 5 blocks more. Then I had to walk another 5 blocks back to the Museum of Natural history. I had already texted P but didn’t hear back. Luckily I spotted Max right by the museum. Somehow they got into the “frozen zone” through the museum. The Frozen Zone was a whole pile of blocks that were supposed to be “off limits”. But, the Museum was right in that section, and apparently it was a way to get pretty close to the exit points. After that we walked to the Subway. You think walking is bad after a marathon – try going on the subway and having no seat. Oh.my.God. Thought I was going to die. But guess who was on the subway – Cow outfit guy!
So – my Garmin does tell me my moving time and it was 5:09. Which means I spent just over 30 minutes not running during the marathon. I have no idea why my GI system decided to be out of wack that day, but things happen! My mile splits were either in the 11:xx minute range or in the 14:xx range. I think I could have totally gone for a 5:00 marathon if I didn’t stop so much. BUT – it was fun to stop and take pictures! Because of the cold and not sweating, I doubt I could have gone the whole race without stopping to at least go pee once. I would have liked to have had a better time, but what can you do. I have to remember that my goal was to finish!
I did make another goal – I did negative split the second half of the race. The first half was run in 2:52 and the second in 2:47. Although the last 3-4KM hurt, I definitely felt like I could keep running at around a 6:55-7:00 pace for the entire race. All of my 5KM splits were in the 40-ish range, which is pretty steady. I didn’t slow down and maintained the pace that I decided to run, even though it was a tad bit slower than I normally run. I think that I played the game very cautiously. I really wanted to finish strong and not limp over the finish line. Becoming faster will come with being more comfortable with the marathon distance. It is really hard to jump from a half marathon to a full marathon – there is very little in between, except maybe Around the Bay. I wish ATB was in the summer/fall so I could take advantage of that race!
I never “hit the wall” or bonked during the marathon. The only points that I didn’t feel so mentally good were on 1st and 5th avenue. Not because I was tired, but because I was getting a bit bored. I do take quite a few GU gels during long runs, and also drinking all that Gatorade helped. If I felt hungry or had cramps, I think my experience would be totally different!
The weather – The first 5K were pretty brutal – and every so often I would have to deal with the wind. Did it really bug me? Other than the bridge, not so much. I never took off that ugly green shirt though. I was showing some people the preview shots of my official photos and they laughed – I do look like I am swimming in those clothes. I had such a nice long sleeved shirt on too! If you look at the finish line photos – many others seemed to be bundled up as well. Lots of people in jackets and pants! I only felt ‘warm’ for a few short moments in the race. Every time I thought it was time to take off the ugly shirt, I would be greeted with a huge gust of wind. So – it stayed on! I have no idea how some of the other 5:00 marathoners ran the race with just shorts/tank. I would have been frozen! Of course, the next day in NYC it was beautiful!
SO – the big question. Will I do another marathon? I think so! I’m not sure I would run NYC again, mostly because I think I would like a different experience. Marathons take so much time and energy. I feel that because marathons do that, the experience on race day should be a good one. At this point, I am not running marathons every month or anything like that, so a once a year marathon (if that is the plan) needs to be a bit special. I would like to run Chicago one day and maybe the Marine Corps one in Washington D.C. Am I going to run a marathon in 2015? Probably not. But who knows?
The NYC Marathon is seriously an amazing race. The fact that it is one of the World Major Marathons makes it a really special race to get to run (half the reason why I wanted to “enjoy” the race – because you know, pain is fun?!). From the Expo, to the start and during the race, there were numerous times I just sat back and went “whoa”. Everyone who I met were really nice and really excited to run the race. I talked to people from the NY area, from other US States, from Canada and from countries as far away as Australia. Actually, there were tons of people from Australia there!
Finally – so many people say that they “can’t run a marathon”. I started this whole running thing in 2011, barely able to run a KM without stopping to catch my break. Over 10 years ago, I tried to join the Cross Country team at my school and gave up after one 4K run because “it was too hard”. Even five years ago, I told people that there was no way I could ever run that long. Well, I proved my past-self wrong. I am a marathoner!