New York City Marathon: Race Reflections

New York City Marathon: Race  Reflections 2018

The alarm went off at 3:50 AM. It was finally race day for the New York City Marathon! I was so tired, but I dragged myself up by 4:00 AM. As I prepared, I checked off each task that I had written out the night before:

Race Day Essentials

KT Tape On: Check

Body Chafing Stick: Check

Outfit: Check

Hydration Belt: Check

Gels/Bars/Waffles/Gum: Check

Music: Check

Eat Toast/Peanut Butter: Check

Drink Nuun Hydration Electrolytes/Caffeine: Check

Heading to the Marathon

I left my apartment at 4:50AM to catch the 5:30AM bus to Staten Island leaving from the Public Library in Bryant Park. When I arrived, everything was roped off and we had to wait in long lines for the bus. Props to NYRR though – everything went off without a hitch and our bus even left four minutes early.

The bus ride was supposed to last 90 minutes. I was planning to sleep, but I couldn’t – it was too hot. Instead, I listened to music and the two chatty runners behind me. They discussed their past races, the New York City Marathon course, past injuries, etc. Next time I’ll take a later bus – we arrived at 6:10AM nearly an hour earlier than expected.

After going through security, I arrived in the Villages. Each wave had its own village dictated by an assigned bib color: blue, green or orange. I was in the Orange Village. It was early but at least there was free food and drinks – something I didn’t expect. Dunkin had a truck that provided hot chocolate, tea and coffee – super helpful in the cold. They also were passing out orange and pink colored beanies. This was clutch since I didn’t bring a beanie. There was also a puppy therapy tent, a Gatorade tent passing out gels, and other tents too.

Once I grabbed some coffee and a beanie, I found a quiet spot to sit for a little bit to eat a Kind Bar. There were lots of runners huddled around shivering. Luckily for me, since I was running through TFK (Team for Kids), I knew there was a heated tent waiting for me. I found the TFK tent and stayed there until the race started.

Shortly before the race, the TFK athletes stretched and headed into our corrals together. As we made our way to the Verrazano Bridge, I chatted with a first-time marathoner from San Francisco. Right before we started, the National Anthem played, NYRR’s Peter Ciaccia gave his last official race start before retirement, and three helicopters flew overhead. At 9:55AM, the start gun went off and just like that the New York City Marathon was under way.

The New York City Marathon Miles Breakdown:

Staten Island and Brooklyn

Miles 1-3: I was put in a faster wave than what I expected. Instead of the 4:20 hour pace group, I was somehow placed in the corral with the 3:20-3:30 group. For the first mile, I purposely ran slow since we were running the incline on the Verrazano Bridge, but once we hit the decline I sped up. Needless to say, I started off a little too hot, but I felt ok. And just like that, we were in Brooklyn and already receiving crowd support. Fast forward a couple miles, I was heating up more than usual (long sleeves and compression tights felt great in the early hours leading up to the race but the sun was out now) and I was fatigued and hungry already – not good signs for the start of a marathon.

Miles 4-8: By Mile 4, my energy was low and my body wasn’t quite right. At this point, I was majorly overheating. I took a Go Isotonic Energy Gel earlier than usual, and I removed the Dunkin beanie and stuffed it in one of my already full pockets (I wanted it as a souvenir!). There wasn’t much else I could do besides roll up my sleeves and continue running.

Mile 9: I never walk in half marathons, but something was different. I was majorly off.  I started a run/walk combo on Mile 9. Knowing I wouldn’t PR, I pulled off to the side and used the outhouse, collected myself and ate a Honey Stinger Waffle to propel me forward. I also texted my wife to bring a short-sleeved shirt, Nuun electrolytes and water to Mile 14, where she was planning to meet me with my parents.

Miles 10-13: The crowd support was great as we raced down the streets of Brooklyn. The problem? I was walking for a good portion of this strip. It was deflating to walk so early when I knew I was capable of so much more. By Mile 13, I could see Queens approaching. Each step brought me closer to my family, my home running routes (I live in Queens and know these streets well), and most importantly at the time: a short-sleeved shirt.

Queens 

Mile 14: My wife threw me the short-sleeved shirt and I ran into an outhouse right off the course. Changing my outfit took longer than I expected since I had to transfer the bib to the new shirt and move everything that was in my shirt pocket to my pants.  However, I immediately felt better once I was out of that long-sleeved shirt and hydrated with Nuun.

Queens and Manhattan

Mile 15-18: Although I felt cooler, the damage had already been done. I had another gel and refocused myself, but my body was working overtime. When I made it to the Queensboro Bridge, I allowed myself to walk it up – only running when I needed to pass slower walkers. I tried everything to continue pushing through as I ran down the bridge and into Manhattan. I told myself, “I’ll walk the next block and then I’ll run the next three.” I did that through Manhattan until I felt muscle cramps starting. Then I would slowly halt to a walk. I was pushing all the gels, waffles and hydration that I could get my hands on.

Bronx and Manhattan

Miles 19-25: I was so happy to get into the Bronx. The music was better and I pushed myself harder than what I had in Manhattan – Thank You Bronx! I enjoyed their crowd support and atmosphere the best of all five boroughs. As I headed back into Manhattan, I could taste the finish line, but I was still a long way off and my body was thrashed. I was out of gels and waffles. All I had left was Run Gum, which helped put electrolytes and caffeine into my body – something I desperately needed. Then, I finally made it back to Central Park – the home stretch.

Mile 26: I knew my family was watching at Mile 26, so I ran as much of it as I could. I didn’t want them to see me struggling. This was good, because it pushed me to run. I saw them on 56th right before I entered the turn back into Central Park through Columbus Circle.

Race Reflections

When I crossed the finish line, I was relieved and in pain. I completed another 26.2, but it was brutal – a physical, emotional and mental challenge. I fought through it regardless, but this race was harder than it should’ve been.

Overall, I was a lot more prepared for the New York City Marathon than my first, the Disney World Marathon. I trained better and had matured as a runner. I had been looking forward to a PR.

Even though my time was slower, it felt faster. I attribute that to growing mentally and physically as a runner– my body is capable of handling harder beatings than it used to be. As disappointed as I am, I know there will be more opportunities to improve. I learned a lot during this race and know what I need to do next time to improve.

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