I didn’t have the race I wanted and expected but I guess that’s what makes me so infatuated with the marathon. I’ve done 9 marathons and 2 ultras since March 2012 and I can’t really say any of them have ever been similar. A lot can happen in 26.2 miles. For some things you can prepare (train, gear etc), other things, you rely on the luck of the draw (weather, stomach, etc). Luckily, I am somewhat of a racing addict so when one race goes bad, I know I have another one lined up for redemption.
After having a few days to reflect, I’d say I did enjoy the NYC marathon even if large events like these are no longer my style, it was exciting to run through the streets I grew up in and be part of something that big. However, there’s a lot of things I did not enjoy about the NYC marathon that I’ll get to as I recap, but for the most part if I didn’t think it was incredibly overpriced, I would run NYC again. Maybe in a decade or so, I’ll enter the lottery again and seek redemption on the same course that killed me this year. We’ll see.
So let’s start from the beginning. Luckily, since it was daylight savings time, I got an extra hour of sleep! I woke up bright and early at 5AM even though my alarm was set for 5:45. I made a few pita bread peanut butter sandwhiches to take with me. I was VERY concerned about getting hungry between waking up and starting the race at 9:45.
My dad dropped me and my very favorite marathon assistant at the ferry around 6:40.
We got on the 6:45 ferry. I was a little freaked out because according to the NYRR people and etc. they can’t guarantee you will start on time (9:45AM) if you take a later than 6AM ferry aka complete and utter bullshit to cover their asses. I decided the hell with my 5:45 AM ferry sticker (that NO ONE checked). Besides, worse case, I start in a later wave. I’m not exactly elite and my best marathon time is still from RnR USA marathon where I started 20 minutes late due to a broken train. I’m a pro at dodging people and toeing the line at the last second. Reflecting back, I could have probably taken the 7:15 ferry and still been okay but that wouldn’t leave much room for error since they stop letting you into your corral at 8:40 or so.
Anyways the ferry ride is definitely the way to go for transportation.
I think that might be a view of Brooklyn?
NYRR basically take over all the Staten Island Ferries for the marathoners and leave the locals in the dust with no bridge, and no ferry to get them off the Island. Tony learned that in a mob of about 300 angry Staten Islanders who an hour later got a ferry.
Security was in full force starting with the ferries. National guard was on patrol. All bags were searched. FYI, you can have a friend or family member take the ferry with you with a backpack. They will however, search through it. Your family member and any other backpacks,etc. will not be allowed on the bus from the ferry to the village.
The bridge that looked so long and mean, seemed hardly that long when I ran on it at the starting line.
These are the views you will miss by not taking the ferry. There are other options to get to the village. You could take a bus from midtown, but I think that also gets you to the village around 8AM. I’m not sure why it takes them so long to drive over there since I can’t imagine there would be that much traffic at 7AM but who knows. My other option was getting dropped off at the village.
The Verrazano Bridge closes to traffic at 7:00AM “promptly” so I would have been chilling all by my lonesome self at 7AM. All my other friends were starting in later waves or were too busy being special in the ING bus ;). The bridge is 3 miles from my parents house, and was a much quicker drive than the drive to the ferry, but I decided if I’m going to experience the NYC marathon, I had to take the ferry with it.
Me in half the layers I had for the starting line.
As for the rest?
Purple hoodie that I finally left behind, an old winter coat that finally got donated, long underwear, and a pair of sweats that were just too big and annoying for me to ever wear. Under it was my running outfit of sports bra, running shirt, long sleeve and capris. I also had a hat, gloves and an extra pair of socks. Needless to say, being cold, was not going to be a concern for me.
While the ferry ride took about 20 minutes, I think the bus ride from the ferry to the village was about 30 minutes. I thought the ferry was only a few miles from the village but maybe it was further than that. Expert on Staten Island, I am not.
To enter the village, I think every NYPD officer who wasn’t working on a different part of the race was at the village. They had metal detectors, dogs, and your number and bag were checked before you could walk in. We were only allowed an official clear athlete bag and one clear bag that you could check. Nothing more. No sleeping bags, no camelpaks. I saw a very nice pile of camelpaks and sleeping packs that could make someone a nice fortune if they resell. To be honest, I felt a little like I was entering a prison camp and not a marathon. Had there been a cavity check, I don’t think I would have been shocked. The whole experienced really saddened me about how to feel secure we had to do all this.
Now the athletes village is HUGE. Like you can seriously burn you legs out just trying to navigate around it. The bus conveniently dropped me off in the blue village. The NYC marathon is so big, it’s broken up in 4 waves and each wave has 3 colors, blue, orange and green that run slightly separate ways until they reunite at mile 8. I think over 50,000 people ran it this year, making it the world’s largest marathon.
I was going to meet a friend at the ING tent but when I asked a volunteer where it was, they mentioned having to walk far and then walk up a hill and it seemed like a journey. The Blue village is also conveniently where the corrals start so I decided to just chill around.
Dunkin Donuts earlier were giving out hats, but by 8AM they said they were all out. They also had some coffee. I heard there was hot chocolate in the village and almost came to tears when they said they didn’t have any. At about 8AM I ate my first peanut butter pita sandwich. I ate half of a plain pita at 6AM before leaving the house as well. I also drank about one bottle of water.
The village had plenty of portypotties but I felt like the line moved a lot slower than it did in Boston. I don’t know, maybe i stood on the wrong line.
At about 8:25 the corrals open up. At 8:45 I was told if I don’t get into the corral, I will have to start in the next wave. Meanwhile, I read somewhere that they were suppose to close at 8:55? Guess not. I’m freaking out and they tell me that the clear athlete’s bag I have for village is not allowed into the corrals that I’ll be waiting in for the next hour!
I’m getting pretty cranky as I try to shuffle my stuff out of the bag as they yell at me to hurry up because I will be locked out of the corrals. Anyways I grab my extra socks, my phone, sandwich, gels, and leave my bag and magazine behind.
Into the corral I went, kinda like down the rabbit hole. The corral did indeed have a ton of barely used bathrooms. However, at 8:55, we got kicked out of the corrals onto the bridge! O and by the way, any layer you wear to get on the bridge, won’t be donated? Yea, wtf! I’m suppose to freeze my ass off on the bridge, with no bathroom. It was worse than being on a delayed flight with the seatbelt light on. I ended up giving up my winter coat because I couldn’t bear not donating it. I kept the rest of my layers.
I found the 3:15 pacer. There was a single pacer from what I saw for each time. Yup, this is how we stood for the next 50 minutes. I changed my socks, ate my second sandwich because I’m stupid, drank more water, until I pretty much was ready to pee my pants when the race started.
You know, they kept warning that peeing on the bridge is illegal, and will get you disqualified, yada, yada, but if I was a guy, I probably would have went for it too. Standing on the bridge, cold, with no bathrooms in the stink of anxiety and Bengay. I’m not gonna lie, I saw more than a fair share of men peeing on the bridge, and even more so, right after they got off the bridge.
Oh and by the way, while you wait those 50 minutes standing to start, they’re playing ads for sponsors the whole time, giving you a headache. A little music would have been nice? No?
Anyways my race is divided into two parts. Mile 1-15 where I stuck with the pacer and had a good time. And miles 16-26.2 after my disaster on the Queens-borough bridge.
In case you’re wondering what I’m doing here. This is me trying to give my headphones to Tony after mile 8. The first 13 miles or so are in Brooklyn and I don’t mean to brag, but Brooklyn really is the best. The crowd support was amazing and the bands were around every half mile or so playing awesome songs and covers such as Ramones or Lit! I was having a ball in Brooklyn which is why I gave up my headphones to Tony.
Seriously, the first half in Brooklyn, probably makes the NYC marathon worth it alone. I had so much fun and I felt great! Everyone is dressed up from superheros, to their country flag, to random voodoo things that might be something spiritual? I’m not too sure, but I loved it all!
There’s about 2 miles or so in Queens before you hit the Queensborough bridge. Around mile 15.5 or so, I started to feel really sick to my stomach. I think it was the combination of eating too much and holding in my pee for too long and excitement and anxiety and everything in between. I usually run on just a piece of toast and peanut butter, so having 3 times that amount was not working out well after less than 2 hours of running. I also never really got a chance to go to the bathroom and do my business since I thought I would have time and then didn’t.
My life was going to flash before my eyes. I’ve heard that runners can have involuntary reactions while running and OMG I thought it would happen to me, on video, or camera or something. I started to walk, to try to calm my stomach and freaking out and panicking and that’s when I got nauseated as well. Luckily, that was a little easier to solve than my other potential problem. I walked to the side and threw up a little. Sorry, I like to share all the details. Bodily functions happen. I saw a few men peeing on this bridge as well! I don’t generally have penis envy, but during races I can’t help but be resentful. My stomach was still upset, and I’m not gonna lie, I contemplated my odds of hoping over the barrier to the other side of the bridge to do what had to be done. It’s times like this that I really miss the freedom of running on a trail! (Although I haven’t had to do that yet).
A lot of thoughts and prays went through my head and I think when I saw the bathroom at mile 16, I have never felt more relieved! It was also there that I might have shed more than a little bit of tears for the end of my race. My 7:25 average pace was dropped down to 8:10. When I tried to run, I could barely get above a 9 minute mile. The Queensborough bridge really took it all out of me.
Running through first avenue was still fun but not as great as Brooklyn. The next four miles were a blur where I went between nausea and sadness. I think my spirit broke afterwards, I went through another awful sick feeling at mile 19/20 on the bridge to the Bronx when I tried to eat a shotblock to get some food back in me and I just couldn’t swallow anything besides liquids. Someone mentioned it might be motion sickness since I only felt that awful mid-bridges?
Mile 20-24 were a blur as well. I remember entering Central Park and being so happy to be in the park and not on the hills of whatever Avenue we ran down. At mile 24, I saw my friend Michael cheer me on and that got me through mile 25 without a walk break. After that I saw Tony and that got me to mile 26 without a walk break! As for the final .2? I ran as hard as I could because I just wanted to be done so badly with this race!
I’m not gonna lie, crossing the finish line did indeed feel magical, but then again, it always does for me.
As soon as you cross the line, you want to sit, take a break and catch your breath. But the volunteers won’t let you. It’s their job to get 50,000 tired, runners across the finish line and out of the park and they do their job well. You feel like a sheep, a cranky sheep as you try to regain the feeling you once had in your legs while being forced to walk another mile to exit.
About a quarter of the mile you get the space blanket and a little shortly after that you get a bag with water, a very tasty apple, and some other snacks I didn’t really look at because the last thing I wanted was food.
And then you keep walking, and walking, and you’re wondering will I ever be able to sit, will I ever get out of this park, am I doomed forever in this nightmare of no break?
Eventually, a long time, or what feels like forever, you exit the park and if you selected no baggage option, you get the most amazing, warm fleece lined poncho. Yea, it’s orange and won’t ever leave my house afterwards, but that thing really keeps you warm.
P.S. My friend to the right, ran NY in 3:13!
It’s not exactly the results I wanted, but I got to go home with my bling regardless! Luckily, I got RnR Nola in Feb & Georgia Marathon in March to attempt this all over again!
How do you handle a poor race? I sign up for many more!