Where do I even start??? I’ve done two races that have left me completely mind-blown over the last couple of months. It’s crazy. I’m already horrible at writing race recaps but then add something as overwhelming as NYC to my list of recaps to write, and I’m at a loss. I’ll try my very best to sum up my marathon experience as it was truly like no other. I wrote Part One/the days leading up to the marathon HERE if you missed it!
Just an FYI – this recap isn’t going to be super detailed in terms of mile splits and course specifics. Pace wasn’t really my focus during this race and when it comes to street names and parts of the city, I’m clueless for the most part. Jonathan wrote an excellent post outlining all that fun stuff so if you want to have a read, check it out HERE. He used to live there so he knows what he is talking about!
I’m just going to talk a bit about the logistics and a lot about how it was the best race ever. Sound good? Good.
Getting to this race requires a bit of work and a lot of time but it’s part of the experience. We woke up at 5am even though our wave start time wasn’t until 10am. It’s a long morning. Runners have the option of choosing to get to the start (Staten Island) via bus or ferry. Since Gregg lives just a short walk from the ferry dock, we went that route.
We took bags with us full of food, toilet paper (you never know), and a blanket. I was really worried about having to be outside for a long period of time but it wasn’t as cold as we expected. We left Gregg’s around 6:15 and were on a ferry by about 6:30ish. The ride is only about 20 minutes and we were able to catch a sweet sunrise. On our way off the ferry, guess who we spotted?! Victoria! I didn’t even have to call her to find a meeting spot! A sign that we were meant to run the race together.
Once we got to the island, we had to line up for a bus to get us to the runners village. It took us about 10-15 minutes before we got on and then a short ride over to the village. I ate a plain bagel while we made our way over (breakfast #1)!
We had some time before we had to separate – Gregg was in a different corral than Victoria and I (runners are first separated by colour and then by start times). I was determined to get myself one of those Dunkin Donuts beanies that they hand out every year so to kill some time, we went on a bit of a quest to find them. Success. This is when I ate breakfast #2 – a Picky Bar.
We parted ways and made our way over to our designated sections. I was technically supposed to start at 9:50 but Victoria’s start time was 10am. Runners can opt for different start times as long as they are later than their own. Victoria couldn’t move up to 9:50 but I was able to move back to 10. We had yet even more time before the race start so we did exactly what two girls running the NYC Marathon for the first time would do – take selfies. I also had breakfast #3 – another Picky Bar.
We were finally able to inch our way to the start line as it was finally almost time to RUN. We started late…maybe around 10:20ish? I was itching to run because I had shed all my throwaway clothes and it started to feel really cold. Finally…the national anthem…the cannon…GO TIME.
I was so happy to finally be running but honestly the first mile was pretty rough. The Verrazano Bridge was cold and windy AF. I immediately regretted throwing away my hoodie. All you could hear during this section was bibs flapping ferociously because of how windy it was! Also – bridges in New York are long. Just an FYI. I knew that we just had to get over it and then the party would start! AND DID IT EVER.
P.S. How crazy is this view?! (photo from @worlderunners)
Anyone who has run this race has told me that the crowd support is fantastic and that is truly an understatement. From the moment you cross the first bridge, there are people everywhere cheering for you. You know how in most races you get hundreds of spectators in the last 500 meters? Imagine that for an entire 26.2 miles. It’s complete insanity. We ran through all five boroughs – Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Manhattan. I can’t even tell you which one was my favourite because every second was so overwhelmingly awesome and I was so grateful for every single person out there. People of different ages, from different cultures, runners and non-runners, run crews, live bands, dancers, confetti, high fives, so much screaming, SO MANY SMILES. I’m choking back tears just thinking about it. Running is such a unifying sport and I felt so lucky to be there.
I guess we can talk about the actual running part now, hey? Because we weren’t racing I don’t really have a breakdown of how things went and if it was/wasn’t according to plan. Victoria and I just ran side by side. There were chatty miles, quiet miles, and miles where were were just like “whoa, this is surreal”. The first 10km went by super fast. We finished in a little less than an hour and I think we were both feeling pretty good and comfortable. Neither of us carried water so we stopped at almost all of the water stations. I didn’t even carry gels as I planned to just take whatever was on the course (bad idea because there was only one gel station). I made sure to drink both Gatorade and water every time we stopped to ensure I was getting some calories.
I held onto my Dunkin Donuts beanie for the entire race. No way I was going home without it!
My stomach was bugging me almost right from the start (I think I could have done without one Picky Bar) so I was a tiny bit uncomfortable for most of the race but I just ignored it and trucked along. I had to pee so bad around mile 12 and I told Victoria I needed to stop, thinking I’d just catch up with her (or at least try to). Turns out she also had to pee. Also turns out everyone had the same idea because there was a line to use the portapotties. I’ve never stopped during a race in my life but I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it another 14 miles.
When we got to the halfway mark my legs were already pretty tired. I knew this marathon wouldn’t feel easy, even running at a slowish pace. My training since Golden was minimal, with my longest run before NYC being 12 miles. This race makes it pretty easy to forget that you’re tired though. Every time my focus went back to my sore legs, I’d remind myself how lucky I was to finally be running my dream race. I’d read race signs and see the smiles on the faces of spectators. I’d let the energy of all the beautiful strangers carry me through.
Like every marathon, the 20 mile marker made me think “just 10k left” but at the same time “omg how am I going to run 10 more kilometres?!” This is when Victoria looked at me and said “10 more. We are going to knock those bitches off one at a time!” And that’s exactly what we did. Slowly, painfully, but still with half smiles on our faces. The crowds over the last few miles just get bigger and louder. I saw Sarah from Sarah Marie Design Studio at mile 22 and nearly died of happiness! I was a bit delirious and it took me a second to realize it was her but when I finally did, I ran over to give her and Dioris (@diorisromero) a huge hug before taking off.
With just a few miles to go, you know you are close because you can see Central Park. All I could think about was getting that damn medal around my neck!!! I waited five years. FIVE YEARS. Once you enter the park, the energy is just out of control. You really can’t help but smile because you know you are almost done and all these people you don’t even know are rooting for you. Part of me didn’t want it to be over but my legs were pretty quick to disagree. Hah. Before we knew it, our feet crossed the timing mats and just like that, we were done. We finished in 4:22.
I just ran the biggest and best marathon in the world! And with a new friend! I can’t even explain how good it felt. I was so incredibly proud of us and so happy that we conquered the NYC Marathon together. Every time I wanted to take a walk break I thought, “If you walk, you’ll lose Victoria. Keep running.” It is so, so helpful to have someone there with you for 26.2 miles. Even if you don’t talk much, having them by your side is huge motivation and I couldn’t be more thankful.
Once we crossed the finish line, it was a bit of a walk to get out. Runners who selected to receive a post-race poncho were directed one way, while those who opted for bag check went a different way. They handed out heat sheets for us to use until we got to the ponchos and although I don’t find them super effective, it was better than nothing! Finally getting that poncho wrapped around me was the best thing ever (it’s lined with fleece). I got really cold as soon as I stopped running so having that (and my beanie!) felt so good.
We found Gregg, walked Victoria over to meet her husband (who ran 50km while we were running the marathon NBD), and then headed home via Uber to shower and eat pizza. Perfect ending to a perfect day.
Marathons are not easy, no matter how fast or slow you are running. I promise you one thing though – New York City makes the pain train totally worth every second. You need to experience this race for yourself to truly understand how special it is. There aren’t enough words or photos that can do the New York City Marathon enough justice. I’m not sure how or if any other race can compare to this one. I don’t know how likely it is that I’ll be able to run it again but I am so, so grateful to have had the opportunity last weekend. What a ride!
Thanks for reading and for all of the support/comments/texts/tweets last weekend! Also, huge thanks again to Gregg for making marathon weekend so easy and fun. He is a gem and my time in NYC wouldn’t have been the same without him!