By Brett Johnston
This was my 2nd time running the NYC Marathon, having run it in 2006, and honestly it all seemed new to me again…except for the waiting.
With over 45000 runners, you kind of have an idea of what to expect, starting with the Expo, so I literally got down to NYC on Saturday afternoon, off to the expo, got my registration and headed back to the hotel.
The race is a point to point race, that starts on Staten Island, goes though Brooklyn, Queens (woohooo for Ira and Audrey), Manhattan, Bronx, and then back onto Manhattan ending in Central Park.
This means that they need to get you to the start by bus or Ferry, prior to your race start, which for me meant that I had to take the bus from Manhattan at 5.30am. The bus ride is about 40 mins over to the staging area on Staten Island, and once you get there, it is a lot of waiting around. They take the phrase of “Hurry Up and Wait” to a whole new level. They do have a number of tents setup for people to sit in, but these were already full up by the time I got there. Luckily this was something that I had remembered from last time, and I brought a lot of extra clothes to try and stay warm while sitting on my ass for 3 hours.
The start was broken down into 3 waves (9.40am, 10.10 am and 10.40 am start times), with me being in the 10.10 am start. They also break each wave start into 3 different sections, with one group starting going over the top of the Verrazano Bridge, the other 2 groups going on the bottom section of the bridge, and then they split them all again at the end of the bridge with the one group only joining the rest of the field around Mile 8. Back in 2006, I was on the bottom section of the bridge, and this year I was on the top section which was great.
Eventually…it was Go Time!...or so I thought… I was in Coral 26 of my section, which took me about 8 minutes to get to the start, but it did not get any better after the start, as you automatically have a 1mile climb of the bridge, and because of the immense amount of people it was really hard to get going, with people walking / stopping for photos, looking at the scenery etc. so for the 1st mile I had already lost my pacing. At the top of the bridge, I actually went over on my ankle tripping on a water bottle that somebody had dumped, but I was able to run it out, and by Mile 4, it was feeling fine again.
Running through Brooklyn is beautiful, as you go through so many diverse neighborhoods, and spectators are everywhere. You are in Brooklyn until the halfway mark, and then head into Queens for a few miles, before crossing into Manhattan. This bridge was a real killer, which was at Mile 15-16 and it sucked, But you knew that you had Manhattan on the other end of it. When you get into Manhattan, it is really a great experience, with thousands of screaming people. Pretty close to the experience when you get to Wellesley College in the Boston Marathon, but certainly the fans are not all as pretty, and none are offering kisses!
You get onto Manhattan at 59th street, and this is the first real time that the course opens up, as you are running down a very wide road. This was one of my favorite places on the run, because as far as the eye can see, you just see runners. The other nice thing is the you get to “knock off the blocks”…starting at 59th, and knowing that you need to get to 125th to get to the Bronx and only have a 10 k left to do. The problem with this is that you have to train your mind to forget about the fact that you need to run all the way back down the other side.
Up until Mile 22/23, my timing was good, and I was happy where I was at, with a good ½ time. Unfortunately at this point, you are on 5th ave going up towards the park, and then into the park, and it is all uphill.
Again the crowds along this section , and all the way to the finish were phenomenal, with people standing 5 – 10 deep at places. By the time I got to 25, my legs were sore, but I still felt good, and I had 9 minutes to break 3.39.59 (my initial goal). One problem was that I was telling myself that I only had 1 mile to go…but neglected to tell my mind about the other .2. I really started running hard that last mile, and was passing a lot of people, but whenever I looked down at my legs, they just didn’t seem to be going as fast as I thought they were. They have a fantastic finishing area once you enter the park again, and they have it marked at each 100m, starting at 1000m going down, so it really gives you something extra to push towards.
It really felt like I was sprinting the last 1000m, but am sure that if there was video of me, I was probably dragging my ass.
I was happy to cross the finish line and happy with my time, although I did not hit my initial goal. (Whenever I race, I usually have 3 goals, with one being a specific time, then 2 (if I miss 1) being a PR, and the 3(If I miss 1 and 2) to finish.)
Time: 3h41.00 (1m01s short of my goal 1…BUT still a 12 min PR)…. Goal 2 Done!
After the race, you feel like cattle being herded as they try and filter people through, and back to the trucks to collect your belongings that you handed in at the start. This actually turned out well, as it gave you a good 10-15 minute walk after the race to prevent you from totally seizing up. Then it was off to my favorite part of any race…the BAR!
Recommend it: Yes Absolutely!
Best Sign/s: Sign 1: Don’t Stop…… Sign 2 (The next Girl over): That’s what she said!
What to Bring to the start: Lots of throw away clothes to hang out in at the start.
Expectations: Expect a lot of people…congestion..people running with camcorders.. people stopping to take pictures.
Don’t: Get frustrated
For those that want to see the route and my data, here is the link to my Garmin info from race day.