Race Recap: 2014 NYC Marathon: The Race & The Aftermath

Read Part 1 First!

Race Morning
After a decent night of sleep, the alarm went off at 5:30AM. I like to wake up early, so even though I was starting at 10:30 I wanted to be there early. I also wasn’t sure how long it would take to make it to Fort Wadsworth. We ate our breakfast and got everything ready to go. About 6:30AM, we headed to the subway station near our hotel to begin the journey.

Not quite fully awake yet

Not quite fully awake yet

We waited quite awhile for the first train to come. Trains were supposed to run every 10 minutes, but it was after 7:10 when the first train arrived. And it was packed. Everyone had to go in the first few cars, as the stop at the ferry terminal only accommodated shorter trains. And with each stop, more and more people got on the cars. We were packed in like sardines and I was miserable! We finally made it to Whitehall, only to wait in another crowd for the next ferry to Staten Island. We originally planned on the 7:15AM ferry, but it was already after 8. I felt bad for everyone with wave 1 and wave 2 bibs. Y’all were gonna be late!

Crazy crowded!

Crazy crowded!

The ferry ride was uneventful. We didn’t see much, instead talking to people around us. Once you get to the Staten Island side, you walk outside to line up for buses to take you to the last stop in the journey: Fort Wadsworth! By the time we got there, they were announcing that the bag drop for both wave 2 and wave 3 was closing at the same time. Um, that wasn’t right! Again, I felt bad for those people who were missing their waves. We walked over to our area (green) and settled in for a bit of a wait. I waited until a bit before corals were set to close before I ditched my pants and walked over. I was in coral F, the last coral in wave 3.

Yes, the weather was that gross

Yes, the weather was that gross

And with that, the race was set to begin for me. We were herded around and got on the bridge. I missed “New York, New York” because of how long it took to start, but oh well. The race was on!

The Race
My strategy for the race was to take it easy over the bridges, maintain as close to 11 as I could, take in nutrition every three or four miles, and walk through every water stop, alternating between water and Gatorade. I’d say I was successful with one of those points.

The Verrazano Bridge sucked. The wind was howling and whipping around, and everyone was miserable. The bridge goes up for one mile, and then down for the next mile. I kept it easy, with Garmin saying my first mile was 12, but my second mile was in the 9s. Oops. I chalked that up to being downhill and said I would slow down. I did, but not enough.

The first half of the race is basically Brooklyn up to Queens, before hitting the Polaski Bridge. My miles here alternated between 10:20 and 10:40. Way too fast! I wanted those to be my splits for the final miles, not the first. But I was actually feeling good, so I decided to stick with it and see how long I could go. This was mistake #1.

Mistake #2 reared it’s head around mile 3, when I was supposed to take my nutrition. For some reason, I decided I would take it every four miles. Except I skipped it at four, and took it at mile 5. As you know, once you get behind in nutrition, you can’t catch up. This would hurt me later on.

Weather was a bit better!

Weather was a bit better!

I hit the 13.1 mile mark at 2:20, so I was well on pace to hit my sub-5:00 goal, and even on pace for a 4:50 if I held it together. Everything was fine, right up to the Queensboro Bridge. This soul-sucking part of the race is notorious for how quiet it can be, and it definitely got to me. I ran up it, when I should have taken it easy. This basically killed the rest of my energy. By the time I came around to 1st Ave and the insanely awesome and loud crowds, I was getting very tired. I knew it was time to start taking some walk breaks.

I told myself I would only walk for a bit, and I did manage to keep going. I would take walk breaks through every water stop, but I slacked on my nutrition again. After taking it at 5, I took it again at 9, then 15. And that was it. My energy went out around mile 20, right after getting to the Bronx. I didn’t just hit the wall, I got ran over by it. The walking become longer and longer, until it became more walking than running.

With 5.2 miles to go, I still had 75 minutes to make my sub-5:00 goal. Totally manageable, right? Except I was defeated. I was tired, I was cold, my back hurt, and mentally I became very weak. Despite the encouragement of the crowds along 5th Ave and into Central Park, I just couldn’t get things going again. I saw my time slip away, until finally, it was gone. No goal time for me!

It became a quest for survival at that point. I just had to finish. I started running after passing Columbus Circle, and managed to run the whole way to the finish. Final time: 5:12:41. Not close to my goals or my potential, but still a PR by over 5 minutes.

My Precious!

My Precious!

The Aftermath
OK, I just want to say that NYC is not runner-friendly after you cross the finish line. First, you can’t stop moving. You can’t sit down, or lean up against something (or someone). If you do, then medical will come and yell at you to keep moving, or you’re being sent to the med tent. Second, when you line up for your picture, they refuse to allow you to take one with your cell phone. Look, I get it, you’re paying for MarathonFoto to be there to take pics. But I saw a photographer yell at someone for handing their phone to a fellow runner to take their picture. Ridiculous! We just ran the friggin’ NYC marathon, let them take whatever pictures they want!

I followed the crowds, got my heat shield, my medal, my picture, my box of food, and shuffled along the no-baggage line until I got my poncho. I love this thing! So big, so warm. We both saved ours and will use them on future cold weather races. I was free of the scene on 74th St., and headed to the FedEx Office to pick up my warmer clothes. They were kind enough to let me change in the store and hang out there while waiting for Ro to call when she finished.

It took us quite awhile to walk back to our hotel, which was on 49th St. and 8th Ave. As soon as we got back we showered, got into comfortable clothes, put our feet up on the wall, and ordered room service. It was very hard to sleep that night, as our legs hurt so bad it was hard to find a comfortable position! Plus, we were happy we finished and could cross this off our bucket list! We spent the next two days walking around NYC (probably not wise to walk 8 miles the day after running a marathon) before coming back to Memphis on Wednesday, just in time for my birthday!

Final Thoughts
Finish a marathon, and the first question people ask is “Would you do it again?” While I will definitely do the distance again, I don’t think I would ever run NYC again. The cost and logistics of the race are an absolute pain in the ass. Basically, anything you’ve read about it is true: amazing crowds, awesome race, terrible logistics and not friendly at the end. I crossed it off, and that’s that. On to the next one.

From a race perspective, I failed pretty hard at this one. During MCM, I just wanted to finish and pace Ro so she would meet the cut-offs. This time, I wanted to hit a sub-5:00 and hopefully better. I wanted to take all that I had learned over the past year and nail it. Instead, I made just about every mistake a runner can, and blew up in spectacular fashion. And for that, I must atone for my running sins.

I’m taking 2015 off from running a marathon. Instead, I’m going to focus on building up speed and strength while increasing my mileage while not training. I’ll do some half marathons, assorted 5ks and stuff like that. I’m still working on my goals and race calendar, but I need a bit of a break from the long grind of marathon training right now. I hope to come back and nail it in 2016 at a different race, perhaps Chicago.

Thanks for following along!

Race Recap: 2014 NYC Marathon – Part 1

To say this race did not go as planned would be an understatement. It went about as poorly as it could, while still actually finishing. The short of it is I started out too fast (mistake #1), I messed up my nutrition (mistake #2), I ignored my race strategy (mistake #3) and I let myself get down on myself (mistake #4). All of that added up to a very long day on the streets of New York. Final time: 5:12:41.

In an effort to keep things readable, I’ll break it up into two posts. But let’s go back to the beginning…

Packet Pickup and Expo
We arrived into New York early Friday morning, having opted for the 6AM flight out of Memphis. We did this so that we could pick up our packets on Friday and avoid the Saturday crowds that I had heard so much about. After checking in to our hotel near Times Square, we walked to where the free shuttle bus was and ran into a few other marathoners. A short bus ride later and we were dropped off at the Javits Center. And then we saw the line. A very, very long line.

NYC Marathon Expo Line

The line!

That’s the back of the line. You had to walk all the way to the entrance, but keep going, turn down the hill, go down the hill, turn back UP the hill, and then finally back to the entrance and in. And why was the line so long? No idea. There was no security check to get in. IDs were checked at bib pickup, and there were no lines there either. Not sure why they left the lines outside get so long, but whatever. Packet pickup itself went quick, as did T-shirts. Though, the shirts were pretty big. I got a medium and it fits like a large.

After walking around a bit and spending way too much money at the Asics NYC Marathon store, we decided to walk around the Chelsea neighborhood a bit. We walked over the High Line and thought it was very nice.

High Line NYC

Yes, it was very grey that day

We swung by a pub to get some food, then went back to the hotel to drop our stuff off. We spent Friday night walking around and doing some bar hopping. It was Halloween so there was some excellent people watching to do. I feel sorry for the ladies that wore sexy [insert costume] because it was very cold out!

Saturday it rained all day long. We hit up Brunch at TSQ, walked around Rock Center a bit, got some necessities for Sunday (i.e. Gatorade, water, etc.) and headed back to rest up. Our choice for dinner that night, La Masseria, was amazing. We wished we could eat whatever we wanted, rather than stick to basics. Our pasta was delicious and the service was perfect. We would definitely go again.

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

We headed back to the hotel and set up our kits. It was at this point that nerves started to settle in. Were we really about to do this? We were going to head to Staten Island in the early morning to run the NYC Marathon with 50k of our newest friends. With the kit all set up, it was time to try and get some sleep.

My kit all ready to go!

My kit all ready to go!

Coming up next: The Race and the Aftermath!

NYC Quick Post

Very short version: I finished. I failed at nearly every single one of my goals. I failed at maintaining my strategy. I failed at pretty much everything, but I finished.

Longer version: coming soon!

Preparing For NYC

No turning back now!

Last night I went for a quick, three mile shake-out run as I hadn’t run in a week. Probably not the best taper, but it is what it is. I think most people freak out and run more than they should when they’re tapering for a marathon. This time I went the opposite and ran way less than I should have, culminating in my seven mile week last week. Oops. I went back and checked my taper from last year for the MCM, and I hit every single one of those runs. And I ran a 5:17, so maybe this will lead to a better time.

Like all good runners, I’ve started obsessively checking the weather. Really all I want is for no precipitation. I don’t want rain or snow or sleet or anything that would make me more miserable than I already may be. I can handle cold, I just don’t want to be wet. It looks like I’ll be ok, according to the latest forecasts. However, it also looks like this is going to be a cold, windy day. Accuweather says it’ll be 39/49 with 20MPH winds gusting up to 40+. Ouch. Weather.com says basically the same thing. The bad part about this is that the wind will come from the N/NW, and the first 20 miles or so are all in a northerly direction. I made a sweet MS Paint map to show you:

NYC Map w Wind

So that should be a lot of fun. I’m hoping I can draft behind someone bigger than me. With weather like that, I don’t want to be out there longer than I have to.

Back in the early summer, runners had to make a determination on whether they would check a bag or not. This isn’t a light decision, as those who opt not to check a bag can exit Central Park at 77th St, while those that opt to check a bag can’t exit until 81st or 85th St. You must make this decision by July 31st. I opted for no baggage, as did Ro. Of course, now that we see the weather, this is a problem. We have throw-away clothes for the wait at Fort Wadsworth, but we need something for when we finish. A coworker came up with a great idea: ship something to myself to a 24/7 FedEx Office location. Yesterday I shipped a backpack full of warm clothes for myself and Ro, and after I exit the park I just have to walk over and pick it up. Instant bag check!

The hay is in the barn, as they say, so there’s nothing else left to do. We fly up early tomorrow morning and will drop our bags off at the hotel and head over to the Expo to pick up our packets and walk around a bit. Then we’ll get checked in to our room and be tourists for a bit. We may head down to the Village to see some of the Halloween festivities, but we shall see.

Thanks for all the words of encouragement and advice over the past few months. This blog has been a great way to keep myself accountable and share this journey with random strangers. I’ll be taking lots of photos for my post-race posts, too.

Thanks for reading!

Road to NYC: Marathon Training Week 17 Recap

Should have kept going

The moral of the story this week was don’t stop, don’t be lazy. Rather than follow my plan, I felt sleeping in and not running much was a good idea. I ran Tuesday and Wednesday, but skipped Thursday and my weekend run. Sure, getting rest the week before the marathon is important, but I think I took it to the extreme. Seven miles in one week just isn’t enough. Oops!

But I had a lot of fun this weekend! Friday night was a Halloween party, one of the best parties of the year in my opinion. The hosts go all out with food, decorations and jello shots; it takes place in a former brothel-turned-dive bar; proceeds go to charity. All in all, a great event. Myself and two friends dressed up as the Beastie Boys. Let’s just say that when the DJ put on “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” everyone went nuts. We brought the house down.

beastie boys

Ended up staying out until 3AM. Ouch. Saturday we had a baby shower for a good friend of ours. Rather than your typical, staid shower in someone’s living room, we did it Downtown Style. Games, prizes and lots of fun. There was Pin The Sperm On The Egg, baby bottle chugging and speed diaper wrapping. I won the baby word scramble and got a $25 gift card to one of my favorite gastropubs. Thanks Sap!

shower cake

Here’s a pic of me doing the baby bottle chug. I am trying very hard to keep it together and not vomit. I was in no shape to be drinking again.

bottle chug

After that, we all hung out for the rest of the night, watching football. That worked out poorly for some (sorry Ole Miss fans!) and good for others (yay Buckeyes!). Home at 11, where I promptly slept until…..Monday. Not really, but I didn’t really get out of bed on Sunday.

NYCM Week 17

Tuesday. 4 miles
Wednesday. 3 miles
Thursday. Oops
Weekend. Oops

This last week is officially marathon week! Very excited and nervous. All of my posts this week will be dedicated to marathon prep, logistics and training thoughts.

Marathon Training Totals
Weekly Runs: 2
Weekly Miles: 7
Total Runs: 55
Total Miles: 391