November 6, 2014
Welcome to the final post of my New York City Marathon Race Recap!
Need to catch up? Here is Part 1 and Part 2. Want to hear something funny? It probably took me 5-6 hours to write all these posts – the same amount of time it took for me to run my race (oooh teaser). Okay onward to the race!
Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)
My first (and only) marathon until Sunday was the 2007 Marine Corps Marathon and my only goal was to finish (as with most first time marathoners). My time was 6:52:53 or 15:44 minutes/mile.
Even though this was my second marathon, I felt like a newbie because so much time had passed. Because I was a little bit (but not too much) more knowledgeable and in better condition fitness wise I made the following goals for Sunday:
- A – Finish less than 5:30 (~12:34/mile)
- B – Finish between 5:30-5:59 (~12:35-13:42/mile)
- C – Finish the 26.2 miles!
My “C” goal was a bit of a gimme and I knew (unless I got injured and pulled out of the race) I should have a PR. My “B” goal was based on all my training runs this summer and quite a few race predictors. While I was the at the expo I got a 5:27 pace band printed out and used another race predictor that Tata had upstairs that came out with the same time (they considered variables such as recent race times, training pace, mileage per week etc).
The marathon is a point to point course that begins in Staten Island and ends in Manhattan. We ran through all five of the New York City Burroughs. New York is considered a “flat course”, but there are five bridges and gradual elevation changes later (fun for tired legs). Below are the Burroughs and their (approximate) corresponding miles:
- Staten Island (~Miles 1-2)
- Brooklyn (~Miles 2-14)
- Queens (~Miles 14-16)
- Manhattan (~Miles 16-20 and 22-26.2)
- Bronx (~Miles 20-22)
As you can see a majority of the course is in Brooklyn (different route from the Brooklyn Half Marathon that was held in May). Here is a link to the course map, elevation chart and video if you are interested. Alright, time for the actual race recap to begin!
New York City Marathon
Around 10:30AM Wave 4 runners were allowed to enter their respective corrals. I wished Prianka good luck and headed towards Corral F (the last one). Because my day started at 7AM and I would need my phone at the finish I made the decision to turn off my data and my phone to conserve battery. I would only turn on my phone as I approached certain mile markers to confirm Laurel and Cliff’s spectating locations and for a few photos (but not too many).
In Orange Wave 4 Corral F! As you can see there were plenty of porta potties to the side. There were also bins on the side of the waiting area to put your throwaway clothes in. I took off my sweatpants and long sleeved shirt, but kept my hoodie, headband and gloves on.
At 10:55AM there was a large “boom” (insert Hunger Game jokes/references here because that is what it sounded like) and you could hear Frank Sinatra’s “New York New York” playing. It was a pretty incredible experience crossing that starting line (I teared up of course). After months of training and reading tons of recaps, it was finally here!
The first mile took us over the Verrazano Bridge. I looked to my left and there was Manhattan! This photo does not do it justice.
Orange and Blue ran on the top portion of the bridge, while Green ran on the bottom. In case if you were wondering, no I did not see anyone urinate off the side of the bridge. They also had broadcasts in the waiting area that runners would be disqualified if caught doing so. I felt great going over this bridge and was right on pace (I would hope so with it being mile 1 haha). I could definitely feel the 20-30MPH winds, there were certain moments on the bridge when I felt there was no forward progress. You could also feel the vibration of the bridge as you ran towards Brooklyn. As you can see, I did not have any crowd issues – but I am curious if it was a different picture if you were in an earlier wave.
After crossing the bridge we were in Brooklyn. At that point I already had to go to the bathroom. I decided to keep on running, it was too early I said to myself! Big mistake…..as I reached each mile marker the porta potty lines got longer and longer! At miles 4 and 5 I hopped into a line and abandoned each one after a minute because it was taking so long. I stopped in a McDonalds, Subway and a KFC but everyone else had the same idea.
After mile 5 I had a pounding headache and was seeing spots (I think it was a combination of the wind and fueling). I was so distracted with the bathroom situation that I missed all of the aid stations at each mile). I thought, ummm I need to do something about this… I am NOT passing out! I ate some Clif Bloks (my plan was to consume at least 100 calories each hour) a little over the hour mark.
While I was running I noticed a few mom and pop restuarants that were already open. I took a chance on one right before mile 8 and the owner let me use it! Thank you thank you! Shortly thereafter I saw one of my b-school classmates, Rebecca (who ran the marathon last year), and then Cliff and Laurel! I was so happy to see them! At the mile 8 marker I found the first aid team and took some Advil for my headache. No dizziness going forward. Ohh and for the future… there were tons of porta potties at mile 8 with short lines.
Miles 1-10 flew by – primarily because of my quest to find a bathroom. At mile 11 I could feel my hips tightening and my legs were starting to tire. Huh? I was a bit confused, as I did not think I went out too fast. My half marathon split was 2:52 – about 16 minutes + from my last half training run and 8 minutes + from my pace band (which I immediately took off). Despite the fatigue Brooklyn was amazing! The crowd support was incredible and there were bands/music playing practically every intersection we crossed (more than RnR for sure). We entered Queens around mile 13 and the support was just as great.
For the second half of the race my plan was to break up the 13 miles into mini sections (3 miles, 4 miles, 5K and 5K). That certainly helped me mentally and I did not find myself counting down (which I tend to do during my half marathons). Below is a picture of the Queensboro Bridge. While the incline was not too steep it felt very long. With fresh legs, I would have loved this section!!
To the left my view of Manhattan was getting closer and I knew I would be seeing Cliff and Laurel soon! I did turn on my music at this point and used 30:30 intervals to get up the incline.
And this is the moment everyone talks about, turning onto First Avenue. Even though I was in the last wave there plenty of spectators out on the course.
Most people put their names on their shirt, but I decided not to so I could hear Laurel and Cliff shout my name. Luckily Jennifer is a very popular name and I happened to be running next to a “Jen”, so they were cheering for me too, right? Another funny story… I was wearing my Oiselle singlet, so people would cheer “Goooo…. Elle?” My bib was blocking the “O” and “I” respectively. When I heard “Elle”I knew people were cheering for me. Here I am right after mile 17.
Happy to see Laurel and Cliff! I had given Cliff some additional fuel to carry (Honey Stinger Chocolate Waffle, Honey Stinger Orange Blossoms, banana, Zico Chocolate Coconut Water, and some Nuun tablets). I took a sip of the Nuun (I also carried some tablets), a sip of the coconut water, and ate 3/4 of the banana.
I took the Honey Stinger Waffle (thanks to the Friday Five recs) to go and said goodbye. Shortly after I heard “Go Jen” I looked around and it was my college friends Steph (freshman year roomie) and Amanda. They were tracking me and I was soo surprised/happy to see them.
Pictures courtesy of Laurel, Cliff and Stephanie.
After I left my friends (sad face) there was a long (well it felt long) incline to the Bronx. My legs were tiring and around Mile 16-17 and I started to have sharps pains in my right foot. With each step the bones on the top of my foot would hurt. The last time I experienced this was my first marathon. Has anyone else had this? Were my laces too tight? Because of my foot I started to use a 1:1 interval before entering the Bronx.
Even though crowd support thinned out in the Bronx, I still had a good time. There was still plenty of music, the spectators were just as enthusiastic, and there were still bananas at the aid station (not common for the back of the pack). I thought all these signs were really nice!
I was exhausted and my Garmin died around mile 21 (I ended up counting intervals myself, that did not work out very well…note to self use a Timex instead). Once I re-entered Manhattan I texted Cliff and Laurel for their location. They were at 92nd Street. Ughhhh I thought, I am only on 120th street. It took awhile but I finally reached them before entering Central Park to the finish line.
I was so happy to enter Central Park, it was my first time running in it. There were some rolling hills and I (and probably everyone else around me) was exhausted! It felt like the longest 2 miles of my life. I saw the 800M to go sign..I wasn’t fooled…still half a mile to go (or 2 laps around the track)….then the 400M (now this is what I like to see)….then this!!
I finished my second marathon!!
Volunteers wrapped the foil blanket around you (also taping it up top) and gave us a bag of post race food and drinks (so organized). Here I am with my medal (love it love it).
While I took the 20-30 minute walk to the no-baggage exit I turned on my phone and texted my runtourage that I was on my way out. I chatted with my mom for a few minutes and then turned my data back on. At that moment texts, emails, tweets and messages came through. Thank you for all your kind notes! The walk was not bad (good for my legs), but it was around 5:00PM and pretty cold. I finally reached 77nd Street and a volunteer congratulated me and put on my fleeced line poncho. Neat right?
After I received my poncho I saw Cliff and Laurel at the exit. I was so happy to have their support throughout the day, it really did help me get through the 26.2 miles. They also braved the winds and it turned out they walked more than 7 miles that day! Immediately after seeing them I told them “I think I am done with marathons, I’m tired.” Fifteen minutes later (while walking to dinner)….I shouted out, “Nevermind I want to do one again!”
Following dinner I found out my finish time was 6:01:05. I knew early on I was not going to make my “B” goal, but drats… so close!! To be honest I was a bit disappointed because my training was spot on for my “B” goal and I know I have it in me to reach it.
Then I reminded myself (and others did as well) that I won’t always have a perfect race and it was a 51 minute PR. Even though this was not my best run, the New York Marathon now sits on top as my favorite race. The entire experience was incredible and I would love to run it again.
I hope you enjoyed reading the recap!
I’ll follow up next week with some lessons learned, a by the numbers analysis, and what’s next for me.
Have you run New York before? How did this year compare?
Is the New York Marathon on your bucket list?