2014 NYC Marathon

Hello friends, Grab something to drink, get comfy and enjoy... this is a long post.  If you aren't interested in the details, just skip to the bottom to see how I did.

There are three strategies for most runners on marathon day: to race, to run, to survive.  Looking back on my experience, I was prepared, felt great, I was ready to run.  I have one experience of surviving so I know how rough marathon day can be. I ran the 2014 NYC marahon, as planned.

Getting there

I left the hotel at 7am, walked two blocks, bought a ticket, and jumped on the next train.  Following the crowd off the train, we walked just two minutes to the Staten Island Ferry.

  • I didn't have to wait for the ferry, it was boarding.
  • The white caps on the river were not a good sign, so I opened the hand warmers I brought with me.  Thank goodness I had these left over from our Kilimanjaro summit. Before exiting the terminal, I changed shoes and put on all the layers of clothing I brought with me. 
  • The commute was going smoothly, but the wind was getting worse.
  • A short walk to the street revealed a 15 minute wait for the final leg of the commute - a short bus ride to the bridge/runners village.  My body was shaking by the time I got on the bus and started to wonder how this 15 minutes would impact my run.
  • As the bus started moving I received a text message that Kara Goucher started running. {the race started while I was commuting... a fact I will never forget}
  • Departing the bus we had one last security pat down, and five minute walk to the runner's village.
  • I arrived at the green coral without incident, at 9:57am.  My wave start was 10:05.  I thought it would take 90 minutes to travel from the hotel to the village, this late arrival didn't provide any time to get nervous.
  • It took me three hours to get to the starting line... the weather wasn't a factor. 

The Run

  • I will never forget running over the bridge.  My start group was small, running across the bridge on the lower level (far right of this photo).  People shed layers while running, we were jumping over jackets and prerace gear to avoid tripping.  The wind was so bad that several times I was blown mid-stride by a wind gust.
  • TIP: when starting on the lower level was to stay in the middle of the bridge.  Men will pee off the bridge, into the ocean. The wind was blowing horizontally at 40mph, so this wasn't an issue this year.
  • No one in my start group enjoyed running over the bridge or stopped for a photo. You could feel dread/worry as we ran together in silence.
  • I remember thinking this is going to be a horrible experience.
  • Once we left the bridge a hundred men bailed to the left... to pee on behind trees lining the road.
  • With three 'to be tossed' layers I wasn't able to see my start time, my iPhone tucked away to avoid distractions. This decision gave me permission to take it all in... and this is what I did!
  • Once you cross over the long bridge at mile 15 you are home free.  The next mile gifts runners with spectacular crowds.
  • I wore a fleece, and down vest until mile 22!! I never warmed up enough to trust the weather.  Once in Central Park I shed these layers, knowing the finish was 25 minutes away. 

After the finish

No one prepared me for this... if you are planning to run this marathon know you need to walk about two miles after crossing the finish. We walked up to 85th street, out of the park and back down to Columbus Circle to the meet/greet.  It was mentally draining, and a bit unfair... I logged 33 miles that day.

The wind played is big role:

  • 2013 average time, 4 hours 18 minutes
  • 2014 average time, 4 hours 34 minutes
  • I was training for 4:15... finishing at 4:32

I felt great my entire training program - I couldn't have asked for a better experience on my legs/body.  I ran four day's week rather than five, removing the midweek long run, a risky approach that paid off.

Marathons and Ultras... some of you will be surprised to learn that this was my first marathon in eight years.  I have no plans to run this distance again, but never say never.