NYC Marathon 2016 : An amazing race

Friday & Saturday

I had arrived in NYC on Friday to have time to get my bib and adjust to the 6 hour time difference. Excited !

20161104_170050-1

On Saturday we did a bus tour which followed the full marathon route. Although it lasted over 4 hours due to traffic, it was extremely insightful and helped me mentally prepare. With my husband we avoided walking around too much and had a nice, early dinner with my brother, SIL and her family. I loved the pre-race atmosphere, seeing all the runners, the expo, and the general energy in the city.

Pre race

November 6th. The date I had looked forward to for 8 months, was finally here.

Sunday morning, I was easily up at 5:30, ate and got ready. I had been hemming & hawing for a week over what to wear. I wanted to choose clothes that I knew I felt good in and would give me a confidence boost. On all my long distances I have been wearing compression socks, which don’t work well with long pants. The weather was announced to be sunny but it is still the beginning of November in NY, and I get cold easily. So many decisions ! so I decided on shorts and a tank with 2 additional layers, ones I could throw away into the donation bin at the beginning of the race.

The race starts on Staten Island, and the marathon organization proposes several options to get there, primarily by the Staten Island Ferry or by a bus which leaves from the Public library mid town Manhattan. I had chosen this option and by complete luck our hotel was about a 10 minute walk. Leaving the hotel I was immediately pleased with my choice of clothes, I felt it was quite warm for 6:45 a.m.

I walked to the library and was a bit nervous by the huge line. However, it moved quickly and I was on the bus and on my way by 7:15.

library

The trip to Staten Island took less than an hour, considering the streets were empty. Upon arriving there were hordes of buses and people. I had to go through security with a metal detector & bag search, but it went quickly, despite the number of people.

It was about 8:30 and once in the pre race area, there were still hordes of people but everything was very well marked and not too crowded.

wait-2

We had all be assigned a color and a coral letter. There was a specific waiting area for each color with available coffee, bagels, bananas, power bars, water and a ton of porta potties. So I had some coffee, walked around enjoying the atmosphere, people watched, eventually found a place to sit, and used the potties several times.

wait

And so I waited. About 2 hours. I was in the direct sunlight so it was very comfortable. I was still nervous though about being cold, and couldn’t figure out whether to keep one of my long sleeve shirts. I kept it, thinking I would give it to my husband in Brooklyn. There were many foreigners so I spoke to a few French people. I didn’t mind the wait, but had the weather been poor it would not have been fun.

pre-race-wait

There were announcements continually about how much time you had left to bag drop, or to get to your coral, or what to do if you missed your coral. I used the potty again at 10:30 then I slowly made my way to my coral, which was set to go off at 11.

coral

I waited 20 minutes before they opened it, then it took us about 10 minutes to wait / walk to the starting line. At the last minute I decided to keep one of my long sleeve tshirts and leave the other.

pre-race

Again, I chatted with some French people who were impressed with the American organization. Everything was working like clockwork. The race started perfectly on time. There were a few announcements, canon fire, the “New York New York” starts playing and we are off.

course-map

Mile 1 – 2 : The warm up

The race starts on the Verrazano Narrows bridge which connects Staten Island to Brooklyn. You either run across the top or on the lower level. You don’t actually start ON the bridge, but right before. I had read up quite a bit on race strategy and the first mile is pretty much up hill so I started off slowly. Didn’t stick to any run/walk interval, just ran slowly, making sure to walk once in a while.

(Pace : 12:14, 10:53)

Mile 3-8 : Perfect pacing

Coming off the bridge, you are in Brooklyn and there are already lots of crowds. Depending on your coral color, there are 3 different routes at the beginning of the race and they eventually all come together around mile 3. The streets were quite wide from mile 4 to 8 so I didn’t have to weave. I was planning on meeting my husband in Brooklyn as he had some food for me, but I had no idea where to find him. It was sunny and mid day, so I also thought about giving him my long sleeve shirt. I checked my phone and he said he was after mile 8, on the right after the water station. I had about 4 more miles to go before I would see him. Crowd support was great and I started to worry that I wouldn’t see my family. I only had GU with me, and I knew I would need something else, they had my pretzels, a cliff bar and apricots. I continued and found my family who had a big French flag.  14962725_10211472584676000_8883615966429235237_n

14991859_10210186118990474_7328459554913574051_n

I had some food and was off.

(Pace: 10:39, 10:38, 10:28, 10:31, 10:38, 10:31)

My times until mile 9 were perfectly in line with my plan. I was doing a 3 minute / 55 second run /walk and all of my miles were within 11 seconds of each other. I had to keep it under 10:52 if I wanted to finish in 4:45.

Mile 9 to 13 : Mentally challenging

Once I left my family, the route continues north through Brooklyn. While there were fewer spectators, crowd support was still amazing. I loved reading all of the signs… many referencing the election.

“If Trump gets elected, just keep on running to Canada”

“If Trump can run, so can you”

“This race is nothing if you survived the Presidential race….”

This kept me entertained.

Around mile 10 I started to struggle mentally. Even if the course was quite flat (small incline ?), I was having a hard time hitting my paces. I KNOW these miles are always the most challenging for me. I start finding the time long, wondering why I did this, hoping I can hang on for another 10+ miles. I knew if I could just get to 14 or 15 miles, then I would be OK. So I kept on trucking.

(Pace: 12:09, 11:15, 11:13, 11:20, 11:26)

 

Mile 13 to 15 : Two bridges !

The race goes over the Polaski bridge linking Brooklyn to Queens, before going over the Queensboro 1.5 miles after. As I usually get a second wind around mile 15, I focused on getting to the Queensboro and knowing I had completed more than half the race. I knew my paces were suffering a bit, but I had been chasing the 4:45 minute pacer for a while, so I knew I wasn’t too far off.

On the Queensboro (mile 15) there are no spectators so it is just you & the other runners. The quiet is a nice reprieve. The first half of it is uphill and most people were walking it. Some runners had stopped to take pictures but I didn’t dare, as I knew it would affect my time. So I just kept on running. As soon as you start the incline down you can hear the crowds in Manhattan. To keep me focused, I was thinking ahead to where my husband was meeting me next…somewhere on 1st avenue but I had no idea where. I found arriving on First avenue almost overwhelming because there are so many people and the avenue is so wide. Very impressive.

first-ave

I was still aiming at 4:45 and even though I knew I was behind a bit, I wanted to keep my time under 5 hours. I hadn’t stopped once and arriving on First Avenue is the only time I stopped to take a picture. Luckily !

(Pace: 11:16, 11:54, 11:51)

Mile 16 to 18 : First avenue

Luckily I decided to take a photo and looked at my phone because my husband told me where he was waiting, which was about 1 minute away. If I hadn’t taken the picture, I wouldn’t have seen him. Phew. Refueling. Encouragement from my family & I am off. There were many runners, lots going slow, and I found myself weaving. My right groin was a bit tight, but besides that, no other pain. I was loving my podiatrist and the orthodics he had recently made.

Although I had been faithfully doing my run / walk intervals I could not get any speed into my step. It was also a bit chilly because the sun was getting lower. The Queensboro had been windy, and I was grateful that I had kept one of my long sleeve ts.

(Pace: 11:35, 11:06, 11:48)

 

Mile 19 to 21 : into then out of the Bronx.

Mile 19 took me over the Willis Ave bridge into the Bronx. I loved this part, the atmosphere was very different than the other boroughs. Runners were stopped, lined up on the right, getting their legs massaged. What a great idea. There was a lot of music too. I was trying to decide when I would just start running and stop doing my run/walk.

(Pace: 11:48, 11:39, 11:30)

Miles 21 to 24 : Harlem & 5th Avenue.

I kept looking for my family on 5th, as this was the 3rd RDV spot we had set. I didn’t see them, so I just focused on forging ahead. By this time I had 5 miles left.  I started to ignore my run /walk intervals and did my best to only run. I kept my mind focused on finishing in under 5 hours. So while my times do not reflect running (faster), I ran for 90% of this portion. I was amazed that I had no major pains nor cramping. Besides my groin which was bothering me a little, my right knee did not hurt one bit.

(Pace: 11:30, 12:01, 11:50, 11:33)

 

Mile 24 to 26.2  : Through Central park

This was my favorite part of the race. It was also the toughest mentally. I hadn’t seen my family again on 5th avenue so I was hoping they would be somewhere along this home stretch. I also wanted to finish in under 5 hours but my legs just wouldn’t go any faster.

I finally saw my husband waving the French flag. They were yelling at me to run faster, that I could finish in under 5 hours. So I did. I sprinted (if that is at possible after running 25 miles) as fast as I could. I kept saying to myself “I can do hard things”. I had read somewhere that having a mantra when you get into Central Park will get you through this tough end. So I just kept repeating it and ran as fast as I could. Then I realized a marathon is not 26 miles, but 26.2 miles. Ugh. Keep on running. .2miles is a long way.

But I did it. Ran as fast as I could. 4 hours, 55 minutes and 41 seconds. I finished the NY Marathon.

finish-line

Immediately got my medal. Got a blanket. Then walked for at least 15 minutes (more like hobbled) to get my fleece lined poncho. I was so happy that they give it to you AND put it on you and button it for you. By this time is was getting quite dark and cold as the sun had gone down. It took me about 45 minutes to exit the area & find my husband.

I was very pleased with my time and am 100% convinced that all the moral support sent my way through facebook, email, Instagram, calls & texts made such a huge difference. With so many people routing for me, I pushed myself as hard as I could.

medal-cantral-park

What I liked :

  • The atmosphere in NYC before and after the race. This was almost as much fun as the race itself. Runners runners everywhere.
  • Water at every mile makes a huge difference. I didn’t have to carry a handheld water bottle and I could fit the water stations into my walk portion of my intervals. This made a huge difference.
  • The volunteers. Not only the sheer number but they were so kind and helpful.
  • The organization (information, timing) was amazing. Everything worked like clockwork.
  • Crowd support
  • The medal is of amazing quality.
  • The tracking app worked great and my family could track me with my projected finish time. At some point it was projecting that I finish in 5 hours and 14 minutes. Not sure why, but that explains why my brother yelled AT me when I ran by in Central Park.
  • The weather was perfect

My favorite parts of the race :

  • The first mile on the Verrazano Narrows bridge
  • Running through Brooklyn
  • Coming off the Queensboro onto First Ave in Manhattan
  • Going through the Bronx
  • Finishing the last 2 miles in Central park

Hardest parts :

  • The bridges. They all go up then down, so there are quite a few inclines.
  • Food / fueling. You need to carry what you need to get you through the race, and with an early breakfast, then having something to eat while waiting before the race, made things a bit tricky because you are running through lunch hour.
  • Leaving 4 hours before the race starts
  • The time it took after the finish to get out & find family

In a nutshell ?

I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to run this race. I am also thankful that the weather was absolutely perfect. It would have been miserable if it had been cold, windy & rainy. I am very very pleased with my performance. 4:55:41 means a 15 minute PR compared to Paris, and this course was definitely harder. I proved to myself that I can do hard things !

with-jean-statue-lib

Thanks again for all your support !

 

I am linking up with Marcia at Marcia’s Healthy Slice, Erika at MCM Mama runs and Patty at My no guilt life for Tuesdays on the run.

tuesdays

Tagged: , , , , ,

Comments: 39

  1. Marcia November 11, 2016 at 11:18 pm Reply

    Congrats Karen! Sounds like the day went off without a hitch. Isn’t the entire experience just so epic? I remember being SO grateful when they closed up that poncho as well. Haha! It’s the little things!
    Marcia recently posted…5 Favorite Fall Running EssentialsMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France November 12, 2016 at 1:54 am Reply

      The day was indeed great. And yes, those little things make such a difference. I thought of you often, I know that you ran it with crazy winds. I was darn lucky to have the temps we did.

  2. Kimberly Hatting November 11, 2016 at 11:23 pm Reply

    Woot!!!!!! So proud of you!! I loved the detailed descriptions of the course…..this race is on my bucket list for someday (after we are done paying for college tuition LOL). The long wait before the start would be mentally tough ( at least for me)…I’d keep second-guessing if I needed more food or water or potty time. Excellent job! Now, we need to find you a race in Iowa….
    Kimberly Hatting recently posted…Not just a RunnerMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France November 12, 2016 at 1:53 am Reply

      Thanks Kim, it was a great race and I definitely recommend it. Ready for your big race ?

  3. Darlene November 12, 2016 at 12:12 am Reply

    It seemed that all the stars were aligned. You ran a great race. Congrats. You should be proud.

    You are correct. Weather makes a big difference on whether you can enjoy a race to the fullest.

    Glad I got to see you again too.

    What’s next?
    Darlene recently posted…Veteran’s Day Dash 5k Race RecapMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France November 12, 2016 at 1:51 am Reply

      Nothing is next ! I am taking some down time to think about it and I don’t want to train through the winter.

  4. Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy November 12, 2016 at 2:25 am Reply

    I’m not at all surprised by your PR — the weather definitely helped, but then again bridges are large hills!

    I am also so amazed you do so well with just 3 runs a week in training. It’s just mind boggling to me! It was so weird walking around the theater district, knowing the marathon was gonna on — except you would have never known! Until after dinner, when we saw our first finishers. Just shows you how large NYC is!

    You did awesome & you should be very proud. Congrats! And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you ran another one someday.
    Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…5 Things I’d do if I didn’t runMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France November 13, 2016 at 1:05 pm Reply

      So glad we got to see each other. And thanks !

  5. Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner November 12, 2016 at 2:40 am Reply

    Wow a 15 min PR is really huge! Congrats to you ad you should be very proud of your efforts. Leaving 4 hours before the start is a little crazy!
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Skinny Sweet Potato CasseroleMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France November 13, 2016 at 1:03 pm Reply

      I am very proud Deborah, thank you.

  6. Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home November 12, 2016 at 3:00 am Reply

    Woo hoo! Great recap. One of my biggest reluctances is that wait time to run. I would think it would mess with my fueling. Altho now that I do Tailwind, it might not be as big of a deal. When I ran Big Sur, there was a 2 hour wait. Sounds like it was such a fun race. You have to feel so proud.
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…If I Didn’t Run…My Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France November 13, 2016 at 1:03 pm Reply

      Yes, am very proud. Yes, the fueling / wait time thing needs to be managed, but you would be just fine. BYOF. (Food)

  7. Sonia November 12, 2016 at 3:20 am Reply

    Great job on your second marathon!!! Looks like you had time for fun along the way too!

    • Karen - Fit in France November 13, 2016 at 1:02 pm Reply

      Thanks Sonia.

  8. Melanie @ HappyBeingHealthy November 13, 2016 at 1:15 am Reply

    Oh wow, that race sounded phenomenal!!!!! I love NYC! I loved seeing all of your pictures and reading about your play by play of the race. I also love your family’s big French flag! What a fun day! Congrats!m

    • Karen - Fit in France November 13, 2016 at 1:01 pm Reply

      Thank you Melanie. Loved it.

  9. Meranda@Fairytalesandfitness November 13, 2016 at 1:45 am Reply

    Aww congratulations Karen! I love this detailed account of your race. I found it interesting how there were different routes for the runners and then you all came together. Did you run on the upper bridge or the lower bridge? I’m so glad you had nice weather for race day.

    • Karen - Fit in France November 13, 2016 at 1:01 pm Reply

      Thanks Meranda. I was on the upper bridge. Pretty, but as you are running, I didn’t pay that much attention to the scenery.

  10. Coco November 13, 2016 at 5:03 pm Reply

    So happy for you! The weather was amazing! I do think that long wait time would be tough but you did great to soak up the atmosphere. It’s great that your family was able to track and meet you along the way. Congratulations!!
    Coco recently posted…A Running Tour of Memorials on Veteran’s DayMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France November 14, 2016 at 7:16 pm Reply

      As long as you are prepared mentally for the wait, it is really no big deal. The feed you and give you coffee….

  11. Jennifer @ Dashing in Style November 14, 2016 at 12:41 am Reply

    Congratulations!!! Sounds like a really great experience, and you finished strong. My marathon was the same day, but the sun and Warner temps destroyed me. I’d have preferred cold, wind, and even rain! But glad the weather worked well for you!
    Jennifer @ Dashing in Style recently posted…Race Recap: Indiana First Bank Veteran’s Marathon 2016My Profile

  12. HoHo Runs November 14, 2016 at 2:17 am Reply

    Simply amazing! You worked so hard and so deserved an amazing experience. I’m afraid all of the waiting and the late start would have derailed me. A huge congratulations on the incredible PR too!

    • Karen - Fit in France November 14, 2016 at 7:11 pm Reply

      Thanks Holly. I was very proud of my PR, especially with such a hard course.

  13. Janelle @ Run With No Regrets November 14, 2016 at 5:27 pm Reply

    Congratulations on your PR!! You did great!! NYC looks like an amazing race. You clearly had such a great support system along the way and it had to be satisfying to see all your hard work pay off 🙂
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…Philly Marathon Training Week 15 RecapMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France November 14, 2016 at 7:03 pm Reply

      Yes, very satisfying !

  14. Ana November 14, 2016 at 10:00 pm Reply

    Many Congratulations to you, on both the PR and the marathon! what an amazing experience to run in Both Paris and NYC in one year! I love it!

    Wow! I think I got hungry just reading how long you were waiting.
    Ana recently posted…Weekly Wrap 11.13.2016My Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France November 16, 2016 at 11:59 pm Reply

      Yes, it has been a pretty fantastic year. However, NOTHING on my agenda next year. I need to seriously start thinking about 2017 goals.

  15. Karen November 15, 2016 at 2:48 am Reply

    Congratulations!! You executed your plan well 🙂 I totally relate to not being able to get that extra zip in your step. I had that experience, but you totally persevered:) I love the family had a huge French flag for you to spot! And food and snacks.
    Your waiting around time is mind boggling to me. The logistics of moving around in NY overwhelm me just thinking about it but so super cool to run the streets and bridges!! You did a fabulous job!

    • Karen - Fit in France November 16, 2016 at 11:58 pm Reply

      Thank you Karen. Any marathon is an accomplishment. Loved your recap of your race this past weekend.

  16. Debbie @ Deb Runs November 16, 2016 at 6:44 pm Reply

    Congrats on running a great race and getting a huge PR, and thank you for the fantastic recap! It was fun “running” along side of you! 🙂
    Debbie @ Deb Runs recently posted…When A Birthday Run Turns Into A HullabalooMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France November 16, 2016 at 11:57 pm Reply

      Thanks Deb. Such a wonderful race experience.

  17. Cat November 19, 2016 at 3:20 pm Reply

    This is an awesome post! Just came across your blog while trying to search for turkey trots during our upcoming visit back to France next week (just returned to US after 13 years in France). I ran the NYC marathon this year too – my fist ever! I loved reading about your experience! I opted for the SI ferry and ended up getting to Ft Wadsworth with two minutes to spare before the last coral closed. Thinking of running Paris marathon next Spring. How do the two experiences compare?

    • Karen - Fit in France November 20, 2016 at 4:52 pm Reply

      I ran Paris this year, the recap is on my blog. It was a great race !

  18. Elizabeth November 21, 2016 at 4:38 am Reply

    Sorry I’m so behind — but another great recap! With this race and Paris you’ve almost convinced me that marathons area great. 😉 But really, I enjoyed reading about your experience and am so happy you had such great weather and were able to PR on a tough course after a morning spent waiting! Congratulations!
    Elizabeth recently posted…Week 1 (?): Indianapolis + Cold FrontMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France November 21, 2016 at 7:42 am Reply

      Thank you. So lucky, especially when I read about the crazy East Coast weather in the US this past weekend.
      But I did, I loved every second of that race.

  19. Courtney @ Eat Pray Run DC November 22, 2016 at 3:59 am Reply

    Loved reading this – you did such a great job. NYC is on my bucket list for sure 🙂
    Courtney @ Eat Pray Run DC recently posted…Annapolis Running Classic 10k Race RecapMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France November 22, 2016 at 11:11 pm Reply

      Thank you, it was a wonderful experience.

  20. Sharon November 22, 2016 at 6:23 am Reply

    Congrats!! You did awesome! I too would have problems running midday, but you still did great! I hope to do this marathon one day!

    • Karen - Fit in France November 22, 2016 at 11:10 pm Reply

      Thank you. Epic experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge