Although Vegas will always be special because it was my first marathon, I think NYC takes the cake for best experience. This race was awesome. Almost a surreal experience.
But starting from the beginning, I got up at 4:15am to catch a taxi at 5am from the hotel to the State Island Ferry terminal. (When you register, the race decides what’s your mode of transportation to the start is and when you have to be there)
I got a lot of compliments on my throwaway outfit; this snuggie-like robe was actually pretty sweet. I got it at Goodwill for $6.99 because it was cheaper than buying a sweatshirt and pants. It was easy to get in and out of and really warm. The gloves were from the $1 bin at Target and the hat was bought from a street vendor here.
I split the cab fare with another runner and we arrived at the ferry terminal with hundreds of other runners. Ferries were running every 15 minutes; I got on the 5:30am. Once we got to Staten Island, we got on buses which took us up to the start village at Fort Wadsworth; the start village was enormous: there was basically 3 separate villages for each of the 3 waves.
They were very strict with security; you had to show your bib over and over to different people. I read that 3.6 miles of chain link fence were used to section off the start village which was the size of 17 football fields. I got there around 6:30ish and the race didn’t start until 9:40. Thankfully they had coffee, hot cocoa and tea, hot water, bagels, Powerbars, Gatorades.
At 8:20 the first blue corral opened so I got in it around 8:30. It closed at 8:55, and if you didn’t make it in, you had to wait for the next color corral 30 minutes later. At 9am we started moving forward even though the race didn’t start for another 40 mins.
The first mile was up and across the Verrazano Bridge; it was really cold from the wind and super crowded. Actually the whole race was crowded but the first miles were insane. Mile 1, 8:45. Mile 2 you went down the bridge, 7:45. nice pacing, hmmm. I figured I was going to be doing a lot of weaving throughout the race, running the tangents was out of the question, my pacing would probably be stupid and that was ok with me. I was just going to enjoy it and not worry about any of that.
The first 10 miles just flew by. They were so exciting, and there were so many people cheering, it was awesome. That’s the only way I can describe it really. At 10 I took a GU and for the first time felt that I was running and not dreaming, but I felt really good. In fact, I felt good the whole race.
(Disclaimer: I know this race recap is almost cheesy but I have no other way to describe the event… it was that awesome. Or I am that illiterate and bad with words. You pick.)
I tried to get into a comfortable pace where I was taking it all in and enjoying it but not jogging either. I passed the half at 1:46 and was happy with that time. The course is all rolling hills, not San Francisco hills but more like crossing a long bridge hills. At mile 15 we crossed another bridge and that was probably the longest incline of the course, but coming off the bridge at mile 16 was my favorite part of the entire course. There was so much energy from the crowds.
It felt like there were a million people in that mile section cheering. It was like you were a part of the Olympics sprinting for the finish, people were going insane cheering, screaming, yelling. 16-17 were dreams; it was like you were famous being cheered on by the whole world. I know, cheesy but that’s how it felt. Mile 18 I took a GU and finally turned on my music because I was getting tired and I was hoping at that point to finish in the low 3:30’s.
My hips and legs started to ache, but it didn’t get really tough until mile 22. Normally it’s at 20 where you want to die, but yesterday it was 22 when the miles started dragging out. I took my final GU at mile 22 and tried to keep up a steady pace; even though I was super tired, I still felt really good. Finally we made it to Central Park and I knew we were close.
Again, the crowd support the last few miles was incredible. Every step felt like you were at the finish because the people were cheering so loud. The last 2-3 miles I really pushed hard, or at least it felt like it. It was strange how much energy I had, and I was flying. At mile 25 I ran by Bachelor star Andy Baldwin and had to take a picture; this is for you Diana, who told me to beat all the celebrities.
The last half mile seemed to take forever, and I was all out running as fast as I could. Finally the finish! I finished in 3:29:28. 4796 overall, 603 woman, and 140 in my age division.
I was really happy with my time; I had hoped for mid 3:30’s so a sub 30 was great, but besides the last few miles, I never felt like I was really running hard. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed the race was so much, it was just fun.
I don’t know how to describe it, but this is a race of a lifetime; every runner should do it once. The crowd support, the energy, the largeness of it all, it’s over the top in a good way. It was just amazing. The best race I’ve run to date. You’re running the largest marathon in the world, with 45,000 other runners and a millionbillion spectators who are cheering for you like family; it’s like the whole city turns out for the race.