Where to begin?
While I definitely don’t recommend two marathons in 4 weeks, I have no regrets … Steamtown was everything I wanted it to be in terms of pacing, and NYC did not disappoint as one amazing experience!
The only downside of NYC, like Boston, is the logistics. It is a long morning. I left my house at 4:30 am to catch one of many 5am buses transporting NJ runners into the city. My friend Jen and I shared an Uber and rode the bus together. We got to Staten Island by 5:45… my start time was 9:50, and hers was 11:00am!
We found the correct athlete villages, ate our packed breakfast and sat in the grass. I packed a bagel with pb and a banana for breakfast part one, and ate that around 6am and drank Performance (electrolytes).
We relaxed in the dark for awhile and then went to meet up with Sandra. I hung out with her for the next hour or so, catching up and discussing our race plans!
By 8am, I ate a Picky Bar (cookie doughness) and had a few more bites of a plain bagel that was available, and ate a few of my Honey stinger chews. I felt full, but the start time would “feel like” 11am with the hour time change and I didn’t want my stomach to be hungry for lunch as I was at the beginning of a marathon.
I wasn’t paying attention to the corral info and when I finally got around to finding my corral line up, it was just closing at 9am for the 9:50 group! Thankfully, they let me sneak in.
We stood in the corral and slowly inched our way to the start. At 9:45, there were a few announcements, the National Anthem, and we were off with a serious BOOM!
I was purely running by feel… my watch died last week, and I decided it was a blessing in disguise and that I would run blind. With a hard marathon just 4 weeks earlier, I knew I needed to keep the pace easy and focus on enjoying the course and the energy of the city.
The race starts up over the Verrazano-Narrows bridge and is one of the larger hills of the course, which definitely helped me ease in more slowly. When I got to the one mile clock, it read 11 minutes and I assumed I ran it in 9 something. By mile 3, it said 28 minutes, so again, I assumed I was running around a 9 minute pace which was right where I wanted to be.
I didn’t realize until mile 9 when I saw the 3:30 pacer that I was running closer to an 8 minute pace – much faster than I had planned! I tried to back off the pace a little at that point.
This race was definitely crowded. As the few different lanes merged (somewhere around mile 10 or 11?) it was tight and could have been frustrating with a goal time in mind, but there were other times where it thinned out a bit.
By mile 15, we had a long climb across a bridge and the lack of spectators was suddenly striking. The course is packed with people cheering from start to finish. Spectators were not allowed on the bridge so as we peaked the hill, several runners cheered and we encouraged each other up and over!
I felt really good until about mile 19 or 20- at that point, my legs started to feel heavy and fatigued. Cardiovascular-ly, I felt great but my legs were ready to be done. I just focused on one mile at a time from that point on.
But that was also a really fun section of the course- coming down through Manhattan toward Central park, where I saw a few friends out cheering. (I missed Christine at mile 7, unfortunately!)
From the clocks, I knew that as long as I maintained a 9-10 minute per mile pace, I’d come in around 4 hours which was perfect.
I reminded myself that this race was not about pushing myself, so I started walking through the water/Gatorade stops to boost recovery. That definitely helped. I felt strong up the final hill in Central park, but wow, I had forgotten how much longer those last 4 miles are than every other mile in a marathon! It’s amazing how long it feels when you’re ready to be done!
When I finally approached the finish line, I still had no idea what time I had run. It wasn’t until my husband texted me with my results (3:43) that I realized I ran much faster than I intended to! But I felt good- and that was the goal.
As we walked the final 1/2 mile to bag check, I was amazed at the difference between this race and my 3:23 race in Scranton: after Steamtown, I was inching along, as most of the runners were around me on Sunday. This time, because I conserved energy, I was walking normally and passing the other hobbling runners. That was an encouragement that I didn’t push too hard.
I got my checked bag, pulled on warmer clothes, and walked to the subway to make my way back to Port Authority to catch the bus home. I felt really good Sunday night and Monday. I can tell that I need to back off and rest for a week, but I don’t have the soreness I had after Steamtown. I’m in awe that my body was up for the back-to-back marathons!
My body is so much stronger than it has ever been. In the past, I’ve always gotten injured when increasing distance and there is no way I could have run two marathons back to back. Since religiously using the Vitalizer and protein, my bone density increased, my muscle mass increased and body fat decreased. I know that has been the single greatest factor in my successful racing this past year.
In terms of nutrition mid-run, I worked my way through one Clif gel from miles 5-10, and another one from miles 13-20. My stomach did not want any more after that, but I started taking in some Gatorade over those last few miles to make sure I had enough in me.
At the finish, I ate the apple and pretzels in our bags, drank all of the water, and then ate the protein Power bar on the bus ride home. By the time I made it home, my husband had made grass fed burgers, sweet potato fries and a chicken curry rice noodle soup. The burgers hit the spot (plus 3 of the chocolate chip cookies I made Saturday!) and the soup has been amazing for lunch every day this week.
I doubt I will ever run two marathons so close together again, but I loved running the NYC marathon! The crowds are truly amazing- that energy absolutely carried me through.
For a goal race, I prefer smaller races in terms of logistics… less waiting at the start time and an easier time for spectators to actually see whoever it is they are out there cheering for! I wouldn’t necessarily recommend NYC as a ‘goal race’, but for an amazing experience, NYC is a must!
Do you prefer large or small races?
Is NYC on your bucket list?