A New York State of Panic.

So last week I was sitting on my couch flipping through Runner’s World (you know, the one I’m IN!!)

Runners World Photo…and I came to this ad:


For anyone that doesn’t know, that is a picture of runners going over the Verazzano Bridge at the start of the New York City Marathon.

I’m sure a lot of people look at this picture and think – “WOW, how exciting!”

I think – “HOLY CRAP.”

In an effort to keep from having a panic attack I tweeted the picture to see if anyone else felt the same way as I did…

…and luckily I found a kindred spirit in Nicole who clearly has the same (totally rational) fear I did when she saw it.

(I mean really, why do they even use that picture for an ad??  It’s terrifying!)

I think it’s safe to say that it’s no secret that I’m a little bit nervous about the New York City Marathon because my training certainly didn’t go as well as I had hoped between moving and starting a new job, and then of course I finished it up with the world’s worst long run (seriously, those hills are going to kick my butt!).

But unfortunately it doesn’t end there.

I am literally scared about having a panic attack on that bridge.

I may be just the slightest bit claustrophobic and that thing is PACKED.

And everyone is running.


A really really really reeaaallly LONG bridge.

I’d say there is about a 75% chance I’m going to get on that bridge, start hyperventilating, have a panic attack and you’ll either find me a) clinging to the side for dear life crying or b) trampled.

And before I even get to the bridge I’m scared I’m not going to be able to find my friends!

We had to choose our transportation to get to Staten Island way back in July and at the time I went back and forth between choosing the bus or the ferry.

I have a slight tendency towards motion sickness, and I know it’s just a ferry, but why chance it before running 26.2 miles?!  The bus sounded like the safer option.  My friends who I plan on running with chose the ferry.  I figured we’d just meet up on Staten Island.

I mean how hard can it be to find 2 people among 50,000+??!

I know – cell phones!

But what if because the other 50,000 people are trying to find THEIR friends too the cell phone signals are all jammed and texts won’t go through and I never find them and I’m all by myself as I wait to get onto the Verrazano Bridge to have a panic attack and get trampled??!

What if I manage to find my friends, make it over the Verrazano Bridge, run 26.2 miles through New York City and then finish in Central Park and my phone is dead by then and I can’t find my family and I’m wandering around New York City lost and tired and hungry??

I know I should make a pre-determined meeting point (and I will), but I still need to actually manage to get to said meeting point when my brain isn’t working after having gotten up at 5am, sitting on Staten Island until I start at 10:30am and then running 26.2 miles…

There’s a good chance at that point you’ll find me sitting on a curb somewhere crying and wondering how the other 50,000 people are figuring this out without having epic meltdowns.  (Hmmm…maybe I should put an “If lost please return to” sign on the back of my race shirt…)

I’m sure about half of you are thinking, “wait, didn’t Danielle used to live in New York??  AND work in New York City??”


Confession:  Not only do I seriously dislike New York (which you probably already knew), but I am beyond overwhelmed by New York City.  I’m pretty much intimidated by getting around the city to begin with, let alone when I need to get from Long Island to Staten Island at 5am, find 2 friends out of 50,000 people, run 26.2 miles (which I don’t feel well trained for) and then manage to find my family afterwards when I’m cold, tired and hungry.  (**Note this does not apply to all cities, I’m perfectly fine navigating my way around Boston or DC.  Heck, I even traveled cross country with a friend for a month years ago BEFORE GPS – we used MAPS!)

Yes, I recognize that I am totally over thinking this (right??), but this is what has been going through my head the past few weeks and why I can’t manage to muster up much enthusiasm for this race.  (I mean how can one muster enthusiasm when all of ones energies are going towards NOT having a panic attack??)

 Deep breaths…

Ok, well now that you all think I’m completely nuts – PLEASE HELP ME!

Have you ever been nervous before a race for NON running reasons??

Any tips for staying calm? (or finding my friends??)

Oh, and if you see me sitting on a curb in New York City crying at any point throughout marathon weekend please come help me!  Or just give me a hug (sorry if I’m sweaty!).  Or maybe buy me a snack…  

P.S. – I’ll be wearing my blue North Shore Animal League shirt!

20 mile run selfie

**NOTE:  Please know that I hope this post doesn’t come out sounding whiny or unappreciative for the opportunity to run the New York City Marathon – I am beyond grateful to everyone who donated to my fundraising for North Shore Animal League, in fact, that’s what keeps me motivated to train – I really wrote it in hopes of getting some assurance that my race day isn’t going to be as disastrous as I’m imaging it to be!**

30 thoughts on “A New York State of Panic.

  1. I loathe the crowdedness of race starts, and though I live in NYC and must navigate it every day, the NYC Marathon seems especially overwhelming. I guess you’re supposed to be inspired by that Verrazano photo, but I’m not sure how claustrophobia could be inspirational. I’ve been running in NYRR events all year, and I still can’t get over how I was smushed on the most crowded train of my life and how long it took me to get settled at the Brooklyn Half in May … and that’s HALF THE SIZE of the marathon! And the herd mentality was so insane for the Staten Island Half this year, I cannot imagine what it’d be like on marathon day.

    OK, this is totally not helping, I’m sure, but I just wanted you to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE in fearing this stuff, and still I usually manage to find people and get in corrals and cross the starting line without any incidents, and things always get better from there! I’m sure it’ll be daunting BUT IT WILL BE WORTH IT.

    I haven’t decided what I’m putting on my sign yet but you’d best believe I will be out by my apartment in Brooklyn, between miles 10.5-11, from what I can tell from the course map, and I will remind you and Nicole to look for me!!!

    • I agree, claustrophobia and panic attacks do not = inspiration to me! What that add says to me is: “Running is crazy! Stay home in bed under the safely of your nice warm blankets!”

      I really need to make a list of where everyone is going to be so I remember to look! I’ll need details – side of the street, what the building you’re near looks like, etc!

  2. Oh Danielle, of course others get crazed about the logistics of a race. I even had some nerves about the logistics of the marathon here in my city….how nuts is that? And I had Tom driving me to the shuttle and then on the course the entire time. The mental aspect of any race is the killer whether it is the logistics or the race itself. You will be fine, but please plan a meeting spot ahead of time! 🙂

    • Thanks Pam, I’m not sure why this race is really getting to me more than others, but I’ve been having such anxiety about it! I wasn’t even this nervous before my first marathon!

  3. Hey dani, I don’t know anything about running but I do have a fear of bridges. Every time I drive over one, I just keep my mind focused on something and don’t allow myself to think of anything else until I have made it over the bridge. Maybe u can focus as you said,on the cause for running and what a great experience it will be. 🙂 good luck, auntie grace

    • Hi Auntie Grace!! Thanks for leaving a comment – I totally remember how much you hate bridges! I love that idea of focusing on something else…actually maybe I should keep a picture of Madison with me so I can look at it to keep me calm!!

  4. I think you are going to be fine. I really do. I know you didn’t get in the amount of training you were hoping for, but you’ve had some MAJOR life changes these past couple of months, and you did the best you could. That’s all you can do, right?!

    The way I see it, if you can survive Dopey, you can survive ANYTHING, haha. 😉 But in all seriousness, you may not be at your optimal level of training, and, yes, I’m sure navigating the crowds and waiting hours for the start and finding your friends/family and all of the other PITA race-day logistics will be a hassle — and can be downright scary — but all I can say is try to soak it all in and enjoy the experience. Life got a little bit in the way of my training, too…so even though I have a couple of time goals, I’m trying to remain focused on the experience/fun/excitement of it all. Especially since you are running for such a great cause! Just be as prepared as you possibly can for race day and all the “what-ifs” (believe me, I’m having them too!) and go with it. 🙂

    You’ve got this, I know it. No panic attacks!

    P.S. What wave/color/corral are you in?!

    • I’m in Orange Wave 3, B – you??

      It definitely has been a busy/ overwhelming couple of months and I’ve shifted my training goals from a time goal to really just making it through this race without it being a miserable experience!

      Hopefully I’ll find my friends and be able to stay with them the whole race which should really help!

      • I’m sure it won’t be! And whether you end up running with friends or not, you’ll be fine! Whether or not it’s ends up being your finest race performance, there’s no way the NYCM can be completely miserable, right?!

        I’m also in Orange, Wave 3 — but I’ll be in F. Hope to catch up with you there! I’ll be the one huddled on the ground all by myself…sad, lonely, waiting for 4 hours to start, lol… 😉

  5. Wow, as if I needed another reason to NEVER run NYC marathon: claustrophobic + fear of bridges = that picture is my worst nightmare!

    But you can totally do this, you’ll be over that bridge in no time! And by the time you get to me and your onion bagel with cream cheese in Queens the insane crowd will have thinned out. YOU CAN DO IT!

  6. Maybe the camera angle has something to do with that picture? I know putting your head down isn’t good in a race, but if that’ll help get over the bridge, just look at the feet in front of you. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

  7. Looks like that little “If I’m lost, please return to…” temporary tattoo trick for kiddos at Disney World might come in handy… 😉

    Don’t start stressing out over the small details. Everything will work out and you will conquer that bridge, and NYC – no doubt! Good luck!

    • Oh my goodness, where can you get those??! I kinda of want to put one on my arm or something as a joke (or not a joke…) now!

      Thank you so much for your comment, writing this post and getting all those worries out there on “paper” has been really helpful, not to mention all the amazing words of advice and votes of confidence!

  8. Having never run a marathon, and with very little experience navigating NYC, I don’t have much advice to give except that other people do this all the time. You’ve done it before, and you’ll do it again. Remember that you’re running for a good cause, and you love running (right?), and that you’ve got friends who will be cheering you on and giving you bagels and love 🙂

    • Oh my goodness, I LOVED LOVED LOVED Marine Corps! Are you worried about the running or logistical stuff?? If you have any questions about race day or logistics let me know, happy to help if I can!

      You’ll do great though!

  9. Hey Dani…. what kind of snacks to you want AT THE FINISH LINE…! I have read all of the responses thus far… you have tremendous support. I particularly like the idea of having a picture of Maddie with you for the bridge crossing particularly.

  10. Hi Danielle! I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while and am also running NYCM after a less than ideal training cycle…And like you, I’m having a lot of anxiety surrounding the logistic of the race, particularly getting to the start (I’m also on the bus from Midtown!), and having to wait around for so long before we actually start running (I’m in Blue wave 4). I’m hoping I can just get in a zen state of mind and go with the flow — maybe I’ll beg my yoga teacher’s super-soothing yogi playlist… And I’m hoping the whole ordeal will be one of those bonding-with-strangers experiences that only come along once in a while, where everyone is excited and nervous about taking on the same great endeavor… Anyway, just wanted to let you know that you’re not the only one freaking out a bit, if that helps! Is there anywhere in midtown-isn Manhattan that you’d recommend for a pre-race dinner? Thanks, and good luck!! I’ll keep an eye out for you 🙂

    • Hi Becca! Thank you so much for commenting – it’s always exciting to hear from readers who have been following along for awhile!

      As much as I’m sorry to hear you’re nervous/ freaking out a bit as well, it’s honestly so good to hear that it’s not just me (and makes me feel a little better about writing about it!). I think you’re right though, I think I’m going to have to channel my inner yogi and just focus on breathing and staying calm!

      A few friends and I are going to Lugo Cucina for dinner Saturday night, we only chose that because it’s right across from Penn Station and I need to hop on the train to go back to Long Island – I’m personally terrible with all things NYC, so I’m not the best person to ask for restaurant recommendations!

      I hope you have a GREAT race – please leave me a comment/ e-mail/ tweet/ FB post and let me know how it goes for you – and if you do see me make sure to say hello!!

  11. First off, big hugs!! Second, do you want to hear a crazy story? The last time I ran NYC I was in my corral and realized that standing behind me was one of my best friends. We didn’t find each other in the village but managed to be accidentally standing next to each other in the corral of 15,000 people. We started jumping up and down and screaming like game show contestants. Every time I’ve run the race, I’ve managed—through planning or providence—to find the people I was looking for. I’ve also never had a cell phone problem in the 4 times I’ve been at the starting village. It’s NYC: the cell towers can handle 50,000 calling and texting at once. So don’t fret over that. The bridge: my best advice is stay to the side of the corral so that you’re not in the thick of the people. Everyone will try to be on the left side for the view of Manhattan. So if you try to get to the right side, it may not be as crowded. And finally: I’ll be one of the announcers at the finish, so just think of me or one of the other announcers calling your name when you finish! You got this! Deep breaths…

    • Thanks for the bridge tip – I’m definitely willing to sacrifice my view of the city for a little more personal space!

      I’m sure I’m just over thinking all of this, but for some reason the logistics of this race are getting to me and it’s overwhelming me more than the run itself!

      I’ll be sure to keep an eye/ ear out for you at the finish, I’ll be so excited if it’s you that says my name! : )

  12. Just think, HEAVY vehicles drive along that bridge, so its easy peasy having runners on the bridge instead 🙂 You can do it! Just take it one mile at a time! And if you run in the middle of the crowd, you might not “know” you are on the bridge 🙂

    • It’s actually not so much the fact that it’s a bridge, I don’t mind bridges…it’s more of a claustrophobia thing…like I’m STUCK on the bridge with so many people and can’t get off/ escape! I’d actually prefer to be more towards the end where I feel like there’s a little breathing room vs. trapped in the middle!

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