Race Recap – TCS New York City Marathon

Where does one start when telling the story of a 26.2 mile journey on foot through the 5 boroughs of New York City?!  Apologies in advance for what is sure to be an epic-ly long post, but I like to include as much as possible in my race recap posts both for myself when I go back and re-read them, and for those searching for information on a race.

So, without further ado, we’ll begin Sunday morning on Long Island at 4:30am…

Let’s just say the morning felt like a marathon in itself!  We literally were traveling via train, cab, ferry & bus for hours just to get to the starting line!

Here’s a quick run down of our morning “commute”:

4:30am – wake up/ shower

5:46am – train from Long Island to Penn Station 

6:30am – cab from Penn Station to Dan’s apartment 

7:05am – cab from Dan’s apartment to Staten Island Ferry

7:45am – ferry to Staten Island

8:30am (about) – bus from ferry terminal to Fort 

9:30am – arrive at Fort Wadsworth

9:50am – Wave 3 corrals open

10:30am – START!

That is SIX HOURS from the time we woke up to the time we started running!  (Granted, we could have stayed at a hotel in the city, but for $300+ a night I figured I could deal with waking up a little earlier!)

Staten Island Ferry/ Bus

The ferry terminal was definitely crowded with runners and you can bet I literally attached myself to Daniel & Pat for fear of getting separated from them!

ferry terminal

Interestingly enough, there was really no reason to be concerned about switching to the ferry or making sure we were all scheduled for the same time ferry since at no point did anyone check anything regarding our transportation choice or time (no sure if this was the same for the bus or not).

Once on the ferry we grabbed seats near the window on the Statue of Liberty side…

IMG_2328

…and eventually watched as the city grew smaller in the distance.

NYC from ferry

From the ferry we boarded busses that took us to the starting area at Fort Wadsworth…

Fort Wadsworth/ Start

I was bundled in layers of throw away clothes (and even brought a throw away blanket!) ready for our wait in the cold and wind on Staten Island.

The forecasted weather for the day included 25-30mph winds, with gusts even stronger than that – not ideal for a 26.2 mile run, especially one that includes so many bridges!  (For days leading up to the event I was having traumatizing flashbacks to the brutally windy Chanukkah Chalf Marathon!)

We even received an e-mail the morning of the race with this message:

**Due to high winds, we are reducing the amount of tenting, directional signage and other structures at the marathon staging areas at the start, along the course and at the finish. Personnel will be on hand to assist with directions.  All runners should dress appropriately for the cold and windy weather.  All official marathon transportation remains as scheduled. **

As soon as we got onto Staten Island boy did we feel that wind!

From the ferry we followed the crowds to the busses and after a slow moving ride we reached the starting area at Fort Wadsworth.

Fort Wadsworth

We somehow lucked out and timed all this travel just right so that by the time we got to the starting area our corral would be opening, so we really didn’t end up with as much “sitting and freezing in the cold” time as we had expected!

We followed the signs to the Orange starting village and corrals and after some confusion we stopped and asked a volunteer if we were headed in the right direction.  Apparently we weren’t.  We were told to NOT look at the signs, because the wind was so strong it had blown them all around and they weren’t even pointing in the right direction!

We finally made it to the Orange start village and funneled into our corrals.  A quick last minute bathroom break and we were moving towards the start – I had been so prepared for the long wait on Staten Island that I was actually kind of thrown off that it was time to run already!

corral selfie

I have to admit the start felt very anti-climactic.  I’m not sure if there is usually more signage that just wasn’t there because of the wind, but it felt like we were just walking down the street towards the bridge and then BAM – we were running!

bridge start

The Verrazano Bridge

Ok, so the bridge wasn’t as terrifying as I had imagined it to be, I didn’t get trampled  or have a panic attack (at least not then I didn’t) and I didn’t sit on the median and start crying.  (It certainly didn’t feel as overwhelmingly claustrophobic as the picture I posted a couple of weeks ago makes it look.)

Verrazano Bridge

We were on the left side of the upper deck, so we were treated to the view of New York City as we ran…and ran…and ran.  Man, that is one LONG bridge!  Just under 2 miles later we were safely on the other side, the largest elevation gain of the race in our rear view mirror and Brooklyn ahead of us…

Brooklyn

My goodness is Brooklyn long!

I honestly don’t know anything about Brooklyn or the different areas within it, so (apologies to any Booklyn-ites) this honestly could have been 11 miles through any random city streets for me.

The spectator support really was great though – for almost the entire time there was screaming, cheering, signs and snacks (although I somehow managed to miss seeing Katherine 😦

Danielle & Pat running

Photo by Daniel Wanderman

Given my disastrous last long training run, I wasn’t really sure what to expect out of my legs for this race. so I was happy that at the halfway point they were still feeling pretty good.

Daniel, Patrick & I had agreed that we’d do our best to stick together for the entire race if possible since we thought it would be more fun to experience the New York City Marathon with friends rather than to worry about running it for time.  (I’ll admit I had originally had a time goal, but given my not so great training and the ridiculous wind, I decided against trying for it.)

We crossed the 13.1 checkpoint at 2:09:32 (certainly faster than I had planned).

Firefighters high five

Photo by Daniel Wanderman

Queens

I had really been looking forward to getting to Queens because that’s where I was going to see Kellie!

If you don’t know Kellie, let me tell you this girl ROCKS.  She not only came out to watch us crazies running 26.2 miles in the ridiculous wind and cold, but she made a sign, had a huge Mike Wazowski balloon so we could easily spot her (no idea how she held on to the sign & balloon without either blowing away!) AND she came prepared with my favorite race day fuel – pretzels and orange juice!

I was so excited when I finally spotted her!

Kellie at 14

Photo by Daniel Wanderman

I gave her a quick (sweaty!) hug, she passed off my fuel and we were back on our way to tackle the Queensboro Bridge.

I did not like the Queensboro Bridge.

My Garmin lost satellite reception on the bridge which means that for the rest of the race my mileage and overall pace were off on my watch.  I wasn’t going for any sort of time goal at this point, but that still just made me NUTS!

We came around the turn at the end of the Queensboro Bridge and it was on to 1st Ave!

Manhattan

I’ve always heard that when you’re coming off the Queensboro Bridge and entering 1st during the marathon, the roar of the crowd is just unbelievable.

I’m not sure if they were just taking a break at the moment I ran by, but I distinctly remember thinking, “wow, it’s oddly quiet for there being so many people…”

I’d say the rest of 1st Ave made up for it though.  For the next 4 miles thousands and thousands of spectators cheered us along as we ran uptown (and just an FYI – “uptown” is most certainly uphill).

Danielle on 1st

Photo by Daniel Wanderman

1st Ave is also where we were keeping an eye out for our spectators!

First up we found our friend Christina…

Selfie with Christina

…and a mile or so later I finally spotted Olaf and Lightning McQueen!

balloons

Jason had picked up Olaf and Lightning McQueen balloons so we’d easily be able to spot him in the crowds and it definitely worked – I saw him from about a block away!

Seeing Jason at 18

The great thing about this stop was we pretty much got to see EVERYONE at once!  With Jason were my parents, my Cape Cod run club friend Stacey and a few of her friends (including the totally awesome Beth who ran NYCM last year and took the time a few weeks ago to answer all my silly little pre-race logistics questions!), my friend (since 1st grade!) Alex who I cheered for at NYCM last year, her husband and Daniel’s girlfriend Tana!

Jason at mile 18 (2)

Photo by Dominic Nardi

We definitely took a little time here to say hi (sorry for the sweaty hugs!) and take some pictures before we headed to yet another bridge to take a quick trip to the Bronx…

(Before we left, Jason asked if I wanted more pretzels & orange juice…I said no.  This was hands down my biggest mistake of the day…)

Bronx

The Bronx honestly lasted about maybe a mile and a half, but the damn bridges to get in and out of the Bronx were a real bitch (excuse the language, but it’s the only way to accurately describe them!).

Up until this point, around mile 21, I had felt pretty good.  The two bridges definitely took a lot out of me though and by the time we were back in Manhattan and ready to run up 5th I was definitely running out of steam…

Manhattan (again…)

So here’s a little secret – somehow all of Manhattan is built on a slight incline.

We ran uptown on 1st Ave…incline.

We ran downtown on 5th…incline.

I don’t get it.

About halfway down 5th I spotted the Olaf balloon again (apparently the wind got the best of McQueen somewhere between 1st & 5th).

We ran over to see Jason and my family again and this time I hugged Jason and I’m pretty sure I said, “I don’t want to run anymore.”

Jason Mile 23

Photo by Dominic Nardi

We were at mile 23.

When we started running again I knew I was spent.  This was the first time I had felt drained in a marathon.

I can’t say I “hit a wall”, cause I don’t think it was quite that bad, but I was definitely ready for it to be over.

I knew Dan still had a time goal in mind that he had been hoping to reach, so I kept telling Dan & Pat to go ahead if they wanted while I took the occasional short walk break.

Honestly, miles 24-26 were miserable for me.  I could see Dan & Pat ahead of me, but I just couldn’t keep up with them.  I was at a point where I KNEW I needed more fuel – and I HAD more right in my pocket! – but at the time it seemed like too much of an effort to get.  It seemed easier to just keep running and finish.

Central Park

Photo by Daniel Wanderman

I feel like I was sort of out of it and was so focused and just being done with the race that I really missed out on the excitement of running through Central Park with all the spectators cheering you towards the finish line.  I was literally in my own little world a) getting frustrated that I couldn’t keep up with Dan & Pat, b) worried that if I lost sight of them I’d never find them at the finish and c) thinking “I really can’t wait for this to be over”.

I remember seeing the finish line and briefly remembering to try to look around for my friend Karla who was announcing at the finish line, but again, I didn’t know where to look and the whole thing seemed like too much effort…

finish

Photo by Daniel Wanderman

…and before I knew it I was across the finish line.

For some reason the whole thing felt really anti-climactic.

Beyond the Finish Line

I was carried forward by the crowd of other finishers and someone handed me a medal, but I remember being much more interested in getting one of the heat sheets.

A volunteer handed me one and another volunteer put a piece of tape on the front so it would stay shut without having to hold it.

In front of me was a sea of mylar blankets and I couldn’t see Dan or Pat.  I seriously thought about making my way to the side, curling up on the grass and taking a nap.

finish mylar blanket

Photo by Daniel Wanderman

Next thing I knew though somehow Dan & Pat were right in front of me (they had finished about a minute and a half before me) and we were being handed bags with recovery fuel (Gatorade, water, apple, pretzels, etc.).

I KNEW I needed to eat/ drink something in that bag, but literally all I could think was, “This bag is so heavy.  Why would they give me such a heavy bag to carry when I just finished a marathon.  I can’t carry this bag.”

I was literally holding it with 2 hands and couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get anything out of it to eat/ drink since I needed both hands to hold it and I couldn’t quite verbalize to Dan or Pat that I needed help getting something.

Apparently I didn’t need to because Dan quickly handed me his water, and Pat opened and handed me a Gatorade and we continued to move forward with the crowd.

I remember seeing volunteers that had vests that said “Red Cross Spotter” on them.  They were there to identify people who weren’t looking so hot and may need a visit to the medical tent.

I was literally thinking, “I wonder how bad you have to look to be spotted?”, when suddenly someone grabbed my arm and said, “are you ok?”

I’m not sure I even answered him, I think I sort of leaned into him and next thing I knew he had both arms around me basically holding me up and was saying, “it’s ok, I got you, we’re going to go to the medical tent and they’ll take good care of you.”

At the entrance to the medical tent he passed me off to another volunteer who similarly held me up as we walked towards the tent, she asked if I needed anything and if I could walk and I remember handing her the heavy bag – I was so relieved to finally not have to hold it.  I had no idea if Dan and Pat had seen that I had gotten pulled aside and wasn’t with them any more.

The staff in the medical tent were fantastic.  I couldn’t stop shaking and I was definitely having a slight panic attack, but as soon as they sat me on a cot and wrapped me in blankets I started to calm down enough to drink some more water and Gatorade.

Eventually I noticed Dan and Pat were there with me and I asked Pat to text Jason to let him know where I was.  I also was finally able to communicate that I knew I needed to eat something, so Pat handed me the apple out of my bag.

(And if you really want a laugh, check out the guy behind me in this photo!)

medical tent 2

Photo by Daniel Wanderman

I started to feel human again and eventually they let me leave (and luckily with a blanket!).

We still had a ways to walk before we even got to the “no-baggage” ponchos and I quickly started shivering again.

When we finally got to the ponchos the volunteer was wrapping everyone up in one except me…

I think he thought because I had a blanket already that I wasn’t a priority, but at this point I was starting to shake pretty bad again and was on the verge of crying because he was ignoring me.  Thankfully Pat (who had been handed a poncho like 5 minutes before me!) stepped in and literally said to the guy, “could you please give my friend a poncho, she really needs one, she just left the medical tent.”

Finish Ponchos

Photo by Daniel Wanderman

Those ponchos may not look like much, but oh my goodness it was like being in a little cocoon!  I was so warm and cozy in there!

post race selfie

And with that we exited Central Park and were on the hunt for a cab to take us back to Dan’s apartment.  Our New York City Marathon journey was over.

Dan medal photo

Photo by Daniel Wanderman

2014 TCS New York City Marathon – 4:27:47*

(*The fact that this was over a 7 minute marathon PR was completely lost on me until well after the finish line when I was finally starting to feel human again*)

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51 thoughts on “Race Recap – TCS New York City Marathon

  1. First of all, awesome recap. I know mine is long, too, but like you said…gotta get in all those details. Plus, you got some great shots! I was a little sad I had to take the crappy NJ bus and miss all the views from the ferry, haha. Congrats again on the PR!

    You seriously rocked this race. I know you had your fears/concerns beforehand, but you totally killed it. I only wish I could have made it past 20 miles (or, hell, 15 miles) before I started to struggle. The bridges were NOT my friend, and even though I was thankful that it wasn’t nearly as bad as Chanukah Chalf, I know I let running against the wind affect me more than I should have.

    I would also like to know how it was possible that we just kept climbing up…and up…and up… And I totally agree that the start/finish were a little more anti-climactic than I would have expected.

    I knew the course would be a bit more challenging, than, say, the pancake-flat WDW Marathon…but honestly, if I had any idea I would have lowered my expectations right from the beginning, lol.

    I’ve never had to visit a medical tent (*knock on wood*) but I’m so glad someone spotted you and made sure you were taken care of!

    Also? Those ponchos felt AMAZING. ABSOLUTELY FREAKIN’ AMAZING.

    • So I honestly think because I had built the winds up to be like the Chanukkah Chalf in the days leading up to this race, that I was pleasantly surprised the whole time that they weren’t nearly as bad as I was expecting!

      And yes, those damn bridges were NOT friendly! I’d be happy if I never run over another bridge again!

  2. I shouldn’t laugh because you are in the med tent, but that guy behind you, seriously, how could he not tell, wouldn’t that get cold?

    Today we have weather very much like I saw in NYC, only it wasn’t sunny, it’s gray and overcast. I don’t know how anyone could’ve done a marathon in that wind and cold.

    • Haha, honestly, I was so out of it I had no idea that guy was even behind me or that my friend took a picture, but honestly I am sure glad he did because it’s hysterical!

      And yes, we’re fortunate that even though it was cold and windy, at least it was sunny!

  3. Awesome day and awesome recount of it. It was the coldest I have ever been and seeing my wife and kids in Central Park was just one of the most amazing feelings in my life. Fueling is the hardest part because you get so caught up in the excitement and the crowds you don’t realize until its too late… Great job, great time, great day! You should be really proud of yourself and no, your post is not too long!

  4. Love your pics!!! The one from the ferry is gorgeous!!! And that shot of you in the med tent, at first I was concerned from the look on your face then read your caption about looking at the guy behind you and I was like HAHAHAHAH OMG!!!! I’m glad you are ok and got a PR out of it, but man sounded like a tough race!!! Also I think the disney balloon idea is SO AWESOME! I totally need my mom to carry one when she goes to races with me so I can spot her easily 🙂

  5. Wow….I guess you were too out of it to be scared, but thankfully a volunteer got you help in the med tent. Those capes look fabulous and perfect after a cold race. By the way, your med tent photo is the best ever! haha Congrats on a 7 minute PR, that is fabulous with such difficult conditions.

    • I think I never got too scared because I knew I just needed some sugar and I’d be fine, I just couldn’t actually communicate that to anyone at the time! And yes, I’m so glad Dan took that picture, it’s hysterical!

  6. Congrats on an amazing PR under incredibly tough conditions and on a tough course!! I wasn’t joking when I said the second half of the race is way tougher than the first half. I know it was anticlimactic, but I hope you’re excited and feeling good about your PR now! I SO wish I had spotted you crossing the finish! And that guy’s crack is hilarious. Kellie is amazing and you got some great shots from the race. Now you can check this off your bucket list and never return to NYC again if you don’t want to 🙂

    • Oh my gosh, you were soooo right – the 2nd half was much harder than the first (especially when you’re totally under fueled!).

      I do with I wasn’t quite so spaced out the last few miles though so I could have at least appreciated the Central Park running and the finish line, it’s all such a blur!

  7. I’m glad you didn’t have any of the issues your imagined but I’m bummed this race didn’t go better for you. I cannot believe how long it took to get to tht start. That alone had to be exhausting!
    I remember the overwhelming mental fog when I wasn’t feeling well at the first princess half. I’m sure that was really rough during a marathon and I’m glad they got you some medical help. All things comsidered, you ran so well! And I love that photo of you and Jason. You look so happy to see him!
    Congrats on another PR and I know you’re glad to have this race behind you. 🙂

    • Yeah, the “journey” to Staten Island was crazy, I literally took 4 modes of transportation just to get to the start!

      And yes, that dazed and confused state I was in towards the end was terrible. Honestly, I can totally see how after you experienced that you had no interested in running again…if this had been my first marathon I’m not sure I’d have any interested in doing another.

  8. Great recap and amazing pictures!! I felt the same way at Mile 23 – I told my BF and friend… “I’m tired” … I wish I took in Central Park a bit more – it was so nice, but my brain and legs were fried at that point. I do like that they taped our heat sheets. When I got my food bag.. I thought “wow its so light”…well I was holding it upside down and my apple and pretzels had fallen out…oops!

    • I LOVED that they taped on the heat sheets! Honestly, I was so out of it at that point I don’t even know if I would have been able to hold it on so it was a relief when I didn’t have to worry about that!

      And I really wish I had “experienced” the Central Park part more…I feel like I totally missed it!

    • Thanks! I love taking pictures during races so I remember them and I’m lucky that the guys I run with are always taking pictures too so I end up with lots of great ones to choose from!

  9. Goodness! I’m so bummed that you had to visit the medical tents afterward. But am glad they were able to get you better fast. I’ve never pushed myself that far before, I bet it was scary.

    Congrats on finishing and the PR!

    • Thanks! I think the most frustrating part is that I don’t particularly feel like I “pushed myself” that hard…it really was a matter of under fueling, I think because I didn’t realize the extra energy the wind & bridges were using!

  10. Oh Danielle! I had no idea how bad it was at the end of the race for you! You looked like you were killing it and in great shape when I saw you! I still had more pretzels! I could’ve hopped on the subway and met you somewhere to give you more! You poor thing, but you are a ROCK STAR! Congratulations on an amazing PR in really rough conditions…

    Mike and I were SUPER excited to get to see/cheer/support you and be a fuel stop during this race! CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN! 🙂

    • Awww, thanks Kellie. Honestly, I had more fuel with me and Jason had pretzels when I saw him, but I stupidly didn’t take any because I didn’t realize how badly I needed it until it was too late! And then at that point it all just seemed like too much effort.

      Oh well, lesson learned! And I never got you your drink this weekend! I still owe you for being totally awesome!! : )

  11. So many things! I agree with so much and we had similar experiences. I’m so sorry about your finish but you’re a complete rockstar for finishing the NYCM! Congrats on your PR- that’s a seriously tough course and those weather conditions were insane.

  12. SO SO SO PROUD OF YOU!!!! Between the weather and your apprehensions going into the race, that 7 minute PR is INCREDIBLE!!
    Sorry to hear about your difficulty at the end of the race, but thankfully it was nothing too major. At least you have that great photo from the medical tent as a keepsake 😉
    Congrats on a great race and thank you for all the hard work you have done for North Shore Animal League ❤
    xoxo

    • Thanks Sarah! I really struggled leading up to the race stressing myself out about all the logistics and details, but in the end it went better than expected!

      Plus, it was great to know I was running for all the cute little puppies and kittens!

      • Here is what I wrote in my blog, “As we descended and took a hard left turn to cross under the bridge there were hundreds and hundreds of spectators — who were freezing in the wind and tired of cheering. The ‘wall of sound’ as it has been called had their breath taken away as they stood on the blustery shadows of the tall buildings. It was a flat moment for a lot of us.”

  13. Ugh the end of that race sounded scary … I’ve found that it is definitely hard to tell when you aren’t fueling and/or functioning properly. Things can take a turn so fast no matter how well you prepare! It seems like there were a lot of people around to take good care of you, though 🙂 Congratulations again on an amazing PR in the most ridiculous conditions! I’m sad I missed you too but happy I got to see you briefly before and after W&D!!! Yay!!!

    • Exactly, stuff went downhill so quickly towards the end I don’t even quite know where I went wrong!

      I’m glad we saw each other quickly too at Wine & Dine, I seriously think we need to plan some sort of race weekend NOT at Disney to all meet up at so we’re not all so busy doing Disney stuff all the time and can actually hangout!

  14. I had deja vu several times reading your recap — I also saw my husband at miles 18 and 23, and while I was feeling good at 18, I said something very similar to you at 23 — I think it was “I’m ready to be done. This is hard.” I had lost my friends at mile 16, so it was really the crowds that got me through those last few tough miles, along with the music I finally put on around mile 24. And after I crossed the finish line, everything hurt and I really wanted to hug someone and cry, but I was all by myself! I agree about the heaviness of the bag and how it seemed like way too much effort to extract anything from it. And the volunteer who put the poncho on me was like an angel from heaven wrapping me in an amazing cocoon of fleecy warmth… Yay, we survived!! And congrats, that’s an amazing PR!!

    • Oh no, I’m so sorry you lost your friends mid-race, that must have been so frustrating! And I felt the same way at the finish, I was much more ready to sit on the curb and cry than I was excited which was a first for me at a marathon finish. Oh well, lesson learned, next time MORE FUEL!

    • Pretty sure I just didn’t take in enough fuel to compensate for dealing with the wind & bridges – I was using a lot more energy than usual! Luckily as soon as I ate something I felt a lot better, I just needed some sugar!

  15. Congrats on your PR!

    I did the same thing as you with the recovery bag, when they handed it to me, the only thing I could think was ‘This thing is so heavy!’ and I didn’t take anything out of it. The first thing I did when I found my family was hand that damn bag over to my Dad to carry.

  16. So, I’m thinking about a February marathon – I’d be jumping in a few weeks into the training program but just ran a half yesterday so I have a good base. I know you only ran 3 days a week and I just wondered if you got your runs from a site or if you made your own, if you incorporated any speed work and how you felt overall about how the training program worked for you?
    Congrats on your PR BTW!!!

    • Hi Theresa! So I kind of do a combination of using plans I’ve found as a template and customizing it a little to fit my schedule. I started with the Jeff Galloway plans that are on the runDisney site (without the run/ walk & not using his suggest 20+ mileage runs) and recently I started checking out the Run Less, Run Faster plan with is 3 runs a week and 2 days a week of cross training although I am the first to admit I have been terrible at getting in all the cross training & speedwork it prescribes.

      I’ve done 5 marathons now all with 3 runs a week (except Dopey which I did 4), feel free to e-mail me though and I’m happy to give you some more info! LiveRunGrow@gmail.com

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