Thoughts on the New York City Marathon

In the weeks since the New York City Marathon I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my feeling on the whole experience.  Yes, it’s THE NEW YORK CITY MARATHON, the largest marathon in the WORLD, and I am incredibly fortunate to have been able to run it, but as many of you know, I was on a bit of an emotional roller coaster leading up to the race.

Now that I’ve had some time to write my recap and process the entire experience, I wanted to share some of my thoughts.

I’ve split it up into two different sections – Personal Lessons and Thoughts on the New York City Marathon.  Hopefully if you’re ever thinking about running the New York City Marathon (or any marathon!) some of this will help you!

Expo Finish Line

Personal Lessons

I Have Amazing Family & Friends

From everyone that donated to my fundraising for North Shore Animal League to run this race, to the family & friends who came out and stood for hours in the cold and wind to support me while I ran, and ESPECIALLY Daniel and Patrick who I ran with (almost) the entire 26.2 miles that day, I couldn’t have done this without all of you, and for that I’m very thankful!

Seeing Jason at 18

Don’t Register for a Race You’re Not Genuinely Excited For

I registered for the New York City Marathon because I felt like as someone who runs marathons, I “had to” run New York.  I am not someone who loves New York.  I was born and raised right outside of New York City and honestly couldn’t wait to move away (if I’m being honest, New York City overwhelms the heck out of me!).

While I was excited to be fundraising for an amazing cause, I never quite got excited about running this race, and therefore I had a hard time really getting into my training and spent a lot of time stressing about it.  The marathon distance is a lot to commit to if you’re not excited about the actual race.

I’m Capable of More Than I Think

This seems to be a reoccurring theme for me.  I hate to admit it, but when it comes to training, I’m a bit lazy.  I get in all of my runs, but I don’t really do any speed work, and I don’t push myself out of my comfort zone often (this needs to change!).

I didn’t expect to PR in New York.  My training was average at best (got in all my runs, but certainly didn’t go above and beyond), and I mentioned several times to people that New York wasn’t really a “PR type of course” with the many (many!) bridges and 50,000 people (and then add in 30+mph winds and all PR thoughts were out the window!).

Well, not only did I completely unexpectedly PR by over 7 minutes, but I did it pretty much running on empty for the last few miles (see my recap!).

It makes me wonder what I could have run if I a) trained hard, b) fueled better, c) was running a flat course, and d) wasn’t battling crazy wind…

Danielle on 1st

Thoughts on the New York City Marathon

The Course & Scenery

First of all, the spectator support during this race is incredible, I certainly won’t deny that, and I did enjoy the race overall more than I expected.  However, and I certainly know I am in the minority when I say this, the course really didn’t do anything for me.

It is very cool that you run through all 5 boroughs, but you really don’t run by any landmarks or interesting sites – the only landmark I remember seeing is the Statue of Liberty and that was on the ferry ride to the start!


Other than that, I could have been running through any random city streets (again, I don’t know the city very well, so it could just be me!), I really preferred the Marine Corps Marathon where you run by numerous DC Landmarks along the way, I felt like there was always something to look at!

The Logistics

SO many logistics to worry about with this race!  The several hour journey to the start.  Sitting at the start in the cold.  Bag check or no bag check?  Meeting family & friends after the race in crazy Central Park.  Finding my friends if I lose them…

I’ll admit that I was certainly more stressed than I needed to be about a lot of these little details in the weeks leading up to the race, but I don’t do particularly well with the unknown and it was really bothering me that I didn’t know much about how the whole day was going to go.  Luckily a few friends really helped out and answered a ton of my questions, but the whole thing was still sort of overwhelming for me!

ferry terminal

Staten Island Ferry Terminal Race Morning

Bridges, Bridges, and More Bridges

And then MORE bridges!  And if you weren’t ON a bridge, then you were running on slightly inclined streets that LED TO ANOTHER BRIDGE!

If you’re going to run this race TRAIN ON HILLS!  (Or bridges, or parking ramps, or mountains, whatever you have in your area that’s NOT flat!)  In hindsight, I managed the hills/ bridges better than I feel like I should have given my lack of hill training, but they really started to take their toll in that second half.


Despite all the stressing leading up to the race, I really did enjoy it more than I expected and I’m glad I did it, but I certainly didn’t get that “THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE” feeling that so many people talk about when they talk about running the New York City Marathon (that was much more my first Disney marathon! And everyone after!)

I’m not sure if there will be another NYCM in my future or not.  I’m leaning towards “not” since I didn’t love it and there are so many other great races to do out there, but there’s a small part of me that’s curious as to what I could have run that course in if I was better trained, better fueled and less windblown, so I won’t say “never” quite yet.

The two biggest things I’ve taken away from this race are that I’m really eager to find a spring marathon to really train well for so I can see what I’m capable of, and that not every race is for every person and that’s ok!

NYCM Finish PhotoAnyone running a spring marathon I should consider?

What race is on your bucket list?

16 thoughts on “Thoughts on the New York City Marathon

  1. I don’t have a ton of experience myself, but I can definitely say I’ll be heading toward marathons I can park my car at… the logistics of big cities just seem insane when you add it to also running 26.2 miles! Also, I watched The Ginger Runner’s video of the NYC course this year and thought to myself, man, it’s not very pretty… That being said, I think it’s pretty epic that you’ve checked this box in life! CONGRATS on an incredible race!

    • Yeah, I don’t think I’d love a really small marathon where you get spread out and feel like you’re running alone, I do like the race environment, but this was a little too much! Definitely looking for something mid-sized for my next full : )

      And yes, I totally felt like the course was kind of boring and not so pretty, but then again I figured that was me just not loving New York!

      • I guess I can see that idea, of racing with a bigger field! Maybe I’ll look for one of those where you hop on the bus right near your hotel 🙂 In the meantime, I’m looking at more in Vermont, Hudson River Valley, Maine…. I wish I had some strong connection to a city, maybe someday!

  2. So true that not every race is for everyone. It’s funny, I’m from Chicago and I kind of felt the same way about the Chicago Marathon. It was very “Meh” for me, whereas I LOVE the NYC Marathon. And you are definitely capable of so much more than you think. Personally? I think you have a 4 hour marathon in you in the not so distant future if you hits point a-d above. Just saying 🙂 As for spring races, I’m eyeing LA! But it’s the same day as the NYC half, so I might be working. If you want something close to home, the Providence Marathon in May is relatively flat. It’s a much smaller race, but I did the half and enjoyed it.

    • Oh I’d love to do LA! I think I need to look for something with a few less travel costs though! I was actually looking at Providence the other day and a friend suggested the Shamrock races down in Virginia…I think March or April would be ideal.

      And I agree, I think with some training I could really knock some time off my marathon! 4 hours may be a bit ambitions (then again, I always sell myself short!), I was thinking more around 4:10-4:15, but we’ll see how it goes!

  3. Besides the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan, I really don’t know of any bigtime landmarks in NYC. DC sounds great, and I think London would be so much fun. Landmarks and history.

    • I know, it’s funny, when I stopped and thought about it I was actually surprised that there really aren’t any “sights” or landmarks in New York, it’s kind of weird!

      And yes, I’ve done 2 races in DC and I just loved running through all of the history there!

  4. I have the perfect race for you and a place to stay with home cooking! How about the Quintiles Marathon in Wilmington, NC? We have a nice guest bedroom, and I am sure someone from my running group will be running a marathon at your pace. And you know I won’t be running this race again in 20-15, because I will be in Boston in April! So excited.

    • Hmmm…interesting… Christine also suggested the Shamrock Marathon. I was hoping to find something local so I wouldn’t have the expense of flights, but I’ll definitely look into these two – if the flights aren’t bad then it may be worth the trip!

  5. Yep — agree with pretty much everything here. I had a blast with the PEOPLE along the course, but not necessarily the course itself. You’re right — there really wasn’t all that much to “see!” I’ve definitely learned the hard way that you can’t sign up for a race that you’re not truly excited about, so I’m with you there!

    I loved running NYC, but the “best day of my life” experience was also, not surprisingly, the WDW Marathon…NOTHING tops that one! Haha. 😉

    Also? I have to second the thought that you could freakin’ KILL IT in a marathon with the right training! No question about it!

    • I don’t know, there’s just something about being a Disney fan and getting to run through all the parks when they’re not open (or when they are and seeing all the guests watch you run!) and having characters all along the way that really is magical and can’t be beat!

  6. Yep, pretty much agree with everything here! I loved the PEOPLE along the course, but not so much the course itself. And not just ‘cuz it was hilly. 😉 There really wasn’t all that much to “see!”

    I definitely learned the hard way that you can’t/shouldn’t sign up for a race you’re not truly excited about. Also? I would have to second that thought that you could freakin’ KILL IT in a marathon with the right training — no question about it!

    I loved running NYC, but I definitely wouldn’t put it up there with the WDW Marathon…now THAT had “best day of my life” potential. 😉

  7. This is all completely reasonable … it would be kinda crazy if you were positively in love with every race/course ever. The main reason I’m really excited about running the NYC Marathon next year is that I WON’T HAVE TO GO ANYWHERE. It’s fun to run all over the country when I have the time and money — and at this point, I think it’s weird when I go somewhere and DON’T run a race — but I also think it would be nice to come home from a marathon for once in my life and lie down in my own bed!

  8. Those are definitely good lessons! You are definitely capable of more than you think! That is weird about the scenery. Running through Times Square and Central Park were definitely the highlight of doing the NYC Half.

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