Whatever anyone has told you about the New York City Marathon is probably most definitely true.
Twenty six hours post-finish line I am ready (meaning, I finally am sitting comfortably without experiencing pain everywhere in my body) to tell the tale.
The morning started as a #blessed experience as we hung out in the heated version of my Instagram feed at the VIP tent. The hype was growing and the energy was great. When people say that Starters’ Village looks like a refugee camp, they mean it. Everyone looks homeless. Yes, even in the “VIP” tent.
I was worried about the hours dragging and the nerves building, but the morning zipped by us. We watched the professional women, men and Footlocker Five Borough Challenge crew start and then it occurred to me that I, also, have to run a marathon today.
Squeezing into our corral, 10 minutes shy of our gun (massive explosion) time, we were OFF. So, here we go. Queue “New York, New York” for full effect.
What was SO true:
- Starter Village has poor cell service. Bring a backup charger you’re willing to carry with you or part with if you’re relying on your phone to last you to the finish.
- Name on your shirt = celeb status. I literally thanked every single person who said my name.
- Wall of Sound. The epic roar from Queensboro Bridge to First Ave. The roar is quick and seriously bonkers. Goose.bumps.
What was SO false (IMO):
- The bridge was not slow. It was actually so easy to go very fast here, which totally freaked me out. Everyone is so excited and jumps out of Staten Island like a cannon. I was expecting to be slowed down by the crowd, but they were definitely carrying me along.
- Nobody was peeing off the Verrazano Bridge. Sorry to disappoint, but from my top-level vantage point, I saw 0 peeing. And I was looking for culprits.
- Nobody gave me beer on First Ave. I was waiting.
What was the best:
- People climbing the bridges for good Insta-pics. Anything for a good pic. Much respect.
- Howling on the Queensboro. One of the only times it’s just you, the road and the runners. And when one howls, so does the rest. PACK.
- Boozy people. Seeing real housewives with Bloody Mary’s sitting on their perfect Brooklyn stoops first made me jealous, but then made me feel awesome, because I WAS THE SHOW! THE HOUSEWIVES WERE WATCHING ME FOR ONCE!
- Kiddies. Oh my god. What can I say about a small-child high-fives? It’s worth the entry fee. Also if they can read your name (which most could with mine) they get SUPER excited. Hope I gave at least one of them the running the bug, and not the nasty cold I have. Or vice versa..
- The look on my friends’ faces when we’d spot each other. Is there anything more special than spotting your one person in the sea of First Avenue? In the pack of Fifth? There isn’t. Seriously. Got me choked up every single time as though I didn’t see them earlier that week (or day).
What really hurt:
- My feet! What’s good about this is that this wasn’t my knee, my ankle or any other weird injury I had this season that I was terrified of aggravating during the marathon. The bad part was that it’s your feet and you kinda can’t breathe through that pain. Back to the drawing board on good shoes for my #FlatFeet.
- I was so hungry. I guess I just didn’t carb it up as much as I used to, but somewhere past the Queensboro Bridge I was starrrrr-ving. Some man (bless his heart) was offering bananas and I literally said, “bless your heart” as I grabbed one. This was really well timed because someone yelled “Anna Banana!”
What part sucked the worst:
- For me? East Harlem. Feet hurt, crowds are thin, you know you have a whole borough, 2 bridges and Fifth Ave before you can think “I’m almost there”.
What nobody tells you (very often):
- Green, Blue and Orange corrals have separate courses for the first few miles
- Brooklyn (Clinton Hill) porta-potties are on point. I paid a visit to the potty around mile 8, and there were about 25 lined up – and all past the fifth one were empty. In and out less than 30 seconds. Twenty-eight of those seconds was squatting without falling on tired legs.
- Williamsburg is so fun. Party like its 2012 and you’re trying to be the alternative friend! The signs were hipster-reference gold, the crowds were ROWDY and they were playing Backstreet Boys.
- Harlem is hard. Yeah – I already said it, but man, it was hard.
- You get BANANAS. And not just from strangers! They have bananas in Harlem.
- There are physical therapists willing to roll out your muscles. Very, very handy. Pun intended.
- Entering the park and getting to the finish happens in a blink. .2 miles? NO WAY.
- Getting out of the park is actually harder than the marathon. Slow, cold, weird, limp-walk through the park to get a penguin coat. The uphill on 77th to CPW really makes you question everything.
- You might too dehydrated to cry. I only cried at Mile 3 (when I saw my best friend’s family) and Mile 12 when I saw my friend Liz — and even that was half-assed crying. The truth is I felt all the emotion, but the tears just wouldn’t fall down. Chalking it up to dehydration.
And finally, a word on behalf of my emotional sponsor, I mean mother, on the spectator experience.
Last year I watched my friend finish the marathon from exactly mile 26 in the park. The process to get into the park was cumbersome, but not impossible. I gave those directions to Mama-dearest, but according to her, entering the park on the west side was near-impossible. She ended up being diverted to Central Park South, on the east side where she tried to chase me down on the TCS NYC Marathon Tracker app. We ended up missing each other because the app said I had already passed her (major, major cry face) but we’re going to blame both those factors for that.
Any other spectators found that the tracker was ahead of the runner? Was it hard to get into Central Park without Grandstand creds? Mama needs to know.
If you’re still reading, thank you.
My final remarks remain that running the New York City Marathon is incredible. It’s everything it’s cracked up to be, and if you’re serious about running, you should be serious about running the New York City Marathon. You will fall in love 26 times over and be buzzing (and limping) for days to come.
This is the greatest city in the world, the greatest run in the world.
Here are my favorite moments:
Moment of silence for the swamp-ass-weather training, hours spent in spreadsheets figuring out how to divide minutes, perfecting the art of the iPhone self-timer, and also the long-run-self-negotiations, and laughing and ugly crying the whole damn way.