2019 NYC Marathon Race Recap

I have had a few days to digest the race and go over how I feel about it. Overall, I am very happy with the experience and grateful I was able to be a part of it. Many of the runners had to put in tons of work to get accepted into the race; raising several thousand dollars, running nine NYC races and volunteering at another, or running fast enough to qualify. Congratulations to all those runners. I was accepted with a lottery spot, so just being there was lucky. I still had expectations for my race and what I wanted to do. I will start with a short version of the race then break everything down into detail.

Short Version

This is my happy face.

I stayed with a friend on Staten Island the night before the race. That allowed me to wake up around 7am and basically walk to the start line. My only other marathon was the disaster of a race last year, so my start corral was Blue Wave 4 Corral E. There are only 4 waves total with corrals from A-F. I tried to sneak in to the corral with a friend for Orange Wave 1 Corral A so I could run with other people that had the same goal finish as me. Props to marathon security, you guys do a damn good job. Didn’t make it, so I ran with my assigned wave. From the cannon to about mile 4, I was running around thousands of people. I tried to be as polite as possible because I didn’t want to spoil anyone’s marathon experiences by hit-sticking them in the first 5k. That drained quite a bit of energy, but I was still on 3hour pace. Then around mile 5, I reached the back of Wave 3. I tried again to push through the crowds to the front of the wave, but at that point Waves 1-3 had formed a 20mile blob of 50,000 runners. I was incredibly frustrated. I wanted to break 3 hours and at mile 6 I knew I had no shot. Rough. The next couple miles were just negative energy, but eventually I looked around and saw how incredible this race is. Tens of thousands of runners and millions of spectators line the 26.2 miles of New York City on a brisk Sunday morning. Wow. The remaining 15miles were enjoyable. My heart rate was down to about 140bpm and I was feeling happy. I saw several friends along the route and really enjoyed the day from there. The weather was perfect, and the race was fantastic. I did not run my goal time, but I did run over an hour faster than last year.

Long, Detailed Version

What I do race eve:

  • Big meal early: I try and eat my biggest meal of the day around 3pm the day before a race. I don’t want to wake up with partially digested pasta dinner and feel bloated. Then to hold me through the night I have a smaller meal. This year I had a massive Chipotle bowl at 4pm. Delicious.
  • Dinner: Small and bland. I had a bowl of pasta with butter. I keep the meal bland to avoid overeating. I want my body resting, not digesting, all night. Oatmeal or rice works as well.
  • Stretching: Light stretches held for 2-3min. I try to hit all major muscle groups and see how everything is feeling. Use this as a body checklist. I keep the stretches to a 4 out of 10. I am not forcing anything, just falling into postures.
  • Chill: Get my mind off the race. Watch a movie, play some video games, or read a book. Try and move your focus away from the race since you have probably been thinking about it non-stop for the last 2 weeks. Try and focus on breathing long and deep only through the nose. Breathing through the mouth is a sign of tension and elevated stress.
  • Lay out clothes, pin bib, gram: set out everything you are going to race in the night before. Take a pic and post it to insta so everyone knows you are running. (make sure to put as few things in the photo as possible so people think you are a hardcore runner: shirt, shorts, shoes, bib. That’s it)

What I do race morning:

  • Try to wake up relaxed. Set your alarm earlier than you need to and allow yourself to wake up and breathe. Sit up, put the phone down and just relax.
  • Breakfast: I normally do a smoothie, half a bagel, and a banana about 3 hours before the start. This gives me 100+ grams of carbs without the feeling of being heavy. I also have a small coffee to get the digestion going…and…you know…yeah.
  • About 2 hours before the start of the race I will have another banana and a Red Bull. I don’t know if this is good to do or not, but I love how Red Bull makes me feel.
  • Know where to go: make sure you drove or walked your trip to the start of the race. Know where the parking is and try to remove as much stress as possible.

NYC Marathon Pre-Race:

We got there about 10min before the corrals closed. The plan was to have Alex walk in front of me and we both just act frazzled and run into the corral. That did not work out. Security was very seriously checking. So, I gave Alex a good luck hug and sent him on his way (congrats on the 2:59 dude!). He was Wave 1 and now I had to wait about 90min for Wave 4. I tried to sneaky sneak into Wave 1 again later just as they were closing the gates. Again, did not work. Waiting time. I found a mat a Wave 1 runner left and took a little nap. The announcers were very loud so there was no chance of missing anything. I stood up about 20min before the corral opened and did a few 50m jogs and strides. The corrals opened and I went straight to the front of mine. From there I tried to weave through corrals as much as I could before we got to the start line. I moved from E to near B but still had a ton of runners in front of me. I was near the 4:30 pace group at that point.

NYC Marathon Race:

Bang! The race starts with a 1 mile “uphill”. The start is at the bottom of a big ol’ bridge. The first mile was around 8:30 pace but most of that was sprinting between people then getting stopped by a large pack and repeat. The next mile was downhill on the other side of the bridge. From there, it was rolling bumps through Brooklyn. My pace was consistent and feeling good, but off my sub 3hour goal. I was still feeling strong, so I kept pushing it to try and pull the 1:30 half back. It was very difficult to politely cut through crowds. I decided around mile 10 to back off and just enjoy the race. I went through the halfway point around 1:36. That could be disappointing, but then I realized that was 2min faster than my 2018 half marathon PR. The rest of the race was high fives and small dance parties.

There was a moment just before mile 16, while running up and over the Queensboro Bridge, that really framed my 2019 NYC Marathon. In 2018, the bridge was a struggle. I was stopping every 100 yards to sit down. Every step over the bridge hurt. I was undertrained and in pain. This year, I jogged right up and over that bridge with a smile. No problem at all. I got to the high point of the bridge and paused for just a moment to take in the accomplishment. Every mile after that was emanating sheer positivity.

First Ave was a blast. You can see the next 2 miles ahead of you crowded with fans and runners. People are just having a good time. Then we crossed into the Bronx, which has had a reputation for being quiet. Not this year. Every second of the Bronx had music and parties. Whatever they did this year worked. That was a great experience. Fifth Ave was just as lively as first and the turn into Central Park was great. I saw my friends in the park for a sec and pushed through to the finish. I was tired and sore by the end of the race. If you jogged, ran, or walked, 26.2 miles is still a long damn distance.

Race nutrition was perfect this year. I had a GEndurance gel every 3.5 miles and made sure to finish my water bottle every hour. I didn’t feel thirsty or need to pee along the race. The next time I do NYC, I am going to qualify for it, start in the fast corral, and absolutely crush the race. I will be back. I don’t know when, but I’ll get there.

2019 Finish Line

NYC Marathon Post Race:

The walk from finish line to exiting the park is easily the worst part of the race. Everyone just wants to sit down but we were ushered like cattle for another mile or more to get the food bags and ponchos. I eventually got out of the park and got to my friends. We waited until everyone from the group was done and I headed back to Hoboken. I got dinner in Hoboken and immediately made up for 8+months of not drinking. The Monday hangover was much worse than the post marathon pain. I had a great weekend, but now it’s time to get back to work. Getting ready for the 2020 triathlon season. Big things are coming.

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