November 7, 2014

New York Marathon

The New York Marathon was the most fun marathon I’ve ever run.

View from the bar at the top of our Times Square Hotel.
It’s only the second time I’ve run a marathon with a friend, and, frankly, after this time, I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to the solo clock-goal slog.  No matter how fast you run it (if you are me) a marathon is going to be a long time to be on your feet, and having a companion you can chat with, catch up with (because when else do I get 4+ hours with a married friend who has a toddler?), and enjoy the sites and experience with is so enjoyable.

The night before -- our throwaway over-clothes from H&M clearance and Walgreens

Also, we were at an iconic course, and just there to finish.  Sure, we wanted to get off our feet as soon as was reasonable given our other goals of not injuring ourselves, enjoying the day, taking photos, etc., but there was absolutely no pressure.

It was *cold* at the start.  Thank goodness Dunkin Donuts was giving away hats.
This translated to compete and utter fun.  For a while now, I've been going back and forth on whether I actually enjoy training for and completing marathons.  I think the take-home after NYC is that I may never *race* a marathon again.  The enjoyment I got out of completing this monumental task with a friend, comfortably, and enjoying the beauty and diversity of the sites was *much* more than what I typically get out of going it alone. (But of course, never say never.)       

It took about 5 minutes to walk to the actual start-line after our wave began.

For Chicago, before I pulled out, I was on pace for around a 4:40 marathon.  That was about what I thought my fitness could handle.  And it was fun.  BUT NO WHERE NEAR AS FUN AS NEW YORK.  I didn't stop to appreciate the different neighborhoods.  I didn't spend too much time looking around.  And I definitely didn't have anyone to share the experience with.

The Verrazano Narrows Bridge.  SO WINDY.
Also, N completely surprised me.  She’d only run a max long run of 11 miles.  So my goal was to reign us in at the beginning, keep it easy, and be ready to drop to run/walk intervals of whatever frequency made sense whenever the wheels fell off.

Finally touching down in Brooklyn.
Ummmmm… N was having none of the “you might hit the wall” business.  She just kept on keeping on, and never needed to start shorter intervals.  We ran in the high tens to high 11s when we were running, and walked approximately every mile or so for the aid stations, where necessary to take pictures, or for other reasons (a 6m30s porta-loo break, fueling walk breaks, vaseline).

On our way to Queens with a view of Manhattan in the background.
The approximate difference in terms of overall time on my feet was somewhere in the range of 44 minutes. 

Running under the 59th St./Queensborough Bridge.

What I realized is that if I can trade some extra time for shared memories, photos, and just a general great time, I'll take it.

The view from the side of the 59th St. Bridge.

Interestingly, the walk/stop breaks slowed us down less than I expected.  If we hadn't needed to the porta-potty stop (this was my only big complaint about NYC -- their were *not* enough bathrooms on the course, and the lines were very long), the difference would have been only 38 minutes.  This includes actual *stops* of minutes at a time to take pictures. 

Touched down in Manhattan (E surprised me by yelling for us at this corner!)
Because we weren't worried about time, we decided to use a PowerBar peanut butter and jelly (the very chewy kind) as our first fuel break after the 10K.  Folks, I will share the results of this experiment so you can learn from our mistake.  It turns out, while PowerBars are great for some pre- mid- and post-workout fuel, they suck in the middle of a marathon.  So much chewing.  So hard to swallow.  Coats the mouth in a funky way that means you can't get enough water to wash it down at the aid station.  Not recommended.

Headed up to the Bronx.
Around the half we had our second fuel walk break, this time Gu.  Faster. Easier. More pleasant all around.

From the Bronx and through the park, we picked it up -- we were ready to be done, and then we were.
Somewhere around 18 or so, the NYC marathon was giving out PowerBar gels.  The first option was Orange Dream.  I'd never had a PowerBar gel, but I knew that I usually don't like fruit flavored gels so I gave it back and went for a Double Latte from a later volunteer.  From this I learned that for me, PowerBar gel is too syrupy, and oddly acidic.  So, I think I'll continue to stick with my Gus for now.

If you opted for "no baggage" you received a nice warm parka to walk back to your hotel.
Like all big races, the logistics for NYC were insane for us.  You need to come at least a day early to go the expo (which was actually less out of control than Chicago).  We opted to stay the night in a hotel on Staten Island rather than messing with the Ferry and the buses from the Ferry to the start.  Even so, we ended up walking about 2 miles before the actual start because our cab couldn't drop us any closer (and because the distance from the security check to the actual start is at least a mile).  The walk from the finish to where you can meet your family takes at least 10-15 minutes.  Something to note if you've got an anxious toddler who last saw mommy around mile 25.  Our hotel was 2.6 miles of walking from the finish -- while it was annoying this was probably a good thing, we walked and drank the Gatorade recovery protein drink from our goodie bag as it grew darker and colder.

From there, it was a quick shower, a quick meal with N and family, and then chaos because no cabs could get across town due to the marathon shutdowns that were slowly opening up.  Finally, we made it to our flight, boarded, and then after more than an hour delay, we were unboarded into a roped off area and were met with this sight:

Needless to say, our travel plans that night did not go according to plan...


Jen said...

Congrats on finishing another marathon! So glad you had an enjoyable experience. I definitely think there's something to just running for the experience instead of time. I think that if I keep running marathons (which is likely), I'll probably choose fun/scenery over speed 3 out of 4 times. Then every once in a while, I'll probably feel like challenging myself to actually race a marathon.

BTW, I love the selfie with you in the DD hat. You're freaking adorable!

Biting Tongue said...

@Jen -- thanks, those hats were serious saviors!

The 3/4 ratio sounds about right, although, I must say the idea of racing halfs seems much more attractive at the moment.

Arvay said...

Thanks for taking and sharing photos. Looks like a grand time, and it's great to "see" you and C!