The 2019 TCS New York City Marathon

I cannot believe that it has been over a month since I took on the Big Apple.

It just hasn’t fully sunk in. Maybe this recap will help with that, though.

So, without further ado, here is my 2019 TCS New York City Marathon experience!

Why New York?:

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to go to New York.

It has everything I love.

Broadway and movie/TV references and historic landmarks. O my!

Now, as an adult, I found another reason to visit.

New York plays host to one of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors.

Well, this is a no-brainer!

Interesting fact: The New York City Marathon is the largest marathon in the world. This year, 53,627 runners crossed the finish line. Spoiler: I was one of them!

“One bite and all your dreams will come true!”

Entry:

Here are the ways you can get into the New York City Marathon

  • Elite (i.e. super fast people)
  • Celebrity
  • Qualify based on time
  • NYRR’s 9+1 program
  • Competitions (rare)
  • Sponsor organizations (again, rare)
  • Travel agencies with marathon/tour packages (international only)
  • Ballot (lottery drawing of sorts)
  • Charity/Team for Kids
  • New Balance Rewards
  • NYRR Virtual from previous year (limited spots and has rules)
  • Claim a deferred entry
  • 15+ Legacy Program (run 15 NYC Marathons and have guaranteed entry for life)

I did enter the ballot, but did not get in. The odds were not in my favor.

I thought that was it for my chances this year as I did not want to fund raise for two marathons in the same year.

I figured that might be asking too much of my supporters even with the many, many good causes available to support.

So, I looked at running the virtual marathon in hopes of gaining entry into the 2020 anniversary race.

I was so nervous about:

1. Being quick enough to register for one of the guaranteed entry spots (the Internet breaks when these things open), 2. Being able to meet the time requirement, 3. Running the full distance solo (i.e. without race support or any distractions), and 4. Being dependent on weather/a time-keeping app (you only had one weekend, and essentially one run, to get it right).

Then, something amazing happened.

I saw a deal through New Balance Rewards for a bib.

It even waived the race entry fee!

While I didn’t have the 10,000 points needed, there was a person in a Facebook group I had joined for the Majors that was close and wasn’t going to be able to use them.

So, with some trust, some phone calls, and some New Balance items bought to get my new friend’s total to 10,000 (items I would need anyway and that were still less than the race fee), I was in!

O, the power of social media. Don’t underestimate it.

I originally thought I was doing this/in for the 2020 race. The realization that it was for the 2019 race came quickly enough, though. It was just meant to be this year, I guess!

Side note: Thank you to my friend for getting me into this amazing event. I won’t mention your name so you won’t be bombarded, but you know who you are!

Hotel:

I stayed at the Parker New York.

My home away from home

This was a hotel that my sister actually found and it was great!

It was between Central Park and Times Square and, I’d say, 90% of the things I wanted/needed were within a couple of blocks…including race transportation..,but I’m getting ahead of myself.

(Tip: get a MetroCard or budget for taxis/Ubers. A combination of subways and rides saved my legs!)

Bright Lights, Big City

Pre-Race:

I’ve long dreamed of a trip to New York, as I mentioned, so I did have some things in mind that I wanted to do.

Pretty much your typical tourist things.

  • The Statue of Liberty (no, I didn’t go up into the crown…that whole “stairs before a marathon” rule again)
  • The Charging Bull and Fearless Girl
  • The NYSE (that was for my dad)
  • The 9/11 Memorial
  • The Brooklyn Bridge (do not Uber in traffic..yikes)
  • The Central Park Zoo
  • Two Broadway shows (I saw Frozen and The Lion King and I saw other marathoners at each show. It is the perfect pre-race activity as you are sitting for it)

Again, with all the walking I did, I opted not to do the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K as a shakeout run.

Expo:

I went to the Expo the first day it opened this time.

I’m making progress!

Although, now that I think about it, it was Halloween (I saw a couple of costumes in the airport) and I was coming off a travel day complete with flight delays (we had a bird strike…ya, you read that right).

So, maybe not too much progress.

While I wasn’t there when the doors opened, more like at the end of the day, the crowds did not seem bad at all. Especially considering this is the world’s largest marathon.

I think the venue had a lot to do with that. The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was a lot bigger than the ExCeL London which gave the whole event a more open and relaxed feel. My nerves and I appreciated that.

This Expo had a unique area where you tried on sample shirts and, then, you picked up your official shirt based on that. I thought this was a great idea to be sure you not only got your size, but that they weren’t out after the race. Then, it was off to the race merchandise, the booths, and the name wall.

Note that New York didn’t have games as London did, but I still enjoyed it.

After getting my bib, shirt, and some pictures and being COMPLETELY spoiled by my family, it was back to the hotel to join the rest of the crew for dinner!

Speaking of dinner, my pre-race dinner was literally around the corner from my hotel. It was called Pazza Notte and was the perfect carb-loading excursion. (Tip: Make a reservation in advance and make it for early evening so that you can rest…or try).

Carbs. ‘Nuff said.

The Race:

Verse chosen for this race

Getting There:

While the option to ride by the Statue of Liberty before the race via the Staten Island Ferry was tempting, I had already toured Lady Liberty.

Therefore, I opted for the charter bus transportation option.

There was less to “mess up” with this option, I think, which is always good for me.

This is where, again, my choice of hotel was ideal.

After a quick “breakfast” stop, my crew and I were able to walk to the New York Public Library with no issues.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

(Tip: get there at least 30 minutes before your bus time. There will be a line)

My coach was the lead bus and must not have known where to go as we made a weird turn and dropped back to follow others.

Let me tell you, you could’ve cut the tension on that bus full of pre-race runners with a (peanut) butter knife!

My “bus buddy”, Kathryn, and I were keeping each other calm. Happy First Marathon to her!

We made it in the end, though, and the coach dropped us all off within walking distance of the security gates. Beyond that were signs directing you to the colored “villages” corresponding to your bib.

Start:

I was in the Green Village, Corral E, Wave 4.

Just call us the “Village People”

It was a cold morning, but my mother had packed other layers ready for me to discard/donate to charity before the race and I had Hot Hands and a mylar blanket.

The start area itself had therapy dogs to pet, free food and drinks (Tip: Try to get a free…and infamous…Dunkin’ Donuts hat as soon as you arrive and attach it to your race belt with a safety pin. Don’t be discouraged if they run out. You will be able to find a discarded one before you start), UPS trucks if you opted to check a bag (I went for the legendary poncho so didn’t use this service), and many, many porta-potties.

Although, there is somehow never enough porta-potties…or toilet paper.

(Tip: BYOTP)

I kept my start village bag with me for a while, had breakfast, petted a couple of the dogs, hopped in line for the bathroom, got a hat, took some pics, and waited.

My new furry friend. I believe her name was Charlotte

Then, they started “corralling” us to our zones.

I did find a porta-potty with TP in it and a kind soul with some hand sanitizer once there. I, also, remembered deodorant this time (see London Marathon post for reference).

So, again, getting a bit better.

Miles 1-26:

It is funny.

I was SO nervous about this race but, as soon as I started, I was instantly filled with joy and peace.

With “New York, New York” playing as we crossed the start line and the views from the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge (yes, the view is still good from the bottom level…and less windy), I don’t know how anyone could be filled with anything less.

Crowd support, like London, was incredible.

People were out on their balconies and their stoops cheering us on.

O, and the city workers (police officers, fire fighters, highway maintenance workers, etc.)?

Fuhgeddaboudit!

To compare major marathons, I have to give the atmosphere advantage to London. I felt like there were more “blank spots” in New York. For instance, the silence of the Hasidic neighborhoods of Williamsburg. Maybe I am, and always will be, partial to my first full marathon, though.

However, I will say, the city of New York embraced the marathon more than any other city I have yet to race in. Definite win there!

Some other “memorable moments” from the race included being cheered on by a spirited chicken, high-fiving a cat, running to a Queen song in Queens, hearing many compliments on my “Sunday dress”, and seeing my “fan section”.

I had a larger fan section this time around.

Now, I had convinced my parents to buy grandstand tickets and to not try to go anywhere else, so I wasn’t worried about seeing them.

I gave my sister and Catherine (who came in the night before the race…a last-minute surprise) rough instructions of where I’d like them to be, but wasn’t expecting much as I knew it was going to be crazy and I didn’t know New York as well as London.

Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans.

I was able to see my sister and Catherine twice (they saw me three times) and my brother-in-law and nieces once.

What about my parents? Well, we will get to that.

Finish:

All those hills and bridges were leading to this.

The finish line.

If you read my London recap, you will remember that a runner stopped in front of me right in the middle of the finish line. Sadly, I had some finish line drama in the Big Apple as well.

You see, I thought I saw my parents cheering for me in the grandstands and began waving and blowing them kisses in my rush to cross the line.

As it turns out my parents were there, but didn’t see me and were not cheering.

Ever thought someone was one person and waved like mad only to find out they were a stranger?

Mmhmm…did that.

I wasn’t embarrassed, but was SO disappointed.

Not for me, but for my parents. They had come all the way to New York (no small feat for my mother) and didn’t get to see me race.

And they had paid for tickets after being encouraged to do so by me. (Sigh)

My finish line picture, however, wasn’t interrupted.

So, there is that.

I didn’t really get a close-up one of me crossing the line, BUT I did get one right after and it was on the NYC Marathon’s Twitter page!

Here it is!

EEK!

That certainly makes up for my name/time not making the papers, I think.

After that, a lovely volunteer handed me my medal, I took a few more pictures, got a heat sheet with tape, collected my finisher’s goodies, and went to get this poncho I’d been hearing so much about.

When there are no words left…

(Tip: If you choose the poncho option, be prepared for quite the walk. I had to dig deep for that one. It was worth it, though)

Now, that’s a golden apple

Meet-up:

This was, again, a little scattered, but something has to be said for cell phone service/not being international this time.

I walked a bit A LOT to get to where my parents were and had to stop once, but I found them with essentially no problems.

It wasn’t that much further to the hotel at that point and, with my dad taking the very heavy recovery bag off my hands, I was able to walk it.

No wonder it was so heavy!

This turned into a walk I will never forget.

As we walked (I was hobbling at this point) into my hotel’s bar/lounge area, everyone there stood up and started clapping.

I didn’t get emotional on the finish line, but that got my eyes very misty.

Post-Race:

I immediately put my legs up on a wall, took a soak in a tub with a bath bomb, and foam rolled.

Ouch!

In the meantime, my sister was ordering all my requested food (P.J. Clarke’s and Levain Bakery. Both of which I highly recommend) to be delivered to the room.

Did I mention that I love my family?

For this race, I took my own advice and stayed an extra day for “Marathon Monday”.

(Tip: Be sure to get up early the day after the race to secure a New York Times. You may just be in it!)

Since I was dressed as Audrey Hepburn à la Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the race, I decided to “run” with the Tiffany’s theme once again by going to see Fred (Lebow), visiting Holly Golightly’s apartment, going to the Blue Box Café (Tip: be available the minute the reservations come live and make a special request, if you are getting the celebration cake. Also, note that each person has to order a full meal. You can’t just get dessert…which was my original plan), and getting something from the Tiffany’s marathon collection (Thanks Mom and Dad!).

I also went to a brunch with some other marathoners, saw the elite winners in Central Park, got a recovery massage (yes, I mentioned I had just completed a marathon the day before), went to Ellen’s Stardust Diner, and ventured to the Top of the Rock. I was going to go to the New York Giants game, as they were playing the Dallas Cowboys, with my dad and brother-in-law, but I was a little tired from the day’s activities.

Side note: Thanks to the cat for bringing the ‘Boys some luck!

I can go on and on about my first trip to New York…and I have. Thanks for sticking with me!

Please leave me a comment below if you have any questions.

YouTube New York City Marathon Video:

Star #2 is through!

Next up: TBD

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