I said I was never going to run a marathon again. Then, on a whim one night I signed up for the New York City Marathon lottery. Even though only 14% of people who entered the drawing got in for 2018, somehow MY name got drawn. I knew it would. My immediate reaction… “OH MY GOSH! I GOT IN!!” Followed by.. “OH CRAP. I GOT IN.” The days of long runs, hydration, blisters and water belts came flooding back into my mind. Yep, I’ve gotta train for a marathon baby. And, it ain’t gonna be pretty.
It wasn’t. I had an issue with my leg. I did physical therapy and joined Orange Theroy Fitness for the speed work and strength training. I found myself googling “The longest you need to run to prepare for a marathon.” After months of struggling, I managed a few 16-mile runs and called it a day. (Side note: without Orange Theroy helping with my speed work and hills I never would have been able to do it!)
My goal was simply to finish the race and enjoy the experience. This was a bucket list race for me! I obsessed over doing everything just right and I researched every detail. Preparing for the NYC Marathon? I hope these tips I tried might help someone else who is getting ready for the big day!
NYC MARATHON RACE TIPS
Wear a shirt with your name on it. I’m totally NOT the type of person who wants people shouting my name, but I did it anyway. Turns out, it was really nice to have someone yelling for you along the way. NYC Marathon fans are like none other. These people TURNED OUT. There were fans cheering almost the entire 26.2 miles of the race. Someone had mentioned this before, but when you are crossing the bridges it is so quiet. I took this time to just soak it all in and enjoy the moment.
Wear (comfy) layers of clothing you will throw out. I had to be at the bus start at the NYC Public Library at 5:30 am. The start time was 10:30. It took longer than I thought to get to the start line but after about an hour and a half we were at the race start zone area. You are sitting for a long time, so I was thankful to have the extra layers. They have huge donation bins to put your clothing in once you are ready for the start line. I ended up taking a nap on the curb before the race and my added layers made it very comfortable.
Search Around for a Porta-Potty Pre-race. (Don’t just stop at the first set you see.) At the start zone, I just followed the crowd to the area where the porta-potties were lined up. Runners are notorious for obsessing about the bathroom before the race. (Hydrate more? Then I have to pee. Hydrate less? Then I’ll be thirsty!! What if I have to poop at mile two?! What if I can’t go at all?! Yes, these thoughts and thousands of others go through our heads.) So, just imagine thousands of people doing this. (ha) I stood in line for more than one hour to use the bathroom. Turns out, I should have walked around a bit more to search out other porta potty areas. This would be a big piece of advice for someone else running the race.
Take out Your Headphones. I don’t run with music anyway, but for the NYC marathon, you really do not need it. There is so much going on you want to soak it all in. There are bands playing, people cheering, kids singing and music going almost non-stop. Personally, I save two songs and during the last miles of the race (if I need it) I will put the earbuds in and listen to get me going. Oh! And, don’t stress too much about getting your own photos. If you purchase the race day photos (which I highly recommend) this will include various photos along the race route and crowd shots that you can also download.
Don’t be afraid to stop for medical help if you need it. Before the race in the start zone area, I stopped into the medical tent to get additional vaseline to put in certain areas just in case. I thought that was the end of my time with the medical team. But, at about mile 22 my legs started seriously cramping. It was like stabbing pains in my legs every time I tried to run. I was desperate for help. One of the medical team members literally had a tub of salt. She filled my palm with salt and I just tilted my head back and tossed all of it my mouth. Her face was in shock. She said, “Um – I was going to say to just do a little at a time as you need it.” Ha. After crunching the salt down I got some water and moved on. It did help with cramping. From that point on I told myself not to stop.
Prepare for a long walk after you finish. I wasn’t prepared mentally for this part. We had to walk for at least 20 minutes to get to the family meetup area outside of Central Park. Of course, my family was texting me trying to figure out where to meet up. Thank goodness I signed up for a poncho. It was lined with fleece and SO WARM. I would have paid $1,000 for that thing post-race. Best decision ever. It’s OK if you didn’t get signed up in time for the race poncho. There are so many bodies walking after the finish, the crowd will keep you warm.
Decide where you want to eat way before you even get to NYC. I was so worried about the actual race day, packing, getting my kids off, etc… I didn’t even think about food. Turns out, all of the great restaurants were booked up. We found ourselves walking around for a good amount of time looking for food. We ended up at our hotel restaurant out of desperation. That was disappointing but I had to be OK with it.
Do a lot of walking the day after. I know, you are sore. But you are in NYC!! We spent much of the day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (You’ll see people wearing their race medals, so don’t forget to wear yours!) If you haven’t been to the MMA, just know there are A LOT OF STAIRS. I decided to just go for it and walk all of them. Oh, did I mention we also used the subway a lot, so that was also lots of stairs? It was super painful at first. By the end of the day, I felt great. The next day I wasn’t even sore! I really think this is because of all of the walking we did post-race. My phone showed that we walked for nearly eight miles!!
I guess my biggest tip would be: Sometimes it isn’t the miles ran, nutrition followed or training prep you do that gets you across the finish line. My husband, brother and one of my best friends were there to cheer me on. They met me at mile 24 with my kids on facetime to cheer me on in real-time! I could see my stepmom and dad too! In the end, the NYC Marathon was a race I will never forget. To be an example of good health and setting goals for them is something I will always cherish.
I'm a wife, mom, runner and freelance TV producer/writer. I love making the most out of this life and hope you will follow along!