Wednesday, November 9, 2011

ING NYC Marathon 2011 post race report

Wow.  If you choose to only run one marathon your entire life, run this one.  The energy, the crowds, the course, amazing.  There is nothing like running down the street with crowds five people deep screaming and cheering on the runners, and this goes on for all 26.2 miles!  I learned a lot during this race so here is my post race recap, enjoy!

We flew into town on Thursday evening with nothing planned other than making our way to the place we were staying in Queens.  So NY marathon tip #1, plan in advance how you are going to get to your accommodations from your airport and get a subway map.  We ended up taking the wrong subway train but a few nice New Yorkers helped us get back to where we needed to be so the detour was not as bad as it could have been.  Either way, it probably took us an extra hour when it was all said and done.

Friday was our expo day.  We tried to get up and hit the expo when it opened but we ended up moving really slow so we didn't hit the expo until about noon.  There was no line to get into the expo itself or to pick up race packets.  However, the Asics clothing was getting picked clean just midway through the second day of the expo.  With that said, NY Marathon tip #2, hit the expo early and tip #3, budget appropriately for clothing and gear purchases at the expo.  I was eyeing some limited edition Asics shoes, but by the time we got there my size was sold out.  There was still a pretty good selection of the clothing available, but it was going fast too.

The 2011 ING New York City Marathon expo

Getting my bib and race packet. 
Saturday my family and I planned to run the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5k in the morning and then didn't plan anything the rest of the day.  I wasn't interested in doing hours of sight seeing the day before a marathon, and I also didn't plan on racing the 5k.  I needed to get a 3 mile shakeout run in anyway and my family wanted the chance to run the streets of NY so I took it easy and jogged the 5k with my mom.  This brings me to NY Marathon tip #4, plan on sight seeing after the race so you are not running on tired legs.

We did post-race on Saturday night and I laid out my clothing and food for race morning. I set the alarm for 4:30 AM and tried to get to sleep.  I probably only got about 6 hours but I didn't feel tired on Sunday, most likely this is due to the nap I took on Saturday.  My parents got up with me to ride the subway down to the Staten Island Ferry for my 6:30 AM departure.  The ferry terminal was packed with runners, fun but crowded.  I missed the 6:30 ferry but made it onto the 7:00 ferry.  By the time I got to the island, got on the bus, and got dropped off at the start it was almost 8:30, the time I needed to be getting into my start corral.  So NY Marathon tip #5, get the start early.  Pack some food, warm clothes, a camera, some people even had sleeping bags.  The plastic bag they give you for baggage check is fairly large, so you can cram a lot in there, so feel free to bring what you need to the start (just keep in mind some items are restricted due for security reasons).  I would have liked to at least grab a bagel and cup of coffee, but since it took almost 3 hours to get from my location in Queens to the start area I had just enough time to check my bag and get into my starting coral.

Staten Island Ferry race morning

Inside the ferry terminal
The race start actually had much less waiting then I thought. I got into my coral at about 8:40 and waited only about 20 minutes before we were moved up to start area on the lower level of the bridge.  It took us about 15 minutes to be moved up to the start position, so at this point we only waited about another 20 minutes before the race started.  After a brief introduction of a few of the elite male runners the gun went off and we were on our way at exactly 9:40 AM.  I didn't carry a camera with me as I planned, but doing it again I would scrap a goal time and would plan on stopping to take pictures along the course.

Coming off the bridge at mile 2.5 we got our first glimpse of the crowds when a group of about 50 people on an overpass shouted "Welcome to Brooklyn!".  Then when we moved off the highway there were walls of people lining the course.  The crowd isn't as thick in some spots but basically there is solid people for about 20 miles of the course, the only miles that didn't have spectators was the bridges.

I happened to see my parents at mile 14 as planned which was great.  They also managed to take a nice action shot as well.  I was really bummed to not see my wife and I would find out later the entire story.  This brings me to tip #6, plan carefully and stick to your plan about where to see your friends and family along the course.  Also to go along with this is tip #7, sign up for the text message service (a small fee of $2.99). The text messages worked great according to my dad and when I crossed the mats he said he got the messages within just a few seconds.  I heard the mobile app was a little finicky so the text message seems to be the way to go.  As a runner you can also sign up for Facebook status updates on Asics' page which was great for my friends and family to see where I was at on the course via Facebook status.

Somewhere around mile 14
As you can see I ended up going with just a t-shirt and gloves which was perfect.  I had my iPod but due to the crowds and music I couldn't hear the music most of the time, so doing it again I would just ditch it all together.  At some sections of the course the street is narrow and the crowd is thick so you feel like a complete rock start as people are screaming and cheering as you run past.  The last few miles into Central Park were some of the best as the crowds had great signs and really help carry you to the finish on the last couple of tough miles.  I finished in 3:47:37, not the 3:30 I wanted but still a PR and I had a blast doing it!  My foot started to hurt pretty bad around mile 20 so that really slowed me down.  Had that not happened I think I would have been much closer to 3:30.  With that said, here is the full list of NY Marathon tips:

#1 - Know how you are going to get to your accommodations from the airport and get a subway map.
#2 - Hit the expo early, stuff sells fast.
#3 - Budget appropriately for clothing and gear purchases at the expo, think the $200+ range.
#4 - Sight see after the race, you can do some before but you want to rest your legs as much as you can.
#5 - Get to the start early, they have live music, coffee, bagels, etc.
#6 - Plan carefully and stick to your plan about where to see your friends and family along the course.
#7 - Sign up for text messaging notifications, my family said they worked great.
#9 - Plan on hitting the Monday morning race expo in central park for finisher gear and medal engraving.
#10 - Meet your family several blocks from the finish area to avoid the crowds.

This race was incredible, great organization, the crowds, the course, all of it was great.  On a side note my GPS watch said there was about 900 ft of elevation gain, so trust me, not a flat course!  I underestimated both the amount of runners and the subsequent crowded course and the amount of hills when I considered my goal time.  Doing it again, and giving others tips, don't shoot for a goal time or even a PR, run with a camera and have a blast!

Meeting point at Starbucks
Asics ad in the NY Subway

All 45,000+ runners are listed


  1. That is so awesome Jared!!! They way you laid it all out I could picture it in my head. I think your blog post will help a lot of runners.

    Bummer Sara couldn't see you running. But the whole trip looked awesome!!!

  2. What a great post!! It was wonderful to see you and a bit of what you saw.

    Proud of you, mom