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.|
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|
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|
#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|