I’ve been thinking about how to start my race report for the New York City Marathon, and it’s not an easy thing to start. I mean, how do you write about something so mind-blowing and crazy and awesome? Do I start it like, “Once upon a time…”, or “One day, I…” or “Running rocks! Lemme tell you a story”? I guess I should start from the beginning.
The New York City Marathon was never on a list of marathons I wanted to do, simply because you have about a 15% chance of getting in by the lottery. In January of 2018, I ran the Houston marathon and was subsequently stuck in a hotel for two days due to a freak ice storm, with literally nothing better to do than watch “My 600 lb Life”, go to the liquor store and Subway next door, and surf the net. Ads for the NYC Marathon kept popping up and popping up and popping up. The ad finally got what it wanted because I clicked the dang thing, just because it was starting to irritate me, and I literally had nothing else to do.
There’s a few ways you can get in the marathon – run the NYRR races locally, enter the lottery and take your chances, run a race fast enough to qualify, or run for charity. It was that moment when I realized that I had a time that would qualify me to run the biggest marathon in the world. OMG. OMGOMGOMG, I can run the NYC Marathon! Andy and I concocted the plan that I would enter via time qualification and he would enter the lottery, and if he didn’t get in that way, he would consider the entry via charity, where you have to raise around $3000, depending on the charity. Fast forward to February/March 2019 and I was entered and he was accepted in the lottery. We were going to New York City!!!! (get a rope)
Andy and I planned to take the kids for a weekend in NYC and run the race together. What better way to see all five boroughs in the city!? We got a hotel close enough to walk to the pick up busses and walk home from the finish line in Central Park. This marathon was race #2 in my “Endurance Trifecta”, sandwiched between the IMNC 70.3 triathlon and the finale, the JFK 50 Miler. It was the perfect way to get a lot of time on my feet for a good ultra training weekend.
It’s crazy to think we planned for this so many months ago, and on Friday, November 1st, we headed to New York. When we landed, we dropped our things at the hotel and headed to the expo. After abusing our credit card there, we walked around, saw some interesting buildings – really, the architecture is AMAZING – and walked to Times Square, which was close to our hotel. Day 1: 8 miles of walking!
The next day, we walked 9 miles throughout the city, the highlights being Grand Central Station and the observation deck (it’s not a deck but not sure what else to call it) of the Freedom Tower. Pausing at the 9/11 Memorial was a must as well.
Because our wave of the race wasn’t going to start until 10:30, we waited until a little later to eat dinner. The good thing about New York City is there’s tons of places to eat, right at your doorstep. We got up early, but not the normal pre-marathon early, thankfully. We headed to the bus pick up at the library, expecting chaos and people running all over the place. Basically, we found a line, a long line to go through “security”, and were led to get on the bus. There were bathrooms on the other side of the park, but I didn’t want to get out of line and then have to go through that again. Mistake. The bus ride was quiet and the scenery was pleasant. What a gorgeous morning to run with 54,000 of your best friends, right? When we finally were allowed off the bus (it was chaotic and a mess and from what the driver said, wasn’t like that in years past), I made a bee line to the bathroom. I really had to go.
I realized at this moment that the reason why New Yorkers are angry and always in a hurry is because there’s no bathrooms. Anywhere. When we made it through security to the race staging area, there were thousands of people wandering around and probably fifty bathrooms for us all. I am not exaggerating. There were barely any bathrooms for runners, the line was probably a football field long, and people were peeing along the fence. I started to cry because I thought I was going to die pee myself. I made it very clear that I was unhappy, and I got myself in line because I didn’t want to pee in the grass. How convenient it would have been to be a man at that point. Forty-five minutes later, I was able to go, so my mood lightened up.
The professionals started and the place was buzzing with an energy that is indescribable. With every wave start, they shoot off a huge cannon and play Frank Sinatra’s “New York”. It was finally time to get into our corral. The announcer kept saying to not wait in line to use the restroom until you get in to your corral, because “there are plenty of toilets to use in your corral”. Lie. When we got into our corral, there were three. For hundreds of people. And the corral behind us had zero. ZERO bathrooms for people getting ready to run a marathon. This was a big deal, or at least to me, since you go into a long race dehydrated simply because you have nowhere to pee. It’s a huge complaint, but that was literally the only thing the race did not do well, as once we got over that issue, it was simply the coolest race I’ve ever done. I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s better than Boston, and I don’t necessarily agree with that. For me, it would be like choosing a favorite child. They’re just different and you love them both. Boston is…well, it’s Boston. It’s special. You can’t just get in. I worked my butt off to get in to that race. But New York? It’s just unique and just as good.
We were at the very end of our wave since I had to wait so long to use the bathroom and Andy wasn’t able to go or risk having to wait until the next wave to start. Ridiculous.
But we started and realized we would be starting the race on the top of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. Some waves would be on the lower level, but we were lucky enough to be on the top. Off we went. It was almost like a dream. We were running the streets of New York City, all five boroughs, and my husband and I were running a marathon together.