Through the eyes of Lynn.
First and foremost, I am deeply indebted to friends and family members who encouraged me in running this race and especially to my wonderful husband, without whom I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this whole experience and the pictures too!
When I first signed up for the lottery for NYC marathon last November, I was hoping that I could get in. It would really be great opportunity since we were going to move to nearby Boston. It was defintely a great joy that I was IN when the news came out in April this year.
When you sign up for a marathon, you jolly well commit to it and train for the big day, failing which you would find yourself miserable during the race.
I didn’t train as well as I should. The longest distance that I have clocked this year was a half-marathon (and one attempt only), a far cry from the 30km you need to do before the actual marathon. It’s mere laziness and ill-discipline on my part. Period.
But I must say, running in a cold weather is a superbly nice feeling. You won’t be drenched in perspiration (so less chaffing) and you are less likely to get heatstroke. We had great weather during the marathon – sunshine and breezy @ around 10 C!
Here’s my thoughts on the experience:
1) Get to the expo on the first day.
We got there on Saturday and the whole process of getting the goodie bag was well-organised and smooth. I was given a Large-sized T-shirt (part of the items in the goodie bag) when I asked for a ‘Small’ during registration as the S and the M-sized shirts have run out. As in many races, I’m not sure why the organisers ALWAYS cater more large-sized shirts. Are all athletes BIG? It was a nice t-shirt but I could not wear it out.
The NYC marathon is a money-making business. You sense it with the newsletter sent to you, enticing you to buy this and that for memory’s sake and the fees you need to pay for marathon eve experience, post-marathon dinner, carving of name and timing on your medal, etc. Why not? It’s a popular and much coveted marathon, with so many international marathoners! Hotel rooms were almost booked out and surely retailers would love this event!
2) Book a room, NOT in Manhattan!
We all know, Manhattan is absurdly expensive. Get a bed or a room in Queens, Long Island…anywhere. Just not Manhattan! We had a small room, just big enough to fit a bed and a chest of drawer, with no bathroom attached. The check-in time was 3pm and we arrived 15 minutes earlier. There’s no flexibility; we had to wait. When we got our keys, opened the door to our room, lo and behold, the bed was not made! What crap!
Lousy experience we had with the rooms in Manhattan. Well, if you are rich, you could check into hotels which cost more than US$300 per night. For common folks like us, we could only pay 1/3 of the price for a dirty, old room.
3) Get good, decent dinner!
@ Momofuku! I decided to visit this place after reading David Chang’s cookbook. His recipes are rather difficult for me and I decided to just try his food. We had the pork buns and the Momofuku ramen. I must say this is one place that didn’t disappoint. Will review in a later post.
4) Have a good hearty breakfast before a marathon, at least 2 hours earlier.
We were in a rush and I could only get a piece of wheat bread with some cheese. Definitely not enough to fill up my tank. My energy was depleted after 16km. Not good.
5) Get updated transport info from the marathon website. The officers at the subway were not updated and could give you wrong info, resulting in a more stressful morning.
6) Make friends with fellow marathoners!
We met Liza while we were about to depart from the hostel and hey I’ve got myself a company!
7) Throw in a sweater for the initial waiting time at Staten Island.
It was cold. So, bundle yourself up well before the race. Wear a sweater that you are willing to throw ( given to charity) once you start the race. Use a trash bag to act as windbreaker, if you want. To run comfortably in NYC marathon, tights, running top, a pair of gloves and something to cover your ears would be good enough. Once you start running, you will not really be bothered by the strong wind.
8 ) Bring along gels!
Okay. I was really not entirely prepared in terms of fuelling. I didn’t bring fluids nor gels with me, thinking that I could get it along the way. The thing was, my energy was all depleted at 18km ( I didn’t have the energy to even pull down my tights in the portable toilet). So be prepared!
9) The medical aid stations were heaven-sent!
I started to experience cramps shortly after the 18-km mark and needed help. The first-aiders were remarkably professional and friendly and when they applied deep massaging on my tissues, that was bliss! And I was enticed to go to them for help… thrice. Heh!
10) Wear your name on your t-shirt!
You need support, especially when you don’t have a group of fans cheering for you. But when you have your name on your shirt, the crowd would just cheer you on and this will give you a boost. It’s fun too!
11) The supporters were amazing!
They made NYC marathon spectacular. It’s almost like the whole of New York City was cheering you on. The crowd didn’t disperse, except for the part at Queensboro Bridge (the Manhattan skyline is AWESOME!). And you desperately needed their support because they were the ones who could spur you on when you were feeling down and out. No kidding!
I was truly impressed by them. You really can’t bear to stop/ walk when they were shouting their lungs out to encourage you to get moving! They were amazing!
12) The course was not flat so train using the hills!
What a lot of bridges and slopes! There were climbs over five bridges and then the final grueling 10km ( you really need to visualise the route or better still, train in the real course if you can). Just when you thought that you have crossed one hurdle, another awaits you. Arghhh…but the downslopes are the ones you should capitalise on. Open your stride and go faster!
13) Savour the moment as you approach the last mile.
It’s awfully painful but you have survived. The crowds were cheering you on and fellow marathoners were encouraging one another. “Don’t stop!” “You are almost there!”, “Just a bit more!”
Euphoria was in the air. There was one Japanese old man who went shouting “ARIGATO! ARIGATO!” to the crowd as he approached the end. It was a hard run but he’s made it. Imagine the great joy! It’s indescribable.
14) Bottleneck after crossing the line.
Brace yourself for another challenge as you crossed that line. There was a huge congestion leading to the exit. The marathoners were all exhausted and to walk inch by inch and that was hell to the legs. One of them commented, “This is the hardest past of the marathon.” It’s meant as an insult but truly, we need to get out! There’s really no space to stretch or breathe (for a short girl like me!). I was just thankful that I didn’t pass out.
15) Go and have a dinner celebration!
This is the moment to celebrate. You limp like an old person but your heart is filled with joy and relieved that the worst is over. It’s time to celebrate with your friends and DIG IN, and we are not talking about bananas and gels!
Would I run a marathon again?
I honestly don’t think so. Unless I have a group of friends who want to do it together and better still, if someone pays me, I would be very much contented with running half-marathons.
I used 4 hr 56 minutes to complete this race. Not a bad timing for cramping all the way for the next 21km.
5km – 00:28:31
10km – 00:57:15
15km – 01:27:09
20km – 02:01:56
25km – 02:44:12
30km – 03:23:40
35km – 04:03:06
40km – 04:39:50
42km – 04:55:34