NYC Marathon Experience

Through the eyes of Ken.

New York was…interesting.

Beyond the bumps of the chilly weather, inadequate hotel room, confusing train schedules, and the crazy subway map, I enjoyed myself.

It was refreshing to see so much of the city out in force in support of so many runners they don’t even know.

I had set out immediately after seeing the wife off at South Ferry, and made my way to a nice street corner to wait for her to pass.

She was in the third wave of runners so I waited probably over an hour and witnessed some pretty amazing things in the meantime.

People were pouring out of their houses (some hanging out of their windows) to cheer on the waves of runners that were passing by.

You’d think they were cheering on friends, probably set their watch according to some schedule just so they could pop out and cheer him on as he ran past, but that wasn’t the case at all.  These people were cheering for ALL the runners.

I was waiting an hour for my wife. These folks were there before me and was still hanging around after I left, cheering on every runner that passed.

If you had your name on, they’d yell your name. If you had your country’s name, or flag, they’d cheer for that. If you wore a silly costume…etc.

It was infectious and I soon found myself alongside them, cheering for people I’ve never met.

They brought their kids out! On a Sunday morning. On a CHILLY Sunday morning.  All wrapped up in their coats so they wouldn’t freeze (I know I almost did…)

And their kids cheered with them. For people they didn’t know. They’d stretch their hands out to the runners, who hi-fived them as they passed. And every single time they were high-fived, they’d turn around… and BEAM. Their smiles were so wide you wondered if you had somehow stumbled on the set of a toothpaste advertisement.

It was fun!  (No, I’m not any closer to running a marathon. We can have cheering screaming people along a half-marathon route too…)

Yeah. Fun. =)

The NYC Marathon experience

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

2 more days to NYC Marathon

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where -” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

My sister asked me over MSN last night (EST) if I knew anyone in Jakarta. Immediately, I sensed something was wrong and asked her what had happened. Mount Merapi erupted again and they were on standby. This morning, I woke up and saw her FB msg, they were ready to leave.

They had no car and had to buy one in this time of emergency. I could imagine the great anxiety and trepidation that gripped them. They had stayed awake to be on standby the night before and now had to do a 12-hour ride to Jakarta. I’m sure the road conditions were bad. When it was in its normalcy, roads were bumpy and badly lit. Now, with people on the road, all frantic and fleeing, I’m sure it would not be any better.

When you are in danger, anywhere will do as long as you escape to a safe place. I hope they will make it to Jakarta though, safely.

It’s a great reminder again that humans are fragile and no matter how mighty you are, when you are at the mercy of such calamities, you could only cry out to the One who can save you. I’m praying that they will be protected from all harm.

Nothing is more important than lives.

I’ve decided to run this coming marathon with the people who are suffering on this earth in mind; I’ll be praying for them. I can’t do much here but I do know the power of prayer. A lofty thought you may say. On the contrary, I was humbled, greatly. I had more time now to read and realised that there are millions of people who are not so privileged as we are. I know all along there were people who need help but in my busyness, I had been oblivious to what is happening around the world.

In the last preparation of the long run, emotions are high. I remember my last marathon when I wrote this post. I was overwhelmed by feelings because I know I would be attempting a feat that is not easy. This time round, there is a different focus. I would be running the race with the people who are dear to me (…and those I have read about) in my mind. I’m lifting each one of them in prayers.

And I will still run the race, in the literal and metaphorical sense, and I seek to finish it well.

“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Heb 12:1

5 more days

Marathon is this Sunday. I’m surprisingly cool. Maybe it’s because I know there is no such thing as last-minute cramming of distance. I mean you can try of course and risk having cramps on race day. Anything can happen and you just need to give it your best shot that day. Period.

I’m starting to carbo-load this week. Normally it should be 3 days before but I guess that’s no harm doing it a few days earlier. I just need to watch out for the amount I consume?

Dear 大姨妈, please either come a few days before or after the race. Please don’t come on race day. Thank you very much.

More on cooking/food. This link contains 40 Singapore foods we can’t live without (is it?) and I hope to attempt to cook at least 1/2 of them. And my sis gave me a good link to Asian recipes. So timely! Yay! Can’t wait to cook them!

‎”Get going. Get up and walk if you have to, but finish the damned race. ” – Ron Hill to Jerome Drayton during the 1970 Boston Marathon

My last 10km run.

Preparation for marathon = Spaghetti?

I’m running out of ideas for meals until I came across Giada’s cookbook. Italian. Hmm… For a long while, I have tried to avoid this cuisine because it uses herbs and varied types of cheese which I’m not familiar with. Then I chanced upon this simple dish – Whole wheat spaghetti with lemon, basil and salmon and thought I should give it a try. After all, I need to carbo-load soon in preparation for the marathon and spaghetti can do a good job!

I like it. It is a simple healthy pasta dish and offered variety to what I had cooked for the past 2 months. And we had salmon today, something different from the red meat which I so often cooked. I think I would be trying out more pasta dishes in these next few weeks. Meanwhile, give me ideas for meals too!


And to countdown for the marathon, I bought a 2 running tops today, the most expensive I have purchased in all my years of running. I know it is rather late to try out new clothing for a race but I was hoping this will keep me comfortable in the cold weather which I would be running in; I really hope it won’t fall below 10C on that day. I’m not optimistic, btw.

I bought the hubs and I running gloves too! Mine matches my top. After this marathon, I believe I would be attempting more half-marathons in future. 26 miles is too much for my body which has given me signals recently that it is not getting any stronger. Of course, I am bearing much hope that the hubs would run half-marathons with me; it’s really lonely doing things by oneself. Let’s aim for some races in US next year! Continue reading