I kicked off the month of November & my winter marathoning season with the largest race in the world. Running in The New York City marathon is said to be an unparalleled experience. The sights, the crowds, the emotions all help make it an unforgettable experience. I earned my entry through fundraising for the John Ritter Foundation, a charity that I have been a supporter of for a few years ever since one of my best running friends started running for them in the 2012 NYC Marathon. I was up early on race day and found my way to south end of Manhattan to catch the ferry to Staten Island. I also lucked into meeting up with my Marathon Maniac pal Brian on the ferry. (Side note: I attempted to tye dye my Tyvek suit for the race. Clearly it didn’t work out)
Once arriving on Staten Island we were busses to the starting village area where I met up with other members of Team Ritter for a few hours before heading to our starting corrals. I started in the 2nd wave of runners promptly at 10:15am. The race was broadcasted live on ESPN2. I’m not saying that I was the star of the race or anything, but clearly someone was aware that I had started the marathon. I found this picture posted later on Facebook.
The race immediately starts by exiting the Island and running across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. I have never felt so crammed in for a run as I was moving across that bridge. Packed in across all lanes with no room to spare. It was difficult to run, so everyone was just kind of shuffling across. It was pretty incredible to run across though. Even with the dense crowd of runners I was surprised at how excited I was just to be running in the event.
We came off the bridge and started the run through Brooklyn. The crowd opened up a little bit, but not much. There was still a sea of runners in either direction around me. I didn’t realize before that the green, blue, and orange waves all run different courses for the first handful of miles. I have a friend that lives along the course at mile 6. She told me she’d be on the left, blue wave runs down the right so I had to jump the median to try to find her. I saw her as I was coming through and stopped for a quick selfie. (There’s always time for selfies)
The majority of the race miles happen in Brooklyn. Almost half the race was here. The crowds were pretty incredible. Packed along both sides of the street almost constantly.
Leaving Brooklyn we ran across the lower level of the Queensboro Bridge. This was such a different atmosphere than the 14 miles we had already run. Spectators aren’t allowed on the bridge. So all the outside sound stops, all you can hear are the sounds of feet from the runners around you. I stopped on the side of the bridge for a quick NYC backdrop picture along the bridge. When you talk to runners who have run the NYC Marathon this is one part they always talk about being challenging. It really is just you and the road as you move across. The sun goes away, the crowds go away, the noise goes away, everything just disappears for a mile.
Coming off the bridge, we made a left turn onto First Avenue and into Manhattan. After the silence of the bridge the sudden roar of the spectators was a jolt of energy. An incredible feeling to run by. As I approached mile 18 I started looking out for Team Ritter friends. I spotted Brooklyn and Amy Yasbeck on the side and ran over, it was just after a water station where they were also handing out wet sponges so there was a bit of dodging to get over to the side of the course. But again always time to stop to snag a few pictures.
I’m lucky to have a great cheerleader (literally) in my corner on race days. After I spotted the Team Ritter stop I made my way north and we crossed into the Bronx at mile 20. The crowds were the lightest here, the hills seemed bigger here, everything here seems to drag you down. We came out pretty quickly and started moving south again through Harlem. At this point I was on pace for a sub 4 finish, mile 23 though changed that. A quick cramp seized up my right quad and brought me to an unexpected walk.
The wonderful thing about living the Marathon Maniac life means there’s always another marathon coming up. (In this case mine was 6 days away) So I walked where I wanted to, ran some and caught all the pictures I could coming through Central Park and across the finish line of my first World Majors Marathon! How do you pass up the chance to take a picture with a stranger’s ‘Go Joe’ sign?
After crossing the finish line I hunted down my friend Dani who was volunteering at the finish line to receive my finisher medal. She is fantastic! Volunteering for this race helped her reach her 9+1 requirement through the NYRR to qualify for the 2016 NYC Marathon! (New York Road Runners club guarantees race entry to anyone who completes 9 events and volunteers at 1 event throughout the year) I also finished right before my buddy Linzie from SharpEndurance.com, I really enjoy watching people cross finish lines.
A pretty perfect way to finish up a great day on the road. Feeling the excitement of the marathon in the city and being surrounded by friends. I couldn’t be more thankful for the experience and everyone that helped make it possible through their support and donations.