Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tips and Tricks for NYC Marathon

So, I am NO marathon expert. Not in the least. This is number two for me, I repeat number two. However, I am a skilled OCD planner/packer, as well as NYCer (6+ years going strong). I've been receiving a lot of questions from first time NYC marathon runners, so I figured I'd answer them in an orderly context.

Going to the marathon expo. Basically take any train to 34th street. The Javits Center is still a bit of a walk, so if you see a bus that says "Javits Center", you can hop on that too. HINT: Go as early as possible. I went on Thursday last year and I didn't have to wait for anything. My friends went Saturday and said it was a DISASTER. The majority of out of towners come in Friday or Saturday, so if you can, I recommend going Thursday night. Personal hint: Bring friends or family members! Tons of companies have signage and posters for you to write on right then and there, so they get to share in the fun!

How do you get to the marathon? Spoiler alert: bus sign-up filled up in, oh, 45 minutes I think. If you're signing up at the expo, you'll 100% be placed on the Staten Island Ferry. SECRET: Your assigned ferry time is not looked at. They make announcements encouraging runners to simply get on the next available ferry...aka a lot of runners are late so the last ferries tend to be crowded. For non-NYCers: The trains run less frequently on the weekends, so add 20 minutes to your estimated travel time (Saturday and Sunday trains run every 15-20 minutes). Or, you can simply take a cab. I actually recommend this. The streets are vacant on Sunday mornings, plus the marathon closes down so many streets, many drivers aren't willing to chance it!

Secrets of Staten Island. WEAR THROW AWAY CLOTHES! I know this seems like a "duh" thing, but I figured I'd mention it. The clothes are donated, so please throw them in away in a designated location, not in line to cross the Verrazano Bridge! Also, do NOT stress about bathroom lines; there are so many of them you barely have to wait. Greatest tip: food IS provided. Dunkin donuts provides coffee, bagels and tea...not sure if I spotted donuts. Mmmm. I ate my own breakfast beforehand, but with a later start time, I may opt for a second breakfast! 10:55?! Ain't nobody got time for that!

Via (fun fact: I don't know this runner, but when I googled Staten Island this came up...she knows people I've met...NYC is a small runner's world! Also: I'm taking more pictures on SI this time, there are NONE on Google Images!)

What should I wear? Know thy self is the first rule of all things marathon. If you trained in shorts, wear your shorts. If you trained in a tank top, wear the tank top. The body heat from 47,000 of your closest runner friends creates a natural increase in temperature. Add that with a strong November sun (GOD willing!) it can feel pretty warm by 12pm. Last year I wore shorts, a long sleeve shirt and my charity's short sleeve shirt over it. I was okay, but I ran in the shade. This year I'm opting for the long sleeve only, which has sleeves that easily push back. If you're a "cold" person, wear capris. Please remember: overheating is the worst feeling, and over dressing is a major contributor. ALSO: Write your name on your shirt! Thousands will call it out! It gave me an enormous amount of encouragement!

I'm the one with "Kristin" sprawled on her chest!

Now, here are some quick tidbits borough by borough:

Staten Island: Don't trip over the lane markers on the Verrazano Bridge like I did!
Brooklyn: Yes, the brownstones DO go on FOR-EV-ER. Put on music if you feel "Brooklyn ADD" coming on. I recommend anything by Jay-Z, especially "Brooklyn We Go Hard" and "I and Love and You" by the Avett Brothers (It's SLOW but I feel it pushed me).
Queens: MY BOROUGH! It may be short, but cheer for the high school band! Also, don't get discouraged on the Queensboro Bridge; run if you can, move to the right if you can't. It's deathly silent, and the roar of 1st Ave will be waiting. Take this time to focus on breathing, check your body, and repeat your race mantra. You may need it ;-)
Manhattan: 1st Avenue may seem never ending. Look at the crowd, take it in. If you look straight ahead, it can play a mind game on you. Hint: If you like to countdown, you enter the Bronx at 128th Street...just in case you're counting down.
The Bronx is quiet. NO, it is not! This is a lie. I LOVED the Bronx. Embrace it. It's the shortest borough. Hint: You'll enter back into Manhattan at 138th Street, just in case you're counting down again!
Manhattan: 5th Avenue can make or break you. Hint: You enter the park at 86th Street, keep counting down! Know that once you enter the park, you're almost there. The crowds in the park are PHENOMENAL. You'll have to push in the last .25, as it is UPHILL (Thanks marathon creators!).

Edited to add:
SUPPORT! Get your friends and family to get in on the action!!! First, runners sign up on Asics Support Your Marathoner page. Then friends and family can upload videos and photos which may appear on a big screen as you cross a sensor strip! (It happened to me...seeing Mr. Miller and Lambeau at about mile 21 caused instant tears). They can also track you by signing up for NYRR's Runner Tracking. Both of these tools help your family and friends feel connected to your experience, especially if they can't join you for the journey!

Check out these additional tips and tricks! Ashley listed some great advice as well! 

Lastly, WATCH THIS VIDEO! It's a VERY real depiction of the marathon. I definitely teared up a few times. SO. EXCITED.

There you have it. A quick rundown of some tips of the NYC marathoning trade.

What about you? Do you have anything to add? PLEASE comment! I love new information and tips! TELL ME ABOUT IT!

8 days until the ING NYC MARATHON!!!...single digits! Hurricane Sandy, come and be GONE!
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