Race Recap: NYC Marathon

Date: November 7, 2021; 11:20 AM
Distance: 26.2 MI
Place: New York, NY
Weather:  I dunno . . . around the low to mid 50s F
Official Time / PACE: Let’s just say that I finished
Swag: Tech T-shirt, finisher medal, goody bag with a bunch of goodies

Marathon Expo:

Marathon week is normally super intense, which can be both a good or bad thing. However, this year, you could really see the effect that COVID has had on the race. For one, the field of runners was reduced from ~50,000 to about 30,000. Also, the size of the expo was significantly smaller compared to the ones in previous years. For instance, there was not a large number of vendors, and certain aspects of the expo (e.g. the wall of runners) were absent. To be honest, I was a fan of the smaller expo because I’m an in-and-out kind of guy when it comes to these sorts of things. I don’t like to be around a whole bunch of people. While I’m not a huge fan of intense expos, I did feel a bit sad for the folks who really like to take in the expo experience. Perhaps, the expo was a bit more lively on Friday and Saturday; I visited on the 1st afternoon. I will say that I really missed taking a photo of being the Y in NYC for the New Balance display.

Hopefully, this display will return for next year’s NYC Marathon

Pre Marathon:

Because of COVID, NYRR made a slight change to the bag drop policy. Since there was no bag drop on Marathon Sunday, runners had to drop off their bags 1-2 days before the event. I gotta say that I LOVED this idea because it’s one less thing that you have to worry about bringing to the start village on Marathon Sunday.

The following evening, I went to TWO pre-marathon social meetups – Front Runners NY’s pasta dinner and the Black Runners Connection’s (BRC) NYC Marathon meet and greet. While I enjoyed both events, I think that I had a little more fun with BRC. Since this entry will be kind of long, I think that I’ll make a separate post about my experience with the two organizations.

I think this was the 1st marathon that I took it very easy the night before the race. In other words, I did not have a bunch of drinks and did not hang out all damn night before the race. I will admit that I had two (and only) two Bloody Marys while embracing my inner Pippin with my second breakfast on Saturday after checking my bag.

Breakfast #2 at Hi-Lite (UWS)

Thanks for reminding me of the LOTR reference, The Writing Runner.

Marathon Day – before the big event:

Boy, you could really feel the effects of COVID because the start village was pretty low-key compared to previous NYC Marathons. One benefit: there were no lines for the portapotties, and they were really clean.

While the start village was pretty low-key, you could definitely tell that folks were happy that NYC Marathon had returned.

I hate when I get into my throwaway book before starting the marathon. Now, I hope this book is available at a local library so I can finish it.

During the Marathon:

Ok going into this thing, I just wanted to finish. However, I would have liked to run the marathon a bit faster. But, I still stand my NYC Marathon 2021 mottos . . . I think.

I more or less went into this marathon with the plan to walk 0.1 miles for every two miles and walk all the bridges. Well . . . technically, I did run the Verrazano Bridge, which is the 1st 3 miles of the marathon’s course.

Staten Island through Brooklyn:

I will say that I was slightly overcome with emotions when the Star-Spangled Banner was sung right before starting. Not that I’m super patriotic, but hearing it at the foot of the bridge made me realize just how much I missed NYC Marathon. Right at the start, I was like is this marathon really happening?

During the Brooklyn part of the course, I felt pretty strong, and my plan was going well. It’s funny how well you can perform for a half- or full-marathon when you do not go out drinking the night before the race until 3 am. I have gotta say the power of the crowds in Brooklyn was so amazing, you could tell that both the runners AND the spectators really missed the marathon.

One small annoyance. Because of the pandemic, many restaurants have extended their outdoor dining areas into the street, so certain parts of the marathon were very congested. In previous NYC Marathons, I would always say that Manhattan was the best borough, but after this one, I’m going to say Brooklyn was the best in terms of crowd support. Then again, you spend about 13 miles of the course in Brooklyn. While the Verrazano Bridge connects Staten Island to Brooklyn, I’m going to consider this bridge (about 3 miles) as Brooklyn.

Brooklyn through Queens:

While crossing the Pulaski Bridge, which connects Brooklyn to Queens, runners hit the halfway mark of the marathon. Overall, Queens was so-so this time around.

Because of the Queensboro Bridge (connecting Queens to Manhattan), I always loathe running the Queens portion of this marathon. Since I was walking the bridges for NYC Marathon, I did not really mind the Queensboro Bridge on Sunday. As a matter of fact, a LOT of people were walking this bridge too.

Queens through Manhattan:

Let’s get this party started. After being on the quiet Queensboro Bridge for what seemed like ages, Manhattan was a HUGE breath of fresh because of the crowds on 1st Avenue. The roar of the crowds is such an unforgettable part of the NYC Marathon experience.

This portion of the marathon is when sh*t started to hit the fan because I was running (no pun) into some GI issues. Literally after crossing the bridge into Manhattan, I had to stop to take a couple of poops. Unfortunately, Manhattan (even with the support of the crowds) was the portion of the marathon where my time really suffered. After my poops, I really could not get back into the flow of the marathon – I think it has something to do with stopping and sitting for a total of ten minutes. Then again, maybe my body was over it. This time around, my longest training run was about 16 miles. Just as an FYI: Mile 16 is the beginning part of the 1st Avenue stretch, which has a huge number of spectators. Maybe my body was like: Wait, we are not finished?

At the point, that run 2 miles, walk 0.1 miles went out of the window. Also, my Apple Watch’s battery died during this portion of the marathon, which was annoying AF. I still tried my best to keep up with my run, walk plan because 20 NYC blocks (depending on where you are) is about one mile. However, no one really wants to do math (no matter how basic) after running 17 or so miles. BTW: I do not think that my Apple Watch has EVER died during a long run.

While the crowds in Manhattan were pretty pumped, I did not see any spectators handing out beers from Mile 17 – 19.

Then again, since we still are in this pandemic, I probably would not have accepted shots of beers from strangers. Lemme stop lying; I totally would have accepted a couple shots of beer. 😉

Manhattan through the Bronx:

Eh not much to report on besides seeing “The Last Damn Bridge” lady, whose name is Emily . . . I think.

At this point, there was a LOT of walking, but I really did not care. Remember my NYC Marathon mottos: It is what it is and Oh well . . . feet smell. I ran into one of the runners that I met at BRC’s pre-marathon event, and we chatted for a little bit.

The Bronx through Manhattan:

Is this marathon over yet?

It’s funny how the remaining 6 or so miles of a marathon feel like a half-marathon. I gotta say that I had a blast running through Harlem. My apartment is about a half of a block from the Marcus Garvey Park (Mile 22) portion of the course. A bunch of the kids and parents on my block made signs for me, which I thought was really nice.

Also, I ran into the hubby, who gave me a baseball cap because my head was really cold at that point. I will admit that I put up a front and picked up the pace during Miles 22 – 23 just to show off for my neighbors. After passing the park, it was back to walking. At this point, I could feel at least 3 blisters forming on my right foot.

Once we hit Central Park, I was really over it because those last 2.5 miles feel like a freaking eternity.

REM’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” definitely put some pep in my step, and powered me through the last bit. Although I’ve run NYC six times, I never really know where the finish line is located. I had to LOL while checking my actual location because of the Apple TV+ notification that popped while I was checking where I was.

The notification about 90 Day Fiance: the Other Way gave me some extra motivation to finish.

So I finished, but it was pretty lackluster because I did not perform very well. Also, it was dark when I finally finished. Boy did it get dark fast because there was still decent light when I entered Central Park.

Post-Marathon:

NYC Marathon #6 is done . . . final-freakin-ly.

One of the biggest thorns in my side is leaving Central Park because it takes so much time. This year, getting my medal, taking a pic or two, and getting my finisher’s bag & my pre-checked bag seemed like a breeze. According to the marathon app, it took me about 10 mins from crossing the finish line to exiting the part. In previous marathons, it has taken me about 40 minutes to leave the park after finishing. A few hunches for getting out of the park so fast:

  • Less runners to cause a bottle neck at the finish line.
  • I ran this one pretty slow so maybe there simply were not that many finishers who finished around the same time as I.
  • The marathon organizors’ Central Park exit plan was VERY effecient.
  • Less people checked bags.

While I planned to stretch and shower at the nearest Crunch Gym, I decided not to do so because I just was over everything. LOL, I had a nice, ignorant plan for my stretch and shower. Since I’m no longer a member of Crunch Gym, I signed up for a guest pass and was going to use the guess pass to take my post-marathon shower.

Instead, the hubby and I went to a sushi place for a couple of rolls and beers. . . you know, since I did not have my beer shots during the marathon.

Since my performance for the marathon was not that great, I decided to pick a not-so-great place for my “real” post-marathon meal. Yup, we went to Red Lobster near our apt in Harlem for my post-marathon feast. One of the few places where one can get a frozen margarita on the rocks.

How do you have a frozen margarita on the rocks, you might ask. I guess the blenders at this location are crappy, so the bartender must have just thrown some cubes of ice into the slush mixture. So damn ig’nant!

So that’s it!!! NYC Marathon 2021 and marathon #6 are done. Going forward, 2022 NEEDS to be a running/marathoning rebuilding year. I do not ever want to finish a marathon at night. Yes, we went back an hour; my wave started late; and I was in a higher wave . . . but it still was not a great feeling finishing so “late” in the day. Also, this was the first time that I was not in the 2nd wave (I was in wave 4 this year) so that felt really strange.

Question of the Day:

If you recently ran/finished a marathon, what were some things that you would have done differently (e.g. preparing for the marathon, running the marathon, celebrating your post-marathon finish, etc.)?

Shoutouts:

I gotta thank my fellow runners, the New York Road Runners (NYRR), the City of New York, the volunteers, my running groups (especially Front Runners NY and Harlem Runs), the spectators, and this blog’s readers for making the 50th NYC Marathon such an unforgettable experience.

Social media plug:

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16 comments

  1. Hey, it WAS that great, you got it done on not enough long training miles, you’re OK and you had fun! You also beat all my marathon times! Love the pics, especially the signs your neighbours made, how lovely! WELL DONE!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wooo congrats on finishing! A slower than desired time will always top a DNF! I’m sure the potty trip definitely make it harder to get moving again. So nice of your neighbors to support you! It sounds like things were a lot better logistics wise having 20k less people attend. Thanks for the LOTR reference and shout out; I’m glad you enjoyed a second breakfast! We did that on Sunday since our 10 mile race wasn’t until 1… eggs for breakfast at 7 then oatmeal at 10:30!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know what? I like how you think. I never thought of a poor performance > DNF. I saw somewhere that ~98% of the field finished. So good news (for the most part) all around.

      While NYC is the only full marathon that I’ve run, I will say that NYRR does a very good job logistically. For the 6 NYC Ms, I’ve never really had an issue outside of physically running the marathon. Maybe having 20k less folks made it easier on the backend for the organizers and volunteers. However, I did hear that some of the medical tents were prematurely closed within 2 hours of the last wave starting. Because of COVID, the waves were spread out, and the last one started at 12 pm. If folks were in the last wave, many folks probably did not get half way through the course before these tents were packed up. I guess many still ran and finished, but I would have been nervous not having medical tents. I’ve never needed to use a medical tent, but you never know. Actually, I lied. I used a medical tent before starting to the marathon to rub some vaseline in my nook and crannies.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations! A finish is a finish, no matter what the time says. Plenty of people couldn’t do what you did. You had me laughing a few times during your recap! I love the posters your neighbors made for you!

    Like

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