The 43rd running of the New York City Marathon marked the comeback of NYC's beloved five-borough race after its cancellation last year in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. The marathon's return to the streets was greeted with joy by runners from around the world and by the people of New York City who lined the 26.2 miles across the entire city. The race paid tribute to the victims and heroes of Sandy, and to those affected by April's Boston Marathon bombings. It was a proud moment for the Big Apple & Nation, and I was thrilled to be a part of it. For those who don't know my background and story into running, you can check out my previous blog: http://www.benfranklinrx.com/blog/2012/12/14/set-a-fitness-goal-in-2013/
Running the race was one of the most memorable "sporting" achievements and experiences that I have ever had and a dream come true. The actual experience blew away my wildest experiences going into the event. I hope you enjoy this little peak into my race-day experience!
The journey of getting to the staging area near the start line on Staten Island is part of the experience. My morning started at 5:30 am when I woke up and began my trek to the start line. The logistics and planning to get to Staten Island is a integral part of the race day experience. I jumped on a subway in Midtown (Manhattan) and crammed in with thousands of other runners as we made our way to lower Manhattan. Arriving in Battery Park, we all slowly walked the entrance to of the Staten Island Ferry. After several security checkpoints, bomb sniffing dogs, and bag searches, I boarded one of the Staten Island ferries. Looking back on the New York City skyline, the Freedom Tower and the Statue of Liberty was very emotional. I was really here! I was really about to run the NYC marathon! I also realized at this point I was in the safest spot in America at the moment. Each ferry full with runners had two coast guard escorts as we made the trip across the Hudson River. The overall security was intense!
The New York City Marathon is the biggest marathon in the world with over 50,000 runners! I cannot even imagine all the logistics to make this day happen. The starting village had thousands of people sitting, using the bathroom in port-o-potties, eating, drinking Dunkin Donuts coffee, and trying to stay warm. Remember folks, America runs on Dunkin! 🙂 I got to the staging area early enough to attend a small church service in a tent. It was pretty neat to be able to worship with others from around the world and to reflect on the many blessings in my life at this point. Oddly enough, I also had a cousin in lives in Austin who was running the race. It was great to catch up with Susan while we were both trying to stay warm and get mentally prepared for the long race ahead of us!
Before I knew it, the announcer said it was time for my wave to line up! The energy was so intense as folks lined up in their corral! Suddenly, the national anthem began and I had goose bumps everywhere. This was actually happening! The horn sounded and my journey through NYC began!
The New York Marathon started on the Verrazano Bridge and covered the first two miles of our journey! Everyone was right…you start on an incline, but you do not feel it at all. You’re too busy taking in the breathtaking views, admiring the helicopters hovering near the bridge, viewing all the boats in the water, and thinking “I am running the freaking NYC Marathon right now!!!”
While I could go into much detail about the entire race, I'll quickly recap my favorite parts of the course.
- Miles 1-2 (Crossing the Verrazano Bridge) - Already mentioned the excitement you feel as you start the race, but this bridge also gives you the opportunity to take in the views of the lower Manhattan skyline in the distance. You also realize just how far you are about to run to get to Central Park. Yikes... that looks a long way away! 🙂
- Miles 8-9 - I vividly recall this area in Brooklyn having some of the best crowds on the course and there was a huge church with a large choir out singing and cheering in the Chapel Hill area. It was very loud in this area... lots of energy!
- Mile 11 - The marathon course goes through a number of different NYC neighborhoods. Mile 11 is through one of the largest Hasidic Jewish community in America. The only cheering spectators for this mile were folks who had wandered down the street from nearby communities because the Jewish folks consider the marathon an annoyance and most ignore it.
- Mile 15-16 - Queensboro Bridge - There is an eerie silence as you leave Queens and begin the mile long journey over the Queensboro Bridge. All you hear is the breathing of other runners near you and the footsteps pounding the ground. This area is like the turning point of the race. However, as you get halfway across the bridge you begin to hear a little buzz from the other side. The buzz gets louder and louder as you make your way into Manhattan and Mile 16!
- Mile 16 - Besides the finish line, this was probably my favorite part of the race. Thousands of spectators line the streets once you enter Manhattan and make the final turn off the bridge! And honestly, knowing that you are in Manhattan is kind of refreshing!
- Miles 23-26 - As you enter the Central Park area, the crowd support is amazing. Honestly, I was hurting at this point and definitely slowed down. However, I am proud to say that I didn't walk one step during the race. I loved just looking around and taking in the views of the huge buildings, fall leaves and just soaking up the moment. I knew this once in a lifetime experience was soon coming to an end.
- Mile 25.5 - Seeing Joy! My wife had finished her morning of shopping around town and was cheering me on at this point. It was quick glance, but having her there was important and gave me that extra motivation to push through the pain!
- The Finish- Incredible crowd support and the joy of knowing I just completed THE NEW YORK CITY MARATHON! It was an amazing & surreal feeling when the race volunteer put that medal around my neck!NYC Marathon finished in 4:09:08!
- Then, it was a long walk to the family reunion area. (Which is another 1.5 mile... can this count as an Ultra Marathon?) Ponchos were passed out to all the runners to keep us warm and I have to admit it, is was much appreciated.
- Overall: The New York City Marathon has the best crowds of any race I’ve ever run. The energy is unbeatable!
Since November, I've been bombarded with questions about how did I feel, what was it like. It is tough to put into words with a quick answer because it is enormous and a once-in-a-lifetime experience! But I would sum up the NYC Marathon like this... It's not so much about running, it's about the journey to get there and the feeling of support from my family & friends. To explain...
My journey into running began over the past two years, and I have made such pretty drastic lifestyle changes to get to this point in my life (losing over 100lbs and feeling in the best shape of my life). Running the NYC Marathon will most likely be the peak of my marathon races that I participate in. However, I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. I've got another race scheduled in February. But I have literally never felt so encouraged in my entire life as I did on November 3, 2013. I felt the support of my wife, my family, and friends who were bursting with pride for me as I took on the challenge of this race. I felt the support by so many of you that took time to track me that day, send me text messages before the race, and blow up my Facebook & Twitter accounts. And I felt the support by the Big Apple - the millions of every day New Yorkers that came out to cheer for mostly random strangers who were doing something as silly as running a marathon.
I encourage each of you in 2014 to set a fitness goal and strive to reach your peak this upcoming year! It doesn't have to be running a marathon like crazy people do, like me. It can be something as simple as running a 5K for the first time, joining a workout group or gym, starting a new crossfit routine, or whatever. The toughest part of any workout regiment is getting started! Do you need some help or encouragement getting started? Drop by the store or hit me up on Facebook! I'd love to help you get plugged into different groups in the region and headed in the right direction this year! I hoped you enjoyed this recap into my experience in New York!
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!
- Kasey Cheshier, Store Manager
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