I’m a New York City marathoner :: Race recap from the runners’ perspective

Whether you’ve just been accepted into the NYC Marathon, you’re researching the NYC Marathon, or you’re one of my faithful followers, below is my entire experience of the 2014 New York City Marathon, from a runner’s perspective. Stay tuned if you want tips from the spectator’s perspective.

The morning of November 2, 2014, my first thought was “Today I become a marathoner. Not only a marathoner, but a New York City marathoner.” Something that, as of that day, just over 1 million people could say they had done. But that was me. And I was about to experience (one of) the most exciting event(s) of my life. 

I immediately jumped out of bed and climbed into my running clothes. Staying at the host hotel, the Hilton Midtown, allowed me to sleep in and rest a big longest because it provided me with a convenient location to the official Midtown bus pickup, and the race finish line (which we’ll get to later). The lobby was buzzing with runners and spectators quickly making last-minute plans as we walked Through the lobby and into the cold New York Marathon morning air. 

A quick 3-minute Uber ride took us to the entrance of the race’s official Midtown bus pick-up spot at the New York City Public Library. After being accepted into the race it’s important to select a transportation location to the starting line at Fort Wadsworth since you start on Staten Island. The line at moved fairly quickly. It only took about 10 minutes from the entrance of the line to boarding the bus. We had to show our race bibs before boarding the bus, for security measures to ensure that no one other than race participants were boarding the bus. 

Aboard the bus, we we’re seated comfortably. It wasn’t like a crowded bus or subway with people standing in the isles (which I worried about), everyone had a seat. It took about an hour or so to get out to Fort Wadsworth, which was plenty of time for me to eat my first bagel, take in the sights, and visit with my friend Michelle. NYCM Tip: if you don’t know anyone running, make friends with the other runners around you. Runners tend to be the most welcoming and relatable people. Especially in an atmosphere like the NYCM. You’re here to make memories and friends! 

Arriving at Fort Wadsworth seemed effortless. Michelle and I followed the crowd through security where we had to show our race bibs once again to ensure it was runners only. Then we had to send our baggage through airport-type scanners, then find our color’s starting corral (every participant has a starting corral color: orange, blue, or green). This was a bit confusing, I won’t lie. There are race volunteers set up all over with signs that said, “Ask me a question,” but the guy we talked to didn’t know anything. The map behind him didn’t help either. We wanted to know two things: where are the bagels and where is the starting corral for color orange. So instead, we stood in line of the port-a-potties (since it seemed to be a mile long). NYCM Tip: Bring extra toilet paper. Moving on…

After the port-a-potty, we stumbled across the starting corral for the orange color. After asking once again here the bagels were, we were given very vague directions that turned out to be right. I later found out that the NYRR planned to have more directional signage, but because of the windy conditions, signs either blew away or weren’t placed for runner safety. 

Either way we had about two hours to waste. The holding corral (where the bagels were) was like a giant party with people milling around, drinking Gatorade, eating carbs and huddled together talking. People were all over the place, sitting wherever they could find space. NYCM Tip: in addition to taking throwaway clothes to wear before the race, I recommend bringing old blankets or towels to sit on while you wait. The ground was cold and wet, and the only place to sit was on asphalt or grass. Running with a wet or cold tushie didn’t seem appealing to me. So Michelle and I found a place to sit and dove into our second bagels watching people and listening to the announcements in at least five different languages. Time really seemed to fly by, which I knew would be indicative of the day. After weeks of training and long hours doing nothing but running, the day was finally here! I was surrounded by runners from all corners of the world with all levels of talent, all with different stories and reasons for running, and all ready for the race! 

It was exciting when my wave (the final wave) was finally called to line up! With one final stop at a port-a potty (thankfully it was a better experience than the previous potty stop). We headed to the starting corral. There were so many people lined up that it took about 10 minutes to enter the corral. 

One last picture, then we were off!

Walking up to the starting line was the most surreal feeling. Seeing the Verrazano Bridge from Staten Island made everything seem so real! I was about to run the New York City marathon! 

The gun went off and people began to cheer. Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York began to play and we began to run. From Staten Island we ran across the Verrazano Bridge into Brooklyn. 

The first mile of the race is uphill, while the second is downhill. But really, there’s so much adrenaline that the first hill is hardly noticed. About a quarter of a mile into the race I had an “OHMYGOSH! I’m running the New York Marathon!” feeling. Then decided to take a picture.

The scenery from the bridge was incredible. 

Especially when we got off the bridge and into Brooklyn where the spectators were cheering!

I swear I smiled for the first 5 miles. One of my favorite moments was when we ran past a group of soldiers who were cheering for us… the runners. People who fight for our freedom and safety were cheering for me, just because I was running. I felt humbled and unworthy. So I joined the runners around me in cheering and clapping for them. Then I cried.

The crowd support really lived up to the hype. People lined the streets throughout almost the entire course (except when we were on the bridges) and had spirited, encouraging and hilarious signs. Bands played throughout the course, neighbors joined together and had breakfast on their porches while watching us run, spectators high-fived runners, and of course the New York City police department and fire department blocked off streets and stood sporadically and strategically throughout the course to ensure runner safety. I felt safe the entire time. 

I loved seeing the borough’s signature architecture. NYCM Tip: Always look about a quarter of a mile ahead of where you are so you have enough time to get your camera out to take pictures. This was something I was REALLY bad at. 

Most of the time I was so caught up in the moment that I couldn’t tell you what mile I was on, how much time had passed or what borough I was in. However I knew that my family was going to be waiting for me at miles 4, 17 and 24, so I anxiously awaited those miles. It’s an incredible feeling being surrounded by supporters who don’t even know you, but it’s the best feeling finally getting to see your family. 

When first researching spectator tips, it seemed like a 50/50 chance that my family and I would see each other. We heard disappointing stories of spectators who didn’t see their runner on the course, or runners who missed their spectators. But we had the genius idea of bringing a small Texas A&M flag that a family member would wave, so I would be able to find them easily. It totally worked. So, NYCM Tip: have one of your spectators hold something unique and recognizable in the air so it’s easy to find them!

Continuing on, I actually choked up when I turned and entered Central Park. My first time in Central Park was at the New York City Marathon. Amazing. At this point my fingers were frozen so I couldn’t take any pictures 😦

I was so encouraged when I saw my family at mile 24. I had such mixed feelings – joy that my family was there, but sadness that I had about 2 miles left of the experience.

Believe it or not, the finish line came too soon.

The nicest people congratulated me as they handed me my finisher’s medal, so I returned the favor and handed them my camera.

It felt like the longest walk out of Central Park, though. 

I didn’t take advantage of the family reunion area because the hubs and I found each other at a nearby restaurant, then we walked over to Starbucks to join up with my family and thaw out!

The race was incredibly fantastic! I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity to run, especially for the National MS Society. The weather, although it was WINDY, really was great. Let’s not forget that only two years ago the NYCM was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, and being in November, it easily could snow or be FREEZING during the race. Being a girl from Texas, the wind didn’t bother me one bit.

I cannot express how blessed I am to have run this race. It’s hard to fathom that I actually did it. It’s an experience I’ll remember forever!


Let’s chat!

  • What’s an event in your life that you feel blessed to have been part of?
  • Do you prefer hot or cold weather?

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