Running the 50th anniversary of the New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 7th, was like no other race I’ve run before.
The energy, vibe, and sheer volume of the crowds were next level. The bridges and rolling hills crushed my upper legs, which are accustomed to the flat pavement of Chicago’s Lakeshore Path. And the fact that I ran through all 5 boroughs still feels so surreal, because I’ve only explored these parts of the city by car when I lived in NJ/NY when I was young.
The race started at the base of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Staten Island, with one mile uphill and then one mile downhill. Miles 3-12 took us to Brooklyn, where the streets were relatively flat but then once we got to Miles 13-15, we were now in Queens and running up and down a quiet patch on Queensboro Bridge, where I could start feeling the burn in my upper legs. As we were heading down the bridge, we could hear the roaring thunder of the Manhattan crowd on 1st Avenue, which brought new life to my mind and body.
The flat and wide stretch of 1st Avenue was great, but it only lasted for a few miles (Miles 16-18), as we approached The Bronx, where there would be a couple short bridges between Miles 19 and 20. Then we were back in Manhattan again, where we’d close out the last 5 miles of the race.
At the end, especially in the last 3 miles, having my name on my shirt was a blessing and a curse. I wanted to acknowledge everyone calling my name, but I needed to conserve energy to run up and down the rolling hills of Central Park. The crowds were deafening but amazing, and often, my fuel for taking on those hills.
I honestly felt tight the whole race, so I’m astonished that I didn’t cramp until the last mile, although I had a few near misses as early as Mile 17.
I kept to my plan of not looking at my watch, only to check it for miles ran so I knew when to look out for my cheering squad (my wife and my mom) who saw me at Miles 7, 18, and 23. On occasion, I did see my pace, but I didn’t really know my time until the last 800m, which was absolutely liberating. Despite the hills just dominating me, I really, really enjoyed this race.
Special thanks to the volunteers, spectators, my wife, and my mom for really making this marathon experience memorable. It was also great running alongside my fellow 30K+ runners on those streets. And I hope to be back again in 2022 to run the NYC Marathon again.