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The NYC marathon course is not easy! It’s not extremely hard either; but its tricky because if you go out too fast (which is easy to do), you’ll really pay for it in the second half.
On top of that; I was motivated to raise money for an organization which is meaningful to my family and I, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This blog post will be a little long because I am going to review the course, support from TNT and the training app TNT uses.
Lets Start with the race:
One of the biggest challenges with doing the NYC marathon is the wait. You’ll be up super early and at the marathon village way before your start time. It will be cold and it’s important to wear warm clothes before you start so you don’t waste energy trying to stay warm. Bring/wear extra layers that you can either store in your UPS bag (you’ll get it at the expo if you opted for bag check) or throw away. Bring a wool hat, gloves, scarf – even if you think you won’t get cold, it’s better to be prepared with extra stuff. Also bring a garbage bag (must be clear!) that you can use to sit down on, or where over you (cut a hole for your arms and head) to protect you from the wind and cold. If you’re not checking a bag, wear old clothes that you plan to leave behind (There will be Goodwill donation bins on the way to the corrals.) Whether or not you’re checking a bag, you’ll still want a throwaway shirt that you’ll wear in the corral and discard right before the start (or maybe even run in for the first couple of miles if it’s cold.)
Obviously the start is going to be a crowded, but don’t worry about how long it takes you to cross the start – your timing won’t start until you cross the timing mat. It might be a little difficult to start running your goal pace from the start because of the crowds. If you get stuck behind some groups, try not to weave or make up any lost time — that would be a huge mistake. You’ll pay for it later in the race.
The Verrazano Bridge is an epic race start; especially on a day with good weather. There is something magical about seeing the sun rise over the Narrows..
The bridge is actually the highest point in the course, but you won’t even notice it because the crowds will naturally slow you down (that’s a good thing). There are three start lines for the course; Green on the lower level, orange on the outbound side and blue on the inbound side. In my opinion, the orange corral is the best start because you get the best view. That while first mile; despite being up hill is epic. The second mile is all downhill. Be careful not to pick the pace up too much and waste energy. Don’t overstride – you’ll pound your quads and you’ll feel that later.
Miles 2-8 in Brooklyn is mostly flat so these early miles should feel very easy and you can settle into a comfortable pace. Brooklyn is full of energy and it’s tempting to join the party! Don’t let the crowds push your pace too much — you need to stay in control and not get too excited. This is also where the blue and green waves start to intersect. What I loved about orange and missed about green were the crowds. The green wave spent miles 2 through 4 on a lonely stretch of highway where orange was surrounded by cheering.
The first significant hill is around mile 8 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, but you shouldn’t feel it too much because it’s still early and the crowd support there will be good. A bit past that point, you encounter a few uphills that aren’t too bad, then, from 8.5 to about 10 miles you get some nice downhills, followed by some moderate ascents over the next mile. Whats interesting is younoass through a quarter of Brooklyn known as Williamsburg, there is practically no cheering there. In fact, there are residents crossing the street as if there were no runners present! From 11 miles to the 20K mark it is mostly down or flat. Look forward to a nice downhill at 20K. Then you go toward the Pulaski Bridge, and climb more than a quarter-mile, passing the 13-mile mark and the half-marathon mark on the way to the bridge’s crest. This part can be tough if it’s windy and there isn’t great crowd support there, it’s a bridge… Keep your stride nice and short on the uphill. If it’s windy, duck behind a bigger runner in front of you!
I grew up in Queens and would love to tell you they cheer the best…but they dont 😦 it’s only because the section through Queens is so short. Once you cross into Queens, the next mile or so is mostly flat, but you’ll start a gradual climb at about 14.5 miles, as you start to move up the Queensboro Bridge. You pass the 15-mile mark soon after you start the climb. The good news is that the bridge has a down side, too, and you’ll be heading into one of the loudest cheering sections of the course – First Ave. Be careful and don’t let the crowds make you push the pace too much! Three bridges down – two more to go.
First Avenue is a awe-inspiring series of ups and downs. Coming onto first Avenue is that life, imitating art, imitating, life moment! From 60th Street to 70th Street is up, then down from 70th to 74th, followed by up from 74th to 86th, down from 87th to 90th, then a flat stretch to 96th. Because of the crowds you probably won’t notice the inclines too much. There has to be a one for one runner to cheer-er ratio – try to use the crowds as a distraction. From there begins a difficult stretch and the crowds start to get thinner. It’s a gradual uphill almost all the way to 125th Street, and then you climb for almost half a mile to the top of the Willis Avenue Bridge.
Near the end of the bridge, you’ll get a little downhill, which takes you past the 20-mile mark. Here’s where some people may hit the wall if they went out too fast in the beginning. You’re only in the Bronx for about a mile and it’s mostly flat – just one small uphill. You’ll go over the Madison Avenue Bridge (the easiest bridge, although still tough because of where it is), where you cross the 21-mile mark. Finally, you dip down, then turn left onto Fifth Avenue.
Back to Manhattan:
Now you’re heading south to Central Park. This can be one of the toughest parts of the course. Once you hit 110th St, you’ll start a gradual incline of about a mile. It wouldn’t be so bad if you hadn’t just run 22 miles. At 90th St. and 5th, you’ll enter Central Park, and it starts going flat to downhill (at Cat Hill). I think this is one of the harder parts of the race because you enter a lush forest and you can’t really get your bearings on how close you are to the finish. Knowing that you’re in the park and seeing and hearing the crowds will give you extra strength. At around mile 24.5 there’s a little bump, that’s the incline that goes from East 72nd to East 73rd. Continue to run on the east side of the park. (Warning: You may notice the stench of horse manure around mile 25 – but don’t hold your breath!) You turn right onto Central Park South by the Plaza Hotel and go a quarter-mile slightly uphill. At Seventh Avenue, you get a long block downhill as get ready to head back into the park. At Columbus Circle, you’ll turn back into the park (look for yourself on the jumbo TV screen!), then start a gradual incline to that beautiful finish line!
Onto the training…
Team in Training uses a platform called SixCycle.
The nice part about the app is that it creates an ecosystem for coaches and runners to connect while at the same time tracking their progress. This is important because there are times when you need support from other runners! Non runners who emotionally support you are sometimes dumbfounded when you tell them you need to do a 16 mile training run.
The app automatically connects your exercise to the training plan (granted you need to have a partner device like a garmin.) You can also download the SixCycle recorder… personally I have too many apps and I only track with two, so pairing my garmin was perfect.
I have also found, while reviewing the app, that there is a robust connection to Team in Training resources. I wish I had paid more attention to that whilst I was training. There is a bit of navigation to get what you want; but it’s all linked.
I don’t like the advertisements when I own the app… that’s a bogus feature. Additionally I couldn’t figure out how to download a paper copy of my training plan. I didn’t want an e- version because I don’t consult my app before a run, but if I have the calendar on my desk I will see it…And yes the irony of what I just said is I could write down the training on a paper calendar and have consulted the plan that way; but I am also lazy…