New York City half marathon and full marathon have been on my race bucket list items -which proves relatively easy since I live a quick 5 hour train ride away! I checked off the half marathon for this year and will be deferring NYC full until 2019 (due to an existing race). Bottom line review on NYC Half: I definitely enjoyed it and may do again if I have a group of girlfriends but it definitely felt like a one time GREAT experience that I could do other bucket list races now and not regret not coming back.
- Cold as all get out (23 degrees at start)
- 5 mile PR
- 10k PR
- 10 mile PR
- Half Marathon PR
- Rent a hotel in Times Square – the 2018 route allowed for finish in Central Park and a quick walk back to the hotel
- Bring throw away clothes (like a robe from Goodwill) for the start
- Layer up with toss away run clothes – it was so cold on the run the water at the aid stations was freezing but I still got overheated and threw away a jacket.
- FOLLOW the advice of the course guide when it says to show up early – the taxi ride and walk down to the start line was foreverrrr even at 7am on a Sunday
- Breakfast: 2 oatmeal packets and a banana + my usual coffee
- On course: Honey stinger Gel every 3 miles and water only at aid stations
Overall, I very much enjoyed this race. The support at the Expo and along the course was amazing. I was a little surprised to find such limited merchants at the expo but was still able to snag a last minute race belt that I had left at home in DC. I also was super impressed (because I’ve never seen this before) with the NYC Half application allowing you to see the elevation as specific miles by dragging your finger on the elevation map or on the course chart. That helped to plan for a better race and mental preparation. I was also impressed (again never seen before) with the availability of the pace bracelets – they are disposable bracelets that show what time you should be hitting at each time of the race (Not pace time, but clock time) to hit your goal of that bracelet. Unfortunately, I completely forgot mine in the room but I have it for next time!
We stayed right in Times Square and that was great for sight seeing and at the end of the race. It was a 5-6 block walk back from Central Park – which wasn’t too bad even in the cold! The race is a point-to-point race with it starting in Brooklyn, going over the Manhattan Bridge, by the EU Nations building, through Times Square and finishing in Central Park. I actually really encourage following the suggested time of when to arrive at your Wave. I was Wave 1 and figured I’d have plenty of time – what I didn’t account for was the taxi dropping us at the wrong end of the Park in Brooklynn and having to walk/run 2 miles to the start. I ended up missing my Wave but started in Corral A of Wave 2 – it worked out well until I ended up catching many of the Corrals in front of me (which you’ll see greatly impacted the finish).
I thoroughly enjoyed the first 2 mile downhill out of Brooklyn but once you hit the Manhattan bridge – whew! Winds were insane plus the elevation (oy!) (Note: I’m a flat runner, I’m not fan of hills by any means). My slowest mile was the bridge but of course – what goes up must come down – so down the bridge and into Manhattan we went!
I didn’t even realize how cold it was since has prepared with leggings, socks, neck gaiter, ear muffs, gloves and 3 layer top (sports tank, long sleeved thinner and then a thicker outer jacket with a broken zipper for me to throw away- which I did finally at mile 6.5). At the first few aid stations I kept wondering why they had ice in the cups LOL – then I was thinking “oh that’s smart, so they don’t blow over in the wind”. By the fourth aid station, I grabbed a cup and realized it was frozen. I went to squeeze it – well….only the top layer was frozen so it popped and ended up splashing into my face. THAT is why there was ice – ha! It was freezing from the winds.
Despite the cold, the race was well supported by staff and volunteers. I was surprised at the lack of supporters out on the course – there were some good signs but I really was surprised at the low level for such a largely populated city and race. Rumor has it they come out in droves for the full!
It was pretty incredible, despite the wind, to cross Manhattan Bridge and see the Statue of Liberty, and the One World Trade Building. From there we ended up in Times Square and it was ALL shut down for us. (Really cool perk!) – This is where most of the supporters were standing.
Nothing else major to report until hitting Central Park. We entered at the south point (around mile 10) and looped through the park to finish in CP. I was really looking forward to this and was disappointed at how crowded and narrow it was. I don’t know if I had just caught up to so many corrals or what the deal was- but I ended up finishing the race with 1/2 mile more than the distance – and I attribute the majority of that to Central Park weaving. There were so many walls of walkers (people racing) and New Yorkers who dont GAF about the race going on and just walk in front of you. I still hit a distance PR and a race marathon PR even with .5 mile more on my watch – disappointing such a difference between the two but I’ll take it.
After finishing – there was (what felt like) a long walk out of the Park and was freezing at this point. Overall, as you can tell I enjoyed the course itself and the race staff – there are a few variables I could/couldn’t control but won’t let that reduce my perspective of recommending the race.