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A Runner’s Diary: Watching the NYC Marathon

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Today is the NYC Marathon and I just watched the first part on TV. I loved watching the elegance of each runner taking a stride. These elite runners are amazing. They take long hard strides and as you watch, you can see each and every muscle in their bodies working—their legs, core and even arms helping them along the way. They keep on going strong.

I sat and wondered if I could run the NYC Marathon. I’m signed up for my first Half Marathon in Disney this January, but perhaps my longer term goal should be to run the 26.2-mile race.

I started to do some research about the route. According to many websites and even the television announcers, the NYC Marathon is the hardest marathon in the world. It’s hard because of the steep inclines and declines. They say that the Verrazano Bridge at the start of the race is one of the hardest parts because of the incline. And they also say that the decline doesn’t make up for the incline.

This is a hard marathon to do. The woman who came in second place from the USA, Shalane Flanagan, is an elite runner who has been running for years and yet, she never did a marathon before. She ran this race in 2 hours, 28 minutes and 40 seconds. She was 20 seconds behind first place.

Watching the race, I sat in awe as these elite women took their long strides and were able to keep it up throughout the entire marathon. What a feat!

The Chilean miner who was trapped in the mines and ran every day in the mines while he was trapped also intrigued me. Watching him run was so motivating. Watching all these people run this race was amazing to me. Could you imagine doing this?

Interestingly, the NYC Marathon has various start times for runners. Most of the “average” runners are in the last grouping and today; they waited more than five hours in Staten Island before they took off. The runners ran from Staten Island into Brooklyn to Queens and then the Bronx before finishing in Central Park in Manhattan. They had a perfect day for it. It was 40+ degrees.

I would be in the “average” group. Do I think I could do this? Running uphill is hard. The biggest incline I’ve done so far is running up the ramp of the Boardwalk in Long Beach. But, that’s such a short distance. I’ve never done an uphill for more than a mile, which is something you need to be able to do prior to the race.

But I would like to do this. And maybe one day I will. I need to be able to run 13.1 first in order to do 26.2, don’t you think?

I looked into what it takes to get into this race.  It is done on a lottery system, for those of you who do not know. The lottery opens tomorrow at noon. I guess I will see if I get in on the lottery system, but it’s highly unlikely. The other ways to get into the race is either to run nine NYC races throughout the year starting in January 2011 or raising money for a charity. Personally, I like the charity idea.

Then, I thought, if I am serious about doing the NYC Marathon, shouldn’t I try to do the Half Marathon first? So, I looked into signing up for the NYC Half Marathon in March. I noticed that they too have a lottery, or you can run for charity by raising in excess of $1000. I looked at the different participating charities and thought that they were all worthy causes. The more I thought about it, the charity route seemed to be the way to go. Since all are worthy causes, how do you choose?

To be continued …

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About Hilary Topper

  • Tomas Hart

    Hilary, I was there yesterday, finished in 4:38 hrs. I don’t know who was there waiting 5 hours before the start, I arrived by ferry and bus to the start village after 8:30am and my start was around 10:10am. It was very well organized, there was even a concert at the village while runners were waiting. Doing 2-3 half marathons before is definitely a good idea. Don’t worry if they don’t draw you for the half on Manhattan, NYRR makes one half marathon run in each borough during the year, f.e. Queens in July or Bronx in August.

    Verrazano bridge is not hard, really, since it is immediately after the start, everybody is happy and nobody runs fast. Queensboro is tough and finally smaller Willis bridge to Bronx is really hard, everybody is tired and lot of people just walked there. Also 1 Ave is tough. Finally, 5 Ave between 110 and 90 St is not easy either but people cheering around the road will not let you stop.

    I really advise you to join NYRR in January 2011 and do 9 races and 1 volunteering in 2011, it will secure you guaranteed spot in 2012. Seems like a long time to wait, but if you do several halves next year and start real marathon training in the spring 2012 I have no doubt you will make it!!! Also, better run fall marathon, since the biggest part of your training will take time in spring and summer – nicer weather and less hectic work schedule. Overall, I can only encourage you, it is something really amazing.

    And I really advise to volunteer in the next year, the further on the road the better, you will see how exhausted people will be and still fighting to make it to the finish line and it help you in your training to stay mentally strong.

  • Hilary Topper

    Congratulations Tomas! I am really impressed. You are an inspiration. Thank you so much for your suggestions.

  • Karen B

    Hi Hillary;

    I stumbled upon your blog and since I’ve run NY several times AND Disney I felt compelled to respond!Number 1…YES you can do a marathon! But yes I do think u need to run a half b4 you do a full! Disney is awesome so it’s good that thats the one you chose to do for your first. I did the half and the full (Goofy Challenge in 2009) and its a great race. As for NYC being the “hardest”…no way!
    I have done courses that were definitely hillier (Memorial Day Marathon in the Birkshires…OMG!!!. NY has hills but the crowds are sooo awesome that they help u thru them. The Verrazaon is an incline but you really dont notice at all. It is so congested and u are so excited that by the time you get over it and see mile 2….you’re like ‘how the heck did we get to mile 2 already’. The start of NYC is very emotional – for me at least. They play Frank Sinottra (NY NY) and its just very emotional as u are about to start this journey that u have no clue what’s in store.
    NY definitely has the best crowds. They are evrywhere except the bridges. The QB bridge is tough I wont lie but rounding the exit of the bridge onto 1st ave is thrilling and worth the treck on that bridge.
    It is tough to get in with lottery so if you can (I know I can’t) then go the charity route. The 9+1 thing is the way I do it. But it means u wont be able to do it till 2012.
    Well good luck!!! Happy Running 🙂

  • Hilary Topper

    Hey Karen, thanks for your advice! I’m really excited about Disney but I just had a set back with my shin… So I’m trying to take some time off to let the pain subside… (Any suggestions on that?)

    P.S. I think I’ll skip the Berkshires!

  • ML

    The Memorial Day Marathon in The Berkshires is a beautiful run….running is supposed to be a challenge!