TCS New York City Marathon (3:27.19)
The TCS New York City Marathon 2019 might be my longest race recap ever so hang on tight. I’ve run the New York City Marathon two other times: 2013 and 2018.
In early September, I pulled my hamstring which caused me to miss my previous marathon (Big Cottonwood in Utah). Around that time, New Balance asked if I wanted to run the TCS New York City Marathon as part of Team New Balance. I love the atmosphere of New York City Marathon and it’s hard to say no. If it were almost every other marathon, I probably would have said no.
The goal of the six weeks leading up to the TCS New York City Marathon were to get my hamstring healthy. I got ART from Dr. Craig and rested. 2 weeks prior, I was able to do a very loose 20-mile run. I ran 13.1 miles at the Atlantic City Half Marathon (logging a personal worst there too) and slogged my way through 7 more. At that point, I was like how on earth am I going to run the New York City Marathon? My hamstring seemed fine, but it felt like I took 12 steps back when I was never in front.
I got to New York City on Thursday night. Danielle and I picked up our packets, did a quick scan of the TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) New York City Marathon expo and went to a diner in Jersey City. The next two days were spent trolling around New York City. New Balance had a shakeout run with Emma Coburn and Jenny Simpson. It was a 2-mile shakeout run at the New Balance Pizza Co.
The theme of the TCS New York City Marathon was: I move me and inspiring people through running. It’s one of my more favorite themes from New York Road Runners.
I was on the sub-elite bus again for the New York City Marathon. This meant I got to spent the morning at Ocean Breeze (on Staten Island) amongst all of the elites and other sub elites. I exchanged good lucks with Sara Hall, and I sat within feet of Allie Kieffer, Kellyn Taylor, and Mary Kiettany. I enjoyed it last year and it was equally as fun this year.
First, the elite women off, then the rest of us. Once we got off the bus, we threw out bags into the elite check-in. Initially, they said we could use the bathroom one last time, but then the line was too long and they made us head to the start. Unfortunately, this meant I started the race needing to use the bathroom. The start of the New York City Marathon is always amazing. They had music blasting and people dancing. They fired the cannons and before I knew it, we were off. One thing I appreciate about the TCS New York City Marathon is the ability to track mile by mile with the New York City Marathon app. Not that it mattered to me at the time, but family and friends could do so.
I spent most of the New York City Marathon being passed by people. The first mile of the TCS New York City Marathon goes up the Verrazano Bridge. This means it’s uphill and going to be one of the slowest miles you run. I hit the first mile of the New York City Marathon in 7:52. All I could think was, wow, I’m in worse shape than I am. I knew it was a slow mile, but somehow seeing the clock beep at 7:52 and knowing (with my lack of training): I wasn’t going to negative split the race, I was nervous.
Luckily, the second mile of the TCS New York City Marathon cruises down the Verazzano Bridge and I hit mile 2 in 6:54.
The next few miles of the New York City Marathon alternate between uphill and downhill. There are very few parts of the TCS New York City Marathon that are flat. I kept my eyes peeled for a bathroom. I knew I was not going to make it through 26.2 miles without using the bathroom so I figured earlier rather than later. Miles 3-5 of the New York City Marathon were all between 7:22-7:28. I felt fine and my hamstring felt fine.
Just after mile 5 at the New York City Marathon, I found a bathroom. I ducked in and realized I had to go more than I thought. I was in and out within 30 seconds and proceeded on. I hit mile 6 of the New York City Marathon in 7:55. I asked NYRR to pause the clock while I used the bathroom, but they didn’t so I didn’t pause my GPS watch either.
I took my first Maurten Gel around mile 5. I like to take gels every 5 miles of the marathon and Gatorade the rest of the time. Around mile 8 of the New York City Marathon, I saw Amelia in her Giraffe suit. I waved and she snapped this photo of me. During some of the water stops, I found myself weaving and before I knew it, my watch was not matching up with mile markers at all. I was slowly adding time and distance. While I tried to run the tangents, (because I didn’t want to run any further than needed), I also wasn’t that worried about it. I weaved around the course high fiving friends and I wasn’t going to stop in front of people.
I hit mile 10 in exactly 1:15. Exactly the time I ran at the Cow Town 10 Miler a month ago. LOL, that’s not what is supposed to happen here I thought. I took my gel between mile 10-11 of the New York City Marathon. I could feel a cramp coming on, but after getting the water, it went away. The next 5k of the New York City Marathon was focused on getting to half. I knew the halfway mark was on a bridge. I hit the halfway mark in 1:40.12. I was already at 13.5 and I thought, ok, I am going to make a little more effort, so I don’t run 27 miles.
I thought if I ran a 1:50 for the second half TCS New York City Marathon, that will be under 3:30. It seemed doable, except I remembered my long runs for the TCS New York City Marathon were not there. I did 1 20, and 2 15 milers. I had no idea what to expect for the second half and rightfully so.
Mile 15 begins the dreaded Queensboro Bridge. Mile 15-16 is one of the hardest miles of the New York City Marathon. It goes over the Queensboro Bridge, it’s quiet, and you only have yourself to motivate you up and over. My legs weren’t feeling fatigued going up. During my New York City Marathon, the Queensboro Bridge crushed me and my legs never recovered. During the second, I felt ok. This time at the New York City Marathon, I felt fine going up but going down my quads were on fire. I hit my 15 going up the Queensboro Bridge in 8:17 and rolled right back down in 7:44. I didn’t feel “good” going downhill and actually felt better going up.
The roar, after leaving the Queensboro Bridge, can’t be beaten. That propelled me to a 7:25 18th mile. I saw a few friends, including Amelia again. After mile 18, my goal was to make it to 20. I told myself: okay, Hollie. You have 8 miles to go, then 10k. It doesn’t quite make it easier. When I hit mile 20 in 7:52, I thought this is where you enter the unknown. I imagined 8 min miles would probably be about what I averaged the last 10k. I didn’t care; I just wanted it done.
The last 10k of the New York City Marathon is no walk in Central Park and the long inline at mile 23 burns. I saw many people stopping and walking. I knew it I stopped; I would never start again. My legs were tired from running, but my hamstring was ok. I saw plenty of friends and I tried to wave, but my arms hurt. I could feel chafing on my arms, legs, and sports bra. At 23 miles, I said: 5k to go. You like 5ks, 5ks are your favorite. I hit mile 24 in 8:32. My slowest race mile ever. I didn’t care; I was making it to the finish.
Then at mile 24 of the New York City Marathon, I recognized buildings I ran by during my shakeout run the day before. Okay, Hollie, you’ve run by these. 2 miles to go. I hit mile 25 in 8:15 and I felt better I was slightly faster. I knew I would be well above 26.2 miles and tried to prepare myself for that mentally. I hit mile 26 in 8:21 and just proceeded on.
The final countdown was there. I just focused on the New York City Marathon finish and what that would feel like. I kept trucking along and finally, I heard (in a familiar Ali F podcast voice:) Hollie from New Jersey. I crossed the TCS New York City Marathon finish line in 3:27.19 and collected my things.
TCS New York City Marathon Thoughts:
I’m happy with my time and effort at the New York City Marathon. I knew it wouldn’t be my fastest marathon and I was happy to finish healthy. It’s motivating to me, and I’m hoping I can resume training with a fully healthy hamstring. I had such an enjoyable experience from before theNew York City Marathon to the end. For now, I think I’m done with marathons for a while. I prefer shorter distance and to get speed back. Finally, thank you to New Balance for allowing me the incredible opportunity to run.
Questions for you:
Have you run the New York City Marathon?
What is your favorite distance?