How to Race the NYC Marathon!
The days before:
- Simple. Eliminate as much stress as possible.
- NOTHING NEW!! All aspects: life, training, and racing. You do not go through your closet thinking “what will I wear on Sunday?" It's too late. You wear what you have always worn during your long runs. Now is not the time for experimenting. Don’t go out and eat Thai food for the first time, get a new puppy or invite a distant relative for a sleep over. This week is about you and your need to take care of yourself.
- As much as you can, get all the logistics out of the way as early as possible. Go to the Javits Center as soon as you can to avoid the rush. Get your t-shirt and bib and get off of your feet ASAP. Call your friends and family and tell them the best places to see you. Plan your trip to Staten Island and have your game plan set.. No need to run on Saturday...you are ready.
Carbo-Loading: The myth and the mystery. Well, if you don’t eat a pound of pasta all the time, why do it the night before? The day before a big race you want to have easy to digest meals. You don't want to eat anything harsh on the stomach. Eat what usually eat the night before a long run. Add a little more carbs, but do not overdo it. Coarbo-Loading is not code for over eating. Top off your glycogen deposits and be ready to race on Sunday morning without any GI issues. Big Breakfast, snack, Modest Lunch, snack, simple dinner. Eat pretzels and drink Gatorade during the day on Friday and Saturday. Eat a fine mix of carbs, protein, and fiber. You are going to a race, not the electric chair.
Mental Grit for the Race:
Know thy pace: Keep to a consistent yet challenging pace. If you are a 9:30 minute per mile runner on your long runs, then don’t start out running an 8 minute pace.
- A smart race strategy starts from the beginning and remains stable throughout. Only abandon if: You are on feathers (you are having the run of your life!) or if you are injured. You will know what an injury feels like.
- Control the controllables. There's nothing you can do about bad weather and road conditions. But you can control your attitude. Stay present and stay positive.
- Hydrate at every aid station! End of story. If you are feeling thirsty its already too late.
- Take a gel roughly every 40 minutes.
- Race a steady pace, but know the effort to maintain that pace will get harder throughout the day.
- Use the downhills to recharge the batteries. Do not over stride and try to get back some energy.
Don’t be a show off: Everyone wants to run like a stud as they pass friends and family, just make sure the combination of emotion and racing doesn’t elevate the heart rate so much that you cannot get back into a rhythm and your true pace.
Mental Tough Spots: Breaking it down:
Miles 1 to 3: Aaaannd...If I can make it there... IIIII’m gonna make it.. anywhere.... It’s up to you New York.. New York!!! Man.. you won’t get tired of hearing that. Yeah its go time! Take in the sights and feel the energy. You are about to run Verrazano Bridge!! Don’t over shoot it. It's slow going up and fast coming back down. Make sure you get back on track when you enter Bay Ridge. Stay steady and consistent. Don’t break away from your plan.
Miles 3 to 6: Nice smooth stretch along 4th Ave, Crucial moment for Brooklynites. Semi Flat, some downhill, and a lot of people you may know. Stop Flexing!! We know you look good!
Miles 6 to 9: 4th Ave to Lafayette to Bedford Ave. Scenery changes, some quick twists and turns, narrowing of the road, some great smells (brunch.. there will be bacon in the air), and a surprising slight incline. Great vibe. Tons of spectators right along side of you.
Miles 9 to 12: Greenpoint Brooklyn and finding your way to Queens. Rough terrain but a friendly downhill on your way to the Pulaski Bridge.
Mile 13: Last hydration station in Brooklyn, The Shore Road Striders are there to hand you what you need, maybe even a beer! Things start getting real. The adrenaline starts to wear off and its time to start racing.
Miles 14, 15, and 16: Getting to the 59th street Bridge: The 59th street Bridge is the quietest part of the race, no matter if you're a mid pack or front of the line runner. The incline is steep and the bridge is long, you hit 15 and 16 on the Bridge. You can almost hear your legs barking especially when juxtaposed with the eery quiet of the bridge.
Miles 17 to 19: Beatlemania!! This is a great pick me up, you are tired, achy, maybe shuffling. BUT the crowd is 6 deep on the sidewalk behind the barriers. There are news reporters, music, cheers upon cheers!! Look ahead and it feels like you are crowd surfing at a Pearl Jam concert. But stay consistent! You still have a long way to go.
Miles 20 and 21: Da Bronx. Short and twisty, with two bridges. Getting through the Bronx makes you feel tough. makes you feel tough. But are you tough enough for the finish?! There is a great crowd out there..and look up...you are on the megatron screen!!
5th Friggin Avenue: 5th Friggin Avenue.. so tough we had to type it twice. Yes, the energy is huge there, the end is near, but notoriously rough. sThis could be the toughest 4 miles of your life! A steady dose of gradual incline, but the crowd is still awesome. GET TO THE PARK!!
Mile 24 to 26: GO GET IT!! You enter the park for a nice downhill. Then you swing out of the southern tip of the park onto 59th street. You are almost home!!! KEEP!!! PUSHING!!!
Mile .2: Run Run Run as fast as you can! Crush that finish line and get your medal!!
Then prepare for a very long painful walk! YOU DID IT!! Hug someone.. anyone. Flex as you take that finishers photo! Wear that medal with pride. You took the long hard journey, you put in the time and you deserve every emotion that follows. Congratulations on your hard work. Well done!!
Now.. go celebrate, eat a big meal, have a few pints and call your boss and take off Monday!
"In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that."
-Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder