Latest reviews by Jessica
I don’t think I can accurately describe my anticipation levels for this race. I mean: a 3.1 mile course through Manhattan that ends at the NYCM finish line, the day before the marathon, in the greatest city on earth, in Central Park, surrounded by thousands of other runners? Hell Yeah!
Because it’s such a big race, we had to go to the Marathon Expo the Thursday before for our bibs, and let me tell you: I am SO glad we did! Forget any other expos you’ve ever been to; NYCM is the best.
On race day I left SUPER early (NYC is about a 2-hour total commute for me, but very worth it) and we made our sleepy way into the city.
Instead of taking the subway like sane people, we decided to walk the mile or so to the start line for a warm up, in the rain and darkness. We finally made it to the start in front of the UN, where we were literally the 2nd group of people to show up – for real, race directors were still setting up barricades. But we hung out, had some fun photos taken, and saw some interesting characters (I’m lookin’ at you, guy with photo-realistic male genitalia printed on your compression shorts and waving a 4-foot tall Italian flag).
We huddled together in the back of the pack and slowly made our way to the start. At this point, it was COLD – our fingers had all frozen stiff and we were doing little dances to keep warm. And it didn’t help matters when the rain picked up from a drizzle to a full-bore shower. But all we did was pull our hoods tighter and run – and run we did!
Once we crossed the start, I couldn’t help it and took off. This was by far the most crowded race I’ve ever run. People were constantly maneuvering around each other, and I zig-zagged from one side of the street to the other more times than I could count, just to get around groups of people. I was actually passing people! That NEVER HAPPENS!
So while some groups weaved around like me, others jumped puddles (or splashed through them), some held hands and ran in a line (PS: not cool for almost clotheslining me, Team Germany), disabled runners ran with guides (which is the coolest most inspirational thing to see EVER) – it was a totally unique experience. We all ran through the streets of Manhattan in the rain, laughing and chatting and powering through as a giant herd. I was shocked at the number of spectators cheering us on – it was just a 5K, but these folks had cowbells, were taking pics and video with their iPads, waved signs, the works! Even in the rain!! I smiled the. Whole. Time.
I lost count of how many times I glanced at the people and buildings around me and thought, “My God, what an amazing thing I’m doing right now.” It really was humbling to be running through the huge streets with 8,000 other folks. I ran the whole race in the moment, which was also awesome motivation to run faster, which I discovered at the end of the race!
The rain and the chill in the air were forgotten – at one point I even took my hood off and let the rain cool me down because I was so hot under all my layers!! And because it was so cold, I only checked my watch once around mile 1.4. I was amazed to see that my time was only around 10:xx, and thought that was weird – maybe the satellite reception was wonky because of all the buildings I was running between?
As we coasted into Central Park for the final mile and ran under the Mile 26 banner, I thought about how amazing it would be to actually see that banner the next day after running through all 5 boroughs, and it only renewed my desire to run NYCM one day!
Once I caught glimpses of the finish line as we looped around the park, to finally see that Finish Line with all of its crazy colors and giant video screen… it was unreal! Just as I crossed the mat, I threw my hands up in the air (and refrained from waving them like I didn’t care, because it was very crowded), and crossed the NYC Marathon Finish Line!
The finishers chute was packed with folks trying to find their families and friends, on cell phones, trying to warm up, laughing and hugging – it was like the craziest parade ever. I grabbed my post-race bag of apples and pretzels and water, then the chill started to seep in. It was a long walk back to the train station in the pouring rain, but that's no one's fault but my own! Knowing now after a few more Central Park-based races, there are plenty of other warmer ways to get back to the train station.
Overall an A+! The only reason I can't do it this year is because I've got a wedding to go to on the same day!
I've run this race twice - once in 2012 when I tore my ACL at mile 12, then again in 2014 when I PR'd in the distance, and I cannot WAIT to take it on again in 2015. This is my favorite half by far - the scenery can't be beat, there are lots more spectators than you would expect in some of the quieter parts of the course, and it's super easy to get to.
The course is nice and flat - while you start on the boardwalk, you're only there for a tiny stretch before going out into the city and through the tunnel (which is so cool!) for a good 7-8 miles. I appreciate that though, because the last miles are exactly what you want in a half marathon: fast, flat, and packed with other people to cheer you on.
I'm a solid back of the pack-er, but the fact that there's also a full marathon going on ensures that you have plenty of aid stations, spectators, and supplies through the final 13th mile, unlike other races where everything's packed up and done by the time I get there!
The expo is very small but just large enough for all the necessities you might need, and the swag is pretty sweet - they jumped on the gigantic medal bandwagon last year and it's a little silly looking, so I hope they go back to normal sized medals next year but ultimately it's bling and I'll love it no matter what!
All in all it's a solid race and I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a fast, flat, easy course (and a fun place to hang out and party in when you're done)!