Katie and Sirrah have done this race a combined 10 times so we have some thoughts on this race that we want to share with all of you, and we hope that maybe our experiences will help make your race more awesome. There is also a NYRR athlete guide that is worth checking out with information about waivers, corrals, and baggage check areas.
1. Expo: This expo isn’t the most exciting, but we do recommend getting there early if you can to avoid the crowds and to snag all the free samples. If you’ve never been to a race expo before, you may want to buy some race specific merchandise. Be mentally prepared for inflated prices and utilize the mantra, “do I really need this?”
2. Tell your Friends to Get the App so they can track you! The NYC Marathon App worked great so hopefully this one will too. Here is the info on the NYRR page. If you want to know your bib # now, and therefore your corral/ start time (listed in the athlete guide linked above), put your own name into the app.
3. Packing your bag: Remember if you’re going out after the race that you’ll want warm dry clothes to change into. Even if it’s a relatively warm day, you will get the shivers if you have to sit around in damp sweaty layers.
NYRR has a great tip for your baggage number – put the sticker inside the bag facing out. That way it wont fall off. Apparently their stickers lose their stickiness in the cold.
4. What to wear: How cold will it be?! Well right now the forecast is for mid 40s in the morning, which would feel downright balmy after training through this winter, but it’s still not that warm. I’d wear layers that are easy to take off and put back on, cause here’s the thing – the temperature in the park and the temperature on the West Side Highway can be really REALLY different. Last year we warmed up quite a bit in the park and through Times Square we were still feeling great, but as we ran west across 42nd street, an evil cold wind came off the water and basically stayed with us to the finish. We learned the hard way: DO NOT THROW AWAY YOUR GLOVES.
I’ll probably go with tights, smart wool socks, a t-shirt, a long-sleeved top ideally with at least a half zip, gloves, a hat or fleecy headband, and maybe also a nylon gaiter for my neck. If it’s really high 30s to low 40s we’re going to heat up fast while running, so my plan is to bundle up with throw away clothes pre-race/ first mile, and keep it simple with my race apparel. If you’re run walking, race walking, or if it turns out to be colder, you may want to add a layer. I’d just make sure that you can take off or unzip top layers cause overheating makes you feel heavy and uncomfortable.
Oh and if you have zombie hands like Sirrah, hand warmers are always good! You can always throw them away when your hands regain feeling.
5. Throw away clothes: You have to check your bag really early for this race and most likely it will be before sunrise, so even if the race is relatively warm, the start is going to be chilly. GET YOURSELF SOME THROW AWAY CLOTHES! There are discount stores all across the City and we’ve also had luck at Conway, Walmart, Amazon (there’s still time for non-prime purchases to arrive), Good Will and Old Navy. Katie’s favorite part is trying to find the most ridiculous throw away clothing. She wanted a Batman onsie from Target for this year but common sense prevailed (how are you going to undress while running?) and opted for Rocky inspired grey sweats. Important thing to note: get a throw away top with a full zip, especially if you’re not coordinated enough to take a layer off over your head while running. Also, old heat sheets are a great thing to bring because, believe it or not, they work to keep you warm in the corral.
6. Get to the park as close to your bag check time as you can (or if you’re not checking a bag, to your start time). The Apple Store on 59th is a great place to hang out if you get to the park early. It’s open 24/7, has bathrooms, and is probably used to weirder people than you wandering the store predawn.
7. Saint Patrick’s Day! There will be a lot of St. Patrick’s Day parties this weekend, but guys, just a reminder, green beer is not the best way to hydrate for this race…It’s the best way to rehydrate after the race! (jk. kind of.)
UPDATE: The weather is looking like it’s going to rain either on Saturday or Sunday (boo), so we just wanted to add two rain related tips:
– Trash bags are your friend before the race- you can wear them, you can sit on them, you can easily remove them and throw them away when you start to run.
– Dry socks are your friend after the race – your socks may get wet if it’s raining during the race or if there are puddles along the course. Wet socks are your feet’s enemy. They are uncomfortable, cause blisters, and make your feet stink. You’ll be happy if you can put on some nice dry socks after running, particularly if you’re planning to celebrate for awhile after. (bonus tip: if your shoes get wet, take out the insoles and stuff the shoe with newspaper to draw out the moisture.)
Along the course: Course breakdown taken from NYRR website here with our comments added in green.
Start on East Drive in Central Park, just north of East 72nd Street, and head north. YAY YOU STARTED! Take it slow cause you have a lot of hills coming up in the first half of the race. The second half of the race is mostly flat so don’t worry about making up the time.
Continue north, and bear right at the Lenox Avenue exit from Central Park. Turn left at 110th Street/Central Park North. Run counter-clockwise around Central Park West Circle and return on 110th Street/Central Park North, then turn right at the Lenox Avenue entrance to Central Park. Bear right at East Drive and continue south on West Drive. Again, remember that Central Park is hilly and conserve your energy appropriately. Also, the asphalt near where you exit the park to run the traffic circle in Harlem (it’s the weird loop at the top of the course map) is uneven, so PICK UP YOUR FEET! we totally saw folks face-plant here last year, don’t let that be you!
Continue South on West Drive. Turn right at the Seventh Avenue exit from Central Park. Continue south on Seventh Avenue through Times Square. OMG TIMES SQUARE IS KIND OF AWESOME RIGHT NOW!
Turn right at West 42nd Street, then right at the West Side Highway. Run north in the northbound lanes, make a U-turn at West 43rd Street, and run south in the southbound lanes. As you go down 42nd wave at the cars basically parked in the Eastbound lane.
Continue south in the southbound lanes of the West Side Highway. The wind! Remember to keep your gloves so you have them to protect your hands. Honestly this part of the race gets kind of boring. It’s flat and there are never too many people cheering here. Save the tastiest nutrition you have for this stretch; it can be your reward!
Bear left at the Battery Park Underpass entrance. Run through the underpass and continue on FDR Drive North. Bear right at the South Street exit and then turn right at South Street. Turn left at Maiden Lane, and left at Water Street to finish at Wall Street. The tunnel is the best because it’s just the runners. Use this time to refocus on the finish line, take a walk break where no one else can see you, or “WHOO!” and listen to the echo. There is a small incline coming out of the tunnel. Make it your B cause you’re almost done with this awesome race!
Post race1. Your Phones Might not Work- Pick a meet up spot. It is always 100% cluster funk at the finish of this race. This area of the city is designed like a jigsaw puzzle, and it’s only made worse that a bunch of streets are roped off for the race and runners only finisher areas. Often phones don’t work well because of all the people down there trying to text each other, “where are you?!!!”
2. Brunch out of the finish area. Everyone wants to eat right after the race, and unless you’re super fast, by the time you finish every bar, restaurant, and food cart will be swamped. Get your butt to a different neighborhood and brunch your face off.
3. Change your shirt as soon as possible. I said it above, nothing will make you colder than sitting around in your sweaty shirt in the middle of March.
4. Keep your medal on the entire day. You earned it!