My New York Marathon Review – Brad Beer
My New York Marathon Review
Thank you to everyone who took an interest in my New York Marathon (NYM) debut. I appreciate the many messages of support I received in both the lead up to the race, and also on my return to Gold Coast.
Before the immediacy of the event fades too much more I thought I would pen a few reflections of this incredible event. I am not one to routinely write personal reviews of my races but given the post -race interest I hope this inspires someone to give the NYM a shot!
Why I Chose to Run the New York Marathon?
My interest in running the race developed after I completed the Melbourne Marathon in October 2013. I ran Melbourne that year after a disappointing home town Gold Coast Airport Marathon (I ran when sick-bad move and silly!). After Melbourne I submitted an application to the organisers of the New York Marathon (NYM) and was notified of my acceptance several months later. I submitted an entry as I was looking for something ‘positive’ to work towards (and love a good physical challenge) while I was working through some messy business challenges involving a franchise split. A start in the NYM I was hoping would be a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.
However competing in the 2014 NYM was not possible due to family (I became a Dad), and work responsibilities, so I rolled my entry over to the 2015 edition of the race.
Training and The Race Lead-up
I was grateful to receive an invitation to compete in the sub-elite program for the 2015 edition of the NYM, qualifying on my Noosa Half Marathon PB set earlier in 2015. My preparation was injury free and I gave myself 14 weeks building up from a 4 week complete break from running through June.
I managed to run 10 30km+ training runs in the lead up to the NYM (which was my aim). I was relatively happy with the average weekly volume I was getting done inside a training week (90kms)-but as with most marathons -would have liked to have done more in terms of weekly volume.
I arrived in New York Wednesday evening having flown the Brisbane to LA, LA to New York route with my Dad (what a champ-thanks Dad for joining me!).
I set about normal pre- race prep leading into the race. Everything about the race and the city of New York screams ‘big and excitement’. For example the bib collection and pre-race expo was incredible. Attending the expo I became aware of the enormity of job the New York Road Runners (NYRR) have in organising this race.
A brief NYM History
The New York Road Runners (NYRR) was founded in 1958 when a small group of passionate runners vowed to bring running to the people of New York. Over the last 57 years the NYRR has grown from a local running group/club to the world’s premier community running organisation.
The NYM has over the years grown to become the largest marathon in the world.
NYM Fascinating Facts
The logistics of the 2015 NYM were incredible:
- 50-55,000 runners: +50,000 finishers.
- 330 athletes with disabilities
- 10, 000 event volunteers
- 1 million spectators along the course!
- 665 million households worldwide (broadcast reach)
- 175 NYRR staff working year round on the event
- 43 UPS trucks transporting runner’s bags from the start to the finish
- 915 buses transporting runners to the start on Staten Island
- 1650 portable toilets at the start and 1,952 portable toilets along the course at 35 locations
- 40,800 PowerBars
- 2,300,000 paper cups
- 32,040 gallons of Gatorade Endurance Formula
- 53 Chrono Track timing systems
- 130 bands along the course playing all manners of music (with 5 bands on average for every mile!)
So you get the picture-this race is BIG!
2015 The Race (the 45th running )
I was wide awake at 2am race morning staring at the ceiling, and stayed that way for several hours before jumping on a bus and enjoying a police escort to Staten Island in a convoy of 3 buses transporting the professional and sub-elite runners. Once on the island we enjoyed an indoor heated running track for warm up, therapists on standby, and breakfast (in the brand new $200million Ocean Breeze Track and Field Athletic Complex, before we were transported to the start line. I was thankful for being able to start in this category as we got off the bus and were immediately at the front of the field which had been assembling in the cold for hours.
The start on the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge (the longest single-span suspension bridge in North America since it opened in 1964, 274 feet above sea level). is truly remarkable, its difficult to stay focussed looking ahead and not drift off with the sweeping panorama of Manhattan Island off the left visible from this enormous bridge.
Bill Rodgers race winner (1976-79) once called the start ‘the most spectacular start in the sport’. I have to agree.
After some watch malfunctions (my error) I got my watch on a mile 2 and settled into the race at a pace (after the mile was up the steep bridge and the second down)that I was aiming to take me through at 1:20-1:22 at the half way mark. I was pretty close and feeling comfortable at the half way mark as we crossed the Pulaski Bridge.
Highlights from the course
- Mile 16 the Queensboro Bridge (steep but incredible views of Manhattan’s skyline).
- Huge cheering crowds on Frist Ave as I ran off Queensboro Bridge ( a big change after the silence of the bridge)
- Miles 20-21 in the Bronx
- Miles 24-25 Central Park at last taking runners up a false flat to the finish line!
My Race in Review
My 2015 NYM was bitter-sweet. I was grateful for an amazing experience-one that I think all runner’s irrespective of ability should put on their bucket list, but disappointed with my performance. I finished in 2:48:45 36 placing 260th, however I realise I ‘left some of my race I was hoping for’ out on the course with severe dehydration.
When I finished it didn’t take long before I slipped into hypothermia with the cold so bad that I was barely able to move from my chair inside the medical tent for 90 minutes. It wasn’t the ambient temperature (around 12-18 degrees) but rather what I now realise was marked fluid loss due to what I can only attribute is a high salt excretion rate that I have (long known about-but never experienced the result of it as I did after my NYM).
Physiologically even a well hydrated (started the race that way), and hyrdating runner (I was the most diligent on course with every aid station slowing for water and Gatorade intake), can succumb to severe dehydration if they are a high ‘salt-excretor’. Many runners and athletes take salt by way of tablets while on course to avoid a net sodium loss and fluid loss, I never have, but will going forwards be sure to consume salt during my longer races.
Eventually I made a still cold walk back to my hotel room and continued to re-hydrate and ate an apple (in the big apple)!
In summary I’d like to return to this great race in the coming years (armed with my salt pills) to better my time. If you have considered the New York Marathon my encouragement is to not delay, submit an application, organise an entry (speak to my friends at Travelling Fit) and get training!
ps running into Wilson Kipsang the world marathon former world record holder (Berlin 2013, 2:03:23) in the hotel lobby was a great bonus!
Brad Beer (APAM)
Physiotherapist, Runner, Author ‘You CAN Run Pain Free!‘ , Founder POGO Physio