Last year, running buddy Aileen completed her first marathon, which I ran 6.2 miles with her on the course. She trained with the New York Road Runners for her first marathon and had an amazing experience with incredible coaches, teammates and lots of awesome running resources available to her.
During Marathon Week for her last year, while she was mentally preparing for her race one of her coaches sent this amazing email to her team about the NYC Marathon course.
I wanted to share this email with you all. It makes me so excited and motivates me beyond belief to run the course on Sunday! I seriously cannot wait.
Here is the email:
The start is the hardest part of the NYC course as you climb the
Verrazano. If you’re lucky enough to start near the front, be careful
not to go out too fast. In fact, if you race well it should be your
slowest mile of the day because of the elevation gain. If you’re
starting toward the back, you may be tempted to weave around folks to make good time up the hill. Resist this temptation at all costs.
Make sure that you run 1.0 miles in the first mile.
Wasting energy trying to get around other runners will certainly bite you in the butt later. It may be frustrating to shuffle for the first mile, but the good news is you’ll still have 25+ miles to make up any lost time.
After you reach the top of the bridge, you’ll have a fast, downhill
mile. Once again, don’t waste energy by attacking the hill to
aggressively. Lean into the hill gently and relax.
Once you exit the Verrazano, you’re in Brooklyn. This will be your
first exposure to the cheering crowds, and the terrain on 4th Avenue
is flat and fast. Settle in and find a steady pace – preferably right
around your overall goal marathon pace. Just as you need to resist
the urge to go too hard in Staten Island, don’t let the excitement of
the crowd push you too hard just yet.
Harness the energy. Don’t bother giving a high-five or hugging your adoring fans. When you pass the Williamsburg Savings Bank building (they’re condos now FYI) you’ll still have great crowds and fast terrain.
Mile 10 is on Bedford Ave.
The terrain continues to be flat and fast. At this stage you should
feel great, and hopefully will have maintained a solid pace in
Brooklyn. Once again, you need to be disciplined. Too many
marathoners decide that they feel good after 10 miles and think they
can adjust their goal.
Now’s not the time to think on your feet.
Stick with your game plan. Assuming that you’re feeling comfortable, that plan should be to pick up the pace slightly for the next several miles. An adjustment of 5-10 seconds per mile is enough.
You’ll reach the halfway point on the Pulaski Bridge as you enter
Queens. The bridge is a little challenging. Don’t push it too hard
on the ascent. The next few miles include some rolling hills and
turns. Be sure to cut the tangents so you don’t have to cover any
extra ground. (NYRR has made a few changes in the course this year
which eliminates some of the tightest turns, so it should be a touch
faster than in the past.)
Your next bridge is the Queensboro Bridge. While this is a
challenging one, the "wall of sound" awaits you on the Manhattan
side. When you head up 1st Avenue, you’ll have a slight uphill for
most of the first 1.25 miles, then downhill to 96th and back up most
of the way to the Willis Avenue Bridge. As you head north of 96th
Street the crowds thin and you’ll probably start to feel the miles.
Keep your concentration and discipline, as the next few miles are
You’ll hit 20 miles as you enter the Bronx. While I’ve stressed the
need to stay disciplined and not go "off script" by speeding up and
trying to "bank time" earlier in the race, now’s the time to listen to
your body. If you’ve raced conservatively, you may find yourself able to pick it up a little.
The course in the Bronx has been extended slightly this year, as
you’ll head across 138th, north onto Rider Avenue, west on 140th and south on Rider Avenue before picking up 138th again. You’ll soon cross the Madison Avenue Bridge and re-enter Manhattan. Look for me on the right side at 135th St as you head down 5th Avenue. The farther south you go, the deeper and louder the crowds will get.
You’ll need them as you head downtown on 5th Avenue, as there’s a
gentle but seemingly endless incline south of 110th Street. You’ll
enter Central Park at Engineer’s Gate and it’s mostly downhill from
there. Exit at the bottom of the park, run along Central Park South,
then re-enter the park at Columbus Circle. From there, no matter how tired you are, you can gut it out to the finish at Tavern on the Green that you all know so well.
Such a smart and inspiration racing email if you ask me. What do you think about these words of wisdom?
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