Tag Archive | queensboro

New York City Marathon Tips, Course Strategy and Info!

You know the “don’t wear anything new on race day” and all the basics… now, let’s do the New York City Marathon as right as we can. I’ve done this race every year since 2008 (minus 2012 of course…!!) and I can see how logistically heavy it is for someone from out of town or doing it as their first marathon. So, here we go! Let me know if you have any specific questions in the comments section below. I promise I will answer. Also, at the end, you’ll find a list of free race week events to attend (updated).nyc marathon medal

PRE RACE LOGISTICS

Make a marathon packing list (even if you’re not traveling) and sort it all by stages, here is my Marathon Packing List to start with. Get everything in the list ready as soon as possible. I’d start one month out with this.

The expo is big (probably the biggest one in the US after Boston!), so please bring some patience, credit cards/cash (there WILL be a few things you’ll want), and comfortable shoes. Don’t forget to bring your confirmation form and photo identification. Don’t wear the marathon-shirt before the race (come on!!!). Note: running stores all over the city have amazing gear and discounts too (organized list HERE), and if you can wait, a lot of the official gear will be half off in the nyrr’s website by January! Also, if you have time for fun, here is a list of all the Free Events to do on race week (this will be updated on the minute for 2017, bookmark it).

Set your clock back on Saturday night, the night before the race. If you use a smart phone like 99% of the population, you’ll be fine. If you set your Garmin, it will update automatically too. Sleep! Also, no worries if you don’t sleep Saturday night (no one does) but make it a point to go to bed early all week, mostly Thursday and Friday.

As you know, in NYC races, in some parts of the city, the GPS can go haywire and then you’ll think you’re doing 4 minute miles, or 17mm!!! GPS can be sporadic in some spots (like in the Verrazano, if you’re in the green corral, or the Queensboro, or crowded areas like First/Fifth Ave, or Central Park). So I set my GPS to manual lapping. Basically, I lap a mile every time every time I see the Mile Marker, and I know exactly how long that last mile took. You don’t have to do this, but at least keep in mind that some miles might be “shorter/longer” than others (actually, if you set your Garmin to lap a mile at 1.01 that matches the mile markers quite well, when the GPS is accurate).

The night (or week) before, watch Run For Your Life, for inspiration. Best movie about the NYC marathon. I weep like a baby every time. Hail to the Fred!!!

Bring a lot of cheap or throwaway clothes to the start, you WILL need them. Find a mylar blanket from your last marathon (and don’t throw away the blanket or poncho you’ll get at the finish here!). You will cherish them until the last minute in the corral (I wear one as pants with tape and one as a cape). I wear my throwaway cardigan or a sweater (cut in the front for easy peeling while running, kept it in place with a safety pin!) during the first mile too! Go to the dollar store and get knee-high socks, cut the toes part and you’ll have throwaway arm warmers! I keep half of it on until Mile 3, it can be windy on the bridge, mostly if you are on top (blue or orange waves). Don’t worry about looking like a weirdo, everyone will look like that!!! Or they’ll wish they did. Really: pile it up!!!

new york city marathon 2014 pictures start (2)

Gear/What to wearusually, the marathon is in the 40s or 50s (the average temp historically is 54). If you’re not checking a bag, layer with things you’ll be happy throwing away. My rule is if it’s over 40, I do short sleeve/singlet and shorts. But depending on the wind/humidity/lack of sleep/whatever you can add a hat, arm sleeves, etc. Always wear things you can get rid of easily and won’t miss. Be smart, and make sure you can peel off layers comfortably. Even in 2014, with the marathornado, I didn’t need extra. I had leg warmers and hated them, I was so hot. Make sure you can peel the layers easily and throw them out if you are not sure and bring too much, ok? If you don’t carry your phone, at least carry a $20 bill, a metrocard, a credit card, and an ID with you, just in case. Better ready than sorry.

Ferry/Bus Transportation, NYRR will assign you a specific transportation or you might have picked one when you claimed your spot. There is a reason why you have to get on your bus/ferry a bunch of hours early, I promise it makes sense.Your transportation would usually be 3 or 4 hours before your wave start. This leaves ample time to get everything done, even a long line at the portapotty. This is the breakdown of what would occasionally happen on race morning if you chose the ferry, for example:

7:00 am ferry, takes 25 minutes to get to Staten Island. Get some pictures of the Green Lady, you’ll love the ferry ride.

7:30 am. You are in Staten Island!! When I land on the Staten Island side, I usually like to go to the bathrooms IN the terminal, they’re WARM, then just follow the crowds out of the ferry, you’ll do a right and a left, walk outside, do a block or two, and board the buses to the Athlete’s village, it can be 10 or 20 minutes, let’s assume 30 for traffic so you don’t stress.

8:00 am. You get to the village. Go straight to the UPS truck to leave your bag if you have one, trucks “close” about an hour before your corral closes so get there first. This timing is different for all so check your timeline. Walk to your corral (green/blue/orange).

8:30 Find a portapottie line in your corral, you’ll need at least 30 mins to pee. Lines can be long. if you want to grab a banana, tea, coffee, etc., pick that up before the line and eat in line.

9:00 get to your corral, sometimes they are hard to find so don’t wait until the last minute. They close 40 minutes before your start. In there you can finish your nutrition, rearrange your gear, all that.

Athlete’s Village. It’s HUGE. If you’re planning to meet up with people there, you’ll need a plan. Tell them to wait right off the entrance or maybe at a particular UPS truck, or have a cell phone with you. Did I mention it’s huge? There’s not much cover from the elements but you’ll find food and drinks (bagels and coffee and Gatorade and bananas and tea and stuff!). Head up to your village and camp close to your corral, and pay attention to the instructions. You do not want to be looking for your corral or getting to it as the wave deadline is done. I’ve been locked out of my corral TWO times just because I was socializing and not paying attention, even though I got there early… If you checked the marathon packing list, you are dressed warmly, have food, water, toilet paper, etc, so set up next to your corral. If you are going with a friend, and you are in different starts (colors), you might have to separate here.; unless you decide to run together. If that is the case, you can both start in the corral of the highest bib number.

What the Athlete’s Village looks like: it’s big -and hard to meet up with someone. And we all look like weirdos!

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Write your name on your shirt. If you don’t want your name, write something funny you’ll want people to scream to you all over the course (Speedy? SuperMan?). It will make your race 100 times better. If you don’t want to ruin your gear, cut the letters out of duct tape (like I do!) and voila, they’ll peel right off before you wash your shirt.

Headphones? If you are used to racing with headphones, no need to stress about this. I like to keep them around, and turn them on only when necessary. Sometimes I need a distraction, and though the crowds will carry you through everything, you might need an extra oomph, like on the quiet Queensboro bridge, though I’ve learned to crave that moment alone in the bridge. If you’re in pain or need to recalibrate your pace and need quiet time, you can move to the middle of the street where you won’t be engaging with people. Big disclaimer: the spectators ARE the marathon, and if you use your music you will miss out on a lot. A lot, a lot. A LOT. They can push you so much more than your music could, so use that energy up. You’ll have tons more fun than you expected if you get lost in the crowds cheering. And no one will let you slow down or walk here! Disclaimer 2: if the music is on, make sure you can still hear what is happening around you, people might need to pass you or stuff like that. There are athletes with disabilities on the course, or any kind of stuff happening so you have to keep all your senses peeled. Be alert, cautious, and really really really careful!!!! Be in the moment, don’t miss out or space out.

Place your spectators in spots where you’ll need them. I usually set 4 spots. One in Brooklyn around mile 5 or 9, and then really high on First Avenue, past 118 where the crowds thin out, so then they can cross over to 5th avenue, the third spot, and see you again and then zip over to the finish line (4th spot!)! Know exactly on what side of the street they’ll be so YOU can spot them (they won’t be able to spot you!). Send them with something big: a flag, a sign, balloons, huge funny hat, etc. Here is a great tool that estimates where/when they can see you and all the train stops close by! Tell them to get comfy shoes, really warm clothes and to bring food. It will be a long day for them too!

You will need/love the extra push, so ask for help!! FORCE all your friends to come watch you. Send an email a week before and ask them “where are you going to be?” or/and use the tool above to see where is easier for them to get to. Then tell them a time you’ll go through there, give or take 10 minutes, and decide if they’ll be runner’s Left or Right. Then make a little-tiny list you can carry in your pocket (Example: 74th st, John, left / 32nd st, Mike, right, etc.) in order of appearance, put clear tape all over it so it won’t get sweaty and basically go from John, to Mike, to etc… Let them pull you along the course and that’ll break the course in parts, instead of think “AH, I gotta go 26.2, ugh” you’ll think: “I am just going to 74th, to see John!Use the sheet, so your fans can find you easily.

Get yourself a course specific pace bracelet, this one is the BEST! It’ll adjust your pace per mile, given the uphills and downhills. And it has way more information than you could ever need. Hill info, spectator info, Plus, you can set it for your particular racing style: negative vs positive splits, big or small fade, etc.

Plan your nutrition way ahead. For the race: try to practice in training with what they’ll have at the race: water, yellow Gatorade and Powerbar Gels (water and G at every Mile and Gels at Mile 18). You can buy gels at the expo if necessary. But for race morning, get bagels/oatmeal and whatever you need the day before as there will not be a lot of delis open at 4/6 am.

If you need to move around the days before the race, go to Central Park. You’ll see many of your race-buddies and get to enjoy the best place in the world as a runner. There’s a 5K early on Saturday, go watch/cheer if you can. The parade of Nations and fireworks Friday night are fun too to get in the marathon weekend spirit.

Find a mantra, or two, you might really need them. I write them in my hand where I am sure I will see it.

The race course WILL be crowded, so PLEASE, if you need to stop for a walk or move over to another lane for water, please please please signal with your arms, and look around behind you before you make any moves. Also put your hand up when you are slowing down if you have someone slowing down ahead of you. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, DO NOT just stop or go sideways. Be considerate of your fellow runners who trained hard and could trip and lose their dream race! On the other hand, you’ll always have someone to run with, pace off, or follow when you’re tired. Pick them up when you feel strong, encourage them when they need it, and keep your eyes peeled for anyone who might need help!!!!

If you are in the GREEN corral and you’re scared you’ll be peed on…  don’t! That is just a myth. IF (BIG IF) there is someone peeing on top of the bridge, you’d only feel it if you’re in the outside of the crowd, and if the wind is going in your direction. I’ve been green twice before and saw/felt nothing. I’ve also been on top a few times and didn’t see people peeing. The odds that you get peed on are about 0.0003. Okay? If you’re scared, just stay in the middle, with the bridge right over you. Ok?

RACE STRATEGY

I am gonna break the race in parts, so you will know how to tackle each segment. Device a plan and stick to it no matter what. A smart plan is to aim for even effort. Still, I always go for negative splits, as hard as that seems in this course that has many uphills/bridges in the second half. If you keep it strong and conservative throughout the race, it is possible. I am an average runner and have negative split in all my NYCMs but my first. Ask Bart Yasso and he’ll tell you: “NYC for sure is a 100 % negative split course. Hold back in those early miles and it will pay off later in the race.”

If you are still not sure, check a few of my NYCMs. Again, I am just an average runner! Check how the faster I went through the 13.1 mark, the slower my marathon was! This is quite telling… Check 2009 and 2010 where I only PRed by 3 minutes. Check how in 2010, I started a LOT slower… my first 5K was 1:30 slower! By 13.1 I was FOUR minutes behind… and I still ended up PRing by 3 minutes… Unbelievable, right? It happens! (you can also see how this starting-slow works at the end of this post)

2013 New York City Marathon Negative Splits

Basically: You have to believe in yourself.

Onto the race parts then!

2013 New York City Marathon Elevation Profile

Mile 1-2. The Verrazano: what goes up, must come down

Tricky tricky part if we have to pick just one… the anxiety, fun ahead, the cold, the thousands of runners around you, it’s almost impossible to not let yourself get swept away in this wave of excitement and start too fast!! Well: STOP IT! Force yourself to go slow with everything you have. You will be tempted to match everyone around you, resist with all you can. Let people GO. I promise you: sooner or later, they will come back to you. They will. LET. THEM. GO. Enjoy the excitement of the first 2 miles, and relax. If it feels annoyingly slow, you are doing it right. If it’s crowded, DO NOT WEAVE. They’re doing you a favor by keeping you tied up, relax. The biggest mistake most people make is going too fast on mile one and as soon as they get off the Verrazano, they’re done. Toast. Don’t be one of them! Mile 2, you will be forced to speed down the bridge, you will feel tempted to roll with it (and everyone around you), and pass people. Remember: hold your horses a bit. If you start too fast, your race is ruined. The first two miles should feel easy, on the hard uphill (3% grade for 8/10 of a mile) and easy on the downhill (3.4% grade for a whole mile).

Mile 1 should be about 1:30 over your avg pace, and Mile 2 will be your fastest, 20 seconds under pace.

Just remember this: Bank = Bonk! Mile 3 is when the race starts. The main goal is to get to Mile 17 feeling as if you hadn’t started the race yet.

And one more thing that applies to the whole course. It will be crowded and you’ll notice the stream of runners going around obstacles (curbs, signs, markers) in the middle of the road. You’ll really have to pay attention, look ahead, at least for the whole Brooklyn section (with the curb in the middle of 4th avenue) and First Avenue, or you can easily hit something and go down. When you run on the sides to be close to the crowds, you are more likely to have gutter/drain cover/footing issues. It’s not lethal but be aware that there’s a trade-off if you want to see the crowds.

Miles 3-15. Brooklyn: the 4th Avenue Party

Your goal for the first half of the race is to get to the Queensboro in one piece, feeling strong to climb over the bridge and to get yourself in the city in fighting shape. Exercise all your patience here and keep yourself in good check to not let yourself go. If you are running comfortable, you are doing it right.

Miles 3 to 8 will be easy and flat, this is when you save your energy, you are definitely going to need it later. There is a little hill at 8.5 and the Pulaski Bridge right at the halfway mark which might seem like a mountain if this is your first time. The climb is a 4.3% grade for about a quarter mile. Slow down and go for even effort and not even pace on the bridges for now. It’s not the time to break out your sword.

There will be water/Gatorade in every single mile, so if you miss one, don’t stress. Don’t go for the first table as everyone will do that. There are many tables, go to the last one. Portapotties are also at every mile so keep an eye out and don’t dart sideways!

Mile 3 to 15, should be at your avg goal pace or maybe 5 to 10 seconds faster than avg goal pace. Remember bank =  bonk

Mile 16. THE Almighty Queensboro/Ed Koch Bridge: this part is for YOU

The Queensboro is quiet. Savor this you-time while doing a whole body systems check. Focus on the sound of the footsteps or take out the music if you prefer. This will be the quietest time of the whole race and it’s a long bridge… I like to embrace the solitude of this mile, savor it and prepare for what’s ahead. Back down on the pace a bit so you can get to the top of the bridge with enough strength to take on the downhill! The climb (3.4% grade for a mile) is way longer than the downhill, which is steeper (half a mile at 4.3% grade). Rolling down the 59th st bridge onto First Avenue is surely the most exciting moment in the whole race (well, at least to a lot of us), and maybe, in all marathoning. Get ready.

Mile 16: around 20 seconds over avg goal pace

Mile 17 to 19. First Avenue: Hello New York City

First Avenue is where a win is made or lost. Many elite runners broke their strategy here and paid hard for it. Don’t get taken by the really loud crowds. Keep in mind there are still a few bridges and long uphills ahead of you. The marathon will start taking its toll on you at mile 20 and we are not there yet. AT ALL!!

Plan to set on a steady pace here so you can start making up some time. Do not force a lot of speed, and if the crowds are getting you too excited, make sure you hold back. Move to the sides if you need cheering or to the middle of the road if you have to focus. Cautiously break out your fourth gear and start focusing on the goal. If you have followed a smart strategy up to here, you should be right on goal pace by Mile 20, or maybe 30 seconds behind (which is always a LOT better than 2 minutes fast!). Gels will be around Mile 18, so start checking if you need one for the last miles, and think what color/flavor you like so you’ll be ready to grab it!

Mile 17 will be about 30 seconds under avg goal pace, M18 will be a bit slower, about 10 seconds over avg goal pace and by M19 you should be back on avg goal pace

Mile 20 to 23. The Bronx/Harlem Experience: there is NO Wall (without graffiti!)

This is when you will use up your training and start working hard… and it will get REAL HARD fast. Not only you’re hitting twenty, but there will be a few bridges and in some areas, the crowds will be thin. Dig deep and stay focused on your pace, ease up on the uphills and bridges but make sure you don’t get too distracted or discouraged. This is a really nice stretch to start pushing the pace when you can. Just focus on getting back into the city in one piece to face mile 24. Once on Fifth Avenue, focus on getting to 110th st, where Central Park starts! If you see trees ahead, keep in mind the Marcus Garvey Memorial Park will intersect the course on 125th, and then you’ll be back on 5th ave.

Mile 20 to 23 should be right on avg goal pace or maybe about 5 seconds under

Mile 24. Fifth Avenue, the ninja hill.

Fifth Avenue will provide you a long straight stretch, so rare in this race… It is going to hurt, there’s a long uphill of 0.90 of a mile at about 2.5% grade (you won’t even see it coming!), and you’ll be tired. Use your mantra here. There will be enough spectators to help but this is when you have to start digging deep and see how many gears you have left. Keep in mind you might not notice the uphill at first so don’t go all out crazy just yet but keep focusing on the finish line pulling you. Don’t let it win!

Once you have the park on your right, at 110th st, focus on getting to the entrance to the park, just one mile away at 90th st. Fred Lebow won’t be there to salute you as always, so all you can do is catch up to ALL those people who went out too fast at mile one and two, you’ll spot them easily. Sad but sure. Pick a bright target 20 feet ahead and don’t let them go. One at a time!

Mile 24 will be slow: about 20/30 seconds slower than average goal pace

Mile 25 to 26.2 Central Park

Once you make that right into the park, you just have just about 2.3 miles to go, all undulating with steep/short ups and downs.

If you did things right, you will pick up a LOT of people in this stretch. A LOT. A LOT LOT. Undulating hills all the way to the uphill finish, you’ll be able to change biomechanics so often that you won’t be too set on one form, which is great. Find your fifth gear and ram it home. Enjoy those last two miles, they go by fast and you’ll be stopping soon so USE ALL YOU HAVE LEFT!

There is a looong 3-avenue stretch up Central Park South (5th ave to 8th ave with 3.3% uphill grade) that seems to last forever though it’s  just a half mile…. focus on the Columbus Circle towers at the far end. Make sure your bib is visible, very important here. The hill at the finish is the steepest of the whole race (very short, but almost 5.5% grade!) so just ride it as hard you can, as long as you can still finish with a smile!

Mile 25 should be a few seconds under average goal pace and M26 maybe 5 seconds over average goal pace. The last point2 will be slower, about 20/30 seconds slower than average goal pace.

Pose for the finish picture!!! Smile, arms up, you got this. DO NOT HAVE A FINISH LINE PICTURE OF YOU PAUSING A WATCH, I warn you!!!!! We have official results, ok? Stop your watch a few seconds befor or after the finish, just not there.

That’s it, you’re home. The most famous finish line in the world. Cry if you want (I always do!). You can stop now. Just make sure you don’t stop right at the clock, or there’ll be a human pile on top of you 😉

Plan on it taking a LONG time between finishing and exiting to find your friends/family – 30-60 minutes. It’s crowded, there might a line at your truck, and you will be moving slowly even if your body is capable of moving more quickly.

then…

Walk, get your medal, take pictures, get your stuff or your poncho, meet your friends, get drinks and clothes on, eat, enjoy, celebrate, stretch, ice bath, rest, eat more, sleeeeeep! Go to the finish line store early Monday morning at the Pavillion, tell everyone about your race, eat some more, walk around, get your medal engraved, buy get some finisher’s gear,  wear the medal on Monday if you are a tourist or if this is your first mary, go downstairs backwards, have a congratulatory donut, look for your name in the NY Times on Monday, tell people you won’t act crazy anymore and won’t be doing another one of these ever. Sign up for another marathon right away and celebrate some more. Celebrate the whole week if you want. You earned it. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done this race, or any, finishing NYCM is always amazing. I dare you to not cry once. This marathon is our victory lap through the city, after all our training. ENJOY YOURSELF.

tcs new york city marathon expo medal pictures course mutai under armour arciniaga macca switzer (31)

Questions?? Anything to add? Anything you want to go over? Comment below (it’s a lot faster than me replying to an email, trust me!)

2017 TCS New York City Marathon: race week events! 

My Race Reports with tons of pictures and more info:

2014 TCS New York City Marathon: #marathornado

2014 EXPO pictures here

My 2013 New York City Marathon Race, PART 1

NYCM2011: Get Ready, Set, GO! (at the start)

NYCM RR 2010: Running Free

Apparently, I didn’t bother writing one in 2008 and 2009!

The official New York City Marathon Course Map.  More info on their course page, including a video of the course.

Love this: Toby’s Essential Last Minute Tips for NYCM

HAVE THE BEST RACE!!!!!

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2013 the NYCM aftermath (plus Sarah Reinersten)

Before this one:
New York City Marathon Media and Elite Runners, and the Winners!
New York City Marathon Expo — lots of pictures!
My 2013 New York City Marathon Race, PART 1!
My 2013 New York City Marathon Race, part 2

Well, so I woke up Monday morning early, sore, and tired. I am sure by now you know that your body needs SO much more sleep the week after the marathon… but somehow, you can’t sleep for a few nights. You’re sore, you can’t get comfortable, you’re hyper, the sheets hurt, turning hurts, your toes are swollen…

Monday, early, I ALWAYS go to the NYRR Charity Breakfast.  I seem to always be there with a different charity but I am always there. After all, I can’t sleep, the clocks have changed I and I wake up early, there’s food, friends, a walk in Central Park to clear some lactic acid, and always some celebrity.

Juan came with me, and the walk to the park was slow but comforting. As well as the cold weather. I met a lot friends, colleagues, ex-coworkers, and more friends. A friend told me to sit at his table, right there, and we ended up sitting by Ethan Zhon, american soccer player, Survivor winner and he also has his own charity! We are chit-chatting with everyone and two seconds later, I look up and Ed Norton was sitting on my table. Crazy world.

I figured he’d be the guest speaker, as he had done it once before, but no… it was someone I didn’t know, Sarah Reinertsen, and all of a sudden Juan is flapping and flipping “she’s the reason I got into Triathlon!!!“, “Sorry honey, I love you but I have huge crush on HER!!“… unstoppable stuff like that… so funny. And I was like… who??? I admit I don’t know much about triathletes… he set me straight right away. Wikipedia: She’s an American triathlete and former Paralympic track athlete. Reinertsen was the first female leg amputee to complete the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Reinertsen has broken the women’s above-knee amputee marathon record several times.

Plus these:

Sarah Reintersen new york city marathon Sarah Reintersen new york city marathon

Sarah Reintersen new york city marathon

I doubt you’ll forget now…

Anyway, I had no idea. And OMG she has a story… it was so amazing to hear her talk. You might have to get her book but this girl is INCREDIBLE. I was so moved, in seconds, I suddenly had a crush on her too! Instantly! Once it was all said and done, Juan and I went to say hello. emmmm, she also speaks Spanish. She’s amazing, period!!!

sarah reinertsen new york city marathon

Well, he was giddy for a bit. An hour. Or two. I loved hearing her story and meeting. Inspiration Maximus Activated!

We took a little nice stroll to the park…

juan elizabeth central park

and we went to the Monday Marathon store… and soon to the elites conference, which I’ve blogged about -I met both winners!!!: New York City Marathon Media and Elite Runners, and the Winners!

And by 12 I had met some other friends (all marathon finishers) for some pizza and what would make me forget the mess I made of my marathon

My first drink in years. I earned this.

My first drink in years. I earned this. Sorry everyone around me!

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My 2013 New York City Marathon Race, part 2

Before this one:

 

New York City Marathon Media and Elite Runners, and the Winners!
New York City Marathon Expo — lots of pictures!
My 2013 New York City Marathon Race, PART 1!

Blue text is from Part 1, so you know where we left off…. My friend Helen was in the subelite corral, which was right on top. She took the picture below… What a bunch of weirdos we all are…

new york city marathon elizabeth maiuolo athlete's village (17)

I was starting to get a bit nervous. I kept telling myself “I am a runner, I know how to do this with my eyes closed” but being around all these fast people was a little intimidating. I KNEW (I would have bet money right there) Tessa was going to go onto have a fantastic race. I saw it in her face. She was quiet but relaxed, like a ticking bomb ready to explode, about to unleash the beast she had been nurturing for a while. In a few seconds, we’d hear the national anthem, Mary Wittenberg, Bloomberg, the gun, Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York, the excited footsteps on the lower deck and I knew I would helplessly lose her. But I knew she wouldn’t let her (and mine) dream go. I shouted a few Go Tessa, You Got this as she run away from me. She’d go onto a 3:16, a 7 minute PR, insanely-precise run race, and I knew, as soon as the race started, within 10 steps, before she even left me, that I had nothing in me. Nothing. That I had no business being there. That I wasn’t prepared for what was ahead and I was going to be taught a lesson. I tried to relax and do my best to salvage the carnage but I couldn’t relax. Everyone was passing me at 5, 6, and 7 pace and it was crowded and we were going uphill and the bibs were being shaken by the wind and I could feel the footsteps above and thought about the many hours I still had until the finish and I was so scared of tripping and falling and my legs were so dead, and I was cold but I was hot and it was so crowded and fast… I couldn’t relax. I did my best to settle and find my rhythm… but I couldn’t. The race was stronger than me and I wasn’t prepared, I wasn’t trained mentally or physically to control it, or to control myself. I just did my best to not despair...

A lot of friends passed me. Lots and lots of people. And still, I was going way too fast. I couldn’t control my speed, my heart rate, my head was spinning with fear and panic… I felt like someone who is trying not to drown so they patter around frantically wasting all their energy helplessly. I knew I was making things worse. I just couldn’t stop it.

I had brought a 3:40 pace bracelet for kicks (far from my last marathon at 3:27 but still a good point reference for me). I figured that, if I was doing anything slower than that, I would not need a pace bracelet. Average pace for 3:40 is 8:25. So the first mile with the uphill and all was a bit INSANE at 8:35. Seriously. I KNEW I had already ruined the race because I was going bonkers. I had already also started crying a bit early. I missed running. I hadn’t run in two weeks. I hadn’t done this marathon in two years, and 2011 was so different doing the Footlocker Five Boro Challenge. I was nervous and crying hysterically this early, no good.

Still going so fast… but, in EVERY SINGLE OTHER RACE I ever did, I ALWAYS thought I started too fast and got scared. And I always thought there was no way I could sustain that speed and I always did maintain it. I always know how to pace. It’s my thing. I pace well. I start easy and finish super strong. What if this time it would be the same thing as every single other race? I really wanted to believe it but my legs felt dead, my heart rate was insanely high at 184 average for the first mile… I knew I had to slow down, but my brain wasn’t trained to have any control over my untrained legs. I was like a drunk person or a child that had too much candy and there was nothing I could do from the control room.

We could hear and feel the wind. It was on our side so it wasn’t that much trouble in the lower deck, but I wondered how long should I keep my layers on… and what would happen when we left the Verrazano… Mile 2 was 6:46, ridiculously fast, but I was on the same uncontrollable panic mode. And my legs were dead going downhill… that’s never a good sign. My legs usually LOVE downhills!

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Pretending to know what I am doing. good, right?

We left the bridge, I started getting really warm and finished shedding my layers. We run through the back streets of Bay Ridge and I noticed how many people were out there. SO MANY. I have done every NYC Marathon since 2008 and I had never seen soooo many spectators. It was exciting and I could barely enjoy it. Soon enough, we turned onto Fourth Avenue, and, still crowded I clock Mile 3 at 8, so my first 5K was at 8:01 average. I knew it was unsustainable, but there was nothing I could do at this point. It was a mess already.

I knew though, that I’d see Juan in a couple of minutes, and that was my first out. I decided I would keep going, my leg wasn’t hurting and, though slow, I could keep going. Soon, I spotted him in our prearranged corner, exchanged kisses, told him how I felt and kept at it. Trying to reign it in. To no avail of course.

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Brooklyn turned into a blur. I realized I was tired and I couldn’t keep myself interested in the crowds, the fun, the city, the course. Pretty much, I was not enjoying it. I mostly put the music up, went to the middle of the road, looked down, and tried to focus on just one more step. One. More. Step.

Mile 4: 7:45, Mile 5: 7:43, Mile 6: 8:00, Mile 7: 7:53, Mile 8: 8:02, Mile 9: 8:06, Mile 10: 8:11. My 15K was average 8:06. Somehow I was keeping a REALLY fast PACE. According to my pace bracelet I was 2 minutes and a half sub 3:40. Emm, am I capable of a 3:37? NO WAY. But my legs were doing whatever they wanted. I’d later realize they didn’t know we were doing a marathon, they though it was a half marathon….

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I kept at it, one step at a time. I cried a lot. I was just feeling slow, tired… and things started to get worse. The thought of Michelle waiting in her PJs on Bedford kept me going for a while. I was just  SO thankful she was there, just like she does every year! Mile 11: 8:30, Mile 12: 8:09, Mile 13: 8:25, Mile 14: 8:44. Going up the Queensboro I didn’t stop to walk like so many people but I FELT like I was walking… Mile 15: 9:52, Mile 16: 10:23, getting off the Queensboro was not the high I always experienced. I had to make a decision. If I was to end the race, I was seeing Juan at Mile 18, I could just stay with him. I was getting slower and slower… I decided that I was NOT GOING TO WALK. AT ALL. And that as soon as I started walking, I was going to walk straight home. NO WALKING. HANG IN THERE and finish this thing. My 5K splits were dropping like crazy. Pace at 20K was 8:22, at 30K I was at 8:28 and it just kept getting worse and worse. I was past my 3:40 pace bracelet pace now.

Around 80th Street I saw my friends Katy and Mikhail who made me feel so good and around 117th I knew I’d see Juan and my team mates! That kept me going for a while. But I kept going: Mile 17: 9:49, Mile 18: 8:49, Mile 19: 8:56. BAD going towards Fifth Avenue WORSE and Central Park Worst.

I knew Juan was coming ready in tights to run if needed, and I debated whether I wanted company for the 3 miles into the Bronx. I decided to go at it alone. If he was with me, I’d start complaining, he’d tell me how great I was doing and I’d start hating him. I’d rather shut it all down and just haul to the finish as dissociated from what was happening as possible.

I spotted the Dashing Whippets, did the continuous high-five as best as I could (see how low/tired my arm is?) but I was really happy to see them all!

New York City Marathon elizabeth maiuolo Harlem Dashing whippets

One thing I had started doing was to stop crying when I knew I would see Juan. I didn’t want him to worry or try to come with me. Then, before getting into the Bronx, I spotted Ben, who always makes me smile!!!

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Thanks Ben!!! Photo Credit: Ben Ko

The Willis bridge into the Bronx felt like I was climbing the Empire State Building. I am not exaggerating. I have climbed the ESB!

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See how miserable I look? If you have seen ONE of my race reports, you know I know how to look good in race photos, marathons or whatever they are. These are just my worst pictures ever. But… the BRONX was bopping!!!  It was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it!!!! It was so much fun. There were funny signs and somehow I noticed! Plus I saw two team-mates and shouted around a lot.

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Through the Bronx!! Photo Credit: Luciano Rezende

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Photo Credit: Luciano Rezende. Can you figure out what’s on my shirt?

And when you don’t think it can get worse, it does: Mile 20: 9:14, Mile 21: 9:47, Mile 22: 8:58... I saw Mary Arnold there, just because she was shouting my name like I was drowning. Everything was a blur. I just focused on getting to Fifth and 109 where I’d see Juan again, and then Patricia at 98… I just kept looking at the street numbers but they took SO long to get to me. I really felt like I was walking and if I had looked at my watch I would have noticed why… Mile 23: 9:07, Mile 24: 9:26.

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New York City Marathon elizabeth maiuolo fifth avenue (1)

Couldn’t even stop crying at this point

Somehow I managed to get to the park. And I just didn’t want to keep going. I would have given anything to convince myself to turn left at 90th and go home. The park wasn’t as crowded as other years, so I managed to see a few friends there (Marvin, you almost made me stop with that sign!). Counting my steps to the finish line. Those were the longest three miles of my life. I was completely demoralized, depressed, upset. I felt like an idiot. How could I ruin this day?? I knew I would finish but I didn’t want my marathon to be this type of experience… I was really upset with myself. I knew I should NOT have run it. I had done 10 marathons and ultra and I never felt this bad. I’d run injured before, I had run slower times, but this was just a horrible idea. I started heaving and crying again. So much that runners around me tried to calm me down and tell me I was so close and I was doing great. I wasn’t. I just wanted it to be over.

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Faking happiness for the camera!!!

When I turned on Central Park West, I thought I was almost done. Wow, those blocks felt like 10 miles. I felt like I was walking and I couldn’t finish soon enough. I was still crying all my way up to the finish line. Mile 25: 9: 07, Mile 26: 8:56.

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I finished. There was no happiness. There was no glory. I was still/already crying when I crossed the line.

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It took about 3:49:34. The time was fine, not my slowest (still within my 4 hour forever limit), far from my fastest. The time wasn’t the issue. My problem was that I was so way over my head about what I could do that I ruined the day. I ruined the most precious day of the year. I don’t blame myself for not training, I didn’t have a choice there. But I should have skipped the race. And I should have started 2 corrals back with someone shooting for 4 hours to help me pace right. I let my untrained brain trick me, and I don’t like acting stooopid.

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And now I know what happens when I DON’T TRAIN FOR A MARATHON. I am just a miserable person, who wants to go home, has no fun whatsoever in the best race ever, can’t control the pace, and positive splitted like a maniac. I don’t want to be that person ever again. Please smack me in the head if I ever attempt to do something this stooopid again.

My pace represents exactly what I did and how I felt:

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Worst possible race splits in the history of racing.

I ended #10908 of 50,304. Overall Gender Place: 2,076 of 19,579.

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These are the worst ever too. Can someone be this dumb???

Once I stopped running I started crying more. I cried the 500 blocks to my UPS truck, all the way from 67th street to 85th, that’s a LONG walk. Then I cried some more. As soon as I put one foot outside the park, Juan caught me and we both cried for like 10 minutes. 10 minutes later I was at Shake Shack, this man is a keeper.

New York City Marathon Shake Shack

What else other than Shake Shack could anyone possible want?

I kept crying. I was upset. I skipped all the parties and reunions because I couldn’t ruin everybody else’s day… I kept telling Juan I needed to get off my sweaty bra because I was sure I was as chafed as raw meat. Went in the shower with no issues. Turns out, my diaphragm was hurting from so much crying, or heaving, or breathing hard. My ribs hurt for two days.

I want to pretend I learned the lesson. But I am way too stubborn. And I love running too much. I just hope I am smarter next time.

From Monday’s New York Times:

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And just like that, it was over.

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My 2013 New York City Marathon Race, part 1

The 2013 New York City Marathon was going to be my 4th NYC Marathon in a row (or 5th if it wasn’t for a hurricane), and my 91st race ever.

I’ve shared some in this blog: there was a bunch of medical things that happened to me in the last months, including an ulcer, two falls, wild leg spams/pain, a labral tear and a couple of other things I don’t even want to talk about. As you can assume, I barely trained. The ulcer was the worst: for two months, I was eating so little I could barely walk or stay awake, so no running. I got really weak, lost a lot of muscle mass, and all hope. But the truth is, the marathon was so far removed from my day-to-day, with all I had going on, that I barely thought of it. I even got proposed to and married in the middle of it all, traveled for work, etc. Running was secondary.

The week of the marathon was tough. I was working a lot and, mostly, trying to figure out if I could actually run or not. Or if it was wise. Or if I’d make my leg pain worse. I didn’t run one step the two weeks before the marathon, had an MRI that week, saw another doctor on Thursday, had pain constantly. Waiting until the last 3 days was driving me crazy. Plus I was working at the expo and with a million commitments to even rest.

Thursday, the second doctor of the week said Go. I said OK.

Panic and Doubt settled in. I am not ready. I haven’t trained. How long is this gonna take? I knew I could finish it but I had no idea what kind of pain I’d have to face. I’d had pain in half my marathons. This, my tenth marathon, would be a different monster. I kept telling myself that when I run the 2011 NYC Marathon I was in way worse shape, as I had sat on my butt for 3 month with a foot stress fracture. I didn’t even walk for 3 months! And I did the marathon, finished strong and had no pain during or the day after. This one would be easier. Telling myself I’d be ok, and I knew how to push through anything, I headed into  race day.

Pictures of the expo, elite athletes at the media tent, here: 

New York City Marathon Media and Elite Runners, and the Winners!
New York City Marathon Expo — lots of pictures!
NYCM 2013 winners (minus me!) #INGNYM #nycmarathon

Sights of the marathon VIII #INGNYCM #nycmarathon
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Sights of the marathon IV #INGNYCM #nycmarathon
Sights of the marathon III #INGNYCM #nycmarathon
Sights of the marathon II #INGNYCM #nycmarathon
Sights of the marathon I #INGNYCM #nycmarathon

Saturday I worked at the expo until 5 and then attended our Autism Speaks athletes dinner (for work) at the Hard Rock Cafe. I got home around 10 and went to sleep!

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NYC Marathon autism speaks elizabeth maiuolo

Sunday Morning

I got up around 5 and by 6:15 I was at the terminal. There was a LOT of security everywhere this weekend. And I mean EVERYWHERE. In the terminal, at the expo, in the ferry, getting off the bus, in each corner on the course, on the rooftops. EVERYWHERE. You felt safe (or watched!) no matter what!

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Run into Lisa as soon as I walked in and Blaise two minutes later!

Blaise and I sat on the 6:30 ferry just because we got there so early. Our plan was to catch the 6:45 or 7 am ferry, YES, for the first wave at 9:40… we saw so many people who were in wave 3 or 4 there. I am not sure why people head there so early. And not sure why they like to freeze out there in the cold for hours… oy. Once we got to Staten Island, my corral buddies Tessa and Tree and Shawn were there, hanging out in the warm terminal. We sat for another half hour catching up and talking race.

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Back in the Staten Island side of the terminal, we head for the bathrooms… See anything strange in this picture??? LINES in the men’s bathrooms but not one person in the WOMEN’s… how is this possible???

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See??? ALL MEN. what are they doing in there??? SO strange!

Around 7:30 we left the SI terminal for the buses, they’re right outside on a short two block walk.

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View from the bus. See those buildings all the way over there??? That’s where we have to run and a bit more.

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Tree and I catching up in the train!

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Tessa and an instant friend we made in the terminal

As soon as we got to the Athletes’ Village we went straight for the UPS trucks as we assumed they closed at 8:30 or something and it was that time. We left our bags and proceed to our tent. Somehow, I had a qualifying time for the Local Competitive Corral. What is that? Well, there’s the elite runners, then the subelite, then my group, and then the rest of the runners. As we were supposed to be fast, we get to line up right at the head of the Green wave (elite are in the blue), but we get our own tent with food, with our own portapotties, and a lot of local friends! JACKPOT!

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NO ONE IN THE PORTAPOTTIES. they were clean and empty. AMAZING.

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Tessa and I bundled up and cozied up for the 20 minutes we waited (we really did time it perfectly!!!). I love this girl. Had some gatorade, went to the portapotties and in 10 minutes we’d be right at the green line. CRAZY.

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Me, Xavi, Tree and Tessa.

We waited there for 30 minutes, 5 minutes before the gun we undressed. We had a tall wall on the right so we were protected from the wind (yey to being in the GREEN corral). We had piles and piles of clothes on the sides. It was nervewracking for me to be that far high up and close to the start, but I had great company…

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See the Start up ahead? How STRANGE is it that we’re so close. They eventually moved us up to the Start sign…

My friend Helen was in the subelite corral, which was right on top. She took the picture below… What a bunch of weirdos we all are…

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I was starting to get a bit nervous. I kept telling myself “I am a runner, I know how to do this with my eyes closed” but being around all these fast people was a little intimidating. I KNEW (I would have bet money right there) Tessa was going to go onto have a fantastic race. I saw it in her face. She was quiet but relaxed, like a ticking bomb ready to explode, about to unleash the beast she had been nurturing for a while. In a few seconds, we’d hear the national anthem, Mary Wittenberg, Bloomberg, the gun, Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York, the excited footsteps on the lower deck and I knew I would helplessly lose her. But I knew she wouldn’t let her (and mine) dream go. I shouted a few Go Tessa, You Got this as she run away from me. She’d go onto a 3:16, a 7 minute PR, insanely-precise run race, and I knew, as soon as the race started, within 10 steps, before she even left me, that I had nothing in me. Nothing. That I had no business being there. That I wasn’t prepared for what was ahead and I was going to be taught a lesson. I tried to relax and do my best to salvage the carnage but I couldn’t relax. Everyone was passing me at 5, 6, and 7 pace and it was crowded and we were going uphill and the bibs were being shaken by the wind and I could feel the footsteps above and thought about the many hours I still had until the finish and I was so scared of tripping and falling and my legs were so dead, and I was cold but I was hot and it was so crowded and fast… I couldn’t relax. I did my best to settle and find my rhythm… but I couldn’t. The race was stronger than me and I wasn’t prepared, I wasn’t trained mentally or physically to control it, or to control myself. I just did my best to not despair…

more soon.

Edited- Part 2 is here: My 2013 New York City Marathon Race, part 2

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New York City Marathon Media and Elite Runners, and the Winners!

As the whole marathon week is over, I am putting everything here! Scroll down for the post-marathon elite photos.

Pre-Marathon, at the Media Events!

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Armed with this puppy I headed to the Media Tent to meet up with the elite runners and see what their heads were going through, just because I can never figure out my own…

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I am so sorry for this picture Kim. I am never this stooopid. she’s SO sweet. Somehow she always remembers me, congratulated me, and asked me to see my ring… We chatted for a bit about how strange it all felt after last year’s cancellation and how ready she was feeling.

new york city marathon elite runners (10) wesley korir

Wesley Korir had us all with our mouths open… Read about him and you won’t believe the man. He works in the parliament and was discussing how he trained and worked as a politicians as well. He said not so nice things about his kenyan colleagues (mostly about how greedy and corrupt they are!) and how much he gets paid and all that. It was pretty amazing. Read more in always amazing Peter Gambaccini’s story: http://www.runnersworld.com/elite-runners/wesley-korir-the-politician-as-elite-marathoner

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Kebede talked mostly about his training and how he tried to mimic the hill. He seemed to be ready to tackle anything. More video and story here http://www.runnersworld.com/new-york-city-marathon/kebede-ready-for-the-new-york-city-marathons-last-miles

new york city marathon elite runners (12) stephen kiprotich

Ah, I had been really rooting for Stephen, his last year has been amazing and to see someone from Uganda win the gold at the Olympics, in such a fantastic race… I was excited to hear him talk! He was telling us about his family, how he trained in Kenya, and the politics that brings into racing…

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Carrie Tollefson and Karla Brunning doing On The Run. Have you seen the show? well, get to it! http://www.nyrr.org/newsroom/on-the-run

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The Media Tent is right by the finish. This is what we had going on Thursday morning…

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FRED!!! WE miss you at Engineers Gate! Hello!

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Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter were around being interviewed informally. They were being inducted to the NYRR Hall of Fame this year! Congrats! Plus, Frank Shorter was turning 66 right that day… Amazingness in one room!

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too many cool people to name: Scott Douglas, Peter Gambaccini and… ooops. Peter, you know Peter… he writes the first thing I read every morning, the RW news! http://www.runnersworld.com/person/peter-gambaccini Check his blogs out. it’s ALL you need to know as a runner. Scott… amazing stuff too!!!!!! He is the RW Editor and writes great pieces too, check them out (and ADD to your RSS NOW) http://www.runnersworld.com/person/scott-douglas

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Post-Marathon, on Monday at the Winner’s Conference!

Now, as soon as the winners get their medals and crowns on, they become the busiest people on earth… The attended a NYRR Youth event that Sunday, go to the Empire State Building for a shoot, they ring the bell at the Stock Exchange, lots of stuff like that (ha, at least we mortals get to go home and put our feet up for 10 hours if we so please!!!!) and at some point they meet press. Here is all 4 of them!

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On race morning and after that, the media events get moved to the Mandarin Oriental, right on Columbus Circle. quite convenient.

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I am blurry because this is post marathon and I was tired.

new york city marathon elizabeth maiuolo nyrr (4) geoffrey mutai priscah jeptoo tatyana mcFadden Marcel hug

From left to right: Mary Wittenberg, Geoffrey Mutai, Priscah Jeptoo, Marcel Hug and Tayana McFadden

new york city marathon elizabeth maiuolo nyrr Mary Wittenberg, Geoffrey Mutai, Priscah Jeptoo, Marcel Hug and Tayana McFadden

Answering questions, mostly about tactics, the wind, what they’d done after the race, goals, the world majors, etc.

new york city marathon elizabeth maiuolo nyrr  Mary Wittenberg, Geoffrey Mutai, Priscah Jeptoo, Marcel Hug and Tayana McFadden

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Notice the “little” Tiffany box for Tatyana for winning the Grand Slam!

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Geoffrey Mutai and I, no big deal.

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Priscah Jepto signing a LOT of things… among their many duties as winners… this.

new york city marathon elizabeth maiuolo nyrr  priscah jeptoo

and this.

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Tatyana and Juan had an interesting convo about the sidewind and why the thick profile of the bike cause it’s carbon and something like that. Anyway, she eats candy like the rest of us (only AFTER the race…) so we also had things in common to discuss. PS: she had to leave as she had an exam to do. She’s a full time student WHILE she wins every single race she enters. Just because.

my race report next… oy

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New York City Marathon Expo — lots of pictures!

You might have seen a lot of these pictures in previous posts but here is a lot. Just so you can feel like you were there…

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The Expo on the first day… before the 50K runners and friends came to visit, so quier and nice…

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Ryan Hall just happened to walk past me. What a coincidence!!!

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I know you can’t tell but these stiff guys where running. CONSTANTLY.

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PLEASE please please read the sign…

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Pete Jacobs, as told by the sign and my delirious husband…

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Ryan Hall going over the course…

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All my pants are tear-away pants!!! Yours aren’t?

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Pete Jacobs, Ironman Extraordinaire –and Juan, Husband/Ironman Extraordinaire

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the line was INSANE

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you HAVE to do these shots, or they don’t give you your bib… sure.

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I shouldn’t have done that

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With added security comes… crazy lines… but they went by fast I heard..?

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You could end up putting on 10 pounds by the time you leave the expo if you’re not careful…

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Or you could end up carrying 10 pounds in your bag from the free stuff (PLUS THE SHOPPING!!!)

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free gloves (which I wore Sunday morning) plus my masterpiece.

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Coolest pup ever loving the free greek yogurt. It was delish (the yogurt, I don’t eat dogs for now)

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Matt Long signing his books!

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Bart doing his thing 😉

new york city marathon expo elizabeth maiuolo

new york city marathon expo elizabeth maiuolo

Bart said “My girlfriend got married on me”. He was my boyfriend earlier this year. And I said he wasn’t fast enough… Apparently, he said that has always been his problem… YEAH RIGHT BART!
PS: I love you! Both!

new york city marathon expo elizabeth maiuolo (41) charity miles

Gene, from Charity Miles, with an osom poster everyone signed! If you haven’t checked Charity Miles, do it now! http://www.charitymiles.org/

new york city marathon expo elizabeth maiuolo

So… that’s most of it… fun right? The expo is worth a trip for everyone! Did you like it? Was it too busy? Overwhelming? you walked in and out? Would love to get there someday?

I got to see SO many friends (thanks to all who came to say hello at our Autism Speaks booth!!!!) that I had a great time! Now… onto the race report…. 😉

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