Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Staying Fit While Injured Just Got a Little Easier!

Last week I attended a preview of the Zero Runner by Octane Fitness.

To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. A zero gravity treadmill? Some sort of new gym torture device? 

None of the above.

I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the room to sign in and Tara, the marketing person for Octane Fitness knew exactly who I was – actually repeating some of my story back to me – this wasn't lip service. This was a company that sought out a group of people who they really wanted to reach, whom they thought would benefit from their product and whom they were seeking help with to get the word out.

We listened to the requisite marketing speak, the R&D, the background of the company, the former professional runner, the older, injured runner who wasn't able to run anymore (until he got on the Zero Runner that is). But as a marketer myself for a living, what I was most impressed with was the research this company has done on its consumer.
Carrie Tollefson talks to about how she trains on the Zero Runner

I've been exposed to a lot of small companies as a blogger and I can tell you that 80% of them have no idea who they are marketing to. Octane Fitness does not have that issue. As Proctor and Gamble would say, they know who their "Who" is. I'm not going to get into it, but suffice it to say, the research has been done.

So if you fit one of their profiles (and if you read this blog, you do), this product is for you.

At first glance, the Zero Runner looks like a fancy elliptical. But it's not. The machine mimics actual running but reduces the stress on your body by removing the impact. Runners actually use the same muscles as they do in outdoor runs, with a full range of motion and at their pace – there's no belt to help you along. Whatever pace you run outside is the same pace you'll run on this machine.

It takes a while to get used to, and as one of the speakers stated, if you stop thinking so much, it becomes easier to run on it. I tried it and while I'll never be a huge fan of an indoor running apparatus, I can tell you that I enjoyed it.

Because it felt like running.

And because if I was injured or recovering from a big race, I can see how it would be helpful.

And you know I'm a fan of the numbers -- anything that I can measure, I like to record and look at when I'm done. What I liked most about the machine is what they call Stride Tracing which is built into the Zero Runner Smart Link app. Explained by them, The Zero Runner also features stride tracing so runners can monitor the health of their gait throughout workouts. This way, they can ensure that form isn't compromised so that they are as strong at mile five as they were at mile one. It's literally a chart that shows your gait over the course of your run so you can see where and when it changes and train to keep it consistent. 

Brilliant! How has no one else thought of this yet?

Check out more about the Zero Runner here or on Octane's social sites Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Octane Fitness.

Monday, November 24, 2014

I'm Rededicating Myself!

My son was born in late October.

He's perfect in every way. He's cute, he's healthy and while he wakes up a few times a night, he's a champion sleeper! The only downside is that he's made me lazy. Champion sleeper or not, I've slacked on running since he was born.

Yeah, I ran the NYC Marathon the four days after he made an appearance, but since then, I've run a total of four time.

FOUR FRIGGING TIMES!

That, my friends, is not enough.


So here I am saying it in public, posting it on the Internets for all to see and judge, I am getting my ass back into it!

I will run four to five times a week. I will do my best to cross train at least once. Regardless of the amount of sleep I get, I will drag my lazy ass out of bed and run before I go to work.

With you as my witness, I hope to make this happen (starting two days ago - which puts me on a roll already).

And no better time since I'm in the throes of the Men's Fitness/Shape Magazine Blogger Challenge! East v. West (to see who can log more steps/miles in a month).

Our challenge this week? Tack on an extra 20 minutes to a workout, run or training session to increase overall steps and distance travelled.

Challenge accepted (follow our progress here).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Men's Fitness & Shape Magazine’s Fitbit Charge Blogger Challenge!

It's on!! It's a coastal showdown! It's time to show those warm-blooded west coast wussy's what the east coast is made of!!

I'm kidding of course.

Kinda.

Here's why I'm all fired up. Men's Fitness and Shape magazine have joined together to challenge 10 east coast and 10 west coast bloggers to test out the new Fitbit Charge. And your humble writer is one of them!

Each team will track total distance and steps taken to compete in winning the title of the most active coast!

I think we all know who's going to win this one, no?

You can see each costs progress on a live tracker on both Shape and Men's Fitness respective websites.

And I know we're only a few days in. But, ahem, look who's out front already:



Make sure you check in every week and enter the sweepstakes for a chance to win your own FitBit Charge! One winner will be announced each week.

Week One Challenge:
This week, we've been challenged to take our workouts outdoors and discover new trails and hiking spots. With the Polar Vortex in full force, this is a bit more of a challenge than I was prepared for but I'm up for it if for nothing else than to show the west coast who's boss :-)

Keep an eye on my Instagram for my updates on this challenge!

This post is sponsored by the Shape/Men's Fitness FitBit Charge Challenge.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Post Marathon Blues Are a Real Thing

So you've spent the last 18 weeks of your life preparing for and training to run 26.2 miles.

It's all you talked about with you friends and family, you changed your eating habits, you changed your social life, you woke up earlier on the weekends than you do on weekdays to get in your long runs. You waxed poetic on neutral vs. stability shoes, you talked about the nuances between using nip guards vs.  BandAides, and you dreamed about that one speed session you had at the beginning of your training that set the stage for a perfect race day.

The day came, you got up at the crack of dawn, followed your plan to a T and crossed the finish line. You then regaled in the kudos you received far and wide. You wore your medal around town. You posted myriad pictures on social media of race day, wearing your medal around town, or even, ahem, your new baby boy wearing your medal. And you relived race day with your running group talking about different aspects of the race, the crazy weather, the crazy naked guy at mile 18, the hills, the hills and the hills.

And then, all of a sudden . . .

It's. Over.

Now what?

For me, Post Marathon Blues sets in around 7 days after the race when all the hullabaloo end. I no longer need to wake up early on the weekends. I find myself with hours and hours of awake time not feeling sore or reliving a great (or awful) training run. I no longer get the endorphin rush from a speed work session or the satisfaction of completing a 20 mile run (or a 75 mile week).

And my friends and family are so sick of hearing about the race, they run in the other direction when they see me coming.

So how do I deal with it? I sit down with my laptop, pull up Google and find another marathon to participate in. Don't get me wrong, I live in NYC, possibly one of the greatest running cities in the world and thanks to organizations like the New York Road Runners and NYC Runs, I'm already signed up for 13.1s, 5-milers and 15Ks through March.

But I need to be training for something that my body is going to hate me for in the short term (but love me in the long).

I need a new goal. I need to be pushing myself and looking for reasons to wake up early, strap on my kicks in the dead of winter and go out for a run in the snow.

In short, I need another marathon.

My advice to you? Find another race ASAP. It doesn't have to be tomorrow, it can be in six months, or even a year. But give yourself a reason to eat 10 pounds of pasta; a reason to go out and buy a new pair of kicks; a reason to strap them on and get your ass back out into the Park (or wherever it is you train).

Nothing beats the post marathon blues like starting the cycle all over again.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Video: 2014 TCS NYC Marathon

Last Sunday I ran my seventh NYC Marathon.

My 7th marathon in my home town. I can easily remember going to Central Park on Marathon Sunday, standing there watching in awe of the runners going past the 72nd Street Transverse. I had mixed emotions. At once I was impressed by the display of endurance, tenacity and, to be completely honest, the crazy.

I remember telling a friend that one day I would be one of those crazy people -- but I didn't really believe it.

Yet here I am with seven NYC Marathons along with other iconic races under my belt (including Chicago and Boston). And I've actually become one of those people who has a list of races I want to run around the world.

But I digress -- before I even start.

The 2014 TCS NYC Marathon was a rough race. Weather predictions for the week leading up were getting worse and worse. We ended up with wind gusts of beyond 35 MPH which, for some reason never seemed to be a tail wind. It was like the universe was working against the runners. From the very start, crossing the Verrazano Bridge, I had to hang on to my hat, literally. And there were a few times that I actually thought the wind was going to blow me off the bridge.

I'm not going to get into a play-by-play of this race - suffice it to say that my goal this year was to cross the finish line. And that's exactly what I did.

I love my hometown race because it's a 26.2 mile party. The energy in the City that crescendos on Marathon Sunday is unlike like anything I've experienced in another race city.

If you're a runner, you HAVE to experience this race. Period. Full Stop.

As usual, the GoPro was in my hands and I captured some of what I hope was the essence of the day. You be the judge.

Do I have the marathon blues after this race? It's hard to think about, watch my race video to the end and you'll see why I was more excited than ever to reach the Park and get back home.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Product Review: Mizuno Wave Rider 18

If you read this space, you know I love me some Mizuno sneakers. So when I was asked to participate in a sponsored campaign to review the new Wave Rider 18 shoe (a neutral runner), I was beyond excited!

I think Mizuno scored huge with this shoe. In comparison to some of my other neutral light-weight shoes I've worn, I like the way these feel on my feet. And believe it or not, I can feel the fact that these are just over an ounce heavier than the Sayonara. But not in a bad way. What I mean to say is that they feel a little sturdier, like they will last past 300 miles. 

I'm a huge fan of the colors too. I wasn’t too psyched with the color scheme of the Wave Rider 17s but I felt that as these came in time for Halloween, it was the perfect color scheme. But that said, color doesn’t mean that much to me. At the end of the day, if it fits well, feels good and performs well, I'm a fan of the shoe. And this one seems to hit all the categories.

My first run
As I walked up to the park for my first run in these sneaks, I knew I was going to like them. I was in the depths of training for the 2014 TCS NYC Marathon and very close to the taper so I was a little weary of putting someone new on my feet so close to the race. But when I kicked off I immediately knew it was going to be a good run. The Wave Rider 18s felt light and sturdy with just the right amount of cushy. Cushy in the sense that I felt like my foot wasn't striking the ground hard, the shoe was absorbing the majority of the impact but I could still get a good feel for the road. 

According to Mizuno’s marketing, the company adopted the inspirational influence of the Japanese concept of “Hado,” the intrinsic vibrational life force energy that promotes powerful transformations. Hado is executed in the Wave Rider’s sleek, dynamic design relaying the power and kinetic energy of running, harnessing the transformative possibilities of every run.

The new Wave Rider 18 provides the ideal balance of fit and performance, making it the choice for runners seeking a smooth ride in a sleek, lightweight daily running shoe. Mizuno’s patented Wave Technology® delivers maximum responsiveness and a harmonious feel, providing “just enough” support for your run. The Dynamotion® Fit™ upper and a modified outsole pattern gives the shoe added durability and an improved underfoot feel.

What’s New
  • Refined toe-spring delivers a smooth, effortless toe-off
  • Upgraded premium sock liner provides more rebound and resiliency at every foot strike
  • New outsole design with added durability and shock attenuation
Did I like them? Yes, I would totally recommend these shoes to my friends. The Mizuno Wave Rider line has been and remains one of my all time favorite shoes.


DoS Disclaimer: DirtyOldSneakers was compensated for this review and provided product at no cost. All opinions expressed are my own.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Final Preparations for the 2014 TCS NYC Marathon

In less than a week, I will wake up at 4AM, eat a hearty breakfast, shower, dress and make my way to the start of my 13th official marathon, the 2014 TCS NYC Marathon (my seventh time on this course).


Prepping for a marathon is always nerve wracking. While this isn't my first time at the rodeo, I think a little bit of nervousness about a race is healthy. If I get too cocky, I could easily go out too fast, hydrate incorrectly, or one of a hundred other things happen that are well within my control.

Running a marathon or any other long race is all about focus and for some a change of life. One of the inspirational posters at the ING NYC Marathon in 2012 year stated "The Finish Line Is Only The Beginning." Not just an inspirational quote, but a truth that a lot of endurance sports enthusiasts know is a basic truth.

While getting getting ready for the Big Dance, I started thinking about all of the things I need to prep other than miles and miles under foot in order to toe the starting line at 9:40AM on November 2.

Clothing
The weather in NYC in early November is not consistent. Since 1999 it has ranged from 37 to 68 degrees. I've come to learn that when running a long distance race, I need to take into account the projected high for the day and add 20 degrees (about the temp your body will generate while running). This year, weather predictions are for a high of 48 but a low of 38. So what does this mean? Well, it means I'll need to have some throw-away clothes at the start (good thing I have a closet full of old sweat pants and shirts that I save just for this occasion). I'll be wearing these over shorts and a short sleeve shirt.
Pre-Race Eating
This is something I always struggle with. Pre-race there are a million theories for how to prepare, a large, carb-heavy meal the night before; heavy carbs for lunch the day prior and then dinner of lean protein and a balance of carbs the night before; introduce 20% more carbs for the two weeks leading up to the race at each meal and don't increase your caloric intake. These are the theories I've been reading about. I'm planning to do what I always do: Eat a lot and then run as far and as fast as I can.

Music
I made my mix last week and have been fine tuning it ever since. I've been listening while commuting, while working and driving my wife nuts listening to it at home. I won't listen to it the entire time as I'll be filming part of the race, but I've made it long enough to get me from the start to the finish just in case.

Hydrating
As I mentioned in another post, I've almost doubled my water intake. I'm at the point where I'm thinking about just setting up shop in the bathroom since that's pretty much where I spend most of my time anyway. The payoff will be on race day when I can hit every other water station and not worry too much about dehydration.


I've also been drinking less caffeine since it's a diuretic. And since I'm increasing my electrolyte intake, it's the perfect excuse to drop a few Nuun Watermelon flavored tablets into my water a few times a day. I'm not a huge fan of sports drinks (I think they have way to much sugar) but I can't seem to get enough of Watermelon Nuun!

Now all I need to do is figure out how to sleep the night before the race.

See you on the course! Look for me, I'll be the guy with the GoPro!



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tapering for NYC and How to Spread the Cheers!

We’re getting down to the line folks! The TCS NYC Marathon is in 10 days. 10 DAYS! I wait all year for the excitement in my hometown to crescendo around this race and it’s evident everywhere I look. Street banners, bus and subway ads and the bleachers set up already in Central Park!! It’s only a matter of time before the statue of Fred Lebow (founder of the race) gets moved to the finish line so he can continue to watch all of the runners as we cross the finish line.
Fred overlooking the construction of the finish line last year
At this point, like most people I have one long-ish run left to do. I’ll set out with my running buddies this weekend and do an out and back across the 59th Street Bridge (three miles) and then follow the last 10 miles of the race course. 

This is technically part of my taper and there are a few things I like to keep in mind while doing so:
  • Even though I’m not running as much as I have been, I need to keep my caloric intake at roughly the same level. It’s okay to drop it a little, but now is the time to pack some carbs into your diet. Rather than going out for that one HUGE pasta dinner the night before the race, add 20% more carbs to your daily intake.
  • Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! I’m pretty good at hydrating, but the week before the race, I’ll practically double it. I get to the point where I think about just setting up shop in the bathroom since that's pretty much where I’ll spend most of my time anyway. The payoff will be on race day when I can hit every other water station and not worry too much about dehydration.
  • I sleep every chance I get for as long as I can! Now’s not the time to be out partying at the clubs. I like to bed down early and train my body to wake up at the same time I will on race day (which for me is EARLY since I’m Wave 1 and Staten Island isn’t the most convenient place to get to).
  • Lastly, I’m preparing for the Expo to GET PSYCHED! I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to being in a giant room with fellow crazies who are just as excited as I am for this event.
Speaking of the Expo, I’ve partnered with Poland Spring, the official bottled water of the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon, to help kick off its “Poland Spring Cheers” campaign. The idea is to thank the millions of New Yorkers who helped make local spring water from Maine the #1 beverage brand in the big City.

So, how does it work? Poland Spring is inviting all of us to stop by its video booth at the Expo and record a personal “Poland Spring Cheers” video - essentially thanking our family and friends who supported our Marathon journey.

And you know, at the very least they deserve a thank you. I mean how many hours have they spent listening to your marathon strategy? How many pasta dinners have you forced them to eat with you? How many nights out were cut short because you had a long run the next morning? And how many weekend afternoons were shot because you were just too tired after that long run?

So stop by the TCS New York City Marathon Health and Fitness Expo on 10/30, 10/31 or 11/1 to create your own video. If you can’t drop by, you can still create your own video and share it on your social channels using #polandspringcheers

I leave you with a question, who are you going to thank?




Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Poland Spring. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

UPDATED: Tips and Tricks for the TCS NYC Marathon (from a six time finisher)

I wrote the first version of this post last year and after running the TCS NYC Marathon for the sixth time, I decided to write an update. As a six time race veteran and New York City local for 19 years, I have a bit of an insider's knowledge and am able to offer some tips and tricks I’ve learned on what to do and how to get around. It’s a long post, but I promise it’s full of useful information!

Here’s what you need to know:

The Expo
If you can get there on Thursday or early Friday do it! It gets busy and I mean BUSY on Saturday and the last thing you want to do the day before a 26.2 race is to stand in line for hours!

The Expo is at the Javits Center and is about as far west as you can get (34th Street & 11th Ave.) and there is virtually nothing around it. The closest subways are the A/C/E/1/2 into Penn Station – you can either walk (~20 minutes) or take the cross-town bus across 34th – which I think is totally worth it.

If you don’t want to kick down for a Metrocard ($2.50/ride), get yourself to Paragon Sports (18th and Broadway) in the Union Square area. Every year I’ve done the race they’ve offered a free shuttle from the store to the expo and back. Not only do you get a free ride, but they’ll also give you a 20% discount card (or at least they have in past years).

Outside the Expo (or on most major street corners for that matter) you’ll find vendors selling hats and gloves. Treat yourself to a street hat and a pair of street gloves. This is the best way for you to get super cheap throw-away gear that will keep you warm for the start of the race.

Take your time at the Expo, walk around, kick down for that TCS NYC Marathon jacket, this is the largest marathon in the world and you’re going to want to show off the fact that you ran it for years to come!
My friend Carolyn and I with Bart Yasso at the 2013 NYC Marathon Expo

 If you time your Expo trip right, you’ll get to meet some of the professionals who are running the race. Meb, Kara, Rita, they all do meet and greets. And then at the booths, folks like Matt Long and Bart Yasso are around pressing the flesh, if you’re a running geek like me (and chances are, you are if you’re reading this), it can be a pretty awe-inspiring place to be.

Put your name on your shirt!
Want to hear your name cheered for most of the 26.2 miles? Put your name on your shirt in BIG BLOCK letters! It may sound cheesy, but there’s nothing that gets me up 5th Avenue (mile 23) faster or past that last stretch on Central Park South than some random person looking me in the eye and saying something like, “You’ve got this Eric, you’re almost there.” It can be a huge boost.

Don’t have good handwriting or don’t want to risk messing up that new tech shirt you bought? Go to any hobby store and buy transfer paper. You can print out your name, an image, a quote or anything you want and iron it right on your shirt.

Strategically Place Your Friends and Family on the Course
Have people coming to watch you during the race? Make sure you know where they are. It’ll be relatively easy for you to find them and virtually impossible for them to find you.

I always ask my friends and family to hang out on First Avenue above 100th Street but before The Bronx – the crowds thin out a little there. And if your friends hang out on First Avenue, they can easily walk over to see you on your way down 5th Avenue – it’s just a 15-20 minute walk for them.

What to wear
I’ve run the race for six years and have always worn shorts and short sleeve tech shirt. I’ve been lucky that it has never rained (hopefully I didn’t jinx this year). I usually go to a discount store before the race and for $30 get sweat pants and a zipped/hooded sweatshirt. The hood offers extra warm or rain protection and the fact that it’s zippered makes it easier to remove while I’m running. I take the sweatpants off just before the start and I’ll chuck the jacket when I get warm enough – usually after the Verrazano Bridge. I also wear the cap and pair of throwaway gloves that I bought outside the Javits, but hang on to them a bit longer.

While you’re at the discount store, buy yourself a pack of long athletic/tube socks, you know, the white ones with stripes that you used to wear as a kid up to your knee (if you’re the same age as me that is). Take one pair, cut off the toes and voilĂ ! You have a pair of arm warmers that you won’t worry about throwing away during the race. Make sure when you put them on that you pull the elasticized opening on first, with the elastic at the top of your arm they won’t slide down.

There is no waterfall of urine on the lower level
If you’re running the race and have gotten assigned a Green corral (running on the bottom level of the Verrazano Bridge), you’re probably worried about the waterfall of pee you’ve heard about. I had the same fear at my very first New York City Marathon.

I’m here to tell you from personal experience that the rumors are 100% false. First off, that would have to be one powerful stream of pee to reach from the top level of the bridge – I’m talking about at least 20 to 30 people in a synchronized urination. And it’s virtually impossible for it to happen – there’s the wind blowing in all directions, not to mention people on the top level can’t just hang off the side of the bridge to pee. There are guardrails that keep you a good five feet off the edge. I’ve since run the top of the bridge and have never seen anyone stopping for a “natural break” let alone 30 people doing it together. I can’t say for sure, but there are so many DOT workers on the bridge, I don’t think it would be possible to stop without being told to move on (and you’d probably earn yourself a DQ to boot).

Getting to Staten Island/Fort Wadsworth
By now you’ve already chosen your transportation option. You’re either on the bus or taking the Staten Island Ferry. I can’t comment on the bus since I’ve never taken it. I can tell you that the Ferry is easy, it’s fun and you get a great shot of Lady Liberty as you make your way across New York Harbor. You’ll load onto busses with loads of other runners and get chauffeured to Fort Wadsworth where you follow the color of your bib (blue, orange or green) to your start village.


I save the heat sheets from previous races and use them as blankets at the start village near my assigned corral. I wear my throwaway clothes for warmth and seek out a Dunkin Donuts tea and bagel for some extra calories while I’m waiting to my corral to open. Bring a magazine or some other form of entertainment that you can easily toss. You may be there for a while; I tend to go early since I’m a bit of a freak about getting places on time.

At your assigned wave time, the cannon will fire and you’ll start to make your way up and past the starting line to Frank Sinatra serenading you to New York, New York!

The course
You’re in Staten Island for all of two miles. As you're trotting towards the start line, make sure you don't trip on any of the clothing discarded by runners in front of you (and if you're discarding clothing, please try and throw it into one of the receptacles the organizers put out there). 

Once you make it past the start you're in the the Verrazano Bridge - and it's a hill, make no mistake but it’s also the start of the race so the chance of you noticing that fact is pretty slim. Hold your pace. Take it all in, look at the NYC skyline ahead of you. Watch the NYFD Fire Boat with water cannons going full blast saluting the start of your epic journey and gawk at the helicopters buzzing the bridge (some are media, others are security). Enjoy this, you will be feeling great and super excited for what you’re about to accomplish.

Brooklyn
Once you get over (or through) the first of five bridges, you’re in Brooklyn and one of the best parts of the course. Keep your head together here. You want to make sure you’re not going out too fast. Trust me, it’s easy to do. Between the crowds, the bands and the fact that the course is practically flat the entire length of the borough means you need to keep a close eye on your pace.

You’re on Fourth Avenue for miles four through eight. Stay to the left side of the divider in the sunlight, it can get cold and breezy and if you stay on the left side, you’ll be a lot warmer. That said, pop over to the right for a huge burst of energy – this is where the bigger crowds are. If you run with your name on your shirt (which I highly suggest you do) you’ll get personal cheers. And, high fiving all the little kids on the course is fun!


Further into Brooklyn you’ll pass through South Williamsburg. Don’t get freaked out! Not only is it home to New York Hipsters but one of the largest concentrations of Orthodox Jews in the City. Chances are the cheering will be a lot less here and you’ll get some awkward looks (it’s considered immodest to wear form-fitting clothing). Sunday is also a workday for this community and you’ll likely see people darting back and forth across the course while you’re running.

Queens
Brooklyn takes you to the halfway point where you cross over the Pulaski Bridge (the second of five bridges) and enter the borough of Queens. This is really the first rise (I won’t call it a hill) of consequence since you crossed over the Verrazano. Just pace yourself and remember to keep a good cadence. Throughout Queens, the course undulates between sea level and ~50 feet above.


You then hit the 59th Street Bridge (three of five bridges). It’s easy to get psyched out. Maybe you’re starting to get tired and your legs are starting to complain a little. This really is a hill. To make it worse, no spectators are allowed on the bridge so it can get eerily silent. For the first time on the course, it’s just you and every other runner plugging away at the miles. But it’s not as bad as you might think. Trust your training, stay out of your head, eat a gel and maybe chat it up with another runner. Or pick someone in front of you and try to stay on his or her tail. It’ll be over before you know and then you hit what has been described as a wall of sound.

Manhattan
You’ve made it to First Avenue. The first thing you’ll notice is that where the 59th Street Bridge was silent – First Avenue is like the second coming of The Beatles. Coming off the bridge you hit an indescribable rush of cheers that doesn’t stop for the next three miles.


First Avenue is the hill that you’ll never feel (because of all the spectators and cheering). Remember to pace yourself here. Four years ago I found myself doing 7:30s for the three miles up to the Bronx – for a guy who was running 8:30s for the rest of the race, I put the back half of my race in jeopardy.

The crowds will carry you from 59th Street all the way up to the Willis Avenue Bridge (four of five bridges) which connects you to:

The Bronx
One of the most enthusiastic areas of the race, it’s almost like the residents know that we’re about to hit the wall. Again, keep your head (stay out of it), eat a gel, take in the Japanese drummers, look for yourself on the giant video screen and remember to move your feet. You’re almost in the home stretch.


The course takes us back over the Third Avenue Bridge (five of five bridges!) and you find yourself on 5th Ave.

Manhattan and the Home Stretch
5th Avenue from 138th Street down to 110th Street is pretty benign. At this point in the race, I’m always just concentrating on getting into Central Park at 90th Street. It can be challenging. From 110th down to 90th is a gradual one-mile hill. You’re climbing about 100 feet of elevation over one mile which give you an average grade of 1.8% – easy peasy, right? If that doesn’t help you get to the top, the crowds will be so loud, you won’t be able to hear any of the negative thoughts in your head.
 
She was so sweet and enthusiastic, I forgave her awful grammar error
At 90th you enter Central Park and hit a bit more undulation. Are you using a mantra? Now’s the time to employ it. You can almost smell the finish line.

Shoot out of the Park and onto Central Park South where once again, the level of noise will be about Justin Bieber or maybe One Direction level. Either way, the crowds to Columbus Circle will again carry you up the gradual incline.

At Columbus Circle, you re-enter Central Park. Make sure your bib is visible at this point. If it’s not, you run the risk if getting stopped by Bandit Spotters. You don’t want someone to break your stride when you’re so close to the finish line.

Enter the park, up a slight grade and relax, you’re done. You’ve run one of the most iconic races in the world and you’re part of the 1% – the 1% that are marathoners that is! You’ve earned the tech shirt you picked up at the Expo and can wear it with pride.


Post Race
Get your medal and take a heat sheet (in fact, take two, one for your shoulders and tie the other around your waist), grab a recovery bag. They usually have Gatorade recovery formula in there. I highly suggest you drink as much of that as you can (I find it too syrupy but try to down as much of it as I can). Regardless of what your hydration plan was on the course, I’m willing to bet you’re going to be dehydrated and this will help.

I can’t comment too much on where to meet up with family and friends after the race, I live about a mile from the finish and usually just walk home to meet my wife and parents (who come into the City to watch every year).

I can tell you that if you chose the No Baggage option, you’re in for a treat. Here’s an excerpt from my race review last year which I think captures the essence of the treat we were subjected to as “no baggage” runners:

So, we're all trudging along, limping out of the park and make it up to Central Park West where they are handing out the ponchos. I reach the area and go to grab one from one of the many volunteers handing them out but she ever so gently pushes my hand away. 

In a very soothing voice she says, "please, let me put this on your shoulders." After she draped it on me and secured the velcro, she asked if I wanted the hood up. It was all I could do to nod my head. I was mesmerized by this angel who was taking care of me like I was her child. I half expected her to kiss my forehead as she sent me on my way. There were literally thousands that opted for the ponchos and I only hope they were as well taken care of as I was. Whoever you were, thank you from the bottom of my still-sore toes.


On Monday make sure to pick up a copy of the New York Times. Every year they print a special section with the names and times of all finishers under 4:30:00! And if you don’t have to go to work, head to Tavern on the Green, last year the NYRR offered free medal engraving.


If that wasn’t enough to get you excited about the race, how about this video I made last year? I can’t wait to see what the 2014 edition of this epic race holds in store!