NYCM Tips & Tricks: Marathon Week

by ashleyd on October 29, 2012

A few weeks ago, during the New York Flyers 3 Bridges Run, I spent over an hour of the run answering questions about the New York City Marathon. While I am not the fastest runner, I have experienced the amazing and wonderful chaos that is the New York City marathon two times and am about to enjoy my third time in less than a week!

After the conversation, Meghan suggested that I actually dedicate a blog post to sharing some of the things I’ve learned over the past two years which I am going to remember come November 4th in order to hopefully PR and enjoy the day more than ever before.

To get things started, let me introduce you to my New York City Marathon Pinterest page, where I have over 20 different New York City Marathon recaps pinned for your reading pleasure.

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I have read almost all of these recaps this week and plan on reading the rest of them since I’ll have more time thanks to the TAPER.

In order to conquer the questions in a somewhat sensible order, I’m going to approach marathon week in chronological order, therefore organizing my tips from a week out to November 4th. I hope this helps and feel free to email, tweet, or Facebook message me with further questions!

Marathon Week

  • Have two race outfit options ready to go so you’re ready regardless of temperature. Based on the past few years, the temperature shouldn’t be lower than mid 40’s to mid 60’s. Remember that there is a big difference in the temperature at 10:55 versus 7:55. The New York marathon starts later than most and for this reason many people end up at the start with more clothing than they really need. If it’s in the 40’s you may want a long sleeve option or crop pants but if it’s in the 60’s you’ll want less layers. If you don’t want to put your name on both shirts, remember that you can use a piece of fabric on which to write your name and then pin it to either shirt option.
  • Head over to CVS, Walgreens, Duane Reade, or your local Salvation Army to find throw away clothes for the start on Staten Island. Depending on your plans, you could be hanging around the island for as long as 4 hours and it can get chilly just due to the fact that you’ll be sitting still. $5 fleece robes are a great option from your local drugstore as they are long enough to provide full coverage and are soft as well. Grabbing an extra magazine or two can be a good idea as well since you won’t want to drain your iPhone or iPod for entertainment. Also, in light of this week’s weather, grabbing a trash bag or two to keep you dry from the mud may be a good idea. In addition, don’t forget to pick up some food and water for race day. Normally I carry a bottle of water, banana, 1/2 bagel, and peanut butter to eat an hour before the race.

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  • Go to the expo as early as possible. I’ve actually never gone to the expo on Thursday and each year have grown to regret my decision more and more. Saturday is a complete shit show filled with tourists, people panicking last minute,  long lines, and selection of both official marathon gear and other merchandise is picked over by this time. I didn’t expect Friday to be as bad but last year Theodora and I were both pretty overwhelmed by the time we left and just wanted to get out of there. This year, Bo and I are heading over Thursday after work in hopes of enjoying the expo together and checking out some of the gear. While I know there will be a post work rush it will still be far less people than Friday or Saturday. Also, you can take the MTA Bus to the expo if you’re in from out of town. There are 2 that run to the Javits Center: M34 and M42.IMG_0178
  • Be careful what you eat at the expo. The New York City Marathon expo is the largest I’ve ever experienced and each year there are more booths offering food samples, drinks, new power gels, and more. It’s never a good idea to try something new this close to the marathon especially when you don’t know how it will affect your system. Take the freebies and save them for after the race unless it is something you have used before. In addition, beware of being persuaded to try something new last minute. Many of the people working the booths are trained salespeople. They could make Eskimos buy ice just like they convinced me to spend over $200 during my first marathon expo.

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  • Take advantage of the knowledge: Are you worried about the course? Need someone to help you keep a steady pace? Want to figure out how to fix your Garmin? Need to have someone KT tape your leg? Didn’t get to squeeze in a massage session before the marathon? There are experts everywhere at the expo and the other events that NYRR and ING are organizing this week. Take advantage of their time and ask them questions and use the expo map to help you figure out the best places to spend your time depending on your needs.
  • Bring cash.  Each year there are a few stands at the expo that only take cash. Last year, all we wanted were cow bells and they were sold by a stand that only took cash. Of course, we didn’t have cash and nor did we have time to wait in an ATM line or scour the Javits center for the ATM.
  • Respect the taper: While it may seem weird not to be running everyday this week or breaking a sweat at Crossfit, Soul Cycle, etc it is important to give your body this time to rest. Be sure to focus on sleep, especially on Thursday and Friday night. According to Gia, this week’s food is the most important of the training cycle so make sure to eat clean and rely on vegetables, grains, and fruits for some healthy carbohydrate increases versus processed foods. In addition, relax in an Epsom salt bath or two this week to help relax your legs and release toxins, especially after a long foam rolling session. If you feel especially anxious, go to Yoga on Demand and do a restorative yoga class or this great Yoga for Runners session which is free on YouTube.
  • Realize that many of the Italian restaurants in the city will be jam packed with runners. If you’re local, I suggest dining at home in the comfort of your compression socks and pajamas. If you want to dine with friends, invite them over! It’s a great way to relax your nerves before the big day without stressing out about reservations, crowds or slow waiters. If you’re coming from out of town, make reservations in advance.
  • Don’t forget to bring a form of identification and your registration form to the expo. While there are plenty of information and help lines their lines tend to be long and the last thing you want to do is have to wait at the expo or go back to the hotel or your apartment to get your id or registration.
  • Download this AMAZING marathon guide from Jack Rabbit Sports! I have used this each year and the first year especially, when I was on pace for almost all my miles, it worked like a charm. It allows you to figure out your pace depending on how you’ve trained (positive or negative splits), the time you start, and more. It also turns this info into a pace bracelet! Share the finished product with your spectating friends and family so they’ll know the exact time you should hit each mile marker.
  • Send your friends and family who are spectating a picture of you in your marathon outfit. Remember, there are 45,000 people running down the streets of Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Harlem, and the Bronx on November 4th and it is hard to spot people. Make sure to put together a plan in advance especially if you know you need to see them in order receive fuel, water, or hand off clothing. My recommendation is to choose a side of the course on which to run, stick to it, wear at least one differentiating piece of clothing or accessory, and tell them to stand as close to the mile markers as possible. It’s pretty tough to miss the mile marker signs but it’s easy to miss your family’s race sign they made which is being held down at foot level since they aren’t expecting you for a few more minutes. For example, this year I’m wearing my hot pink Zensah calf sleeves along with a hot pink sparkly skirt I’m borrowing from Shannon. In addition, in my email to friends I’ll let them know that I prefer the left side of the street and will hug that side as much as possible.

Have more questions about race week preparations and the New York City Marathon? Send them my way. Tomorrow’s installment will include all my tips for the actual race, including marathon morning!

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{ 8 comments }

Alison @ The Peacock Diaries October 29, 2012 at 3:48 am

I’ve never run the marathon but I hope to one day…all good info to tuck away :) I remember reading Heather Armstrong’s (Dooce) recap last year and she wore a Snuggie for a pre-race layer because it is very easy to shed. Seemed like a good idea, and if you don’t already have one you’re willing to part with, I’ll bet a quick post on Facebook would net you one (or a few) from friends.

WellHeeledRunner October 29, 2012 at 10:46 am

Great advice…I wish I’d seen this before my race yesterday…the temperature dipped dramatically on Saturday and I hadn’t planned a long sleeve option in advance!! I spent Saturday panicking about my race outfit before heading out to find some cheap hats, gloves etc to throw away once I’d warmed up :).

MEgan @ Life As Megan Knows It October 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I have never run NYCM but I hope to next year so I defiantly bookmarked you tips and sent them to a few friends. :-)

Hope to catch you out there!

Ari @ Ari's Menu October 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Thank you SO MUCH for posting all your tips!! It’s definitely making me feel a little more ready and a LOT more excited!! :)

Meghann October 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm

GREAT tips!! I know I say this every year, but one year I WILL run this freakin’ marathon :)

April B October 30, 2012 at 6:47 pm

This is a great post Ashley!
I hope you’re faring well now and will have a chance to run on Sunday – hoping that the city can be in shape for you and all the other runners. Good luck!!

Reen November 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I stumbled upon your blog this morning and was VERY HAPPY to see this post. First of all, so sorry to hear that the NYC Marathon was cancelled. I hope that you have found an alternative to race.

I am running MY FIRST marathon on the 18th and looking for all the tips I can get. My emotions are flipping back and forth between excitement and terror. :) It’s the fear of the unknown, how I will feel between 20 and 26, unfamiliar with the route, fear of tummy troubles, fear of being too warm or too cold. I know that all of this work itself okut and I’ll be ready, but some of your tips were very helpful to me!

Megan November 5, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Its a shame the marathon got cancelled but this is an awesome list of tips! Thanks!

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