NYC Marathon 2021 Recap

This “fun run” jaunt tied my debut marathon (NYCM 2016) as my favorite of the three NYC Marathons I’ve run. The crowds were wild and seemed so thankful to have us out there. The lower number of runners made me feel way less cramped for space (except when the crowds were squeezing into us in Central Park and on Lafayette Ave). I had friends come out and watch AND bring me baked goods and cold brew iced coffee.

The plan was simple: run a 12-13 minute mile pace, don’t get carried away in Brooklyn like the 2018 NYC Marathon, walk the bridges and big hills (many of which are in the back half), stop for selfies, and HAVE FUN.

Pre-race:

Couldn’t sleep and woke up in a cold sweat at 5am. At least Daylight Savings eventually brought up the sun. I realized the my Garmin 245 hadn’t charged overnight, so tried to get that some more juice before heading out. Spoiler alert: could only get it to 68% and it died shortly before the halfway point.

Train station bathroom selfie – amazing throwaway clothes from Ian

I took MetroNorth to Grand Central then took the 7 to the 1. Unfortunately for me, the 1 train (and the R which would have also gotten me to the ferry) was only running every 20 minutes. I was very certain I’d make my wave (Wave 3 out of 5 this year) so I just stayed tight and sat on a bench instead of trying to get an Uber. Used the (real) bathroom at the Staten Island ferry terminal then hopped on the buses.

Start Village:

I made it in with not much time to spare before needing to get into my corral for Wave 3. Came to see who was left at the PPTC meetup spot right as the cannon for Wave 2 went off, so I only had 20 minutes to get in before they closed my corral. Went through my bag very quickly and tossed or packed items into my shorts and handheld bottle as needed; ended up not using my gloves or hand warmers at all and left them for any Wave 5 folks with cold hands. I had suffered a gel explosion in transit and cleaned that up while I could. I donated my throwaway clothes, gave my neighbor/training partner Dani a hug, then hopped into the corral. I was able to use the many portapotties in my corral and still have plenty of time to walk up to the bridge.

Staten Island:

Nice and easy up the Verrazzano! I was in green (lower level) and the views were still great. I stuck to the back of my wave and watched everyone go ahead. The descent on the bridge was much-needed, as were the speckle of people cheering just for our wave before it meets with everyone else (ok but that’s technically Brooklyn so I’m ahead of myself).

Brooklyn:

From Bay Ridge to Greenpoint, Brooklyn is probably my favorite part of the course. I lived in Brooklyn for 5 years and Manhattan for 5 years, but I would say my biggest sense of community still comes from Park Slope/Prospect Heights in part because I joined a local running club during my time there. I thanked everyone who cheered for me and ditched my arm warmers in Sunset Park.

Park Slope and Fort Greene to Bed-Stuy were the absolute best because that’s where a lot of my people and my running club were. It seemed like everyone knew PPTC meant Prospect Park and I was still at the back of Wave 3 (faster Wave 4 people began to overtake me around Mile 8). Being at the back made for a lot more space around me (see below from 3rd street) so my friends and coworkers found it easy to spot me. Mile 7 meant the PPTC cheer spot, croissant dropoff from Michelle, and selfies galore.

3rd St PPTC Cheer Station
St Marks – clutching my new croissant

Mile 8 was more of the same along Lafayette with live bands, costumes, and surging crowwds. I slowly ate all my croissant and saw a few more friends amongst the raging party crowds. Then there’s a bit of a lull up Bedford until you get to Williamsburg proper. I knew I had friends to see between miles 10-11 in Williamsburg and was looking forward to that.

Brittany and Gabby provided me with another replacement gel to make up for the exploded one and I got a selfie with them and Kimberly.

Broadway and Bedford with Kim
I loved stopping for selfies and sweaty hugs
K BYEEEEE

Heather and Katie made a sign for me and got a great shot after giving me a Peter Pan donut in Greenpoint as per their tradition.

Queens:

I walked across the Pulaski Bridge and made the tough decision to leave behind half of my red velvet donut. I ran into a friend and got a selfie as we walked. I took the downhill into Long Island City nice and easy and really enjoyed the crowds. My VP from work found me and got a quick hug. I had already told myself that I would be walking up the Queensboro Bridge and it was easy to stick with that plan. There were plenty of other walkers and I was able to pass a few others.

Manhattan Part 1:

The UES scream tunnel coming off the bridge was real this year. I found a few friends (no stopping for selfies though) and I think I made it up 1st Ave to the Willis Bridge before walking again.

Bronx:

My feet hurt pretty bad by this point so I slowed way down. Walked across the Madison Ave Bridge as well.

Manhattan Part 2:

Revitalized by my cold brew from Allison a planned pre-mile 22 stop), I was smart and still walked a mile up the hill on 5th Avenue.

Saw Meagan again at Mile 23.5 right before heading into Central Park and stopped for a selfie.

Then once I entered the park, I felt good again to make it to the finish with a real run. Running down Cat Hill makes all the difference mentally. My second watch died right at Mile 25.2, but the last mile was great and I felt strong again. Wasn’t as amazing a finish as 2017 Richmond Marathon‘s consistent pace and negative split 5 miles, but was happy to get it done.

Hammer dropped just a bit.

Post-Race:

Shuffle out of the park to the meetup spot on the UWS. It felt so good to sit down again. I took in half a can of Coca-Cola then wiped down and changed in a bathroom. Went to Levain and got a cookie with Jimmy and Anya then stumbled down to the Tracksmith popup (I hadn’t reserved a poster because I knew I wouldn’t like my time). After rejecting the pull of retail therapy, I said my goodbyes to friends and walked a little further to Columbus Circle to head home. I decided my post-marathon celebratory meal should be Szechuanese with my fiance and a couple friends, which really hit the spot. Had a glass of rose, showered at home, and passed out at 9pm.

Reflections:

This was my slowest marathon of the 4 but supremely enjoyable. The energy of the crowds was incredible. Honestly I finished 4 minutes faster than my Stryd predicted (only 81 minutes slower than my Garmin) so I was proud of that. My fast final 1.5 miles made me really happy because then I felt like I had left it all on the course.

My PT/acupuncturist took care of my troublesome leg on Wednesday and I’ve done a couple 12-minute mile+ recovery runs since under Zone 3 Heart Rate.

What’s Next:

  • 5K as a rust buster Thanksgiving weekend
  • consistent Stryd 10K training plan
  • mid-December 5K race
  • goal 10K and hopefully PR attempt early January
  • maybe a late March Half if I can stay consistent and injury-free through the winter
  • Fall 2022 big PR half or full goal race TBD
  • all of this on top of continued visits to my acupuncturist/PT and strength training at the gym, plus mobility work

3 thoughts on “NYC Marathon 2021 Recap

    1. I asked for the high-quality version! KD is such a good photog. All the shots make me so happy I stopped for selfies so I don’t need to pay $100 for MarathonFoto.

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