2014 NYC Marathon Race Recap

On Sunday, I completed my 8th marathon. It wasn’t a PR or goal race but it was one of the most amazing, exciting and humbling experiences of my running “career”. The importance of the day had nothing to do with me or my running goals, but rather, who I was there for – my friend, John. Helping a friend run the race he trained for, made the race, the day and the overall experience a million times more meaningful and special than a PR could ever do.

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The days leading up to the 2014 NYC Marathon were stressful. I hadn’t planned on much of a taper since my coach and I were treating the race like an extra-long training run. But, my body had other plans. I made Thursday and Saturday complete rest days (unplanned) – I felt feverish, my body ached and had a pounding headache most of Wednesday and Saturday. I began panicking Saturday afternoon (after spending a good portion of the day in bed) about how I was going to run a marathon the next day. Thankfully, I woke up Sunday morning feeling much better!

Race Morning

I woke up at 4:30am to take a quick shower, drink some coffee, freshen up and be out the door by 6am to pick up John. I still hadn’t decided on my race outfit – the strong headwind was throwing me off and I debated until the last moment between shorts, capris or a skirt and a tank/arm warmers or long sleeves. In the end, I decided to go with my sparkle skirt – it was my first time running or racing in one – and I figured what the heck?. I wanted to have fun and enjoy the experience and felt that the sparkly skirt was the perfect way to do that.

After picking up John, we drove to my mom’s (left the car there) and my dad brought us to the start. There was more congestion than I remember in years past but my dad managed to get us about 1/2 mile from the start.

We were through security and into Athlete’s Village by 7:15am – perfect timing since John had an interview with The Weather Channel at 7:30am!!

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After the interview, NYRR and Foot Locker hooked us up with a heated tent (which we had not planned on since most of the tents had been taken down or had the sides removed due to the wind). It was really NICE to sit inside and warm up for the next hour.

Even though I wasn’t racing, I wanted to practice race morning nutrition – so I treated it like a dress rehearsal for Potomac in two weeks. And I definitely think I figured out what works for me since I had no stomach problems (and felt great) all day. Starting around 6am, I nibbled my way through 1.5 bagels (NYC-style bagels which were enormous) and about 1.5 servings of Generation uCan. I also popped a few Watermelon Gu Chomps (3 or 4) about 10 minutes before the start.

Before we knew it, we were getting directed to the start line to begin (around 8:40am). On the way, I ran into a good friend who I met during the 2011 NYC Marathon (he was the representative for the Bronx that year!). Rob had an amazing race on Sunday and finished with a shiny new PR and 3:57 finish!!

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With the exception of the Verrazano Bridge, the first half of the race was a blast. It was slightly terrifying to be running over the bridge – with just 5 other runners and a couple of police cars – with wind gusts over 35 mph. There were some gusts where I felt like I had to brace myself to not get knocked over.

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From NYRR Instagram!

John and I ran the first half with the other 4 members of the FL5BC – it was fun to chat with and get to know them during the 2+ hours we were together. They each have such amazing stories of how running helped them overcome things in their life they were dealing with (you can read their stories here).

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LOVED seeing my friend, Christine & her family around mile 7! Photo credit: Christine

It was also fairly easy to guide John at this point – we were virtually the only runners on the course and had the whole road to ourselves. There was no one obstructing my view of the road, no other runners to weave around and no water cups on the ground at the water points.

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Mile 8 – smiling and having SO much fun! Photo Credit: Katie

We got through the half in 2:14 and continued running with Michael and Luis – the runners from Brooklyn and Queens, respectively, for the next couple of miles before Michael took off (he went on to win in 3:47!).

By the time John, Luis and I got to the Queensboro Bridge, the roads started to become a bit more crowded with runners who had started in the first wave. And the further we ran, the more congested and busy they became. It was now difficult to have a clear vision of the road in front of us – I was no longer able to see out 10, 20 feet – and now had to try to peak around runners to ensure that there was nothing that would obstruct John’s path.

Additionally, the water points became tougher. In the first half, John would continue running straight and I would run to the water table, grab him water, gatorade or both and seamlessly hand off the cups to him. But now that it was crowded, I wasn’t comfortable leaving him on his own – so we would move closer to the water tables together before I would shoot over to get him something to drink. It was a bit confusing and I didn’t want to get in any of the other runners’ way.

The hardest miles for John had nothing to do with hitting the wall or fatigue – we were running strong 7:30-8:10 miles through mile 22. Instead, it was from the bright sun that was shining directly in front of us from miles 22-25. John also has an acute case of albinism so any amount of light makes his vision even more impaired. The sunlight during those miles caused what is called whiteout – he basically couldn’t see anything – everything was white. He was disoriented and understandably slowed down because it was a bit terrifying. I tried running in front of him so he could try to follow the yellow “guide” sign on my back. I tried running next to him while continually talking to him so he could hear me and follow my voice. But neither really worked. It got so bad around mile 24 that I finally had the idea of putting out my arm. He held onto my forearm and we ran the last mile or so into the sun like that.

Once we turned onto Central Park South, the sun was gone and we picked up our pace again on the home stretch.  I got to see my husband and Jenn and her husband (Pete) on the way to the finish!


Thanks Jenn for the picture!

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John and I finished in 4:02:50 and John came in 2nd place for the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge (the 3:05 finish line clock is the time for the first wave of runners – but we started almost an hour earlier!). John ran a fantastic negative split race as well – first half: 2:13:38 and second half: 1:49:12

It’s hard to fully put into words what Sunday was like. In some ways, I felt more stressed going into the race than I ever have before – but it had nothing to do with me. My sole job was to get my friend safely to the finish line and I was worried that I would miss a bump or have trouble giving direction clearly as the miles went on. Or that I would feel off and not be able to keep up with the pace John wanted. Or just not be the guide he needed.

While running the marathon was physically demanding, I found that the most challenging part was the mental aspect. I never could let myself zone out or get carried away in the moment which was tougher to do than I expected.

But it was one of the most amazing, rewarding experiences of my life and I’ll be forever grateful to John, Foot Locker and NYRR for allowing me to participate this year in this capacity. Sometimes I get so caught up in numbers and goal times and a race like this puts everything into perspective for me. There is so much more to running than just that and I’m happy that I was able to use my running to help a friend.

It was also so humbling to experience what John goes through every time he races. The amount of respect and admiration I have for him and his determination is immeasurable. He truly is an inspiration to me. And I’m anxiously excited to do this again with John in the future!

Also just wanted to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who was out volunteering and spectating. I heard a lot of people call John and my names – and it was so appreciated even if I couldn’t look up and acknowledge each one.

And congrats to everyone who ran the marathon on Sunday!! Hope you had a solid race and great experience!


I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

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    39 thoughts on “2014 NYC Marathon Race Recap

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    3. What an awesome experience and such a special way to spend your eighth marathon. Running with and for others is often as rewarding as big races for ourselves. Thanks for sharing your experience. xo
      Jesica @rUnladylike recently posted..Training LatelyMy Profile

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    5. I was in central park watching the marathon at mile 25 (ish). I started screaming NYC RUNNING MAMA!!!!!!! my friend was next to me was like what? who is that? and I was like oh just some blogger who I dont really actually KNOW persay but shes seriously amazing and I love her. haha You were smiling from ear to ear and so was john. and might I add….you guys were booking it at mile 25…. such a impressive, strong finish. so happy I Saw you. you are an inspiration and so is john!
      Christina (Sisters Running the Kitchen) recently posted..Changes.My Profile

      • Oh gosh! Thank you! Your comment put a huge smile on my face!! I think John and I were smiling so much at that point b/c the sun was gone and we were back to actually running the pace he wanted again! =) And thank you for cheering! I remember hearing someone yell around that point – but I couldn’t spend too much time looking around so I missed you! xoxo
        nycrunningmama recently posted..2014 NYC Marathon Race RecapMy Profile

      • Honestly, other than the two bridges, the wind wasn’t as bad as I was expecting – it was more annoying than anything else in Brooklyn! Glad I am not the only one who felt like they were going to blow over on the bridge!
        Hope you had a great race and are recovering well!
        nycrunningmama recently posted..2014 NYC Marathon Race RecapMy Profile

    6. This is amazing Michele! Brought a huge smile to my face. What an incredible experience. Your smile at the end is amazing, as is Johns of course! What a wonderful person you are, and I am sure he cherished having you there with him to go through the marathon, especially as you are so knowledgeable in it!

      This is the real beauty of the sport, people like you. Keep it up, and keep on inspiring :)
      Tina Muir recently posted..Meatless Monday- Sweet Potato BiscuitsMy Profile

    7. This is incredibly inspiring and I can imagine that this kind of experience is absolutely beyond all words. I’m sure John is grateful he has such a great (and also athletically kickass) friend! I think I would definitely have worries similar to yours, It sounds like you did a great job with the major responsibility you were tasked with. I’m really impressed and this example reminds me of the positivity that emanates from the running community
      Grace recently posted..We Come From Different Places, We Have Different Limits and Also It’s Fall Y’allMy Profile

    8. This was a really awesome recap. I love that you were able to get a quality long run in while pacing/guiding John and he did really, really well! I think it’s a great idea you guys were able to start early to avoid things like cups on the ground as well, that’s not something I would ordinarily think about but it makes sense. I’m sure this was a really rewarding experience.
      Amy Lauren recently posted..Weekly Workout Recap: Oct 27- Nov 2My Profile

    9. This is beyond inspiring! I bet you never dreamed something of this magnitude would come of your running and starting a blog!! It’s truly amazing. I really enjoyed reading this recap and I was cheering for both of you all the way from CT!!! Congratulations to you both. Loved it!
      Allie recently posted..The Rundown: Book Release Week!My Profile

    10. Wow! Great job John. I can’t imagine what it would be like to run with impaired vision. Well done guide! Sounds like you had a great time.

      Those winds were insane. I just put my head down and ran through the wind. I never took off my second layer. I even lost my hat a few times. But, I had a great time running NYC!
      Rebecca recently posted..NYC Marathon Training – Week 15My Profile

    11. How wonderful! And I love that they chose a FL5BC alumni to be his guide. As a Staten Islander, I’m beaming for you both =)

      I didn’t get to my spectating spot at 110th and 5th until 1:15pm so I missed you guys but I could see the blinding sun and feel those gusts.

      I have run NYC twice. It was my first ever marathon in 2011 and while it took me 5 hours and 28 minutes to finish I cried like a baby when I crossed the finish line. Last year I managed to break 5 coming in at 4:57 but more importantly I really took in the crowds and energy in a way i hadn’t the first time around. I’m all secure with guaranteed entry for next year thanks to the NYRR 9+1 and I’m looking forward to it more than anything =)

      Love that you chose the sparkly skirt and love that you put another runner’s goals and accomplishments ahead of yours for the day.

      May the next couple of weeks be the perfect training weeks for your big goal race and may Wineglass bring you that shiny PR you’re on track for.
      sally @ sweat out the small stuff recently posted..Spectating at the NYC MarathonMy Profile

    12. I was there as a spectator and actually saw you guys around mile 25! I remember thinking wow she makes running 8 min miles look easy! :) Such an inspirational story – I’m glad everything worked out for you two. I can’t wait to get back to NYCM in 2016.
      Patty @ Reach Your Peak recently posted..Tips For Running UphillMy Profile

    13. So amazing! The picture of the two of you crossing the finish line brought tears to my eyes. I was humbled just reading about this experience; I can’t imagine how it must have felt in person. A huge congratulations to you both, but especially to John for overcoming so much to run a fabulous race! Great job, guys!