4 months of training. Total logged distance (mi): 423.50 (677.60 km). 50,000 runners at the start. 5 boroughs from Staten Island to Manhattan. 10,000 volunteers who pitched in, and the million-plus spectators who cheered from the sidelines. 26.2 miles – a journey I will never forget. A lot of people have warned me that this race, or a marathon in general will change my life. You will find out today, if it did.
While I was training for the NYC Marathon I often got very emotional thinking about finishing this race at the famed finish line in Central Park. I remember thinking about marathoners like they were some kind of crazy people before I started training for it. Why would you want to put yourself into something like this?
NYC Marathon Experience
Today after my first NYC Marathon experience I know that training and running a marathon change you. It brings you closer to yourself, your weaknesses, you learn how to overcome them and most importantly you realize who you really are. Read my experience while running 26.2 miles through New York City. Welcome to my NYC Marathon experience:
Before the race
I took my training very serious. I haven’t missed a day, I followed a strict diet based on my training and I totally sticked to the plan. Standing on the bridge in Staten Island last Sunday made me feel incredible proud. However my eyes were wide open from how scared I was. I had so much respect for what I was about to do, but I knew 100% that I can do it.
With a very decent 20 mile training run 3 weeks before the race I felt more than confident to run the 5 bridges, inhale all the energy from the crowds and I kept thinking about my family and friends who have been the biggest support on my journey to the start in Staten Island of my first marathon.
The elite started a bit earlier than my wave did but then at 1015 AM the race director said: “Wave 2 – on your marks” Boom.
And then it started raining.
Running The NYC Marathon 2017
I’ve heard from several people who have ran the race before that it was their most painful experience and that this specific marathon is one of the hardest you can do in the US. While I was running the first mile on the Verrazano Bridge, which is by the way the highest incline of the entire race, I felt everything from joy to pure anxiety.
I remember crying when I saw a woman having her dad’s photo on her shirt: “For you Dad”. The first mile was intense, because I realized that I was actually doing this. Along so many inspiring runners who all have their very personal story that will make this day as special for them as it was for me at that moment
Welcome to Brooklyn / The Biggest Block Party Ever
Entering Brooklyn after the bridge was like running through one of the biggest open air parties you can possibly imagine. I saw everything from DJ’s to church choirs and people dancing and singing for the runners. I turned my music off. It was so loud that I couldn’t hear it anyways.
I kept my pace steady and easy and told myself to save the energy for the final 6 miles. I was flying. Cruising to the finish. I missed my friends in Long Island City – it was just too crowded so I couldn’t see them. And then there she was: Queensboro Bridge.
It still felt very easy on my legs and I was kind of laughing about the bad luck we were having with the weather. You couldn’t see the Manhattan Skyline at all. It wasn’t pouring but the rain was absolutely annoying. It didn’t kill my vibes though – running this race was everything I have worked for the past months – I guess there could have been thunder and lighting it wouldn’t have bothered me.
26.2 smiling miles
The TCS NYC Marathon was literally 26.2 smiling miles for me: I had so much fun running from one big block party to the next. First Avenue after entering Manhattan gave me chills that lasted for miles. It really was a big wall of noise like everyone described before. I kept thinking about how the running community is such a different crowd. People were yelling my name (I had it printed on my shirt) and kept pushing me through. My pace was still very steady and within my pace range. So is this “marathon wall” coming at some point?
At Mile 19 was were I met my friend. I was still feeling pretty good when she handed over a banana, a big hug and the feeling that she was extremely proud of me. My NYC Marathon experience also has been such a blessing because of my very supportive friends and family. Training for a race like that means a lot of dedication and commitment. If your people don’t understand your lifestyle you will have a problem. Or maybe they do? Who knows.
NYC Marathon experience: The final 6 miles
The last 6 miles from the Bronx to the finish line was my final push. I never told anyone about my predicted finish time and how I wanted to be able to run faster in the end. I wanted to make it to the finish smiling with my hands up in the air. I’m not sure which crowd was more intense, Brooklyn or Central Park, but the excitement was rising. The wall didn’t hit me, or I didn’t hit the wall. I was so hyped from what was experiencing right now there was no way something could ruin this for me. My fueling strategy was on point and my energy level was perfectly fine.
At Mile 25 I told myself that I was almost there and focussed on that I still felt amazing. No pain. No cramps. Nothing. Hard work always pays off. Columbus Circle: I turned my headphones off again, soaking everything in, my NYC Marathon experience was almost over. In my head I was sad – I really wanted to keep going – this was so much fun. Mile 26: I could see the finish. Smell it. Feel it. Wow. I was about to finish the TCS NYC Marathon.
Crossing the finish at 2:43 PM
Crossing the finish was the most intense feeling ever. I remember thinking “I just ran the NYC Marathon – that wasn’t too bad.” I didn’t cry. I totally expected me to become super emotional, but I wasn’t. So, does running a marathon change your life? I’m not sure, but it definitively change you as a person. Almost a week after the NYC Marathon the runners high is still there and my NYC Marathon experience leaves me proud, empowered and inspired. I feel so much stronger mentally today after running the marathon.
And for you I hope it’s the inward lesson of courage, resilience and true grit that leave an impression. Thanks for being a part of my journey. So much love to my family in Germany who has watched the entire race on TV and even watched me crossing the finish line. I felt the energy from every single one of you!
Side note: I will run NYC again next year. Find out more here.
Sabrina Wieser is a running expert based in New York City and the founder of Runningbrina - She is a USATF Level 3 and IAAF Level 5 Endurance Certified Coach and experienced marathon runner. She completed over 35 long-distance races and helped over 200 clients to cross their personal finish line. Her expertise in enhancing running performance through training and nutrition has been recognized by many within the running community and different media outlets such as Huffington Post, the Dr Oz Show and adidas running.