There are so many friends running the New York City Marathon this year that I thought I would share few tips they might find useful for the morning before the marathon as well as during the race. The tips are intended for first timers ans for seasoned marathoners as well.

Before The Race

  1. Eat your regular breakfast. You’ll have it approximately at 5 o’clock which is enough time to digest it. Get something warm (liquid or solid) in your system.
  2. Regardless of your start time take something with you and eat it 1 hour before your start. (Have your last drink at that time, too). Put it in your translucent bag together with your after the race clothes, phone, gels, salt packets, pain killer, and food of preference.
  3. Get yourself to Staten Island early enough, definitively before 7 am, but not necessarily immediately to the runners village. The line at the drop off area may be long. Instead, pass the drop off zone and take the following exit. Cross the Staten Island Highway, access the village from the residential area on the left of the highway and proceed to your designated color. All start colors are interconnected at the parking lot used for the UPS bag pickup trucks.
  4. Use the latrine one last time before getting to your corral. It used to be 1 hour before the start. Lately, they improved the system and electronic displays show the remaining time before the corral closes and you’ll be sent to the following wave.
  5. While walking to your designated corral you should wear several layers of throw away clothes, chew on the one item you kept from your breakfast, and carry (if you don’t have support on the course) gel pouches according to your needs that you’ll consume before mile 18. I like to get them in the system rather earlier. If you have a team support on the course have a Tee and petroleum jelly ready in a zip lock bag. Since I don’t know how to drink from cups while running I have my support team hand me a small 8 oz. bottle with narrow neck that I carry on me until it’s empty.

The Race

  1. The 1-hour wait is eternal. Stand inside of the pack, fence yourself from the breeze. And stand calm. Don’t hop and twist and bend. That’s for 2-mile joggers. You’ll have soon the opposite problem—to save energy. Every move counts.
  2. Minutes before the gun take a gel, lick a bit of salt, and start taking layers off. (You did remember to split the end of pants the day before, so you don’t need to take your shoes off now). I like to keep one extra layer on the torso across the Verrazano-Narrows bridge. The legs are fine in shorts. Throw away the top layer in Brooklyn before you start sweating.
  3. Also in Brooklyn, start taking in the gels and liquids. Choose the cups with the least content of liquid in it. It lowers the chances you get wet or sticky in case of Gatorade. Squeeze the top of the cup and try to sip. 4 sips are enough. Always remember to dissolve the gel with liquid, as it speeds up its digestion.
  4. In terms of the support team, the mile 8 is a good meeting spot. Forget about mile 16. It’s fenced off and crowded. You won’t find each other. Think rather about 80th street and up on the 1st ave and mile 22 on the Fifth ave. The mile 22 is a sweet encounter, as it’s the first mile marker in Manhattan after The Bronx. Past mile 25, the course is again fenced off and overcrowded.
  5. In terms of pace, make mile 16 as the mid point instead of the half (13.1). Of course, this tip is of an interest for runners who are after their PR or care about consistent pace. Run a little faster pace in order to create a cushion before the 59th street bridge. The course on to the bridge is a long uphill that will throw you off your pace and you’ll be behind it at mile 16.

I hope you found a point or two useful. I’ll be cheering on you in Brooklyn at the corner of 4th avenue and 11th street. I wish I could scream at you between miles 22 and 25, as my daughter does for me. I find it very helpful. But I am still recovering from the Marine Corps marathon. If you have questions, post them here.