THE REAL RUNNERS OF NEW YORK CITY
The big race in New York City is upon us. Runners are finishing the last weeks of training and starting to think about their race day shoes and gear. They’re writing a list and checking it twice. For many, they’re packing their passports and flying to NYC from far shores to run the boroughs.
We all know the headliners, the pro athletes, the masters of their sport. Then there is the rest of the field, who might be many paces behind, but in turn, bring their own personal stories to the streets and avenues of The Big Apple.
Read on and meet a handful of athletes heading to New York. JackRabbit will be cheering for them all the 26.2 miles.
GAYE BECKMAN: DENVER, COLORADO
Gaye is a labor and delivery nurse, Ironman and badass mother; she knows about endurance. As a two-time Ironman finisher, Gaye is packing her running shoes and heading to New York City with her son, Tyler.
GAYE: This will be my second time running the NYC marathon, and my fourth stand-alone marathon (I’ve done two Ironman races, as well, to date). I ran NYC in 2013, having won a guaranteed (non-complimentary, lol) entry in a contest for the 2012 race, which was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.
Running the marathon in 2013 was such an AMAZING experience that I continued entering the lottery each year, even though I really don’t love running marathons (I’m slow and the training takes SO long to get those long runs in!). That said, I had very low expectations of actually getting IN through the lottery, so when I opened that email as I was walking through King Soopers in March, it was totally an “oh, shit” moment.
I already had my destination race for the year planned (Ironman 70.3 Coeur D’Alene) and I REALLY wasn’t planning on running a marathon this year! But, when you get into NYC, you RUN NYC!
It’s truly one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had. It’s kind of like the Bolder Boulder on steroids, for 26 miles, and through one of my favorite cities in the world. The support from the people of NYC is just unbelievable. People who have probably never done any more running in their life other than to catch a bus or subway train give up their Sunday to go out and cheer for complete strangers.
It’s almost kind of a surreal experience to be running across the Verrazano bridge, through the streets of New York, and down Fifth Avenue into Central Park and the finish line. The wall of sound as you come off the Queensboro bridge onto First Avenue in Manhattan is absolutely deafening, with people lined up 5-7 deep, cheering and partying for hours.
I feel very lucky that I have a dear friend who was able to convince her husband to let her come with me. She was coincidentally along for the aborted trip in 2012 that became a girls weekend in NYC instead of a marathon weekend. This is allowing me to bring my 11 year old son. She’s bringing her daughter, as well, so I’ll have my own little cheer squad at the race. I’m so excited to take Tyler to NYC for the first time and show him the sights and sounds. We’ll do a couple of Broadway shows, the Statue of Liberty, and more than a few other iconic NY experiences.
I don’t really have any pre-race rituals. For this race specifically, we got matinee show tickets for Saturday so that I’ll be off my feet and relaxing instead of walking all around the day before the race. After the show, we’ll get dinner and head back to the hotel for an early-ish bedtime. One of the nice things about NY is that it’s not a super early race (I work nights and I am NOT a morning person), but it will still feel early, with the time difference from Colorado. But daylight savings time ends the night before, so you always get an extra hour of sleep!
My advice for first-timers in NYC is to just embrace the experience. NYC is a somewhat tough course (there are a lot of bridges = hills), and most people will say it’s not really a PR-type of course, although it is mine!
Leave the headphones behind and soak in the atmosphere as you run through all 5 boroughs – from the noise of the street drummers to the silence of the Orthodox Jews in Queens. Remember to look up and look around you and take in the views, especially as you start off across the Verrazano. There’s just nothing else in the world like the NYC Marathon!
DAVID CHAO: TEXAS
David is a Texan who loves NY! He’s run the 5th Avenue Mile five times, and this pilgrimage to the New York race will be his second marathon. David’s training is guided by a Stryd power meter that gauges the power output of the runner.
DAVID: I love New York! So first it’s the people – all the folks lining the route, plus the friends and family I’ll get a chance to see while in the city – including our daughter’s future-in-laws!
I’m not anxious about the race – if anything, I want to make sure that I enjoy the race. I’m really looking forward to it, and don’t want to take away from the experience by starting out too fast and ending it with a painful slog into Central Park. My hope is for a moderate jog from start to finish.
My first and only marathon was the first year they did the Half Moon Bay Marathon – a beautiful course! But I have done three races in NYC so far – all 1/26th of the November race! I’ve run the New Balance/NYRR 5th Avenue Mile.
Maybe my advice to other runners is only worth 1/26 as much given my race history but … enjoy the city! Catch a show, walk Central Park or the High Line, or see a site you’ve always wanted to see.
This marathon is really different from my first. When I raced a marathon in 2013, that was “the race”. This year, my focus was actually the New Balance Mile, and then I switched gears to marathon training as soon as I finished that, leaving me only 8 weeks of real marathon training.
My hopeful saving grace is a really cool gadget I picked up (a Stryd footpod) that helps me maintain a very even level of effort, even when I’m going up and down hills. I’ve found it hugely helpful on the big hills in Austin in terms of running relatively hard and not burning too many matches, so to speak, on hill climbs. I think it’ll be super handy on all the bridges.
This year it’s different. Taking inspiration from a great new book by Steve Magness and Brad Stulberg, I’m going to meditate on the ferry to Staten about the the “greater goals” of this race. Things like encouraging my kids and friends to stay healthy, and get the most enjoyment out of physical activities.
Walking 1/2 mile to my rental apartment and collapsing. Then trying to hunt down some tasty delicacies like culatello (if they have it) at DiPalo’s.
I would love to PR. But even more than that, I’d love to run the race on my terms, which means: soaking in the experience, being mindful of the amazing course and maintaining a sustainable pace from start to finish.
LINSDEY AND TREVOR PARRY: SOUTH AFRICA
Running is a lifestyle, and there’s no more true a statement to describe Lindsey and Trevor Parry. A father/son team from South Africa, the Parry’s are coming to New York to run together.
This is far from the end of the story. Trevor knows all about finish lines. He is a three times Gold Medal winner at the world-famous Comrades Marathon in his native South Africa. Don’t let the word ‘marathon’ fool you, Comrades is an epic run of 56 miles. His son Lindsey is the official Comrades Marathon run coach as well as coaching the National Triathlon Team of South Africa.
LINDSEY: We are coming to race. It’s my Dad’s 68th Birthday while we are in NY so we will both celebrate with a hard run!
I enjoy running international marathons, mostly because they are flat, at low altitude and temperatures are moderate to cold which all allow for fast running! Then there’s the sheer number of fast runners to share the road with and the unbelievable spectator support.
It’s the crowds and spectating that inspired the trip to New York, with the qualifier option. I’ve heard from so many people how amazing the crowds of New York are and so I’m coming to experience it myself.
When it comes to running with my dad, there was a brief period when my Dad was in his early 50s where we could race together. Before that my Dad was too fast and more recently it’s swung around!
We still try to do a few training runs a year together.
My advice for a marathon newbie is pace yourself! With the excitement and type of the start, it’s easy to be swept up and feel really good! Hold back and save yourself for the last 10k.
TREVOR: It has my life-long wish to visit America and friends in New York, so when a friend offered to sponsor me to run the marathon, I would be able to combine going over with my son.
Will we be racing or taking it easy? I would say would depend on how fit we are relatively. We’ve run a few races together but I know Lindsey will be much faster on the NY marathon.
For marathon newbies, there is so much information available I always tell runners to follow the advice of a reputable coach and be wary of advice from club mates especially concerning medication and nutrition!
TONYA FULLER: DENVER, COLORADO
It all comes down to Power Bar for Tonya. With 15 of her soon-to-be-closest snacking pals, Tonya is headed to New York thanks to a winning a contest!
TONYA:In 2015 I was training for the California International Marathon with the intent to qualify for Boston. I was fully trained and had done well. 2 weeks prior to the race, I began having IT band issues. I did what I could to treat the problem, but it did not fully go away before race day. I started the marathon, but the pain was so unbearable by mile 19 that I could not finish and decided to walk off the course.
This was my first ever DNF and I was devastated. I worked so hard to get to that point and then was sidelined by IT band issues.
At the beginning of this year, PowerBar began a Clean Start program. They opened up a contest asking for entries to discuss a time that they were unable to start or finish a race because of injury, or something that has prevented them from reaching a goal. I decided I would enter (as NYC is my favorite marathon of all time), and told them of my DNF from 2015.
Surprisingly, I won an entry!
Initially, my expectations for this race were to qualify for Boston, but I have been plagued with a foot injury that won’t fully heal. So, knowing what a fun race this is (completed in 2004 and 2007), I’m going with the expectation of enjoying the amazing crowds and the awesome day I know I’ll have. I’m looking forward to spending time with the other 15 PowerBar winners as their stories of comeback and clean starts is incredible!!
NYC is my absolute favorite race and I’m honored to be able to participate in 2017!!
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