This year would mark the 50th Anniversary of the notorious New York City Marathon. The running community everywhere, especially us New Yorkers, were pumped.
There is a global pandemic happening and so pretty much Earth was put in a time-out.
Most race organizers worked to create virtual events since we couldn’t gather in groups. I mean, a race where 40,000 people pack tightly into corrals is basically a super spreader spree right?
The NYRR decided to have the marathon run as a virtual race.
What’s a virtual race?
Using GPS tracking… Garmin watch, Apple watch, iPhone, etc. you record your race and then submit it through the proper channels. You are given a window in which you need to complete the race in order for it to count. The honor system also plays a very large role in a virtual race.
Once the media started exaggerating how NYC was doing in late summer I found myself needing to show the rest of the world that we as a city are working together and rebuilding our community and economy. So I signed up to run the virtual race.
I registered on September 23rd, giving me plenty of time to train for my November 1st virtual marathon. I’m kidding. I would have to bend time and space to get this thing in order.
I also designed my route to be a ‘Circumnavigate the Island’ route, my favorite.
For my training I ran all the time (obviously) and worked in two 18 mile runs. Not my usual training regimen, but it was very last minute. Most importantly, mentally I was feeling fiery.
I was even interviewed by ABC News! Here is the link: NYC Marathon Goes Virtual
Food for Fuel
I actually worked on Saturday the day prior to my race. I’m a Real Estate Agent here in NYC now and the market is on fire. I made sure to drink a ton of water and sit down any chance I had.
That night Emily came over and I made my version of Shrimp Scampi. Sidenote: After years of testing, my ‘perfect’ race meal is pasta with shrimp. If I eat this the night before I wake up satiated and full of carbo-energy. I think the meal was awesome… I haven’t made it in forever so it was nice to get back to a pasta dish.
I awoke feeling fresh, well rested and somewhat ready to tackle 26.2 miles. It’s different when you’re choosing to run the marathon distance on your own time, not under the constraints of a race director, so it feels really easy to consider bailing.
I did not of course and after a banana and a cup of delicious Kona coffee I headed out. The weather was overcast and in the low 50’s, absolutely perfect running conditions to set it off.
First Avenue Freeze Out
I started the run going south on First Avenue. I felt good, but not too speedy. My goal, since we haven’t talked about it yet, was to run around a 3:30, having fun and enjoying the moment.
I saw many race packs headed north (they were running the actual course) and we cheered each other on which was awesome. The positive vibes all day would be amazing. I saw a few friends on First as well who cheered me on.
East River Rendezvous
Once I cut over to the East River on 34th Street things were starting to click in. My pace began to drop into the 7:05/10 range and I felt solid. It was here that I noticed that the sun was piercing the clouds and trying to make an appearance.
At mile 9 I was rounding the tip of mighty Manhattan and passed my friend Allison going the opposite direction. We yelled at each other and kept moving!
Sharks vs. Jets
As I made my way up the west side I had a solid rhythm going. My legs felt the same, good. Keep moving, keep the fun going.
I kept thinking of all the New York moments I’ve had along the perimeter of the island within each unique neighborhood over the last 20 years. The towers falling and utter chaos, years of rebuilding, old friends followed by new friends, and many sunset cocktails and celebrations on the waterfront. New York is still (and always will be) New York, the ultimate shape shifter.
The sun was out full force now and it felt great. The positive vibes were high as I made my way north along the west side. I was loving it and still wondering why I was running 26 miles on my own accord.
The Appearance of Maura
Around mile 15 I saw Maura on a bike waiting to aid me. She rode alongside me with snacks and water. Eventually we parted ways as I made a beeline up to Riverside. Thanks Maura!
Crossing the Jungle
With my mask on I wound my way through the streets of upper Manhattan and finally injected myself into The Central Park… my park and my backyard. My legs were a bit sore but nothing like in past marathons. It was actually quite puzzling.
Central Park Serenade
I knew I had a bit of a battle ahead. 8 miles to go is far from over. I was running in the 7:05/10 range which seemed to be my sweet spot all day.
Descending Harlem Hill I kind of said a goodbye, knowing I wouldn’t need to deal with her again and moved on quickly. The Park was crowded, but not like it would be on a crazy summer day. I was also watching for other marathon runners that I could chat with.
Sure enough, this guy started passing me and I said “Hey! What mile are you on?” assuming he was a marathon runner. “2.5 miles but I’m only doing 12. Do you want me to pace you? What are you running?” I was like, “No way man, cool. Yeah I’m running 7’s!”
Tim (as I later found out) and I ran 6 miles at a 7 minute pace during my peak 18-24 mile range like it was nothing. Just shootin the breeze. I saw many friends in the Park at this point which was so helpful. The most epic part of the Park was certainly passing by the actual finish line at Tavern on the Green. Massive crowds, including a huge NYRR cheer squad, were present.
As we passed Engineer’s Gate up by my place, Emily was there with a whole set of balloons that said ‘Chris 26.2.’ It was awesome and totally took me by surprise!
The End is Near?
After completing a full loop, I left Tim and headed back east into the Great Lawn with 2 miles to go. I also did a little loop in the Ramble and then headed back onto the main drag. Weirdly enough, I had a stupid amount of energy and my legs were fine. Why? No idea. On another note, I had forgotten to eat any Gels the entire race.
Tim! Big ups man. Miles 18-24 went by so easily thanks to your pacing!
Barreling down the straightaway I had the finish line in sight. Earlier in the week, a friend of mine from NYRR gave me an actual NYRR Marathon Finish Line Tape to use with branding and all! I felt very legit.
My time was 3:13 and change which I was thrilled with as it was way faster than what my goal was.
Maura had made it to the finish line as well, hence this great video. Thanks again Maura. Emily and I were sitting down looking through the amazing Race Bag she had made me (by my balloons) when a photographer from the NY Times (Jose) came and photographed us!
Feed Me Seymour!
After a quick shower (I was freezing) Emily and I went to Third Avenue Alehouse, which is my local haunt. You can often find me there on weekend eating, reading and in normal times chatting with my friend Chloe who works there. We housed the nacho platter then ended the day in the true spirt of Halloween by relaxing while watching Ghostbusters.
Damn, you know I love a good ‘In Conclusion’ section!
Today was a blast. Was it as epic and monumental as a normal NYC Marathon? No. But guess what? Shit is super fucked up right now. I’m impressed with the NYRR and their ability to pull off as big a virtual race as they did. Seeing so many fellow runners out there really made me remember all the positive things in life.
Runners! We have such a great community! As I ran today I saw all shapes and sizes of runner. A multitude of different skin tones and different nationalities. You all have wildly different jobs and talents outside of running. We sometime speak different languages! So Fuck yeah, I love you all! Unity through running.
New York (Fucking) City has been kicking ass since 1664. We ain’t going nowhere.
– Baker out.