It’s been several months since my last marathon, but I wanted to provide a race recap for those interested in how it went.
Saturday, November 5, 2022
DAY BEFORE THE RACE
Our bodies were still on West Coast time, so it was hard to get up. My husband, daughter, and I walked a half mile to the Noglu gluten-free bakery for GF quiche and muffins at 10:15am. We put the food in a string backpack and ran to Central Park. We tried to do a shake-out run, but it was really challenging with the heat and thousands of people walking, running, and biking in the park. At one point we were running on a gravel loop and a gruff New Yorker barked at us for running the wrong direction. Oops! We gave up at 1.2 miles and walked to the subway. I tried to gobble my quiche before we arrived at our stop. (Later I learned it’s tacky to eat on the NY subway. Newbie mistake.) We got off and walked to the Convention Center for packet pick-up. When the cashier asked if it was my first NYC Marathon and I said “yes”, she whooped and pounded her hands on the counter and the other cashiers whooped and pounded too.
We watched Hamilton on Broadway and then ate dinner at a gluten free restaurant across the street called Friedman’s. The servers are also Broadway hopefuls, so as they took orders and delivered food to tables, they serenaded the entire restaurant by singing show tunes into a microphone.
I didn’t get the meal I ordered but it was still yummy… chicken and mashed potatoes. (I always keep my eating simple in the days leading up to the race. Chicken and mashed potatoes or salmon and rice are two of my favorites.) I ordered dessert because I hadn’t eaten enough calories that day. We walked to the subway and got back to our hotel pretty early. I prepped all my race gear and lights were out around 11 pm. That was also the night of the time change, so the extra hour of sleep was appreciated…
Sunday, November 6, 2022
At 3:30 am I was wide awake The preordered Uber arrived at 4:40 am; he didn’t know about the race and why there was so much traffic early on a Sunday morning. I was scheduled to catch the bus at the NYC Public Library at 5:30 am. At 5:15am I bailed out of the Uber because I was only a block away and traffic was stopped. It was not cold… already 64°, but I was a bit chilled due to nerves. Everyone got into a huge queue that moved quickly toward a long line of luxury buses that could be seen for blocks down the street. I was the third person on my bus, so I chose the second seat from the front. When we arrived at the athlete’s village 6 am, we had to go through metal detectors (all our gear had to be in a clear bag). As some of the first runners to arrive, there were plenty of places to sit. I chose a grassy knoll to the left with a view of everyone coming in and the bridge we were about to run across… which was filled with buses for the next several hours.
People spoke different languages all around me… Norwegian, French, Spanish and more! I made a post on Instagram, drank plenty of water, visited the porta potty, texted people, ate my breakfast, and took two Imodium. When I warmed up and unzipped my sweatshirt, I could see people reading and giggling at my shirt that said “The Diarrhea Dietitian”. There were lots of people gathered in groups with friends. I never with my friend who was also running the race, and it was a bit lonely. I was at the athlete’s village from 6-10:20 am! Within a few hours, cell phones stopped connecting (too many people and cell towers were maxed out).
I was comfy in sweatshirt and sweatpants, but it was already mid 60’s and humid! People were getting free donuts, coffee, and beanie hats from Dunkin Donuts, but I didn’t get one because I didn’t want to carry it the entire race. I only ate and drank what I brought to the start (yogurt, GF bagel and cream cheese, fruit, and cheddar cheese slices). I have learned over the years, before a big race, do not consume anything out of the ordinary. It’s best said on race day, “No New is Good New.”
The wheelchair racers left first, then pro women, pro men, then the five waves of us “regular” runners. Someone sang the national anthem before each wave began and they blasted “New York, New York” as the wave left. At 9:40 they opened my group’s corral and I visited the porta potty one last time. Everyone was excited to get going! At 10:20 it was time for our wave. The woman next to me saw my shirt and commented, “My husband needs to meet with you.” A woman sang the national anthem then jumped in to run with our group!
We took off running up the bridge. It was smoggy, but off to the left you could see the NYC skyline (I was on the top deck; some waves run the lower deck). They had firefighters in trucks positioned yelling encouragement to the runners. Some people stopped to take pictures, but I kept running. My first mile was about a 9:25 pace. Not great, but it felt about right. I did have to pass some slower runners and walkers in the first mile. It felt like a long time before we reached the peak. The second mile felt good going down the other side of the bridge at an 8:40 pace.
When we got off the bridge the screams of the spectators were deafening. I smiled and waved as I ran by… I decided to count how many times I heard someone say or yell “Diarrhea Dietitian.” Fueling was going well. The first water station was at three miles. I had been drinking electrolytes, but I was already wanting water. I think on this hot humid day they should have set up water stations earlier in the race! The runners were occupying four lanes across on the road… we ran in parallel until around mile 7 or 8. The groups merged, then started climbing some hills. I thought “Wow, this is already really hot and hard I should’ve done more squats in training.” There were a few places where the road narrowed to only one car-width and fans were leaning in and screaming as we ran by. I dodged around a ton of people would were walking in the middle of the road.
I was sipping my electrolyte solutions, taking fuel every 20-30 minutes and drinking 2-3 ounces of water at every water station. Despite the heat, my tummy was quiet. Up ahead it looked like rain clouds… sure enough It rained at mile 13. While I was happy for the rain, it was not enough to cool me down. When the rain stopped, the humidity ramped up! The next hills were over the Queensboro Bridge at mile 15. Only runners are allowed on the bridge, so it was eerily quiet, with only the sound of heavy breathing and feet hitting the pavement. I was hanging in there, passing a lot more walkers. When I took fuel about halfway across the bridge, my stomach rejected it and I dry heaved three times really hard but didn’t vomit.
We came off the bridge on the other side to the roar of the spectators. I tried to speed up, but couldn’t… my legs were already fried. About mile 18 I started getting strange cramps that started in my quads and rippled down both legs. I knew my muscles needed more electrolytes but my stomach didn’t agree. I dug through my pouch and popped GF pretzels into my mouth to suck the salt off. I was still drinking water at the aid stations (I only skipped two the whole race) and tried to focus on the fans and my surroundings. I was feeling okay. I was soooo happy to see my husband and daughter at mile 18. They provided fresh bottles of my electrolyte drink and over the next few miles my muscle cramps mostly resolved.
I saw my family again around mile 23, but was not in a great place by then. My fuel was gone, legs were trashed, and I was ready to be done. The fans were actually starting to get on my nerves! I was telling my legs to “shut up” (like my son had reminded me) and I was listening for people yelling “Gooooo Diarrhea Dietitian” to keep myself running instead of walking.
The run into Central Park was long, but great, lined with thousands of fans. I passed more walkers, and saw some people that couldn’t even walk and needed medical attention. I was so grateful to finally see the finish line come into view! I gave all my legs had left to finish. Whew, done! As my friend warned, the walk through the finish chute was long. I took some pictures and collected my medal and bag with recovery snacks.
I left the chute and found a place to collapse next to the fence at the Natural History Museum. My legs and body were DONE. My family and friend who also ran the marathon came to find me crumpled next to the fence. We just sat for over an hour; eventually it was time to get back to the hotel for some dinner and recovery.
We planned to ride a cycle rickshaw, but it was going to cost more than $80 and I’m cheap, so we walked (slowly!) back to the hotel as it got dark. My hubby went and picked up GF food from Bareburger— a huge burger, sweet potato fries and a shake. I only ate half of the burger and fries, saving the rest for the next day. I started feeling really cold, but hubby said my skin was hot. I think it was heat exhaustion, which I had experienced years ago. I finally went to sleep and slept pretty well. My temperature finally normalized sometime in the middle of the night.
Monday, November 7, 2022
Day after Race
We packed up, toured the city, then flew from NYC to Scotland on a red eye to visit our son who was studying abroad at University of Edinburgh. As per my usual, my legs were VERY sore and I wasn’t able to do a recovery run until Thursday.
Marathon Observations and Random Musings:
- Heat and humidity are a bad combo in a marathon. According to Strava, runners in the 2022 NYC Marathon ran an average 12 minutes slower than the previous year. If it’s hot and/or humid, adjust your expectations and plan to fuel with electrolytes early and more often
- I was thankful for those gluten-free pretzels and electrolye drink at mile 18. They allowed me to correct my sodium deficit… otherwise I would have joined the thousands of people walking in the final miles. Next time I plan to bring salt tablets in my pouch.
- Many people have gut issues with hot humid races. One of the keys is to get adequate water electrolytes into the body early into the race.
- The crowds in NY are AMAZING! Having people yell “Goooo Diarrhea Dietitian” brought a smile to my face and buoyed my spirit in the tough miles.
NYC By the Numbers:
- Fuel used: 3 bags Jelly Belly Extreme (caffeinated) Sport Beans, 1 bag Jelly Belly (non-caffeinated) Sport Beans, approx 6 small GF pretzels, 40 oz Infinit Nutrition Custom Electrolyte Formula + 2-3 oz water at all but two hydration stations
- Total Distance (per Garmin watch): 26.50 miles
- Finish Time: 4:16:53 (previous slowest marathon 4:01:56, fastest 3:38:25)
- Average Pace: 9:48
- Average Heart Rate: 169 bpm
- Max Heart Rate: 199 bpm
- Average Run Cadence: 182 steps per minute
- Times I heard someone yell “Diarrhea Dietitian”: 53
- Race day temp: 71 degrees
- Humidity: 86%
- Toenails lost: 3
- Total daily steps: 59,716 (32.2 miles)
- Porta potties visited during the race: 0
- Marathon number:
Are you a runner with a sensitive tummy? Do you have runner’s trots? Have you struggled with fueling during your marathon? If you answered yes to these questions, consider working with me 1:1!
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