For anyone who’s a runner, or knows a runner, or just lives in New York City, the first Sunday in November is one of the biggest events of the year. The New York City Marathon cuts a path through all five boroughs and brings runners from around the world together to take over the streets, and really the city itself. The Sunday before the marathon, the Poland Springs 5M Marathon Kickoff gets things up and running. And then, marathon scaffolding, bleachers, signs, fences, and more beging to crisscross Central Park throughout the week leading up to the main event.
The Saturday before the marathon, New York Road Runners hosts the Dash to the Finish Line 5K, which starts at the United Nations building complex in the East 40s on First Avenue and ends at the marathon finish line in Central Park. I decided to run this race as part of my 9+1 quest, on my way to running the marathon itself in 2016, and I was excited leading up to this race because I knew once it was over, I’d have just one more to go. I rode that excitement all the way to bib pickup in the Javits Center on Friday, steeling myself against the bad feeling in that building left over from the bar exam. Pretty easy, considering I found out I passed the bar exam this past week 🙂
Saturday morning, I woke up around 7:15 and had a little time to stretch and foam roll before heading out for the race. I was really sore, because on Friday morning I went to the November Project workout at Bethesda Fountain in the park, and we did a lot of leg work – burpees, lunges, and dips, with running up and down the stairs in between. It was an awesome workout, but since I just started going to NP again after a summer hiatus from most core and leg work, it was a lot and I felt the effects for the rest of the weekend.
Anyway, I jogged down First Avenue towards the United Nations Plaza and fell in line with lots of other runners doing the same thing. On Friday, I’d seen groups of runners doing shakeout runs in Midtown on my way to work, and in the corrals I realized that lots of marathoners were using the Dash to the Finish 5K as a shakeout. When I originally signed up, I thought it could be a good race to try and PR in, considering the distance and relatively flat course. That plan fizzled when I felt the soreness in the morning, and then when the crowds of runners went out pretty slowly, especially since many were using it as a warm up or family fun run before the big event. I didn’t really mind, as it was just a fun race to be in.
The first part of the course takes you down to 42nd Street and straight across from First Avenue to Sixth Avenue, where you turn at the corner of Bryant Park and run up Sixth all the way to Central Park. They shut down the streets, which is awesome considering the only other races they do that for are the NYC Half Marathon and of course, the Marathon itself. Then, you head into the park at 59th Street, looping around the bottom of the usual lap and heading up West Drive to the finish line. I’d seen them setting it up earlier in the week, but it was pretty awesome to run across. Fingers crossed I’ll be doing it next year for the real thing!
I felt pretty good keeping up a faster pace than normal for the duration of the 3.1 miles. I’ve never run a 5k before. My first race was a 10K, and I’ve done lots of 4 mile and 5 mile races with New York Road Runners, but somehow never a 5k. It’s shorter than I anticipated, and even with the crowds at the start and the finish, I ended up running a very speedy middle mile to finish in 28:35, for a 9:12/mile pace. The middle mile was close to 8 minutes, taking into account all the weaving in and out I had to do with the crowds. Of course, the best part was walking it off with Sasha afterwards.
On Marathon Sunday, I had signed up to volunteer with the Junior League at our cheer station in Harlem. Getting up there, I traveled through a city out celebrating – decorations from Halloween were obviously still up, and people were out and about enjoying the nice weather and the spirit of the marathon!
I live on the Upper East Side, but in the Yorkville area over towards the East River. In order to get up to Mile 22, which is near 125th Street in Harlem, I took a very roundabout route that ended up following the marathon route once I got inside Central Park all the way up to the top. I even went a few blocks north of the park until I realized I was never going to be able to cross Fifth Avenue to get to the cheer station.
So I met up with a few friends and we cheered in various spots along Fifth Avenue and back in the park. I ended up cheering the whole way from Mile 22 down to Mile 25, and I even spotted a few people I knew who were running. It would have been tough to see them all, since I had a very speedy friend or two from law school in the first group of runners (even before Wave 1) and then others scattered throughout Waves 1, 2, and 3. But I figured that if I’m out there cheering on the runners I don’t know, other people are doing the same for the ones I do.
In the end, it was a long day of running around the park and cheering, but a good one as well. And it was nowhere near as long as the marathoners’ days! The whole time, I kept thinking about my goal of running it next year. I’m nearly finished with the qualifying races, but seeing everyone in the marathon today made the idea much more real. I never thought it would be something I could do, and yet – one year from today, I want to be able to say that I am a marathoner because I have crossed the finish line of the New York City Marathon for real.
[Tweet “Running the #DashtotheFinish 5K and cheering on the New York City Marathon runners! #NYRR #RunForLife #TCSNYCMarathon”]
Have you ever run a marathon? Do you want to?
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