Tuesday, October 29, 2013

You're Halfway There: Queens and the NYCM

The New York City Marathon may run through all five boroughs, but it doesn't give them equal facetime. In fact, the majority of the race is run in just two boroughs, Brooklyn, with roughly 11 miles, and Manhattan, with roughly 8.5. Staten Island gets next to nothing--runners leave Richmond County as soon as the race begins--and the Bronx gets barely over a mile of love. While the Queens section may be short, it comes at an important point in the race.

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Just before the halfway point, runners begin crossing the Pulaski Bridge which links Greenpoint in Brooklyn to Long Island City, Queens.  Named after Kazimierz Pułaski, a Polish commander who fought in the American revolution, the bridge spans Newton Creek, one of New York City's two Superfund sites. Though the bridge is an uphill, it's not terrible and runners can distract themselves with the sweeping views of the Midtown Manhattan skyline to the left. There are few spectators, however--they're not allowed on the bridge.

Once across the bridge runners make two quick rights, one onto 48th Ave, and then another onto Vernon Boulevard, the heart of the Hunters Point neighborhood of Long Island City. The area, which takes its name from British sea captain George Hunter, is dominated by low-rise brick and clapboard buildings, many over a century old.

This portion is largely flat and as runners make their way south towards the looming Queensboro Bridge, the bars, restaurants, and bodegas that line the street give way to industrial buildings. At Mile 14 it's time for another turn, this one right onto 44th Drive just after passing the tiny Gordan Triangle Park, named in honor of an LIC local who was killed in World War I.

One Court Square, better known as the Citibank Building, dominates the horizen and pulls runners along. The 50 story tower, completed in 1990, is the tallest building in New York State outside of Manhattan and it serves as an excellent visual marker. As runners move towards it, the street's character changes from industrial to commercial and soon the course passes under the elevated tracks of the IRT Flushing Line.

By the time runners reach the towering Citibank Building, it's time for another turn, this one onto the two-named 25th St/Crescent Street. It's now a short three block trek to Queens Plaza South  where runners are greeted by a mass of humanity, many of whom have taken the subway to the Queensboro Plaza Station to cheer. It's a good time for runners to soak in the enthusiasm because the next portion of the course may seem rather desolate.

Runners now make a left onto the Queensboro Bridge, arguably the toughest portion of the course. Starting just before Mile 15 runners begin a more than half-a-mile climb, reaching the crest of the bridge just before it passes over Roosevelt Island. Now it's on to Manhattan.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Marathon Week is Queens Week

Last year this blog brought you Bronx week. Well this year in preparation for the 2013 New York City Marathon, and in conjunction with my NYRR social media responsibilities, I'm bringing you Queens Week, a week dedicated to New York City's largest borough.

Like the Bronx, Queens gets short shrift in the marathon. Runners spend only a couple miles running through New York's most diverse borough and with adrenaline running high as Manhattan approaches, it's easy to miss some of the sights.

I'll be highlighting some of what's on the course and some of what's near the course so that both runners and spectators make the most of their time in the city's second most populous borough.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

News About NYCM and Some Easy Runs

Those of you in New York may have seen last month that New York Road Runners was looking for social media correspondents for the New York City Marathon. Well, I applied and was accepted! What does that mean? It means that next week I'll be covering marathon related stuff in--drumroll please--Queens.


Why am I covering Queens you may ask. It's simple. The marathon runs through all five boroughs and Queens needed some love too. Although I live and work in Manhattan, my apartment is just a few blocks from the Queensboro Bridge and I do almost half of my runs in Long Island City so it made sense.

What does this mean for you, my dear reader(s) (maybe there's more than one of you)? It means that next week, leading up to the marathon, I'll have a bit of a Queens focus. If you want to get the most out of the experience, follow me on twitter (@soharunner) on on instagram (dparks2111).

In the meantime, running is going well post-Chicago. I took several days off last week and have been doing short runs roughly every other day. I'm hoping to get in one longish run this weekend and then call it good. I'll definitely be taking it easy next weekend when I run New York, the goal will just be to have fun. Hopefully, as a social media reporter I'll have even more incentive to enjoy myself and the marathon.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Great Day in the Second City: My 2013 Chicago Marathon Race Report

Last fall, in my ninth marathon, I finally broke the elusive 3 hour mark. It was one of the happiest moments of my life, finally meeting a goal I had set for myself three years earlier. After the glow wore off, though, I found myself adrift, directionless. I decided to make sub-3 my goal for Boston in the spring just to see if I could do it again but then a hip injury took any chance of that away. After a struggling through the finish in April, all I wanted was some time off from training.
Spring turned into summer and still I resisted setting a schedule: it wasn't until the second week of August that I completely committed to a plan for Chicago. Although I did every workout on my calendar, I didn't feel the same level of motivation I had in previous training cycles and was unsure what my goal for October really was. I worried that the running bug had left me. Fast forward to this past weekend and even on race morning I was full of self-doubt. In spite of a full calendar of summer races, I hadn't PR'd at a single distance in 2013 and going into Chicago I wondered if my days of improvement were over.
A great sign at Niketown
Though I was unsure of my own prospects, there was plenty to look forward to in the Windy City. My girlfriend was also running, her fifth time doing Chicago and her tenth marathon, and hoping to BQ. Her parents were supposed to fly out to cheer and spend the weekend with us, but unfortunately on Thursday her dad had to be rushed to the hospital with what turned out to be a pulmonary embolism. It gave everyone quite a scare and though he was released over the weekend, her parents were obviously unable to join us.  This meant that as we prepared to leave our hotel room at 6 a.m. on race day, we knew that the only friends and relative who would be watching would be doing so via electronic updates.
Even with the enhanced security, navigating the starting area was relatively easy and by 7 a.m. we had check our bags and it was time to part ways and head to our respective corrals. I was in Corral A along with my friend Helen and her boyfriend Alex, both also from New York. They were running with a sub-3 goal which sounded good to me so we agreed to meet in the corral by the 3 hour pace group. Unfortunately, it was far more crowded than I had expected and as the clock ticked closer to the 7:30 a.m. start, I couldn’t find them. Finally, just when I’d given up hope, I spotted Helen and managed to make my way over to her and Alex before the gun went off.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Marathon Packing List

Packing for a marathon certainly doesn't seem like rocket scienceyou need shoes and running clothes, duh!but somehow each time I run a marathon out of town, I panic and stress about what to pack. Seriously, if you could see my google history, each April it's filled with searches for "marathon packing list." Well, I finally put together a fail safe list of my own and I figure, I can't be the only one who worries about what to bring. I figured I would share it with you.

Obviously, you should customize this for yourself, but hopefully this is a useful start.

Race Gear
_ Running shoes
_ Socks
_ Singlet/shirt
_ Shorts
_ Arm warmers (depends on the weather)
_ Gloves (depends on the weather)
_ Watch
_ Body Glide
_ Sunglasses

_ Breakfast for marathon morning (I bring the food with me so I don't have to hunt around for it)
_ Gels (x5)
_ Gatorade
_ Salt (caps or packets)

For the Athlete's Village
_ Large garbage bag (x2) (for sitting on and possibly for wearing in the event of rain)
_ Throwaway sweatshirt/t-shirt/hat
_ Tissues (for your nose or in case the bathroom's out of TP)
_ Sunscreen

General Clothing
_ Extra shoes
_ Flip-flops (for post race)
_ Comfortable clothes for post-race
_ Compression socks
_ Normal clothes for however many days you'll be gone
_ Extra socks (you can never have too many!)

_ Band-Aids (because you never know)
_ Pepto (because you never know)
_ Tylenol (because you shouldn't take ibuprofen before a marathon)
_ Chap stick
_ Deodorant
_ Nail clippers (a good thing to have in case you get a last minute hang nail or something)
_ Any medications you take
_ Toothbrush (because according to Runner's World, poor oral hygiene can affect your race!)

_ Bib pick-up information
_ Phone
_ Phone charger
_ Packing tape (great for reinforcing your checked bag)
_ Permanent marker (in case you need to write your name on your checked bag or other items)

There's obviously plenty of stuff you could add to this list but hopefully this gives you a good start!