I have said it once, and I will say it again. Runners are the best people! Running the NYC Marathon with 95 of the most passionate beer runners is an experience I will never forget. The thing that makes Team ULTRA so special isn’t the amazing weekend in New York, although that is definitely one of the perks of being chosen to be a part of this group. It is the friends that I made along the way. There were runners from all over the country, all different backgrounds and running levels. We had runners that could run a sub 3:00 marathon and then we had runners who had never ran a marathon at all.
The months and weeks leading up to the NYC Marathon, we all got to know each other and connected using social media. We watched each other train and discussed running strategies, training trips, and injuries. Carlee and Christy of Wahoo runner were both amazing team leaders, coaches, and friends!
Traveling to NYC and navigating that monstrosity of a city was my least favorite part because I had to do it alone. Usually, Deanna is there and unfortunately, she wasn’t able to come this time. It took me about 12 hours in travel, and I am glad that I came in a day early and I highly recommend for anyone fortunate enough to make it on Team ULTRA. There was a few potential travels problem with delayed and canceled flights. I also can’t imagine spending hours on a cramped airplane, and then a few hours later turning around and running a marathon! I needed at least a day to acclimate.
The Park Central hotel that we stayed at was great, amazing location walking distance from the finish line and after-party. The ULTRA hospitality desk was outstanding the team was on top of everything. When people called with issues with canceled flights they were on the phone immediately to fix the problem and get people to New York.
The morning shakeout run with Dean Karnazes was one of my favorite things that we did! We ran about a mile and a half to the NYC finish line and then came back to the hotel lounge to chat and drink Ultras while Dean Karnazes signed books and took pictures.
After the shakeout run, I made my way with a few team members to pick up our bibs and make videos for Michelob Ultras stories! I was blown away how easy it was to pick up my bib and navigate the expo, considering that NYC Marathon has over 50,000 runners!
After the expo I explored the city a bit and made my way to the busiest Whole Foods I have ever seen, to pick up some race morning provisions.
I wasn’t sure what my goal for NYC was going to be, in the San Francisco Marathon, I had started with the 3:10 pace group but lost the group in the 2nd Half Marathon traffic. For those who are not familiar with the San Francisco Marathon, they have 2 half marathons one that starts with the Marathon and another that starts about halfway. I ended up surprising myself with a 3:24:52 a new personal record of 12:56 on a very tough course!
The weeks leading up to NYC I wasn’t sure what to expect, would the 50,000 people running severally hinder my pace at the beginning like the traffic at San Francisco Marathon? Would I be able to get near or even find a pace group? Not know what to expect I decided to put a message in Team ULTRA group looking for other teammates that were aiming to hit between 3:00-3:10 and ended up teaming up Matthew Bush and Jacob Brent.
Saturday night was the Team Ultra pasta dinner. I got to connect with a few people that came in after the morning shakeout run and plan with Matt and Jacob about our race strategy. We settled on 3:08 which would have been good enough to get me into the 2021 Boston Marathon and would be a nice personal record for Matt, Jacob had already run sub 3:00 so he was just along for the experience.
I met the rest of Team ULTRA in the lobby of Park Central. There was a slight panic when the Dunkin Donut place near the Hotel wasn’t open as a few people thought, but caffeine was soon acquired when the coffee shop in the lobby opened up! It wasn’t long after that we were loading the buses and making our way to the buses for the hour-long ride to the start village.
One of the best parts of being a part of Team Ultra is the pre-race amenities. It might come as a surprise but November in New York is quite chilly. So having a heated tent filled with breakfast food, hot coffee, and private porta-potties is huge!
Race time is nearing and there was one problem that still needed to be addressed and that was that Matthew and Jacob were assigned to one corral (the cool one that goes over the bridge) and I was assigned to a different not as cool corral and NYC staff was pretty hardcore about checking to make sure everyone has a bib, we must have been checked at least 3 or 4 different times. Since I had a throwaway jacket I just unzipped far enough so that staff could see I had a legit bib and I was not a bandit. A bandit is a person that runs a race for free, race staff is usually on the lookout for these people and will pull them off the course. After making it through all the checkpoints we finally made it to our corral.
Everything around the NYC Marathon is intense, from the national anthem which included a parachuter with a flag on his back to the giant cannons that are shot off to start the race. Then you get into the first mile which for us went across the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge with helicopters flying over and even at the same level is like nothing I have ever experienced.
The crowds get so loud at some points I couldn’t hear the music in my headphones. I did know this was probably going to happen which was why I bought the Aftershokz Aeropex, so my ears would be open and I could be more responsive. An insane fact about the New York City Marathon is that there are over a million people that come out to watch the marathon every year!
It became clear quickly that I made the right decision running with Matt & Jacob, it didn’t need to focus on my pace I could just enjoy the race environment. That was until about mile 20 and I started to lag and fall behind. I pushed through the last 10k by myself ended up finishing 3:15:38 a PR of 9:14! Matt and Jacob, on the other hand, finished 3:08 on the button!
Originally the plan was to go from the finish line to the after-party, the only problem with that was I forgot to do the math on what time I would be done running and what time the afterparty started, with 2 hours to burn before the party started I walked back to the hotel to clean up.
One regret I had for the weekend was not fully experiencing the afterparty. I ate lunch, drank a few beers and chatted with teammates, but having a post-marathon brain, I left after about an hour and a half to head back to the hotel to take a nap. I learned after there was an area with Normatec recovery boots, rollers, and Hyperice Hypervolt! 🤦🏼♂️ If I have the privilege of being on Team ULTRA 4.0, I won’t make that mistake again and hopefully, Deanna and the kiddo will be joining me!